Monday, June 28, 2004


Okay, so I'm working and my sister is in Thailand riding elephants. Is life fair?!? Nah uh-uh!!

But am feeling good about self because did good deed for self-confessed computer-illiterate library patron. Helping these fellers spell-check and print resumes quickly and easily makes them SO HAPPY that I want to do it every day.

Ride elephant or do good deed? It's a toss-up.

Today, by the way, is election day in Canada. Velly exciting.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Kitchen Renovations - Day 15?

Okay so I slipped finally on regular daily reporting. This must be Day 15, since I had 3 weeks of holidays and today is the last one (boo hoo).

We, and all our related tradespeoples, have been working like beavers (ack, is very hard to type with popsicle in hand). We now have cabinet boxes on both sides of the room, shingles on almost all of the exposed exterior, a service increase on our new main electrical panel, small electrical upgrades all over the house, and a few face frames in place on the cabinets (John installed the boxes, and then designs and builds panels to cover the outsides of the boxes - panels that fit our not-at-all square room). The panels (straight-grain fir) are soooo beautiful, and they haven't even been varnished yet. I said that we'll have to move out and let the fancy people live here. The kitchen is going to be too beautiful for hicks like us.

I got stuck with nothing to do a few times in the last few days, so yesterday I did my final coat of paint on the living room trim (an unfinished job now finished!), and today I dug zestfully in my front flowerbed (am still battling the purple devilweed). Good discoveries unearthed in flower bed today. First, I dislodged a large rock about a foot down, and then the rock went crashing down into the 3 foot deep hole under it! The hole was a round vertical shaft that my child would fit into, if he stepped into it. A foot below the surface! Too weird. John suggests that it was maybe once a posthole. Who knows.

And then my luck continued with the discovery of a fabulous yard artifact: a rubber severed child's finger. Ran up to Jimbo and put it in his hand. "Yelp!", he yelped, as soon as he realized what it was. Love finding artifacts. Am still looking for that elusive coin that will turn out to be worth $300,000 and will pay for our renovations. Hah hahahahaha ha hee. Hee.

Today is Jimbo's 49th birthday. It started out unfortunately: Sprout head-bonked him hard first thing. After a bit of thunderous swearing, the day just had to improve from there. Jimbo spent the whole day following the electrician around, learning about how to upgrade a house. This is what I love about Jimbo: he really likes to learn stuff like that. Birthday celebrations moved later to the Broadway Cafe (hot turkey sandwich), and Bobo ate like a little piglet. "Mo' 'tatoes!!" Mummy was very proud.

Aging boomers are so easy to buy birthday presents for. The White Album, what else?

"You say it's your birthday, na na na na na na" Happy birthday, Squirrel Boy.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Kitchen Renovations - Day 12

Wow. Day 12. I would have lost track, were it not for this daily report.

Lots of good renos on Day 12. I put on the final coat of urethane on the cabinet boxes for the north wall, put on the remaining drip edge on the exterior wall, primed the exterior window trim after Jimbo put it up, and did some cedar shingling. All this, plus time to do laundry and take Mo for lunch.

Mo is my old roommate, who used to party every weekend better than anyone I ever met. Better, stronger, faster. Hear me roar. We have an old roommate bond that is unbreakable. I credit it all to the fact that we both became habitual flossers together while watching Magnum P.I. every night that year. Regular flossing has added years on to my life. (Or has cancelled out all those years of weekend partying.)

Now Mo is a reformed upstanding citizen like me, and like me, also has small children. We busted loose today, and ate lunch solo. Whoo-hoo.

Sprout's new favourite food is chopped fresh tomatoes, or as he likes to call them, 'tomanoes'. You say tomano, I say tomato. Let's call the whole thing off.

(But I'll meet you later in front of the T.V. for some healthy late-night flossing).

My Aunt Frieda - Oracle

My Aunt Frieda is an oracle. For the Big Guy. That's right. God talks to her.

But sometimes the messages are a bit puzzling, and sometimes they're downright annoying. Especially if they're about you.

A few weeks before my sister's wedding to Vinnie, Aunt Frieda told her that 'God told me you'd marry someone from Biggar." Vinnie is not from Biggar. How is this news constructive? Should my sister have called off the wedding? 'Oops, sorry Vinnie! This just in!! Newsflash from the Creator! I can't marry you.'

I once broke up with a guy, and I was very sad about it. Being eternally helpful, Aunt Frieda said smugly, "God told me that you were never meant to be with Bill because he can't have any children." Oh, whew, narrow escape for me, thanks A.F.

Lookin' for signs, lookin' for signs. Man's search for meaning.

That's my Aunt Frieda.

My Aunt Frieda - Lateral Thinker

My Aunt Frieda does not think like the average person.

She has 3 half-dead cars, which she refuses to part with. This means, of course, that she spends a lot of time broken down on the highway.

