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October 2010

October 26, 2010

Tanner, Who Wishes


In December I'm going to Kamloops, B.C., to help renovate the home of a boy I've never met. 

I found out about this boy through his aunt, Catherine Connors, who has been raising money to help her nephew, Tanner. 

Tanner has Duchenne's muscular dystrophy*, which makes his muscles weaker and weaker as he grows older. 

He's only 10, but he knows that kids with this genetic condition don't live very long.  There is no treatment for Duchenne's muscular dystrophy and it is 100% fatal.

So Tanner made a life list of his most important wishes - boy things, like riding on a train or being a cowboy for a day - but his biggest wish is to die at home instead of in a hospital.

Surely, that wish is possible.

Tanner needs round-the-clock care and most of that responsibility rides on the slender shoulders of his mother.  His needs require a ton of energy and focus and at this point, Tanner's mum, Chrissie, is running on little more than adrenaline and love. 

If we can convert Tanner's unfinished basement into a space suitable for a live-in caregiver, who can help monitor Tanner's condition (and relieve his mother's 24-hour vigilance), then Tanner's wish is very fulfillable.

It means we need to ask for donations - lumber, tools, air transport and hotel for family and volunteer crew members, storage bins, furniture, finishes, bathroom fixtures, flooring. 

Daniel and I have offered to help with construction and to teach inexperienced volunteers how to use power tools, frame walls and hang sheetrock.  And I also offered to pull together donations of supplies and equipment (yes I did - even though I've always been freakishly nervous about asking for anything; I'm over that).

So while we were out west last week, Daniel and I drove to Kamloops to meet Tanner and make plans with Catherine and Chrissie.   

Tanner wasn't there.  He'd been admitted to hospital that morning with signs of an infection. And although Chrissie and Catherine were making the best of Tanner's sudden hospitalization, their anxiety was palpable. 

We cranked into planning mode, as humans do when they're holding the unknown at bay.  We made lists. Daniel took pictures of the basement for reference and planning. 


I also found out from Catherine and Chrissie that several wish-building heroes have already stepped forward, notably Naomi, the mother of one of Tanner's classmates, who offered to measure and draft the proposed changes to the basement using her computer design  skills.  And Naomi's family, who owns the truss-building company in Kamloops that will donate our lumber.

Stanley, Black and Decker and DeWALT have already offered to contribute the construction tools we'll need.  I think every supplier I'm going to ask will want to participate.  I'll find out when I start making phone calls this week for all of the stuff we need. 

If you have contacts at a company that may want to contribute any of the following materials, please contact me directly:  mag at toolgirldotcom ---

  • Drywall
  • Paint
  • Trim
  • Laminate flooring
  • Insulation
  • Bathtub, toilet and sink
  • Lighting
  • Plumbing fixtures
  • Queen-sized bed frame
  • Queen mattress
  • Toaster oven
  • Coffee maker

I'll post weekly updates on the companies and people who are helping make Tanner's biggest wish come true. Although I haven't met him yet, I have a feeling about Tanner.  I think he's a huge and unforgettable soul with a great deal to teach in the time he has left.

*Tanner's muscular dystrophy is caused by a problem with the gene that makes a protein called dystrophin. This protein helps muscle cells keep their shape and strength. Without it, muscles break down and a person gradually becomes weaker. DMD affects boys. Symptoms usually start between ages 2 and 6. By age 10 or 12, kids with DMD often need to use a wheelchair. The heart may also be affected, and people with DMD need to be followed closely by a lung and heart specialist. Over time, even the muscles that control breathing get weaker, and a person might need a ventilator to breathe. People with DMD usually do not survive beyond their late teens or early adulthood.

October 25, 2010

Mag's Segments on REAL LIFE This Week

Screen shot 2010-10-25 at 11.37.46 AM

Mag's fun stuff coming up on Real Life At Home this week!

Monday: Conjoined Tin - Adding a quick tin backsplash to your kitchen: This is so easy you'll be done by noon (step-by-step instructions here)

Wednesday: Slide Remarks – Moving heavy objects by sliding them on high-tech polyethylene strips: The wheelbarrow and handcart have a new cousin who's smarter and has a slimmer figure

Friday: Glitz 'n Hammer - How to choose a hammer:  One of the questions beginners often have about hand tools is what type of hammer to buy, so this covers new developments in hammer evolution.

But wait, there's more!

More great stuff on Real Life this week with expert guests and your congenial hosts, Sharon Caddy and Tanya Prokomenko...

  • How to Allergy-Proof Your Home
  • Secrets to Getting the Right Shapewear (I don't even know what shapewear is but I think I must get some)
  • Gadgets for Your Home Office
  • Changing Your Tire at Roadside


October 22, 2010

Artisanal Pencil Sharpening

via artisanalpencilsharpening.com

The manly craft of pencil sharpening taken to the level of pure art. And who wouldn't want this attractive printed poster, framed and fetching, on their workshop wall? I love this on about 9 levels.  And what a great Christmas gift for a fuss-pot relative.

October 14, 2010

Russian Woman Builds House of 5,000 Glass Bottles

via www.treehugger.com

This is so inspirational. I just love it when a girl gets an idea and chases it down until it's hers.

October 04, 2010

The Woodworking Tools & Renovations show

via toolshows.ca

I'm starting to pack my tools for 5 Ladies' Nights across Canada starting Friday October 15th in Surrey, B.C. - Maybe you can come out (you don't have to be a lady - I hardly ever am); Plus I'm giving away tons of free gifts to attendees because I want to be Canada's Ellen. You could go home with free silk bedding from SmartSilk, free household products from Planet People, or free tools from Ryobi and Ridgid


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Mag's Books

  • : We're All In This Together

    We're All In This Together
    Based on four years of interviews with Steve Smith, Mag's unconventional biography reveals the personal stories, sorrows and joys that continue to inspire the man behind the Red Green legacy.

  • : How Hard Can It Be?

    How Hard Can It Be?
    Mag's quirky and entertaining book of home improvement projects for beginners.

Nota Bene

  • It’s never too late to be who you might have been. - George Eliot (1819-1880)
  • Simplicity of character is the natural result of profound thought. - My fortune cookie