Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Slow progress

Oh, look! A brick!
One solitary brick.

That's what the landscapers have installed, so far, for our patio. After two full days of three people working, that's what they've completed so far.

Actually, that's not being fair. They've actually done a lot of work, hauling in several tons of gravel and crushed stone, tamping it all down, levelling it. And it is even starting to look good - all nice & smooth.

Isn't it going to look lovely? I hope to be able to post pictures of the interlock tomorrow!

Monday, September 27, 2010

I blame Dilbert and Michael Scott.

Picture this: an intelligent 20-something has seasonal employment as an agricultural worker. For the non-growing seasons of the year, he collects unemployment benefits - a subsistence living, really. His working conditions are truly miserable: he works outdoors during peak insect season, in rainy weather, and in summer's heat. It is hard, back-breaking work, and it pays in the range of $500 to $700/week. Sounds like a special kind of hell, to me.

But what he dreads? Working in a cubicle.

I've heard other young adults with the same misgivings; they'd rather be unemployed than work in a cubicle. They look down their noses at those of us with office careers.

I think Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, one of the funniest comic strips going, is at least partly to blame for the current scourge of 20- and 30-somethings still living in their parents' basements, working at minimum-wage or seasonal jobs. And then The Office, with its ineffable, cringingly hilarious boss, Michael Scott, put the nail in the coffin.

Because Dilbert and The Office gave cubicles a bad image for a whole generation of readers and viewers. Between the two of them, we have a kind of dystopia of workaday existence: miserable working conditions, sub-intelligent supervisors, lazy and misanthropic colleagues.

Not that cubicle farms are my idea of heaven, but there are far worse working conditions to be had, and there are far worse situations in life than being gainfully employed and financially independent. And, to be quite honest, although I've had my share of crappy cubicles and one or two difficult colleagues, for the most part I've enjoyed my time at the office.

I've also done a fair share of telecommuting -- freelance work from home -- so I do have something to compare it to. Working from home certainly has its benefits (Yay, fluffy slippers! Yay, not having to do anything about my obstreperous hair!), but I genuinely missed the camaraderie of working in an office.

Gosh. I'm having a flashback to, oh, 1970, when hippies (who blamed their fathers for selling out to "the man") laughed at middle-aged workers who'd spent their entire lives working for the same company; and those fathers scorned their lay-about offspring for having no ambition or direction.

Does anyone else remember this song? I don't know its title and can't find it online, but I remember listening to it and feeling sad for the father in the song, wondering how he'd feel having his son call him "a joke," and wanting to smack that unappreciative son upside the head. (There may have been redeeming lyrics later in the song, but I don't remember them.)
My old man spent 18 years in the coal pits.
My old man's a joke,
Working for the Company.
Three cheers for my old man!
I feel like this is what today's youth are saying of my generation: that our work lives are laughable, that we've sold our bodies and souls for a pension and a pocket watch. In my defensiveness, it is truly scary how much I have become my father.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose, I guess. Which actually gives me hope that these sneering young adults will one day realize that every job has its downsides and its benefits. And that there's something to be said for supplemental health benefits and the creative stimulation of an office workplace.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The pool is finished!

The rest of the backyard, not so much. So the whole thing still isn't looking so good, and the water is green and cold, so ... no pool party yet!

But here are some pictures:
Last week they formed, then poured, the concrete deck around the pool.

Today, they "dropped" the liner (their terminology) in place.
The guy is NOT peeing on the wall.
He is inserting a special strip that keeps the liner from popping out
of its track if water ever gets under the liner. (Never a good thing.)

The filling begins! It took two big truckloads of water.

And it is filled!
One of the things we like about this pool design is that the steps are designed to work as seats, and there is actually a jet pushing water across that seat - fun to play with with your feet!

It is a saltwater pool, but will need some chlorine to get things cleaned up as the water is a little green. We won't be heating it this year (though Steve insists that he will take at least one plunge in it before we close it up for the winter!).

So the next step is getting the patio laid and the retaining wall built. If you look at the picture at the very top, you'll see that we had to un-build the wall that Steve had laboured over - bummer! That was because we hadn't left enough room for the forms for the concrete deck and they can't build the deck flush up against the rocks. The rocks are liable to move with frost heave, and that would crack the deck. So Steve has started rebuilding the wall, but he and the kids will put more work into it this coming weekend.

