Monday, Jan. 23, 2006
Dear Diary:

What a difference a few days can make.

Less than a week after we were told that my brother-in-law's survival chances were only 50-50 he was home from the hospital. A heart attack on a Wednesday, quadruple by-pass on Friday and home the following Thursday.

Really, it's kind of hard to believe.

He and my mom-in-law are already bickering about his level of activity, which cracks me up. She's predicting that he'll find himself back in the hospital if he doesn't ease up a bit. He tells her that he's a grown man and knows what he can and cannot handle. He may be 62, but his mom reserves the right to be the boss of him forever and ever.

I, of course, intend to be just as ruthlessly tyrannical with my own child. Who will, of course, ignore me as steadfastly as my brother-in-law ignores his mother.

Tradition. Life is all about tradition.

I was supposed to pick him up this morning and take him to vote in our Canadian national election but he overdid things this weekend when his daughter came to visit with his grandchildren. He is too exhausted to go out.

My brother-in-law is the most right-wing member of the family and is gleefully anticipating the election of a Conservative government. I am on the completely other end of the political spectrum. I had figured we would simply cancel each other's votes out. Now my vote goes to the plus side of the ledger.

I guess that sometimes it's a good thing he doesn't listen to his mother, eh?

Oh yes, I have a dark and evil side.

Well, enough about life and death situations and politics. Let's get back to The Important Issues. Like flooring.

So in our last instalment The Endless Flooring Saga I had just agreed that it was quite possible to install just over 300 square feet of hardwood flooring ten minutes before Christmas. Sixteen very large boxes of said flooring were deposited in my kitchen to acclimatize to the humidity levels in my home.

Sixteen very large boxes I had to walk around constantly. But, I told myself, it was only temporary. It would only last a few days.

Looking back, I know the exact moment it all went terribly, terribly wrong. It was the moment when I was walking towards our bed and one of the little bits of parquet flooring that occasionally popped up chose that moment to make a break for freedom.

The spousal unit regarded it critically. He experimentally chipped on a few more bits of surrounding parquet. They came up easily. He decided to take up all the parquet flooring before putting down the new wood flooring, reasoning that it would come up very, very easily. Laying the new flooring directly on the sub floor would make a better job, he said.

If my life was a soap opera, this would be the moment when ominous organ chords would ring out. Because, you see, those few easy bits of parquet were the only easy bits. The rest of the parquet flooring clung to the sub floor as if they were bonded at the sub atomic level.

After three days of back breaking work, less than a third of the parquet was removed and we were now five minutes from Christmas. As an added bonus, over the years in the miniscule cracks between the parquet bits of ash-like dust had gathered. As we lifted the parquet this dust was freed. I tried to contain it with my vacuum, which has a hepa filter, but bits of it escaped. For some reason I was allergic to this dust and it made me congested, I sneezed constantly, my eyes itched and I had trouble sleeping.

Oh, and as an added bonus, everywhere we tore off the parquet, the subfloor splintered, turning into sliver central. Oh, no, it wasn't enough that I was having trouble breathing. Nope. The universe decided to turn the floor on which I had to walk into a landmine of splinters.

Fine.

The spousal unit was ready to continue killing himself right up to Christmas trying to get the new floor down, but I could see the madness in that. He laid about a third of the new floor and we threw blankets over the rest of the exposed subfloor. There was still at least half of the parquet in place. It was terribly scenic.

Plus, I had a mountain of boxes of flooring in my kitchen.

Oh, and my pantry was full of drywall and building studs.

Fine.

Our daughter, bless her pea pickin' heart, did not blink an eye. But then, she grew up in the chaos of construction because this house has always been a "build as we can afford it" sort of project.

To make a long story short—HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA I am such a kidder—the new floor was finally finished last week. Or, about a month after the promised date.

And the new wall, the idea that started this whole thing?

Well, that has just started. There will be pictures. I promise. As soon as I can find the cord that connects my camera to the computer. I know it is around here somewhere …

Now you might think that the construction of the wall is the end of the problems, but you would be so terribly, terribly wrong. Once the new wall goes up we are faced with one last enormous hurdle.

I would, of course, be speaking of paint.

As I write this there are 4,562 paint chips sitting on our kitchen table. The spousal unit and I have agreed that we want to do the upstairs in three colours—a green for the alcove where his desk lives, a yellow for the main living room portion of the upstairs and a burnt sienna type colour for the part of the room where we sleep.

Sounds simple enough, but deciding which green, which yellow, and which burnt sienna type colour we each like, well, that has turned into something of a sparring match.

The most charitable thing I can say about the greens he likes is that they are remarkably mud-like. He thinks the yellows I like are sissy yellows, far too close to beige, a colour he detests. I believe we may have settled on a burnt sienna colour we both like, which leaves one colour down, two to go. Nothing tests a relationship quite like a renovation.

I can hardly wait until this is over.

--Marn

Mileage on the Marnometer: 143.22 miles. 10 per cent rubber duckDuckage! There was a time I ate my stress. Now I burn it off in motion.


Goal for 2005: 1,250 miles - 2000 kilometers



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