Sunday, September 30, 2007

A good day

Today, I had brunch with a favourite friend, then we went shopping. I found a nice, inexpensive pair of black leather gloves to replace the pair I lost half of last week, finally found the kind of raincoat I've been looking for since last spring (replaces one bought in 1996. I do believe I've gotten the wear out of that one...), and finally found a small leather case just the right size to carry my point and click in (and for $5!).

She found a purse and best of all, we shopped for power drills.

I'm such a chick.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Phony Photo Booth

Saturday, September 22, 2007

How to not get things done

I've just been reading Alan Sharpe's post about the difficulties of working from home and his challenges sound oh-so-familiar. He's self-employed and although I'm a nine-to-fiver, I have the same experience every Saturday. I have great ambitions for my Saturdays. Think of the things I can get done! All those household tasks and fun things, too, that I can't do whilst chained to my desk at work all week. And every Saturday starts the same way...
I get up with plans to mow the lawn, paint, finally tackle that mountain of paperwork, clean out the kitchen cupboards, bundle up unwanted clothing for the Salvation Army charity store, prune trees, clean the car, groom the dog, and so forth. And here's what really happens...
Before I can do all that, I need coffee... Oh, wait! Sheets need laundering. I'll just dash to the basement and stuff them in the washer. Hmm... may as well change the girls' beds, too.

Coffee... Oh, wait! The dog needs to go out.
Coffee... Oh, wait! Look what the cat's doing! That's so cute! I must take a picture of it.
Get camera from purse... Oh, wait! There's my Palm Pilot and it needs to be recharged.
Plug in Palm ... Best recharge the iPod while I'm at it.

iPod dock needs to be attached to the computer... I'll just boot up the computer...

Boot computer... I wonder if anyone's commented on my new pics on Flickr...

Go to Flickr... Ha! That Wonderferret's a funny guy. I wonder if Ricardipus has posted anything lately.

Go to Ricardiblog... Wow! He's 40! He doesn't look it... Coffee...

Coffee... It's getting time I ate. *makes toast, FINALLY makes coffee*
Om nom nom and slurp! I'll just surf while I eat my toast...

Ha, ha! That Alan. He always hits the nail right on the head. I'll have to comment...
Type comment... ... ... realize my comment is turning into a blog post...
And here we are...
Coffee, anyone?

But first, those sheets need to go into the dryer...

1st Day of Fall


Friday, September 21, 2007

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

And then there were none...

My youngest has flown the nest. Or younger, rather, as there are only two of them.

They now both live 6,000 kms away from me. SIX THOUSAND KILOMETRES.

How can I be an embarrassment to them from this distance?

Today is brought to you by the letter R

Pieces of eight.
Avast me hearties... AND...
Have ya ever been ta sea, Billy.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Tearin' it down and buildin' it bigger

Oh dear. The Flying Walenskis next door are building something in the backyard. There's been hammering and sawing going on all day. I have no idea what they're building but you can be sure it will result in noise.

The House of Wrath is currently accepting suggestions of what it will be. Any guesses? (There's already a shed.)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

