Saturday, 27 July 2013

Skating In Etobicoke

Skating to a Scottish Gremlin in Etobicoke

My sister and I had an arrangement with Kirstie who lived on the sixth floor.  Kirstie was in Grade Two with my younger sister, Anne.  Kirstie wore kilts and white lacey blouses to school as if she were still in Scotland.  Being older and wiser, I absolutely refused to do so, as I knew I'd stick out like a Scottish sore thumb.  The other kids made fun of our accents, so I desperately tried to do away with mine like the way I'd stashed our old school kilts and uniforms to the dark, scary part of the closet and discovered my father's secret whisky supply, all hidden away.  Anne and I preferred the colourful seventies pant suits that our mother whizzed off on her sewing machine.  Crazy swirling patterned bell bottoms with matching tops and flaring sleeves.  Kirstie clearly had no idea how awful she looked in her old-fashioned tartans. 

The deal with Kirstie, however became our charming childhood pact.  If either of us witnessed the Witches leaving the property then we'd call one another immediately. The Witches were the superintendents of the building and as their name implied, they were wicked.  I decided that Mr. Witches hated children as we were always getting into trouble for playing ball in the hallways or pushing all the buttons in the elevator.

One early June evening, Anne and I were busy on the balcony doing homework at fold away card tables, occasionally glancing towards the Toronto Airport where airplanes  roared across the purpled pink of the Etobicoke sky, when we heard Mr. Witches shouting.  He always yelled and his children and wife never spoke, never disobeyed.  They piled into their VW Beetle and Mr. Witches, his everlasting scowl plastered on his face, gazed about suspiciously, squeezed in and the car sped off.  No one noticed us two small girls, peering down from our third floor balcony waiting until the car sped out of sight.  Delighted we ran to the telephone.  Anne put her finger in the dial and called Kirstie.

“Kirstie?  It’s Anne.  They’ve gone out. Yes, I know!  It’s been ages! Okay, good.”  And she hung up.  She beamed, "He's coming!"

We rummaged through the closet tossing aside winter scarves, flip-flops and mittens till we uncovered our roller skates.  Anne retrieved her keys from the hall table and off we went to meet Kirstie in the lobby.  Her roller skates hung like pearls round her neck, proper figure skates, white boots with laces, while ours were the bulky kind, heavy that fastened onto shoes with a key and wide wheels too clunky for jewelry. 

“Where is he?”  I asked anxiously.

“Don’t you worry, he’s just finishing his Tea.”  Replied Kirstie in her broad Scottish accent. 

“But we don’t know how much time we have.”

Once through the lobby, I decided to buzz Chauna and pressed her intercom button.

“Chauna, it's me, we’re all going skating, want to come?”

“Is Mr. MacIntyre going to be there?”


“Right, I’ll meet you down there.”

Chauna was unlike any girl I’d ever met.  With short spiky hair, tiny shorts which she called Hot pants and a pet skunk named Pepé, she gave the impression of a saucy fairy creature defying laws from every authority. Chauna explained, when I hesitated to pet Pepé, that of course he'd been de-fumed so was unable to dose you with his foul scent, but this didn’t stop the poor animal from trying.  Chauna regularly squirted Pepe with her Charlie perfume to conceal his natural smelly traces. The combination was disgusting.

Anne, Kirstie and I crossed the parking lot carefully so no one spied us and arrived at the top of the concrete slope that led to the pillared underground garage.  Here we were, three girls under the age of eleven, in Etobicoke, all from Scotland embarking on a magical skating expedition. 

Anne, the youngest grabbed her key, one of many which hung from a shoelace round her neck and inserted it into the box.  The huge drawbridge rose with a moaning shudder, till it clattered to a halt, suspended flat against the ceiling inside. Running down the slope, we all made sure that we trod heavily on the rubber hose that kept the door open electronically, so that the great beast wouldn't come crashing down upon us.  Once inside, the door reversed itself and loudly clanged to a close.  It took a minute for our eyes to adjust to the concrete cave, lit only by caged bulbs and we located the family’s green Beaumont, parked between pillars and a blue Mini.  Once again, Anne produced her necklace of keys and unlocked the Beaumont.  Pushing the front seat forward we scampered into the back seat. 

“Put the radio on.”  Said Anne.

