One Day I Will Rule the World

World Domination, Babies and Middle Eastern Dance

June 28, 2013

Caterpillars

A month ago, as I was walking her home from a playdate, Hannah said to me, “Mom? When are we going to move?” And I said, “um? Never? … I mean, dad and I are very happy in our current house. We’d like to stay there for as long as possible.”

Hannah said, “but you said that you would come live in a castle with me when I’m grown up and I’m being a knight so that you can be the Queen of my castle!”

“Ohhhhh,” I said, “Yes, that. Okay, well, when we’re ready to get a castle, then we’ll figure out moving.”

“Why can’t we get a castle now?” she asked me.

“Castles are very expensive,” I told her. “We wouldn’t be able to afford a castle now.”

“But mom,” she said, “you know we could always just build our own castle.”

So yeah, that’s how that conversation went.

This Wednesday was the last day of school for the year. I picked Hannah up at lunch (kindergarten, half-days this year) and walked her home and she decided to stay and play outside.

A little bit later, she came holding one hand cupped closed and saying, “I decided to come in because I can’t play with just one hand.” She might have told me that she’s scraped one hand, so I didn’t say anything really. But then I was helping her get her shoes off and she kept holding her hand funny and I said, “what’s in your hand, Hannah?”

“Nothing,” she told me.

“Honey,” I said, “you know you can’t bring caterpillars in the house.”

A stream of opposition poured forth from her, “but he’s my best friend, mom he’s so hungry, I’m just feeding him some leaves, mom pleeeeeeeeease.”

I reiterated everything we’ve gone over lately about keeping things in captivity, about it being better for outside animals to be outside. I went and got her a container, and said she could put the caterpillar in it to watch him for a bit and see if he would take the leaves, but that she would have to take him back outside right away.

We had a lunch date with a friend that afternoon, so within twenty minutes I had received a text from my friend and was whisking Hannah off to this lunch date – caterpillar safely in an air-vented container on the table. Hannah stared into space and whispered to herself, “so cute.” And then she spotted me watching her, got some shifty eyes and said, “Um, when I said ‘so cute’, I meant the cat …and the caterpillars.” Then more shifty eyes and, “Um, when I said caterpillars I meant…. that… there might be another caterpillar that is lost in the house.”

“What?!”

“Well I put him in my back-pack to bring him home from school, but now he’s not there.”

I said, “Oh my god, Hannah. In your back-pack he could get squished by your books and your pretzel container.” And she said, “no, there was no body. I looked.” So I looked and concluded also that there was no body, and that I was way cooler with the idea of a caterpillar lost in the house than dead in her back-pack. And we went off to lunch.

As we drove, she said, “When I grow up, I’m going to keep as many caterpillars as I want at my house.”

I said, “for sure you can do that. You’ll be able to make the rules in your house.”

“Yep, when M– and I have our own castle, we’ll both get to keep caterpillars.”

I’d heard a lot of talk about M– this year, so I politely asked, “are you guys going to have a castle together because you’re still planning on getting married?”

She said, “yep.”

And I said, “that will be nice. And are you going to be knights and princesses in your castle? Or are you going to be the king and queen of your own castle now?”

It took a little while for her to answer me. And then she said, “Mom, we’re going to be the King and Queen of our own castle because I’ve decided it’s better to make the orders than to do the orders.”

So it looks like I’m off the hook for moving into that castle, or for raising wild caterpillars.

June 12, 2013

Deserving

It’s kinda the sweetest how my fourteen year old still feels small enough to slide his head right under my chin when he comes in for a hug. Uncomfortable because he’s really too big and he ends up clocking me in the small of my neck and choking me with his massive head when he then straightens up, but so sweet that he still has the same physical patterns in hugging me that he has for so many, many years even though he’s almost my height now.

It’s also kinda the sweetest that he still gives me so many hugs.

And today, the littlest asked me, “why does Gordy want to hunt so much?” And I said, “I guess he’s still wild at heart.”

“Oh,” she said with the gravity of one having a troubling realization. “Then we should probably set him free, mom. If he feels wild, then we’re not the best place for him, he should be free to hunt for himself and maybe if we set him free, he’ll be so grateful that he’ll come back and visit us.”

