November 19, 2009

The Show Must Go On

The house is as livable as we can make it in light of all the things that need doing. The kitchen is clean and functioning. And ugly. Most things work except the fridge that freezes stuff and the dishwasher that makes things dirty. But I've been able to turn out fairly regular meals and some decent apple pies so I'll take what I can get right now. Bathrooms all work but need updating. Again, nothing we can't live with. Master bedroom is okay for now. The hardwood floor in the bedroom has been refinished so that's a start. Oh, and of course the bedroom now has in-wall speakers and "disappeared" wires for the flatscreen TV. That's all we're doing to it for the interim.

Nothing like promising family that I'll make Christmas dinner this year as a bit of motivation to really get cracking. So, we hunker down for some serious stuff. Not the kitchen though. I guess since I can actually cook in it, it doesn't warrant emergency status. What we really do need is a place (other than bed, since that can get really crowded when you have people over) to sit and read, or watch TV.

 First up is what will be the library/TV room, affectionately known as the "hub room" for its centralized location. Strange to type it, but we've been calling it the hub room since before we even moved in.   
One of the things I really liked about the room was that the ceiling has these dark wood beams. They lent a certain coziness to a room I envisioned having floor to ceiling bookcases; said bookcases currently stacked in the adjacent living room together with boxes of books. And more boxes of books. All the more reason to get the hub room finished.

  I've decided not to be attached to them. The ceiling needed to be's the one place in the house that isn't double drywalled. It was made of a lighter material, with a terrible bumpy textured coating. Ugh. In order to remove the ceiling,the beams had to go.

With much prying, grunting and swearing, they went. I don't like 'em anymore. Mainly because they were a real bitch to get out and I suspect not so easy to put back either.We'll repurpose the wood where we can. The orange thingie is a Rory toy that he drags around to whatever convenient spot he can find to lay down and chew it up.

Keelan was enlisted to help remove nails from the wood, and ended up getting pretty excited about the whole tear-down thing that Norm started. So he joined in.

I have no doubt that Rory will be a fine reno-dog. Not phased at all by falling bits, power tools, and big bangs. Just happy to be in the same room with his people. Sometimes, for his own safety, he is relegated to a safer vantage point, but mostly he stays out of the way on his own...usually just sitting and watching. Maybe hoping when the ceiling opens up that kibble will fall like manna from heaven. Who knows?

Happy to discover that things are dry underneath and just as solid as the rest of the house. Whoever put this place together didn't intend for it to come apart without a fight.

As it turns out, some of the walls in the hub room aren't drywall either. The panelling was an obvious no-keep. It's not your parents' rumpus room type's actually quite thick and I'm sure in its day was considered pretty glam, but not for me. It was going to come down, but after I removed the intercom (a whole other blog entry) I found that the panelling was backed by 3/8 plywood. I guess they didn't want anybody punching holes through the walls during tense family get-togethers. Anyway, the whole thing is'll make a lovely solid foundation for the drywall.

November 7, 2009


Today begins the way I like Saturdays to begin. Out of bed and jogging by the river with Rory while the sun comes up. Not always easy when my bed is warm and the temperature outside is hovering only slightly above 0.  Made that much more difficult by the realization that when we come home for breakfast, I’ll only be setting out one of the dog bowls. Today is Rory’s first day as an only dog.

This week, Norm and I made the heart-breaking decision that it was time to help Seth on to the next part of his journey.  I think we were hoping that maybe Seth’s weakening heart would take him in his sleep before his painful hips and joints forced us to make the decision for him. Warm weather, a warm room and pain meds only work for so long.
It’s a hard realization that your companion of more than eleven years is simply existing, hanging in there and relying on you to do the right thing for him.

