Tag Archives: renovation

Where Did the Running Season Go?

When I look at the calendar, it blows my mind that we are already at the end of what I refer to as “my running season” (typically, the period from March to November) and yet I still haven’t gone running yet this year.

How did that happen? How did a whole running season escape on me?

Thankfully, it’s not like I was sidelined due to injury or anything like that (been there, done that!), but I think we can all agree that 2020 was far from normal for anyone.

Much like every year, when the ice build-up on the wintry sidewalks was melting, making them less of a hazard for slipping and breaking an ankle or a hip (a legit concern for us folks on the cusp of “elderly”), I had every intention of getting out, building up my walking routine and slowly graduating to running.

At the dawn of the Covid-19 lockdown, I was working from home and during most lunch breaks, I was outside walking two kilometres to get some fresh air, sunshine and exercise. In reality, that wasn’t too far off from my routine had I been working from the office. Over time, my pace increased with no noticeable complaints from the legs, knees, hips, IT bands or shins. I felt like I was making good progress.

Over the span of a few weeks, I had just graduated to the walk-run combo for my two kilometre circuit, so I was almost there and planning to increase my distance.

But it was the last minute renovating, staging, packing and preparations for selling the house that threw me off my A-game and my plans went out the window.

In recognizing that my brain was programmed with the “A-type” module, I have spent the better part of adulthood talking myself into toning it down, and only unleashing it when the occasion genuinely called for it. To me, getting a house ready for sale was one of those times to unleash, in the hope of a quick sale and maximum return on investment.

After a number of very late nights, there wasn’t a lot of energy left the next day for a run, even though I recognize that a run could have been a healthy antidote to the stress I was feeling.

Just the same, running up and down the stairs like a gazelle, multi-tasking between home projects and hauling stuff into storage was a continuous workout in itself. When combined with grazing on small meals, I managed to drop ten pounds without really trying.

However, the pace of the transition never really slowed down. I wouldn’t call our house a fixer-upper by any stretch of the imagination, but it seems that it has been non-stop home projects ever since, whether to bring the house up-to-date on scheduled maintenance or adding finishing touches and updates to make the home truly our own.

Some of those tasks were time-sensitive or weather dependent, or both. With my plate at the tipping point of full, when a new project would present itself, I would do my absolute best to see if I could postpone it to 2021 (… I hope this doesn’t come back to bite me later, but apparently I need a new crown.)

And of course, those projects were on top of the regular grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning and laundry that can easily fill up a week already.

Plus, under Covid-19, my full-time job never really slowed down. In fact, it seemed even more demanding than usual, which I don’t fully comprehend. But I count my blessings that I still had steady work and a steady paycheque throughout.

I confess, I secretly envied people who felt bored during the pandemic.

It’s not like I was completely without exercise during that time. My loyalty to the PBS program “Classical Stretch” was unwavering, as I made time for 4 or 5 workouts per week. And when it came to fresh air and sunshine, I was spending considerably more time outdoors than I did in my previous home, just from performing routine maintenance outdoors or from walking the cat.

But when I break it down, running was my way of communing with nature while still in the city, by driving to one of my favourite parks and running along the Ottawa River or the Rideau Canal. With the beautiful bodies of water as the backdrop, running had a meditative effect for me and offered a great source of relaxation, sometimes acting like a spiritual tune-up.

In our new home in the country, I don’t feel as strong an urge to escape the city anymore. I enjoy nature every time I set foot outside of our house. And because I don’t feel as jostled by the city’s intensity in energy, I don’t find myself needing to look for the refuge that running has offered me for a good twelve years.

It’s not that I don’t miss running, it’s just that I haven’t craved it as strongly as a stress management tool for city living. Could I still have benefited from it? Yes, of course, as updating a home is not without its share of stress. However, the move to the country has been an interesting period of rediscovery and hitting the reset button on everything.

When things calm down with the home projects, I definitely plan on returning to running. It will be up to me to “re-brand” it, for lack of a better term. Will it be purely for the health benefits, will it be to challenge myself psychologically with new goals for personal bests, or will it be to explore and enjoy the scenery of new running trails closer to our new home? Time will tell.

That being said, running is a bit of a blank canvas for me at this point, and I look forward to seeing where the next chapter in running will take me next year.

 

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Sincere thanks for reading!

Have a great day,

André

 

 

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Filed under Health and Wellness, Running

When the House Makes Me Jump

One of the pitfalls of having very good hearing (as I do) is the process of getting familiar with a house’s noises.

In my last house, after almost 20 years, I knew exactly what “normal” sounded like for each individual appliance, sink and toilet as well as for the furnace, the air conditioner and the hot water tank.

I knew that dramatic drops or increases in temperature outside would make the house pop as the building materials contracted or expanded. I was also familiar with the specific creaking noises that tree branches outside would make in heavy winds.

Each sound had a distinct fingerprint, and after 20 years, whenever the house made noise, I could usually pick out the cause and not worry about it.