Oh my. This is a kid who’s been watching too much Born Free and that amazing video of Christian the Lion. Well, and also I told her yesterday that we are not going to become a caterpillar sanctuary because we already housed so many caterpillars when Ethan was little and caterpillars just don’t thrive in captivity. It’s so lovely that she’s just taking all this in and extrapolating from that into her own personal life and choices about not keeping things. But yeah, how does her mom then explain that we’re not setting the house cat free?

I’ve been so very busy with work this spring. For a couple of weeks there I was bemoaning that I had three simultaneous projects all of which had to go live ASAP. And then, when it began to seem like the end was in sight, then another client surfaced with a project that I had provided secondary support on, saying that her primary programmer was sick and she just needed to get this out the door and couldn’t I please just help out. So I offered her my weekend, and that turned into finishing up the project. So I have four projects on the go right now.

I had been telling Ian that when these current projects are done, I’m going to take a break and do some writing. But I told him that last fall, as well. There always seems to be just enough work to keep me too busy to write. My challenge is really learning to say no. I need to quit thinking of writing as “going to the ball” – the thing I get to do when my other chores are done.  And I need to just start saying, “nope, can’t do that chore, I have a ball to go to.”

If you, perchance, grew up thinking that what you wanted most out of your life was to write novels, you probably got told that it was hard work to write on your own with no boss to drive you and that you would have to learn a good work ethic. I am beginning to suspect that my good work ethic is precisely what keeps me from writing. I pondered to Ian, “I’ve been waiting to be established enough in my life to be allowed to write for so long, waiting until I had my career settled, my finances settled, my kids settled, my house clean enough – and I assumed that when I reached the point where I had the space to get writing that it would be like spotting a loved one across a field and nothing could stop me from slow-motion running back to that love. But I’ve avoided it for so long and chastised myself for it for so long, that actually, it’s the opposite. I keep looking around for what I must be neglecting, and there’s always something. I assume that if I’m enjoying what I’m working on, I must be doing something dreadfully, dreadfully wrong.”

I think if my children told me they wanted to write, I wouldn’t say a thing to them about work ethics.

I would say, “Then the only thing you need to know is that you deserve to. You deserve to write as much as you want, as long as you want. You deserve to write when it’s easy and feels like playing or when it’s hard but you can’t step away from it because you feel like you’re on the cusp of something. But no matter what thing someone might tell you is far more important, you deserve to choose writing above that thing. If it makes you miss social gatherings, neglect the dishes, and fail to get that day-job promotion because you wouldn’t work late as much as everyone else because you’d been noodling a conversation with a character over in your head and you had to get home to get it down on paper, then you’re probably doing it right.”

Anyhow, in spite of nearly a year having passed since I said, “I’m going to take on fewer projects and start writing instead,” that time might really be coming. I’m aiming to have all my current projects done by the kids’ last day of school. And then I will spend the summer finding my legs, I think. Obviously the kids will take up a lot of my summer time – but I have a number of research books I need to get into, and I think I can do that and start working on my outlines while spending the summer at home with three kids.

May 19, 2013

Repainting

Last week, I repainted the dining room.

Here’s a before:

 

Repainting wasn’t high on our priority list (we actually don’t mind the yellow that the previous owners had it), until we painted the kitchen blue, and then every time I looked from one room into the other, the contrast of the sunny yellow with the aqua blue felt like some kind of old-timey french circus tent. It was a pretty contrast, but seriously jarring. We’re looking for a softer, light-filled, relaxing look in our house.  Circusy is definitely not what I want to come home to.

I had wanted to repaint all the yellow – but that’s a large area, running from the front door through the entry hall, the living room, computer nook, and dining room. So I tried to talk myself into just painting the archway between the two rooms. But as time wore on and I got more fed up with the yellow, it soon turned to, “I know we have higher priority things than a new paint colour, but I swear to god if I get these things done this weekend THEN I GET TO SPEND THE WEEK PAINTING THE DINING ROOM. DEAL?!”

My mellow spouse knows better than (or doesn’t care enough) to contradict Imperial ALL-CAPS DEALS, so that’s what happened. I tackled doing our taxes on Saturday night with great fervour, organized our papers and receipts and then I woke up early on Sunday morning, feeling like a kid on Christmas and I jumped up, brewed some coffee, cleared out the dining room and started edging.

There’s the ‘after’. It looks white, but it’s technically a very pale grey. The colour is “Full Moon”. Ooooooooh.

I’m very happy with it. I feel like the wood in the room pops better now. Before it was just one big mess of warm tones against the yellow, but now it’s a nice contrast.

