Thursday, October 8, 2015

Fridge follies

We had a new fridge delivered today. And had the old one hauled away.

The old fridge was delivered from the store where we'd bought it, along with a stove, washer & dryer, the same day we moved into this house in May 1990 -- 25 years ago. We replaced the washer & dryer six years ago.  Aside from needing a new oven light inside, the stove is still chugging along -- knock wood...!

(The dishwasher is another story:  the house, which was 6-7 years old at the time we bought it, already had a built-in dishwasher left by the previous owners. It lasted us another 10 years. By that time, the spokes on the rack were rusting & snapping off, and then one day, the latch you pressed to open the thing fell off in my hand!  I had company coming to visit that weekend, so I went to the mall, picked out a new one & had it delivered the next day. That one lasted just two years (until just after the warranty ran out, of course...) before it began acting up. The repair guy we called in told us there was a problem with the motherboard that would cost up to $300 to fix (on top of the $75 he'd charged us just for showing up to diagnose the problem). That was almost as much as we'd PAID for the thing. So back to the store we went to look for (another) new one.  That was about 13 years ago now... so far, so good...!).

About six years ago, water started dripping down the back & collecting at the bottom of the fridge, underneath the crisper bins, and occasionally running out onto the floor.  I called in a service guy & it took him all of five minutes to clean out a tube at the back of the unit.  (I also had him look at the washer & dryer, and that's when those got replaced.)(I still love my "new" front loader!)

About two years ago, dh (who was already off work) called me at the office in a panic, saying he didn't think the fridge was working very well, that the ice cream in the freezer was going soft. When I got home that night, everything seemed OK to me. We looked at a few new fridges but decided to hold off.

Earlier this summer, water started puddling up on the bottom of the fridge again. Then last Saturday night, we heard a "THUNK" and the motor on the fridge (never very quiet) started running very loudly. Dh & I looked at each other. "Well," he said, "this is new." It eventually quieted down.

The next day, I cleaned up a puddle of water at the bottom of the fridge before we left to go to the movies. Several hours later, we returned. I noticed there wasn't any water in the bottom of the fridge, which seemed odd. And the usual noises had been replaced by a quiet, low hum. I noticed that even though there was noise, the fan didn't seem to be running in the freezer. And dh's ice cream sandwiches felt a bit soft. I filled an ice cube tray with water, shut the door & waited a few hours to see what would happen.

A few hours later, the water in the ice cube trays was still water. And dh's ice cream sandwiches were turning to mush. The fridge wasn't DEAD, but it obviously wasn't working very well either.

We threw a bunch of food out to be safe. Of course, once we did that, we heard a click and before long, the old familiar noises had returned and the water in the ice cube tray had turned to ice. (Figures.)

We had hoped to hang onto the fridge for a little while longer, but we decided it has served us well, and better to be safe than sorry when it comes to food spoilage. The next day, we went shopping. Nothing fancy.  White (to match the other kitchen appliances -- if we were replacing the stove too, I would have gotten stainless, but we're hoping to hang onto THAT for a little while longer...)(famous last words?? :p ), bottom-mount freezer compartment (new for us but I understand it's the most popular option these days). I love the double-door models, but we just couldn't justify the extra cost.

Ta-da!  Our new fridge!

Long may it run!

What kind of fridge do you have? How old is your oldest appliance? 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

NotMoms, unite!

I know this is short notice (I just realized I haven't written anything about it yet, but better late than never...!) -- but if you're childless/free for whatever reason, and can make it to Cleveland, Ohio, this coming weekend (Oct. 9-10), have I got an event for you!

Karen Malone Wright of The Not Mom has organized what has to be a first: The NotMom Summit 2015, a conference for "not moms" from right across the spectrum -- from those of us (like me) who weren't able to have children to those who made a conscious choice not to have children, to everything in between. This promises to be a groundbreaking gathering of our tribe, with some amazing guest speakers.

Karen recently spoke with two different childless/free bloggers about her own story, her website, the conference, and childlessness generally: 
And she and some of the conference speakers (including Savvy Auntie's Melanie Notkin) appeared on a local radio show, "The Sound of Ideas," to talk about the conference and the NotMom "movement."  (Approx. 50 minutes.)

