home renovation and marriage


I taught yoga one-footed today. An early morning renovation related accident rendered me lame with no time to find a sub for the noon drop-in class I had promised to sub.

Hatha Yoga Video Tree Pose - VrksasanaIt’s not difficult to teach an entire yoga class without leaving the floor, but as it was a strength class, I felt obligated to get them to their feet and few a string of standing postures. Ralph Macchio does a better crane than I do. Or at least he did. I have no idea what kind of shape the guy is in today though I seem to recall hearing he managed a decent showing on DWTS (Dancing with the Stars).

Between limping, a runny nose and hacking up the occasional piece of lung, the class was a great success. I am lucky in that I have my teaching instinct to fall back. Even if I am less than stellar, I have a way of pulling things off that has more to do with years in the classroom than my actual yogi skills and knowledge.

The week flew by, its usual crammed too full self. I’ve been enjoying NaBloPoMo and even my turtle slow approach to NaNoWritMo. Writing for myself is still fun and it is good to know this.

I’ve neglected my social media, which isn’t a bad thing. Twitter seems to function better when I don’t watch the pot too closely but Google+ is creeping me out because it feels like Match.com with all the questionable male followers my feed is attracting. I’ve blocked a lot of them, but still it would be nice if someone could design an app to screen and drop-kick based on a pre-set list of criteria:

  • not from a 3rd world country
  • at least a couple posts in English, so I see it’s not spam or porn
  • definitely no faceless people
  • and those looking for white Canadian women need not plus me

I am wearying of stumping for votes for the Top Canadian Mom blogs list, and I imagine you are too. Incredibly, there is another 13 days of voting to go. Sigh. Thanks to those who have voted, continue to vote and who have even convinced their family, friends and even their old high school friends on Facebook to vote as well. I cling to the top five, but there is a very determined Mommy reviewer nipping on my heels and periodically climbing up my back to sit on top of me. So, keep those votes coming because if every single one of you who reads this actually votes? I might gain enough of a lead to quit asking for votes. Just saying … along with my thanks.

Fall officially ended with an arctic blast today. The child wore a winter coat for the first time today. She’s thoroughly winterized, so it has to be winter if she is bundled. No snow as much as WeatherNet threatens us with it. With the chilled temps comes the one year anniversary of THE reno. Last year at this time, Rob began knocking down walls and gutting the front half of the main floor. Tonight he will nearly finish the kitchen as he lays the last of the tile in the new fabulous kitchen. He says we will have a more than just a functional living room by Christmas but I am sure we have some relatives who haven’t yet had a crisis they need us to drop everything to help them with – so I remain skeptical.

And that’s it. Aside from the lingering flu that I need about 11 hours of straight shut-eye to finish off and I won’t be getting it tonight. Soccer practice in the AM, you know. But next week is Fall Break. No alarms. No school buses being revved up beneath our bedroom window and no buses to catch. It’s the simple things.


The kitchen of the "Althuus" (meanin...

Image via Wikipedia

Rob finished updating and switching over the electrical to the new kitchen today. I marvel without end at that insanely unreal breadth of that man’s basic knowledge base. As of this evening, the kitchen will be operational minus plumbing with the goal of sink and dishwasher quite soon.

Mom arrives in 27 days, and Rob assures me that kitchen, living room and a rudimentary dining area will be waiting for her.

This is optimistic of him because where the renovation is concerned, we’ve been miles off-schedule since the demolition last November. Life in the forms of work and family have screwed with us from day one, and his insistence that my help just makes more work for him has meant that he’s mostly been the lone wolf handy-dandy guy on a project of such daunting scope that anyone who’s seen it, or heard about even, cannot believe we didn’t just sell the house as it was and buy a new one.

While Rob laboured like a dwarf in the semi-darkness on the electrical panel tucked away behind a furnace and water heater that also needed updating, I zealously attacked Dee’s room – again.

I’ve lost track of the number of hoarding interventions I’ve performed on that child’s room. Over lunch, I informed her I was cleaning in there and she immediately went upstairs and rearranged in that perverse way of territory marking she’s carried over from her toddler days. But my strategy is a simple one of steady attrition. If I move with caution and at a slow pace, eventually I will rid her space of all the pointless clutter, leaving behind only what is useful and what truly matters. So far, it’s been a great success.

A tedious, time-sucking on the magnitude of a black hole success, but I’ll take it.

My basic problem continues to be the lack of finished space which in turn clogs up the user accessible space with non-related items. And it limits the comfort of the accessible spaces too. For example, we have two very plush sofas that are currently humping each other under tarps in the corner of the living room that’s blocked off by the dishwasher that can’t be installed until the plumbing is in and by the fireplace, which can’t be installed because there isn’t enough workspace to do so because of the stacked up sofas.

