Sunday, February 14, 2010

It's all good.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Pumpkin House ... Transformed

Well, it was a long process - but the house is done, except for the exterior paint and some landscaping.

See the before and after photos and decide for yourself:

This is the kitchen: with its original wallpaper, originally without ventilation or a dishwasher - Now, with an extra wide gas range, dishwasher and heated floors. We use less than half the gas and electricity of our neighbours, simply by using higher grade insulation, 'on demand' water heating and E-rated windows. Feels good.

Cozy and warm, this house is a pleasure to come home to each evening. In fact, with the 'tankless' hot water system... we can all have a shower, do the dishes, and our laundry at the same time.... heaven, and for a fraction of the energy costs of most families. Saving the environment, one shower at a time.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Pumpkin House...

Try this.... squint a little and picture the chimney painted green.... Doesn't it look like a giant pumpkin?

Luckily I like pumpkins... this is our new house.

It's 80 years old; the average age of the residents in the luxury retirement community I manage - and completely as sturdy and interesting.

Edward has worked tirelessly removing every centimetre of lath and plaster, knob and tube wiring, and seriously ridiculous wall paper, leaving a home with possibilities stifled only by the imagination.

This house has stood for 80 years with no exterior insulation, no stove venting, precarious plumbing; but lots of 'living'... it was built back when a 2x8 was actually 2 inches by 8 inches, not today's lame excuse for lumber. Even the engineer and inspector had wistful expressions when they emerged from the access panels to tell us that the house is more solid than anything built in the last 50 years, with rarely seen stability and 'amazing' lumber.

In spite of the children's objections, we shall attempt to save the 'Disturbia" forced air vents, custom doors, and as much of the hardware as possible...

We are currently accepting suggestions for exterior paint colours ...

Friday, November 16, 2007

I knew it!

Monday, March 05, 2007


"Seduce my mind and you can have my body.
Find my soul and I'm yours forever..."

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Hola Amigos!

We're back. And what a fabulous time we had! Wandering through the streets of Havana reminded me a little of some areas in Rome. The streets are cobble-stoned in Old Havana, and inside open doorways we often found small workshops, art markets, or food vendors patiently awaiting business.

In addition to marveling at the architecture and the narrow streets, we saw a baseball game, found a geocache, visited a cigar factory, ate in some paledars (small in-home restaurants licensed by the government for up to 12 seats), and generally soaked in the flavour of the city.

At the cigar factory I discovered the best job in the world; that of 'the reader'... Beginning with the newspaper in the morning, and novels or other interesting works in the afternoon, his job is to ensure intellectual stimulation in what would otherwise be the mundane task of rolling over 160 cigars each day.

Some locals complained about the economy, but far fewer asked for help than during my last visit to Gastown, where I was overwhelmed with constant (often rude) requests for money and cigarettes. We found murals of Che Guevara covering large cafe walls, highway billboards and banners during our travels... It seemed that most public artwork serves as a reminder of Cuba's revolutionary struggle. It was fascinating.

We traveled to Varadero for the last two days and enjoyed la playa publico where more locals and fewer tourists visit, and enjoyed a freshly caught and grilled fish, on the beach with our double mojitos and 7 year old rum.

What I remember most are the interesting vignettes of life and custom that we stumbled upon ... the factory workers who should have been bartenders; the bartenders who should have been factory workers, the fella who asked Ed for his pants, the little boy's bewilderment when we gave him the baseball glove, the policeman who just 'hopped in' for a bit of a ride in our taxi, the diligent washroom attendants who also seem to be plumbers, the teeny tiny little old lady who shooed away the would-be purse snatcher at the stadium, and the toothless woman who wouldn't stop kissing me at the outdoor cafe...

It was a very special trip.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


We leave for Cuba in 9 sleeps.

Five whole days in glorious Cuidad de la Habana... Habana Vieja to be specific - the old historic section of Havana... followed by two days wherever else we choose; perhaps rural Cuba or the beach.

Our hotel in Havana is actually a bustling restaurant with only 9 rooms above it - nestled in a colourful neighbourhood, with a breathtaking courtyard and its very own cigar lounge.

These last few icy Canadian days I will spend brushing up on my Spanish, learning more about Cuban culture and local customs, and of course deciding which bikini(s) to bring.

Hearing stories from friends who have visited Cuba, seeing photos, and reading about its history, we already know it will be hard to come home.

Dos mojitos, por favor!