Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Fire Next Time

Ian says next time I want to renovate something he's just gonna set fire to it. Right now I tend to agree. Somebody could bring marshmallows. If we're ambitious we could make s'mores.

Why is it that no hardware we ever buy matches the surface we intend it for? The cabinet handle bolts in the package were too short for the drawer fronts, and too long for the doors. (???) A five-mile trip to the big box home store, only to buy the wrong size bolts. (My bad, I shouldn't measure anything when I'm *that* tired.) Remeasure, make another trip. They were closed. This morning another trip. Sigh.... what was supposed to have taken an hour's time took three-quarters of a day. But we finally got the cabinet handles on the doors and drawers and they look really nice.

Then we started to install the catches. Just a minute, they are too deep for the cabinet face. It took three stores to find these and I know there are no alternatives. Ian cuts many small blocks of wood with the hand saw, screws a block of wood onto the back of the cabinet face and *then* installs the catches. He speaks fluent cursive during this exercise and wonders if (at 40) he's too old to start taking illegal drugs. He vows to learn a second language just to have more swear words at his disposal.

The language was pretty bad. It started peeling the wallpaper we installed last weekend off the ceiling. We swear at it, specifically, not just obliquely, and stick it up with spray glue. Flies beware!

I scrub the bathroom within an inch of its life, ending up with a rubbing alcohol sponge-down to kill any lurking stinker bacteria. You're supposed to be able to shower in this teeny cubicle, but trailers react poorly to having water dumped into their interiors through badly designed shower pans, so that won't be happening while we live in it. The resort has hot showers and we'll make good use of them. I recaulk all the seams, all the way around the room.

I cut and install reflective insulation on all the walls behind the cupboards. At least this is easy. Ian rewires all the jury-rigged light-fixtures. How the thing never burned down is a mystery to me. There are melted wires and plugs behind the lamp bases. But now the lights are all reinstalled with new wiring, properly grounded and capped.

It hasn't helped that Himself has been ill all weekend, having done too much for his condition. We've spent a lot of time monitoring him, and worrying whether he was going to have to go to the ER for treatment, but by mid-afternoon he was on the mend so we relaxed a bit.

Our "weekend to finish the interior" left us with five or six unfinished jobs and in need of a long holiday. What we've done so far looks great but at some point the work flow better improve or we're spending the winter in the driveway!

Between 5:00 and 6:00 pm the temperature dropped from 25 C to 10 C and it began to pour buckets. The wind was tearing branches off trees and the trailer rocked like a rowboat on a millpond. I love the thrumming of the rain on the roof.

Tomorrow's another day. I'll be working alone, but maybe I can finish installing the insulation. I could also sew... It would be fun to see some curtains go up. Gee, if the bubble beads aren't bling enough I could get light ropes and run them around the windows... Maybe a neon sign...

Red Chief the Rascal

Time to introduce the "baby", who is seven years old, weighs 20 lbs and is larger than many dogs. His personality extends several feet into any room he enters. He has a monkey gene which emerges frequently (particularly when he wants attention) in some of the following ways:

1. Leap onto the top of the china hutch, where a row of family portraits sits, without touching a single one. I don't know how he does this without contravening the laws of nature.
2. Rachet up the aforementioned leap by standing on the hutch and vigorously scratching on the ornately-framed mirror which hangs behind it.
3. Leap onto the pantry cupboard in the kitchen, which ends ten inches short of the ceiling, and holds a collection of porcelain teapots.
4. Leap onto the round metal rods which frame a small greenhouse I keep in the kitchen. I don't have the cover on it at the moment so it is essentially a set of wire shelves topped by a set of fluorescent lights. He straddles a corner and hangs on with three feet as it rocks back and forth and I scream blue murder at him.
5. Leap onto the top of the wardrobe adjoining our bed and then bellyflopping onto the bed. We've had to keep boxes up there to keep him off. With purging and packing the boxes are gone, so he jumped up there twice last night. Problem is he often bellyflops onto my head.... go back and read about how much he weighs and think about the effect of his sharp pointy feet on my face.

After the second wardrobe leap last night he was escorted out the bedroom door and banned for the rest of the night. This morning he was all apologies and kisses, and needed a good long snuggle and rocking in the rocking chair before he felt secure in his mother's love. Poor thing. (Me, I'm the poor thing. He woke me up six or eight times last night and I'm gonna skin him and make a pair of fuzzy slippers of him if he isn't good.)

Rocketing from window sill to window sill, bouncing off all the furniture as he goes, is his favorite amusement. Oh, and standing in a doorway and jumping straight up to see how far he can jump. Five feet so far. He won't play with toys, but likes to chase a string drug across the floor. He tires of this within a few days and looks at me like he thinks I'm demented, which I well may be.

I've begun to wonder what he's going to bounce off of in the trailer?? We're installing a floor-to-ceiling scratch and climb pole for him. But I'm sure he'll soon figure out where my buttons are, and what it takes to push them.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Courage of the Feet

Today was the first day of Calgary's second annual "Weekend to End Breast Cancer", and over 2000 Calgarians put on pink and took to the streets to walk 60 km over two days, raising funds for research, screening programs and other projects aimed at ending breast cancer.