“No, we must be quiet and listen for him arriving.” 

Clumsily, knocking elbows and knees we managed to hook on the skates, big wheels of wonderment and we waited. After a minute or two, we emerged from the Beaumont chunkily, the reverberated sounds banged around the concrete enclosure and we worried about discovery.  Waiting for the silence to take over again, we pushed out from behind the pillars and glided awkwardly to the middle of the polished perfect surface of our private rink.  Soon we heard the secret knock, two short quick, followed by three long hard ones, a side door opened and a shaft of triangular light dropped to the floor, a dark shadow of a man standing in the spotlight.  The door hinged on a spring, closed itself with a terrific bang, like a canon’s outburst announcing the arrival of a very important person, Mr. MacIntyre.

In his mechanic’s oily overalls and precious bagpipes wrapped round his body like a pet monkey, he stood waiting for the slam to stop its roaring reverb. 

“All's clear, Dad.”  Kirstie whispered. 

He smiled, then nodded.

We girls glided to our places before him, ceremonial like and the droning sound began.  High-pitched at first, from misuse, then lingering loudly within the cave and the overhead lights flickered as if they were candles in the wind. The Gaelic song wavered, hovering overhead, then danced round our bodies through the hallowed hallway. 

The skate had begun, holding hands, on the edge of fantasy to the sounds of the Highland Pipes we captured a rare moment in time to remember always.  The eerie notes stretched out like newly released caged birds and flew with peaceful grace, rolling over imaginary mists with the purring vibration of ancient times and we floated in awe weaving through the cave, gliding on air effortlessly and smiling. 

For once I wished I’d worn my kilt as Kirstie’s pleats rippled like flower petals round her knees to the pipes lengthy sighs.  He called his pipes “The Gremlin” and said they’d been made in Pakistan, no where near Scotland, but the bag was clothed in  Tartan.  The underground rink stretched out the length of a Soccer pitch and our feet flowed in sweeping motions towards the eastern side where another overhead door serviced a twin apartment building, then round the end columns we flowed down the hallway, like lilies on a stream.  The shrill echoes and haunting pipe music drowned out foreign sounds, even the thudding of our own wheels, it was magic. 


But then an unexpected ray of light crept across the far-corner of the enclosure, and Mr. MacIntyre’s chanting came to an abrupt halt and the spell was temporarily broken.  We slid in fear behind cars peering towards the door.  A small figure stepped onto the shaft and the door slammed with an urgency. 

“It’s just me, Chauna.”

The magic of Scottish bagpipes prevailed and the skaters danced and floated in another time, another world.

Mr. MacIntyre told us that he was destined to be our personal piper.  His kind eyes wrinkled at the sides and he smelt of tobacco and gasoline.

"You're such bonny lassies, you give a man something to smile about at the end of a long day."

Sadly the performance came to an end when the main entrance lifted with an earth shattering tremor announcing the arrival of a vehicle.  It flew in like a dragon returning to its lair, while we intruding girls cowered from its sight.  We waited while the rider emerged from inside the dragon and exited out the side door and resumed our places but Mr. MacIntyre and his Gremlin had vanished. 

Skating without the Piping, was just plain skating and the spell shattered.  Suddenly our skates’ chunky wheels felt heavy and Anne fell down twice bruising an elbow and scuffing her knee.  The skating sounds could also be heard like echoing noises of war.  No longer gliding graceful Kelpies but clumsy misplaced Scottish school girls in an underground parking lot in suburbia where no magic could possibly happen. 

Sadly, I have no photographs from this time period, however there are a few of my sister and I in Scotland in our school uniforms. 



Friday, 22 February 2013

How to Re-Do a Diabolically Disastrous Bathroom

What on Earth to do with a Bathroom that looks like this?


It is difficult to find inspiration in a room so ugly. 

In fact on the day we first moved into our 1878 house in Stratford nearly two years ago, my reaction was clearly unenthusiastic.  The outside of the house, definitely beautiful, bay windows, yellow brick and large back garden, but the moment we turned the key in the lock and stepped inside, a near panic took over me.  I watched in horror as my husband gleefully charged from room to room with a child's excitement comparable to acquiring a brand new colouring book, crayons and the masterpieces he would create!

