The Reno Begins

We signed a contract for the reno last week, and now the work is beginning. The work, for now, is mostly just talking about what goes where and where to get stuff and what colours, and Blake and I have to buy lots of stuff; new light fixtures, appliances, a kitchen faucet, tiles for the backsplash and the front hall floor. It would be swell if we had a car right now.

We got a couple of quotes, one which was horrifyingly high and one which was alarmingly low. Fortunately the people who quoted low come highly recommended and they basically lowballed us, I think, because they like Blake's dad and because they know that we have years and years of work to do on this house and they want in on the ground floor, so to speak.

So this reno looks like this:

  • Kitchen:
    • new Marmoleum floor
    • new cabinets, probably from Ikea
    • big pass-through window to the dining room
    • new (gas!) stove
    • dishwasher (hallelujah!)
    • new fridge
    • funky Formica countertops
  • new electrical throughout, because we still have knob and tube almost everywhere
  • new light fixtures some places
  • knock out most of the walls on the main floor to make it more open, although I would stop short of calling it "open concept" because we'll still have a well-defined front hall and the kitchen will still be cut off by a wall, albeit a wall with a big pass-through window
  • replace the hardwood in the front hall with black and white mosaic tile in some cool retro pattern (we'll use the hardwood from the front hall to patch the holes from taking out the walls.)
  • New deck!

All in all it's a fairly small reno; we are not adding any rooms or messing with any outside walls. It is scheduled to take about a month, with the actual work beginning mid-March.

I am really excited; once the reno is done we will still have a crappy old house, but it will be a crappy old house with a really nice, functional kitchen and light switches in logical places, and I can deal with that!

Running? What?

So yeah, running. I haven't been. For a while there we were in a crazy deep freeze the likes of which I moved out of the prairies to avoid, and then I hurt my back, and... oh, I don't know, there's always something that comes up. Dishes! Dishes are the last straw for me, it seems; I can manage to do the housekeeping and look after the kids and go to choir and run and read and stuff when I have a dishwasher, but when I have to do dishes by hand it all goes to hell. How do we generate so many dirty dishes?

I did do a tortuous and pathetic 3K last weekend, which is better than the nothing I have done since.

But I think I'm okay with a winter lull. I would like, ideally, to run through December, just to counteract the holiday madness both psychologically and healthwise, but I don't think I would be too devastated if I took a break from running every January and February. It's hibernation time. That's long enough, though. Once March comes I will set a schedule and work towards running 5K straight through without a walking break.

The Forecast - In The Shadow Of Two Gunmen

When I listened to the first song, they sounded like a band I listened to back in university. Something like a cross between Sloan and Live, or The Lowest of the Low. Live, maybe? It wasn't any of those but that was the sort of genre it reminds me of...

I guess what I'm trying to say there is that as far as I can tell, it's classic Indie Rock, circa 1994, and god help me, I love it. I'm sure the muscial landscape has changed in the last 12, no, wait, 13 years, but it's good to see that there are still bands out there who are playing the things I used to hear. Damn, does that means that I'm old, when I start liking songs like the ones I used to hear? I'll just chalk it up to nostalgia instead of age. Shut up.

I should probably put in a link to more info, shouldn't I?

Finally, I know I totally missed the 1500 character target, but man, this reviewing thing is hard. All the harder when I'm only listening to music at the office, where I'm really trying to concentrate on my job, instead of on the music. The first few times I listened to the album, I was halfway through the following album before I realized that I should have been listening.

Dieselboy - The Human Resource

Pretty sweet. They were described to me as "slightly-harder drum and bass", which worried me a little, since I didn't know if I would be up for something heavy, but either it was only slightly-harder, or I don't know how hard regular drum and bass is, or I ended up being in a heavier mood than I thought I was, because I thoroughly enjoyed the album. It sort of drifted into the background, which is exactly what I'm hoping for when I listen to music at work.

I'm not entirely sure what else to say here. I suppose I could add that they didn't seem as minimal as the Plastikman/FUSE albums I've got, and they were a lot less sample-heavy than Mushroom Jazz by Mark Farina, but I don't think that really tells you much about the music itself. Hopefully, with more exposure to some quality drum and bass, I'll be able to give more informed opinions, but for now, I guess this will have to be my baseline for future reviews.

Oh, one more thing, the next few reviews might run a little late, because even though I've listened to the music, I only have a couple of hundred words written about each of them, and I'm guessing that it'll take some re-listening to think of more things to say.

New Feature: Music reviews.

Since our receptionist (Oops, "Office Manager") left, and I took the opportunity to grab a copy of her entire iTunes folder, I've been listening to a lot of new music. Most of it is even actually new, and not just new to 33-year old fogeys who are stuck back in 1992. So, along with some book reviews that I'm in the middle of writing, I figured that I would write some reviews of the new tunes that I've been listening to, in the hopes that it will get me posting a little more to this weblog thing.

I promise to not review more than one thing per day, so as to not overwhelm the five of you who read this weblog. Having said that, I've been listening to more than one thing in the past couple of days, so I've got a few things for review queued up, which means that we'll probably have at least one per (week-)day for the next little while. I'm aiming for approximately 200 words per review, or more accurately somewhere near 1500 characters, because my editor (Scite) has a count of characters, but no word-count that I could find. Clearly this post isn't going to make that limit, but then again, it's not actually a review, so I don't mind.

And I've just realized that I lied. I'll probably be doing some book reviews as well, and perhaps even a review of a restaurant, if one catches my fancy. If I were younger, with more desposable income, I'ld be all over the new gadget reviews, too.

