I'm dreaming of a White Christmas

"Lake effect snows occur when a mass of sufficiently cold air moves over a body of warmer water, creating an unstable temperature profile in the atmosphere."

In other words, we've got snow. Lots of snow. This is what yesterday looked like - all day.

And this is today. Yes, that snow is almost over Kip's head. Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster for neighbours with snow blowers - I was only out for an hour shoveling, instead of 2!

Kip learned he can walk on water though - as long as the water is frozen, and only 3 paws are down at any one time.

I however, cannot walk on water, frozen or not. Yes, that is my knee.

The good news? The days are now officially getting longer, which is good - gives me more time to shovel...


New Christmas traditions...

Once upon a time, a couple got married. One present they got was a wall clock, such as never has been seen before. It was heart-shaped shiny gold-coloured plastic, with a mirrored background. In one "lobe" of the heart, there was the actual clock. In the other "lobe", was a peacock. The best part - around the rim were mini-lights, just like the ones you use to decorate at Christmas. Multi-coloured Christmas lights. Why the fact that they were multi-coloured makes this clock even better, in a "OMG-that's-tacky" sort of way, I don't know. But to me, the multi-coloured lights were the straw that broke the peacock's tail.

Being a couple with good taste and an even better sense of humour, they didn't put the clock up on the wall. Instead, it was passed to each family member who subsequently got married. In this manner, the clock passed down to friends of mine, where it provided many moments of laughter and incredulousness (you mean there is really a factory where they make these?? Really?? And a store that sells them? And people who buy them????), until the day came for them to pass it along to the next lucky couple.

In that spirit, another friend bought a Christmas ornament for me last year. This shall be passed between the group of us, hopefully providing years of laughter and shared memories, and really, in my opinion, showing what the Spirit of Christmas is all about - friendship, joy, and tacky consumer goods.


Memory is a funny thing. We generally think our childhood memories are set in stone, but then evidence comes up and bites one in the arse.

Case in point. I watched a movie as a child, called "Where the Red Fern Grows". It is a very touching movie, about the love of a boy for his dogs, two Irish Setters. The dogs die prematurely, and a rare red fern grows on their grave.

I loved this movie. It was right up there with "Black Beauty", and "The Incredible Journey", and "Watership Down" - books that I read over and over again, and, in fact, still own.

I loved watching TV shows about animals, reading books about animals, watching movies about animals... but "Where the Red Fern Grows" sticks in my memory more than the rest. It was such a sad movie, and it was about dogs, and I remember it so well.

Except one major thing.

Those dogs weren't Irish Setters.

They were Redbone Coonhounds.

So much for my memory. Sigh.


Christmas memories, part deux

Clowns are scary - Steven King "It" clowns, Poltergeist clowns. Scary.

Almost as scary? My childhood stocking. It's a wonder I like Christmas, growing up with a stocking like this. Really, what were people thinking? Okay, it is from the early 70s, the age of kid's shows like "The Hilarious House of Frightenstein", and other mind boggling, they-actually-made-this-for-children productions, but still...

A close up - see, scary. Really scary.

Here is another freaky elf thing. Remember Ken Jennings from Jeopardy? And Hermey the Elf from Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer? Coincidence? I think not! Elves are scary, I tell ya.


Christmas memories

Every morning while getting ready to go to work, I would listen to the same radio station. Every year at Christmas time, they would do a fund raiser for the food bank by taking pledges for playing a listener's Christmas song request. Nice and cheery, right? Really getting into the Christmas spirit.

Until the Year of the Cat Carol.

Yes, the Cat Carol - the WORST Christmas song ever written. Ever.

Imagine me, standing in the middle of my kitchen, listening to this carol, and bursting into tears. Imagine all the little kiddies (and those not so little) doing the same in homes across the province.

Imagine one year later, at the start of the very same fund-raiser show, the station manager coming on-air to announce he was donating money to the food bank, his only request being that the Cat Carol was NOT played that year.

Worst. Christmas. Carol. EVER!

So, of course, I have to share. Merry Christmas!


And the award for the best non-traditional use of feminine hygine products goes to...

The bedrooms all have ceiling fans. All of which, of course, were not installed correctly - there is a large gap between the ceiling and the fan. So they wobble when the fan is turned on. One enterprising tenant fixed this problem in an unusual way.

By using tampons to shim up the fan.

Fortunately, unused.


