Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Yesterday Paul broke a black heart-shaped magnet that I had bought when I was 19 and living in my first apartment (maybe my second). I said "Paul, you broke my heart!" He said "Yeah, your BLACK heart."

He cares about me. Not enough to carry around a photo album with our wedding pictures, but after 18 years, there's still some affection.

Yesterday I had a call from John the contractor saying "Meg, I don't want to freak you out but I want you to consider something. I want you to think about tearing your entire house down and rebuilding from scratch. It would only be another $50 thousand or so, and a return to the committee of adjustments which would add a couple extra months to the project." I didn't freak out, mainly because I was in a bit of a hurry to get out of the house to pick up the kids, but money was at the forefront of my mind. This project is costing us pretty much what we paid for the house nearly 7 years ago. I can't get my mind around it costing any more that it already is. Considering I'm already talking about selling my children on ebay to pay for it.

Fortunately later a message was left on the answering machine saying that the engineer thinks the fireplace is fine, doesn't need to be torn out and that we will continue as planned with the excavation starting Thursday.

Whew I say.

I promise to take my camera tomorrow to get an updated picture. Today's project was knocking a big hole leading into the basement.

We had a spontaneous dinner at Kim & Scott's tonight - I was very conservative with my wine consumption (MOM!). Jakob considers Kim his girlfriend and also considers himself a bit of a chef. I think it's smart to start that young (4), Kim can mould him into the perfect boy toy and then move to France where she will be well fed and well taken care of.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


record high temperatures + TTC strike = increased gas prices and a lot of bitter sweaty people on the street.

Paul and I stopped by the house but it was locked up tight and dark. I don't think anything was done yesterday. I think we're still waiting for the results from the engineer on the foundation before starting to dig. The gas people were busy working on the front of the house installing an outside meter. They had better not harm our tree, the tree we had to pay the city $1,400 to ensure we don't damage it during the renovation. The tree/$1,400 that decreased my life by at least 2 years because of how angry I was that that the city was going to hold us hostage and not release the permits to build unless we paid them the money - which they should pay us back if they determine the tree was left unharmed during the reno.


Paul spoke to John and it turns out that the front foundation will have to be replaced because the front of our house is brick. This wIll increase the budget by...who knows!?. But the upside says Paul is they will have to dig the basement down another 6" or so which gives us more headspace (++) but will also cost even more money (--).

My mom read my blog for the first time and told me that I drink too much wine and should become a vegetarian. I think the heat must be getting to her.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Summer has hit - gorgeous days, high temperatures. Amazing.

Friday I ran into the sub-contractor, I'll call him Ron since his name escapes me and he looks like a Ron, and had a tour of the house. The day was spent mainly cleaning up in preparation for the excavation which should begin Tuesday or Wednesday of next week (according to John). "Ron" also framed in the new bathroom on the second floor so it was nice to see how large it will become as well as see the remaining space that we refer to as the "library" because I like how pretentious it sounds.

Ron is really sweet. We spoke of our plans for the weekend and he's heading up to a trailer he owns in Acton. He had a couple of pictures of it so I took a look at them. Then I noticed he also carries a small wedding photo album in his truck so he showed me that too and positively gushed about his wife. I think my mouth dropped, I may have even drooled not being able to close my mouth. I know for a fact that Paul doesn't carry a picture of me, probably doesn't even talk about me. For all I know, except for the wedding band, people probably don't even know I exist. And I'm fine with that. I've only started carrying pictures of the boys again in my wallet and it's because of the school pictures I ordered and then accidently recycled.

Fortunately, Ron also told me he'd only been married 2 years so I forgave him for still being in the (incredibly long) honeymoon phase of his relationship.

Afterwards we went for dinner at Kim & Scott's with Brenda and William joining us and drank a lot of wine. I tried counting the glasses afterwards but then wondered if I should be thinking in bottles. It was great being back on the street and nice to hear that the renovation hasn't been too hard on the neighbours (it's only been 2 weeks) but it could also explain why such an excessive amount of wine was consumed. It was a rough Saturday morning, thank god Jake went searching out Paul first thing instead of me. Being second favourite parent certainly has it's upside.

I forgot to mention that there was a bomb threat on Friday which was being treated as credible by the police. Some whacko had phoned in saying he would be blowing up an ambulance at the intersection of Yonge & Bloor. We were advised to avoid the area. I had hoped to be advised to leave work and go spend the afternoon on a patio.

