Monday, March 30, 2009

New home design, from below the ground, up.

Wow, I forgot how smelly new furniture can be.

In an effort to make our basement into a more comfortable space, we wound up buying a new couch for the living room yesterday. Wait for it, there is logic.

Andrew and I have been debating for some time now how best to use the space in the basement. He has been using it for weight lifting and other exercise. I was using it (sparingly, of late, I admit) for playing video games of both the seated and dancing variety, seating provided by a couple of awkward butterfly chairs. We had two large rugs covering most of the space.

My dream for the basement has always been to turn it into a "Zen Den", with dark furniture, vivid red or green walls, and a small, enclosable space for entertainment. The ultimate vision would bring our entertainment center down from the living room, so all movies and games would be enjoyed from the cozy calm of the Zen Den, and maybe hidden away for board games to take over. Hard to feel Zen when someone is lifting weights or kicking the crap out of an 80-pound bag hanging from an I-beam.

So yesterday morning we started designing. Andrew plotted the entire basement in AutoCAD, so we can print off a scale drawing of our basement for reference, including stairs, pipes, appliances and furniture. (Oddly enough, he has not drawn the ventilation ducts - i.e. what he actually does at work.) I cleaned the kitchen while he drew, and started thinking about the materials we needed. Ideas were tossed around: should we build cubbyhole shelving to go along a wall? Helpful when kids come around and need space for their masses of objects. Could we build our own seating, or perhaps a big hollow ottoman to store games? Possibilities for design really are endless.

In the end, our plan was this: head over to IKEA (like the rest of Ottawa does on a Sunday) and buy two more matching rugs (Dragör, in case you were curious) to fill in the empty spots in the 'living' area of the basement, and also get a paper towel dispenser, because I don't want the paper towel on my spotless kitchen counter. Afterwards, take a trip to Home Depot to get an extension cord for our AeroGarden, which has outgrown its under-the-cupboard space in barely two months, a shower rod cover and new shower curtain rings, because the ones I bought at the dollar store were crap (figures), and some hardware for mounting a clothes rod from the basement ceiling.

Well, what a trip. Driving to IKEA in the pouring rain, finding the rugs we needed in less than five minutes, then spying a couch that begged to sit in our living room. While we had discussed the possibility of a new couch, it was not on the shopping list. But so comfy, and a good price ($399), and a color that went well with our current furniture.

So we thought. It's brown, but with a tinge of purple, which I sense is the reason it appears to have been discontinued. It's sort of like a grape chocolate. Not as great with periwinkle walls, cream furniture and orange accents as we had hoped. But I swear, it didn't look that purple in the store.

Now Cocoa, as we dubbed her in the store, is happily off-gassing in our living room, stinking it up with formaldehyde sofa farts, and the cats are staying far away, which I guess is a small relief. It would really be frustrating to have the couch for less than a day and have it turned into a scratching post.

What became of the loveseat that was in the living room, you may ask? It is now in the basement, serving as scratching post and seating for video gamers and Dance Dance Revolution spectators. The weight bench has been moved to where the cat's stuff used to be, and now the cats have their own nook under the stairs for food, water, and litter. The only think that really needs organizing now is the area around Andrew's workbench, and I'm not going there. Far be it for me to mess with his 'system'. He has graciously *snort* permitted me to clean the workbench if I wish, but I'm not to sort anything or throw anything away. That's his job. *rolls eyes*

Whatever. I have a big open space downstairs, the cat stuff is now contained to a small area, the kitchen is clean and we have a new couch. Now if only I could give Cocoa some Gas-Ex or something...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I just finished playing one of the most beautiful games I've ever seen: Syberia. The graphics are amazing, it won a bunch of awards including Game of the Year 2002. And yet I'm disappointed.

You are Kate Walker, a New York lawyer sent on a quick trip to a small town in the French Alps to get the owner of an automaton toy factory to sign over her company. Unfortunately, you arrive in town to find out that not only has Miss Anna Voralberg died, she has an heir: her brother Hans, who was believed by all to have died seventy years before. Your new duty is to locate Hans Voralberg and get him to sign the ownership papers. Simple enough, right? Except the last Anna has heard of him he was in Siberia.