There’s so much more light in the room now.

Which is much better for photographing my food.

(Okay and also my children.)

And my stuff.

Alas, with incremental home improvement, every triumph is tempered with the sad list of things you wish were also done. We wanted to re-do the mouldings around the window while we had everything off the walls. We also wanted to put up different crown and paint it a glossier white so it would pop a little more against the grey, install taller baseboard, put a rosette on the ceiling over the chandelier and put some decorative mouldings and corbels in the archways. Oh yes, and those windows that are leaning against the walls, we’d like to hang them up – now that the room is so crisp and bright, it needs a little patina on the walls (which I suppose the kids’ dirty fingers will add soon enough).

For sure all those other things are coming eventually. Right now, though, I’m working on enjoying the present triumph.

May 1, 2013

Woodworking and Music

Hello lovely peeps. It’s been a while, I know.

I gotta level with you; some shit went down last month and there was a period of time where I wasn’t coping so well with it. So rather than blogging, I did a lot of paper-journal-writing. Ian found me a sulfite free wine at my local liquor store and I did a lot of drinking, a lot of popcorn therapy  and a lot of mental and moral grappling with things. After a couple of weeks, I was more or less coping, just that situations were taking up a lot of my time, still, and blogging, having slipped already, wasn’t a priority to me. And then this week I realized that more than a month had passed.

So I’m trying to get back into the blogging groove. But I’m just going to post some pics off my phone, show you what I’ve been up to and ramble a bit, yes? (Aside: with regard to vagueness, which I realize can worry people, and also with regard to my own coping, I am actually fine. The stuff that went down was mostly someone else’s events and issues – I just take these things really hard and had a lot to process and was trying to figure out what I could do to help and subsequently have needed to rearrange a number of things in order to be there for people who need people right now.)

Anyhow, I have, otherwise, been pretty productive on some various projects. So let’s talk about that.

Last Sunday, at the end of a weekend fraught with social functions and maintenance work, I was suddenly, as I am habitually on sunday nights, seized with panic that the weekend had done nothing to advance our tasks and goals. And so I grabbed three projects and managed to make some good progress on all of them. I fetched some corbels we had been working on and put a couple of coats of varathane on them.

 

We need corbels for so many things, so I recently decided we should try making them. These ones will probably go toward holding up a bar-height shelf in our dining room, but we also need a number of them to go in archways throughout the house. There are two untrimmed archways in our livingroom/dining room space and eventually we want to add another one. There’s also an awkward space at the back of our upstairs hallway where the hallway opens onto a landing. The hallway can’t afford to be narrowed into a doorway because it’s already too narrow. But some corbels and a little arch at the top would delineate the spaces nicely.

Future corbels may also be more ornate – you know, with some additional details on the sides, etc. We shall see if I can expand my corbeling skills.

Anyhow, I also began taking apart a thrift store picture frame and painting it to turn it into a dining room chalkboard.

It still needs a couple of coats before it gets hung on the wall.

And I put together a fixture for this three-chain vintage light shade.

I had picked up the shade at a thrift shop a couple of years back, and it’s been sitting in my basement ever since. Unfortunately it didn’t have any part of any light fixture to go with the shade, and the shade had three holes, and 3 chain fixtures are not really the most common. So the shade sat around for years while my subconscious noodled the problem. When a neighbourhood friend of mine redid her bathroom recently, I told her I would totally take her fixture off her hands. It was just a brassy, seventies-style thing with a horrible totally retro frilly frosted shade, but I figured I could toss the shade, paint the fixture and do something with it. and then, on inspection, I saw three holes in the top fitting and concluded that I had found the fixture that could work for this vintage shade I had sitting around.

If anyone is ever interested, I can totally post more of a tutorial, or at least a parts list, to explain how the chain is fastened on there.

There are many, many more projects in the works around here.

We recently redid the kitchen ceiling, covering it with reclaimed fence-boards for a paneled look. Now we need to make a new light fixture for the kitchen (also using vintage shades).

I have a spice rack I want to paint and hang on the wall to disguise our thermostat. I want to put up the previously mentioned bar-height shelf in our dining room. I want to clean and organize an office space in the bedroom so that I can occasionally retreat to get some work done away from children and noise. I want to sew many, many slipcovers and paint all my rooms and make new pieces of furniture and cabinets.

