Thursday, December 31, 2009


My daughter Zoe now has a cork floor in her bedroom. It's called a floating floor, hopefully not because it'll get so wet with global warming that we'll need it as a raft. This is the second floor we've installed in our new to us house, and it went pretty well.

Things I learned.

Builders who put in angles other than 90 degrees are evil. If the odd angle has a doorway in it, and if the angle continues into a closet, they really, really, really hate the person who will be doing the finishing work. Did you know that a mitre box is great for 45 degree cuts, but no others?

If you could commit a sin strongly enough to go to hell, I'd be there. I had severe tool envy while installing quarter round. I really wanted a sliding compound mitre saw and an air powered nail gun. I had a mitre box, a hand saw, 2 hammers and a box of 2" finishing nails.

Quarter round is not corner round. I always thought it was called corner round. Not as funny a mishearing as the girl with colitis walks by, but still wrong. As it's 1/4 of a round stick, the name shouldn't surprise me. But it goes in the corner where the wall meets the floor, so either name fits.

2" nails are WAY too long for 11/16 inch quarter round. Unless you are looking for a real workout with a hammer.

Spackle in a tube is still one of my favourite things. Spackle. Spackle spackle spackle. Still love that word. Maybe one day I will grow up and not giggle every time I hear it. I hope not.

There are more than 4 wrong ways to cut a 45 degree angle, but only one right one.

A mistake doesn't use up much quarter round. The offcuts are amusingly curvy, and surprisingly plentiful.

Despite a total lack of experience installing trim, I can do a good job.

I should take pictures. Right now the cork floor - so beautifully installed people think it's a sheet and not planks - is underneath teen daughter's new furniture and mounds of clothing. Ah well.

I still need to install the reducer strip. If you leave a rough edge of flooring, you need to fix it before installing said strip. I spent over an hour today with a hammer and chisel, evening out the edge. Clearly there is a market for extra wide reducer strips. Unless I am the only person who measures, makes a paper mold of the odd cuts (thanks, oh creative builder, for your not quite perfect 135 degree angles), marks the piece, then adds a half inch or so at the door end. It is lovely and straight now, ready to install the perfectly cut piece of transition strip that will stop the ugly blue carpet from leaving bits all over the house. I think I will screw it in, so it's easy to remove when the carpet goes. The underpad was disintegrating, although I've removed worse.

Next job? Not sure. My credit card is keen for a break. The floor plus new furniture plus Christmas kind of caused it pain, even though most was paid off with the last bill. But boy, is the remaining blue carpet ever ugly...

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Post Christmas installation blues

It used to be batteries - you never had enough for all the things you bought, no matter how carefully you checked the packaging. There would always be a remote or something that needed still more batteries. Even if you only bought teddy bears, they needed batteries. Or something.

Now it's more complicated, but there are fewer tears. We spent about 45 minutes setting up the new router - dual band, or something, so when we watch YouTube videos we don't get the spinning thing while the video decides if it should progress past the 1:03 mark. I can now spend more time watching the Muppets and Monty Python sketches.

We also set up the wireless wheel. Which has a mess of wires - only wireless if you add 65 batteries or so. See paragraph 1 above. Child #3 is loving the steering wheel game, and has bought and crashed one corvette. May his real life driving prove more cautious.

Then we attacked the PVR. The instructions lie. You have to call Rogers and convince them that you are a legitimate customer. Then they try to sell you stuff you already have. Then read out serial numbers, several times. It's been a few hours, but mostly that's because my husband - who bought the PVR - was over at his dad's chipping ice off his Cadillac for the last 2 hours. Ah, holiday ice storms. If the sun comes out, it will be spectacular.

All told, we had a very nice Christmas. The kids are happy with their gifts and seem to think we got them more than enough loot. We went sledding on Christmas day, and it was fun. The driving was fine, as the freezing rain didn't start till we were back. I got booze and chocolate, in quantity, so expect to see me in the New Year as a fat alcoholic.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ritual without religion

I am a fan of blogs. Mostly science & skeptical blogs, and one that is more philosophical and political - Greta Christina's blog. Her writing is as exceptional as her thinking.

My writing is as muddy as mine, so thanks for your patience in slogging through ye olde silly blog.

But she had a thought that made me think, which is better than just thoughts I agree with. Thinking is fun. Honest. I just don't do enough of it.

She mentioned that she thought some people might be tied to the rituals, not the beliefs, of their faith, and that it was possible to be a secular Jew or Catholic.

I agree that you can be a secular Jew. By my definition, of course, which means someone who sees their Judaism as a cultural and not merely religious heritage.

Catholic I had more trouble with. Maybe because I can't see something I used to be associated with as particularly meaningful. I mean, they spend years going on about how much communion rocks, then you finally get your first communion, and it's a gummy wafer. It's tasteless, it adheres to the roof of your mouth (or retainer, if you forget to take it out), and it better not be the body of christ cause he's been dead, for, like, 2000 years, eh, so it'd, be, like, gross.

OK, so clearly by ritual she means more than ritualistic pseudo cannibalism, my favourite phrase for communion. And with Judaism the holy bits are associated with a history of persecution. Insane persecution. I mean, it's amazing anyone lasted as a Jew.

I just don't see that same history with Catholicism. Yeah, a few early Christians made excellent lion food. But it's not like the Romans were nice to everyone else, and Constantine made it the norm once he converted, I think in AD 333. Or so. And how much systematic repression against Catholics has there been since? Some, sure, the Irish would have a few stories, and certainly it was an issue for JFK. But in Canada? Not so much.

I realize a ritual is not simply meaningful cause your relatives got killed for it. Meaning I have yet to form a coherent thought. One may yet arrive, don't hold your breath.

Dropping the religious bits of Catholicism leaves guilt. Ask any former Catholic. Not much else. Christmas? The tree and gifts were adopted from the pagans. Easter? What? Did Jesus hide chocolate eggs as he staggered towards his execution carrying a cross? Maybe they left that bit out. I don't know where the chocolate egg hiding or bunny delivering them comes from, but it ain't Catholicism. What else? White dresses? Odd hats? Men wearing red dresses? The chants of a mass that come back verbatim at every funeral I sit through? I don't find it comforting, though - I find it depersonalizes the funeral.

So I don't think that there's any meaningful ritual that ties a former Catholic to Catholicism similar to those that would create a secular Jew. Am I wrong? For some people, absolutely. For me, not so much.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Really crappy weight loss plan

1. Catch H1N1. Make sure your virus comes with nausea.
2. Spend 36 hours in bed, eating 2 small bowls of plain white rice. It helps with drinking fluids.
3. Stagger out of bed, eat another small bowl of rice. Enjoy feeling of being upright and not in pain.
4. Discover that you can tolerate small amounts of chili mixed in the rice. Mmmm. Flavour. You can eat almost 1/3 of a cup of this!
5. It's now day 3, and you can branch out. Go wild. Try a half bowl of muesli. It'll only take 25 minutes or so to eat. For lunch, revert back to chili and rice. Dinner? Almost an entire half asparagus omelette!
6. Day 4. The children have caught the illness. Eat a slightly less small bowl of cereal, and for lunch, almost the rest of the omelette. Dinner is great, but by now your stomach feels like you've undergone gastric bypass surgery and only holds half a bowl.

Congratulations! You've now lost 5 pounds! If you can ignore the near-constant hacking cough and your feverish children, or if you maybe wanted to lose weight, this would be a good thing.

Swine flu sucks. Get the vaccine. Once it's available...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Make it go away

Swine flu news is everywhere. Or rather, 2009 H1N1(A) news.

I like reading the news, although I tend to skip stories about kids dying. I'm a parent, I don't want to imagine the heartache of losing a kid. But this flu, although mostly normal, seems to randomly kill the occasional kid. Healthy kids, too.

I'm not keen on thinking that my kids are in that demographic most likely to get a nasty case of H1N1, even though the odds are quite high that, should they get it, they'll be fine. So what can I do?

D'uh. I can get them vaccinated. Eventually - for now, lineups are brutal and only specific groups should be seeking vaccines. Happily our health department is on Twitter and is updating wait times regularly, so we can wait until it won't be a wait.

In the interim, I can hope that my daughter's current flu-like illness will, like most such illnesses, pass quickly and relatively painlessly.

Vaccinations. One of those things we should be incredibly grateful for, but aren't. I am personally extremely happy my children are highly unlikely to get whooping cough, diptheria, or mumps, let alone polio, and that the eradication of smallpox eliminates the need for that vaccination. Childhood used to be damn risky. Not so much anymore, so we freak out over risks that are miniscule in comparison with what our grandparents dealt with.

Thank you to all the scientists who have and continue to make childhood safer and healthier. You get a lot of flack from wingnuts who blame vaccines for virtually every bad thing that's happened in the last decade or so, all undeserved.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Gobble gobble

I have just eaten an enormous quantity of food, accompanied by wine.

I have also just lost the button on my pants.

You might think they exploded. Assploded? No. This is not the case. They fit OK. A bit large, actually, but I am one of those many not quite a size 8 but a 6 doesn't work after turkey girls.

The button came off as I tried to remove it. This sounds like a classic cake of overturkeyitis, but I'd like to state for the record that it was a classic case of impatience. As in, holy crap, I have drunk too much wine and must pee, why do women's pants have two clasps and a button, oh never mind about the button.