And early next week, my guy Channing will show up to lay the patio! That will be a momentous occasion, as it will signal the end of the non-stop sand and dirt being tracked into the house. I tell you, I am FED UP with the dirt. I've been sweeping the front hall at least three times a day for the past several weeks.

Also, next week, we're having a new furnace (gas instead of oil), air conditioner and hot-water tank installed. The fun & games just never end around here! Woo-hoo!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Keep yer pants on!

Could be worse; at least they aren't granny panties.

The expression, "Keep yer pants on," used to just mean, "Be patient!" But it has come to have a more literal meaning for me.

Because of my hours and where I worked in Colorado, I had a good 10- or 15-minute walk from my parking spot to the office, with no accessible buildings (read: bathrooms) in between. You would think that not much could go wrong in such a short period of time, but you would be wrong. Aside from the few times where I was struggling with a gastric attack and walking with eyes crossed (hey, it helps close all those sphincters), there was one occasion I do remember well. (Oh, yes, there were other memorable walks; I'll save those for another day.)

On the morning in question I had made an effort to look especially professional. I was actually wearing a skirt! And heels! And "slimming" pantyhose! And, um, a silky, "body-shaping undergarment." Not to be confused with a girdle. Because modern girls don't wear girdles. That's what our mothers wore, for Pete's sake. I had no intentions of eating or, well, breathing that day.

So I was looking fine, feeling confident, kind of struttin' my stuff.

About half way to the building from my parking spot, I felt an unusual tightening just below my waistband. I thought nothing of it.

Then the tightening gradually moved downward.

Gradually, it dawned on me what was happening: the waistband of my pantyhose was rolling down, unhampered by the slinky body-shaping undergarment girdle. (I'm trying hard to think of something OTHER THAN a condom to illustrate the way a pantyhose waistband rolls. I've failed.) As it did, the flesh above the descending band, um, relaxed over the band to prevent its rolling back UP, no matter how much I sucked in my gut. Now, if I had a NORMAL shape, my buttocks would probably have stopped the descent, but I have extreme white-girl butt: flat as a pancake. (On the bright side, it'll never sag. There is nothing TO sag.) Buttocks implants were invented with me in mind.* Combine that with a donut-eater's tummy, and you have a recipe for disaster.

(*Incidentally, here's why I will never have that surgery; skip to the 27-second mark:)

ANYWAY (What? Oh, yes, time to take my Ritalin. Thanks for the reminder.) .... So there I was, about 5 minutes from the front door of my building. I paused. I felt the pantyhose roll a bit more. I started walking again, carefully. There may have been missiles landing all around me or Ben Affleck waving to get my attention, but I was oblivious to anything aside from the rolling waistband. I did the calculations: would I be able to make it to the sanctuary of the lobby (and the adjoining restroom) before the pantyhose passed my crotch? Or would I have to waddle in with legs splayed, holding the pantyhose above my hemline?

Yah, classy, eh? I always strive to be elegant at work.

Don't always succeed.

I made it. Just. I never wore that particular combination of pantyhose and girdle again.

Friday, September 17, 2010

It's a jungle out there!

I think every mother remembers those first days of heart-stopping panic every time her newborn snuffled or grunted in his or her sleep. Or, paradoxically, whenever the infant slept quietly and peacefully, too silently. I don't know that that feeling ever entirely disappears.

In his eloquent and heart-breaking memoir, "What is the What," Dave Eggers describes (at least twice) young boys being attacked by wild cats (sorry; I can't remember just what kind of cat -- leopard? tiger?), whisked into the jungle and eaten, like a character from The Jungle Book. It happened in the blink of an eye. And, remember, this is a memoir: it is true. Not a myth or a cautionary tale or a Disney cartoon with a happy ending.

While I read the book, I thought, "Oh my goodness. Can you imagine ever taking your eyes off your children when you live in an honest-to-god jungle?" Because, in point of fact, I already worry about my kids as if there were indeed a tiger stalking them at every turn.

This is partly because I'm generally an anxious person, but also because each of my children has cheated death at least once -- despite my slightly neurotic surveillance of them. You may call it luck (bad luck!), guardian angels or, well, I don't know what else you would call it (though I did have a third one in mind when I started typing this sentence). But the fact is, if the worst had come to pass, I would be a childless mother right now.