Rob took off two afternoons and Friday last week in order to really book on the kitchen. He lost nearly one of those afternoon and all of that same evening on a child issue and half of Saturday in the city. Life competes and our kitchen loses.

It is just a kitchen, I remind myself when my patience wears thin enough that I am in danger of letting the sanguine veneer I project on the state of the house slip. I certainly don’t want to be one of those wives because the reality is that even living in a complete state of unfinished, my life rocks and rocks again by nearly any comparison that might be applied. But at ten months of total renovation and still counting, I will allow myself this heavy sigh and to express that I am tired of trodding on sub-floor and carting the dishes from the dishwasher and sink in the old kitchen to their new homes in cabinets in the new one. And I want to be able to sit on my sofa.

 


Persephone ~ goddess of Spring

Image by ihave3kids via Flickr

Today is the literal if not the figurative first day of Spring. A glance out our back door, and at the weather forecast for the next few days, would hardly be reassuring, but it is spring. The post-nuclear apocalyptic looking jack rabbits that roam the fields are flecked with the warm brown of summer as they shed their white camo, and the chickadees can be heard on the mornings that are frosted over.

And the pavement is peeking out from under a mix of ice and chemically laden slush.

Today is a day of equal standing. Light and dark is perfectly balanced and the march to Summer Solstice begins.

Many traditions and myths have been fashioned around the Vernal Equinox. Resurrection mythology abounds, and I don’t blame Christians one bit for ignoring or trying to suppress because they pre-date Jesus by a lot and call his reality into question. A fascinating example?

In ancient Rome, the 10-day rite in honor of Attis, son of the great goddess Cybele, began on March 15th. A pine tree, which represented Attis, was chopped down, wrapped in a linen shroud, decorated with violets and placed in a sepulchre in the temple. On the Day of Blood or Black Friday, the priests of the cult gashed themselves with knives as they danced ecstatically, sympathizing with Cybele in her grief and helping to restore Attis to life. Two days later, a priest opened the sepulchre at dawn, revealing that it was empty and announcing that the god was saved. This day was known as Hilaria or the Day of Joy, a time of feasting and merriment.

We will celebrate spring with the continued dogged pursuit of renovation. It’s resurrection-ish, wouldn’t you say?

Silver and Edie will be over to help with the drywall again as I am still forbidden to lift and the walls need to be up before Spring Break week. That’s when the new kitchen cabinets and countertop are scheduled for installation.

They were here yesterday as well along with Mick and her friend Dare. He goes back to her high school days, and though they are just friends, I couldn’t help noticing the obvious Rob traits in him. I am fascinated by the way the women in Rob’s life look for him in they men they admit into their lives. Silver, the new FIL and now Dare. It’s uncanny.

Rob is a taskmaster though and his Virgoian need for perfection and having his eyes and imprint on all he surveys within the boundaries of his kingdom needs to totally be reckoned with by all.

“Try not to be too hard on them,” I remarked on Friday evening.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“You know,” I said. “The heavy sigh, the eye-roll and then walking away in telling silence.”

“I don’t do that,” he protested.

“Totally you do,” I said. “Maybe you should practice toning it down tonight so it won’t be so harsh.”

Yesterday that became a running joke, and as we were discussing it, the older girls chimed in with tales of their own which provoked Silver to pipe up,

“So that’s where Edie gets it.”

“I don’t!” she protested.

And Dare replied,

“You do.”

Apples and trees.

It was a good pre-spring day Saturday though not as stunning as the near 10C temps of Friday when the whole of the Fort seemed dressed for summer. This coming week will be chilly with snow but the following promises sun and warmth, and I fully expect to see the little high school girls running about in shorts and sandals soon. Dee is chomping to be rid of her snow pants and the battle of the inappropriate for school summer footwear is soon to recommence.

We’ve called off our trip to the South this month to accommodate the reno, but I am determined that this will be the last major deconstruction this year. Our summer will be that of any self-respecting Albertan and include a weeks long sojourn with the holiday trailer and then taking it out to camp every weekend. Living at a breakneck frenzy in the great outdoors for as many hours as one can stomach and beyond in is the Western Canadian way after all.


Dead Snow Angel

Image by CarbonNYC via Flickr

Nagging health issues continue to plague me and keep me from focusing on writing in specific and general. I rouse myself for the occasional pet issue here and there about the web, but I haven’t written for the paying gig in about a month and am still mentally sorting through ideas for a longer offline project. Like winter, I guess, I am all about the hibernating and waiting.

Ruminating before leaping is not out of character for me. Really. When it appears as if I am pouncing like a rabid werewolf, it’s only because I’m unleashing on a subject that’s been throughly hashed out in my mind and is, in fact, an older than dirt topic for me.

New things? I window shop with glacial intent.

