What’s in Your Toe?

“So I asked the doctor if there was something living in it.”


We’d been having one of those conversations where my sailor blethers on about all kinds of things (he was probably still talking about those Olympic golds we won in hockey) while my mind wanders to more important issues like if it’s worth flat ironing my hair given current precipitation levels and whether the new issue of Oprah Magazine is on the shelves yet.

I looked up from my iPhone to notice my sailor was folded over, picking at his bare foot.

“What???” I asked again.

“I said that overtime goal was brilliant!”

“Not the hockey, sweetie. The doctor thing.”

“Oh–I noticed this small cut, a scratch really, on my toe just before I left Afghanistan. It seemed to be getting better, but then it crusted over and a thick creamy gel started seeping out.”

I backed away from him on the bed.

“I picked the scab off because that didn’t look right. There was hole underneath. When I went for my physical last week, I asked the doctor if he thought maybe something was living in it.”

Oh. My. God.

“What did the doctor say?”

My sailor reached for his socks. “He said to put Polysporin on it and come back in a couple of weeks if it hasn’t healed.”

“But what if there is something living in it? What if it jumps over to me? I think you need to start wearing socks to bed–thick ones.”

He shrugged. “You worry too much.”

Being me, I immediately went online to research bugs that burrow under human skin.

I found terrible photos of monstrous exploding blisters with baby spiders inside, and a British woman who discovered twelve flesh-eating maggots festering under tiny red bumps all over her body after a trip to Africa.

Forget socks–my sailor needs to start sleeping in gum boots until we get the all clear that there’s nothing living in the hole in his toe.



I missed a couple of posts last week because I’ve been so caught up in the three W’s: winter, weather and worrying.

Every time I start to believe spring is finally on its way, we get hit with yet more snow. It’s the wet stuff that doesn’t stick around for too long, but it’s just enough to spoil the day.

The worrying is house-related.

The adventure of the flooded basement continues. We learned that the damage is covered by our insurance (insert happy dance!)

The noisy industrial fans and de-humidifiers were removed last week so we’re able to sleep again.

It’s looking pretty desolate down there, but rebuilding should begin soon.

Even though the work will be covered by our insurance company, we’re still on the hook for the deductible and getting the outside drain and the perimeter drains scoped by a plumber. This step was recommended by our agent and our contractor as no one is sure exactly what went wrong on the day of the flood. It will be worth it for me to find out if there’s a problem with the drains because I go into panic mode every time it snows or rains, which it’s been doing almost daily.

Before the flood, we’d been looking for a house to buy as a rental property. We’ve never been landlords, but the time seemed right for us to take this big, scary step. After looking at about thirty duds, we found a house we love. The plan is to rent it for a few years to pay down the mortgage and then move into it and rent our current, less nice, place.

Our offer was accepted about two days before we had the flood and realized just how miserable and stressful home ownership can be. On March 31, we’ll be doing it times two.

I haven’t started biting my nails again, but the level in the wine box has been dropping faster than I’d like.

The one ray of sunshine in this sea of worry and anxiety?–We’re still without a vacuum cleaner!

The Best Things about a Flooded Basement

002The top five best things about having a basement flood just before Valentine’s Day:

5. When you finally get around to going out for a romantic dinner, the restaurant isn’t busy because all the normal couples celebrated on the 14th. You get to enjoy a peaceful dinner in a near empty restaurant with attentive servers. Plus, you’re so relieved to get out of your damp, stinking house for a couple of hours you don’t even care if the wine isn’t chilled or the pizza has olives.

4. You can kill two birds with one stone regarding chocolate consumption. You’ll be eating the chocolates you received to celebrate V.D. (Valentine’s Day) anyway so you don’t need to take in extra chocolate calories because of flood stress.

3. If you’re considering de-cluttering, a basement flood is a not so subtle nudge in that direction. Nothing encourages de-cluttering like having 90% of your possessions destroyed!

2. Someone else cleans out that creepy closet under the stairs where the spiders live.

And the best thing about having a basement flood?

1. Your vacuum cleaner, conveniently stored in the basement, has been rendered useless. Yes!!! The habitable portion of the house may be fluffy with dust bunnies and Chihuahua hair, but you don’t feel guilty about not vacuuming. You can’t because you don’t have a vacuum cleaner. You were flooded.

When Your Basement Floods…

035015I spent the days leading up to Valentine’s Day making plans with a man–a group of men, actually.

Not sailors, but contractors.

We weren’t talking red or white wine, French or Italian food. We were deciding how much of the walls needed to be removed, whether the carpet was salvageable and where to store all the stuff in the basement while the reconstruction work is happening.

I wasn’t reassured to hear, “This could go on for months.”

After a night of heavy rain on pre-existing snow, our basement flooded. It was just a couple of inches of water in the unfinished, cement-floored area but had soaked into the carpet in the rest of the space. I’ve learned that just a couple of inches is all it takes.

