Friday, December 29, 2006

Ascending the Xmas Throne


Back to news of the Bunkle....

Santa left a new, simpler, not-broken, not neoclassical, water-conservation efficient toilet under the tree for the bunkle & me this year. One more thing about the bathroom is officially NOT hideous! Still hideous: everything BUT the cast iron claw foot tub and the toilet. This includes: grim and badly layed vinyl flooring; hideous tiles; hideous vanity; full sized disco mirror (well, at least that is what my brother called it). The toilet situation isn't perfect - it is too far away from the wall really (as was the old one but it was so massive it was less noticeable) but when the major reno happens all will be rectified. For those wondering - the door beside the toilet isn't in use - it is the one that my bed backs into on the other side, and is one of 3 (count 'em) doors into the bathroom. The reno will also include cutting the number of doors to a minimalist ONE.

Slow, slow, slow, but it IS progress.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Gollies Gollies everywhere....

The Golliwog (originally spelled Golliwogg) is the least known of the major anti-Black caricatures in the United States. Golliwogs are grotesque creatures, with very dark, often jet black skin, large white-rimmed eyes, red or white clown lips, and wild, frizzy hair. Typically, it's a male dressed in a jacket, trousers, bow tie, and stand-up collar in a combination of red, white, blue, and occasionally yellow colors. The golliwog image, popular in England and other European countries, is found on a variety of items, including postcards, jam jars, paperweights, brooches, wallets, perfume bottles, wooden puzzles, sheet music, wall paper, pottery, jewelry, greeting cards, clocks, and dolls. For the past four decades Europeans have debated whether the Golliwog is a lovable icon or a racist symbol.
© Dr. David Pilgrim, Professor of Sociology
Ferris State University
Nov., 2000

Hmmm. Can it be both at the same time? Does my Golly-love make me insensitive?

The Golly army above is a group of send-away tags from Robertson's Jam, given to me by my unfailingly inventive gift-giving brother & his wife for Christmas, along with a Golly Mountie pin and Golly dishcloth. When I was young we used to send these off to get various Golliwog memorabilia from Robertsons - I have a full Golly jazz band (small ceramic figurines) and a Golly pin from that time, & love them all. My other brother had stuffed Gollies, and we all read the tales of Noddy, Big Ears and the trouble-making (but nattily attired) Golliwogs.

The fact that there was any whiff of racism in this symbol didn't even occur to me until it was pointed out by an old boyfriend's much more politically aware than me parents. Think I was about 20. I hid my Golly-admiration for a bit after that, but 20 years on I am coming out of the closet. Racist symbol? Yes, absolutely. Loveable icon? I know it's wrong, but I can't help it.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Felt felt felt and more felt

As mentioned I tried hard to scale back this Christmas....well, at least scale back on the crazed shopping hoards. Think I pretty much managed it. A few online purchases, a few things from funky little stores and craft fairs and the rest made by hand.

Preserves to start with (yes T. you guessed right!!): lime marmalade, cranberry citrus marmalade, and tropical kiwi lime jam.

Then some hand made cards using images of old (and strangely reminiscent of certain family members) wild cats that came from a book that was being turfed out of the U of T library.

And then out came the needle & thread for some hand made tree decorations.

First, the obvious - disembodied kitty heads wearing red scarves (to make them look a bit less disembodied).

Then for my brothers, some more specific beasts.

Jury is still out on the black thread on the clown fish - they do have black lines between the orange & white patches, which is what I was going for but I think maybe I'd choose white next time. You sew and learn. They are all very tiny - about an inch in size. I have a fantasy that I will make a whole whack of them for my tree next year. I gave a pair of cats to my pals A&J who are gracious enough to humour me by accepting a gift that is really kind of odd - does everyone hang handmade images of a pal's cats on their tree willingly?I think not!!! God love them for it.

Tracking the Gnarler...

Item #1: Wodgey bit of gnarled painters tape in the livingroom.