Think I'm exaggerating? I don't think so.

At the age of four, one child decided to pretend to be a kitten. She strung a cord around her neck, attached it to her bedpost and purred her way to sleep. When Steve checked on her later, the cord was so tight that he could barely fit his finger between it and her neck, because she had rolled around in her sleep.

One day at the cottage, Steve was moving rocks by the shore, when one child trumpeted, "Oh, look, he's swimming!" One of our toddlers - within arm's reach, mind you - had lost his balance in the lake and was trying unsuccessfully to right himself.

And, alarmingly, I could go on. Each of our children has a story.

My point is, there really are tigers out there - of our own making or beyond our control. Steve and I count ourselves blessed every single day that we spend with our children.

One of our therapists was of the opinion that none of this was coincidental or accidental, that we were somehow cursed or, worse, neglectful parents. But I really don't think so. I think that if you talk to any parent of an adult child, you will hear stories of "near misses," of rescues, and of guardian angels. It might be allergies or experimenting with drugs, or car accidents, or congenital disease ... you get the picture. And, I'm willing to bet, where they are not "near misses," they are actual tragedies.

So what's a worried mama to do? Here's my [unsolicited] advice to other mothers:
  • Trust your gut. If you have a "funny feeling" that something just isn't right? Listen to it. Let your kids call you overprotective, let their friends (or their friends' parents) call you neurotic.
  • Have faith. I've mentioned before that I believe in miracles and in angels. You may believe that "it takes a village." Either way, we just have to trust that we are not the only ones caring for our children.
Today, as I drove Brian home from school, I road-raged aloud about some teenagers walking blithely down the middle of our residential street, not disturbed by my ton of metal bearing down on them. Then I apologized to Brian for complaining.

"It's okay," he said. "You're a mom." I'm glad he understands.

P.S. A dear, old friend of ours, now deceased, used to bless all infants he met as follows: "May you never be eaten by tigers." To my knowledge, his blessing never failed.


Well, I finally heard back from the employer who interviewed me while my hair was doing reverse acrobatics. As you can tell from my title, I did not get the answer I was hoping for.

Here's what happened: they evidently wanted to offer me the job, but there was some internal budgetary ball-tossing and, essentially, no one was able to pick up my salary. Sooooo, the job does not exist as advertised.

While this is the kind of thing that one hopes they would figure out ahead of time, I've been in the position of hiring contractors before and know that sh!t happens. And I kind of figured, by how long it was taking them to get back to me, that the news was not going to be good. Honestly, I'm glad to hear it was an internal difficulty and that I hadn't mis-read the dynamic in the room, because I really had the impression that we all agreed that I would be a good fit for them.

I did take the opportunity to offer my services as a freelancer, and the manager seemed pleasantly surprised that I would consider this and sounded interested. (Hey, income is income! That pool ain't gonna pay for itself!) He also said he would shop my resume around to other managers, which is good news for me. Because you never know.

So, the bottom line is I still have a little more time to hunt for my work shoes (they're in the basement somewhere!). And if you hear of any interesting opportunities (short- or long-term), please do let me know.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

True Confessions: Kisses

I'm not very physically demonstrative with non-family members. The French custom of the double-cheek-brush/air-kiss is even a little more than I like, though I do it when the context is appropriate. (When in Québec, do as the Québecois do.) At least, that's what I like to think. But there is evidence to the contrary.

Case #1: Comme les français
During my first or second week on my new job in Colorado, I was part of a team hosting some visiting VIPs. I was nervous, still feeling out of place. Then I saw a familiar face: a senior officer we knew socially. In my relief, I greeted him as if we were old friends who hadn't seen each other in decades and (maybe because he is French-Canadian?) gave him a double-cheek kiss. Actual kisses, not air kisses.

Fortunately, he was gracious and made nothing of it. But I cringed as he left, wondering if he was going to ask his wife what was up with me. On future occasions when I bumped into him, I made sure to greet him with a big smile and nothing more. (Well, with clothes, too, of course. Just nothing more in the greeting sense.)

Case #2: A Near Miss
When Peter was four years old, he needed eye surgery to correct strabismus ("wall-eye"). He was small, so the doctor asked me to sit in the examining chair and hold Peter on my lap while he performed the examination. I did so.