Although the upstairs wasn’t damaged, the entire house is damp and the insides of all the windows are drippy. The pot plants are loving it. The rest of us, not so much.

Big loud dehumidifiers and fans have been running continuously since the water was discovered, but the house still smells like the inside of an abandoned boat house.

We’re waiting for word from the insurance company. Will they cover the damage, or won’t they? It’s the big question at the front of my mind.

They sent a team to examine, interview and photograph, but we won’t hear until sometime next week whether all those fat premiums we’ve been paying for years will actually get us anything.

In the meantime, the work downstairs continues.

How to Move Far Away with a Sailor

006A successful blogger recently explained that she attracts readers by offering advice. Posts titled “How to” anything are especially popular.

Since I love to tell people what to do (hello–I’m a mom and a teacher!), this seems like a perfect fit for me.

I present the first of my friendly suggestion posts: How to Move Far Away with a Sailor.

Anyone connected with the military has had to deal with involuntary moves far far away. While this can be an opportunity to see different places and meet new people, it can also be daunting, particularly if you’re the timid type.

I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into when I moved to Halifax with my sailor. It was a bit of a struggle, but I got through it and I think I’m more independent and (dare I say it?) daring because of the experience.

This is what I learned.

1. Force yourself to get out and meet people. A job can be a great way to do this, but sometimes good jobs aren’t easy to come by. When I arrived in Halifax, no one was hiring teachers. Wandering around the mall alone everyday soon got old, especially when my sailor went off to sea for months at a time. I volunteered for the Canadian Cancer Society, worked at a pancake house and even (briefly) joined the Officers’ Wives Club bowling team. I’m way too uncoordinated to bowl regularly, but I stayed long enough to make a couple of friends and get myself invited to other social events that were more my style.

2. Find a new hobby. Mine was cooking, which is actually a solitary pursuit, but it gave me something to do when I was bored and kept me out of Tim Hortons. (I became addicted to their cinnamon sugar doughnuts.) To complement my developing prowess in the kitchen, my sailor and I became a wine making team–he made it and I drank it. I still enjoy cooking, but the wine making fell by the wayside when I got pregnant and couldn’t drink.

3. Perhaps the most important suggestion for anyone feeling lost and alone in a strange community: do NOT make any major changes the first time you visit a new hair stylist! I was bored, lonely and for some reason thought a zippy new do would be the answer to all my problems. Since I didn’t have a stylist in town, I made an appointment at the salon in the mall, printed a photo of a young Meg Ryan with her shaggy blonde mane and honestly thought my life would change for the better once I looked like America’s sweetheart. Years later I still have trouble breathing when I remember the result. It was more Meg Griffin than Meg Ryan.

Although these tips are based on my experience of moving far, far away with a sailor, they will apply whether you’re leaving your life behind for a grand romantic gamble with a professional bowler, a chicken rancher or anyone really.

Easiest White Bread?

I got cocky this Family Day weekend.

It’s cold, wet and snowy. Winter is giving us a last wallop before spring arrives, and I’m fed up with these frigid conditions. I craved something comforting to combat Mother Nature’s abuse. What’s more warming than the smell of baking bread when you’re riding out a storm? Nothing, that’s what!

The recipe I found online was amazingly simple.

Dissolve a sachet of active dry yeast in warm water, stir in a little salt, a pinch of sugar, a glug of olive oil and a whole bunch of flour. Knead for an undisclosed amount of time, leave it to rise and voila–a beautiful loaf of bread ready to pop into the oven.

The first indication that something wasn’t right was when my dough barely plumped after its time alone under a tea towel. A quick internet search revealed that the yeast needs time to bubble away in its warm, sugary bath before anything else is added. My super simple recipe neglected to mention this.

Not only did I end up with a rustic slab more like a giant cracker than a loaf of bread, but there was no delicious baking bread scent.

My sailor is at work today because Family Day is a provincial holiday and he works for the federal government so that left my boy as chief guinea pig, er, taster.

“I don’t think we should eat that,” he said poking it with a steak knife. “I overheard you telling someone on the phone that you didn’t do it properly.”

“It’s fine,” I said, taking the knife off him and hacking at the tough crust. “I’m your mother. I’d never intentionally harm you.”

His eyes widened as I passed him a heavy lump.

“It’s the word intentionally that worries me.”

We each tried a crouton-sized bite.

The dog, who is normally the biggest mooch going, didn’t come near the kitchen while I was slicing it. It’s probably for the best as she’s the only one in the family without access to free healthcare.

And my sailor?–He’ll stick to Wonder Bread for the time being.

Double Double, Toilet Trouble!

012My sailor isn’t the most handy guy around.

He puts on a good show, banging at things randomly with a hammer and making statements like, “If only I had a jigsaw, I’d install a bay window in the bedroom and build you a new coffee table.”

Although I’ve convinced him to leave electrical issues to professionals because of the danger of electrocution, everything else is fair game.

