November 4, 2012
A 25 second exposure taken from the front porch railing just after the sun went down. While the shutter was open Peter came home on his bike, riding towards the house up that cross street opposite then turning and riding across the frame from right to left, leaving no trace.
Posted by jodi on November 4, 2012 at 10.04pm
July 3, 2012
Today began as a lazy, sleeping in day: we had left the alarm off and were awakened by a sudden and violent thunderstorm, only rising when driving rains made closing some windows a necessity. The day was quickly downgraded from a “walk to the gym” day to a “yoga at home” day, because RAIN. So mid-morning I dragged my dusty yoga mat out of the corner and unrolled it in the middle of the living room, in the same spot where Peter does his yoga every morning.
I stood at the top of my mat, feet together. Took in a deep breath, raised my arms over my head, looked up at the drooping ceiling above me and thought, hmm, wouldn’t it be funny if the ceiling (which has been drooping for a very long time, due to a long-since repaired leak that happened before we owned the house) picked this moment to collapse, when I haven’t done yoga at home in months?
I swept into a deep forward bend, held it for a moment, placed my hands on the mat, stepped back into a plank, lowered myself into cobra then up into downward dog. 5 breaths. Then stepped my right foot back to the top of the mat, raised my head a little, and. . .
Half a dozen tiny crumbs of plaster dropped onto the mat next to my hands.
I stepped up to the front of the mat, looked up, and felt a light dust on my face. I stepped off the mat, a few feet away into the doorway of the dining room and called Claire from the kitchen to come and have a look. We marveled at how the gaping crevice in the ceiling no longer resembled a demonic grin (which I had dubbed “Azazello” due to its once sporting a single jaunty fang, before the gap widened enough for the fang to disappear).
We laughed about the prospect of the ceiling falling on me when Peter does his yoga safely every morning in exactly the same spot. I was just about to work in a “rain on my wedding day” joke when The Beast burst forth from its plaster bonds and leapt to the floor in a powdery crash. Right at the top of my yoga mat.
Kevin is perplexed.
Nobody is doing any yoga here today. But soon we will be doing some drywalling.
Posted by jodi on July 3, 2012 at 1.06pm
March 4, 2012
Next up: connecting the blue to the blue, sealing and painting the section to the left of that line of hockey sticks. Covering up all the grossness with a blue paint lagoon.
Posted by jodi on March 4, 2012 at 8.54pm
December 27, 2011
This kitty showed up at my dad’s farmhouse a few days ago, looking for a sucker to take him in. (It’s well known in the cat community in the area that my dad is that sucker, and I’m convinced that homeless cats on the move have left hobo markings all around the property to let others know, suckers live here. warm fireplace ahoy. plenty of kibble.) BUT the other cats don’t like him so he needs a new home. He’s very chill, incredibly loving and cuddly, likes to be picked up, likes belly rubs. . . basically he likes all the things that I like. We are very compatible, I think.
We have a home repair job we need to do in our house before we can invite any new cats to live with us. It’s a job I could do in a few days if I put my mind to it, but it will be a lot of work. Now the pressure is on.
There is still one more farm neighbour my dad hasn’t spoken to, who might own this cat. If she doesn’t, and if I can get the work done in the basement in time and if Dad and Sherry don’t find him another home before I’m ready, and if, and if, and if. . . then this kitty could be mine.
Posted by jodi on December 27, 2011 at 10.01am
July 3, 2011
Here is our backyard’s temporary, partial patio area all dug out and filled with limestone screenings. It took about five hours to get this far (digging down to a depth of about 10cm/4″, hauling screenings from the pile in the driveway and smoothing it all out), in addition to about two hours digging and moving plants the night before, and a couple more hours on previous days moving plants (because OF COURSE the area where we wanted a patio was all full of garden, while the area around it, which will all be garden, was grass).
Laying the first stones.
This was the point at which we pooped out and quit for the day; a lot of these stones were moved around two days later as we fine tuned everything and laid more stones. This is looking from the other direction, towards the house, across my little bed of herbs and rhubarb:
About 80% of the stones are now laid (not shown). Only the central portion of the patio has been put in here, just enough to be able to start using it this summer. Eventually the flagstone will continue all the way back to the house, right up against our new porch, and the blobby area that curls around the herb bed will extend up and join into the new concrete sidewalk, which will sit just to the left of the existing sidewalk. Which will come out and be replaced with garden. No more knocking my wrist on the neighbours’ fence as I carry groceries down our too-narrow path! If you look back to the top image and imagine the width of the current area extending towards the lower left, and the blobby extension that’s like a mitten thumb extending out of the right side of the frame, then you’ll have in your head a sort of map of Michigan with a super long thumb. Yep, that’s about right.