Cordelia is Sixteen Months Old

Cordelia has been talking for a while; her first words were about the same as Delphine's, "up" and "cat" and "Daddy!" In the last couple of weeks her vocabulary has really expanded; "stuck" and "spoon" and "Mimi", "baby", "milk", "'delia", "book", "more".

She's changed in the last few days. We make fun of Blake's parents because they always say the girls have changed, every week: "she's changed so much!" But this week Cordelia really has changed, with her words, with putting ideas together, with wanting to be read to; even her face looks less babyish.

Cordelia is very good at putting things away; she joins in when I'm putting toys in boxes, she puts books back on the shelf. She loves lining up cups on coasters; she loves order. I think she's going to be the neat one.

I've complained before about how tedious and high-maintenance babies are, and I'm not about to stop, at least not until Cordelia is past the tedious and high-maintenance stage. Babies and stairs, particularly, don't mix; if I were smarter I wouldn't have moved from a one-floor condo to a three-floor house until after Cordelia could manage stairs.

Here is what I have to do if I need to go to the bathroom when I am with Delphine:

  1. Say "Hey, Delphine, I am going to go to the bathroom".
  2. Go upstairs, do my business, and come back.

Here is what I have to do if I need to go to the bathroom when I am with Cordelia:

  1. Find Cordelia.
  2. Pick up Cordelia.
  3. Open baby gate, carry Cordelia upstairs.
  4. Go into bathroom, close door, put Cordelia down, do my business while trying to pursuade Cordelia to stay out of the trash, leave the toilet brush alone, and not unravel the entire roll of paper.
  5. Pick up Cordelia.
  6. Carry Cordelia downstairs.
  7. Lock baby gate.

It's just... ugh. It's just that little babies are so physical! So physically demanding. And prone to falling off things. Cordelia falls off things all the time; she has fallen off the step stool, off an upturned Lego container, off the couch... it's a rare day, in fact, when she doesn't fall off something.

On the other hand, there something nice about babies. Cordelia adores us; she is delighted to see us every morning, she comes to us when she is sad or hurt, she loves to cuddle and kiss and play with us endlessly. We are her life, her sun and moon and stars, in a way that we just aren't with the infinitely more complicated Delphine, who tells me I am not her friend at least once a week, who sometimes gives me the silent treatment when I pick her up from daycare, who argues about every damn thing just for the sake of it. Cordelia is still at the stage where she is our little dolly, she can safely be objectified, whereas Delphine is well on her way to being an actual person, and like any person, she on occasion objects to being scooped up and snuggled, she sometimes wants to be left alone, she frequently has desires which conflict with ours.

I'd still rather that than have to carry her everywhere, though, which is why I am still looking forward to Cordelia being a little older and little more physically autonomous. But for now I am enjoying the unadulterated baby love.

Crappity Crap

If I had one of those blogs with a "mood" field, I would write "bummed" and put a little sad face. I just poked around the Queens and OISE (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education) websites and found out that because I got such crappy marks in university I don't qualify to get into their teacher education programs. I have no idea what I should do about this -- do I have to get another degree? Go to someone's office and beg?

It's extra ironic because I have a three year degree, so according to Queens that means I need a B average, but if I had a four year degree they wouldn't even care what my marks are. However, the reason my marks are so bad is that I was taking Honours (four-year) courses, which are harder than the three-year program courses. If I had been taking three-year General courses I would have been getting As and Bs instead of Cs and Ds. And Fs.

Also ironic because I am smart and I would make a good teacher (I think), and university was a million years ago — since then I have worked, travelled, become a parent — and how well I did or didn't do back then is so irrelevant to how well I would do as a teacher now, ten years later, that I am frankly shocked and taken aback that it would even come up. But they don't have any options for mature students; I am bound now by bad decisions I made when I was eighteen. Still. Again.

Stupid. I guess I will have to go meet with a registrar and see if they have any bright ideas.

First Two Books of 2007

We have finally beaten the house into enough submission that I can sit down and read a few pages in good conscience, thank god.

Another Day in the Frontal Lobe: A Brain Surgeon Exposes Life On The Inside by Katrina Firlik is the autobiography of a neurosurgeon. It's well-written and interesting if you're like me and are fascinated by the workings of the human body and the freaky things that happen to it. Sometimes I wish I had done something more brainy in university, and that I was something more impressive now, like a Doctor or a Lawyer (not really), but this book made me glad I'm not a neurosurgeon, or really any of the emergency-oriented medical specialities. I love my easy, predictable, homey life and I would hate to work long hours and be on call all the time. Although the saving people and being really important part would be cool.

I went to Katrina Firlik's website and found these funny little drawings of neurosurgery-related objects juxtaposed with objects in nature. Also the UK title for this book, Brain Matters: Adventures of a Brain Surgeon, is a hundred times better than the North American title.

Cockeyed: A Memoir by Ryan Knighton is another autobiography, this one by a guy who started going blind in his teens and is now completely or almost completely blind. It chronicles the hijinks that ensue when you mix normal teenage stupidity with unreliable eyesight, when you get a bunch of blind people together at Blind People Camp (blind Tai Chi, anyone? Blind canoeing?), and the deep, deep badness of going to South Korea to teach English with your girlfriend and pretend you're not blind.

This book made me laugh until I wept; I could hardly tell Blake what I was laughing at. Knighton is a brilliant writer and has a real knack for describing the inherent slapstick of blindness, without making you feel like an asshole for laughing at it. He is also unflinchingly honest about his own behavour and emotions, and the effect he has on others. I think I will try and find other stuff he has written and see how he deals with other material. I hope he has children and writes about them, actually, because I bet that would be hilarious.