Saturday, December 25, 2010

From Our House to Yours

The stockings are hung by the chimney with care...

The "one present before bed" has been opened....

and we are all getting silly,

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Details, Details

It doesn't look like anyone is moving in next door any time soon.  We hear things after dark sometimes, but that is probably NOT the new neighbours.  The house wrap makes a racket when the wind blows, but so far, we are not being too bothered by the newness/bigness next door.

Here on the home front, things have finally come together.  We reclaimed our kitchen over the weekend.  Things went from this three months ago:

to this:

to this:

to, TA DA, this!
Yes, there are still some details that have to be taken care of, like:  baseboards, kick plates, spice racks, knife racks, a soft-stop here and there.  AND, the too big and not-according-to-plans cupboard that was supposed to be a small, antique-looking shelf-thingy next to the new pass thru opening has to be removed and reworked. (How's that for a sentence full of made-up words?)

 Still, we are thrilled with the outcome.  I am beside myself with joy that it is
 in time for the arrival of family in just two more days.  Despite nightmares of it being Christmas Day at 4 pm. and me not having bought my turkey yet, I think we have made it.

Someone just couldn't stand the suspense and rushed the advent calendar just a tad.

We'll soon have "the stockings hung by the chimney with care" and the Wassail Bowl brimming with cheer.  Come on by, overlook the "details" and share the delight of the season with us.  We are 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Almost There

I am writing today to report significant progress in the kitchen: 

We opted for soapstone, black with white veining.  They came out even better than I had hoped. 

The pantries are in, the island and the laundry room are done, and the powder room is being papered today.  There are so many workers here right now, both Hubby and I are hiding in our respective offices to keep from being run over.
Check out the six trucks (and my dirty window) crowded into our driveway.

Tools of the trade

Jim and John working to figure out how the hood insert is supposed to be installed.

Mark is in over his head...making the over/under pullout work.

Mr. Paperhanger is set up in the kitchen, applying glue and then carefully carrying wet paper to the powder room for installation.

Two electricians and a co-op student arrive and decide it's too crowded for them to work here at the same time as everybody else.

Appliances are due on Saturday, the plumber on Monday, the painters and electricians when they feel free to do so.  We're almost there!  It's beginning to look like Christmas can happen here after all.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December First

There's 24 days left until the Big One. 

There's only 21 days ( a mere 3 weeks ) until the REALLY BIG ONE! 
My children and grandchildren are arriving for the holidays on December 22nd.  Joy unspeakable and full of delight, and quaking with fear and trembling. 

Here is today's photo of my kitchen:

Don't get me wrong here.  I am not whining and complaining.  I am just having kittens.

And while I'm not complaining, or anything, what's with bedding these days?  When mattresses got bigger, deeper, more and more comfy, why didn't the sheets keep up?

A picture is worth a thousand words, they say, and so here is a story about a mattress that is doing a take-off on Madonna, or Lady Gaga, or some belly-button-beauty with a too small top on.

Even the duvet and cover do not cover the mattress, let alone the bed frame.

I have decided to take matters into my own hands and make my own quilted cover.

Yes, you are right, it's not finished yet, like the rest of the projects in this house. 

At least we are keeping things consistent.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Bearly There, Again!

Many summers past, Hubby had gone to his high school reunion, Daughter had been invited to a friend's cottage.  I decided the boys and I would go boat-camping in Georgian Bay.  I would lead us out on a little adventure of our very own.

We shopped at Canadian Tire for replacement tent pegs.  Youngest son finagled a three-foot inflatable toy boat into the shopping cart. 

All Georgian Bay boats have Zodiak tenders, he reasoned.

Not to be outdone, Oldest son negotiated for super-fins for powerful swimming.
Finally underway at 3pm, we motored out of Midland Harbour to our fav swimming spot.  The distinctive pink and gray granite of the area had been worn smooth by retreating glaciers thousands of years ago, leaving fertile niches for opportunistic blueberries and wild strawberries to flourish.  While the boys swam and horsed around with the dog, I picked enough berries to go with cereal for the morning. 

Why not stay right here for the night?  We could put up the tent and...

No Way! they bellowed.  We want to go much further before tonight!!

 Well, we had come for adventure, so I gamely agreed.  Right around the corner, not speaking in boating terms, was a small channel, excellently marked with buoys of red and green, some with flashing lights, and many with back-up day markers on shore.  I have often marveled at the efficiency of this system for warning unsuspecting boaters of the hidden dangers of submerged rocks and shoals, and have been thankful for the many unknown people who put it all in place.  Oldest son was at the helm and I was the navigator.