All three are great podcasts & worthwhile watching/listening. :)

Sadly, I won't be able to make it to the conference (although a visit to Cleveland & the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame specifically is one of my bucket list items...!)... but I wish Karen much success with this project (so much so that there might be a second conference some day??), and I would love to hear from any of you who go!

*** *** ***

Another excellent (audio) podcast that I stumbled on this week: Melanie Holmes, author of "The Motherhood Assumption," which I wrote about here (and who, coincidentally, is a speaker at The NotMom Summit), was interviewed by Michelle Marie McGrath on her Unclassified Woman podcast.  (Approx. 51 minutes)

(Melanie pays tribute to Madelyn Cain & her book, "The Childless Revolution," as someone who personally inspired her. I found & read "The Childless Revolution" right around the same time that we made the decision to stop infertility treatments. The book covers the spectrum of childlessness -- by choice, infertility & circumstance -- and was one of the very few I could find back then to speak to my situation.)

Monday, October 5, 2015

#MicroblogMondays: Baby, it's cold outside...

The autumn chill has been slowly creeping into the air. I was still able to wear my beloved capris & sandals to the mall just last week -- but even then, I knew their days were numbered.

And then, this weekend, the weather took a definite turn colder. Saturday morning when I woke up, it was just 63F (17C) in the house. Outside, the high was just 12C (about 54F). (I follow the outside temps in Celsius, but we keep our thermostat set in Fahrenheit. Very Canadian, lol. ;) )(At least for those of us of a certain vintage who straddle both systems.) It rose to a balmy 65F (18C) at one point during the afternoon -- but when we got back from dinner out that evening, it was back down to 63F, and would no doubt have dropped further during the night. (Funny how 17C or 18C outside can be perfectly pleasant, while inside, it feels like an icebox...!)

Dh is reluctant to turn the furnace on before we've had a professional in to clean & inspect it -- but even he was finding it cold. So we caved and turned the thing on. It's nice & toasty warm again in the house, and the towels are drying out properly. (One of my pet peeves during these in-between times when it's too cold for the air conditioning to run but not cold enough to turn on the furnace:  damp, musty towels that I have to wash more frequently. Yuck.)

How about you? Have you turned on your furnace yet? When do you usually turn it on (around what date or what temperature), & what temperature do you usually keep it set at?

(Depending on the weather, we've sometimes managed to go to mid-October without turning on the heat. I usually start getting cold once the temp dips below 68F/20C and cave if it gets to 65F/18C or colder.  We usually keep the furnace somewhere between 68F and 72F/22C. In the summer, we usually keep the a/c around 73F/23F.)

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here       

A timely Facebook find. :)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Who's NOT busy?

In the very early days of this blog, I wrote a post that eventually became my contribution to the Stirrup Queen's Crème de la Crème list of 2007 (#37 on the list).  Titled "In a tizzy about being busy," I reflected on a dinner gathering where I sat silent while a table full of my mommy friends commiserated about how busy they were. Who was I to complain about being busy, when I didn't have any kids, right? Even though it was Christmastime, year end at work, cold season, and I was so tired I was practically nodding off into my pasta.

I thought about that post the other day when I read a great essay on a site called, intriguingly, "Role Reboot:  Life, Off Script." It was written by Melanie Holmes, who is also the author of a book called "The Female Assumption: A Mother's Story, Freeing Women from the View that Motherhood is a Mandate." (I have not read this yet, but it's on my wish list!) 

As the title suggests, Holmes has kids;  she just wants those kids (and particularly her daughter) to know that parenthood is a choice, and that it's OK if they choose not to have kids. How refreshing! 

Holmes's essay is called "You Don’t Own The Definition Of ‘Busy.’" "No one person or category of persons has cornered the market on “Busyness.” Although there are plenty of people who would like to believe they have," she writes.  (She's singing my song...!)  ;)  My favourite part: 
In the interviews I conducted for my book, I interviewed a teacher who does not want her own kids. She has heard from her co-workers who are mothers, “You just don’t know what tired is.” Really?! So then the female entrepreneur who volunteers to lead her state’s chapter of the Special Olympics, while managing a busy practice, and being a good boss, friend, daughter, aunt, and sister—she’s not exhausted? Because she doesn’t have her own kids?  
It’s incorrect to think that you own the corner on “busyness.” You don’t. You may feel pulled in a million directions, as I do, as many people do, but unless you’ve walked in the shoes of each person on the face of this earth, then please, I beg you, please refrain from assuming that you’re in the category of “the busiest.”
There's more (but this was the part most relevant to the ALI community).  Go read the rest of it here.