Now, when my children were younger, it was simply an automatic impulse for me to kiss any bare skin that came within proximity of my face. Heads, tummies, shoulders, necks, bellies. Toddlers and babies are meant to be kissed (and to have raspberries blown on their tiny bellies). I did a LOT of kissing.

So while sitting there, I kissed the back of Peter's head. Then the doctor, wearing short sleeves, reached past Peter, past my head, to adjust something. I turned my head, puckered up and just BARELY stopped myself from kissing his bare arm. I think it was the extreme hairiness of his arm that woke me up.

Phew. That was close!

Case #3: Sharing of the Peace
In church, one Sunday, we were "sharing the peace" - that awkward part of the service where the congregation shakes hands and blesses each other, offering the phrase, "The peace of the Lord be with you," or something similar. Steve and I typically give each other a quick peck on the lips. I usually give the boys "noogies of the Lord." And on this one Sunday, I gave the visiting minister a kiss smack-dab on the lips. Yup. I don't know whose shock was greater: his or mine. Or his wife's. (Stephen didn't even notice. I told him about it later.)

I immediately wanted to disappear; spontaneous combustion would've been a real grace. The service continued for approximately 72 hours while I stewed in humiliation and God failed to answer my prayers for immediate rescue.

I still have no idea why I kissed him. I mean, he was a nice enough minister and all, but it's not like I was attracted to him ... I never spoke to him again. There's just no coming back from that one.

[Musical interlude while you cringe and pray for my soul.]

Allie Brosh has addressed the whole "awkward situation" dilemma in her ineffable blog, "Hyperbole and a Half." I can SO relate to her bottom line. (Click that link!)

Now I'm going to go brush my teeth because, evidently, I never know when I'll be kissing a stranger.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Peter goes to school.

Getting Peter registered at Carleton University has been nothing short of exasperating. He applied back in June and didn't receive his offer of admissions until last week - just before classes started. But the system took so long to process his acceptance, that he didn't get into any classes last week, and it looked like he wouldn't even be registered in classes this week either.

So, today we took the bus and the O-Train down to the campus and pleaded for mercy. In the end, we met "St. Joni," a refreshingly efficient (if terse) and patient admin who was able to figure out which classes would likely transfer from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (we may not get an official answer for several weeks) and get him enrolled in the appropriate classes here. In fact, he attended his first class this afternoon!

The funny thing about doing this with Peter is that he does not hide his emotions very well at all, and he doesn't know when to bite his tongue. Twice this morning while people were going out of their way to expedite his registration, he made offensive comments.

One woman gave us a helpful one-page instruction sheet on how to sign into the Carleton web portal. Peter's sarcasm-laced retort? "Will there be lots of links to pages that don't actually exist?" When we had a minute together privately, I told him that his comment was not helpful and could well have offended the woman who was untangling the administrative nightmare for us. Peter replied that he wanted them to know that he was really frustrated. I'm not sure my lesson hit home.

Then while we sat with St. Joni in the Computer Science department, she worried out loud that Peter might not have already set up his "Carleton Central" account. (Fortunately, he had done so, as it would've been too much work for her to do it.) Peter blurted out that he didn't like her "implying that he was lazy." Gulp. Not a very conciliatory comment to make to someone who is doing you a very big favour!  Fortunately for Peter, St. Joni took his attitude in stride and continued working.

But that's the thing about Peter; he pretty much always tells you exactly what is on his mind. No beating about the bush, no putting a spin on things. If something is bothering him, he will let you know. (Admittedly, not always in the most appropriate way. Our family has a slight problem with passive aggression.) He doesn't know how to "suck up" or how to "kiss a$s." If he is smiling in your presence, it means that he is genuinely happy - I don't think I've ever seen him put on a fake smile. If he's unhappy, his face and body will show it, whether he intends to or not. Usually not.

As a matter of fact, in many of our family pictures over the years, Peter is the only one in the picture who is not smiling;
Peter looks like he's glaring at the photographer!
But just look at his smile when the photographer knows how to help him relax and just enjoy the moment:

Can't you just hear the laughter?
It takes some getting used to, living with someone as frank as this, but it definitely has its benefits.

Friday, September 10, 2010

I'm so excited ...