Item#2: Piece of paper formerly known as my bookmark

Wanted: The Gnarler

Friday, December 22, 2006

Counting down & burning my hands...

Unfortunately I'm going to have to be a bit cryptic as to what has been taking up my time for the last few days as some of the recipients of my labours do read this thing every now and then. What I can say is that my hands are both burned and stabbed, and my feet are sticking to the kitchen floor. This year I just couldn't stand the idea of fighting with the rest of the shopping hoards and have tried to bring it down a notch. Of course that doesn't end up simplifying the amount of stuff you have to do, but at least you don't have to fight for parking to do it. Will see how it goes & I will tell more after the fact.

And the Bunkle remains largely undecorated - a few things are up, but I've decided I'll hold off on the tree and the rest of it until next year.

The cats, of course, will have stockings. Maggie can't contain her excitement.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Pouring out the bottles & rejoicing...

For the last two and a half days I've had no electricity. I'm not the only one - a brutal windstorm Thursday night knocked out power for thousands. Of course, it also snowed - just a bit - so that gives you a sense of how warm it was outside. Inside? My place was 3C. I could see my breath and it was F&&KING COLD. Cats and I survived using candles/flashlights/and two hot water bottles (which I discover stay fairly warm if sandwiched between me and the cats). Thank god for my gas stove, at least I could use the burners. Was worrying a bit about Thomas this morning as he wouldn't lie down, he just sat all puffed up (looking rather like an owl) by my pillow, expecting me to rectify the situation I suppose. Maggie, who had given up on her friends the heating vents after sitting and staring at them in great disappointment, was smart enough to curl up on top of me to keep warm. Anyway, crisis is now over. But it makes me realize how ill prepared I am (and maybe this city is?) for a disaster. Will do my best to rectify that and soon.

In other news, went to a concert that has secured a firm position on my Top 10 live music experiences list - Akron/Family. Not to everyone's taste (but so much to mine I was grinning like an idiot through most of it), but my god it was refreshing to see musicians really playing - in both senses of the word - and making something new and exciting. Phenomenal fun, energetic, creative, loud stuff.

And for those who are interested & curious, here is my favorite source of new and unusual music: Spinning on Air. Go in, poke through the archives and listen to some great new music. There are well recorded live performances/interviews with Sufjan Stevens and Akron/Family as well as many many other new and interesting things.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Red houses

Christmas is coming...and that includes some time off from work. Hoping that I will get baseboards installed in the red room then, with Mum's help. Until then, here's a bit of fakery, with the help of a chunk of baseboard from my bedroom (which can't be properly installed until the door jamb gets replaced...and so it goes....). In case you need a reminder of where things started ...
It is very easy to forget how much has been accomplished in the face of the bazillion other things that still need to be done. Patience not one of my major virtues.

When I start getting frustrated with what has to be done I can always step back and remind myself that I am the owner of another red house that needs no work. I built the whole damn thing myself. And lighting the thing is a whole lot less expensive.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Things that start with "T"...

I've read posts about how hard it is to take photos with wee hands pulling at your sleeves. I have a different problem...but for those of you wanted to see Thomas in action, here you go.

The tile is a tin ceiling tile from the flourmill on Pacific Street in Brandon Manitoba, dating 1882 or so. It is beautifully framed, though the frame is still in protective wrapping & will stay that way til I hang it in the red den. The tile was a present to myself from a craft fair I went to with A. a few weeks back. I couldn't resist it, it fits with the Bunkle so very well. And it's from Brandon, home town of another favorite T.!

Saturday, December 02, 2006


The snow is melting. I can't say I'm sorry. I woke up this morning to no coffee, no milk, and frighteningly little toilet paper - the result of leaving my car covered in its snow-igloo. My brother dropped a snow shovel (on loan - these babies are HOT property in Vancouver right now) at my place yesterday, so I managed to get my car out. I have just finished my first coffee of the day. Phew.