Shouldn't we be over there where that boat went?

No.  I know where we want to go, I confidently replied.

But the Police Boat went over there.

Kid, the locals can do whatever they want.  They know these waters, but we are going with the charted route.

He was a very kind man.  His family had been coming to this cottage site for 110 years, even before people had motorboats on the Bay.  His grandfather used to row for 6 or 7  hours to reach this spot from Penetang. 

Yes, those rocks have seen  many a propeller destroyed over the years.

He graciously allowed us to tie up to his dock while we inspected the damages.  They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and in this instance, it was never more true.  I had never loved my wonderful husband more than when the kids pulled out a spare prop that

Dad always keeps in the boat, just in case.

Finding a camping spot late in the day on the busiest civic holiday mid-summer was not easy. All the popular sites were occupied by the time we arrived.  We settled on a third-rate tenting spot, with an okay boating anchorage and a first-class swimming situation.  The boys were chatting up other campers where our boat was tied on, the dog was asleep in the sun, and I had lost myself in a good novel, perched on a flat rock in our site.  Commotion from a passing cruiser pulled me back to reality. 

Hey Kids, what are those people yelling about?  Did they say "bear"?

Yup, there it was.  A black bear, pushing his nose into a tent close to the dock where my boys were.  He ambled along, grazing on bushes and berries, and cleaned out the remains of a lunch left in the fire pit.  All the families had gathered together on the dock--safety in numbers--except for me and my dog, alone on the rocks across the way.

Soon the channel was full of boats with cameras, camcorders and binoculars, all watching the bear, watching the people, watching the bear.  Mr. Bear snuffled his way right up to the end of the dock, totally unperturbed by the 9 people putting up a terrible racket to make it go away.  Black Death moved out of my field of vision.

Where did he go?

He's headed for the outhouse.

Isn't that half way between you and me?

Yes!  He's headed your way.

I scanned the campsite for an escape route.  The path to the outhouse and the dock, or into the water.

Go Dog, go.  Here Ben, Atta boy!!

With elbows and knees in all directions, I barely fit in the three foot inflatable dingy.  Ben, the golden retriever, always eager to please, swam towards the encouraging crowds of onlookers, while I held onto his big, bushy tail. My hero pulled me to safety.  As I looked back, the bear was crawling over my sun mat.  He devoured the gum packages in my purse, slobbered over my wallet, books, and needle point,  snuffled the sleeping bags and then casually ambled off again into the woods.  Needless to say, nobody slept on shore that night.

Now "The Chrissy Rose" (which came after the purple boat and before Little Steadfast, which came before Steadfast) was always the smallest boat in any harbour, or tied to any dock in northern waters.  Georgian Bay is heaven-on-earth for the family equipped with a 35 foot cruiser, complete with a full head and forward/aft cabins.  Our pride and joy was a 19 foot runabout with a camping top.  What we lacked in footage and amenities, we more than made up for by being fast and light on the water, with very little draft, and able to do as much or even more than the bigger boats.

Long after dark, when the big boats had locked their wooden doors and we had zipped our zippers and snapped our dome fasteners, the moon and stars created a heavenly display.  Everyone was fast asleep when I awoke to the sounds of someone/thing moving around,  knocking things over on the dock.  My heart stopped as I saw a big, black shadow silhouetted against the night sky.

Before turning in for the night, I had assembled an arsenal of weapons to do battle with the enemy, should he return:

a paddle
an aerosol can of bug spray
a spot light.

I reasoned that the light would be the first weapon of choice, as it could be weilded from a safer distance.  With fumbling fingers, I ripped open the box and armed my lethal torch.  By this time at night, the plastic windows of the boat cover were drenched with dew, reflecting back the 800,000 candle-power into the boat.  Our refuge was illuminated with the equivalent of an atomic blast--I was virtually blind.  Here we were, three people and a dog in the space equivalent to a small closet, facing the jaws of death!  In my total panic, I couldn't understand why nobody else was awake.

Bravely, I rubbed a one inch clear spot in the window and peered outside.  A better look at what had made the shadowy shape of a bear, revealed a lawn chair with a jacket hung over the back to dry.  Raccoons must have been the invaders. 

That's when I started to cry.