The little circular area of heaped earth and stones within the patio is Cleo’s grave, and later this summer we’ll plant it with some of those big purple irises she loved to sleep in amongst. The graves of my other two cats lie just beyond hers, now safely hidden beneath the patio so I never have to worry about their bones being disturbed by subsequent owners of our house.
All that’s left to do, for now, is lay the remaining stones, fill up the gaps between them with topsoil, and decide which ground covers to plant there (blue star creeper if I can find any, and lots and lots of moss, but maybe also some moneywort or ajuga, both of which are abundant in the front garden, and therefore free!).
It was a brutally hot and sweaty day, and I had to resort to holding my prescription sunglasses (which are made for lounging at poolside, not for breaking rocks in the hot sun) on my head with a combination of elastic bands (saved from broccoli bunches because I am a hippie) and skate laces. Also note the McClain’s Live To Print bandanna, a conference giveaway from a couple of years ago. They always have the best swag.
Before all the digging, when I was still ripping out my yarrow and euphorbia by great handfuls (don’t worry, we kept and moved lots of it all), we found some wee baby praying mantises (mantes?) chilling in the yarrows (fingers for scale):
Wee little buggies. I hope they liked their move to the other side of the yard.
Posted by jodi on July 3, 2011 at 2.36pm
May 21, 2011
Goodbye and good riddance to you, mulberry, box elder and that tree that smells like garlic. The backyard feels naked without you, but we are looking to the future when there will be redbuds and dogwood in your place. And we are avoiding doing anything sexy in front of the dining room window, now that the people going down Lincoln Street on the #8 bus can see.
Posted by jodi on May 21, 2011 at 4.40pm
May 7, 2011
Outside the dining room window, on the ground next to the porch, there is a solid concrete pad. Next to this, in a space roughly 1.5 by 2 metres in between the concrete pad and the fence dividing the property from that of the neighbour, there were six square concrete patio stones, the kind with a pattern embedded in them of diamond mesh, spaced roughly 10cm (4″) apart with white marble chips in between them. Also, a border twice this wide of white marble chips surrounded the whole thing. Beneath the patio stones was a layer of plastic, and beneath that good topsoil and the roots of the box elders that used to crowd out the wires and whose branches pulled eavestroughing from this roof and the roof next door; these trees, before we had them cut down, made it unlikely that anyone ever used this concrete-and-white-gravel area as a patio. Until now it’s just been one of those useless spaces, too much trouble to renovate, in a corner of the property you hardly ever venture into.
I thought about taking a picture of how ugly it was before, but I’m tired of making fun of Barb (former owner of the house and originator of all Barbage) and anyway, Barb was a single mother of 5 with a lot on her plate and it’s not like she ever did anything to the house other than live in it; it’s the people before her who are to blame for the white marble chips, the awkwardly placed trees, the basement bathroom floor of salvaged marble chunks which were cemented right over the base of a toilet so that the toilet had to be smashed to be removed, the upstairs window that was covered over on the inside but left on the outside inaccessible but with the blind still in, and did I ever tell you about the wood stove for which, had we wanted to keep it, we would have had to apply for a building permit before we could get an inspection in order to have insurance because of course there had never been a permit when it was installed? Who knows what was in the minds of the people who did these half assed jobs. All I know is every new homeowner everywhere thinks they have better taste than whoever owned the house before, and I mutter a futile curse on the heads of the children and grandchildren of those people with every white marble chip I pick up and toss angrily aside.
So today I dug up a bunch of patio stones and raked up a bunch of white marble chips and turned eleventy thousand more of them down under the soil and planted a garden in a corner that was probably a low priority, garden wise, but. Now there are hollyhocks, and perennial bachelor’s button (how great is that name? even though I know it’s a hardy form of a plant called bachelor’s button, which grows as a perennial in our zone, I imagine it as the flower worn in the buttonhole of someone who is a perennial bachelor) and one hosta who was in an awkward spot elsewhere in the yard. And just so that someone can come along someday after buying this house from us and wonder how we could ever be so half assed, I mended the sagging chain link fence (not all of it, mind you, just the part next to my new hollyhock bed) with zip ties.
A few hours in the sun moving rocks and hauling bucket after bucket of topsoil from one end of the property to the other has produced a mental fog; I made coffee, wandered off to spray paint something and then came back and was surprised and delighted to find that there was coffee. This is what old age will be like around here, I reckon. But that’s okay, I’ve got a front porch with a couch on it, and a cup of coffee. And flowers where there used to be rocks. It’s progress.