For example? I made a purchase via Old Navy last week. Yoga togs that I eyeballed near daily for over a month before committing to them.

So in matters of writing, I am more James Joyce than twit blogger.

Aches and pains and the fact that navigating a Canadian healthcare system designed more to befuddle and irritate than be helpful adds to my general lack of forward momentum.

Doctors don’t listen. Test results meander their way from one part of the labyrinth to another, and helpful insights like “it’s probably not cancer” add to the stress.

On the only bright side, today, an appointment with the physio went surprisingly well. As I go to each appointment with expectations one could sweep a floor with, finding a healthcare professional who makes eye contact in addition to being able to let a person finish a sentence or more without interrupting is positively soul cuddling.

My thoracic back, left shoulder and neck are totally fucked up though not in a unfixable way. Huzza.

And, it’s stopped snowing. No telling how long this will last but there is actual sunshine and the wind isn’t slicing through the house.

Which brings me to the house.  No, the reno is not done, and both Rob and I are weary past words of the whole thing. Drywalling may commence this weekend if he keeps up the same pace with wiring and plumbing but between my totally fucked back and iffy neck/shoulder and his recent gout attack – well – sigh*.

Dee chomps at the bit to be allowed to help but at nearly four feet tall and not 50 lbs drenched, she falls short of being useful.

Here is the worst thing right now – the hamster wheel effect. Since Christmas at least, it’s as if there is not one iota of difference from yesterday to tomorrow. I am Bill Murray living the same day over and over. People jet off to warmer climes. They throw dinner parties. Or have nights out without children. But we might as well be living in Pleasantville for all the difference in our white one white world.

Does that sound whiny? It’s not meant to. Just observing and wondering how much longer the quo remains at status.

 

*The worst of it is the lack of space with half the house in shreds. Barely room to spread a yoga mat most days and don’t get me started on the continually shifting of stuff necessary to even cook a meal. Weekdays I manage, but on the weekends – that’s at least two or more preps and I sometimes just want to sit on the floor and cry because it’s like Sisyphus and the rock.


Wall between office/living room

Image by adamrice via Flickr

Apparently, houses stay up better with load bearing walls. Who knew?

No, the house hasn’t collapsed and the beam didn’t drop on my head as I helped steady it though I had visions of an ER visit, split skull and concussion whenever it wobbled.

Unsurprisingly, my husband did not ask for help even though I was sitting not ten feet away in the office and he could have called Silver earlier in the evening as Edie offered his assistance not once but twice in the same number of days this week.

I had to insist a bit. Not because I enjoy helping. All things hoisting provoke visions of muscle tearing and ligament wrenching when it doesn’t simply make me fear for my safety in general. I offered because the grunting is scary and the thumps – alarming.

By quarter to eleven – yes, that’s P.M. – one of new beams was in place and Dee, at least, was not likely to wake up in the former dining room.

The dust had settled enough to vacuum, which was good because my skin itched even where there were no hives and my eyes, one of which had nearly swelled shut, felt as raw as my sinuses. This was not, perhaps, the best week to be scheduled for allergy testing as I am not allowed any antihistamines or cold medication.

Fortunately, a yoga buddy clued me to the awesome power of gogi berry capsules. Two and my eyes were merely itchy as opposed to clamping shut.

The beams replace the load bearing wall and should be up and secured by end of week – all six of them. After that the front room opens up to us again and we can begin making hurried preparations for Christmas.

Rob’s family – blood and in-law – are converging from all directions, and I have a feeling that things will be Chinese curse equivalent at the very least.

But one interesting moment at a time.


Snowflake. Small microscope kept outdoors. Sna...

Image via Wikipedia

Minus 17 degrees Celsius to be exact and my poor thumb is splitting unhappily at the seams from several cold snowy days on top of hand washing every dish in the kitchen after our dishwasher frizzled out – again.

The day before my birthday is a crap shoot as far as winter weather goes. I remember my fifth birthday being gray with fall temps, but my university day birthdays it was being buried under mounds of white.

In 2001, I had just found out I was pregnant with Dee but the weather was more late fall than winter. It didn’t snow until Christmas that year.

Snow has flurried, flaked or dropped like feathers from an exploding pillow for the past couple of days. It piles up here once the temps drop and stay down. There is no melt off really. Slushy glop is rare enough to make me take note unlike Iowa where winter fights to overcome fall and then battles to hold off spring with barely a rest in between matches.

Life continues with only the barest hint of inconvenience however in spite of flu, which sent us to the ER with Dee on Sunday night and the fact that the reno is crawling along at a pace that is threatening Christmas plans a tad bit.

Dee’s fine. The Fort ER performed at its usual inefficient rate of speed. I don’t think anyone there knows, or cares to learn, about triage.