I also have to really finish the above projects: put the final coats on the chalkboard and mount it, finish and mount the corbels, and I want to replace the acorn nuts on that light shade with ball nuts because I think it’ll look better.

After all the recent crappy situation went down with my friend, and while I was trying to sort out how to help, I said to Ian, “I’m going to quit working. Programming isn’t important when my life is full of people who might not know how important they are to me. I’m just going to devote all my time to being that person in the neighbourhood who fixes things for you, brings casseroles when things are going badly, watches your kids when you need a break, sets up coffee dates whenever you need to talk, and helps you paint your living room.” (Ian, for the record, was so very understanding about that rant/wish.)

But then also lately I’ve been saying, “I need to quit programming work and just work on all our household projects.”

I need to sort out my priorities. Let’s be honest, while I’m out having coffees with all the people I see more of these days, I’m also thinking, “I just want a couple weeks to buckle down and really program. God I miss deep programming.” I need three of me.

Four, since even if I could be there for all the people that I love, and fix up my house, and really program, I’d also want to be writing full time. Errrr… and dancing full time.

On a different topic, sometimes Ian and I joke about being musical soulmates. I think maybe it started with our mutual appreciation of Primus. And The Tragically Hip. And various other bands that we just agree are gold, and integral to a musically complete life. On the topic of Primus, we used to commiserate about the paucity of fellow Primus-lovers in our lonely teen years.

But the joke really solidified when we found ourselves agreeing on a lukewarm positivity about something like Soundgarden or some such. One of us said, “I love their music, I’m totally happy when I hear it playing anywhere. But it’s not like I ever thought to buy one of their albums or pursue being a fan.” And the other one said, “that’s exactly the space they occupy in my musical tastes.”

There are certainly differences. Ian adds bluesier and jazzier things into his repertoire. I love me some trashy 90s techno in a way that I don’t expect him to ever understand.

The other side of it is that there’s a way that your tastes grow in response to the person that you’re with. One day you’ll find yourselves drawn to the same pieces of furniture and you wouldn’t be able to say which one of you introduced that esthetic to your collective tastes – but it certainly is there because of the relationship, because of some design consensus between the two of you.

“I never used to appreciate old trucks before you. Now I’ve probably surreptitiously photographed a significant percentage of the city’s 60s Fords,” I told him once after coming back from Home Depot with pictures from the parking lot.

“Well, I never used to notice character home trim and mouldings before you,” he countered. But with his being a lover of vintage cars, and someone who appreciated a certain “old-timey” music and vintage aesthetic, Ian has certainly been receptive to my vintage-house love.

A couple of days ago, he arrived home from work and I began trying to explain to him how that afternoon I had been realizing that I wanted a different style of couch. (Eventually. Because our current couch is really perfectly serviceable.)

I fumbled through describing something camel-backed, and with some carved wood trim but not too fussy. 30s or 40s, maybe as late as the 50s, I said. Fabric covered, but not brocade or velvet. Probably something manmade, something reminiscent of fortrelle. With a few curvy lines – like a Queen Anne style, but not straight up last-century Queen Anne style. Probably not tufted. More like if someone in the 30s had bought something that was definitely 30s (modern to them), mostly art deco, but evoking a Queen Anne style.

Once we’d gone through that discussion and looked at a few sofa pictures and he’d agreed with most of my vision, I thought about how long it had taken me to explain that vision, and how at the beginning I had been concerned that he might not grasp what I was trying to describe and would seize on the wrong thing like “fortrelle” or “50s” and would say something scathing about how he didn’t think that sounded like my tastes. But I think we’ve been together long enough that he knows how long my descriptions will take and is fairly confident that he will like it once he’s grasped it, or will get to refine it if he doesn’t.

Today I sent him links to various woodworking projects. “You could make me this map-maker cabinet.” And he replied, “I like that a lot.”

And then, “I found the perfect design base for the shelves I want to build at the bottom of the stairs. It just needs three cupboard sections intead of two.” And he agreed, “I like that too. We just have to figure out how to replicate the finish on that piece.”

“The blog post on it says she stained it walnut and then sanded it down unevenly.”

“Oh!” he said, “maybe we need to sand down the corbels you stained this weekend.”

“I WAS JUST THINKING THAT! We are totally woodworking soulmates!” I told him.

So, add that one more thing to my list of project tasks. But then, maybe, hopefully, I will get them mounted and put a shelf on top of them.