The route came within a block of our house and all morning and into the afternoon while we were out working in the trailer we could hear the triumphant shouts of the walkers, and many horns encouraging them on. When we went out at about 4:00 for supplies we saw many walkers, in pink shirts, pink hats, or sporting pink ribbons. Along the route home owners had tied huge pink ribbons in trees and shrubs, and put up signs supporting the walkers.

Police attended each intersection where the walkers crossed. The "Booby Mobile", a mini van festooned in pink and with a huge pink bra attached to the front, cruised the route, and decorated motorcycles acommpanied the walkers. It looked to me as if anyone needed a fill-up on the water bottle or band aids for her blisters, they weren't far away.

Today's walk will cover 35 km, and the participants will bed down at the old army base in tents before starting off to finish the last 25 km of the walk tomorrow. Many of the women have been training for months, as this is a very long walk! They take pledges and some raise an astonishing amount of money. One of Ian's friends has raised over $3600 in pledges. The total so far exceeds $6 Million!

What courage these women have! Everyone who saw them seemed in awe of their determination and spirit. I've lost a couple of friends to breast cancer, both of whom were young women who should have had decades left to spend with their families. Two other friends battle breast cancer now, and everyone can probably say the same. It has touched us all, if not directly then through friends and family.

So, prayers for the tired feet, the blisters, the aching bodies which will lie down tonight and get up tomorrow to walk again. Hope and courage are the two mainstays of womankind, and our strongest binding force.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Buy and "Simplify"!

As promised - my design board. The front and back "rooms" are painted in a pale golden-apricot. The mid-section is crisp white. The koi kimono fabric will be used to make shades for the large front and back windows. All the other windows will have curtains made of the sheer crinkly white fabric. The iridescent "bubble" beads will serve as trim for the curtain valances. The sheer blue (LOVE THAT COLOUR!) will be used as a privacy curtain between the kitchen and bedroom. The deep blue chenille will be used to slipcover the banquette-style seating at the front table. The piping is tri-colour blue, goldy-peach and white.

Yesterday we ran and acquired. What is the point of all this movement towards simplicity you ask? Is it to divest ourselves of stuff? Well, I have quickly learned that you must acquire to simplify.

Primer, paint, wallpaper, molding, insulation, cabinet hardware, the list is endless. Our largest purchase yesterday was a new 13" TV to replace our perfectly beautiful, but large, flat-screen TV. The big one, and the armoire it lives in, will go board with our older son should we want them back later. The new microwave is swell. It pops corn in 2:48 rather than the 7:10 our old one took.

Anyway, after a great deal of money and energy had been spent we came home and attacked the trailer with paint, insulation and cabinet molding. I tried taking some pictures this morning, but it's too stacked with rolls and boxes of construction to get any clear shots. Use your 'magination.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Charity begins in the parking lot

Aiiiiiiii my Eyes!!!!

Here are a couple more pictures of the inside of our "tin palace". The fabulous gourmet kitchen with 14 inches of counter space and the seizure-inducing wallpaper in the bathroom. These were both taken the first time we looked at it. It looks different now (praise the Cosmic Force that impels women to redecorate!) but it's hard to take a picture yet since it's so full of construction material and tools.

I had quite the day. I was up at 6:00 and got busy sorting stuff. I'd promised my buddy Sylvia we'd have lunch at our favorite Japanese restaurant but when we got there they were closed. So we had to hunt up another one. It was good, but not as good as our favorite. Sylvia and her significant other leave for the west coast shortly. They've bought a house on Vancouver Island. So it was our last foray together. I'm gonna so miss her.

When we got back we draped ourselves over the furniture like limp fish (soooo hot) and visited for an hour or so. After Sylvia left my Tonio carried the dozen or so boxes and bags of books, clothes, and household stuff I'd sorted out to the truck so I could take them to the nearby charity shop.

Well, I got there and they were closed. So, down the road to the next shop. They didn't want *anything* but clothes and the clothes were in the back. So, on to the next shop. One little old lady person at the counter and no one to help unload.

On to the next shop. I parked at the side by their back door. They told me to come around to the door in the alley. I did and they said I was at the wrong door, and "they forgot" that I really needed to park where I'd been in the first place. But while I was turning around a big garbage truck arrived and blocked the way out. He emptied their dumpster but then just sat there stinking. I finally got out of my truck to see why he wasn't moving. He'd ruptured some kind of hydraulic line and the ground around the truck was covered with black ooze.

He said he was going to be there a long time, but the guy parked alongside moved and I was able to inch past. I couldn't turn left to get back to the *proper* door of the shop because the truck filled the street, so they told me to drive around the block and come in from the other direction. I did that, then they insisted I get right up against the curb, which was a very tight squeeze between the garbage truck and a car parked behind. I managed to do it but my nose was right against the garbage truck.

Then they said, "Oh, we can't take your stuff because we'd have to carry it through the gate and he's blocking the gate." He was NOWHERE NEAR the gate, and the two of them had just come out the gate side by side. I could have driven a Toyota through that gate! Besides they had told me to come to the double door, not the gate, and I was sitting right at it.