Snow day

Kip loves the snow, so we went for a walk today, and then came back and shoveled. Kip loves to "help" me shovel - he'll stand there, wagging his stub, until I throw a shovelful of snow at him. He tries to chase the snow, and ends up covered in it. Then he comes back for the next shovelful. Funny boy!

Kitchen plans

I saw this ad, and really like the look of the kitchen. So this is what I'm working towards, in terms of the cabinets and counter top. But with a different colour on the walls. And white appliances. And a dark tile floor. And no "island". But other than that, exactly the same ;-)

I had an interesting conversation with a friend a couple of days ago, about how to start designing and decorating a room from scratch. We realized we go about it completely different ways - I need to have a picture in my head (like this kitchen), and then I can make decisions based on that picture. She looks for accessories she likes, and then decorates around them. For whatever reason, this does not work for me!

I also want my house to have a particular feel to it, and I want the decorating to fit the age and style of the house, with out being too "themey". So I think the direction I'm going is "cottage" - but not too cottage.

Sigh. I'm much better with power tools than paint chips.


Does one *really* need a kitchen?

Although the kitchen reno is a few months down the road, I though I'd meet with a kitchen designer, just to start planning, and to get a realistic idea of the costs.

Here's the problem - the kitchen itself is quite small - 9' x 11'. And there are three doorways and one window in that, so there isn't a lot of space. To make it more functional, I decided to do cabinets in the dinette area as well - more storage, and the counter top can act like a buffet. I wanted that to look more like a built-in, so I decided to go with wood, instead of white cabinets. And of course, the only ones I like in a dark wood finish are the really expensive ones. Okay, it's only 5', so I can afford to go with those, right? And, I want the uppers to be for display, so I want glass fronts. Nice, right?


I pick out the glass pattern I like. When I tell the kitchen planner, all he said was "Oh".


For EACH door.

Plus the cost of the cabinet itself.

So I'm going with plain glass.

The estimate for the kitchen, dinette and bathroom cabinets is ~$9,000 - $13,000. I know that's not too bad. But it is huge chunk of the budget, and doesn't include things like counter tops. Or appliances. Or door handles. Or or or...

$13,000 buys a lot of take-out.

Do I really need a kitchen?


How not to run a business

The crawl space really needs to be insulated. Now. Before the pipes freeze. Dad thinks spray foam is the way to go, and not just because it means I have to actually hire someone else to do it.

So, I call around to get quotes. Guy 1 takes my call, and immediately makes an appointment to come and see the space a few days later. Guy 2 - some female answers the phone and tells me Guy 2 will call me back. Okay. At almost 10 pm that night he does so. Here's the conversation:

Guy 2: Are you available during the day?

Me: Yes.

Guy 2: Oh. Are you available in the evening?

Me: Yes.

Guy 2: Oh. Well, I should be able to make it up there sometime this next week.

Me: Oh. Are you going to call first?

Guy 2: Well yeah, or else it would be a wasted trip.

Me: Okay.....

A few days later, he calls early in the morning to see if I'll be around. I say yes, so he says he's coming by.

Then he asks if I have a ladder.

I pause, then very politely ask him if he knows he's giving me a quote for insulating a crawl space.

"Guess I won't need the ladder then"

Ah, no.

The quotes are in. I'm going with Guy 1.


How many hole saws does one person need?

After my fun with replacing the front door lock, I decided to wait until the next day to do the back door lock. That lock was a bit more challenging, as a new hole had to be cut for the deadbolt, and the corresponding bit chiseled out of the door jamb. Again, Dad said something about the attic, and disappeared.

I started with the handle part, and that went well. By that time, Dad's curiosity got the better of him (or he was tired of hearing me whine), and he agreed to drill out the section for the deadbolt in the door and the jamb. To drill out the jamb part, a 1" spade bit is required. Of course, I have a 1/8, 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4. No 1". Off to the hardware store - thankfully, it's near by. While I was gone, Dad decides to start on the hole in the door. And we both have a hole saw attachment for the drill of the correct size - woohoo! Except, it's for wood. And the door is metal clad.

I come home from the hardware store to the smell of burnt wood. Using a wood drill bit on metal produces a lot of heat, apparently. And the inside of the door is wood. Dad looked at me and said nothing actually was set on fire...

Okay, the first hole saw cut through one side of the door, and through the center. But we still have to drill through the second metal sheet. And the first hole saw is dead. The teeth are completely worn down. So, let's use the second hole saw. And we proceed to wear the teeth down on that as well. Okay. Did I mention I'm really glad the hardware store is really close?