So I must resew the button. And finish the wine. I am in mourning, so it's allowed. My bicycle suffered a traumatic injury. I approached it after work, with the uncharitable thought of gee, hope that isn't mine. It was. A back tire so flat, Arnold's abs are a keg in comparison. I now have 3 flat tires to fix this weekend - one on beater bike, 2 on awesome bike. So I had to trade in $5 for $3 in coins so I could take the crappy bus home, through horrific traffic. I am now paying for a bus pass I don't use, and a bus ride I loathed. Tomorrow is Friday payday long weekend. I suspect I will be a wee mite teed at myself for finishing off the red wine. But for now, I am enjoying it.

Goals for weekend. Fix bikes. Ride like maniac in amazing fall weather, with fabulous leaf colours, just like this morning - which was so beautiful it shouldn't be legal. Watch lunar crash. Realize again the universe is awesome, as is earth, and free of gods. Hug kids.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Back to school sucks

Sorry, Staples. You have it all wrong. It is not the most wonderful time of the year.

Back to school season means I need to find my chequebook. Online banking doesn't work for pizza days, school fees, music books or field trips.

Back to school means new and exciting viruses to infect us. I am one of those really annoying people that rarely gets sick. My spouse gets everything. He's on his 3rd illness. Teen daughter is on her first. The boys had one each. It seems each child had a separate disease they shared only with their father. This kind of generosity he can live without.

I've already gone on at length about school lunches. The children don't eat yoghurt. They infrequently eat chicken. Fruit should be selected for longevity, as it travels back and forth frequently. I send it anyways - maybe one day they will be famished enough to actually eat it.

There are positives. I'm sure there are positives. It's nice seeing my daughter in the morning, even though she's a wee mite grumpy. I can't blame her - she likes to sleep to noon, and is up at 7. The kids spend lots of time with their friends. Sometimes at the friends' houses, which makes ours quieter. The boys spend less time on their vidiot games.

The biggest drawback is homework. I really hate homework. And no, I do not do my kids' homework. I just have to irritate the crap out of them to get them to admit to having any, then nag until my brain hurts to get them to start. This takes 90 minutes. The homework takes 10. If they remember it - we've had our first call from a teacher requesting an interview.

It's been 4 weeks. 3 illnesses. 1 meet the teacher night. 1 request for interviews. Many, many lunches, several used more than once. You'd think after a decade of this I could manage it, and I can, it's just not the most wonderful time of the year. That's at the end of June, only 9 months away!

Monday, September 21, 2009


I went underwear shopping yesterday. The old stuff was not fitting well under my cycling tights. When your underwear is so old and saggy that your lycra wrinkles, it's time to at least consider upgrades.

Teen daughter and I hit Winners after spending much time getting her another cell phone and plan. This will be plan # 5. May it outlast the rest. Although I do hope her background picture is changed - much as I claim to have looked awesome this morning when she laughed hysterically and took my picture, she has evidence to the contrary. Her description of my cycling garb is quite funny. Glad she is sarcastic. I can't imagine having a kid incapable of sarcasm.

Winners on a Sunday afternoon is calm. The underwear racks were wide open, and I started the hanger shuffle.

I think putting underwear on hangers would be a really lousy job.

The shuffle began as it always does - promising, there are cotton panties here, let's check out the waistband. An elastic waistband, even if covered in fabric, must be overlapped to minimize the seam. A flat seam is good. A bulky seam is not. I don't want a bulky seam leaving its impression in my less than rock hard midsection. The promise fades as I realize most of the seams are done wrong.

I find a pair with all my criteria. Except it says Hello Kitty. I've mentioned this before - I'm 42. I do not wear Hello Kitty anything, especially not underwear. That's just wrong. I can understand it in tween or smaller sizes, but they had some in women's extra large. I opted to leave the Hello Kitty panties for someone 1/3 my age - preferably younger.

Why do they make so many kinds of nylon underwear? Who wears nylon underpants? Or mylar, or whatever it's called? My parents were very keen on teaching us the merits of underwear that breaths. Well, not literally - it must allow your bum to breath. Again, not literally. I mean, I don't have a full set of lungs anywhere near my ass. This is a good thing, as there are times when inhaling in that region would be most unpleasant. What my parents meant was that the smells must escape.

That reminds me of a story told by an anthropologist. He and some colleagues had been hanging out with a hunter gatherer tribe, untouched by western civilization, yadda yadda yadda. When they finally asked the tribe members if they had any questions, they asked why do you wear clothes that hold in your farts?

An excellent question. Given that clothing is not optional in a busy city, why make that situation worse with mylar or elastane or any type of synthetic crap clinging to your butt?

I did find many practical pairs of underwear. But only if you wear pants that go up to your armpits. If my trousers rise up to just below my bellybutton, my underwear should not reach well past my waist, front or back. They should rest, comfortably, a few inches below the pants.

Happily DKNY seem to have mastered the art of the cotton bikini brief without badly sewn waist elastic, and some of their garments ended up at Winners. I am now comfortably clad in underwear that fit nicely under lycra, breath, do not shift into areas in which they do not belong, and do not pinch. Too bad they only had a few pairs in my size.

It's the little things that matter. Like comfy gotch.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Painting a small world

The Nylons once said it's a small world. But I wouldn't want to paint it.

This is an admirable sentiment. I have spent far too much time painting. It started with rented bedrooms, spread into rental kitchens, moved to assisting parents and in-laws with their homes, and now has taken over more of my life than I'd like.

We managed to avoid any painting at all for our first 3 years of home ownership.

Then the floral lavender border trim in the bathroom got to me. I removed it. The paint underneath was lavender. The white paint in the rest of the room immediately started peeling, leaving a lavender room. I had no choice. I had to paint.

Then the white walls in the rest of the house started bothering me. Well, sort of white. They had been painted with flat white latex paint. The children had covered the first 4' with fingerprints. Scrubbing those removed enough of the paint to prove the house had been peach. The entire house. Peach. Ewww. So I painted it all. Bedrooms. Hallways. Kitchen. Living and dining room.

Then we moved.

Our new to us house had screaming white flat latex walls. Had. We've now painted the basement - twice. The hallways. Bedrooms. Living room. Dining room. And, in a new experience for me, the backyard shed - twice - the front and back porches, and the bits of wood trim we have in the front. Those were tricky. They are between the first and second storey windows, just about 2' above the top of our ladder.

Did you know it is possible to paint successfully while hanging outside of second storey windows? Not comfortably, but successfully.

This is not something I expected to learn. I also didn't expect to have to tell a child to stop licking his shoe, or not to throw grapes on the rug and jump on them. Life has these fun and less than fun treats for us. Bring it on.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

When I grow up

For me, please substitute "If" for "When".

We all had images, as children, of what being a grown up would be like. My image included an element of seriousness that has proved impossible to achieve. So I'm still waiting to feel like a real grownup.

Real grownups are capable of being serious. They drive cars to work, paying for parking and gas. They drop kids off at daycare. They have working spouses, and both take turns making serious and healthy meals for the family. I see my colleagues, many of whom are much younger than I, and wonder how they manage to radiate such an adult aura. Can they tell I'm faking it?

Right now it's back to school season. The first question everyone asks is did your kids go back to school? The correct answer is yes.

Wrong answers would be more fun.

No, we sold them to a coal mine in China.

School? Is that required once they hit 10?

We sent them last year - do you think they need more time?

We would, but it totally interferes with their video gaming.

I think so. Haven't actually seen them in a few days. When did it start?

Back to school is not the most wonderful time of the year, despite the Staples' commercials. It means spending money on school supplies you put somewhere in June so you wouldn't have to buy them again in August. It means getting the kids out of bed in the morning and attempting to get them to eat. This is a real challenge with teen daughter, who thinks noon is an excellent time to wake up. Her bus comes at 7:20. She usually gets up around 7:10, staggers into the bathroom, rushes off, then calls her dad on her cell to say she missed the bus.

These are challenges I can handle easily. I don't even get that grumpy. Our local Staples has ample supplies at reasonable prices, and short lineups.

My real challenge is the school lunch.

I tweeted recently that school lunches were invented by an intelligent species of mold to ensure a reliable food supply.

My children don't like sandwiches. They don't like cold meat. Or warm yoghurt. It's ridiculous. Last year middle child lost his lunch bag on day 2. This year youngest child lost his on day 1. How do you lose your lunch? It's not like they are in a class of hundreds. Middle child didn't eat the healthy stuff I sent him with. So I sent it back today for youngest child. Teen daughter is still claiming vegetarian status, so I sent her with a fruit salad instead of chicken. I really hate making them lunches. If they ate them, it would be different. Honest.

My brilliant plan this year was to include mini freezer packs with the lunches, so that the yoghurt would stay cold. But I haven't actually sent any yoghurt left - the little bastards ate it all at home. Maybe I should just make lunches, send them with snacks, and they can eat the lunch when they get home?

A real grown up would have the answer. My mother, a true grown up, used to make all the sandwiches on Sunday and freeze them. We'd grab a sandwich and a piece of fruit, get milk at school, and all would be well. I seem to have survived without ever eating prepackaged granola bars, rice crispy squares, froot snaks or the other pseudo-foods marketed as suitable for noontime eating.

Good bye, summer. I really enjoyed mornings without making lunches. Only 8 more years until the youngest finishes high school - and I actually hope they go by far less quickly than the last 8. I may gripe, but the thought of them leaving is almost unbearable. They are terrific kids.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I am 42 years old.

I have been wearing underwear since I was 2. According to my mother, reluctantly - I preferred the diaper.

I survived braless until I had kids. Despite seriously tiny boobs, saggage occurred. Not much, but enough that a bra is needed for 2 reasons.

1. Hoist the wee former milkers up to a respectable level (no, it's NOT eye level).
2. Hide the nips office air conditioning causes.

This means I have decades of experience with both gotch and brassieres. I can tell you I loath and despise shopping for either.