Saturday was an amazing day - I weed whacked my front lawn in the morning and then went shopping with Pat for work clothes (for her, not me - my office wear consists of t-shirts, cargos and jeans). We ate a late lunch at Green Mango, a fast food Thai place on Yonge Street, then more shopping. (I need to say that the stress of renovating is obviously not having the effect on my appetite as I had hoped, while trying on pants at the Gap, I went up a size.) After we were invited for a BBQ at Pat & Jake's and also accepted an invitation to watch left over fireworks from Victoria Day at our neighbourhood park.

Today, Sunday, another beautiful day but instead of spending it outside, we spent it milling around Wal-mart with half of Toronto. Nothing makes me want to self medicate more than spending time at Wal-mart, fighting over sandals, spending quality time in the toy department tripping over all the crap littering the floor, counting the passing minutes of your life as you stand in line hoping to pay before you expire.

Spoke to John this morning and listed all the windows to order and also to talk about the feedback from the engineer regarding the basement. He spent 1/2 hour on Friday with the person and should have the results in a couple of days. "Ron" said on Friday he assumes it will be creating a second foundation with cinderblocks. He also said John is the best boss he has ever worked for (and has for the past 4 years) and John will always find the best way to do something at the best price. Very encouraging.

Time to go help Satchel with his school project...outside!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Not much happening today at the old homestead. The addition has been completely torn off so now the crew is cleaning up.

I thought the excavation was supposed to begin this week but I have a feeling that tomorrow will be an easy day spent cleaning up the last of the rubble with Monday starting the dig. Not that I've heard from the contractor this week - specifically about the foundation. Should I be worried? Will it help me lose another few ounces?

I noticed in my bank account that the first payment to John has been withdrawn. The cheque was for such a great amount that I couldn't write the number on one line, it had to kind of wrap around on to an invisible second line. I stopped breathing when I saw that huge amount taken out of my bank account. Fortunately I ran into my friend Lauraine who twisted my rubber arm and we ended up on Hemingway's patio for wine spritzers, enabling me to master the breathing process again.

Pat and I pondered how do the obscenely rich write cheques with all those numbers? Fairy dust.

My boys are pretending to kill each other with matchbox tracks. Today I asked the daycare that Jake goes to if they had any spare baby girls just hanging around. You know if there's one left over, just give me a call. I'm desperate.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Note: I have no idea why yesterday's AND TODAY'S picture is showing up in negative form but it really is driving me insane.

The addition is now a distant memory and I feel like popping champagne to celebrate!

It took just over a week to take down a garage, a deck and half a house.

I love that it's gone - it was such a piece of crap. The sub-contractor told me that the kitchen was originally a back porch - and considering Paul was intimately familiar with the crawl space below (major skunk problem when we first moved it), it wasn't a surprise. It's insane that everything was so poorly done, I doubt that one owner before us actually took proper responsibility for the place. I don't think I ever mentioned the ridiculous braces that were holding the back end on since it started to separate from the original house soon after it had been erected.

So Jakob, who is just over 4, is driving me crazy. He's going through something (tantruming, yelling, bad words - I'm telling strangers that he has Tourette's and it can't be helped) and perhaps it's encouraged by the move and renovation of our home but I'm threatening to sell him on ebay. He's very cute, I'm sure I could get a good price. I'll even throw in the cat, which thank God has stopped the vomiting. I swear the cat is bulimic, but he's 14 and really should accept who he is.

Another fab shot of the back by Kim:

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The start of the second week and we start this week with sunshine. I can only imagine how happy this must make the guys at the house. Especially since round 2 of the destruction is taking place outside with the removal of the kitchen.

We are still waiting the final report from the contractor on the crumbling foundation.

I'm still really missing our king size bed. What is it, 173 nights left on a really uncomfortable double size bed.

Will we make it? I'd hate to know what the odds are. Stacked against us anyway.

Monday, May 22, 2006

I met my first crazy neighbour today (unfortunately lives right beside me) who complained bitterly about the hell the neighbourhood has been put through with the renters of our house over the past 4 years. The prostitution! The drugs! The alcohol! The vomiting every 2 weeks! And to not be surprised if the neighbours treat us coldly because it really has been horrible for them. I was a bit surprised that considering I accidently rented into what is clearly Sodom and Gomorra, the house is in terrific condition.

Finally, crazy people aside, I have pictures to attach! I swung by the house today with my friend Pat and camera in tow. The other upside is that I stopped by a little yard sale and picked up an Ouija board! I haven't played since my childhood friend used to terrorize me in her basement with it. I can't wait to continue the tradition with Satchel - he's going to love it.

First the back of the house complete with very pretty port o' pot.

The kitchen:

The bathroom:

Pat in the bathroom:

Finally, scary basement (a bit blurry):

Saturday, May 20, 2006

No house news today.