A few years ago, Aunt Frieda's car died an hour and a half from home, late at night. The car would start all right, but it would conk out as she drove along. She sat there on the highway for a while, thinking. "Suddenly," she said to herself, "What am I thinking!?! Maybe the car would go backwards!!" And indeed, if she started it and drove backwards for a while, then it would stay running and she could drive forwards for 15 or 20 minutes before it would die again. She made it all the way home like that, alternating between backwards and forwards.

Very clever, right, but who thinks like that???

That's my Aunt Frieda.

My Aunt Frieda - Mad Scientist

Haven't written about Aunt Frieda for a while, but due to long hours renovating, have many unwritten A.F. stories in my brain. Time permitting (going for lunch with Mo in 1/2 hour), will binge on Aunt Frieda stories.

My Aunt Frieda has the language of a rationalist, but her rationale sometimes falls down. An often-heard directive to Aunt Frieda's children: "No you may not get contact lenses, because if you're ever in a fire they'll glue to your eyes."

That's my Aunt Frieda.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Kitchen Renovations - Day 11

Am filthy, but am taking a break because I'm stuck.

Jimbo and I spent most of the day ripping siding off the house, replacing the drip edge, and tarpapering. There is one last piece of tarpaper to go up, but I am not the greatest exact measurer, and so instead of pissing around and wasting 3 sheets of paper, I'll wait for Jimbo to check my measurements before I cut out the window holes. Am also a bit sunburned, and so a stop in the cool basement computer room is very welcome.

Once today's prep work is done, then we can cedar shingle the two exterior walls affected by this kitchen renovation. Love to cedar shingle. Very satisfying. I shingled so much pregnant that Sprout used to be able to sleep through shingling (hammering) as a small baby. He'd probably wake up now - and want to get right in there. Last night he spent 1/2 hour talking about nails with Jim ('naiows'). If he saw a hammer and what it can do, he'd probably pee himself. (Okay, he'd probably pee himself regardless, but you get my drift.)

Dennis is here plumbing right now very efficiently (another reason I'm filthy - no water), and Jimbo is assisting. I wish I knew more about plumbing.

Okay, that's a lie. Am very glad to be married to man who knows about plumbing. There's emancipation and then there's emancipation.

Jimbo is fretting about the vent hole he cut over the weekend for the stove hood. He thinks that it is 1/2 inch off from where it is supposed to be. Is waiting for cabinetmaker to get back from holiday weekend, to confer. Jim usually overprepares for these things, and so usually doesn't make these sorts of miscalculations, but there is just so much to think about with a kitchen reno - something's got to give. As devoted spouse, have bought him the double pack of Wagon Wheels (chocolate marshmallow crap that he loves) to get him through the weekend.

Sprout has started singing/talking along with Jimbo's goodnight song, I have just learned. Jim usually puts him to sleep, and sings "Summertime" (Gershwin classic) while he's drifting off. Sprout below in [] brackets:

Summertime, and the living is easy. [is easy]
The fish are jumpin', and the cotton is high.
Your daddy's rich [daddy rich!], and your momma's good lookin' [mummy looking][mummy?].
Hush pretty baby, don't you cry [baby don't][baby don't cry].

I sang it this morning just to hear him, and he's so hilarious. Perhaps we should have ten more. Or maybe we should let Schmally have 10 babies, and we could babysit until they tire us out. This grandparenting thing could be really good!

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Uncle Sprout

Was going to take blogging holiday weekend, but have just learned that my stepdaughter is going to have a baby. This means that I am going to be a 'grandma' and Sprout is going to be an uncle!! Zowie!

How can someone who is still whining about not being cool anymore possibly become a grandma? And how can you be an uncle before you can properly pronounce 'uncle'?

Is all very strange but exciting.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Kitchen Renovations - Day 10

Day 10. I sort of took Day 10 off from the kitchen. Got in a funk reading the newspaper first thing (evil pedophile stories upset me even more terribly now than they did before I had a child). As therapy, did some very satisfying gardening (am battling the evil purple bellflower), got groceries, cleaned the bathroom, did the dishes (sigh) in the bathtub.

Not that nothing was going on, though! John was here for most of the day, building toe kicks and installing the first cabinet boxes. Our kitchen is starting to look like a kitchen! Is very exciting. Dennis arrived at some point to start the plumbing odyssey, and furthermore, the (yay!) dishwasher arrived and is safely stowed in the dining room.

Tomorrow (Saturday) Jim is going to babysit for a few hours and I am going to sand and finish the boxes. Am starting to realize that finishing the cabinets may be what slows down the rest of the kitchen process, and so must throw off squirrel cloak and become beaver with serious work-ethic.

Am loving that park. Sprout loves to be outside, and so babysitting in the park is like not babysitting! It's like hanging out on the grass when you're supposed to be studying for finals. When was the last time I did that?? Who knew parenthood would be so good for me.

