Thursday, March 15, 2007

I've Lost My Cool

My nieces used to think that I was really cool. But that was back when I lived in a cool loft and I was single, so I spent all my time with them. But now I have a house that needs my attention. Walls to paint, tiles to grout - that sort of thing. At Christmas, I took them to see Wicked, as well the bright lights of Dundas Square. But it is always the unexpected that impresses them the most. We had about half an hour to kill, so we went to the Eaton Centre to unthaw. Alas, the girls had never seen our urban mall before, as they live out in Clarington Township, east of Oshawa. They were amazed by the giant christmas tree covered in sparkling crystals and the dancing fountains. They were also dazzled by the Disney Store. (The culture of consumerism is growing!)

As part of their March Break activities, the girls came to visit with their mother and dog on the weekend. We went to the ROM and the AGO -- all the cultural places that you should visit. But I can tell that they are just not as impressed with my small west end house as they were with my cool loft. I know this because Jessica tells me every time she walks through the door. She flops onto the couch and says: "I liked your old place better." She's very direct. What can I do to win back the cool? Is there anything that I can show them that can impress them, or are they already jaded at ages 10 and 12?

Saturday night we went to their favorite restaurant: Swatow. Sometimes I think that is the only reason they came for the visit, was to eat at Swatow. They love the "real" chinese food, the kind that you can't get out in Oshawa. But again, it is always the little things that impress them more. En route to the restaurant, Jessica spotted a rat. Now, we were in Chinatown, but it is the last thing that you want your little niece reporting back to her suburban relatives and classmates about when she boasts about her time in the big smoke. But she thought that it was cool. I know this because she kept saying: "Cool, my first street rat." Well, she quit saying that when she saw her first group of rats - 3 or 4, feasting on a mound of unprotected garbage. Then she said: "Cool! More rats." And she ran towards them. Her older sister did not think it was cool at all. She was suitably disgusted, as was I. Despite the fact that this was only blocks from my former cool loft, I have never seen a rat in Toronto. It was my first street rat too.

Well, with one youth adequately satisfied that a visit to their rapidly aging Aunt is still cool, I had to find a way to impress her older sister. I took her to Mitzi's Sister in Parkdale to see the lovely and talented Rhonda Strackit perform during Canadian Music Week. I have to admit that even I thought that was cool. Top that off with a ride home from "The Duke", and it was certainly a cool weekend to remember -- I hope.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

The Trouble with Trim

Like all jobs, it is the little finishing details that can drive you crazy. Have you ever tried to operate a mitre saw? Well, it is enough to drive you insane.

We planned to do the trim on Saturday, but the power was off in our neighbourhood for over 36 hours, which makes the mitre saw even more difficult to operate. Instead we went to Rona to buy the trim. With electricity at all outlets the next day, we were ready to begin cutting, except that the new trim was too tall for our borrowed mitre saw. We had the choice of buying a sliding compound mitre saw which retails at $1000, or we could exchange the trim for a shorter version. We chose the latter.

One more road trip to Rona and we were finally ready to get cutting. It seems pretty straight forward: 45 degree angles, inside corner, outside corner -- that kinda thing. But one wrong cut and then you get even more confused. Finally we sorted it out and got all the trim cut and nailed it onto the wall using this archaic tool called a hammer. It seems that people can only use those power Brad nailers these days, but we managed to get the trim in place using old school technology and some glue.

I'm sure that it was a thrill for our neighbours and their guests to have their Sunday dinner accompanied by the roar of our power saw and the soft percussion of our hammer. But with each finishing nail, I silently told them that if we get this done tonight, our loud renovation may soon be finished. Soon. For their sake, and for mine!