Thursday, 25 November 2010

Luckily, we made very few mistakes in the whole ground floor reno process. One of the few was putting some of the halogen pot lights too close to the kitchen cabinets. Hardly a mistake really, more like a fudge, a little boo boo. But still it required some patch work as well as the services of our favourite Hungarian curmudgeon, László, to make it right.

True to form, László entered the Tall House

without even so much as a hello:

Cutting right to the chase he barked: -Who did this work?

Me: -What work?

Him (getting a little red in the face): -This!!!

Me (heart pounding): -Oh, You mean the mouldings?

Him (voice rising as if speaking to a deaf half-wit): -Yessssss!

Me (not knowing whether this is good or bad): -Uh, Manu and his brother did a day together and Manu has been doing it alone ever since.

Him (shaking his head as he walked around the room): -Whhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaatttttttttt? … … But this fantastik job!

Me (breathing again): - ...

Him: - ...

Him again: -What your husband do again?

Me: -Um, he works in advertising

Him: -And the brother?

Me: -He's an engineer.

Him (full on yelling): -IM-POS-SI-BLE!!!!!! Usually these guys don't know what they are doing.

Him again (more quietly): -This really incredible job. Most workers don't do as nice work. He's hired! … Now you go.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Mr W, our ancient, crotchety old neighbour with the heart of gold has moved out and put his house up for sale. We saw the pictures online. Save for the staircase, there are no original features, just an empty shell. There is nothing to show for a lifetime of living in that house but a bunch of linoleum flooring and some bare walls. Growing old sucks.

The house is being touted as a "piece of history", as indubitably was Mr W. We hope that someone falls in-love with it and brings it back to life.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

All the trim still needs painting

The range hood needs to be installed.
The smoke alarm goes off every time we open the oven...

...we're missing the backsplash too

One day we'll hang the real plates, these are just photocopies...

The future coat closet. The antique doors need to be hung and painted.

We've been living in the new space for a couple of months now. No matter that there is still a list as tall as the house of things to do, we are home. And we are loving it.

There is nothing like a year of living in a construction site to make one appreciate the finer things in life. Cleanliness! Order! Organization! It is amazing how comparatively simpler our life seems. Possessions are now nicely stowed in their allotted space instead of piled higgledy-piggledy in a corner. We're back to having people over for dinner. We don't feel the need to get out of the house on weekends. We linger.

Everything just seems so damn easy. We've even discovered that mundane tasks such as doing the dishes are actually soothing and enjoyable in a beautiful space. Its even taken that edge off the weekly morning routine. Getting out of bed at 6:30? A snap! Because even on the grayish of days, the new kitchen is filled with light.

Oh we still have projects, but now the work is just aesthetic. We've put the grunting and heavy lifting behind us. And maybe that's why we are so happy, we are now just working on the pretty.

Even our gifts to each other have changed. We have moved on from power tools to more soul nourishing offerings such as the much longed for Magnolia tree in the back yard.

And just this past weekend, for the first time in years we actually had a whole two hours of doing nothing! Manu watched some football and I read while the Princess napped and our Little Superhero saved the world.

Life is good, but we can't quit now. We have to pull up our bootstraps and give that last push. Manu has already planned to take a couple of days off this week to prepare the house for winter and I'll be back in the saddle on the weekend painting the trim. Then the back splash needs to be laid, the range hood installed, the closet doors hung and painted, the vestibule tiles found, the front window trim applied...

Holy sh**t! We'd better get to work!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Behold the great pirate ship

Argh! And she shall be christened the Stejoine

The Jolly Roger flying aloft

The summer of 2010 will forever go down in Tall House history as the summer of the great pirate ship, The Stejoine.

One fine august day while I was busy unpacking and organizing the first floor, Manu came up with the most inspired idea to keep the little folk (which included my three and a half year old nephew who was visiting from Miami) out from underfoot. The children would build a pirate ship! It would only be an improvement on the actual landscaping and there was more than enough scrap lumber left over from the 1st floor reno.

The four of them worked away at it for the better part of the day. First the hull, then the masts and finally the sail. There was even a hand drawn Jolly Roger flying proudly aloft. The children baptized the ship Stejoine in honour of themselves, the mighty pirates who'd built it: Captain Stelio, First Mate Joseph and Secon Mate Inès. Much like real pirates, they got absolutely filthy, dirt on top of mud on top of black paint - there was nary a square inch of them that remained untouched. They would build, then they would play and when it all got too much, they ate grapes and water melon slices to combat scurvy.

But the fun didn't stop there. For over the next several weeks our little Superhero, all of five, busied himself making all manner of improvements to the lovely vessel. Benches and tables were added and removed, there was a cafeteria (!) in the works, storm proofing was attempted… Folks started stopping by just to see the ship. It was fast becoming more famous than the Black Pearl on the Small Street.

But best of all, it meant, for the first time since we bought the house, that the kids didn't have to go to the park to enjoy the great outdoors, they could just hang out in their own back yard. And it didn't matter if it wasn't pretty or cared for (yet!) it was still, simply, magical.

As you may have guessed we have a lot to do inside before we even think of tackling the outside. Which is a good thing because the darn place is overrun with pirates!

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