Thank you, Melanie Holmes! I look forward to getting & reading your book soon. :)

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Recent reading

With the launch of Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Month, stories related to loss and infertility are coming fast & thick into my various news & blog feeds.  A couple of great articles & posts I've come across recently:
  • Pamela of Silent Sorority offers her take on Kim Cattrall's comments about motherhood in a new forum called Slant. Quote:
    • "Women who are not mothers face the unique burden that parents don’t, namely, qualifying themselves as loving women. That is how we often end up in weirdly defensive positions. We are all but required to demonstrate that we are ‘mother-like’ in order to be accepted as the lesser of equals."
  • You can also comment on Pamela's related blog post, in which she also reflects on her RESOLVE award, five years later.  
  • Tony Award-winning Broadway actress Laura Benanti writes about her experience with "the Voldemort of women's health issues" for Huffington Post. 
    • Sample quote: "Why, if my neighbor sees me looking sad and asks me if I am okay, is it perfectly acceptable to tell her my aunt passed away, or I lost my job, or I had to put my dog down -- but if I tell her I experienced a miscarriage, I am somehow inappropriately oversharing?"

Friday, October 2, 2015

Retirement guilt

I had lunch this week with several of my former coworkers. All of them lost their jobs the same day as me (14+ months ago now)(!), or in a subsequent round of cuts that's taken place since then.

All of them were long-serving (10-25+ years) employees in their late 40s/50s. All of them are well-educated, highly qualified, hard-working people. Most of them have families & mortgages. They want to get back to work. They NEED to get back to work.  

It's been 14 months. None of them have found jobs yet.

Much of the conversation revolved around job search stories & tips. (The consensus was that employers are being extremely picky, searching for the elusive perfect candidate who ticks all the boxes on their wish list -- not just some, or most. Nobody gives you the courtesy of letting you know that you didn't get the job, or providing a shred of feedback on why. Automated systems and HR suck;  networking is critical to getting your resume in front of an actual human being who has power over hiring decisions. And yes, maybe there's some ageism at work, too.)

Since I'm not looking for a job (& probably won't be anytime soon), I stayed mostly silent. Once again, I felt guilty that I've managed to get off relatively scot-free, compared to my peers. (And worry that I haven't made the right decisions, and will wind up being a bag lady & eating cat food when I'm 85.)  What makes me so special, right?

And then I remember: Oh yeah. The reason I can do this is because my daughter died before she was born (and I was never able to have another baby), and we were able to sock away the money we would have spent on our family towards the goal of an early retirement. Even when that retirement happened a little earlier than we'd planned, we'd done enough of the right things that we'll be OK.

But I'd still rather be looking for work, if I could have my daughter here.

Think anyone would want to trade places with me, if they knew all the details? :p

Thursday, October 1, 2015

In the "it's about time" category...

The Ontario government FINALLY -- after years of panels, studies and promises -- announced today that it will begin funding IVF treatment this December.

The program announced today is not perfect. The government will fund just one (1), single-embryo transfer cycle for women who have not yet passed their 43rd birthday. (ETA:) Drugs are not included.

Still, it's better than nothing, and better than what we've had for many years. And it's more generous than what most other 9 Canadian provinces provide. Quebec used to have a comparatively generous program, but it proved to be more expensive than the government anticipated and it has since been significantly scaled back and changed to a tax credit program. Manitoba offers tax credits while New Brunswick offers a one-time grant. That's it.

Obviously, it's too late for me to benefit from this development. I'm way (WAY) too old for one thing, and for another, I decided I was done with fertility treatments and came to terms with my childlessness long ago. I never did do IVF -- and even with the considerable financial burden removed (or at least softened), it's not the answer for everyone dealing with infertility. It's still a physically, mentally and emotionally draining process that few couples are adequately prepared to navigate. I found three cycles of IUIs with injectable drugs were quite enough for me;  I think IVF would have sent me straight around the bend.

But finances were certainly one of the major considerations for us when were trying to decide how far we wanted to pursue parenthood. I'm glad money will be at least slightly less of a factor for other infertile couples from Ontario who will be considering their family building options in the future.

A couple of articles from The Globe and Mail about today's announcement & the issue of public funding of fertility treatments generally. Beware the comments!! (they're not pretty :p )