For some reason, bra manufacturers have decided women are like concrete - we need reinforcing. While the underwire is not rebar, it can feel like it. I refuse to wear underwire bras. Fabric should be more than adequate to support a few ounces of flesh. There are 3 types of underwire free bras I've discovered.

1. The sports bra. This is designed to clamp boobs to chest with a grip Superman would envy. As noted above, this type of support for my tiny bosom is excessive. Also, they tend to cover vast areas beyond the actual fat deposits, and feel almost as sexy as control top pantyhose. Almost.

2. The actual woman's bra, without underwire. These are almost as difficult to find as honest personal ads. Not that I look for the latter, I'm just guessing they are like resumes, but less accurate. When found, I tend to buy all of them. Sadly, most tend to come in odd colours. Why would I want a blue bra? I don't want to wear a blue bra under a white blouse. Or under anything, really.

3. The training bra. This name always makes me giggle. What are they being trained for? Constriction? Horrible underwire bras? This is a rapidly diminishing source of wire-free bras, as even the kiddie brassieres are rapidly growing wires. Can I just point out that pre-pregnancy breasts are fabulously beautiful gravity defying creatures, and sticking a wire under them is pointless? I hope it's pointless. My other issue with underwire is its tendancy to escape the fabric and poke. Fuck, I hate them!


I love the word gotch. I don't know why. Gotch. Fungible. Revolting. Anyone who thinks gotch are fungible is revolting. We used to call my little sister gotchola and throw underwear at her. Now we have the audacity to complain that she lives thousands of miles away. We were assholes. Sorry Andrea.

Most underwear is made out of industrial strength polyester, and should never, ever touch skin. Never. I don't want something that, if too hot, will melt into my privates anywhere near my groin.

Much of the remaining panty stock is made of lace. Nylon lace. Scratchy nylon lace. How sexy is the feeling that you need to scratch? It's not. Neither are nylon lace underpants.

Then you have your standard cotton panties. These fall into 2 types. Uncomfortable, and comfortable. The former outnumber the latter about 100 to 1.

Criteria for comfortable cotton panties.

1. Elastic should not be sewn into a bulky seam that chafes the side and the inner thighs. My inner thighs are sensitive, something I am happy about, and I do not wish to desensitize them through constant chafing.
2. They should not reach the armpits. My coverage needs are modest. Briefs should be brief.
3. Butt floss need not apply. I realize the thong gained enormous popularity. Not here.

I've complained about our profligate spending in prior posts, and noted my holy underwear is unlikely to be replaced due to poverty. But the truth is in this post. I simply lack the willpower to search for the needle in the haystack that is the perfect cover for my sexy bits.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hot hot hot

Finally, in mid August, summer has come to Ottawa. Figures the hot, humid weather coincides with my deciding to ride my bike to work.

I love riding my bike. My commute is a particularly nice one - I cycle through the Experimental Farm, then along the canal, leaving only a few blocks in what passes for traffic here. Hard to imagine why I didn't do this sooner. It's my 4th year in my current work location, why did I take the bus or drive until now? Insanity, clearly.

There are downsides to my commute, all personal.

1. I sweat when exercising. Even very modest exercise - like, say, coasting downhill on a bike - makes me sweaty.
2. I turn beet red and stay that way for at least 20 minutes after exercising, even if I end up in a deep freeze.
3. Hunger. I now bring 2 lunches to work.

Item 1 is readily resolved with a visit to the bathroom and a change of clothing. Item 2 resolves itself, eventually. Item 3 is really an upside, I like eating. Clearly, looking at the girth of the average North American, I am not alone in this.

Lunch #1 this week is a chickpea and spinach salad. Lunch #2 is an immodestly sized wrap. The recipe said you could substitute green beans for avocado, so I did. Oddly good. Not that I don't love avocado, it's just that they seem to pick them so early that I half think the avocado tree wasn't even planted yet. If you're in Canada and need a durable substitute for a hockey puck, the typical avocado found in our supermarkets would provide lengthy service.

I realize shipping an avocado from Mexico to Ottawa requires that they be picked before peak ripeness, or you'll end up with a truck full of black, rotting mush. But at least one out of the 100's of avocados for sale should be less than rock hard, right? I'd guess they are picked so early they just never ripen.

Another food that is no longer edible is the peach. Why do today's peaches start out like hard rubber balls, and immediately rot, without ever passing through an edible phase? My kids used to eat fruit once a year, in peach season. Their motivation was simple - if you eat a half a quart of peaches, you can pretty much fart at will. In a small boy, this is an irresistable temptation. I miss the peaches. Not the farts.

I should probably grow my own. Unfortunately, to build and heat a greenhouse for avocados will mean selling the Lexus, the house, and possibly a kid or two. Peaches are pretty borderline here too. So I'll hope that the earwigs have left a few of my still green tomatoes in a near-edible state, and look forward to a fruit picked while ripe. The blackberries were too long ago, and the squirrels ended up eating about half the crop. Soon they will start littering our driveway and yard with acorns. They leave enough on the road it looks like peanut butter after a few cars have gone over them.

I am not eating acorns. But maybe I should? Anyone have any recipes for fresh acorns?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Summer weekends rock

I had a perfect summer weekend. Perfect.

I gardened on Saturday. Ripped out plants, weeded, divided perennials, flung weeds in compost, edged beds. All the things that make me happy, and the garden does look better.

Sunday Hugh and I got to sleep in (nudge nudge wink wink say no more). It's one of the fringe benefits of the kids getting older - we get more time together in bed. Actually, not so much fringe as simply unexpected and really nice. It was raining, but Zoe got up early (10:30 is early for her) and we went for a bike ride.

Ottawa has a series of parkways along the river and canal, and they are closed to drivers on Sundays until 1:00. Makes for great cycling, especially in light rain when all the other cyclists opt to stay in. Wimps.

The only bad thing was Zoe hit a curb wrong when we were 2 blocks from home, flipped off her bike and scraped her knees. Her leg is pretty bruised. I ran home with the 2 bikes & drove her home. Of course, I grabbed a towel too so my wet muddy butt wouldn't mar the Lexus.

Then I got home and threw out my shorts. Zoe pointed out a hole in the bum. How lovely. Good thing I don't wear a thong.

Today was lovely, I mucked about in the compost after another sweet lie in with my awesome spouse. His sister and her family got into town last night, we spent a couple of hours visiting with them at my father in law's place, where they are staying. It's odd - they have 2 girls, the older is about 5'3" and 200 pounds. The younger is about 5'8" and maybe 145 pounds - slim, but not overly so. I wonder if it bugs the older that the younger is basically a hot blond and she's invisible? It must, sometimes.

I even went for a run, gasp, after deciding it just wasn't for me. It isn't for me in the sense that I'll never be a great runner, but it is in the sense that it's cheap, quick, effective and occasionally great. Today was a short but great run, I had oomph and didn't push it too hard.

So, this has been a truly dull post, apologies to my hordes of imaginary fans. But it was such a great weekend I had to write it down.

Friday, July 31, 2009

My own scarlet A!

I noticed a few atheist blogs had a scarlet A on them, and, in a desire to spend my limited time on earth in a highly valuable and productive way, clicked on one.

Now I have my very own A!

Click on it if you, too, wish to learn more about the A; the link is to the out campaign. Not out, as it outing someone for their sexual preferences when they'd prefer not to have those publicly known, but out as in the truth is out! I'm an atheist!

Not exactly a point of pride with me. I'm an atheist because I don't believe there is a god. The more I learn about the world, the more I realize my previously unthinking atheism sure seems a better fit than some "I can do everything but won't because, um, free will" living up in the sky not intervening. Never intervening. Letting the wee children die.

Enough of that - it's Friday afternoon before a long weekend with a decent weather forecast.

I will be gardening.

I probably won't be driving the new Lexus much - like all of Hugh's cars, it's comfortable with a terrific suspension and all the excitement of a warm bath. Alone.

I also plan on cycling. Finally, my bicycle is not stuck to the garage wall, but on the ground, where I can tinker until the brakes work and then hop on.

Life is good. I plan on living it as well as I can for as long as I can, and hope that when I die, people say that I was fun to be with. There's enough serious crap in the world that we really need to grab every chance at fun we can. With the usual responsibilities first I might attack the old couch with a crowbar, but I will be responsible (deep sigh) and try to give it away first.

If you think you want my couch, it's really crappy, and it would be much better to let me trash it, OK?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sweaty garden love

I've been mucking about in the garden. Despite forecasts threatening still more rain, it's been dry today. So I moved hostas. And ferns. And divided a sedum. They have got to be the easiest plant to divide.

More of my hostas and ferns are now where they'll be happier, in dappled shade, and more of my sun loving plants are now in the sun. I'm looking out at my garden, thinking gee, in 5 years everything but the tree will be in a different place. I'm one of those gardeners - the ones who will dig up an entire bed and replant everything 4" to the left, because it looks better that way.

Gardening is free. This makes me very, very happy, because buying a used Lexus is not free. We signed the papers this morning. Thursday we can pick it up. I've felt slightly ill ever since - borrowing $22K for something that isn't a house is literally painful. Now we need to set up a HELOC so we can pay of the car loan at 8.19% and move it to 3.25% - we only need to keep it at the higher rate for a month.

Rearranging furniture is also free. After I gardened for a few hours, I cleaned our bathrooms. They were revolting. Revolting. That is a fabulous word. Revolting! Fungible! Revolting fungible bathroom! Then I went into our revolting living room, and attempted to make it look lovely by moving things around. Now parts of it look better than they did. And I don't think anything looks worse, so while it won't be in Architectural Digest, it also won't be in Trailer Park Quarterly, the only design mag in comic book format. Heck, too many words in dem other fancy magazines, eh?