Jake and I hung out together while Paul & Satchel went to the driving range with his brothers. We went for a walk with the wagon, took a look at bathroom fixtures at Vienna Douglas and then I managed to sneak Jakob into a traditional barber for a trim. The mess of blonde curls is gone and instead a little boy has emerged. He looks so different. I felt like we had stepped backwards in time with Jakob sitting on a wooden plank while the barber clipped away. Even the cash register looked 50 years old with buttons and a crank.

After the barber, we walked over to Loblaws to get some flowers for the new garden (at our rental pad) and Jakob threw the biggest tantrum. Yelling, crying, thrashing, screaming idiot and stupid at the flowers (and the people). He was such a joy. Kept trying to smash flowers with the arm on the wagon. I really just wanted to squeeze him hard, really hard. But I didn't. Well maybe a little bit but he didn't notice with all the screaming. Instead I scooped him up and carried him over to the parking lot curb until he calmed down. Then put all the flowers back on the shelves since he would have tossed them out of the wagon anyway. We walked to the other plant/flower place, which was blocks away, with him promising he wouldn't cry. That this was the place he wanted to go to all along since it was the place we always went to.

As soon as we got there - he cried.

I'm hoping this is just an unbearable stage that will pass soon, because he's really not that much fun to be around right now. He's lucky he's cute.

After returning home, we got out the gardening gear and pulled an entire recycling bag of weeds out of the stamp size front lawn and planted the 6 flowers we picked up at Fiesta Farms. The neighbours nodded approvingly saying it's been a mess for years. They also ran over in concern when I picked up a bunch of leaves that were close to becoming compost in the corner of the garden to find at least a thousand bugs...and I screamed.

I hate bugs, especially when there seems to be thousands of them.
Friday, May 19

I'm over the drama of the crumbling foundation but am again very encouraged, I must have shed at least 1 pound after that episode!

Of course I have no idea how much building a new foundation is going to add to the renovation in cost and time, but will find out next week from John, our contractor. He's loathe to even guesstimate at this point, saying we'd either walk away very depressed, or happy & relieved only to be devastated later...he'll just wait until he has an actual figure.

I took a tour around the house today with John. My neighbour stopped by so I invited her in for a look. She commented that it looks more like a stage set then our house. It is hard to believe that not 2 weeks ago this was our home. Shackles would be perfect in the basement! Paul came through - his first time since Monday and was amazed at everything that was gone.

There was a big fire at one point in the kitchen with blackened beams still showing the evidence. And many different styles of linoleum layered on the floor. Nice. The demo guys flung the bathtub from the 2nd floor to the ground, I loved seeing that - I always hated that bathtub. Why would anyone buy a big metal box where you can't lay back and relax in? Insane, cheap people who hate baths - that's who. Dirty cheap crazy people.

One of the demo guys found a 1919 penny with King George on the back - I kind of wanted to grab it from him but I restrained myself. He looked like he might have broken down.

Tonight we were invited to a BBQ at a friend's house, we are celebrating the selling of her house and her moving back to Connecticut where her family lives. A bitter sweet time, we'll miss her very much but it is a change she has been looking forward to for a very long time. I brought chilled champagne and cookies to contribute - really what more does a girl need? After many hours of drinking and eating and laughing (gaining back the 1+ pound from stress), we stumbled home. Weird movies from the 80's kept up in conversation, movies like Liquid Sky & Diva. Diva I loved, saw it during my highschool trip to New York City and still enjoy seeing it occasionally. Liquid Sky saw too many times at a rep theatre in London Ontario. Weird film - I kept flashing to a corpse, his nose, a girl, aliens, psychedelic colours...drugs...

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Day 4.

Today is the day where I say "I think we made a big mistake."

The demo has progressed with the 2nd floor, back-end of the house removed (previously Satchel's bedroom) and the kitchen has been completely gutted. The basement has also been gutted and here we find set back number 2. The foundation is destroyed. It's roughly 100 years old and the engineer has never seen anything like it. When our contractor gives it a whack with the crowbar it crumbles. It looks like a mixture of earth, rock and brick.

Of course we have many options - all which will push us completely over budget.

I can't begin to describe how ill and depressed I feel.

Option #1: tear down entire house and rebuild (not really an option)

Option #2: rebuild foundation section by section - time consuming and incredibly expensive (not an option)

Option #3: rebuild a new foundation against original option which will decrease space in the basement by roughly 9" on each outside wall (one valid option to consider)

Option #4: build a new wooden-framed wall inside which if engineer approves would cost less and take up less space. (keep your fingers crossed that this will work out).

The engineer is bringing her big boss to assess the situation and recommend a solution.

I'm sitting here drinking red wine or self medicating as I like to call it. Mulling over everything and anything I can sell or cash in and what can be removed off the list provided by the contractor.

