Wednesday, January 28, 2015

mental overlap

Working on website copy while secretly dreaming of design elements for home. Sometimes our worlds are not really all that far apart. Except, perhaps, for the paying for it part.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

tearing it all down

It begins tomorrow. That's when we are meeting with a contractor to get a quote for our planned renovations. Add to that the expected delivery of our new appliances within the next week or so, and everything seems to be coming up shiny, new and decidedly Millhouse.

This reno will be a completely different animal than the renovations we did in our first house. That time we undertook the vast majority of the work ourselves and it included gutting the house right down to the brick and adding a second storey. Small wonder it took us eight years to finish. That, and the fact of an Offspring coming along in the process and my subsequent removal from paid income for several years. 

Although we don't anticipate our renos to drag on ad infinitum like the ones that went on next door from July to December last year (driving me stark raving mad in the process), part of me is looking forward to returning the favour to those neighbours. The vengeful evil part of me, which, it turns out, is considerable.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

killer read

Stone Mattress - Margaret Atwood

I was nearing the end of Stone Mattress  when I had to leave on a trip. Not wanting to run out of book before my trip was done, I opted to leave it at home and start instead on the next book on my bedside table. That was a mistake.

As I struggled in vain to find interest in the other book (which was beautifully written but, frankly, dull), I realized that therein lies the real power of Margaret Atwood. Not only is she a masterful writer, but, damn it, her stories are compelling! 

The nine tales in Stone Mattress showcase Atwood at her most deviously playful, linked as they are by the common theme of murder. But this is not murder most foul; this is murder most delicious. This is murder political and opportunist and vengeful. This is murder at its most gleeful. Atwood seems to take real pleasure in imparting her wickedly dark humour to the page. It made me feel like rubbing my hands together like a cartoon villain.

The first three tales are linked, a literary strategy that I have always been a sucker for, particularly when it allows you to see events from various points of view. Many of the characters in Stone Mattress are elderly (in fact, their age is the main plot point in Torching the Dusties) and now that I have my CARP card, I find this entirely refreshing. Especially when, in the hands of the master, the aged can be just as delightfully murderous as the young.

The one downside to reading Stone Mattress is that I now kind of want to take an Alaskan cruise, just to see if I can successfully pull off a murder.

I highly recommend this collection of tales. Just don't leave it at home if you need to travel.  

Monday, January 12, 2015

past and future ice

The curling inclined could do far worse than to hang out in my neck of the woods for the next few months. The world's elite of the rock and broom set have descended upon these high plains, with the Continental Cup this past week, the All-Star skins game next weekend, and the Brier in March. The time was ripe to procure myself a curling rock touque.

Made by my clever friend Missy, the wool whisperer of Minnesota, my custom cap drew lots of compliments and questions when I donned it for two draws at the Continental Cup recently. I do not have a good hat head, but this one actually works. I am not claiming that my headgear was responsible for Canada's sweep of the Cup, but I am not saying it wasn't, either.

We got so caught up in the grunt-poems emanating from the pebbled ice, that we booked a hotel and ticket package for next year's Cup. In Las Vegas! It was held there last year, with such overwhelming success that organizers, who certainly know on which side their bread is buttered (it's buttered on the side of Canadian curling fans of a certain age who would like to escape winter for a week in January), made the call to bring curling back to the Nevada desert.

I've never had the urge to visit Las Vegas before, but this changes everything. Instead of driving for an hour across the city on winter roads to watch the best curlers on the planet, I will be able to walk from my hotel room in my flip-flops. 

And I understand that the Neon Museum is really cool. Vegas, baby!  

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

by the numbers

 I received three pairs of workout socks for Christmas. Contrary to what you may be thinking, this was actually a very welcome gift (in fact, I may even have purchased them myself and tucked them away in the gift closet for somebody else to wrap). My trusty old workout socks were all on their last legs. Or feet, as it were. 

In 2014, I officially worked out 172 times. Only official workouts were counted - those paid in major sweat equity down in the basement torture chamber - but each workout, even the crappy ones, were triumphantly noted with a highly satisfying (albeit sweaty) check-mark on the big kitchen calendar. I had set a goal of 15 workouts per month, so I didn't quite make it.

It was February that threw me off. February, the month in which I suffered my annual head cold (twice!), spent a week in Maui, and then returned from that hellhole with a festering blister on the bottom of my foot. Shamefacedly, I admit that I worked out a grand total of once in February.

I had been exercising four times a week with 40 minutes of cardio per time, but even that had begun slipping. And after being informed in March that my blood cholesterol level was elevated, I knew it was time to start getting serious again about my health. So along with watching my cholesterol intake (and beginning a love affair with a mostly daily bowl of large flake oats), I increased my exermacizing so that I am now at 45-50 minutes of cardio five times per week. My post workout cool-down/stretching/resistance has remained somewhat of an afterthought at 20-30 minutes per session. 

I think that's pretty decent considering I don't count other activities like walking, which I do a considerable amount of when I am travelling. Last year alone, I logged four trips to Manitoba, two to Vancouver, one to Portland and that infamous trip from hell to Maui. That's a lot of time not spent in my torture chamber. So at the risk of sounding all braggy-braggy, I am pretty proud of my track record, and more than pleased with the health and fitness results that have accompanied it. 

My fitness resolution for 2015, therefore, is to create more workout CDs. I do burn a new one every few months and now have about 70 of them, all titled somewhat chronologically. $400 Tummy Ache, for example, was made just after the SRK tried to poison herself by drinking Christmas tree water, while Woodtick Paranoia was burned shortly after a trip to the lake place, and Keep It Weird upon returning home from Portland. Stuff like that. It's just one more little trick to help keep the workouts interesting. At least to me.

What do you to to trick yourself into health?

Saturday, January 03, 2015


The Year of the Big Spend has begun. The year when we finally give up using duct tape for home repairs and stop pretending that we actually enjoy showering in the laundry room. Reno year.

We came roaring fast out of the gate, with the purchase yesterday of a new fridge, stove, dishwasher and dryer. It was a bit intimidating to make so many big-ticket purchases in one day, but it's actually just a warmup for the main event. 

I generally shake my head in disgust over the toss-away attitude that I see all around me. Watching the house next door (which was in very nice shape) get completely gutted by the new owners this past summer, pushing it well past the $1 million dollar pricetag, made me feel slightly ill. It wasn't so much the reckless use of finances that bothered me, although how that very young couple could afford that reno is beyond my comprehension. (We suspect drug money and have subsequently nicknamed the new neighbours Heisenberg.) 

Rather it's the fact that I abhor waste. It's the main reason that we have squeezed every last moment of life out of our 20+ year old appliances before finally replacing them. I was surprisingly okay with having to do a five-minute button-pushing finger-crossing dance every time I tried to start the dishwasher; I was fine with vegetable crispers that fell apart if you didn't open them just so; I was even resigned to the fact that one of these days the oven element was going to flame out again, especially now that the door handle had fallen off. I have also lived, all these years, with the butt-ugliest bathroom light fixture I have ever seen, simply because it refused to die.

Okay, I think I just figured out what lies behind my fondness for leftovers.

Still, despite the hypocrisy, it will be so lovely to get rid of the disgusting carpet that no doubt harbours all manner of unwelcome lifeforms. Particularly the carpet in the ensuite bathroom. Who carpets a bathroom?

It will be glorious to be able to use the main bathroom again without fears that the bathtub will eventually plummet through a wonky floor that I suspect is filled with rot. It will be illuminating to having properly functioning lights in the kitchen and the upstairs hallway once again.

Bring it!