Whereas, it took all I could muster to Not shout out, "What the F* was I thinking when I agreed to this?"  I couldn't find anything appealing.

"What's wrong love?"  He asked me with concern, as I viewed the filthy yellow hallway and warped wood floor.  I went from room to room, with this fanatical smiling granddad (yes, he's a grandpa) whose passion overflowed with his endless ideas of knocking down walls, stripping wood, etc.  Somehow I'd been talked into this nightmare of a renovation, by this man who was clearly off his rocker!  Every room was either neon green, yellow or a sickly faded lilac and yes, I know it's only paint, but there was also oddly creepy floral wallpaper, next to 70's psychedelic decor along with grimy linoleum floors.

Obviously someone had gone insane in this house and so, must be haunted as well!

Even the Bell Telephone guy said, "You actually bought this place?"  As he waded through red furry carpet to install a phone line to baby blue cubed wallpaper.

"Ah, yeah, we did.  My husband does wonders."

"Really!"  He replied, watching the white haired guy dance about.

I faked a smile trying to re-evaluate why I had agreed.

That night we slept in sleeping bags on the floor, (freshly scrubbed with lysol).  I didn't dream of anything because I couldn't sleep.  I'm over 50, and couldn't get comfortable, "I hate camping!" 

"Aren't you excited!"  Said Grandpa.  Then I had to listen to him prattle on in the dark about how he'd re-direct pipes, upgrade electrics and replace sinks.  I kept my mouth shut and wondered, Why couldn't we buy a place that already had this taken care of?  We've done this before! 

The next morning, I looked to the windows and high ceilings and remembered.  Especially when I climbed the purple stairs and clutched the romantic sweeping banister.
Underneath all this bad taste, there once lived a beautiful house.  I was enchanted by the fact that all the main rooms, even the bathroom, did not require heavy curtains or frosted glass.  Overlooking some lovely evergreens, a Victorian style Turret and a pathway, winding round a senior's retirement home created a feeling of privacy, even at this busy intersection.  And I had definitely fallen in love with the staircase and determined to restore this architectural wonder as best as I was able. 
(For the Staircase Reno you can read about on a previous blog.  link right here)....

Anyway, when I decide to Re-Do any room in my house, of course I always consult with my live-in HandyMan.  His genetic make-up of part-enthusiastic child, part super-talented renovator definitely enhances and makes the job go much easier.  As long as I keep him supplied with endless cups of tea and biscuits, he's very happy.  Then he consults with me on what I hate most of all. 
And because this blog is about the Bathroom, the first hateful thing was the sink.  No explanation needed, even the most green friendly renovator would have no use for this sink.  I contemplated using it in my garden as a planter but decided against it.

 The next was the light fixture.  Looking like a bizarre type of Alien Bug! (it even buzzed), the three bulbed wonder also had to go.  (Another indicator that the previous owner was insane)

In trying to renovate on a tight budget, we were alarmed that there wasn't much to save in this bathroom.  The previous owner must have owned shares in the Caulking company!  There must have been at least three gallons of the stuff around the toilet. Or perhaps he applied the gooey putty while under the influence and in paranoid fear of leakages.

A Caulking Marvel

In any case, we decided to try and save the bath.  Once my Handyman husband removed the over zealous caulk, we began to scrub the yellowy build-up of soap scum and stains only to discover that the original polyurethane protective covering had never been removed!  So we were actually trying to clean a piece of plastic paper.   How lovely!  The tub and shower stall were practically brand new once we peeled this off!


Above the bathtub, on the ceiling, strange as it seems, was a sign to the gates of hamburger heaven, and we wondered where it led to.  I hoped for secret treasure or money stash!  (as this happened to a friend of mine once while renovating a fireplace) but alas, it only led to an unfinished dirty attic.

But my brilliant Handyman came up with the idea of installing a staircase and thus opening up the attic for a further two rooms. It was decided that this must be incorporated while the bathroom was in a state of renovation and so a short break was taken from the bathroom in order to build the stairs, which I will write about in another blog.

Next was the floor, an old cracked brown linoleum which was ripped up with little effort.  Thank goodness the previous owner did not use the same black superglue which refused to let go of the linoleum in our kitchen reno.