Kitchen Renovations - Day 9

Day 9 was very full, and so I preferred sleep to blogging (how can this be, you say). I plastered until 11:00 p.m. the night before, and with a few more patches in the morning, I managed to do all the painting by the end of the day. I also started the whole varnishing process over again with the cabinet boxes for the other wall. It was a full day, and I can't think of any good stories.

We spent a lovely hour and a half with the Sprout at the playground, where he conquered the slide and the plastic tunnel ('tunnow'). Then I slept like a log.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Kitchen Renovations - Day 8

Day 8 was frustrating, since Jimbo now has the cold that Sprout gave us. Jimbo is currently in what I like to call the 'please kill me with a rock' phase of this cold. I have climbed out of the 'kill me with a rock' hole, but can still remember what it felt like.

Thus, Jimbo slouched around being a sad sack, and became my coffee gofer. I am plastering dude, with my four different plaster knives, my dusty ladder, and my ear-splitting bad radio station. I did not froth at the mouth today over the stupid wall, but instead transcended the stupid wall, arriving at plaster squirrel zen. And even without beer! (That would have been 'plastered squirrel zen')(hee).

Since we replaced the kitchen window, we had to rip all the siding off that part of the house. Today, we drove to Julius Cedar and dropped some cash on cedar shingles to re-side the house with.

Don't you love that name. Julius Cedar. Et tu, Jimbo?

One of my many dreams is to own the cedar store. It always smells so good in there (even with a residual 'please hit me with a rock' cold).

Have remembered that I am not done varnishing all the cabinet boxes. Have only finished the ones from one side of the kitchen. Today, thus, started all over again with the boxes from the other side of the room. Varnishing can be dull, but there was a huge pouring deluge during my time in the garage which kept me amused.

Will sign off now, since this squirrel is about to go hard on the plastering. Friday John comes to install the boxes, and I need to finish plastering, prime the walls, and give them time to dry before then. Ack! Get squirrel out of this rat race!

Or maybe, more chocolate would help me cope...?

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Kitchen Renovations - Day 7

And on the seventh day, there was no rest in squirreldom. Busy, busy squirrels, all revved up on Ritter Sport chocolate. Have discovered that if I eat too much chocolate, I get testy. How long has it taken me to figure this out?

Renovating is a fascinating opportunity to learn which words come out of your own mouth first when you swear involuntarily. I have discovered, by means of the regular smash-your-thumb sorts or renovations, that "rat bastard!" has entered my innate swearing vocabulary. Pardon my French, but this is the whole unedited version: "Rat bastard! Fuck! Sonofabitch! Ow!" And if it really, really hurts, then freeflowing repetition starts at this point.

At this mature age that I am, I can now appreciate my father's reticence. He always said only "Holy mackerel!", as far as I can remember, with maybe the occasional "Shit!" thrown in. (The Thailand tourist will of course poke holes in this as she does all my carefully crafted narratives.)(Aren't you supposed to be out eating a curried coconut, instead of hanging out in sweaty little Internet cafes?)

Today's renovations were drudgery, and so I had to blast my favourite tripe radio station. Jim cannot stand this station, but he knows that I need certain things to get into the zen mode of mudding and taping. I did a first run at all the mud and tape today, with the testy meltdown coming near the end.

You see, we foolishly decided to take out only part of one wall, instead of the whole thing. This meant that Jimbo had to fit in a few pieces of drywall here and there. It was a good idea at the time (less wall-gutting mess), but when it came to the plastering the hodgepodge, I lost my cool in a very short time. "Why didn't we take out this whole wall?" "What were we thinking?" "I'm NOT doing it!!" "I QUIT!!" [This is, of course, when Gwen impales a chunk of her thumb on the ladder, and swears a blue streak...] Jim is so great in these situations. I certainly couldn't deal with me at these moments. But he simply gives me a sandwich, tells me to sit down quietly, and does a bit of the plastering until I get my senses. Then he sits with me and tells me stories about crazy things until we're both laughing about the dangers of chocolate and how ridiculous the eighties were.

On Day 7, then, I must conclude that there will one day be a kitchen, there will be no renovation-induced heartbreak in the near future, and the chocolate that I have been eating is interfering with my zen essence.

After finishing the kinder and gentler plastering, Jimbo shopped for plumbing supplies (cha-ching), and I cleaned a blue streak (a la lead-free Bobo).

The kitchen is going to be glorious.

Monday, June 14, 2004

People I'd Like to Meet Someday

Dorothy Parker. Okay, she's dead, but I'd really, really, really like to meet Dorothy Parker. Can one person really be that funny and clever? She was so great. In honour of my sister's degree in Horticulture, let's review that famous sentence by DP: "You can lead a whore to culture, but you can't make her think." God she was a good writer.