August 1958

Clockwise from upper left: Aunt Evelyn, me in Mom's arms, Aunt Ede, Aunt Lil, Uncle Jock and in the middle, my brother Jim.
Bizarrely, I can remember this visit. My Aunt Evelyn and Uncle Bill (Dad's brother) were visiting from Detroit with their daughter, Wanda, and one of her friends. The car in the photo is their station wagon.
One night, a bunch of us piled into it (no seat belts in those days) and went to a drive-in movie. I would have been 20 months old, so being outside after dark was pretty exciting. My parents weren't the type to drag us kids around till all hours.
I can remember being small enough to be able to walk around in the back of the station wagon and looking at all the lights. My mother kept encouraging me to lay down and go to sleep (bedtime was cast in stone in her mind) and I distinctly remember thinking, "Are you crazy? This is too exciting!"
For years I thought I'd been about 4 or 5 when this happened and it wasn't until I was reminiscing with my mother and I described the trip to the drive-in and she said I couldn't possibly remember it as I would have been only a toddler. Then she produced this picture and I realized how young I was when it happened.
This picture brings back so many memories. That's our summer house in the background. Just a little place, but we'd move there when school let out and stay the whole summer. Dad would transfer from the main veteran's hospital, where he was an electrician, to the rehabilitation centre (physical rehab, not drug rehab) as it was closer to the summer house. The river was within walking distance and we roamed the woods all summer long. I'd set out in the morning with a T-shirt and shorts over my bathing suit, towel flung over my shoulder and as long as I was back in time for supper, everyone was happy. There were blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and wild strawberries to snack on. It was fabulous. I don't think my two have ever had that kind of freedom.
The trees on the right are birch and there was a hammock under them. I can remember hot sunny days, laying on the hammock daydreaming and listening to the breeze rustle the leaves. I have three birch trees in my backyard now and listening to the sound of them still takes me back to being a kid.
Aunt Evelyn was responsible for my lifelong hatred of apricots. She catered for a synagogue in Detroit and used to cook dishes when she visited that I'd probably enjoy now, but hated as a kid. Too fancy and weird foods I hadn't encountered. Like most kids I didn't have a very adventurous palate. I remember being forced to eat some of a dessert as a kid that was made from apricots. I genuinely hated it and still can't eat apricots.
While I hated apricots, Aunt Ede hated kids. Probably a result of having been the second oldest of eight kids. No doubt she'd had her fill of kids by the time she was an adult. All I knew as a kid was that she didn't much enjoy having us around, although she was never outright mean to us.
Aunt Lil was the family femme fatale. She'd been through two husbands by the time I came along. She was far more style-conscious than most and fond of opera and such. My dad always said she "gilded the lily," which was the opposite of him. A more down-to-earth man you've never met. I've never forget her telling a story of a childhood skiing party and making it sound very glamourous. Until Dad chimed in and added that their skis had been barrel staves and no one could stay up for more than 5 minutes on those things.
Uncle Jock was a dear. He was a very quiet man. He'd had a difficult childhood, orphaned quite young in Scotland, he was sent to Canada as a "home child." He was married to Aunt Ede (poor man, she could be a terror) and they never had kids. He was a bit awkward around me but would always listen carefully to me while the other adults would only give you half an ear.
And my brother. What can I say. He tortured me in true big brother style.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Just in case...

Just in case you ever need to know... doorknobs - keyed ones that are meant to be installed on your front door - are not interchangeable. There are cruical measurements to be taken into consideration. Have you ever heard of a backset? Me neither, until tonight. No matter how confidently the clerk at Canadian Tire assures you that they are all interchangeable? They aren't.

So that's you forewarned then.

And that's me trudging back for an exchange.

Update: Hold off on the exchange. It fits the backdoor.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Educational film

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Mrs. Wrath you've got a lovely driveway

How I got my driveway paved (badly) for free

This mouse can roar

I think I have mentioned before that while I am generally a soft-spoken congenial person, I do not take kindly to having my hand forced. I will tolerate a fair amount without making a fuss (trampoline...) but if you try to push me around, I will push back. Hard. And if I have the law on my side, you're in big trouble.

Several years ago - at the time of the last external paint job, in fact - a truck belonging to one of the local paving companies was driving past my house at the end of the day, with asphalt that was left over from the day's work. This leftover asphalt is more or less garbage. Not enough to do a proper job anywhere, and it can't be combined with a fresh batch the next day.

So, as a cost-saving device, paving companies will often look for an unsuspecting person onto whose property they can dump the asphalt. Industry standards dictate a properly levelled gravel or sand bed, topped with 2 inches of compacted asphalt as the minimum requirement. Charging to dump leftover asphalt is one of the oldest scams in the book and unsuspecting home owners are left wondering why their driveway is crumbling years before it should wear out. They like to target women and the elderly, people they see as being unknowledgeable and too weak to fight back.