Went to yet another craft fair with A. last night. Really good one, some inspiringly creative things, & some very nice live jazz in the background. At A.'s urging I splurged on a hat/fingerless mitt/scarf set made by a very affable woman who I'm certain would put A. on the payroll after that sales job! - so very soft, and the hat large enough not to give me hat-head (yes T., big enough for you too - maybe even at the same time ;). Love it.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Joys of Winter...

Woke up this morning to frozen pipes. Amazing how long it can take you to compute what the issue is at 5:45 in the morning ( tap doesn't work, let's try the bathroom...hmmm, bathroom tap doesn't work, let's try the bath....hmmmm, that doesn't work...wonder why........followed by the sudden jolting DOH of realization). Called my pal A. in Toronto (love those time zones!) who talked me through it, then my pal A. here in Vancouver, and with some good advice in hand (find the incoming pipe and heat it...) went to work.

Well, water comes in to my house under the front porch. Which is closed off. Which has a crappy door that freezes shut. To cut a long boring story short, finally managed (with a crowbar) to open the door, and hunched down under the creepy, spider ridden porch with some hot water, rags and a blow drier. Also dispatched an IMMENSE spider (4 inch leg span, no joke) on the porch door by doing a rather John Cleese-like funny walk manouver (or nazi goose step, depending on your cultural references) and stepping on it - think it retrospect it was dead, having frozen in place. Anyhoo, water is running now, and I am relieved and exhausted.

On a happier note, have managed to hang up the quilt. Pattern fights with the duvet cover, but trust me, looks a heck of a lot better than a door, which is what it is concealing. I think I will likely raise it somewhat so the bottom border shows as well. But Thomas likes it....

Monday, November 27, 2006

Why my house is cold... seems that I have large furry heat-seeking masses blocking the heating vents. Suggestions for their removal welcome.

Snow Day

There is about one foot of the heavy white stuff outside. As per my Mum's request I took some snaps of the place yesterday, but there is much more outside today. The tree is from this morning though. The sad thing is that I left my very nice snow shovel in Toronto (I was moving to an apartment in Vancouver - why would I need a snow shovel, and where the heck would I store it?). Did a bit of shovelling with my collapsable car snow shovel, crouched over like a troll because the shovel is so short, and of course today my back has something to say about it.

Working from home today. It's a snow day after all (and Thom managed to convince me I really shouldn't be leaving the house....).

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Transformation #3: Let it snow

The first snow of the year. I'm not a snow lover by any stretch, but I have to admit there is something beautiful about it and the quiet blanket it puts down over everything. Wasn't feeling that way as I was stressing about my car's ability to make it up a rather steep hill near my place at 3am last night, but today my exhausted self is feeling a bit differently. It does means that the days plans change though - no more driving overtown to visit a pal, and I suspect my parents, who usually drop by for a weekend visit, might also be socked in by the snow. That being said, I there is something kind of pleasant about having decisions about what you need to do in a day taken out of your hands by the weather gods. And who knows, maybe the cooler weather will mean that we will soon have safe drinking water again (sigh).

Busy day yesterday - made some Citrus & Chardonnay jelly (quite yum), ran some errands, painted the den, went to see the cryogenic miracles the Stones with my brothers (courtesy of my generous brothers I should add - not that I'm suggesting the $160 ticket price is in anyway an overblown money grab...never...).

Today I'm struggling with whether the den needs another coat or not. The colour is completely solid, but there are some roller marks that you can see due to a difference in sheen that I might try and deal with. Obsessive? Me? Never. Then it will be time to purchase, cut, and paint the baseboards and door trim... I'm also thinking of getting something similar to this as the centre room light. Might be a bit grand, but something about the red is making me want grand.

Or maybe I'll just have another cup of tea. Made with bottled water.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Cosy things...

Well, it isn't The Transformation #3 as I haven't had time to put the third coat of red on. Next weekend, next weekend. Days need to be much longer than they are, and I need to have much more energy than I have.