Leonard Cohen. He's so fabulous. When he came through here about 10 years ago, ladies were throwing roses onto the stage. And there's me in the 20th row: "Roses?!? No one told me we were throwing roses!! I'd throw roses! Got any roses?"

St. Thomas More. What a ballsy dude.

Carol Burnett. "Went with the Wind" was pure genius, don't yout think? The curtain dress. Need I say more.

Robertson Davies. He'd have to be fabulous at a cocktail party (except - oh yeah - he's dead too). His novels are so great because he knew so much about so many different topics. Dense with trivia.

Oooh! Oooh! Almost forgot Edith Piaf!! Can't forget to meet Edith Piaf. (She's dead too.) I read the greatest ridiculous biography of her once, supposedly written by her half-sister Simone. She was so tragique. Boy could she sing.

Nina Simone. (Recently deceased) I'd really like to meet her because she's a great singer too, but she'd probably scare the Schmidt out of me. A bit formidable, our Nina. She'd probably peg me (correctly) as a dilettante of life in about four secs.

Kitchen Renovations - Day 6

Okay, the living without a kitchen sink is kinda getting to me... Last night, after doing a full hour of dishes in basins in the tub, I said, "Jimbo, we're pulling out the big guns. Disposable beer cups and plastic forks. Now is the time."

Today was supposed to be drywall and plaster day, until Sprout started getting the weird head rash again, and I had to take him to the doctor. He's a happy little sproutlet, but gets these bumps on his head every time he gets new teeth. Jimbo did drywall, and I managed to do the final coat on the cabinet boxes, but we didn't get to the plastering.

I am the appointed plaster queen around here. I said that I'm a renovation dilettante, but really, I rule when it comes to plastering. I'm certain that I owe it all to the cake decorating class I took when I was 12. Most of the skills are the same. One tastes better, of course. Plastering is better than cake decorating, though, because I'm not wasting my time making atrocious icing roses out of red dye #412.

Tomorrow I get on the plaster train, and may not get off until Friday. Plastering drywall is cake (hee hee), but the tough part is marrying the drywall to the remaining antique plaster walls and the plaster ceiling. There's a one-inch gap between the walls and the ceiling that I have to stuff with something before I can even plaster it. Perhaps I'll follow the ways of the house and stuff it with 2004 funny papers.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Everybody Get On the Ark!

[This post was from yesterday]

It's STILL raining here. Here, on the bald, dry Canadian Prairies. It's so green that it's starting to look like Lotus Land. Must start drinking low-fat double decaf vanilla chai espressos, and being really flaky.

Sprout loves to be outside, regardless of the weather. "Walk alley!" is his new favourite thing to say. Yes, the muckier the better. And he doesn't just want to walk in the alley, he wants to sit down next to the interesting puddles. We have compromised on wagon rides through the alleys of City Park, so I don't have to take him in and change his wet pants every 20 minutes.

Sprout had his first KFC last night. Yes, we are not only exposing him to traces of lead dust, we are exposing him to a tasty but poor lifestyle choice. His response? "More chicken! More chicken!" Once we have a kitchen again, we'll go back to the mostly Moosewood regime, but right now there's a lot of restaurant food going on.

Yesterday was Saturday, and while Sprout and I wandered the mall, bought groceries, walked the alleys, and had a fine little nap, the electrician wired the kitchen and Jimbo put in the insulation and vapour barrier. Today is our day off (pancakes at the Broadway Cafe!), and tomorrow we start putting up the drywall. Am wondering if I should put back the screwdriver artifact for good luck before we close up the walls. Something about good spirits in the walls. Hmm.

Inside the house, Sprout has become focused on pens and crayons ('kaylons'), which is a harrowing phase for me. If I say "pens are for paper" (a.k.a. pens are not for walls/furniture/Mummy's arm) one more time, I may self-destruct. When do the 'terrible twos' start? And when do they end?

Friday, June 11, 2004

Kitchen Renovations - Day 5

Wow, it's Day 5 already!

I have a tremendous sinus cold (aided and abetted by plaster dust, I'm sure), and so today I took it a bit easy.

I decided to call the Library and be a patron: got the skinny on small children and lead dust, and then proceeded to clean the entire house quite thoroughly. Sprout has none of the symptoms of lead poisoning, thank goodness, but we have the classic situation where kids get exposed (house built before 1960s, doing renovations). We're just going to tighten up some of our toy washing/hand washing policies and he should be fine.

Mr. F., the gas and furnace man, came and moved the hook-up for the gas stove, and Dennis the wonder plumber came to do a consult on the technicalities of a sink under a window on an exterior wall. John the cabinetmaker was here to consult on the height of the stove hood, so Jimbo could frame it in. So lots of to-ings and fro-ings.

After cleaning the house and varnishing a few cabinet boxes, I took a 3-hour nap while Jim framed the fume hood. There is nothing so good for the breastfeeding, co-sleeping mother as an undisturbed 3-hour solo nap, sinus cold or not. Man, it was good. Am feeling a bit better, although my squirrel tail is still a bit droopy and sad.