His last plumbing-related project resulted in the kitchen sink hanging off a couple of rusted bolts while we waited for a plumber who worked holidays to put things back together. (These DIY disasters always happen on weekends and holidays when the tradesmen make double time.)

So when the toilet became clogged last week, I suggested (nagged, really) that we call a plumber. Indoor plumbing is the one thing that separates us from the animals and I wasn’t prepared to risk ours.

My sailor insisted he was up to the job.

After an hour in the bathroom swearing like, well a sailor, he emerged to announce he didn’t have the necessary parts. He needed a toilet rebuilding kit. He’s obviously a better handy man than I am as I didn’t even know these kits existed, nevermind that you could get them at Walmart.

I won’t pretend things went smoothly afterward. There was more blue language and my sailor suffered several scrapes, a blood blister on his index finger and a mysterious gash on his head. (They’re not lying when they say head wounds bleed profusely.)

All the aggravation and minor injuries were worth it, though–my sailor successfuly rebuilt the toilet! We now enjoy gold standard flushes.

I just might get my bay window and new coffee table after all.

How to Accessorize a Sailor

My sailor and I had another day out together.

This time my sailor decided to step things up a notch. He wore his bespoke top coat from Afghanistan. He styled it with a pair of dark Levi’s and a soft chambray shirt. This is a big step up from the Gortex jacket/rugby shirt combination he usually wears when he’s not in uniform.

He looked good…until he grabbed his ratty nylon backpack on the way out the door.

“You can’t bring that if you’re wearing your nice coat,” I said, wondering why it’s often necessary to state the obvious.

Since he likes to have something to carry his bits and pieces, we ended up looking for a stylish man bag for him.

It was mind-blowing to finally share one of my favourite activities–hand bag shopping–with one of my favourite people!

He was initially reluctant, fearing he’d end up with something purse-y looking, but he eventually came around, trying on bags in different stores and discussing features like buckles, handles and cross body straps.

Finally, I took him into one of my special places–the Coach store. (More than he was prepared to spend, but I wanted to broaden his horizons and show him what a quality leather bag looked and felt like.)

I almost lost him when the sales associate suggested a huge striped man tote.

“Uh no. He’s not a tote kind of guy.”

I’m not judging those fine men who proudly carry their big striped totes, but I’m glad my sailor isn’t one of them.

He ended up with a rugged leather Kenneth Cole messenger bag from the Bay that no one will mistake for a purse.

I ended up with memories of a beautiful day with my sailor.

Maybe we can try shoe shopping next week!

Date Day

006003Experience has taught me that the more I look forward to something, the bigger a disappointment it will be.

Probably because reality can’t live up to my expectations.

This was the case during our highly anticipated Friday date day. There was nothing inherently wrong with the day. It just wasn’t as special as I’d hoped.

The first disappointment was lunch.

We hoped to go to the Parliament Building restaurant.

The Parliament Building is a focal point on Victoria’s Inner Harbour. I once took a class there on a field trip. The highlight of the tour–the portraits of BC’s premiers, including one who died shortly before his picture was to be taken. Being a Victorian portrait photographer wasn’t for the faint of heart. The fresh corpse was propped in a wing chair and the photo shoot went ahead as planned.

The dining room for the politicians is open to the public, but we can’t often go because it’s closed weekends. It was our first choice for our rare weekday out. Unfortunately, it was the first choice for a number of other diners. We were turned away because we didn’t have reservations.

We went to Pagliacci’s. It was nice, but not what we wanted.

After lunch, we went house shopping. We’re thinking of making a move and had a short list of about ten places to view. None of them was even close to what we’re looking for. It was discouraging.

The day wasn’t a total loss, though:

We had a sweet moment when I told my sailor he’s my best friend. Surprisingly I’ve never told him that before, but I realized that I can tell him things I don’t even share with the dog. That’s trust!

I didn’t eat the luscious peanut butter cream I picked up for our boy at Rogers. This is quite an achievement for a chocoholic like me and I believe it demonstrates the strength of my maternal devotion.

It was sunny and warmish–a perfect day for wandering downtown.

Small moments to celebrate in an otherwise meh day.

A Purse Person

My name is Nanette and I have too many purses.

Getting ready for our date day, I narrowed my choice to four. Unless you’re a purse person, you likely won’t see many differences between each of the shortlisted handbags. Believe me, they are quite different.

In the absence of a girlfriend to help me choose, I resorted to desperate measures–I asked my sailor.

“Well,” he said, “I’ll bring my backpack to carry everything, so pick the smallest one.”

He looked quite pleased with himself.

“Forget about the size. Which one looks best?”

“Okay,” he pointed to a large tote. “That one.”

“Really? Why?”

“I like it more than the others, especially that small black one over there.”


“When we went to Powell River, you told me to take the small black one because it’s so much nicer than the tote you picked today.”


My name is Nanette and I have too many purses and a sailor who doesn’t understand the importance of accessorizing.