That I just can't hide it!

I've been giddy ALL DAY because the fence-builders were here. And they built the fence! And it looks freaking fantastic! And it even SMELLS great, too (freshly cut cedar)! See:

Privacy is restored!
Is it weird that I'm so ecstatic about a fence?

But this fence is a big deal. It's been over two weeks [Seriously! Two weeks!] since we ripped out our neighbours' fence without their permission, and I've been more than eager to restore our neighbours' privacy. Each day that they were forced to gaze into our barren, chopped-up back yard was one more day that I felt guilty at having ripped apart their property. Today, I hope they will come home from work, look outside and mutter something along the lines of, "Well, thank the lord, at least we don't have to look at those bastards anymore."

Yah. Not getting my hopes up too high. Although we did have a very cordial e-mail from them earlier this week (after I e-mailed them to give them an idea of the timeline for the fence). He wrote,
"Of course we will be happy when the fence is up since we have been used to more privacy, but I don't think a delay of an extra week or two is going to be an issue...We wish you much joy with your new patio and with some luck, you still might have a chance to enjoy it and your swimming pool this year before the cold weather arrives."
Nice, eh? They may come to our eventual "pool-warming party"* after all. Who knows?

So, quite aside from the fence looking flipping beautiful, it really gives me a lot of peace of mind. Phew!

Aaaand! As if the fence were not enough excitement for one post, we also finally got the corner cabinets for our dining room! Yup. My brain is about to burst from happy-happiness. Aaaand - almost all of our china and crystal fit into the two cabinets - a minor miracle. Must be some kind of wrinkle in the space-time continuum when you open those pretty glass doors.

And, look: see those pretty curves cut into the glass doors? That's my kind of detail.

And last, but certainly not least, in my long list of overwhelmingly blissful events this week, I had dinner last night with my very dear friend, Heather. Heather and I were housemates in university, were each others' bridesmaids, and have stayed in touch over many thousands of miles, several time zones, and life changes. Heck. She is one of the few people besides my husband who knew me back when I was skinny!

Anyway, we hadn't seen each other in way too long; both of us living outside of Canada for the past few years made it hard for paths to cross. But, being with Heather is always like putting on your favourite sweater: comfortable, just right. So I had a fun, grown-up, girls-only evening with a dear friend. What's not to love about that?

There have been some less-than-stellar moments this week (first week back to school for the kids = chaos), but I am going to choose to ride this high as long as it lasts and ignore those Debbie-Downer moments.

*The pool will, in fact, be cold. We won't have a gas line installed until mid-October. Thus the pool will not be heated this year. But it'll be pretty to look at.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Where the skies are not cloudy all day ...

Remember that old campfire song (best sung with an exaggerated drawl)?

Now that fall weather is settling in here in Ottawa (isn't it curious how that always coincides with Labour Day weekend?), I am starting to really miss the seemingly ever-present sunshine we enjoyed in Colorado. Just look at the sky in this photo of Steve. We saw a lot of that.

Living in Colorado for five years really brought home the truth of that campfire song: we had days and days of sunshine. At the very least, a little sunshine each day. We were told that Colorado gets 300 days of sunshine per year, and I spouted that statistic to everyone I knew, especially family who lived in British Columbia, Canada's rainforest. Yeah, I bragged. Just a little. Well, I've just learned that the 300 days of sunshine IS A MYTH!  What? What! Apparently, they do get more sunny days than cloudy, but, like many good things in life (where quantitative measurements may or may not matter), it has been overstated. Still, it's a darned sight better than the 85 days of sunshine per year that Ottawa apparently gets (calculated by dividing total hours of sunshine as listed on Wikipedia by 365. Yah, not going to win any meteorological or journalistic awards here).

Let me tell you, even 245 days of sunshine a year is really, really nice. I used to be able to count on waking up when daylight hit my bedroom window - it was that reliable. (Of course, I still set my alarm clock, but waking up to sunshine gave me a mental boost.) I rarely left the house without sun glasses either, because the sun was very strong.

On the downside, the sun was so reliable that the city skimped on its snow-clearing obligations and just waited until the sun came out and melted all the snow, rather than cleaning it up or using salt. Often this meant a day or two of driving on packed snow (a.k.a. ice) - treacherous. Within a day or two, the ice turned to slush, then puddles, then the roads were clear and all was well with the world, but in the meantime I was scared to drive.

