Friday, 7 December 2007

I Promise I will not Leave you Hanging!

Hey all!
I know that this is deadline day, and that you are probably all waiting with eager anticipation to find out how it all ends. Well, it isn't over yet and there is nothing to report as of noon Friday December 7, 2007. I faithfully swear that I will not leave this blog without a suitable conclusion and that you will be aptly satisfied before I leave for the sunny south on Monday. Please check back over the next couple of days, to see how the Great Kitchen Demo/Reno of 2007 ends! I hope to have a little treat for all of you who have, without fail, stuck by us through the chaos. Thank you all again for the encouragement, kind words, personal horror stories, and meals. Keep an eye on this space over the next month as well, as we will be having a "kitchen warming" so that anyone who wants to (within reason!), can see the finished product. In the meantime there are new photos from yesterday in the album, so check those out.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Chanukah Sameach!

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Bright Lights, Big City!

I am a proud urbanite! A city dweller! A member of the rat race and all that it entails! I love living amongst hoards of people. I love the culture, the excitement, the shopping and the diversity. (even if I do hate the weather!) I spent most of the summers of my youth in a small little midwestern town weirdly named Zionsville Indiana. Weird in that Zionsville was and still is home to one of the Reform Movement's oldest summer camps, yet paradoxically was, in the 70s, the midwest centre for the KKK! (There is one very frightening memory of this craziness. One Fourth of July, we took the entire camp into town for fireworks, and many of the reddest of rednecks began heaving beer bottles in our general direction to let us know, in no uncertain terms, how they felt about our presence. Needless to say, fireworks have been handled on camp ever since.) Today, Zionsville is kind of like Richmond Hill in that the city has grown up to it's borders. Today, Zionsville feels like a northern suburb of Indianapolis, but back then, it was very small town. The only entertainment that existed off of camp was a Denny's, a laundromat, and a Pizza Hut! If you wanted more, you had to trek the 10-20 miles into the city. So believe me, I understand what small town living is all about, and I will take city-life every time. I know that we here in the cities have issues. We have too many cars and not enough roads. We have too many people and not enough places for them to live. Our public transit leaves a great deal to be desired and we produce to much garbage. Still, here I am, happy in my "little box on a hillside, made of ticky-tacky!" (Malvinia Reynolds was a genius!!!) This morning, however, I witnessed the perfect storm of city dwelling. The snow and ice clearance has been less than adequate and thus has created very narrow streets in this neighbourhood. (I'm sure in all neighbourhoods.) It is also garbage and blue box collection day in the northern hemisphere of the Big Smoke, so there are many trucks on the side streets this morning. We have a lot of school buses for various school boards and private schools that traverse the neighbourhoods before 9:00 am and, to add to the chaos, my neighbour 3 houses down was celebrating her son's bris this morning at around 7:30 am. Needless to say there were cars parked in every available spot within a 500 metre radius of my house. Teenage Son, in his diligence, place the garbage on the end of the driveway along with the 3 blue boxes. My contractors have been wonderful about hauling their trash away, but last night was a late one and, noticing that it was trash day, they left a few large pieces along with our own. I diligently tagged these with paid stickers so as to avoid the inevitable hassles. So here is the scene! Cars parked every which way including directly in front of my house, but not all that close to the snowbanks. Garbage trucks and parked cars on the street directly opposite to us. Cars speeding along my street trying to get to work AND a school bus trying to make a tight right hand turn onto my street directly in front of our house. He didn't make it and got painfully wedged in between the cars and the snow. It was at this exact moment that the husband chose to leave for his morning appointment. He is now totally closed in and cannot exit the driveway between the bus, the garbage and the snow. Horns are blaring, the husband calls me and is cursing words so blue that they would make a longshoreman blush. I, dressed in my sweats, winter coat and sneakers, trek three doors down and politely interrupt the cutting of the child in order to inform my neighbours that their guests have created traffic hell!!! They innocently look at me as if I am from Mars and say, it is not them! What to do? As I trudge back home, I notice the husband has made a three-point turn on our drive way and has squeezed his way around and speeds off. The bus driver is cursing in a foreign tongue and horns are blaring from cars up and down the street. Finally a young truck driver, gets so fed up, he almost yanks the bus driver from his cab, re-aligns the bus himself, and allows for the resumption of calm. The only good news, is that my guys had not yet arrived. This time, it wasn't our fault!!! Only in the city!

We are almost there. Yesterday was interesting. There was a piece missing from the dishwasher. When the husband found out, he blew his usually composed gasket. He not only got the company to admit that they were incorrect, but he had them send the piece over at 7:00 last night by courier. The countertops were not perfectly aligned, so back to the shop they went, hopefully to reemerge today. I have running water, but was instructed by Reliable not to turn it on in case it doesn't hold and he is not here to fix it. Check out the pictures. The place is really shaping up. Raines (formerly Hunky) is supposed to come today to build a step so that we don't kill ourselves walking out the back door. We'll see!

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

It is a Marathon Not a Sprint!