Home with the new $26.00 hole saw, and 2.533 seconds later, the hole is complete. And the new deadbolt covers all the scorch marks.

Moral of the story? ALWAYS use the right tool for the job. And make sure Dad knows were the fire extinguisher is kept.


MacGyver is my hero

One of the first things you should do when you buy a new house is change the locks. As this was previously a rental house, it was very important to me to do so, as I have no idea how many keys are floating around out there. Fortunately, Mom and Dad just replaced some of their locks, so Dad installed their old ones for the first little while. But, I don't do shiny yellow brass, and I knew I would eventually want to replace them with something more "me". I found a set I really liked a few weeks ago, and decided to replace the old ones. Easy, right?

I started with the front door, as it already had the cutouts for the door latch itself and the separate deadbolt. Dad was fixing the attic at the time (he said something about getting it done before the snow came, and caved in the roof. I'm pretty sure he was exaggerating...), so I read the instructions, gathered my tools, and, with Kip supervising, started the job. The latch part is sloped, and the instructions make it clear to make sure you put it in the right way, so you can close the door when you leave. So, being the logical person I am, after installing this part, I decide to test it and make sure it works, before I put the door handles on.

So I stepped outside and pulled the door closed.


Effectively locking myself out.

There is a reason Kip is not named Lassie. I looked in at him through the door window, and told him Timmy was in the well, and to go get Grandpa.

Kip yawned and started licking his nether bits.

On to plan B...

Mom was due to stop by after work, and she had a key to the back door, since it was still her old lock set. I could wait. Except I had no idea when she was coming. And I was in my shirt sleeves. And it was cold.

Plan C...

Think. Think about how it works. One turns the handle, and the innards move. So if I can find something to move the innards... have I mentioned there are a lot of trees in the yard? After 15 minutes or so of searching, I find a stick that is small enough to fit, yet sturdy enough to push the part back. And viola, I'm in the house. Kip looked at me and yawned again.

New lock set - $203.39
Stick from the backyard - $0.00
Realizing that all those hours spent watching cheesy 80s TV weren't wasted after all - priceless


And more Christmas....

This is it for Christmas decorating this year! Too many other things I should be doing.

Oh, And Kip asked me to tell you all that he hates Christmas for some reason....

It's beginning to look at lot like Christmas.....

Thanks to my lovely sister, and 3 trips to Wal-Mart (ugh), I decorated the outside this weekend. The garlands and wreath are presents from my sister and her family - thanks! The plan is to get the inside done this week - we'll see how that goes!

Location, location, location

So, why did I buy a house like this? That needs everything inside replaced? Other than the price, the style of the house and it's large yard, it was location, location, location. It is literally seconds from Lake Erie. And the lake shore area here is all parks, walkways, and trails. A great area to go for a walk; an even better area to take your dog for a walk. Here are some pictures taken this fall; I'll try to get more this winter. And don't tell anyone I said this, but I can let Kip off-leash when no one else is around - it's fun for him, and good training for his recall! We have even done an entire, door-to-door, 30 minute walk off-leash. We did encounter other people, but he heeled quite nicely past them. He's a GOOD dog!

And the bedrooms.... again with the stippled walls!


The kitchen. The back area is currently a laundry area; it will eventually be a dining area.

The living room... and yes, those are green stippled walls...

And all the furnishings are NOT mine - these pictures were taken before I bought the house!

Like manna from heaven...

Of course, I had a home inspection before buying the place. And, it went better than expected. For an 80 year old house, that has been a rental property for the last few years, it's in good shape - and structurally sound.

The highlight of the inspection though, happened in the kitchen. You see, to make life easier, the last person who did renos put up a suspended ceiling in the kitchen, so that wires and pipes could be run across without actually opening a ceiling or wall (and yes, this will be changed).

So, there we are, in the kitchen - Mom, Dad, the inspector and me. The inspector climbs up the ladder, and moves one of the ceiling tiles to take a gander at what's up there. And something falls from the ceiling.....

An old VCR tape box.


With, um, *interesting* pictures all over it. Right in front of my mother.

After that, finding the old wasps nest up there was anti-climatic.


Home again

I bought this house in Fall, 2008, and took possession on Halloween... I hope that didn't jinx me!

The house was built in 1928, and is a block away from the shore of Lake Erie. The house has a lot of great features, like the original trim and doors, good layout, a large lot, and a GREAT location.

The house also needs a LOT of work, which should keep me busy over the next few years, and hopefully, will keep YOU entertained! Wish me luck!


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