Friday, July 30, 2010

Getting there

In some ways, we really haven't progressed very far since we moved in three weeks ago. But really, a lot of work has been done.

The biggest change is that we had the supplemental cabinets installed in the kitchen -- yippee! I am super excited about how the kitchen is turning out. We now have TONS of storage - in fact, several shelves (the high-up ones) are EMPTY. We actually have more storage space here than we did in Colorado, despite being in a smaller space - I am so impressed with how efficient drawers are. And we didn't even use the "blind corner" at all - just blocked it off (more about that later). And, bonus, IKEA just happened to be having their Kitchen Event when we purchased, so we got $350 of IKEA gift certificates!
Next up in the kitchen is to install matching granite countertop (next week), then tile the backsplash (also next week, I hope). I'm having a tough time choosing backsplash. We have narrowed it down to three options (use the poll in the right-hand column to tell me which one you would choose):

1. Classic subway tile in a pale grey to match the floor, with a steel-faced-tile accent stripe. The advantage of this one is that it is very light in colour, so it doesn't darken the room any further than the cabinets and countertop already do. The steel strip is very trendy and ties in all the appliances and the steel cabinet handles. (But "trendy" could make it look very dated in a few years. We all remember "harvest gold.") [These did not photograph very well, but I promise you, they look very chic.]
2. Slate-look stone small mosaic tiles. I love the colour and texture of these tiles, but wonder if it might be too "busy," especially given the multicolour countertop. Also, kind of dark.

3. Small, grey glass tiles. Oooh, I love glass tiles - the sheen, the depth as the light splashes through them. But I wonder if they will further darken the room.

In other, non-kitchen news, Steve built bookcases alongside the fireplace and installed a beautiful new mantelpiece. I like the design of that "feature wall." I love the extra storage (we really needed it) and love the heavier, classic mantelpiece, but I wish we'd used a thicker material for the shelving. It doesn't look substantial enough, and I strongly suspect the shelves will sag sooner rather than later. Not looking forward to redoing this job.

Other things in progress:
  • There has been no sign of the missing area rugs (except the small Egyptian one we found earlier).

  • I am slowly working my way through the boxes yet to be unpacked. There are many.

  • We have taken three FULL van loads of stuff to Salvation Army, and will surely be taking more.

  • We have selected a pool contractor and design, and will start construction in a few weeks!

  • We hacked back much of the meadow in the backyard, including one-third of the overgrown, unkempt, mosquito-infested cedar hedge. Steve mowed, and the yard actually looks usable now.
  • I've decided that I quite like my master bedroom. It is small indeed, but everything fits (well, except for most of Steve's clothing, which is stored in Brian's closet), it is sunny and cosy, and, while it doesn't have a full 4-piece ensuite bathroom, it does at least have its own water closet.
  • We've ordered two corner china cabinets for the dining room. Until they arrive in September, all the china and glassware will remain in boxes. As I mentioned above, we left the "blind corner" in the kitchen empty (i.e., no cabinet in the kitchen, but it will have countertop over it). Instead, we will cut through the wall on the other side and will install built-in drawers in the dining room. A little unusual, to be sure, but a really efficient use of space. It will give me somewhere to store all my dining room linens and serving pieces.

So all is progressing here. Don't forget to vote in the backsplash poll!


Well. Hmmm. It appears our daughter was not as faultless as she would have us believe, when it comes to her cell phone usage. We finally got the detailed bill and - lo and behold - dear Emily ran up $80 by using her phone to browse the web! Another $20 was for calling long distance and going over her minutes.

I was sure we'd gone over the rules of cell phone usage before. Maybe she thought it was a new deal here in Canada, or something.

But Emily has promised to pay back the $100 once she gets a job. Tough lesson learned.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What does "international" mean to you?

Since Emily's boyfriend and many of her friends live in Colorado, I made a point of buying her a cell phone that included unlimited international text messaging. I even stipulated with the salesperson that it had to include the United States. (Some providers don't consider the States to be "international," but don't include it under domestic texting either. I guess it's kind of limbo.)

You can imagine my surprise when Emily's account was frozen because she had rung up a bill of $133.00! That's $33 over her spending cap, and about $100 more than I was expecting to pay for a month's service, and she's only had the phone for less than a week.

After a couple of hours on the phone with customer service and at the sales counter at the mall, I still got conflicting answers about whether or not the plan included texts to the United States. I was told to wait until I got the first bill and then bring it to the store to resolve the issue. (Apparently, even customer service can't see a detailed bill until it is automagically generated.)

So, until we get that all-important bill, Emily is text-deprived, which makes her so-o-o-o happy. And I'm not even sure it'll be resolved then, because the provider's own customer service reps can't seem to agree on what is or is not considered "international."


Sunday, July 18, 2010

How soon we forget

How did I manage to forget about houseflies, mosquitoes and earwigs?

Probably the same way I "forgot" about the bliss of childbirth: willful oblivion.

Colorado, being more or less a desert, had very few bugs. Except, of course, the really vicious kind, like black widow spiders, brown recluse spiders or scorpions. We did, in fact, find some black widow spiders in our garage, once, in Colorado, and subsequently employed Terminix on a regular basis. So, for five years, we lived in ignorant bliss.