I often say of my job during it's most pressure packed time of the year, that Rosh Hashana is like a series of short sprints. Each service leaves me somewhat winded, but it goes in fits and starts allowing down time for the body and soul to recover. Yom Kippur is more like a marathon. An all day race during which I have to pace myself. If I start out too quickly on Kol Nidre, I will not have enough body or voice left for N'illah. I am often asked how it is that I still have anything left at the end of the day. Some of it is definitely luck and blessing. Luck in that I have managed to avoid major physical pitfalls, (that hollow sound you hear is me knocking my wooden head-no need to aggravate the big guy!) and blessing in that I cannot explain what is truly a gift. For this, I am truly grateful. There is a part to the explanation, however that is most definitely training. Rehearsal, exercise, healthy eating and proper asthma medication (living happily through chemicals!!) all play a part in my getting to the finish line intact. I may not be a world class athlete or even a weekend warrior, but I have learned what my limits are and how to survive the physical beating that devotion to my craft puts upon me each year. Don't get me wrong. As I age, it gets more and more taxing and it takes longer to recover, but I'm still here! This kitchen renovation has been more like a marathon than a sprint. I knew from the beginning that there would be issues, (OH BOY WERE THERE ISSUES!!) delays, (an outside job that was supposed to take 4 days took 6 weeks!) and stuff that nobody anticipated. (finding the cold air returns on both sides of the kitchen wall meant that we couldn't remove as much of the wall as we would have liked or else we wouldn't have had any heat in the master bedroom.) Weather, which nobody would have expected, caused unforeseen issues like the three of us freezing for a couple of nights. (I honestly do not remember temperatures this cold or having this much snow in November and early December in years!) We had to have a stove hood made to order as nothing on the market fit our specs. We have had appliances in the garage for almost a week, because they were ready to be delivered but Reliable wasn't ready for them! We have endured dust, and muck and noise and fast food, all because we knew that it was a marathon and not a sprint and that we had to pace ourselves. And so today, I can finally say that I see the finish line. We are not there yet. We still have the last few miles to go, but the end is definitely in sight. All the parts have arrived. Most of the cabinets are up and some of the island is in place. We have part of a countertop installed and the fridge and freezer found there way into the house last evening. (of course they are not yet hooked up, but they are in their places!) Lovely working people showed up this morning at 9:30am. Overall told us yesterday that he sees no issues with finishing before our self-imposed deadline of Sunday! Of course, I am heading south Monday morning. I will have a bright shiny new toy to play with, and I won't be able to because I won't be here. I told teenage son that he and his brother better not mess up my cooking areas before I have had a chance to use them. I ran this marathon and I deserve to cross the finish line!!!

Check out the new pictures in the album. It really does look great. More to come tonight.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Doesn't PC Mean Progressive Conservative?

Several years ago, while on a theatre excursion to the Big Apple, the husband and I had the opportunity to take in a fantastic little musical called Avenue Q. (If you have never had the opportunity to see a play or more specifically a musical on Broadway, you absolutely MUST put this on your life list!! There is nothing like Broadway theatre and I speak to this having visited London's West Side and the best that Canada has to offer.) Avenue Q is a bit like Sesame Street on steroids. (It is coming to the Big Smoke this spring and summer, so if you can, you should purchase tickets with the understanding that it is definitely NOT for children!) The actors are also puppeteers with Muppet like creations dangling from their arms throughout the performance. There are Ernie and Bert like characters, and a series of friendly monsters that entertain and engage. Only, these characters discuss very adult problems and issues ranging from sex, partying and racism. One of the highlight numbers is a little ditty entitled "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist". The idea behind the song is that we all have pre-conceived notions based on ethnicity and race and once we all understand and embrace this fact, we probably can all learn to get along a bit better.
I like to think that I am a forward thinking, liberal and for the most part, socially tolerant individual. I find ethnic jokes abhorrent and I understand when one group or another is offended by some lack of sensitivity from the majority. We need to be vigilant in trying to understand each other's feelings when it comes to matters of race and we must remain on constant guard so that the bigoted yahoos of the world don't get a foothold. That said, when did PC stop describing a computer and become the be all and end all of our society. I am a proud Jewish Canadian (or Canadian Jew-I never really quite figured out which!) I am not a Semitic Canadian or a Hebraic Canadian. I am a Jew! My cleaning lady (yes she is here again, this being Tuesday!) describes herself as black. She is of Jamaican birth, so African Canadian doesn't quite fit. The men working in my house are proud to be Chinese. True, they are Asian, but isn't that a bit confusing given that Asian is used to describe anyone from that part of the world? Given the historical differences between China, Japan, Korea, Cambodia, Viet Nam etc, isn't it somewhat pompous of us westerners to lump the entire community together? Why wouldn't they all be proud to say where they are from. How would all of us proud Canadians like to be constantly called Americans? It fits given that we are all from the Americas, but I know that I need that little maple leaf difference understood. My country doesn't have the cowboy from Texas in charge, we have the cowboy from Alberta in charge! OY! Race has become so tricky an issue, that newspapers and news networks have taken to avoiding the discussion all together, for fear of being targeted. This week we saw the arrest, trial, conviction, sentencing and finally yesterday, the pardoning of a middle-aged British teacher who committed the crime of naming a teddy bear. While stupid and insensitive given who she was teaching and where in the world she was, I truly felt the world had gone mad for another moment in time. Political correctness taken to the nth degree. PC! Personal Computer. Polish Canadian. Putrid Cigarette. Progressive Conservative. (an oxymoron if ever there was one!) Pickled Chilies. President's Choice. (they make great stuff!) Personal Computer. All are politically correct!