Busy weekend though. Friday night was a fundraiser for DOXA. A good night with some good pals. And for those pals that were volunteer-slaves that night - thank you thank you. I was taken with a lovely hand-made quilt that seemed to call out that it needed to be part of The Bunkle ...and after quite a bidding war (terminated by my pal A. threatening the other bidder with bodily harm ... I love my friends...!) , I am the very happy owner of this beautiful piece of craftsmanship. I think it is actually going to reside on the bedroom wall for a bit, hiding an unwanted door that pokes up behind the head of my bed (the layout of my place is ... odd. Let's leave it at that) .

Also spent time with A. trolling the craft fairs and celebrating J's 40th birthday - a spread of wine and cheese that boggled the mind ... much fun. So - all in all, not a weekend I can complain about (if I could just learn to let go enough to not feel frustrated about the lack of red coat #3 that is ...).

And finally, this weekend's life lesson: when ordering vietnamese curry beef soup, ask them to hold the tendon.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Transformation: #2 Nausea Heartburn Indigestion....

Busy weekend. Room went from grey-purple grunge colour to hideous pepto pink (primer, not permanent...and I was warned about the colour ) Learned a couple of things: Glad Press n' Seal works as a fantastic paint tray liner - so much better than foil (my sewer system is as delicate as a ... oh, I don't know but it's irritating and it means I am super careful about making sure nothing bad - including water soluble paint - goes down the drain. Mr. Roto Rooter was really nice and all, but I don't want to see him again anytime soon....)

Then managed to move on to fantastic fantastic oh I love it red...two coats, and to my amazement I think I've only got one more to do (went into this having just acted as sous-painter to my pal A in a red room that took 8 coats - and some talking A off Please Make It Stop ledge - to cover). It is a very rich, brick slightly soaked in blood colour. Strangely, that isn't how the colour is marketed.

The weekend's life lessons: I hate painting ceilings; if you put red paint on too heavily with a roller it will start to slide down the wall in the creepiest blood-like sheets; I apparently have a palsy I didn't realize that is clearly demonstrated by the cutting in of the wall paint at the ceiling; I know the lyrics to way too many folk songs, as revealed by my ability to sing(?) along with the entire Folk Roots digital music station playlist; and the friendly, unfocused gaze of Ted, my Mum's childhood bear - attired in a red velvet childhood dress of mine, with fur becomingly trimmed by my brothers - who happened to be sitting on top of a cd case just outside the den can startle me enough to almost make me lose my balance on the painting ladder.

It's coming, it's coming. And I'm soooo glad.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Transformation: #1

Rememberance Day...
Mike's birthday.

Time to start on the den. Thomas' tips for anyone painting (or drywalling, or...) a room with a wood floor: use roofing paper to cover the floor - no slippy moving dropsheets necessary. Actually that's my reason for using paper. Thom's reason is that unlike true dropsheets, the paper is taped down with cat-gnarl-worthy painters tape . Bets are on that I will wake up to find wet, chewed lumps of the stuff tomorrow morning.

So - today I've: ripped off the baseboards; ripped off splintered remains of a piece of door trim that was adhered with at least one full tube of caulking, which made for a pretty cartoon like sproinging back of the trim every time I tried to pull it off. Also patched the walls and primed the ceiling. Tomorrow...who knows, hoping to put on a coat of pepto-pink primer and get a coat of ceiling paint on.

And - a minor miracle - Maggie has EYES!!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Go Foster!!

It's times like this that I miss Ontario. My best pal A. is taking her baby boy Foster to his debut at the Royal Winter Fair this Thursday - he will be in the weanling colt Canadian Sporthorse line class. A. and I for years before I left Toronto would take the day of the Royal line classes off work, and show up at some ungodly hour for the Cup classes - 50 or more gorgeous 3 year old horses just waiting for us to pick apart their looks, their breeding, and what their handlers were wearing. It was the biggest horse day of the year for us, and every year we stayed until we were so exhausted from inspecting horse conformation that we looked like zombies and probably couldn't tell a good looking horse from a good looking elephant. Then came the year we took A.'s 3 year old, Fenella. I swear, those were two of the most stressful and most thrilling days of my life. And she's not even my horse. Needless to say, she won ribbons. Big ribbons. And I don't think you could have met two more thrilled women if you'd tried.