But here in Ottawa, annoying, little pests abound, and it's ghastly!

First, I was treated to the incessant pinging of a brain-deficient housefly ramming its head continually into our window. Bzzzt-bang! Bzzzt-bang! Bzzzt-bang! Walk-walk-walk. Bzzzt-bang! Bzzzt-bang! Bzzzt-bang!

I fetched the long-unused flyswatter from under the kitchen sink. (Why we found this piece of ephemera before we found our bath towels is a packing mystery.) I swatted said fly and nabbed it on my second try. It plummeted to the floor, and I gloated. Only to be outdone a few seconds later when it recovered from its concussion and crawled behind a box, beyond my reach. Moral: don't stop swatting until the fly is two-dimensional.

Then later, as I lay sweltering in our bedroom, (the hottest room in the house, for some inexplicable reason) sweat beading on my lip and brow, cursing the humidity, the bed linens, the children, my husband and God, I heard that unmistakeable whine of a mosquito as it scouted for fresh blood. The hair on my neck stood on end, I felt an immediate adrenaline rush. Within seconds, I'd pulled the sheets over my superheated body.

That lasted for about two minutes. Whereupon, I flung back the sheet and made a dash for the hallway.

About to descend the stairs to the cooler area of the house (the sunroom, believe it or not, is the coolest room in the house), I spied a black blot on the baseboard. I had not thought to put on my glasses in my haste to escape the vampire (a.k.a. mosquito), so I could only surmise that this black blot was a pest. I bent. I squinted. Yup.

An earwig.

Anyone who has seen the Star Trek episode with the ear-invading parasites, or who has seen a scorpion, has to quiver at the sight of an earwig. They are hideous. My toes curled. I cringed. Then I ran to the bathroom, grabbed a hank of toilet paper, smushed that earwig to oblivion and flushed it down the toilet. (I don't care how many gallons of water it wasted; I didn't want its eggs hatching post mortem.)

So far, I've seen no bugs today. But every little tickle I feel, every little black blot I see out of the corner of my eye has me on edge. No wonder sci-fi movies specialize in giant insects!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Still down in the weeds...

Quite literally, we are still overwhelmed by weeds right now - in the backyard.

We learned that our house had been owned by a 90-year-old man who only had use of one arm. Needless to say, not a lot of yardwork was done, for many years. The backyard, consequently, looks like this:

Which is pretty, and all - if you're going for a meadow, which we are not. To make things even better, we still don't have a shed, so all of our ugly stuff (lawn mower, snow blower, wheel barrow, shovels, snow tires, etc.) is strewn about the lawn. We also have an assortment of things that were broken in the move (a dresser, our barbecue) perched precariously on the weed-choked patio. All in all, our backyard looks so "white trash" that I expect one of our daughters to turn up pregnant any minute now.

Meanwhile, our garage is crammed with empty boxes (and boxes filled with paper) from all the things we have been able to unpack.

We'll call the moving company to collect the recyclables next week. In the meantime, our basement is crammed with boxes and, well, stuff, that does not yet have a home in our house.

On a brighter note, Steve has been working like a fiend to get everything hooked up, installed, and running. Almost nothing was "plug & play:" the stove and dryer needed new connectors; there was no water connection for the fridge; there are, in fact, no toilet-paper holders in any of the bathrooms; and there is not enough built-in storage anywhere. Here he is in his basement workshop:

I can't tell you how many hours (or how many dollars!) we've spent at Canadian Tire, Home Depot and IKEA.

Despite all the chaos, we enjoy being back in Ottawa. We've spent a great evening with Steve's sister and her husband, had a few good visits with Katie and her boyfriend, and even had a day at the beach.

Friday, July 2, 2010

We still have the cat!

We have all arrived in Ottawa. But the cat, Elly, almost didn't make it out of Colorado Springs.

She was mildly sedated - too mildly, as it turned out - and cosily ensconced in her soft-sided travel crate. Everything would have been just fine, but when we got to security, they wanted me to take her out of her crate and carry her through the sensor.

Remember how she doesn't like to be carried?

Well, she really, really doesn't like to be carried. As in, she panics. She will claw you to within an inch of your life if you try to restrain her. (And she only has her back claws.)

I hadn't expected to be taking her out of her crate at all, so I didn't have a towel with me to carry her. And we've never even tried putting her on a leash. I grabbed Emily's hoody and wrapped Elly, and walked through the detector. The zipper set off the alarm. Fortunately, the crate had passed through the scanner and was ready to receive our little rebel.

Unfortunately, before we got the crate zipped shut, the cat TOOK OFF! She bolted as if she were about to be fed to a Doberman. She ran - smash! - headfirst into a plexiglass barrier, then escaped out into the non-secure side of the airport. I had visions of her escaping the airport and being lost in the wild - she wouldn't survive: she has only four teeth left, and only her hind claws. Leaving Colorado without our cat was NOT an option.

One of the Customs guys ran after her and miraculously managed to capture her. She froze in his arms while we re-scanned the carrier and re-stuffed her into it. This time, it worked. But I was shaking.

The rest of our trip "home," with a very brief layover in Chicago, was uneventful.

Remind me never to travel with an animal again!

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