Maybe I'll feel better once we actually have a Lexus in the driveway, instead of a much larger than I'd like debt. Note I used a Lexus, not the Lexus - I still don't actually believe we bought it, although the debt feels far too real. My inner Scot was obviously in a coma. Damn. I'll have to grab him and choke him with his sporin.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Things I didn't know.

This is not an exhaustive list - just a few tidbits of previously unknown unknowns now known, to abuse a truly bad Rumsfeld speech.

1. Hugh is fully capable of spending foolish sums of money on a car
2. Twitter is fun

We haven't actually purchased the Lexus. All the money for it is still in our bank accounts.

I lie.

The money for it is still to be borrowed. If I had $30K kicking around, my underwear wouldn't have holes in it.

Hugh visited Import Car Centre on Tuesday. Eddie was off - eye surgery. Ouch.
Wednesday. He just missed Eddie.
Thursday. Eddie and he chatted, Hugh agreed to go back.
Friday. Hugh returns. Eddie gets him to take the kids for a drive.

Hugh's comment? The steering seems looser. Of course, he's been driving his brother's minivan. A '95 Caravan, on its 4th transmission. The power steering has long since ceased to have any power - turning right is a true workout.

I think a race car's steering is loose in comparison.

Hugh knows this - it was a joke. He really wants that Lexus.

His rationale for today? We haven't looked at any other cars, ergo we must want this one.

He is right. We do. I do. The kids do.

Eddie knows he sold a car with one sentence - humour me - drive a Lexus.

I'm looking at the above post, realizing it seems to consist solely of one sentence paragraphs. Is Twitter changing the way I write? Can I go past 140 characters? Will any thought of substance ever leave my head again?

Can I write an entire post consisting entirely of questions?

If you wish to read the tweets of a new twit, I'm teragram42 on Twitter. If you wish to read the tweets of someone who is at least semi literate, may I recommend Stephen Fry?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Mud glorious mud

Despite our Lexus detour, I did much mucking about.

Mucking about is a highly accurate term for the end result of gardening - tools and gardener covered in muck.

I weeded. Nails filled with muck.

I trimmed most of the rest of the hedge. Hands covered in muck.

I divided 2 perennials and moved chunks to where the hedge between us and our neighbour's driveway used to be. Much muck, on hands arms and feet.

I weeded by the side yard. Hands, arms, feet and eyes mucky. Lots of small black flies, which go under my glasses into my eyes, hence the mucky eyes.

Moved 2 grasses. Muck, as noted above, on hands and arms.

This was all before car shopping. I did change my shirt and shoes - orange Crocs are not for driving. Or leaving the yard. Or anything involving other people seeing you, really.

I divided 2 more daylilies after. More muck. Is it allowable to wash your feet in the bathroom sink? Our main floor bathroom has a sink and toilet just inside the back door, where I leave the crocs. The sink seems a wee mite more civilized for washing than the toilet.

car hunt

I decided to get serious about the car hunt. Keep in mind that the term grown up makes me giggle when you consider the term serious.

We went to the nearest Toyota dealer and test drove a 2005 Toyota Sienna minivan, an eminently practical vehicle. We're practical, right?

The steering was loose. Brakes? Soft. Soggy, even. Road feel? Van like. It felt like a minivan, and everyone reviewing them commented on how car like they are. Fucking liers. They were just brainwashed - roadwashed - by the other crappy driving vans they had.

Minivans suck. That's why families turned en masse from them to the SUV, which looks like a truck. And sucks gas like, well, like our current car.

We then headed off to Import Car Centre. located beside XXX adult videos - must be 18 or older to enter. Lovely neighbourhood. We shop in it when we need to buy something at a pawn shop. Imagine my surprise when we saw row upon row of not beaters but beemers. By import car centre, then mean high end imports.

So we asked them about the 2004 Sienna's they had advertised. Sold. So we told him what we wanted, a vehicle that seats 6 or 7. We chatted briefly. He asked us if we'd do him a favour - test drive a Lexus SUV. What can you say when it's put that way? I mean, we're not dumb enough to actually buy a fucking SUV just because some smooth salesguy gets us to drive it.

We drove it.

Hugh raved for 30 minutes, then made me drive it back to the dealership. It's a very nice ride.

We chatted with Eddie, the used car guy. He's the half owner of Import Car Centre. They also have an 8 car garage a few blocks over, and own the land the lot is on. He's been working there for 21 years. I mentioned my concern that an SUV and a sedan don't offer much difference, but an SUV is a lot more money. What happened? Before I could say "must leave, hair needs washing", we were in a Toyota Avalon, winging around Ottawa. We both agreed the suspension just wasn't as nice, the brakes, as firm, the ride, as lovely, as the Lexus.

What to do?

Well, we chatted a while, and left.

Hugh may play the sucker well, but for him to spend nearly $30,000 on a car is not a spur of the moment thing. He buys things on the spur of the moment because they are cheap. Not because he loves them.

But he loves that Lexus.

I am in a very odd, and entirely unexpected space.

I don't really want to spend more than $15,000 on a car. If we do, it means we can't pay off the line of credit until next February, at the earliest, and so we can't replace the kitchen counters. Or my underpants, which meet the maternal criteria of throw out those underwear they're full of holes what if you get in an accident category. DISCLAIMER. They are really comfortable. Like going commando. Not that I would....

So I am in the odd position of trying to convince my stay at home no income husband that he should buy a Lexus. He drives a lot. He doesn't buy himself anything luxurious, or even nice. This is a man who will wear used underwear. I know, too icky to imagine. But I've never seen him love a ride like he loved that Lexus. I want him to have it.

Even though I hate SUVs, and think luxury cars are a silly way to spend too much money on a utility. Would you buy Evian hot water for your shower? High octane gas for your '99 Ford Econoline van? Swarovski crystals for your white trash neighbour? Well, um, no, idiot. Yet I want my husband to buy this car, and feel like he made the right decision every time he drives it.

This is not a place I thought we'd be in our car hunt. I pictured Hugh wanting to buy his friend's 2000 Cadillac Seville, or an old crappy cheap minivan, and me trying to convince him to upgrade to a 2004 Toyota Sienna with 140,000 km and rust.

Life, sometimes, has nice surprises, and this may be one! Some would claim deities. Yet why would a god intervene on something as trivial and humanly controllable as a car, when kids die of entirely preventable causes. Atheism is more reasonable, the more you know about our world. That, and extreme gratitude for the luck of being born in a rich country. Thanks, oh Palframan ancestors, for deciding England/Ireland/Scotland/Wales sucks. Cause Canada doesn't. Even though I still think Pat Buchanan's term, Soviet Canuckistan, is hilarious, we are no 'stan country.

I will, of course, let you know if end up with a Lexus or something more suited to a trailor park.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

perfect day

Today was amazing. Sunny, not too hot, not at all humid.

Naturally, I decided I had to wash all the towels. But I also gardened until it started raining. Lovely, it were.

The front NE bed is now kidney shaped. Sort of. I yanked out the ornamental onions, which means most will still come up next year. I also removed weeds. We've had a mess of rain. That's the technical term, honest. And it's helped the quack grass and other weeds to thrive. Amazing how well rooted grass not on the lawn is. Weeding is one of those things people who pass by always say that's a lot of work. As I tell them - it's only work if you don't like it. And I love it.

I seeded more lawn between the flower beds, as the bits I seeded July 2nd are a wee mite sparse. My inner Scot is dead - I can splurge on grass seed. Honest. I haven't smelt so much as a wiff of sporin.

I also did some hedge trimming.

I realize most people use an electric hedge trimmer. I do not use power tools, my experience in the basement nothwithstanding. I spent an entire summer mowing our not insubstantial lawn with a push mower - it worked fine. So I trim hedges with manual clippers, which are never sharp enough. Yes, I sharpened them, I have a file specifically for that purpose. But it doesn't seem to do much.

My hedge trimming technique is effective, if unorthodox.

1. Trim bits you can reach.
2. Jump to trim bits you can't.
3. Get large shaky wooden ladder. Trim half of top you can reach from that side.
4. Whack hedge periodically to dislodge trimmed bits.
5. Use trimmed bits as mulch under pine.

I got half done, so it looks even less tidy than before - now it has odd bits sticking up on half of the top. I'm not going back out there - the mosquitoes are fierce. Fierce, I tell you, fierce. And standing on a rickety ladder with freshly sharpened clippers swatting mosquitoes is even less smart than not swatting mosquitoes.

To further improve a perfect day, the blackberries are ripening, and I managed to creep through the entire patch without any bleeding. They were delicious. I laughed at the berries at the grocery store, priced at $2.99 per half pint. Hah! I ate half a pint before I even got into the patch.

So now I will head back to work, with a composter full of weeds, a half trimmed hedge, a nicely seeded new chunk o' lawn and blackberries to look forward to when I get home. The clean towels are OK too, but not exactly life altering.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Car obsessions

I have a tendency to obsess when a task is open.

Witness posts on finishing the basement. It filled most waking thoughts. Now that it's done, I can barely remember we have one.

I remember the last time we "had" to buy a car. My old Tercel had died. Murdered, actually, by a cruel and incompetent owner who failed to check the oil. That would be me. Did you know that a Tercel driven at 100km/hour without oil sounds like a jackhammer? And that if you then put 4 litres of oil in the engine, it sounds like a machine gun is mounted to the roof?

It was the Tercel's premature demise that introduced me to the stress of the car hunt. I lucked in, after a couple of weeks, to baby blue, who I traded for $130 and a bus pass. I still have the bus pass.