The next challenge for my cheerful Handyman, (a little swearing involved) was what to do with the black pipes next to the toilet, which facilitate the sewer vent system.  They were intrusive and were too close to the toilet.  It was decided for budget reasons, to simply box them in and then move the toilet over a couple of inches.  This was the most difficult part of the bathroom reno, as a hole had to be cut in the floor and the main toilet pipe extended over to meet up with the base of the bowl.  Luckily my Handyman was able to complete this within one day and the dry walling on the next day.

Two blocks from our house is a plumbing supply place (Pounders) where all necessary pipe, connectors could be purchased.  It was at Pounders that we also found a lovely sink and cabinet in a Victorian style, that was normally $650!   Way too much for us, but had recently been marked down to $300.  It fit beautifully into the spot where the old yucky sink had been.  Next we shopped around for black and white tiles.  We found some white subway style tiles on sale at Home Depot, and our floor tiles, a bit more expensive but on sale as well, hexagon mosaic with black diamond highlights.  A perfect compliment to our style of house.

I chose a steely gray paint for the walls and a ridiculous huge mirror hangs above the sink, catching the morning sunrays from our paint stripped window.  We removed the shower curtain and purchased a plexi glass sliding door (also on sale) 
We love it!  So, what do you think?
BEFORE with pipes now boxed in.











Friday, 14 December 2012

Memories of my Father's Musings...

After Jack received his mother’s letter, he felt homesick.  She had evoked awareness in him that he was not actually immortal.  He had no idea why as she hadn’t been morbid in her correspondence, in fact she’d hardly said anything unusual at all.  Only to take care and to watch out for those German guns, which all the lads joked about, yet he suddenly recalled his uncle, his mother’s brother who'd been killed in the first war.  He’d been his age, just twenty and he had never come home.  Jack was lost in thought, his parent’s house in Glasgow, the smell of his father’s pipe, his mother’s bland cooking and her occasional soft hugs for all three of her boys.  The house was always strictly quiet, with too many rules and curfews, his father demanded it, being a sea captain saying he needed the peace, but this frustrated Jack, he wanted noise, action!  He wondered now, where his older brother, Bob was and regretted that he hadn’t asked after him in his last letter.  He only knew he was in the navy, nothing more.  Frank, his younger brother was safe at home, working at the local post office and ladding about with girls two and three years older than him.  He smiled to himself thinking about it. Lucky bugger.

“Jack”, his mate Alistair was calling.  “We’re away shortly, we need to run through the route and do some engine checks.”  Alistair was tall, blond and over twenty-five.  Jack continued to stare out the window of the runway office that overlooked the windswept tarmac.  Spitfires, Hurricanes and Mustangs grouped in order of reconnaissance missions.  He thought of them as dream machines, anything and all became possible when he was flying one of them. It was like running with wild horses, flying with albatrosses, dancing through hillside glens with ancestral highlanders, and it was so bloody blue and beautiful up there past the grey clouds of Britain, arousing a feeling of paradise. The drone of the flying engines was a song wild in his heart. Yet, just now without knowing why, he trembled.  Not that he ever felt particularly brave, on the contrary he realized he didn’t feel much of anything before, only that it was all fabulous fun, on the wing through the wild blue yonder, pubbing it at night with the lads, all an exciting adventure.  Even the flights over enemy territory were merry jaunts, he never ever thought, What if?  So why was he thinking this now?

“Jack, what’s up mate?  Are you coming or what?"   Alistair stepped closer.  "Did you receive bad news from home?”  
Jack looked up and felt re-assured, “Och no Ali, everything is grand.  Just day dreamin, let’s away then.”  And he smiled trying to force his trepidation back down his throat.

Jack leaned back on the throttle and an exhilaration prickled through his bloodstream as the hum of airplane engines and wheels lightly kissing tarmac in the impossible attempt to take to the air.  The first time Jack soloed, he didn’t think it would happen, the Spitfire ran like a spotted leopard giving chase to some prey through grassy fields, how could this beast take flight?  But then the ghosts of ancient highlander's pipes started up and the rhythmic tempo of Celtic drum, the aircraft lifted towards grey scattered clouds and dull hilly ground, teetering on the wings of wayward Gaelic fairies.  Jack thrilled as the un-seen voices elevated him into another world, a world of dazzling blue light.  He expected to see Zeus snoozing amongst the shining velvet clouds and below lay the world of mortals and their war seemed inconsequential, he was not a part of this, he was a flying god in an ethereal machine above them all.  On that first solo flight, he laughed, he smiled like a madman, tumbling and tossing over the earth like a barn swallow on a midsummer’s evening above geometric farms, he’d found his rapture and refused to return to the mundane again.