If it keeps raining through tomorrow, Jackson the electrician will come and do his thing. Once that is done, then we can insulate and drywall, and start thinking about installing some of those cabinets!

Since it's the weekend, Sprout and I will be hanging out a lot. Must come up with entertaining events, as prime baby social convenor. Yawn. Back to the sack, I think. This time, avec Bobo.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Kitchen Renovations - Day 4

Day 4 dawned early (a la Bobo, who's now mostly over his cold and is the perkiest baby when he wakes up). Unfortunately, he is not happy with only me being up with him. He wants Daddy up too, and will pinch Daddy until Daddy responds, unless I can remember to scoop him up and remove him from the bed. Sprout does not understand that Daddy spends hours at night smoking cigarettes on the back porch while poring over plumbing and glazing books.

We decided today that we need to cut the Loraas bin loose, since we're paying per day on it. So, back to more wall gutting and window installation. The two windows together in the corner look fantastic. It's so bright and you can see so many trees (and the neighbour's camper...), that it's almost like being outside. Very cool.

My wall-gutting today revealed a set of four electrical wires that were snipped at the wall surface and mudded over. Am hoping they are not live wires. Am still breathing, and still have all my squirrel faculties.

Oh, wrong. Do not have all my squirrel faculties. Spent 3 hours in the morning spreading urethane on cabinet boxes. Wheeeeeee. Brain cells begone.

Sanding and spreading urethane very dull work, but I am oddly good at the dull and plodding sort of task. Jimbo has no patience for the tedious task, but somehow I gravitate towards those sorts of renovations. Perhaps because I can renovate and ruminate at the same time. Solving the problems of the world one cabinet wall at a time...

Found first renovating artifact today!! I love to find artifacts while renovating. So far in this house, we have found a toy gun, a 1938 Nazi penny under the baseboard in the add-on room (how did that get here?), funny papers from 1955 under the bathtub surround, an arrowhead in the garden (no longer in situ, I guess, but very finely crafted), 8 marbles in the front yard, and about 45 Canadian pennies. Today's artifact was a flathead screwdriver that was set down on a plank under the scary live/dead electrical wires, and then plastered over and left there. I would say it's been there since the 1950s.

We are doing a lot of renovations, and it's costly but we're having a really good time. The last time this house was overhauled so much was in the 50s. Unfortunately, the guy who did it that time made some very funny choices. For example, he moved the furnace duct from one corner of the kitchen to the other, and then stared at the old hole for a while: et voila!, let's turn it into a laundry chute. Hmm. A laundry chute in the kitchen, one foot off the floor. Very charming. I must say that I do like the guy though, because he left the 50s funny papers under the tub for me to find. A good choice if you're going to leave newspapers for posterity.

Tomorrow is bye-bye Loraas bin day, and clean the house day (am becoming paranoid that Sprout will suddenly become stupid from the ever-spreading lead paint dust). Oh yeah, and kill a few more brain cells in the garage day. Ole.

House was so filthy tonight that we had to pack up the old Sprout and haul him off to Saskatoon's finest Vietnamese restaurant, Saigon Rose. Mmm, rice noodles and charbroiled pork. The simple things in life. Rice. Meat. Lead-free dining.

Kitchen Renovations - Day 3

Day 3 was yesterday. I was working, and so could only help Jimbo renovate in the morning. We disconnected the sink and he chopped the whole countertop and cabinet in half with a reciprocating sawsall. Boy those are cool. They remind me of that National Film Board cartoon where the man is always sawing the furniture. "Stop sawing the furniture!" "Did not!" "Did too! I saw you!" "Did not. And anyway, you're always shaking your eyes!" "Am not! I never shake my eyes!" "Do too! See, you just did it. Stop shakin' your eyes!!"

Anyway, one could get carried away with both dull text-only cartoon footage, and with using a sawsall.

While I was at work, Jim framed the space for the second window in the south wall. He said that it took him 1 1/2 hours of heavy swearing to remove one stud from the wall, because none of the rusty nails would move. A good day to be at work, methinks...

The electrician stopped by last night to have a look-see, and he's coming in a few days. Day 3 was dull, let's face it. Perhaps the renovating honeymoon is over? Perhaps it's all filth and despair and panic from here on in? Nah. Bring it on.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Meanwhile, Back on the Branch

Am back at work just for today, in order to organize fall public computer classes well before the publicity deadline.

In honour of my one day back at work, let us review Ranganathan's Five Laws of Library Science (yes, it is a science, in fact!) from the library squirrel perspective.

1. Acorns are for use.

Acorns that no one can reach are a shameful waste of tasty food. Library squirrels must strive to facilitate easy access to flavourful acorns.