Some people, like airplane pilots, police officers, telephone operators, or parents of large families thrive on being the ones in charge, the ones responsible for everyone's safety and welfare, the ones everybody depends on.  I found it an exhausting and very humbling experience.  Never to underestimate the resilience of the human  heart,  it seems we can live through wild excitement and adventure and grow from the experience.

Anyone up for a camping trip to the Yukon?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Autumn in My Neighbourhood

 On my wedding day 35 years ago (November the 8th), it was 75 degrees.  Two weeks later, at my brother's wedding, there was a raging blizzard and 2 feet of snow on the ground.

While parts of my family in western Canada are already in the grips of winter,
here it is the middle of November and we still have autumn where I live.  Temperatures are hovering around 45 to 55 during the afternoons, lots of rain and fog, with the occasional sunny day thrown in for good measure.  If I have to be stuck ashore this season, I am not complaining. 

Nelson and I frequent the local beach.  At this time of year, we only have the birds for company and the pup gets to run off-lead with impunity.  You know what they say, "A tired dog is a good dog."
I don't know which of us will be more surprised if he ever managed to catch one of these birds.  At least he gets his exercise trying.

The ducks have taken over the marina.  Only the die-hard sailors (3) still have their boats in the water.  They are probably in denial, trying to convince themselves the mild weather will last indefinitely and they will get out to play in the waves one more time.

Although most of the trees are nearly bare...

many are tenaciously hanging onto their fall splendor.

After a good trek around the neighbourhood, we come home to check the progress at the mega-mansion next door.
Yup.  It hasn't shrunk any.  As big as ever.  I'm liking the copper dome and fancy doo dads on the peaks.  Inside our house, things are still in shambles.  I have been waiting to post things in order from beginning to end, the before and after shots.  More dramatic that way.  I need lots of drama in my life--don't we all?  If there were no drama, there'd be nothing to blog about.  :)

What's up in your neighbourhood these days?  Do you have snow yet, or are you living in the opposite hemisphere, like Veronica, heading to the beach for summer vacation?  Either way, keep warm and enjoy the change of season.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Progress or Regress?

Yes!  The bare bones of the cabinets arrived on Wednesday, and the men arrived on Thursday to install them.  Good news.

In the department of "one step forward, two steps back", we now have to uninstall the island.  Seems that someone forgot we shortened things in the drawing stages, eliminating an open bookcase on one end.  Now the island doesn't cover the hole in the floor.  My beautiful Bruce Armstrong Oak floor!  I know the plumbing has already been cut in.  I know the chopping block is where it is called for on the original plans.  Why can't we just make this work?  Can we move things over to cover the hole in the floor?????
And why is my chopping block so high that I can rest my chin on it without bending over?  Definitely not good news. 

Things are getting weirder and wilder as my grown son, once again living at home, reports we are ruining his house.  Some people have a hard time accepting change.  I am becoming one of them.  I liked my old, broken, needed-an-update kitchen.  Is all this mess, upheaval, and sleep loss worth it?

Out with the old...

Good bye old stove.
I have been advised the end is in sight and things will progress quickly from here.  Who can see that far?  Did I tell you my vacuum cleaner gave up the ghost this week? 
Cough, cough, choke, sneeze. 
I can barely see the keyboard through the dust.

  My youngest grandson learned to walk on Wednesday.  Amazingly, I was on Skype with my daughter at the exact moment Sweet Cheeks took his very first steps.  It doesn't get better than that in the land of techno-wizardry.  Who could have imagined it would be possible to share such a delightful moment while at opposite ends of the country from each other?
This is very good news !

Well, Friday again.  The weeks of never-ending days are flying by so quickly, Christmas will be here before we can say Old Saint Nick.  Again, we have the opportunity to meet new people in the land of blogs with Friendly Friday Follow, Forty & Over Follow and Follow Me Friday.  Last week I found several new friends sharing their fun and foibles, reminding us all that life is good and worth the living. 

Keep the faith. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Happy Winds-day!

Here I am in my thoughtful spot thinking very profound thoughts:

It's too windy for kites.   
Heffalumps and Woozles are too fanciful, and I have nothing they would like to steal anyway. 

The winds are lashing lustily.
The trees are thrashing thrustily.
The leaves are rustling gustily.

(In boating terms, the winds are out of the North West, blowing 40 knots with gusts to 75-80.)

It seems to be a very blustery day.