But that was the only drawback. Now, here we are, waking up to grey skies and day-long drizzle. It's the price we pay for all the lush greenery that surrounds us. I'm not saying that I want to move back to the desert, but I would be quite happy with a few more hours of sunshine here.

Not everybody feels that way. Emily, for one, really likes rainy days and likes walking in the rain. In the meantime, I shall take comfort in the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:
Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.
I like that: behind the clouds the sun is still shining.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Quibbles and Rants

What does this have to do with anything? Read on, MacDuff.

I'm not the first, and I won't be the last to harp on these points. But they've been particularly irritating of late.
  • Learn when to use there, their and they're.
  • Likewise, it's and its.
  • Re-read my post on me vs. I. Do it several times.
  • "Your" = "belonging to you." "You're" = "you are." Memorize it.
  • Learn to write, "a lot" rather than "alot." (This link is one of the funniest you will EVER click on. So, do it!)
  • It's "voilà," not "viola." (A viola is an instrument.)
  • It's "in lieu," not "in lei." (A lei is a floral garland.)
There. That feels MUCH better. There are many, many more, but I will save them for another day and another glass of wine.

We'd better be careful, or that might come back and bite us in the - OUCH! What was that?

As if "karma cramps" weren't bad enough, we've gotten a taste of just how unhappy our backyard neighbours are: they called the city inspectors on us today.

The city inspector popped by for an unscheduled visit, without warning, and left a note in our mailbox that we have to install a temporary fence around the pool. I called her back to explain that the rest of the fence is going in tomorrow (so far only the posts are there); she said that was fine then, no temporary fence is necessary. She explained that they had received a complaint and had to follow up on it. I can only think of one direction that such a complaint might have come from.

I guess our neighbours are even more impatient to get this project finished than we are. Can't say that I blame them.

But now I'm worried that we're going to receive complaints any time we have a party, anytime we do anything that displeases them ... Guess we really "screwed the pooch" on this one, as Steve's dad likes to say.

P.S. I should note that we've been told that the fence has to be completed before the liner and water go in. We've never been told we needed a temporary fence.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Building a wall is SLOW work.

Each of those "chicken rock" boulders weighs approx. 250-300 pounds.
Steve, Katie and Brian worked on building the retaining wall around the pool this weekend. It was seriously hard work, as we expected. And, though the kids helped, it was really Steve who did the heavy lifting (both metaphorically and literally). Wisely, he is pacing himself: only a few hours of work per day, so he doesn't strain his back.

I think it is turning out quite well, and will make a pretty backdrop to the pool. Most of it will also be at sitting height, so will provide some casual seating around the pool. The wall will follow the curve of the pool.

The area between the rocks and the edge of the pool will be poured concrete (which I hope will be poured tomorrow).

In the picture, you can see that the fenceposts have been installed. They will come back to finish building the fence on Wednesday. It is being built out of western red cedar, and each post is installed with a bell-shaped concrete boot. This shape apparently prevents frost heave and ensures the long durability and attractiveness of the fence.

Tomorrow is the first day of school for Brian and Emily - each of them at new, different schools. Here's hoping everyone makes it to the right place at the right time and with the right materials!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Rock on!

The rock is here!

Five tons of "chicken rock"
Three tons of "clear stone" (or as I like to call it "gravel")
Here is a close-up of the rock (click to see it much larger):
I think it'll look just fine with our interlock.
So this weekend, we will be hauling tons of rock into the backyard. Oh joy. It'll be worth it in the end. I hope!

And, here, for your weekend pleasure, a little something I found in Steve's workshop today. I seriously don't want to know how to use one of these:
Butt Gauge?

(Gawd. Sometimes I swear I'm only 13 years old!)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Will this never end?

So, the last time I gave you an update on the pool, it looked like this:
Roughed in
Today, after many, many hours of sweaty men working in the back yard, it looks like this:
Um, really not looking all that different, considering how many hours of labour have been poured into it. We're at the stage in this project where everything seems to be moving ....... so ........ slowly.

But, trust me, those guys have been working hard, and during some of the hottest, most humid days of summer, too. Next step will be pouring the concrete deck around the pool. Then we can install the patio! (Yay patio! Patio = a place for beer and friends!)