But in having my radar on like a bat and the ability to filter out common “normal” noises, it goes without saying that noises that weren’t so common and didn’t match the usual patterns, could sometimes make me jump higher than I would when watching most horror flicks.

I wouldn’t chalk up that reaction to perhaps being a little over-caffeinated or being a nervous person by nature. I think it stems from a pride of ownership in my home and any noises that aren’t considered “normal” should be investigated right away to ensure they aren’t a sign or a more serious problem.

When that happened, Ivy the Wonder Cat and I would turn into Scooby and Shaggy (respectively), slowly walking through the house, flashlight in hand, waiting for the noise to happen again to be able to figure out where it is coming from, what it is, how to stop it and if a professional noise-eradicator needed to be called. Continue reading

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The Housing Market Roller Coaster (Episode 6)

In early March, with the countdown to home sale just a few days away and Ivy the Wonder Cat safely at her cat hotel, I could truly commit myself to the last minute renovations and touch-ups.

With the quick progress that I was making, zipping from room to room, obsessing about every little detail to make the house sparkle, I was getting a euphoric feeling that closely resembled a runner’s high. Or maybe it was because of the intense aroma of cleaning supplies.

I found myself starting to consider the staging activities that my real estate agent prefaced with “if you have time…”

Changing the door knobs on all of the interior doors from cheap plastic ones to shiny metallic ones was not a deal breaker but it seemed like a nice touch to spruce up the place. With the experience of successfully switching out the door knob on the “eyesore door” last summer to very satisfying results, I was very confident that I could do this.

Despite my approach from every angle with a multitude of flat head screwdrivers, I couldn’t find the trick to remove the first door knob. It actually took a half hour of fussing, cussing, struggling and then breaking the plastic door knob to separate it from the door.

By that time, I needed to get back to another time-sensitive task that was underway, so I left things as they were for the next day.

When I returned, with many other tasks completed, I really could put all of my focus on the door knob project.

As I experienced with the eyesore door, I knew that I needed to drill some pilot holes for the screws to hold the shiny new hardware in place. I found the right size drill bit and started drilling. I then tried pulling the door shut, to check my work and to see if the door would close easily.

To test it out, I inserted the basic hardware in the door without the door knob, just to see if the strike plate would get past the face plate. It didn’t, as the hardware was still sticking out and blocking the door.

So I drilled some more… and checked again… and drilled some more… and checked again. I could see I was making progress but the finish line still seemed a long way off.

In trying to figure out how much more drilling it needed, I went into the powder room and gave the door a mighty push to see if it would close. It finally closed, but then I realized…

OH!… DARN!… Continue reading

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Why Watching Paint Dry Can Be Fun

Much like most people, over the years, I have indeed used the expression “it’s like watching paint dry” to describe an event that might be considered boring. But based upon my recent experience, I might reconsider my use of the phrase. I just don’t agree with its accuracy anymore.

In this year’s round of spring cleaning and home projects, I decided to get some painting done.

As much as I love the whole ceremony of painting, in recent years, time and energy have been in short supply.

Plus, my body just doesn’t seem to respond well to weekend paint jobs without complaining in the days that follow. Between working muscles that don’t usually get used in that way and with arthritis starting to drop in unexpectedly, it was time for me to (reluctantly) look into hiring a painting company.

Upon finding a highly recommended team of painters, I decided to put their professional expertise to the best possible use. The first project was one set of walls I haven’t done since I moved in: the walls around the staircase.

I don’t know what the actual height of that area is but I do recall that the few times I tried to dust the lighting fixture or to try to grab the cobwebs in the corners, I felt like the Roadrunner’s archenemy, Wile E Coyote, trying device after device to extend my reach to get the job done.

When I was finally successful in completing the task, it was usually followed by a visit to the medicine cabinet for some internal and/or external approaches to pain relief.

I decided that for this paint job, the extent of my involvement would be to tidy up before, to remove my personal effects from the painting area, to set up the cat in another part of the house with food, water, litter and favourite toys, and then for me to sit and relax. Continue reading

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Filed under 50+, Humour, Misc blogs

Top 10 Signs You Might Be a Homeowner

Château d'Azay-le-Rideau
10. You have more paint chips in your wallet than you do family pictures

9. You genuinely worry about losing garbage cans and recycling bins on windy days

8. Moments of deep serenity are attained, not by fountains and a zen garden, but with free-flowing gutters

7. Even though you might not have any home renovations planned, you still will brave the crowds on a Saturday afternoon to attend a “Home and Renovations” show

6. Even though you might not have any home renovations planned, you buy tools in case you do

5. Your vacations are no longer planned at the travel agency, they are planned at Home Depot or Lowe’s

4. You stop noticing the game show models and pay more attention to the appliances they are showing

3. Flashing, soffits and fascia are regular words in your vocabulary

2. You binge watch HGTV

1. Your social calendar revolves around “garbage night”

Did you enjoy this post? If you did, please know that there are plenty more where that came from! If you haven’t already, you can check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.net. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox.
Also, don’t be shy, feel free to tell a friend or to share the link.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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