So why now, on this day, months later, did fear crawl into his bloodstream like an invisible serpent stealing his joy for no apparent reason?


Wednesday, 24 October 2012

My Reluctant Visit to The Mormon Church

Here’s a funny story about my Reluctant Visit to the Mormon Church!   (Apologies to Donny Osmond!)
When my son, Tyler was about ten years old he had a classmate called Elias who belonged to the Mormon church and invited Tye to have a look round . The church was about ½ hour drive from our house, so when he asked me to drive him I actually declined. Somehow, I wasn’t so keen on the idea. Derek, (my husband) of course wouldn’t drive him as he’s a die hard Atheist!   However, Tye being a loyal friend, felt he should oblige Elias by taking a tour.  So I decided I was being silly and I drove him to the Church of Latter Day Saints on Wilkinson Road in Victoria, BC for 7:00 p.m. 
We were greeted at the door by two boys of about 17 years old.  I explained to them that we were here to meet Elias and to take a tour of the church.  Yes, they said, that’s why we are here and they were expecting us!  “My name is Elder Hoffman”, one of them said and shook my hand. “Nice to meet you Elder!”  I said. 
The other one came forward and said, “My name is Elder Jones”.  “Oh!” I replied, laughing, “You both have the same name!”  (No laughter from the Elder brothers) “We’re Elders of the Church Ma’am!”  Yikes, I thought! 
While we were waiting for Elias, Elder Hoffman asked me where we lived.  I told him Willis Point.  “Where’s that?”  he asked.  “Do you know where Durrance Lake is? 
”NO, he said.  “How about Butchart Gardens?”  “No”, he said.  “Actually Ma’am we’re both from Utah.”  I’m thinking, why the hell is he asking me where I live then!?
Anyway, Elias shows up and I explain to the boys that I have to pick up my daughter just down the road and I’ll be back in 5 – 10 min. They say fine and away I go, leaving Tye with the two Elder boys surrounded by paintings of children being visited by angels. (I wasn’t creeped yet!)
I return in about 6 minutes and park in the car park where mine is the only car.  (When I had left there were about 4 cars there) and walk up to the front door. 
Guess What?  The doors are locked!  I knock and peer through the glass….nothing….I walk round the large modern building trying every door.…all are locked!  I return to the front door and knock loudly….within a few seconds a girl of about 11 years old opens the door for me. 
I ask her, “Where is everybody?” 
“I don’t know”, she replies.  I begin to walk down the long hallway, the girl skipping along behind me.  I open doors to offices, to a huge, impressive gym and to a room with a large ceramic hot tub of some kind, but it’s like in an amphitheatre. What goes on here? I’m beginning to think the worst. 
Again, I ask the girl, “Is anyone here?” 
“I don’t know”, she replies. This girl is beginning to bug me.  “Well where is Tye, Elias and the Elder boys?” 
“I don’t know”, she says, then she disappears down the hallway. 
“Tye, Elias!”  I begin calling and I am starting to feel paniciky!!! 
“What the F  is going on here?” I actually said this out loud…but there was no noise, no answer…only silence.
I am trying to calm down, I re-trace my steps as they echo throughout the quiet modern building. Every wall has the appropriate number of paintings, not too crowded or over decorated but large & colourful enough to stop you in your tracks!  Ethereal Eerie Individuals with looks of heavenly joy on their faces! 
How many wives?
All sorts of visions are dancing through my head, not very spiritual at all….
I’m imagining Tye has been drugged and dragged off to Utah to become a MORMON….they might have him tied up & gagged in the basement!
This is the MORMON FORTRESS in UTAH!  I'd never find him in Here!
I decide I’m losing it…while I’m still calling their names in a frantic state…I go outside the building again in the hopes that they have all gone out to the parking lot to meet me! 
BUT There’s no one there………….and now I’m locked out of the building again!
I’m just about to cross the street, knock on someone’s door and ask them to call the police, when a man drives up in a car.  I watch him get out of his car, then take out a key, go down some hidden stairs to unlock a basement door!
I practically knock him over with a barrage of questions, “Where’s my son?, What have you done with him?  I want him out here now!” 
“Hey Lady, we don’t bite here you know, calm down!!” 
“Well, I want my son now Please!”
He tells me they are probably in the hidden chapel, which is upstairs.
"What?  I didn’t see any upstairs!”
“That’s because its hidden.” He replies and makes a telephone call to the chapel. 
Why the hell is a chapel hidden? 
I grab the receiver and one of the Elder boys replies and I say, “I want Tye outside the building right now.”
Within minutes Tyler and I are sitting in the car. 
“Is something wrong Mum?” he asks.  I take deep breaths and decide on a large glass of Merlot as soon as I reach home.  “No no, nothing except I couldn’t get into the building and I was worried about you that’s all. 
On the way home, he chatters about his tour…it was all a bit much for a first church experience.  Worse, though was that he was told, "Tyler, you could wash away all your sins and use our gymnasium anytime."
I said, "Tye, you're ten years old, you don't have any sins."  And then he says to me, “I think if I decide to become religious, I’ll just do it at home."
Thankfully, he took up guitar instead.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012