And we plan to spend this Labour Day weekend building a retaining wall around the pool. We'll see how that goes. Can't say that I'm really looking forward to it - I really wish we could afford to hire that job out. Grumble.

I'm fretting that we haven't ordered enough rock (we ordered 5 tons!) and that we will have to order a whole lot of soil to backfill (and that'll be after we back it with 3 tons of clear stone). The rock we ordered is called "chicken rock" but do you think I can find a picture of it on the internet? Not a chance. It's grey and weather-worn, which gives it a really nice, smooth texture. Each block is about the size and shape of a breadbox. If I remember correctly, some of the rocks had lichen or moss growing on them - so pretty! It's being delivered tomorrow, so I'll have a picture for you then.

The real bummer of all this is that, even if we get the landscaping done by next week, we still won't be able to use the pool this summer. Hydro can't connect us until 22 September (which means we won't have a pump to keep the water moving and free of algae until then), and Enbridge can't put in our gas hook-up until 5 October (which means it won't be heated until then). And it has been stinking hot - a pool would've been just the thing!

Oh well. I knew we were getting a late start on this, and it is a huge project, especially considering our sloping yard. The good news is that we'll be able to use it from the first heat wave next spring. I just need to be patient. (Look up "patient" in the thesaurus, and you will find "Wynn Anne" under antonyms.)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Hair wars.

Tuesday was a big day for me: my first job interview since moving back to Canada. I won't tell you about the job, because I don't want to jinx anything, but I will talk about my hair catastrophe.

I have bad hair. Thin, fine, straight as a pin. With considerable effort - and lots of "product" - I can usually convince it to perform adequately for a couple of hours. But there's a hitch: humidity absolutely kills any styling I do. Where once there was bounce, there will be flop. Where once there was curl, there will be wilt. Picture wilted lettuce. It's a sad thing. Especially when it's on your head.

To make things worse, if I sweat - oh, wait, I forgot: women don't sweat, they glow - fine, if I glow, then all bets are off. My hair will plaster itself to my scalp like an old bathing cap. Not flattering, unless you're Sinead O'Connor or Natalie Portman.

I used to have a bathing cap exactly like this one.
I absolutely LOVED it!
P.S. Someone needs to teach this girl how to pluck her eyebrows. Just sayin'.
Problem 1: We are in the middle of a brutal, high-humidity heat wave here. (Gee, do I ever wish our pool were already constructed!)
Problem 2: Even without the heat wave, I am at that stage in life where my body temperature is set about 5 degrees hotter than everyone else's. This causes me to glow.

So I carefully considered what to do with my hair today for this big interview. In the end, I decided to put it up in a French twist. Like this (only with less hair):
MUCH better looking than the bathing cap!
For about four days before the interview, I practiced the style. I road-tested it: driving around, walking in wind, adjusting amounts of hairspray, how many pins, etc. I found it worked best if I pinned it up while it was still wet; it only took four pins, and it lasted easily four hours with hairspray. I was convinced I had it nailed.

But about ten minutes into the hour-long interview, I felt something heavy against my neck. Yup, my hair was falling, sliding gradually out of its style. I casually reached up to touch it and discovered that a WHOLE CHUNK of hair was now draping down my back. As inconspicuously as possible (HAH!), I pulled out a pin and tucked that chunk back into place.

Moments later, I felt another tress fall. I pinned it back up.

Honestly, I lost track of how many times I tried to rescue that hairdo. I hope it was only three. Finally, I gave up. I took pity on the poor interviewers (who were probably feeling sorry for me and becoming annoyed with my fussing), and I yanked out the pins and let the hair fall limply down my back. It was still wet (because, remember, my testing showed that was best) and straggly. It was awful.

But I had to stop fussing with the damned hair and pay attention to the questions!

Later, I puzzled over what had possessed my demon hair: why had my road tests worked, but the actual run failed?

Answer: hair conditioner.

Because my hair is so fine, conditioner leaves it limp, so I usually skip it. Today, however, in my efforts to look polished and professional, I not only applied conditioner, but I actually let it sit for three whole minutes just like the directions say.

And four measly pins could not tame the slick, silky, sodden mass of my hair.

Sigh. I suppose I could consider wigs.

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