So now the green machine is dead, Hugh and I have driven 2 compact hatchbacks, and I've coaxed out of him that he wants something safe, with lots of seats. Minivan! Party on! Excellent!
After learning of my husband's desire for something with many seats, I identified appropriate vehicles. Then he told me he wants to test drive his buddy's old Cadillac. I was revolted. Revolting is a wonderful word. So is fungible. So are ergo and ergot.

I don't want a 10 year old Cadillac. I don't want a Cadillac of any age. The thought makes me ill. Clearly this is not rational, but to me a Cadillac represents stupidity and ostentatious displays of wealth and old men that smell a little bit like pee. I don't want to own one. I will not drive one. I have told Hugh he's more than welcome to try it out, but he better not buy it. I didn't tell him about my negative Cadillac associations, he'd probably suggest therapy. I did my boring old gas mileage whine.

Tomorrow, if all goes according to my nefarious plan, we'll head out to Stittsville, where #1 son has his drum lessons. There is a used car dealer there that has a few Odysseys and Siennas. Might as well drive one, and see if we hate them or not. Of course, the nefariousness of my plan is negated somewhat by the fact that I told Hugh my plan, test driving old cars isn't illegal, and it's actually quite convenient to make the trip to Stittsville count twice.

I will try not to bore the world with my car hunt. I will succeed, if only because most of the world is completely unaware of my existence. This is a good thing. I like being able to garden in orange crocs and purple gloves and dirty clothing without seeing my picture at the grocery store checkout counter.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Green machine dies

It's official - the green machine, our 1996 Grand Marquis, has died. Revival estimates start at $1,000, well above our willingness to spend on repairs. So the fire fighters of Ottawa will gain a new practice vehicle. I bet they could make $$$ selling tickets to watch them break into/smash up/stack cars.

Now our car hunt will start in earnest. We've never done this before, at least not for a family car. Our last 2 vehicles were my father in law's old Grand Marquis. Grand Marquises? Grands Marquis? English and pluralization, that's an exercise in illogic. So the last car we actually researched, found, test drove and bought was baby blue, a 1995 Eagle Summit. It was a terrific car.

My goal is to buy a fuel efficient hatchback or small station wagon.

I have no idea what Hugh's goal is.

This could present problems. He does the driving, so I should back off and let him decide. But I am likely to find this impossible. I could say it's because I'm a control freak, or because it's an expensive purchase and I should have a say in it, or because I've done the research so he should just shut up and do what I say. But the truth is that I like the way the little hatchbacks look, and want one.

Can you spell superficial?

Hugh will do exactly what I do - find logical, compelling reasons to buy what he likes.

This actually won't be much of an issue - we're both car averse. He once called the CAA and couldn't remember the make or model of vehicle he drove. I didn't own a car until I was over 30. As long as it fits 5 people and has a trunk, we should be happy. Hugh will also want something he's comfortable driving, a not unreasonable requirement.

A final thought. Zoe, our unnaturally responsible and lovely daughter, will be driving in under a year. A vehicle she really, really, really doesn't want to be seen in might be a plus. I did find a 1966 wood panelled station wagon that made her recoil in horror. The Chevy Astro van performs a similar function. Alas, both require nearly the entire oil output of Saudi Arabia to fill the tank, so choosing one to reduce Zoe's driving seems, well, dumb.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

My summer vacation

Yes, I am FAR too old to write an essay on what I did on my summer vacation. But isn't that why I blog? To barf out what no human wants to hear?

The vacation started well - much mucking about in garden. The wounds have almost healed. Which means, of course, that I didn't get nearly enough gardening in. I blame our extremely wet weather.

Spousal unit headed over to a friend's house, in town for the weekend. His friend talked him into going out to lunch with other in town people, as it was his high school's 50th anniversary reunion. High school reunions are for people who, um, went to the high school. Not spouses. This I know. Yet my spouse insisted I go to the lunch. Fine. Drinking beer on a patio on a lovely day in June is not exactly hardship, so I went, and it was fine. Then he insisted I go to the dinner that night. I have to admit it wasn't as horrible as I imagined, but watching old people fail to recognize each other and complain about the small print on name tags is not fun.

Sunday, more mucking in dirt. Then the rest of the family headed up to the cottage as Zoe invited 2 friends and our car only holds 6. I stayed home and cleaned and watched Bon Cop, Bad Cop - much fun. Very Canadian. Worth renting, if you're in the mood for low budget humour with occasional subtitles.

My brother drove me up to the cottage the next day, meaning I got to spend an hour holding Adrian, my new nephew. It were nice, it were. He was in that rarest of newborn phases, alert and quiet. Definitely a treat. We got to the cottage, and the kids informed me the car broke. Sigh. Our vehicle was fun when it had a bit of character. It's less fun now. I'd noticed the "suspension not working" light, and assumed that it was the sensor. Or the suspension. Either way, I wasn't going to do anything about it. But driving over gravel roads in a large vehicle with 6 people and no suspension isn't good for the car, and Hugh hit a rock and the tailpipes separated.

We spent some time Tuesday lying under the vehicle, attaching wire to the tailpipes. By "we", I mean Hugh did it as I reluctantly assisted. He managed to drive the vehicle back to town, and my brother left, leaving me at the cottage, in the rain, with 3 teenage girls and 2 boys. The girls don't like bugs, and we made them mad by bringing them a large toad and an enormous spider to show them. Yes, I should grow up, but it was too much fun to resist.

Wednesday Hugh returned, with his dad's car, and I left him up there with his brother and 1 boy. He showed up at home about 2 hours after we got back. Nice timing - gave me enough time to do all the laundry and put everything away. And feed the kids.

Thursday the rain began in earnest. We used my brother in law's vehicle to do some errands, including shopping with boy #1 for a cell phone. This is a child who would rather saw off his arm than call a stranger, but he needs a cell. Ah well, it's his money. Sort of. He buys the phone, I pay the $25 a month for unlimited text and highly limited talk. So far he's texted his sister and her friends, as his friends are at camp and not textable.

While at Future Shop getting Zoe a new cell - because you know, after almost a year, the "old" one is so, like, uncool, cause, like, everyone, like, has the, like, same one, you know? I bought myself an early b-day present. I am now the proud owner of the game active, Personal Trainer for Wii. It is very cheery. I want to create an abusive personal trainer game for Wii. The trainer would be highly sarcastic and insulting. Move it, you fat slob would be the trademark line. Much better than keep it up! You're doing great! Wow, that's real energy! You're a track star! Fuck off - I'm in my bedroom, pretending to jog with a remote in one hand and a nunchuck strapped to my thigh. Track star I am not.

So, dear imaginary reader, that has been my summer vacation to date. I left out the thrilling housework, but would like to report that our basement storage area is gradually looking less cluttered. I anticipate a return to work on Monday, to be followed by a call from spousal unit informing me that our mechanic has deemed our vehicle unworthy of repair. As we don't want to spend more than $200, and it needs a new suspension, tailpipe and power steering, odds are excellent our mechanic will not do the repairs. Fortunately, said mechanic is located only 2 blocks from Cohen's, where you can drive your old junker onto the scale and get CASH for it. Baby blue, my tiny commuter bug, fetched me $130, which I promptly spent on food. That was fun. That was also at the peak of the market, when scrap metal was so valuable people were stealing manhole covers. The green machine, while easily 4x the size of baby blue, might get us $50. That's OK. It's better than spending hundreds to allow it to limp for another week or so, until the next bit breaks.

I think I'll have to take another week off, later this summer. For now, it's off to the airport to drop off my parents, who are spending 2 weeks hiking in Newfoundland. We will use their car. Yeah!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I've lived a sheltered life, so I'm definitely not talking acid flashbacks here.

No, it's parenting flashbacks.

My sister in law just had her second wee bundle of joy, a barely under 9 pound boy who is lovely. My thought was poor sister in law, good thing the horrible part only lasts 6 weeks or so.

Yeah, nobody really tells you how awful newborns are. And honestly, as you glow through pregnancy, basking in thoughts of how great it'll be when baby arrives, you wouldn't believe them. But they are horrible. You never know when they'll sleep, or for how long. Is baby asleep for 2 hours - I should nap. 20 minutes? I should do the dishes. Or shower. But baby is, of course, unable to let you know this vital piece of info. So you nap and get woken up just as you hit REM sleep. Or do the dishes, then the laundry, then a few other dull chores, then figure baby will wake up soon, no point napping, then kick yourself as you stagger around exhausted, wishing you'd napped.

But once they smile and coo, you turn into the puddle of love struck mush you knew you'd be all through your pregnancy. So I am looking forward to seeing my wee nephew in a few weeks...and will tolerate visits before then, because my sister in law is many kinds of awesome and I'll do whatever I need to to help her out and let her know I think she's awesome.

All this gives me flashbacks to the good stuff, too. Like Westley, after being weaned at the insane age of 3, telling me he liked it when my milk things worked. If any kid is going to marry a women with HUGE tracts of land, it's him. And no, mine are not even close to Pamela Anderson. More like Gwen Stefani, pre-implants. But to a wee baby, they are perfection, and my assumption on his future size preferences are based on proportion. My boobs were about the size of his head when he was born, so won't he assume head sized boobs are about right? Ouch, my back hurts just thinking about it!

I also remember all the stuff babies seem to end up with. Swings. Change pads. Diapers by the gros. Wipes by the tonne. Several outfits a day. Bathtub. Carriage. Bed. Bassinet for napping. Baby carriers, for front and back. Slings. Receiving blankets. I'm amazed we didn't lose the kids amongst all the stuff. Boy, do I ever not miss those days! I've always been a person who likes kids who can talk.