I will settle down to my quilting project and await the delivery of my new kitchen cabinets.  They have been promised for this afternoon.  Hurray!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thirty-five Years and A Day On The Town

Congratulations are in order here.  My husband and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary on November the 8th, with an overnight away and a day on the town.  Of course, with our house and home in its present state of upheaval, any excuse is a good excuse to knock the dust off our shoes, kick up our heels and escape.

The King Edward Hotel was our host overnight.  A traditional landmark since 1903, it has sheltered many famous people under its roof over the years.  We were in good company with Rudyard Kipling, Mark Twain and the Beatles, from back-in-the-day.  Our sumptuous room was a lovely oasis, and not a bed bug in sight!

Dinner never tasted so good!  The Canoe Restaurant atop the 54th floor of the TD Bank Tower, plied us with hedonistic delights from the first sip to the last crumb.  Complimentary dessert wine and a tray of berries and nuts were in honour of our milestone celebration.  As an added bonus, I came away with the name and vintage info of a delightful wine:  Grant Burge Miamba Vineyard Shiraz from Barossa Valley, Austrailia.  Turns out I can order it from the LCBO.  Yum. 

Sorry guys, no paparazzi photo action on our date night, but I made up for that the next day as I meandered around town for a few hours, doing the tourist thing.  These are done with my BB phone, not a real camera, and they look like it too. 

First stop was Castle Loma, "the house on the hill".  Built between 1911 - 1914, this 94 room mansion is a show piece for the glory days before the crash of the stock market in 1929.  Sir Henry Mill Pallatt paid the handsome sum of 3.5 million dollars to have 300 men spend three years on its construction.  Then-rare telephones, electricity and servants-trained-in-Britain were the envy of all who visited there. 

With the crash of the economy in 1929, Sir Henry went from owning 24% of Canada's wealth to being a pauper.  All his wealth went down the drain with poor real estate investments.  He and Lady Pallett had to give up their dream castle after living there for only 10 years.  At his death in 1939, he was still carrying the rank of Major General with the Queen's Own Rifles Regiment and Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO).

As I made my way down the hill from the castle and back towards town, I suddenly realized someone was trying to make a point, leave a message, make me think.  I stopped, looked around and retraced my steps.  On the first step down the three stage, cement staircase, there were question marks stenciled with black paint.  (Try to ignore the shadows cast by the handrails.)

The whole message came out as:  "Question Your Class Privilege".  hmmm....  As I looked back up the stairs, I saw this homeless man taking a nap in the sun.

It was quite the existential moment, giving me pause.  Where do I fit into the picture here?  Do I side with the Sir and Lady Pallett, with the Casa on the Hilla?  I don't think so.  But then again, I do not identify with the  homeless man sleeping on a public bench either.   I am going home to fill boxes for Operation Christmas Child.

Not far down the hill from the Castle, I spotted the Toronto Archives Building.  The complex takes up an entire city block.

I guess even cities need a place to store their stuff.  Here we see the "repository" for Toronto's historical records.  Who knew????

A car crashing thru the side of a building?  Crashing out of a building, not into one.  Well, that's  not something we see every day in our small town.

Taxis in Toronto, like in any other metropolis, are luxurious and costly.  On Tuesday, I opted for the subway until my aching feet were ready to call a mutiny.

Three dollars gets you where you want to go, safely and efficiently, once one figures out how to get  a token and where to put it.  (A sweet lady saw my puzzled frown and showed me how things worked.)

A nostalgic visit to the Saint Laurence Market rounded out my visit in Toronto.  I headed home with a renewed spirit of perseverance, to face the final stages of renovations.  35 years of marriage have given me a faithful husband, three grown children, three grandchildren (and counting) and a more mature outlook on life.  I am grateful for my many blessings and am looking forward to the future with anticipation. 

The best is yet to come.

What are your views on the grand institution of Marriage?
Are you in the game? 
Are you in for the "long haul"?

Friday once again.  The painters are in the final stages of covering my walls in varying shades of "white", the kitchen cabinets are mysteriously coming together "off-site", appliances are waiting in the wings and everyone knows "THE KIDS ARE COMING HOME FOR CHRISTMAS"!  The clock is ticking.  Every assurance has been given that there will be a beautiful kitchen, laundry room and ground-floor powder room ready for use when they arrive. 

Thank you for visiting Steadfast.  We will be weighing anchor right after the holidays, and setting off for southern seas.  Can you stand the wait?  I can hardly believe it will come soon enough, but in the meantime, it's preparation for family celebrations and snow.