2. Every acorn its squirrel.

Acorns that no-one knows about are un-enjoyed acorns. Keep not thy acorns under a bushel basket! Display the acorns, talk about the acorns, publish photos of the acorns. Help those acorns achieve their true purpose.

3. Every squirrel her acorn.

Not every squirrel enjoys the same sort of acorn, and so therefore your tree must have a wide variety of acorns to suit the tastes of many squirrels. Select every acorn with a squirrel in mind, trying to achieve a balanced collection to suit the needs of Everysquirrel.

4. Save the time of the squirrel.

Squirrels are busy busy busy. Winter is fast approaching. Do not waste the squirrel's time, but instead arrange the acorns in an easy-to-use fashion, and make your acorn adoption policies clear and facile.

5. A tree is a living organism.

The tree that remains the same is a dead tree. A tree must grow and change to suit the needs of its users, and to take advantage of new technology (or horticultural advancements). Produce bigger, better, and tastier acorns, possibly through the creation of complex library squirrel committees or forest-wide consortia.

Nuff said. The library squirrel has spoken.

Kitchen Renovations - Day 2

Here is the report on Day 2, for those impatient Thailand tourists who can't simply relax on the beach and think about nothing.

Day 2 was great. Must first mention hubris - never rejoice and say 'My child is sleeping better' before the night is over. Thus and therefore, Day 2 started out a little foggy.

We only got a few things done, but they were big things. We gutted the west wall, which actually had NO INSULATION in it. No insulation is not a good thing when the weather can reach -40 celcius... It was nice, though, not to be setting free mounds of black blow-in stuff. (When you're a squirrel, there's an upside to everything.)

Jimbo decided that Day 2 was the day to change the window, since we need the electrician to come soon, and he needs to work around the new window fitting. Changing the window took approximately 10 hours, all told, with the header and the footer, and removing all the surrounding siding on the outside of the house. We want to put the sink under the window, so we switched a long skinny window for a wider, higher-up window. It's fantastic. It looks so great (despite the unfortunate view of the neighbour's camper trailer).

John, the cabinet-maker who lives down the alley ("Love the commute," he said), is making all of our cupboards. He's going to make them, and I'm going to finish them. Have just learned that cupboards have two parts, the insides ("boxes"), and the outsides (don't know the proper word for these yet). John arrived with the boxes in pieces, and I put the sealing coat of varnish on them yesterday in the garage. Every flat surface is holding a piece of varnished plywood in there. Once they're completely finished, he'll assemble them in the kitchen.

I have taken a bunch of pictures with the digital camera, and am going to learn how to put them up here (but am technically-challenged squirrel, so you must wait patiently).

Last night, at the end of Day 2, Sprout and I were reading "Pajama Time" (don't you love Sandra Boynton) to the ambient sounds of Daddy stapling tarpaper to the house. At the end, it says "Hop into bed, turn out the light, you can have a party in your dreams tonight." And Sprout said, "Mummy, party, party." That's my boy.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Kitchen Renovations - Day 1

Welcome to Day 1.

Well, I'm on the verge of getting Sprout's cold, and my arthritis is singing the old familiar crowbar-totin' tune, but I am one happy squirrel.

Today we gutted the south wall down to the studs, removing two - count 'em two - layers of drywall and plaster, a layer of fibreboard, and a generous portion of dirty, black, blow-in insulation. Hack, cough. Luckily, Jimbo thought to get the finest little particulate masks for us, so we may not die from black lung.

I fessed up today that I am a renovating dilettante. I love to be around it, and to have my say in what happens, but darn it, I wouldn't ever want to pay me by the hour to swing a crowbar. (I believe that Jim was onto me before now, but he is a kind and forgiving squirrel.)(He also values the fact that while we're renovating, I'll make him lunch and cheerlead when it all gets overwhelming.)(I do 'Pollyanna in Hell' very convincingly.)(Hey, why don't I put every sentence that I make from now on in parentheses??)


The huge (wrong) HUGE Loraas bin arrived this morning to take its place in the backyard. It is so big that we may have some difficulty getting into the garage. In truth, the bin is the same size as our garage. Jimbo thinks we'll fill it with reno rubbish, but I am skeptisch.

No more news on the kitchen. The day was just whack, whack, rip, rip, haul, haul. Forgot to mention yesterday, though, that I nearly lost the tips of two fingers while moving the fridge (squish!). That would have been the end of renovating for me. That small scare has been good, though, to sharpen up the communication skills between us, so we don't operate on each other unwittingly with the reciprocating saw.

Sprout sleeping much better tonight. Yay.

My Child is Starting to Scare Me

If you are not a parent, this posting may be boring. Don't say I didn't warn you.

I know that Sprout is a smartiepants, but I didn't know until yesterday what he soaks up just wandering through the world. A week ago we were wagoning through the back alley (back allies are the Bobo's new favourite pasttime), and we stopped to stare at a basketball hoop. I said "Sprout, that's a net, just like you have a net to catch [plastic] fish with in the bathtub. It's a 'net'."