Good luck, sister in law. Your wee boy is perfect. And you will do a rocking awesome job.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

My brain hurts!

I'm trying to figure out a data warehouse. It doesn't yet exist, so no data play allowed - only reading of schema and data dictionaries. Except the dictionaries aren't readable, they are web pages that scroll on for ages with every field clickable to another unending page. The schema are jpg files that print best on paper roughly the size of my cube.

I am supposed to focus on this and become the expert for my area. Happily, I will have help. Sadly, I don't know where to begin. What do I need to know? I dunno.

There are lots of things I don't know. Some I don't want to know - like how many boys has my daughter kissed? I'd prefer to pretend that I know the answer, and that it's 1. Some require base knowledge I lack, like assessing the quality of a scientific study. And some are boring, to me at least, like sports stuff. I know the NHL is in final playoffs now. I don't know who's playing, or if it's the final final or semis, and I don't care.

There are things nobody knows. Is there really an invisible being that can't be detected with any of our scientific instruments, who has left no proof of existence yet managed to make everything? I think no is a pretty safe answer, but I'm in a minority there. So I try to focus on what I think I know. I think many aspects of religious teachings are harmful. Teaching followers that being gay is bad, or that women should be subservient, or that condoms shouldn't be used even to protect against AIDS is just wrong. I think that followers of a religion have an obligation to protest those aspects of their religion that are wrong. I don't care how they protest - leave the church, tell your priest/rabbi/preacher/yogi/shaman/chief grand chicken pooba, write the leaders, I don't care. But do something and encourage others to do something, if you care about your religion. Otherwise, it deserves to disappear. If you don't care enough about something to improve it, how important is it, really?

Right. Soapbox away. I read that if you pour hydrogen peroxide on a pine cone, you get huge flames. This I really want to try, but I don't want the kids to catch me. Hmmm. This is where desire for fun and being a responsible parent conflict. I'll keep thinking on how I can remove that conflict. Fire is fun. Getting burned, not so much.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Fatigue, alas

I think the hardest part of being a new mom was the unrelenting lack of sleep. It was brutal. I am very, very happy my kids are past the age of constant nocturnal wakefulness. Thanks, kids.

So any current fatigue is self inflicted. The inflictor was a terrific concert. Leonard Cohen. Our own Canuckistan crooner, putting on a series of shows across N American to replenish his funds, after his "agent" stole his $$$.

Should I thank the agent? Naw. I'll just be grateful for a few lovely accidents.

1. My dad, a luddite, got up early and bought tickets at the box office.
2. My dad, a luddite, mismanaged his calendar and double booked himself.
3. My dad, a singer, chose rehearsal over Cohen.
4. My mom called me to see if I wanted to go. Oh yes please and thank you very much.

The concert was 3 hours of amazing. Cohen was great. His doo-wap trio was terrific. The 6 guys playing everything from accordian to double bass to harmonica to clarinet along with the usual guitar/bass guitar/drums/saxophone were great. He sang every song I wanted to hear, and then some.

Other good stuff.

Connor's room in the basement is done. Done! He's sleeping down there, along with Domo, Labbit and his drums. Labbit is a stuffed rabbit with a mustache. Domo is google-able. I don't know what he is, but Connor likes him.

TIF is black. I visited a very funny dermatologist who lied and said liquid nitrogen would hurt. It stung a tiny bit, but it was not at all painful. Now the bit of TIF I can see is black. Yeah, it's kind of gros, and there is a chunk o' TIF under the nail looking like she always has, but it'll be nice if the quarter inch sticking out dies and falls off. I go back to the dermatologist in a month. I really liked her can of liquid nitrogen. I wonder what other cool toys she has? I honestly hope I don't ever need to find out...

My dentist is still happy with my teeth. No more visits for 9 months! His only concern is that an old filling I have is slightly discoloured, but it's a cosmetic concern, and if I haven't noticed, it's not important.

I am enjoying Marianne now. Before it was Everybody Knows, then Famous Blue Raincoat, then Who by Water (I think - I know the lyrics, not always the song names). I expect Suzanne to show up, and Chelsea Hotel. Maybe even Hallelujah. I may be tired, but I'm happy!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Patience: A missing virtue

I'm not the most patient of people, although I've learned to fake it over the years.

We spent the weekend - guess where - in the basement. I am beginning to hate my basement. I like the part with finished floor. I hate the visible Dricore. Also the carpet on the stairs, which reminds me that it's super ugly and I am in a state of debt that has killed ye olde inner Scot. It's true - I never wake up worried about debt. Maybe it's because 11 hours of painting trim causes me to lapse into unconsciousness.

I had budgeted about $150 for the trim - it's just a few strips of pine, right? Wrong. I spent about 20 minutes in the trim aisle at Home Depot, before going into trim overload and piling the cart high with trim that was close enough to what we have upstairs. I did my best to measure out 139 feet of the trim, and 168 feet of corner round. Plus 5 pieces of door casing. It cost $508. I just about fell over, then paid and staggered out to the car. My transport technique for items too long for the car is to open the passenger side front window and stuff everything in. We only live 6 blocks away. It worked fine.

Did you know that car repair in an older vehicle is dramatically different than in a younger one? Our check engine light came on. So we checked the oil. It's fine. I am recalling this happening on big red - we used black electrical tape to block the light, it's very distracting. So far, with the green machine, we have been more successful at not being distracted. We checked the engine, right? So until it actually develops symptoms, I assume the light came on because of a broken sensor. Denial, something Bush taught us all.

I think the children had a good long weekend. I know I fed them 3 times, and Connor and Zoe actually each cooked twice. Amazing what skills can be imparted through neglect. Maybe I should write a book about it - super passive parenting, or how to force your kids to raise themselves. It's actually terrible for their nutrition. Connor ate 2 boxes of fudgesicles. With some help from Westley. Zoe was luckier - she has a very active social life, and got actual cooked food at a friend's house. Plus she's in a health phase, imparted no doubt by her teacher in a class that used to be called home economics but now has a name I can never remember.

My garden is calling to me, really loud. But there's still trim to paint, as despite 11 hours of work it's not done. It's almost done, just about 6 pieces left. The flooring is mostly in, thanks to Hugh, who is barely mobile after 3 days on hand and knee whacking in tiny bits of highly warped floor. They say it's engineered. I say it's engineered in the same way a sanitary engineer is an engineer. It's designed and produced, no doubt to specifications, but if it's actually engineered, the engineers are drunk. Every piece is warped. Every 60th piece is mis-shapen and can't be used. I have to admit it looks great, though. Maybe one day I'll have the energy to put batteries in the camera and take pictures. Or get Zoe to take a few.

Mike and Hugh will be back at it. Maybe tonight the door will be in. We kind of left the doorway unfloored, as we have 4 options to choose from and need Mike's opinion. He'll have one, it will be option 5, and it will look good but take hours to do. Poor Hugh. Glad I have a day job!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Springtime (not for Hitler)

It's spring in Ottawa, my absolute favourite time of year. The leaves are unfurling. The grass and weeds are growing. Tulips, daffodils and crabapples are in bloom. Lilacs and bearded iris are about to pop.

The last few weekends have been a gardener's misery. Damp. Even wet. Which has allowed me to finish painting the basement, and will allow me to install flooring tomorrow.

I did not buy bamboo. I tried. According to the salesman, 1.1 billion Chinese are refusing to ship Guo Ya bamboo to Canada. I suspect the truth is closer to limited supply for carbonized bamboo, higher prices in the US and less paperwork = send it there. It doesn't really matter, apparently any engineered flooring can go in a basement.

So Connor and I headed off to Home Depot, to peruse their selection of idiot proof click install engineered hardwood. There are several systems, many finishes, and no sales. Of the 3 that were in stock and had a click system that actually looked like it would hold a floor together, Connor chose the most expensive. He liked the more mottled graining and the warmth of the finish. This, from a child whose idea of fashion is a slightly ripped t-shirt and pants so large he stole my belt. I have to admit the graining on the acacia wood is nicer than oak, which, while lovely, is a bit strong.

So you'd think we're done, right? We have 30 boxes of flooring in the basement. Mike is dropping off a saw so we don't have to use a jigsaw. The basement is painted, and the trim removed from the one spot that had trim. But we have a very important decision to make.

What direction should the planks go?

This is a seemingly obvious question. I assumed they would go east-west. Mike assumed they would go north south. Hugh likes the idea of a diagonal. But only in one of the two rooms. My plan is to lay out a few planks and try to guess what will look best. Mike's theory is that the outside walls are straight, so going N-S would mean fewer cuts. Having installed the subfloor, I can tell you with absolute confidence that in no section of the basement are the outside walls straight.

We will resolve this, far more easily than the Irish resolved their "troubles", and far sooner than anyone will resolve the constant middle east crisis. Which reminds me of a lovely Dan Quayle quote - the global importance of the middle east is keeping the near east and the far east from infringing on eachother. The US really needs to stop electing politicians who prove that anyone can grow up to become president. Obama was an awesome start. Wish we weren't headed in the opposite direction - go Iggy!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


I have a terrible habit of reading a website called what's the It publishes incidents of people following non-scientific practices and being harmed as a result. This includes dead children whose parents' religious faith resulted in denied or delayed access to effective care.

I know these parents loved their kids, and didn't want them to die. So how brainwashed were they, to believe some ill-educated church representative would save their kid?

There are side effects to medical treatments. Some of those are permanent, and in some instances are worse than the illness they were intended to treat. But the risks are, to a large extent, known and documented, as are the risks of the illness. Why is comparative risk analysis such a difficult concept for most people to grasp?