Going Batty

I’ve dealt with my fair share of creepy crawlies over the years, living in the Caribbean, the UK and the West Coast.      
In the Caribbean, there are huge flying cockroaches, giant hairy spiders, colourful unidentifiable bugs, Mona Boa Snakes and Scorpions!  Even Bats, but they were well-behaved.
Scorpions; horrid lobster-insect like things that hide under stones, in cupboards and sometimes in your shorts, and I’ve been stung three times!  A Friend of mine gave me a Scorpion necklace as a sort of Purple Heart of survival.  Ugh!  I can barely look at it, let alone wear the damned thing, but for some reason I keep it.

On the West Coast, Vancouver Island, slimy fat black slugs attack precious flowers, Randy Deer eat the foliage and of course early mornings there are bear and cougar sightings to be wary of.
With all this creature experience, I thought I’d be immune to Ontario’s Wildlife, imagining the odd bold squirrel attacking the dog or cute foraging raccoons or roosting aggresive crows.  I was ready for anything Ontario felt like throwing at me, yet surprisingly this was not the case. 

Vancouver Island Buck

SLIMY SLugs - Ugh!

BATS!  I’ve discovered I’m terrified of them!  Yes, people keep telling me, they’re harmless.  Watching them whoop and dive amongst the high tree tops, looking like Soaring Stingrays of the Sky, gulping down ounces and digesting mouthfuls of insects, yes how lovely, how useful! 

My first night home after my trip to England, my sister and I spent the evening making a delicious pasta dinner, chatting about our weeks apart and drinking copious amounts of Pino Grigio.  We said our goodnights near midnight and went to sleep.
At around 2 a.m. I awoke to a rustling sound in my curtain then a kerplop and suspicious scuffling sound.  I thought I was dreaming but decided to turn on the light…..bloody hell… a BAT whirling round my ceiling!  It’s sonar sense obviously intact, as it managed to avoid getting chopped in two by the rotating blades of the ceiling fan.  I let out a shriek as it zoomed over my side of the bed.  I crawled to the door and turned the light on in the kitchen, Bloody Hell it followed me, I imagined it cackling (effects of the wine I expect) while it sailed and soared around my kitchen.  “Help!”  I cried.
My sister shouted from her bedroom downstairs, “Are you okay?”
“No!”  I wailed.
“Oh my God, what’s wrong?”  She told me later that she imagined an intruder in the house or I’d received a phone call with terrible news!
“It’s a BAT! And It’s Huge!”
“What?”  She raced up the stairs to find me teetering on the top step, trying to throw a sheet over the fantastic fleeting nightmare of a thing.  She collapsed into a heap of hysterical laughter.
“It’s not funny!”  I shouted.  “What are we going to do?”  I was nearly crying.
My sister could hardly speak she was laughing so hard.  “I don’t know.  Just come and sleep downstairs.”
“NO!”  I was horrified.  “We have to get it outside, otherwise it’ll be here all night!!” 
While we argued on how to catch and remove it, the bat in a wink of a drunken eye rocketed out of sight. 
“Where the Hell has it gone?”
“Look the window is open, it’s flown away.” My sister told me and so relieved and slowly we went back to sleep.