A week later, as we drive down a different street in the car with Bobo in the back, I see a basketball net, and turn around to see what he does. Yup. He looks at it for a minute and mutters 'net'. How does a 15-month old boy remember all these things??

Yesterday afternoon it got wilder: we were driving in the car again, and stopped at a stoplight right next to the library where we both work. And from the back of the car floated up the word 'library'. We take him there a lot, it's true, but how does he know what the building looks like from the car??

Note to self: watch pottymouth very carefully, and don't let him see the PIN number on your debit card...

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Kitchen Renovations - Day 0

In case you care - and I know a sister in Thailand who might actually want to follow this - I am about to embark on the daily chronicle of the kitchen renovations.

We did not renovate today, but we did a bunch of prep. The fridge is in the living room. The dining room table is in the spare room with the neighbour's hotplate (looks actually like a lot of college suites I lived in). The baby gate has been moved, squeezing the larger than life Sprout into an even tinier space. The cats have gone to Lauveen's.

All this happened during Sprout's afternoon nap, and so when he woke up we had to give him the grand tour with explanatory notes. We didn't mention the cats, but after about an hour, Sprout started saying "Kitty, kitty, meow, meow" which didn't sound like a question, but which must have been. Have been trying to explain to my son that the kitties are on a visit to Auntie Lauveen's. He seems satisfied with that.

Auntie Lauveen's (she ain't my aunt, she's my co-worker) is like heaven for cats. Joe and Jack have been there before during big renovations, and they never seem to want to come back. Must be something about the triple helpings of kibble and tinned squishy that they get from their lovin' temporary mother. So, happy cats.

Poor Sprout, on the other hand. Sprout has a terrible snotty cold, a slight fever, and is getting four very difficult teeth. He sleeps with us, and so being up all night is not as hellish as it might be if he were sleeping in the other room, but it's still rough in its own way. Co-sleeping is a topic for a different day, though. Suffice to say that I hope I don't swing the crowbar tomorrow and take off my foot from sleep deprivation.

One last thing on renovations - did the dishes in the old sink for the last time tonight, and then somehow felt compelled to wipe down the counter that tomorrow will be dumped into the 12-foot Loraas bin in the back yard. Why? Me no know.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Real Reference Questions I Have Heard

"I need information on contortionism, because women like that sort of thing, you know what I mean." [ick.]

And, when presented with the best information at hand, the webpage of the International Contortion Connection (or some such page), he said, "You can't learn to do that! Those people must have been born like that!" Also, "I can't do that! I'd hurt myself!! But I need to know about contortionism, because women like that!" [brrr. ick.]

What is the library squirrel to do in such a situation? The only thing for it: yoga books...

A Story for Argotnaut

I have a feeling that Argotnaut is a German language reader, and so this story is for her.

Ich war 3 Monaten in Deutschland (Bayern) vor 12 Jarhe, zum Kuchenhilferin. Ich mich erinnere nur ein bisschen Deutsch, und so entschuldigung fur meine Grammatik. Am meistens, waschte ich Tischen, schalte ich Rettich und Kartoffeln, und machte ich Spaetzle. Ich habe zufiel Bieren getranken, zufiel Schnitzel gegessen, und zufiel getanzen im Discotek. Aber war es Spass. Es war mein 'Summer of Love', aber gab es kein Lieb, verstehen Sie.

Meine Geschichte: Ich war 21 Jahre alt, und allen die Jungen waren 17 Jahre alt. Wann ich sagte dass ich 21 Jahre, sie sagten immer zu mir, "Du konnst mit meine Oma sprechen!" Ich war so alt! Sie sagten mir immer auch "Du kommst aus Kanada. Kennst du meinen Kousin?" Jetzt, spreche ich Deutsche nie, und so ich kann nur 'Zwiebel', 'Spaetzle', 'Schurze', 'Kuchen', und so mich erinnern. Usually. Today I'm doing pretty good. Tell me a German story. I'd love to hear it.

Friday, June 04, 2004


Am thinking about kitchen renovations (last day of work today!) and a fantastic poem about The Arnolfini Marriage keeps popping into my head, something about 'the magnitude of our minutiae'.

surf, surf, scurry, scurry...arcing tail swish...scurry scurry pause...leap...aha! Didn't find the whole poem, but found a snippet - poem is by Paul Durcan - yes, now I remember.

We are standing to our portrait,
the most erotic portrait ever made,
Because we have faith in the artist

To do justice to the plurality,
Fertility, domesticity, barefootedness
Of a man and woman saying 'we'.

God that's fabulous.

Anyway, we shall see what heights of minutiae kitchen renos come to.

Am not a poetry reader, generally. Am more of a music listener, with a yen for clever lyrics. Billy Bragg instantly leaps to mind, and is my poet of choice: "Between Marx and Marzipan in the dictionary, there was Mary."