Here's a nice, simple example. Guillain-Barre syndrome. This is an auto-immune response that can be triggered by vaccines, although it's more commonly triggered by an illness (possibly one a vaccine would have prevented!)

The risk of developing Guillain-Barre syndrome after a flu vaccine is about one in a million.
The risk of dying of the flu is about 4%, or 1 in 25. Most of those 4% will be in a higher risk population - the very young, very old, or already ill. So for a healthy adult, it's a lot lower than 4% for most flus. But it's still a LOT higher than one in a million. And Guillain Barre, horrible though it is, is treatable and the individuals with it usually get 100% better. Eventually.

I'm probably taking a much larger risk by painting my basement. The primer is really stinky! Smells like ammonia.

Other risks more likely to result in death than vaccination:
1. Driving to the store to buy beer
2. Flying anywhere
3. Smoking
4. Excess drinking
5. Being overweight
6. Not exercising
7. Not wearing a helmet when you cycle/rollerblade/skateboard (for me, walk!)
8. Seeking and following medical advice from an "alternative" practitioner when you are actually sick
9. Swimming unsupervised
10. Having unprotected sex in a non-monogamous relationship

Now, a lot of these things are way more fun than a needle. And you can choose to do them or not - so these are controllable risks. But choosing vaccination instead of disease is a harm reduction strategy, kind of like needle exchanges - there is a risk, but it's WAY lower than the risk of the disease.

I think Jenny McCarthy may prove that having lovely sweater puppies and a terrible brain can be a deadly combination. Check out the Jenny McCarthy body count site. Stupidity kills. Don't listen to it!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

electric mayhem

The electrical work on our basement is done!

It took Mike and I several minutes to realize we had no clue how the basement was wired, so rewiring was out of the question.

It took our electrician friend 3 nights of after-work visits to realize he needed more bits. As he's already got a real life, moving into our basement to help us wasn't an option.

It took a paid electrician less than a morning to finish off the excellent work our friend had done.

In the interim, as I had nothing to work on, I started running again (OK, slow granny shuffle, but it's definitely NOT a walk), cleaned up the front garden, moved the yukka, cut down the rest of the smoke tree in the hope that it will generate beautifully shaped new growth to replace the old, split the Karl Forrester reed grass and helped Hugh move the dishwasher.

Why did we move the dishwasher?


Apparently they used the underside of our rarely-used dishwasher as a disco. Or an outhouse. Same end result. Much poop. It's now cleaned, and access to their disco has been foamed in. They can still get under the sink.

Hugh's plan? Trap and release. His initial plan was to flush them, as he figured they'd survive a trip through the sewers. But he decided against that, and released one in a field and one in a massively busy intersection, near a garden centre. Will they survive? It doesn't seem that likely, but they'll make better food outside of our house.

And now, a word on renewal pruning.

Renewal pruning involves cutting 1/3 of an overgrown shrub down to the ground in each of 3 consecutive years. The theory is that this will encourage the healthy, enormous root system to put up new shoots, which can be selectively pruned as required to create a brand new healthy beautifully shaped shrub. The pictures in gardening books make it look easy and idiot proof. And honestly, cutting down shrubs is something I'm good at.

The reality so far is that the shrub has sent out some new growth, mostly parallel to the ground, and the rabbits have eaten a lot of it. What we have now is an oddly shaped stump with various branches sticking out all over the place, mostly chewed up by rabbits. I am still hoping real new growth will emerge, now that there isn't a remaining old branch sucking up energy.

Next steps? In the garden, the honeysuckle must go. In the house, drywall must move from piles on the floor to the ceiling. In the kitchen, we'll hope the mice don't build another disco.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

red hot strapping mama

Oh yeah. We're done with the metal. Today we started the strapping, and it was good. I learned how to use a powerful drill, and spent much of the day screwing. Strapping to the ceiling, of course. Please note there are 2 screws for every meeting of strap to joists.

Here's the nasty corner, with 2 levels of ductwork, all framing by moi meme. Isn't it shiny?

And here's the incentive to finish:

Yes, that's a full drum kit in our living room. The boys had band practice yesterday, and I don't know what songs they played, but I can tell you it was loud. We bought a mess of sound insulation today, we'll probably start insulating on Monday, once the wiring and cable is done. I asked Hugh 3 times if he'd do the cable tomorrow. Here's what I now know.

1. It only takes 10 minutes.
2. It's easy to do.
3. You just go to the box and finish it (huh?).

What I don't know is whether or not Hugh will actually run the cable tomorrow. Maybe if I ask him to show me, he'll just do it.

Tomorrow is also Easter, when we commemorate a resurrection by finding chocolate eggs hypothetically laid by a placental mammal. I'm voting we switch it to the Easter platypus. Far more interesting and plausible.

Happy oestrus, all! May your garden prove fertile, and anything else you wish to multiply.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

opinions and rationalization

I am pondering flooring options for our basement.

The subfloor will be happiest with a floating floor, and so will I - I don't want to pay for installation, and I really like mucking around with my hands. It's very satisfying, even when the end result is a tad disappointing. Like the roman shades I made - they worked out perfectly, but they just don't look that great. They are too blah. I need to paint them or something.

My initial plan was cork flooring. It is beautiful. It is $5 a square foot, a tad expensive, but affordable (except to my inner Scot). It installs easily, and is rated for basement installations. But it is prone to nicks, I mean, it is cork - we all have some experience working with it, although it tends to be get this cork out of the way of my wine "work". My children are wonderful, delightful, amazing creatures. Quite possibly the best children ever to exist. Yet I know their understanding of "be careful on the floor" and mine come from different universes. So the floor will get nicked. It will. Absolutely. And the children will spill brightly coloured drinks on it. Think orange pop meets grape pop meets pomegranate juice. Their idea of a quick clean up is to remember to tell me a couple of days later.

Actually, that's optimistic. Connor cleaned his last spill by cutting a hole in the rug, then cutting out an almost-matching hole from a slightly hidden clean part and sticking it in the spill hole. He was so impressed with his ingenuity it was hard to tell him why that's a bad idea. I shudder at what he'd do to the cork, especially knowing my concern that they keep it safe...

Next option. Bamboo. Teragren sells a Leeds certified oh-so-green floating bamboo floor that gets a high rating from Consumer Reports for durability. But it's pricey. How pricey, I don't know - probably about 50% more than cork. That may kill the Scot. More likely it will enrage him and he will start waking me up even earlier. I'll still check it out. Hugh may axe it before the Scot even finds out.

Last click flooring option I'd consider - engineered wood. Not sure if it actually comes as a floating floor, usually it's a glue thing and I don't want to glue anything. Laminate doesn't need glueing, but I have a severe aversion to laminate flooring despite its low cost and ease of installation. U-G-L-Y you ain't got no alibi, you're just UGLY.

So - my options are expensive but durable or fairly expensive but destroyable. Looking at all the dents and holes in our drywall, I think durability has to be high on the "need" side in this decision. Common sense occasionally sucks big time.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

fingers and framing and funds, oh my!

I am a bit of a control freak. I like to do things all by myself. But I am now getting help from our awesome friend Mike, who is capable of taking control ever so gently. He does have the advantage of a renovation skill set, including monster tools and actual experience. 

As you can see from picture #1, he removed 2 walls worth of drywall, something I wouldn't have done - too much work. It will look better, as we'll actually have even corners now. My plan was strategically located furniture, the inexperienced DIY'ers friend.

This is the wall! And door! Note the desk and TV on the wrong side! And 1/4" wider than the door! Even perfectionists make mistakes...

This is a sideways picture of the closet that will hide the main water intake. I'd turn it, but that would involve technological skills I have yet to master.

This is the plumbing, sans framing, right side up. Note the brilliant flooring job around said artifact. 

This is some of my framing. Alas, not all survived, as the drywall on the right side of this picture was removed.

See the progress? See?

Next steps - well, Mike'll be back tomorrow, doing more framing. He and Hugh will be framing in the bulkheads, and adding cable outlets. I'll be attempting to earn the $$$ to pay for this - as we can't just use Mike as volunteer labour. If he just did a day to help, fine, but he's talking about framing and electrical and drywall and taping - way too much work to not pay him!

My icky 11th finger has merited me a fast-track visit to a dermatologist. My GP was concerned. Why? I've had the silly icky thing for years, if it was cancerous I'd be dead by now. Not pining for the fjords. Pushing up the daisies. Joining the bleeding choir Mehitabel. F***king snuffed it (children watching as I type). So I will meet a 3rd dermatologist in May. #1 took a nasty black thing off my leg. It wasn't cancer. #2 diagnosed a benign spider hemangioma on my 3rd child. It will vanish when pubertis rears its lovely head (pun sort of intended). Now #3 will likely shorten my icky finger, to see if it represents some form of carcinoma, and will find it's fine but may remove it anyways. That won't be fun - the silly thing has its own blood supply and starts at the base of my nail, if not lower. Ah well, now all that remains is to come up with a witty yet unassuming name for it, a task made easier by the fact that smarter minds than I are working on it! Thanks, smart minds.

Right, off to play on the Wii Fit and watch American Idol, the world's most annoying show. Waste time much? I do.

Monday, March 30, 2009

I'm not bleeding

We have a new subfloor! I took pictures of the before, but by the time of the after, I was not able to move enough to take pictures, let alone kick DD off the computer to upload them. Suffice it to say that it looks like a mess o' particleboard.

We started on Friday night. I say we, as Hugh figured out the cutting and did a fair bit of installation. It's a very satisfying job, as it goes by quite quickly.

What did I learn?