2nd Night
Midnight, the Bat returns which means Horror Of Horrors the blessed bloody bat must have slept somewhere in the house during the daylight hours.  Again, my shrieking returns, and again my sister is laughing at me.  But this time, I take a huge brave breath and seize the golden opportunity when it lands on the window ledge and I lunge at it with a plastic bag and grasp it firmly, run downstairs and set the bag on the front lawn where it crawls creepily out of the crackling plastic, relieved to be released it into the dark night.
The next day, I install homemade screens on the only two windows without screens.  Problem solved….? Or so I thought.

Several Weeks Later. 
Naturally I thought my Bat intrusions had stopped. It had been weeks and I prided myself on how clever I’d been fixing and installing the screens all on my own, what a clever Girl!  HA! How I bragged, but Pride cometh before a Fall.  It’s a sad ironic story where The Bat & I would be forced to an unhappy dual. 
Please read no further should you be a follower of Gandhi or The Dalai Lama and I sincerely apologise to all living creatures no matter how ugly.

This is the next day, Bat hanging from outdoor fireplace.

The couch is a very comfy place and I’d been blissfully sleeping there for the past four nights, due to visiting friends and cousins.  But, my first night in my own bed was not so happy.  I sprawled out marvelling in the mounds of available mattress space and soon was soundly asleep.  Jango my ancient doggie, whimpered slightly around the BAT Hour which I’ve discovered is at precisely 2 a.m. 
“What Jango?”  I sat up and felt a slight whoosh.  “No, it can’t be" I said aloud as I cowered back behind a pillow and shakily turned on the side lamp.  Yes, ha ha, I’m back
I grabbed my pillow and hid underneath, trembling for an escape, I slunk out the bedroom door. It’s rubbery wings and furry flying body followed me once again, I felt it anticipated my moves.  “How can this be?”  I shrieked in terror.
I switched on the kitchen light and the entire scenario began to replay itself with the creature from the depths of hell, laughing and diving above me.  It was bigger and uglier than before and when it landed on the window ledge, it’s little demon like face grinned and barred its fangs.

photo from internet - too freaked to take my own photo
Again I shrieked and wondered what the sleeping neighbours might think, it was then I transformed into a different persona and morphed into a revengeful someone I didn’t recognize. 

There was no way in Hell, I was going to let this thing live in my house.  It was either Me or the BAT and now it was my fangs that were showing.  I grabbed a broom and yes, I’m sorry to say, I swung it like a baseball bat as it dodged like a boxer around me, after three strikes, I hit it.  Bang, the thing rolled landing by Jango’s front paws.  He gave me a sad look, one that said, “What have you done?” 
The wild gleam in my eye soften slightly and a tremendous guilt swept through me as the almighty Bat lay crumpled in a heap and I dithered over to investigate. 
“Eeks!” The creature conned me as it took off in flight once more. 
Well, I’m sad to say, that the killer in me possessed my body once more and that was that for the BAT. 
The next night, I kept all the windows closed, perplexed as to how the sinister beings entered the house.  I didn’t relish a repeat encounter and I certainly did not enjoy this new murderous side of myself.  The next day I realized there was a small gap between the window and the screen and I read online about Bat roosting season and how they sought out places to hibernate.  Again the guilt washed over me, until I read this in the local paper! 

Rabid bat found in Perth County
A bat captured in South Easthope on Aug. 3 has tested positive for rabies.
This is the second animal in Perth County to test positive for rabies in 2012.
Earlier this summer a stray cat tested positive in the Mornington Ward; however, this is the first bat to test positive for rabies since August 2009.
Bats are very active this time of year as they prepare to hibernate.
“Bats are a concern because they can expose a person to rabies,” says Kate Beath, public health inspector. “We want residents to be prepared if they come across one in their home.”
People may become infected with rabies when bitten or scratched by a rabid bat, or when a rabid bat’s saliva comes into contact with broken skin or moist tissues of the mouth, nose or eyes.
If left untreated, rabies is fatal in humans.
“It’s important to take the right steps when you have a bat in the house,” says Beath. “Ultimately, if you see a bat, try to stay away from it.”