He was a charmer who eked himself out at least 4,200 extra days on earth. I was graced with his companionship for almost all of them. Charm school began at an animal hospital in Edmonton where his breeder left him as a tiny puppy with instructions that he be put down because of a congenital problem particular to Ridgebacks.  Turned out the vet techs couldn’t do it. They named him Calvin instead. By the time the breeder came in again a few weeks later, the puppy had insinuated himself into the heart of the place. One thing led to another and after some surgery to remove a dermoid sinus, the now four-month-old healthy puppy was back in the hands of his breeder and waiting on an acreage near Edmonton for me to come and pick him up.

 Calvin became Seth. In Hebrew, loosely translated it means ‘chosen one’.  He joined our family of three children and another Ridgeback and fit himself right in.

Those children are now grown, and I’m certain they carry my same memories of Seth – he was everywhere – playing in the snow in the back yard, chasing them down a toboggan hill, camping, hiking, sleeping under the coffee table.

When I was going through the photo album, one thing that struck me was the tolerance Seth displayed. He was forever imposed upon to share his bed and blankets. A lot. With cats, dogs, and people. Secretly, I think he liked it. 

Seth saw the tail end of my twenties, right through to the first year of my forties. For as long as I have the good fortune to look back in time, I’ll always remember him as an ever present companion in my thirties. He was my pillow during some tough times and always my guardian.

Anybody who knew him will know that Seth was a willing love sponge who put up with nothing less than his fair share of pats and scratches. That’s the part I’ll miss the most, and the thing he was doing right up to the end. The muzzle nudge looking for an ear scratch.

March 18, 1998 – November 6, 2009

                             ….doGspeed, old man

More photos of Seth

November 2, 2009

Vad Bibes

The good, the fresh, the hard to find - we’ve spent many Saturday afternoons on the prowl for ingredients for the perfect supper. Not anymore. Actually, there isn’t any point, since the fridge that came with the new house freezes everything that we put in it regardless of the setting on the dial. And trust me, frozen arugula doesn’t recover. I’m not even going to risk truffled goat cheese. In what is strangely, yet comfortingly, similar to our specialty food shop forays, Norm and I have taken to using our free time to visit the clearance section of our local appliance store. The new gas stove/oven has been patiently waiting (it’s patient, but I’m not) in the garage for two months, for the day we are ready to tackle the kitchen reno. In the meantime, we’re on a refrigerator quest. My thinking is that even when we find the built-in model of our dreams (to qualify, it must be perfect for our purposes and definitely not full retail price) it won’t have to wait in the garage…it can replace the current 70s relic immediately. By my reckoning, we’ll probably have energy savings as well as grocery savings since I won’t have to throw out half of everything that goes in.

So, back to Saturday. We did find a great fridge. Floor to ceiling, counter-depth, all fridge (no freezer), huge articulating hinges, stainless steel. Didn’t buy it, but at least we know what’s out there now. I suspect a little more research is in order. On our way out, we wandered through the microwave oven section. Another little item for the list. There won’t be room in the kitchen for a full double oven, but in the old house I had a stainless steel microwave that was also a convection oven, and I think that’s the route to take in the new place too. I’m not brand fussy about any of this and it is quite likely that each of the kitchen appliances will be different makes. I want solid, commercial grade, good warranty, positive reviews etc… None of this stops me from looking at every single brand I walk by, which in turn meant I ended up laughing hysterically in front of one of the microwaves. For blog purposes, it will remain ‘brand-less’, suffice to say it had the word “Professional” plastered to the front. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve owned this brand before, in a gas stove/range, and it was a great unit. Having said that, I never would have bought it if it had buttons like this:

Apparently my laughter precluded Norm from whipping out his Palm Pilot to take a picture of it, so these shots are from the online owner’s manual.

I can buy into the Popcorn button. Never use it, but it is pretty commonplace. But Chicken Nuggets? Is that a food group now? Maybe “professional” cooks get home at the end of the day, and just can’t stand the thought of whipping up anything more complicated than chicken nuggets. But really, I don’t imagine they need a button to tell them how long to nuke the nuggets.