We have made some remarkable progress in the last 24 hours. Cabinet Guy, (my new favourite human being) has been busy installing the cabinets and is here again bright and early. Reliable came early this morning with the final piece for the countertop, the butcher block. Man, is this guy strong. It is an enormous piece of wood that he and one skinny kid carried in together. Get this!!! As I returned from a quick outing yesterday afternoon, none other than.... wait for it..... Hunky was here is the wind, snow and sleet, COMPLETING MY DECK!!!!!! I think he got yelled at. Older Son has re-monikered him as "Raines". (as in Claude Raines the Invisible Man!) So thank you to all who sent in suggestions, but I think we will stick with Raines. He will have to return in the spring to sand and re-stain the wood, but at least we can now exit the house from the rear. I will get the husband to go outside later and take some pictures. (What? You think that I am going out there in this weather?) Check out the latest pictures in the second Kitchen Reno album. More will be added later. Less than a week before I bask in the sunshine. It will be a tight race to the finish. Chag Chanukah Sameach to all!!

Monday, 3 December 2007

Old School or New Age

I am a cynic by nature. (I know that you are all absolutely shocked by this revelation, but you should now all close your agape mouths and continue reading-she says dripping with sarcasm!) The paradox here is that I am also very liberal. My brother calls me his pinko-commie Trudeau loving sister, which I take as high praise coming from a Harper-worshipping fascist Harrisite! (Note to all-believe it or not we really do get along well and love each other very much, as long as we avoid the hot-button topics of politics, religion, sex, money, Iraq, the environment and my personal favourite-GWB!!!) But, I digress. The problem with being a cynical liberal is that acceptance of new-age philosophy doesn't come easily. I find this is especially true in the area of relaxation techniques and stress alleviation. Being the type A that I am, relaxation obviously is difficult to obtain. The experts say that exercise is a key and I do my level best to keep up with my programs. But, let's be honest. How many of us really love to exercise? We do it because we know that we should, or because there is a social component involved. (i.e. we are meeting our friends at the gym and later spend two hours at Starbucks!) Can any of us admit that we TRULY LOVE to exercise? Certainly, the workouts keep my stress level tempered, but just as often I stress over the fact that I didn't work out as much or as often as I should!! Of course there is the accompanying sore muscles and exhaustion, but Dr. Oz says it relieves stress, so I do it! Some of my friends swear by their weekly adjustments with their chiropractors. Now, I love a good massage. A deep tissue, muscle relaxing all over massage. (Note to all the XYs out there-a massage can be JUST a massage!) A massage is truly relaxing in my books and I have been know to fall asleep more than once on the table, but I have a problem with chiropractic adjustments. I cannot for the life of me understand how twisting this vertebrae or that bone is going to cure my asthma! I have no problem with the muscular component but please do not try to sell me on it as a cure-all. (The opinions of this blog are strictly those of the writer. Please do not inundate me with proof text as to the benefits of chiropractics. It is not for me, but if you all want it--go at it!) I have tried yoga! As a workout it is top flight, but as a way of life, well.... Meditation is difficult for those of us who have trouble sitting still, and being in touch with my breathing is something that I live with every day. Meditative retreats? Not my thing. Can't see living in silence for any length of time. (I know there are those who wish I would be silent more often, but that is another story!) I don't like hot baths (more a shower girl) and hot milk has to be lactose free. I will not even seriously discuss reiki, crystals, fortune telling, talking to relatives on the "other side" or manipulation of my aura and chakras! I DO love a good book. I believe in vitamin supplements to replace what is not there. I love a massage. (I know that I already said this, but the husband needs to hear it again!) I believe you are what you eat and that healthy eating on all levels should help the body deal with all sorts of ills. There is nothing like a sauna or a good "shvitz" to help make the day disappear. Music is the salve that calms my aching soul. Crank up the ipod and the world is automatically at arm's length. We live in a stress-inducing world. We need to escape it now and then in order to maintain sanity. Having a bunch of strangers traipse in and out of my house for a month has been nothing short of mind-blowing. I have been doing my level best to cope with the issues, but husband, I am still waiting for my massage!

We have a new player here today. Cabinet Guy! Cabinet Guy showed up late Saturday afternoon with the entire array of cabinets and countertops. Amazing! I think I love Cabinet Guy. He is here now installing said cabinets. Older Son made the observation that we effectively had kitchen in a box with some assembly required. Hopefully some of that assembly will happen today and tomorrow. All of the appliances as still in their crates in the garage, but I think that they will get hooked up when Cabinet Guy is done. Hunky is starting to really piss me off. I will open it up to the floor to come up with a new name for him, as his hunkiness is surely a thing of the past. We may or may not have a deck by April!