Real Reference Questions I Have Heard

"What is the name of the disease where you have one foot that is bigger than the other?"

Jazz Penis

Sometimes I think that I am too weird to be someone's mother.

The other day, I was changing Sprout's diaper and he said, "Pee-nis." "That's right," I said, "That's your penis. But the real question here, Sprout, is this. Are you a classical pianist or a jazz pianist?" "Jazz penis," he said matter-of-factly.

Thursday, June 03, 2004


Squirrel Spouse and I have been binging on old Inspector Morse videos lately (English police procedural mysteries, based on Colin Dexter novels). I love Inspector Morse. Does this make me an old person? Is true -- no longer binge on beer, mini-skirt shopping, or disco dancing. Now binge on Inspector Morse videos. Ack. Might as well be a Richardson's Ground Squirrel. Fab squirrel deeply disguised as white trash squirrel.

Don't want to be RGSquirrel. Want to be Ab Fab Squirrel! Note to self : must drink more vodka and start using botox.

Squirrel Cousins

Have been shamefully amiss in not mentioning the native Prairie squirrel, the gopher. The gopher is officially known as 'Richardson's Ground Squirrel', and is sleek with limpid dark eyes and a nose for news. Hats off to this oft misunderstood creature.

Am unprepared to tell shameful gopher stories from my youth at this juncture, but will fess up at a later date.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

My Aunt Frieda - Pyromaniac

My Aunt Frieda is a pyromaniac.

When we were kids, whenever she would have a fire in the backyard - at least weekly - someone would see flames reflected off the garage, screetch to a halt in their car on the street, and come tearing around the corner of the house to help put out the fire. Her fires were that big. That is, until the Town of Leader passed a bylaw prohibiting open fires within town limits (to address directly the recurring fires chez Frieda). Aunt Frieda still has melted patio lights hanging out back, if you don't believe me.

Last year there was a fire ban on in Saskatchewan because it was so dry, but that didn't stop Aunt Frieda from having a bonfire at the Homestead (Grandma's old house). The Homestead is on the edge of a town with 16 houses, and so, of course the bonfire turned into a grassfire, heading first for everyone else's house and then heading for the bush... Aunt Frieda goes into a panic and clears all the drunks out of the bar to help her put out the blaze, after calling the Fire Department. At the end of it all? Fire out, thanks to the drunks. Fire Truck arrives from 30 miles away. Fire Dept. charges Aunt Frieda $700 for calling them out to a fire she started herself during a fire ban. Aunt Frieda enraged for being fined. Aunt Frieda concludes, "Well! Next time I have a fire, I'm not calling no fire truck!"

That's my Aunt Frieda.

Renovations Afoot

Soon, you will have to limp along without the Library Squirrel for a few weeks. I know it will be sad (for the 4 of you that actually read this thing).

Squirrels at home are gearing up to rip out the kitchen. Squirrels with crowbars!! Danger! Danger!

I LOVE to renovate. If only someone would pay me to renovate. Yes, anyway, in 3 weeks there will either be a new kitchen or two very sad squirrels.

This squirrel has never, in her 30+ years, ever had a dishwasher. Oh my goodness. That will be news. Isn't it amazing how excited one can get about a kitchen appliance.

On a more immediate note, I am hiding in my office for 5 minutes every day, working out with hand weights, so I can swing the crowbar gracefully. My office has no ceiling. I have to crouch a bit in case the public on the Internet terminals next door see my little red barbells shooting over the top. I'll leave you with that mental picture.

True Confessions

A new theme, true confessions. The true confessions theme is stories about things I should have been embarrassed about at the time, but was not until much later.

For example, the hash shirt.

I am a drug virgin. Aside from a number of years of heavy drinking (a.k.a. college), I have never tried drugs in any form. I have no interest in them, and as you can see from this blog, I usually make my own fun.

BUT, in Grade 8, drugs were really, really, really funny to me and my cousin Tammy. I can't explain why. Grade 8 was in the early 80s when the rage (in Leader, anyway) was to get a glittering iron-on decal on your t-shirt, usually of a monster truck or something like that.

Grade 8 was also the era of Gwen is a shy geek who does her homework, hides in the house vacuuming, spends too much time with her cat, makes hideous craft animals out of chenille, and is very polite to her teachers.

So anyway, Tammy and I ended up at the local hack shop, and I chose my decal. The long and the short of it is that little Gwen Schmidt proudly shows up on the first day of school in Grade 8 wearing a sweatshirt with 'HASH' written across the front, set off by a pleasing graphic foil of glitter and marijuana fronds.

I wore that shirt for months. And now it's so funny. The only good thing about being a high school teacher would be to witness moments like that.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Real Reference Questions I Have Heard

"I have reason to believe that the platypus is really a beaver."