Along the way, you meet people who know of Hans or remember him, but no one seems to know where he went. You find out that Hans is a brilliant inventor (evidenced by the train you ride through Europe that he designed, and the accompanying automaton, Oscar, who was designed to drive it), and throughout the game you have to solve many puzzles that people around him were unable to complete.

I won't give away the ending, but it was patently unsatisfying to me. It's only a small condolence that there is a sequel, which picks up exactly where this game left off. But that's of little use to me NOW, when I want to know what happens!!!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Magnetic poetry on the wall today

I have your kid
I will make him eat soy if you do not return my bike

Climb to drink the gift mother gives

When you touch my beautiful body we laugh and taste the morning together

(random selection)
for sun throws are feeling oddly saturated with winter energy wave
wander in
excite through

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Yay, green!

Yesterday marked the first day of 2009 that I worked in my garden. Huzzah! The snow has mostly melted except along the fences, where there is still about a foot of a strangely pebbly and granular snow/ice in some areas.

As a result of the melt elsewhere in the yard, I was finally able to cut down dead raspberry canes along the side of the house from the last two years. I was too afraid to get rid of all my raspberries the first year, and last year I couldn't remember which ones had already borne fruit, so I let them all be. I also cut down thin, weedy-looking canes to make way for stronger ones in future. A trip to Home Depot is in order in the coming weeks to purchase tall stakes. This year will be a more organized crop, I hope.

There appears to be strange webby-looking mold on certain areas of the grass, namely the walkway from the patio, probably due in part to the natural dip in the landscape keeping the ground wet. But it's also near the base of the pink rosebush. I'll keep an eye on it in the event it begins to change color or smell like trolls or something, but it's probably just spring's talent for decomposition at work.

But the best part of yesterday was seeing the bits of green beginning to emerge. The grass is still a bleached yellow mat that crackles when you walk on the areas dried by the sun, but along the house, beneath the powder room window, are sprouts which will eventually become tiger lilies. Further along, coneflower buds can be seen. Amongst the canes is the oddly bright lipped mouth of hyacinth. And to my delight, my experiment with dividing rotted tulip bulbs until I found a few good nuggets seems to be bearing leaf.

Two years ago, I had purchased several bags of tulip bulbs, which I was unable to plant before the first frost. This past October, I spent several hours on my back step, enjoying the heat of the Indian summer sun beating on my skin, carefully taking apart the tulip bulbs that had rotted in the bag in the hopes that some would still have viable cores. Tulip mold is a fine black powder that has an amazing softness, like fine ash, and would fly away if pressed too hard; I took care not to bring the bulbs too close to my face so that I wouldn't inhale it. Like garlic, tulip bulbs have cloves, but not always in the structured way that garlic has: tulip "cloves" can grow around each other, and it was usually these outer layers that had rotted, leaving strangely formed innards I broke apart for maximum flower spread.

In the end, I had, I believe, over 30 pieces that might grow into flowers, not including the new narcissus bulbs I had bought. If it works, it will be a one-time only, blowy display of pink, orange, purple, and yellow. If not, well, at least I'll have a new narcissuses (narcissi?) to cover an area once taken over by a dead blackberry bramble.

I love spring!!!

Monday, March 16, 2009

LaSucka (okay, it's immature, but I don't care)

I realized the other day I needed new underwear. Some of it got holey, some had grown (shrunk?) too small to be comfortable, you know the drill.

So I head over to LaSenza to pick up something new and fun and above all, comfortable, for spring. I recall that the last time I shopped there that the "Medium", regrettably, no longer satisfactorily covered my womanly arse, so I found several items I like in a "Large". Yellow, Orange, Blue, Green, and Black. Fun. Every girl likes new underwear.

A few days later I pulled one of the new pairs out from the shopping bag, and alas, had trouble pulling said pair onto my obviously more womanly body. Although I managed, they were uncomfortably tight the whole day, and left unsightly marks when removed. As all five pairs were of a similar cut, I smartly realized that I could get my money back at least on the other four pairs I had not worn. Cue a trip back to the store this weekend.