All the Gaps have been fixed now and so I hope this is the end of my BAT Adventures, but I still wake up at 2 a.m. in a panic dreaming of the Beat of Black Wings in my bedroom.

Now I am going to end my story with a pastoral photo of some lovely cows to soothe my soul, taken around October last year near Stratford Ontario.

Moo! Moo!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

How to Renovate a Kitchen by yourself on an Extreme Budget!

My Jimi Hendrix Clock in my Kitchen

I have two kitchens in my house! 

And so in preparation for renting out the downstairs, the kitchen desperately needed updating. 

However, after our main kitchen reno, (see link)…  the conversion of our attic, (still need to write about) the stripping of the stairs and many other upgrades like boring replacement of plumbing and wiring, there was literally no money left for another kitchen reno.

So, time to get creative on an extreme minimal budget, which is actually quite fun!  And I barely required my live in Handy Man!  I could practically do this reno all on my own! (I know, I know, don't laugh, Lori!)

The downstairs kitchen is a good size and perfectly functional, unlike the upstairs one used to be. 

Lots of Floral

Lots of panelling

But, each time I entered the kitchen I felt like I was twelve years old (meaning 1972) and any minute the Brady Bunch would be showing up for Egg Salad sandwiches and I'd have to wear an apron!  My mother actually liked the downstairs kitchen as it was covered in flowery wall paper framed with a very fruity border.  So without having a great deal to work with, the first thing that had to go was the pretty flowered wallpaper.  Sorry Mother!
As you can see, scraping off this paper was fairly simple but it left behind one of its layers that was quite annoying and required some spray called, DIF FAST-ACTING Wallpaper Stripper, it's about $7 a bottle, which I purchased at Canadian Tire.  It worked like magic and I was able to scrape off easily.

Luckily the border of strange fruit came off without any trouble at all and I was glad to say goodbye and shove it all into a garbage bag. 

I contemplated the melamine cabinets, which are very sturdy, easy to use and with large deep shelves, however, they are somewhat boring and have no character whatsoever, for some reason they were all the rage in the seventies.  About ten years ago, in Victoria, BC I had decided to paint these same type of cabinets and although I read on a Reno Diva’s website how to exactly go about it….the paint chipped in time which was discouraging.  Melamine is heavy and non-porous and refuses to accept a change in colour and so they chipped with every wee knock or tap, it was most regrettable especially when the paint was expensive and the hours spent sanding, painting, etc….BLargh! 
So, not wanting to make the same mistake again, and without the cash to replace, I decided to make the walls and surrounding area as funky as possible to make up for the lack of Interestingness about the cupboards.

And, I thought about my Very Colourful Jimi Hendrix Clock and so I decided to match the hues from this clock.  (Oh dear....)

The girl at the paint store cringed, "Are you sure about this?" when I showed her the colour combination and I wondered if I was doing the right thing…but you know, it’s just a kitchen and I loved the clock so I decided, Why Not?  Also, it kind of matched the odd fruit tile on the back splash, (sadly all fruit couldn’t be eliminated )
But as the paint went on, the three hellishly different colours were oh my……were they beginning to look hideous?  Like the kitchen I had previously criticized?   Crikey!  At this point my Handyman wouldn't even enter the kitchen.  "I don't know Suze...looks like you'll have to hand out vomit bags to whoever dares go in there." 
"Really?  You mean that?"  panic ....panic
Then when I painted the 70’s wood panelling in red with a purple stripe, I thought, oh no,  even poor Jimi will be rolling in his grave! 

Was it too late to change the colours?  But it had already cost so much in paint! So I forged on and painted the window and door frames in Purple too!  (no way was I stripping again)

It was so loud, I had to wear sunglasses.  My mother hissed, “What have you done to that lovely kitchen?”
"I know!"  I cried, "What have I done?"

But you know, it’s now grown on me and I love it!  My original plan was to make this kitchen as Funky and Fruitless as possible and I think it worked.  Not everyone agrees with me and I am totally prepared for the horrifying reaction to my kitchen.  All it cost, was the price of three gallons of paint, (each a different colour), lots of family labour, a new laminate floor, which was on sale, $300, completely necessary, we ripped up the linoleum stained green roll, and that was all.  I hope you love it too!  What do you think?