Posted by jodi on May 7, 2011 at 2.50pm
April 21, 2011
This china cabinet came to our house with its veneer already destroyed from years of water overflowing out of flowerpots in my dad’s farmhouse kitchen. Sitting for a couple more years in our damp basement pretty much sealed the deal. So what is probably my first ever furniture restoration project is really not so much a restoration but more of a remaking. What’s most important to me about the cabinet are the curved lines and the red trim (and the lovely red decorative inserts in the window glass, which aren’t shown in any of these photos as the doors are still sitting in the basement waiting for their turn with the orbital sander), so I was willing to cover up a once-lovely finish with a whole lot of paint in order to salvage the form of this piece.
In August the cabinet came upstairs and had its veneer stripped off. This photo was taken with the doors removed and the top (most damaged) veneer already peeled away, and you can see pretty clearly in the rest just how bad the damage was. While I sat pulling veneer away in huge water-stained strips, my neighbour called across from his porch that there was no way I could save this cabinet. Hah. He knows more than I do about fixing stuff, perhaps, but less about my persistent nature.
It took me a few weeks of waiting out bad weather and neighbours’ yard sales (nobody wants to be the jerk running power tools when somebody’s trying to have a yard sale next door, right?) to get the whole thing sanded, after which it sat under a tarp until the fall weather got wet enough that we brought it in to the front room (my so-called home studio). Where it sat for a really long time.
In January, it got some coats of primer. Shiny!
It sat in the front room for a few more months in between coats of black paint, until the day before we were having a party. Because right before throwing a party is when all big chores get done. I applied the final coat of paint to the main cabinet, a first coat to the three drawers, and took a somewhat messy first go at retouching the red trim, then moved it into the dining room and filled it with our collection of bar glasses, stacking Japanese coffee mugs, and booze.
(because clearly every photo needs its parenthetical aside: please note that the fake brick wall in this corner of our dining room, like so much else in this house, is only temporary. Remnants of past owners we haven’t yet had mustered the energy to rid ourselves of)
Still to come: another coat of paint on the drawers, sanding and painting of the drawer handles and doors, touch-ups on the red trim (and some sort of glaze to tone the red down a bit). My deadline for that is the first week of June (yep, that’d be right before the next party).
Posted by jodi on April 21, 2011 at 11.32am
April 12, 2011
This afternoon saw some progress on the latest demolition project around here:
The truly sad state of this fence, aside from the fact that it is the ugliest kind of fence, isn’t apparent in this photo. Were you, dear reader, to view this fence from the vantage point of the gate you would see a line that lists violently from side to side seemingly in a desperate attempt not to topple completely. The two largest trees have either pushed the fence boards into the yard at the bottom (second tree in from the left) or grown around the boards altogether (second tree in from the right). The gate, which latches into the corner of the neighbour’s fence, is either too tight to close without scraping or too loose to remain closed, depending on the season’s swelling of the wood. And of course, because nobody in the history of this house has ever done a job on it that wasn’t completely half-assed, all of the boards are slightly different lengths, some of them full centimetres off from their neighbours (far more than can be accounted for by having weathered twenty plus Canadian winters).
So this afternoon, off came those boards! And straight into the trailer, destination: city dump. The frame will wait for another day while I figure out how best to dismantle it; I’d half hoped that one good pull would bring the whole thing down, but it’s not far gone enough yet for that to be possible (although I easily pulled down many of the boards with one hand). The fastest way may be to saw the pieces in half and then just wrench them loose. At any rate, here’s the current state of things:
The temporary lack of privacy is already skeeving me out a little. The plan is to remove some of the trees (before mulberry season to spare our new car) and then replace the fence with a low wall of concrete screen block, and replace the gate with a metal gate whose functionality will in no way depend on the swelling or shrinking of the fence next door. While I don’t want our property this wide open in the back the old fence seemed unnecessarily high, and a block wall is thick enough to put things on! Like gnomes, or potted plants. Whether to use plain or fancy block is still an open question, and honestly as long as it’s concrete and has holes in it I don’t care if it’s fancy, like this wall at Nipissing University’s Monastery Hall:
or if it’s more like this plainer, more utilitarian backyard wall off an alley a few blocks from here:
Both would look amazing with gnomes on them. And maybe a couple of mushroom logs?
Posted by jodi on April 12, 2011 at 3.13pm
March 18, 2011
Peter found this useful little object while spring cleaning some hard-to-get-to spots in the kitchen last weekend. It’s a miniature pink adjustable wrench with the words “LOVE ME” on the side and a rusty old jingle bell attached to the handle. It’s the strangest piece of Barbage we’ve found in a long time, and proof that after almost eight years there are still some crevices in this house we haven’t ventured into yet. Is that gross?
*”Barbage” is the term applied to all items left behind in our house by the previous owner, a single mom with five teenagers (including a set of triplets). Her name was Barb. That was obvious, probably.
Posted by jodi on March 18, 2011 at 11.24am