SO... this year it's Foster's turn. He is Fenella's full brother, and I'm sure he will follow in his beautiful sister's footsteps. I just wish I was there to watch it first hand.

And for those of you wondering why I haven't posted more pictures of Miss Mags, let me show you why....

Cat sees camera, cat closes eyes (scroll down & take a look at the other picture of her...enough said)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Thomas' Eye View.....

First, apologies for not allowing non-blogger comments. Rookie error.

It's time for room two - the den (which was, for a while, my office/bedroom...did I mention I have a BEDROOM now?). Figured I'd let Thomas give the tour, starting from the location of cat contemplation, the Cat Bag.

I'm not sure the rest need that much commentary. There are consistencies between the images if you look closely enough: 1) look of feline shock & disdain; 2) beauty of old refinished-by-my-fair-hands fir floor; 3) hideousness of rest of room.

Special things that I am considering keeping as 'features' of the room: pink paper door to bathroom with special cat slit for impromptu cat visits during showers etc; splintered & ripped door trim and semi-removed baseboard; weird patches of test paint scattered randomly over walls; and Thomas' strangely pigeon-toed feet (look at the second photo - closely). I should mention that last weekend I stripped off a very special wallpaper border (dreamy stars and suns) so I am unable to demonstrate the room's true original beauty. One thing I would like to point out is the one thing that the previous owner left behind that I truly appreciate (unlike the extra dishwasher; rodent traps; bike; creepy kids toys; miniature fire hats; old paint; broken carpet steamer; large plastic penguins....I'll stop) - and that is the big cardboard wardrobe box that has been an incredibly useful floor pad during many moments of this insane project. Yes, that is my little friend leaning up against the wall in the den.

I am guessing that the room make-over will commence next weekend. Will keep you posted. And hopefully Thomas will approve.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Just fighting with how to deal with uploaded photos / text with this photo of the inimitable Miss Mags. Can I get this damned stuff to wrap? Argh.

Cats both had dental work this week. Yes, dental work. Why is it that when I was a kid everyone had a cat that lived to twenty and only went to the vet if it tried to make friends with a car/dog/racoon? My cats now have cleaner teeth than I do, and I can no longer afford that new dishwasher....
Well, so much for keeping up with this blogging stuff. I have been living in the Bunkle since the end of June, and after a rocky start to our relationship (sewer backup, electrical breakdowns, cranky furnaces) we are coming to some sort of mutual understanding.

The biggest news is that I have a bedroom!! One with walls AND a floor (that sounds so simple, but really, it is a momentous thing). To give you and idea what we were starting with - nasty bad carpet, under which we found half plywood / half very sad and abused fir flooring. There was also a weird angled corner wall. Floor obviously came up, and wall went the way of the dodo.

Neither would have been possible without the help of my dear pals who not only helped me destroy, they put down new flooring and walked me through a brilliant reno moment - step 1: being thrown sideways into the wall as I tried in desperation to manhandle a crazed floor sander; step 2: weeping hysterical phonecall to uber-dear pal A. ; step 3: swooping in of super-hero friend (brother of udp A.) who in 2 hours managed to sand my floor into the perfect, perfect, perfect floor. I love it. Love it.

Friday, April 14, 2006

So Why Bunkle?

The Bunkle is the name given to my soon-to-be home. It was named by some supportive but slightly crazy friends who noted the additions ("carbuncles") on the back of the 98 year old frame house. Over pizza that night, the Bunkle House was born. An offer went out, and the Bunkle and I are soon to be one. Every morning, I wake up, go over my finances mentally (can I really manage this?), rip at my cuticles with my teeth for a moment (an unfortunate stress related habit) and get on with my day. I'm still not sure how I will swing it, but I'll try my hardest.