I walked up to the counter and told the cashier, who turned out to be in training, that I wanted to return these items. The supervisor walked up and asked why, and I said the items didn't fit. I told her point blank that, at 130 pounds, and 5'2, that my butt didn't warrant an "Extra-Large".

The supervisor pulled the remaining four pairs out of the bag and said, "We can only give you an exchange." I told her I hadn't worn them, in fact, I was keeping the pair that I had worn even though they didn't fit. She then asked, demonstrating she hadn't processed anything I'd said, "Would you like to try an Extra-Large?"

I paused and stared at her in slight disbelief from behind my sunglasses. "No," I said, with a bit of ice in my voice. I wondered just why I was allowed to try on underwear in the store for free but not return something that had only touched my hands and the hands of the various salesgirls.

In the end, I wound up with a gift card with my $27 and change on it instead of money back on my Visa. Which sucks for me because I don't like underwire bras and I now loathe their underwear. I don't wear pajamas, they don't carry silk things anymore, I like the slippers I have, garter belts don't fit, and I hate the perfume they sell. I just wanted my freaking $27 back. I'd give the bloody card to someone as a gift, but then they'd have to deal with the outrageous sizing standards and made to feel fat regardless of their body shape

What burns me is that although the receipt says I can get a refund on unworn merchandise, "Due to the intimate nature and hygienic standards of certain items, we regret that it is not possible for us to accept returns on babydolls, panties, bodysuits, hosiery, and teddies."

Pardon the vulgarity, but what the fuck else do they sell? Why, why, why, will they let hordes of people try on intimates in the store, but not let them return it later, unworn and still tagged?

LaSenza is now dead to me, until the unlikely day that I use the $27 to buy something I don't really need.

Snips and trails and piggy/pony tails

It's official: I can put my hair up again!

In November 2008 I cut off nearly ten inches of my hair and donated it to Pantene's Beautiful Lengths program, which helps make wigs for women afflicted by cancer. I plan to donate again as soon as my hair's long enough, and today's first pigtails in nearly four months mark some progress for me.

Ponytails will also help keep my hair out of my face, something which has been bugging me for some time, but I'm loath to cut it again until the back reaches at least chin length. (When it was cut, it was longer in the front than in the back, due in part to my own self-haircutting efforts.)

So while said tails are barely two inches long and are situated perpendicular to the back of my head, it's a start. I'm hoping to possibly be able to donate again by Christmas, but it might be another year from today before someone else can have Hair By Nadine.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Spring is in the air...

... and so is the smell of poo. I know I blogged about this last year, but it still irks me. Pick up after your pets. Shit does not dissolve in snow. It freezes and then waits for spring.

Crap aside, it is beginning to smell like spring. The weather is getting warmer (I write this as it is -19°C with the windchill, naturally), and yellow-brown grass is reappearing from beneath the geological formations created by several months of industrious activity on the part of shovels and snowplows. I can see half of my patio now, and I was able to trek out to the composted the other day without getting my pant legs soaked. Alas, it appears that nothing has decomposed over the winter. I spotted half a lemon that was still yellow.

But this is becoming the most fun time ever for my garden! Okay, maybe second most-fun after the snow melts... or third-most fun after the May long weekend... you get the idea. I love my garden all the time.

In preparation for this, I have already ordered about $100 of plants for various areas of my garden. For the bare front walkway, where I tried to grow string beans last year with very limited success, I have ordered two Japanese Painted Ferns and tree bunches of Mixed Lungwort. They'll regrow each year, and add some color to the front yard.

For the backyard, I have ordered Blue and White Phlox to go against the side of the house, and Lily of the Valley to probably go beneath Willow A (the willow against the western fence of our yard). And the pièce de résistance will be the Garden Pleasure Lily Trees (!) to be planted beneath the powder room window to eventually provide a smidge more privacy.

And I haven't even mentioned edible plants! We're having raspberries again, of course, but we're going to try beans and carrots and peas again after building an animal-proof cage. We might even try potatoes in a bucket, as well as onions. Can't wait for April!!!