I told them they could carry a sofa through the gate and all I had were bags and bank boxes, and they said, "Sorry." I asked, "Why then did you have me drive around the block and squeeze into this curb spot if you had no intention of taking my stuff?" The one shrugged and said, "Oh, we weren't thinking." (I guess not.)

It took me five swings to get my massive pickup out of that spot since I was pointed south and had to go north. I couldn't get around the garbage scow in front of me and couldn't back out because there was a car three feet behind me. There were cars on either side of the street too.

I was pretty wrinkled around the edges by the time I got turned around and out of there. I was speaking fluent cursive by swing number four. So I drove around for an hour and a half in 85 degree heat with my $4.50 a gallon gasoline and never *did* get rid of my discards. ACK ACK ACK!!!!

I came home and fumed for a while, then went out and slapped another coat of paint on the bathroom walls and put up some insulation. That worked the wrinkles out of my temper. I don't know if I can relax or not tonight, but I'm going to try. We have a month to go before we hit the road and about 50 jobs left to do, some of 'em whoppers.

I keep reminding myself to enjoy the moment.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

What Curb Appeal?

These are pictures of our 1973 Glendale "Glendette" trailer the day we first looked at it.
It was dirty, the ceiling leaked, it had several dead appliances and the upholstery had a
charming fragrance called "the grandkids slept here before they were potty-trained".

BUT, an intense professional inspection showed that it was sturdy and servicable, assuming that we were willing to put $2000- $3000 and a great deal of work into it. The floor plan was the one we wanted, the interior walls were real wood, and it had all kinds of possibilities.

We didn't want a new trailer. The decor in them does not suit our tastes, and we wanted to be able to customize the interior to meet our needs without having to worry about resale value. Let's face it, anything we did to this one would enhance its value, unless we lit a fire under it.

First things first. We had wiring work done, had the roof resealed, installed a new water heater, had the old non-functional fridge and propane lighting torn out, and had new brakes installed. This took the dealer six weeks.

Once it was in our hands we began the tear down. The ceiling was damaged in one corner, so after making certain there were no ceiling leaks left we tore the ceiling panel and old insulation out in that area. We reinsulated and sealed it, and replaced the ceiling panel. We couldn't get a panel which matched the original so opted to recover the entire ceiling with a textured wallpaper. We tore off all the cheesy half-inch wide moldings from every interior door and drawer. Badly fitted to begin with, they were an eyesore. Have to replace about half the cupboard doors.

We also took off the old cabinet hardware, much of which was hanging loose. We removed the fold-down bunks in the back (bedroom area, leaving an 8" deep shelf above each of the bed/couches. We will put another shelf in each of these to hold books, DVDs, CDs and small baskets. We ripped up the dark green carpet. We removed the mirrors. Took down the dark green curtains. Took out and tossed the smelly foam cushions. Removed the fold-down table from the bedroom area. Took down the rusted range hood, light fixtures, and furnace door. Took rust off of same and sprayed them with "brushed steel" paint.

Then began the agony of priming and painting. The interior is real wood paneling. I HATE wood paneling. It was dark and despondant looking. Paint to the rescue - oh, stop your whining about preserving the original character of the trailer. An Airstream this isn't. It's just plain ugly old unvarnished dirty wood panels. Spar varnish on it would make it look like a dirty epoxy coffin.

It drank primer like a camel drinks water after a month in the desert. It's taken two weeks and five coats to get the walls done, and I'm still not done with the bathroom, which has Rorschach-style ink blob vinyl wallpaper. My personal philosophy is that you shouldn't need psychoanalysis after using the bathroom. But then, that's just me.

The colors are chosen, the fabrics are bought. More on that next time.

Two in love can live on the edge of a sword

I've come to a point in life where the material accumulations of a lifetime are weighing on me. And, though I speak in the singular, I think "We've come". Thankfully for my mental health my significant other shares my feelings. So, we have begun to divest ourselves of the collected bits 'n pieces of 40 years together. Early in our marriage we could move house in the trunk of the '59 Ford we'd named Rocinante (after Don Quixote's reluctant plow-nag). Two in love can live on the edge of a sword.

Then came babies who became growing boys. We needed some things and wanted others. He built model ships, planes and lovely furniture. I sculpted, painted, quilted, collected dolls, china and antique linens. Our children made wonderful things for us. We inherited beautiful things from generations past. We clutched at our possessions and they clutched back. Like fractious infants they demanded tending. I worried about spots on the crystal, wrinkles in the tablecloth and dust collecting on 200 "objects d'art".

One day it dawned on me that everything I owned owned me back. That's fine when you have the interest and motivation to keep up with your mutual ownership, but time marches on, and I find myself without either. I would rather spend my energy elsewhere. Our children thought we had finally flipped our collective lid when we said we were simplifying our lives enough to move into a 25' long travel trailer, and head for warmer climes. I suppose time will tell. Lids may have been flipped, but, in our own minds, we are preparing to move back onto the edge of the sword.