1. Walls aren't straight. They vary by as much as 1/2" over a 4' span.
2. If you use a prybar to pull flooring against drywall, the drywall gives more than the floor moves.
3. It's really exhausting to cut large quantities of floor tile with a jigsaw.
4. You will wear out the blade of one jigsaw, making this a rare occasion when my husband's propensity to acquire multiples of every object - we had 2 Soloflex machines for a long time - was useful.
5. If you have really calloused hands, splinters don't hurt.
6. You get a LOT of splinters installing particleboard based product.
7. Fancy cuts are really cool and look fun installed, like around a door or staircase.
8. Small children's books make great temporary spacers to keep that 1/4" gap open.
9. Croquet mallets can be used to pound the tapping block, with great success.
10. A tapping block, when hit often enough, produces enormous splinters.

I was up before 6am on Saturday, and realized using a jigsaw at 6 am would make my family AND the neighbours hate me. So I did 2 loads of laundry instead. Then used the jigsaw. Hugh did about 1/3 of the floor in total, which is impressive considering he also took Connor to his drum lesson, bought items for Zoe's party, dropped of Westley at a b-day party and spent a couple of hours at his dad's on Sunday.

I did the remaining 2/3, the laundry, cleaned the house before and after Zoe's party and bought stuff for the kids' lunches. It was a busy weekend.

The party went well. Zoe had a dozen or so of her closest friends over. I'm pretty confident I've mentioned before how loud teenagers are - they make a jigsaw seem like a lullaby. The critical number for volume to increase is 4, including Zoe. Four makes the same amount of loud, consistent noise as 15. It does not get quieter as the night goes on. We'll be adding sound insulation to the basement ceiling.

Next step - my favourite one. Mike and Hugh are building the wall today, so my job is to come home and praise their brilliant efforts. I drew the wall on the floor in a fuschia Sharpie marker, including the location of the door. It's fun drawing on the floor. How often do you get to do that?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Wii wii wii!

Yesterday was DD's 15th birthday. Aside from the usual thoughts - you know, that all parents have, it feels like just yesterday she was in my arms, they grow up so fast, blah blah blah - we gave her a Wii Fit.

The Wii Fit costs $99 plus tax, at least in Ottawa. It is widely unavailable. Hugh bought one at Loblaws, our grocery store. Why Loblaws is able to stock these devices and Future Shop is not is beyond me.

I already had a Mii, thanks to my children walking me through her creation. I am not very good at picking out which Mii is me, but again, the kids helped. It also helps that my Mii's name is Sarah; why would I call it anything else?

The Wii Fit starts off by assessing your fitness age. I was expecting a grueling trial, counting pushups, testing core strength, aerobic capacity, maybe even reflexes. This was an unrealistic expectation for a small plastic board, as I now realize. I think I had to stand on the board, relatively still, for a few seconds. I had to tell it how old I was, and my height. It weighed me. So far, we all count as normal weight. It made me shift weight from one foot to the other, then told me I clearly was unbalanced and expressed surprise that I could walk. This I enjoyed. Humour in a computer game - bring it on! Even though this test was yesterday, I forget the rest. Except my brilliant result - my Wii Fit age is 40! Yippee! I scored younger than I am, by all of 18 months!

I played a lot of the Wii Fit games. I learned how to navigate down a river in a bubble. That has to go on my resume. I did push ups and planks. I ran on the spot. I stepped up and down. I dropped balls into holes by shifting my weight. I learned how to breath, and several yoga poses. I also discovered that I ROCK the Wii hula hoop. I am currently #1, #2 and #3, with a top score of 880 somethings on the 3 minute super hula hoop game. Woo hoo! I'd like to claim that spending over an hour with a fitness device caused soreness, at least in those muscles I don't use much. It didn't. But I can see how you'd learn a few good moves that you could do independently. I also liked the competitive aspect - ranking your hooping, or ball dropping, or breathing. Although getting a high score in breathing seems odd.

I'm looking forward to more fun on the Fit. In between construction work, of course - we bought a mess of subfloor and it is now acclimatizing to our basement. Hugh paid the boys 10 cents per subfloor 2x2 tile to bring them in from the car and lay them on the floor. They were thrilled. I am now the not very proud owner of a Home Depot credit card account (the card will arrive later), which got me $25 off my purchase and promises of future gift cards, should my HD spending reach heights that, sadly, are highly attainable. I'm still throttling the inner Scot, who is not nearly as keen on the cork flooring as Hugh and I are - Hugh really liked it.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

the project expands

I've done almost no framing in the last week. Instead, I've emptied bookshelves and moved as much as I can into the unfinished room in the basement. The furnace room. Where, if there were monsters, they would live. It's also where the laundry is, so not everything fit - no way am I blocking off or infringing on my laundry area.

I've cut up rugs, dragged them outside and dumped them in the garage. Now the room that will eventually be 2 rooms is bare concrete floor, a 300 pound 15 year old TV, a really old, solid oak desk and the computer table. Things I couldn't move - at least not without severe damage to self. And I'm feeling battered enough. We had a mess of books, and I think I moved most of them twice. Plus I dragged a few loads of, um, lovely stuff to Value Village, before opening hours, so they couldn't refuse it. I have one load left. Tomorrow.

The plan has expanded quite a lot. Initially I was going to finish the ceiling and use a bookcase for a wall. Now I'm adding a subfloor system, a real wall and door, and a ceiling. Plus I'll likely drywall the ceiling, and add a nice floor on top of the subfloor. I am leaning towards cork.

There are only a few obstacles now in my way.

1. No cash
2. Not strong enough to get the stuff home from Home Depot
3. See 1

I'll do it anyways. Heck, the entire economy seems to be based on the rich borrowing from the Chinese to buy crap we don't need. I've estimated the subfloor at $900, which I can scrounge up, and the cork at around $4k, which I can't. It is well within my line of credit availability, but och, laddy, the Scottish in me is nae so keen on that. I'll start with what I can afford. And see how I feel once it comes time to buy the fancy shmancy floor. The thing is, while I could just leave the subfloor and throw a few area rugs on it, I am really, really, really not keen on moving all the bookcases back, then moving them AGAIN when I finally suppress the inner Scot and buy a floor. My back is currently trying to throttle the Scot for thinking about it.

Our living room has been transformed from an island of tranquility to the rec room, as of course the kids can't survive without the computer or vidiot games. They are playing some Bond game on the Wii, many explosions are occuring. Happily the drum kit has not been reassembled, as that could compel Hugh and I to move into the attic. Or the basement. There's lots of room!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

My 6th finger

I've read that if you get a full body scan, odds are good doctors will find 3 to 4 abnormalities, none of which are likely to kill or injure you. We're all freaks! Meaning, of course, that freakish traits are normal, and the perfect human would indeed be a freak.

I have an abnormality you can scan with your eyeballs. It's a teeny tiny "finger", growing under my nail on my ring finger, and it's icky.

I realize this isn't the easiest image to see. It's small, you can only see the tip of it on the end of my finger. Near the clearly trashed edge of the burl of a formerly nice end table. Sigh. We bought the furniture from a guy moving to Arizona, so it was cheap, and we've considered it as utilitarian until the kids are old enough to not destroy it. As child #1 is fond of hosting parties, those years are not yet in sight.

Back to mini-me, my tiny icky finger. It's been growing under my nail for years, compelling me to keep the nails long. But construction work and long nails are a very bad combo, so I cut off my nails, revealing my icky finger to the entire world. Mwah hah hah! The world includes my doctor, a lovely GP, who immediately said it's got to come off and filled in the referral to one of the very few dermatologists in Ottawa. Hence my 21st century need to document this, for surely the world would end if a minute detail of any of our lives were to perish.../sarcasm off.

OK, time to find my good friend the cordless drill and start more framing. I will try not to do any unintentional self surgery on any of my 11 digits, but if I do, I will not post images of injuries until it's safe to take pictures. I don't want to get blood on the camera. Or the keyboard, which is already sticky.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Once more, with power

I have given up on wood framing, in favour of the wonder that is metal framing. It is straight. It uses much shorter screws. It is straight. Did I mention straight?

The wood framing ressembled DNA. Lovely, I think the double helix of our genome is beautiful, and I'm sure the shape is quite useful. But it's really hard to attach drywall to. Especially with lousy tools.

So I returned to Home Depot, spouse in tow, where we purchased a smallish amount of metal framing and a largish amount of screws.

I am happy with the result so far, which took about 2 hours. This compares to a lesser result with over 6 hours of work with lumber. Now, I'm not dissing wood - wood is great. Especially when it's still growing as part of a tree. But 2x2 lumber is a few things.

1. It's 1.5x1.5
2. It's curvy, unlike me
3. It's a pain in the ass to screw without stripping the screws

You see my work? Isn't it lovely? Or at least acceptable? I am not done. Here's a picture of my favourite corner, to give you a sense of the challenge I have created for myself.

Note the bit that dips down near the letter R. Why my son has screwed a large letter R to the wall is a mystery, but if that's his chosen form of self expression, far be it from me to suggest something more personal, like a tattoo. He can continue screwing things to the wall. Especially if it keeps him from facial piercings.

I am done for the day. I finished enough to realize it will likely work, but not without much use of tin snips. The tin snips do work, I'm just not exactly muscular, and it's a bit awkward snipping a C shaped piece of metal without slicing your fingers. So far I only have a couple of scrapes, and I got them before we made it out of the store. Good thing my tetanus shot is up to date! If I start feeling stiff, I'm getting another one just in case.

Oh - I am no longer envious of the Amish. I have acquired a loaner cordless drill. It is my friend. I have already learned that no matter how hard you push, if you have the bit rotating counter-clockwise the screw will not bite. I am not going to disclose how often I did this.