We waited for three hours before Dee was taken to a room and evaluated. In the meantime, two little boys a bit older than she with colds were seen as were two women with sprained ankles. Meanwhile, a nine month old baby with a temperature of 102.3, a very distressed looking pregnant woman and Dee, who hadn’t held down more than a mouthful of water all day, languished in the lobby.

Dr. Fortune Cookie was on call, which explained a lot. The man moves with the speed of a glacier. But the triage nurse wasn’t too swift and at the three-hour mark with a shift change looming, I walked into the nurses’ station and informed them that if my daughter wasn’t seen soon, I would take that as confirmation that her illness was not serious and take her home.

We were in a room within five minutes.

Most of the beginning for the week was eaten up being housebound with Dee. A bit more was taken up by feeling ill myself and now it is Friday.

Rob let nothing hold him back from finishing the duct work and putting down sub-floor. He even found time to track down a taper for the drywall, and with a bit of grace from the universe, we’ll be able to take down the plastic sheeting and open up the front of the house for semi-use by Sunday.

The new kitchen is going to be awesome, by the way. We are having it professionally designed and custom-built. Extravagant, I know. Very unlike us. But the tea leaves are predicting a long stay here and it makes no sense to live half-assed when we could have a functional kitchen and living area if our reality is being here in this house for another goodly chunk of time.

The last fully functional and modern dwelling I lived in was the first house I bought myself back in 1997. Built to replace a home destroyed by the floods in 1993, it was a townhouse design single family dwelling. Two bedrooms. A walk in closet in the master bedroom. It was a sweet little house in the old Valley Junction section of West Des Moines. Farmer’s Market in the summer just a few blocks over. Running paths all over. Close enough to the freeway to make it convenient but not so close that the noise tattooed itself on my eardrums.

The house Will and I bought was in a better neighborhood still but was very run down on the inside. It was okay. The plans for making it nice got sidelined almost as soon as we moved in.

Our home in J’berg has always been a work in progress. Rob counts his blessings in two wives who’ve been rather “c’est la vie” about the pace of progress. I don’t know really how much of a hand Shelley had in the plans and execution, but I know that Rob gets a bit frustrated with my lack of definite direction about nearly all things decor.

The problem is that I only really know if I don’t like something and then only after I’ve seen it. I have no vision. No color preferences. No interest in trim or curtains or flooring. The furniture just needs to be soft and squishy, and even than, I sit on the floor a lot anyway.*

Our conversation about the mantle for the new fireplace went something like,

“What do you think of red brick?”

“It’s nice.”

“Or maybe just wood?” Silence. “Or marble?”

“Yeah, that would be good.”

“You’re not even listening to me, are you?”

The fireplace will have a wood mantle and white marble-ish tiling. Very clean and tasteful and goes well with the hardwood – which Rob had a devilish time getting me to care about as well.

I just don’t have the DNA. The drawings the designer emailed us pique my excitement and I have definite ideas once I see concepts, but I lack whatever girly gene necessary to initiate.

My birthday will interrupt progress. Dinner and all. Rob thought we’d get a sitter and go out on our own until I reminded him there is really no place for a sitter to “sit”. We had to pass on his company’s Christmas party for the same reason.

So it’s dinner with the kids and cake – though I have no idea where we will do cake. It’s the no kitchen thing.

Rob got me a new laptop for my birthday which is sitting in the box on Dee’s desk. It arrived last week and I have patiently let it be. My poor old Macbook is beyond updates and since Rob installed the new router, it’s been more fitful than ever. I can’t get into iTunes and Firefox is rejecting me.

And that’s kind of it for this snowy day update. The CP Christmas Train invades our little hamlet tonight but we are planning an escape which Dee heartily went along with. Her memories of the last time the train arrived are not filled with joy. It was bitterly cold. She couldn’t see over the adults who crowded her out and the hot chocolate wasn’t to her liking.** I think we are Christmas shopping. Proof that my husband hates crowds more than he hates shopping – although it’s a narrow window between the two.

Soccer and much-needed hair cuts for Dee and I tomorrow before the festival that is my natal day begins – although technically, I get the whole day being born in the morning and all.

I’ll sign off with a cute boy on boy rendition of Baby, It’s Cold Outside. Very Rat Pack and buttoned up sexuality in a Rock Hudson/Doris Day kind of way.

*Absolutely drove my late husband to distraction that with a living room full of furniture, I sat on the floor.

**She is a bit like me with food and drink. Lukewarm. The drinks that long ago night were just this side of scalding without marshmallows to boot.


The morning begins with this:

Only in English.

Followed by a little of this:

Although because Rob is a Virgo, there will be proper work attire, precautions to prevent unnecessary inhalation of dust and debris and probably I won’t be allowed to handle the crowbar.

An afternoon practice:

And then endless hours of destruction to be followed by Rob and I questioning our priorities and sanity.

How’s your day going?