On the upside, tonight is Satchel's spring concert so we will be heading off soon to watch him perform in a play (I'm back, he was amazing!). And the contractor did find a piece of old newspaper dating back to July 1924. I've put it in a bag to send to school tomorrow with Satchel for show and tell.

Tomorrow is a clean up day for the demo crew so not much will be done outside of cleaning. Thank god it's Friday and the weekend is a long one!

I'm going to bed.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Day 3

My cat is rebelling against being kept indoors - he keeps throwing up on the rugs.

Needless to say this is testing my patience since I have cleaned up regurgitated cat food more times than we've actually lived in this rental house. Unfortunately Jakob is picking up on my frustration by going around saying "That f*&^king cat." Kind of cute seeing as he's 4 with a head full of blonde curls but I'm just waiting for the school to call me about his "advanced" vocabulary.

Today after work I went for a massage, then headed to the school to get the kids. Unfortunately once again the skies opened up and the rain poured down, complete with lightening and thunder. According to the demo guy yesterday, today they would be bringing down the second floor, back half of the house. I'll have to take his word on that one.

I miss my dishwasher too, I feel like I'm camping.

I promise a picture tomorrow. Again think big mess, a big wet filthy mess.
Tuesday, May 16: Day 2.

What do I miss most about my old house? My king size bed. Definitely the king size bed. My amazingly comfortable bed complete with pillow top. I could weep just thinking about it. What are we sleeping on right now? The crappy old double bed mattress dragged down from our 3rd floor guestroom (penance for always telling our guests "oh yeah, it's a great up there - you get the best sleep!" How my husband and I shared this for the first many years of our relationship is beyond me, especially when I factor in that my oldest son would climb into our bed virtually every night for the first 5 years of his life. We're are going to be crippled by the time the reno is over. And I'm counting the nights - only 177 to go!

I asked my friend Pat how many nights can one person go without sleep - I'm at 4 nights (coincidentally, I've just spent 4 nights on the crappy mattress with my husband and cat) and am feeling a little bit manic. I don't think anyone's noticed, except perhaps for the small breakdown at work. She said that according to Survivor, 69. Pat's obviously lying too me, not wanting to see me cry.

The rain started in yesterday morning and continued the entire day but the demo crew perservered. The garage is completely gone and fortunately they were able to move inside the house. When I stopped in enroute to the school, I took a bit of a tour. The 2nd floor bathroom has been gutted (knob & tube wiring dangling everywhere - great, we had been told the wiring had been updated when we bought the house nearly 7 years ago) and so has my sons' bedroom.

First added expense: the original truck wasn't able to fit through the back alley leading to our garage to drop off the extra large size bin for dumping so instead 2 smaller ones (smaller truck) have been dropped off at double the price. To compensate for this I had 2 glasses of red wine after experiencing a small anxiety attack over the immmense cost of the entire project.

Unfortunately because I had to rush from work to the school, I didn't have a chance to pick up my camera so I have no pictures today. Just imagine a really big mess.

Monday, May 15, 2006

My friend said to me this morning that I am about to enter a very dark hole. It's beyond that. I have instead jumped in (I'd like to say pushed hard from behind but since I made the decision to renovate, I guess I need to take some responsibility) without a parachute, a flashlight, a map, or a therapist. I am armed only with a corkscrew, a bottle of red wine, and an armful of house & home magazines.

Today, May 15, is Day 1 of the major renovation of our tired little house.

As background information, we're tearing down the garage in the back, ripping up our deck, tearing down the back half of our house, digging out and extending the basement, rebuilding the back addition bigger with reconfigured second floor, bigger bathroom, new powder room on the main floor, new kitchen and a little family area on the other side of the island. The house will (keeping fingers crossed ) be amazing... that is if we don't go bankrupt/insane/divorced before finishing.

According to our contractor, the renovation will be finished in 6 months tops. He seems a nice guy - thorough, experienced, relaxed - but I also know where he lives.

This is my goal during the entire masochistic process: I'm hoping over the next few weeks to lose 10 pounds from stress (nasty winter weight), try not to become an alcoholic and most importantly not become a single mother of two pychologically damaged boys (ages 9 & 4) during the entire process.

10:00 a.m.: the demo crew has been at work for the past 2 hours. The garage is mostly down, the fence separating the garage from the backyard is down...and I've barely finished my first cup of coffee at work. The crew are passionate about the destruction, I figure it's probably cathartic seeing as yesterday was Mother's Day.

By 4:00 pm, when I stop by before picking the kids up from school, the garage is down and the deck is completely torn apart.

There is no turning back now.