So... they spotted my driveway, which was in dire need of a paving job. I was saving up to have that done the next summer and planned to have the old asphalt ripped up and the bed properly built up, then paved. Paving guys asked painting guys if they wanted the driveway paved. Painting guys said, "Not our house." Paving guys pointed out the great "deal." Cheapskate painting guys thought I'd go for it.

I arrived home to find 3/4 of my driveway paved and a message that for the paltrey sum of $75 the paving guys would return to finish the job. I don't know about any other jurisdictions but here it is against the law to make material changes, such as paving the driveway, to a property owner's property without express permission, preferably in writing. There is a handy, dandy city by-law that actually prohibits such activities. I'm not sure about the legality of it, but I'm almost certain that doing a partial, unwanted, unsolicited substandard job, then demanding money to return to set things to rights is more or less, in a word, extortion.

So I called the paving company and pointed out each of the previous two points. Paving guy said he thought they were "doing me a favour." I pointed out the lack of industry standards, not to mention the fact that I would now have a visible seam between the two lots of asphalt and that, basically, he was trying to charge me to dump his garbage on my property. He restated his position that they were "doing me a favour" and that he thought I'd be suitably grateful. I advised him that I had just had the trim on my house painted, had some paint left over and hows about I do him a favour by painting 3/4 of the trim on his house with my leftover paint and for $75 I'll return to finish the job. He didn't think that was such a great idea.

I informed him that I had been saving to have the job done properly and ironically, his was the company I planned to hire (100% Fact. I'd had them quote on the job the previous summer.) and that now that was going to cost me more as there'd be two layers of asphalt to lift up. Also, since they'd seen fit to come onto my property, do unrequested and unwanted substandard work, I wanted the job completed for free. He did not agree. He wanted to speak to my husband. Ha, ha and, indeed, ha! I lied and said he was out of town and that he was going to be madder than a wet hen when he saw what they'd done. Which would have been true had we still been married...

I threatened legal action. Paving guy wouldn't budge.

So I began legal action, in the form of a phone call from my lawyer, advising that if the situation were not rectified, for free, within a reasonable length of time, I would be taking them to court. The situation was not rectified. She wrote a letter, citing the applicable city bylaw and reiterating that they would be taken to court if they did not comply.

They complied. They may have been slightly shady, but they were not stupid and knew I had them dead to rights.

So, five years in and while the pavement isn't in as good a shape as it would have been had the job been done to standard, there is a seam in the pavement running the full length of the driveway, and you can see a difference in the two batches of asphalt, it is still acceptably intact. A few little crumbles around the edges, but no frost heaves or actually holes yet. The legal fees cost about the same as the paving company wanted, but they were more than $300 less than a proper paving job and my principles are intact. But I still hate that damned seam.

(not a picture of my driveway, but you get the idea)

Friday, September 07, 2007

Has the world gone quackers?

The Aflack Duck and the Geico Gecko marry.
What's next? Dogs and cats living together?



Never mind.

Hint: Click on the picture for the story, then refresh your browser to see the ads. They're funny.

Friday Funny - Beekeeping

Saturday, September 01, 2007

I'm still here...

I'm still alive!

I speak to you today from the Soon-to-be-Improved House of Wrath, incredibly busy doing house-type things. Painting and tearing up carpet (before the Department of Health cites me) and engaged in an all consuming fit of downsizing that has me doing things like discarding all the unused junk we have accumulated over the years and held onto for the oft-threatened "yard sale" - the puzzles and toys, baby furniture and car seats, furniture that is past its best, even including, and possibly featuring as the best example of the horrid state of depression-driven ennui in which I existed for most of the past decade or so, the dreadful, cheap and thoroughly worn out TV stand left behind by the former homeowners because it was junk... 16 1/2 years ago*. So you can imagine its worth today. *ahem!*

So... whilst I toss and scrub and tear up and paint and so, and on the theme of house-type things, here's a Hugh Laurie sketch for your diversion.

See what I did there? Just qualified for the Ricardipus All-Canuck Longest-Blog-Sentence-Evah Award is all. Yay! And, w00t!