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Tuesday is church bazaar day. Not every week, but often, I head off with Twinkle Toes to the town 30 minutes away where the church bazaar is open from 12:30-4:00. There is another used clothing store and a secondhand bookstore as well, so we do our thrifting rounds.

I started doing this semi-regularly on Tuesdays since I started maternity leave. For just about as long, I have noticed another woman and her daughter doing the same rounds as us. I’d run into her in the church bazaar, and later we’d run into each other at the NOVA store.

One time, oh, 6 months or so ago, the other baby girl was out of her stroller and crawling around on the ground. Twinkle Toes was seated in her stroller, staring at the other girl with an expression that can only be described as the baby equivalent to WTF? It appeared to dawn on her that it was possible to NOT be in a stroller while shopping, and this was a revelation, indeed. But I kept Twinkle Toes seated and attached. Aside from acknowledging each other, the woman and I never spoke — until this week.

As we’d already been through the church bazaar, Twinkle Toes was mighty fed up with being in her stroller by the time we got to the NOVA store. (I’m sure her wet diaper wasn’t helping matters.) So we were toodling around, looking at clothes for me, and dishes, saving the toys for last, when along comes the other woman and the other little girl. Oh, Twinkle Toes so badly wanted to get out of the stroller! The two girls were intent on looking at each other. Who is this curious other person who is the same size as me? They both seemed to be thinking. Feeling somewhat self-conscious about keeping Twinkle Toes in her seat, I decided I’d give her a chance to walk around, too.

What followed was magical:

Twinkle Toes stood up and the two girls stood facing each other for quite some time just looking at each other. TT looked a little confused about it at first, but the other girl had a perma-grin on her face. She came closer, and they sized each other up. Tentatively, TT reached out to touch Other Girl. She touched her dark hair. Her fingers went to Other Girl’s eyes and cheeks, but gently. TT took a couple of steps and OG followed, presenting herself and standing in TT’s trajectory as if to say “pay attention to me”. They kind of circled each other this way, facing each other, TT looking at me occasionally, but totally taken with OG. Then, slowly, gently, tenderly, TT reached toward OG with her hands on her shoulders and bent forward and gave her a hug. She gave her a kiss on the cheek, and a hug. This was repeated a few times, and a few times required some motherly support so the two didn’t topple. They did eventually plunk down on their bums — one by accident, the other to join her — and stood up together, and poked each other’s belly buttons, and tried to find their own belly buttons. Eventually, this became a game as one imitated the other, aware that they were communicating with their actions. They made very few sounds. TT tapped a plastic bag I had slung over the stroller handles. She grinned and laughed, and OG came over and did the same. Then TT laughed, and OG laughed. Then TT took OG’s hand, and they started walking (TT leading) through the aisle.

It was adorable and magical. They looked at the necklaces together, they imitated each other with putting them on, and took hands and walked some more.

I’ve never seen something like this before!

OG is two weeks older than TT, who is 15 months old. Unfortunately I didn’t have any way to take a picture of their hugs and new friendship. But I’m hoping to see them again next week, and I’d like to give OG’s mom my phone number. Maybe a play date?

As I type this, TT is in bed — has been for 2 hours now — and has woken up already 3 times. With a stuffy nose. Is it too early to start blaming her friends? Yeah, I’m saying it’s all OGs fault. She had a runny nose on Tuesday. Now Twinkle Toes is all stuffed up. I’m totally placing the blame. 😉

 

 

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We have lovely new soffits! We also have new fascia, and a nifty thing called a drip lip. In the process, Rupert removed the wiring which ran from the old antenna (outside, along the wanna-be soffits) and was so motoring along so well tearing down old stuff and cutting off wires that he cut the phone line, too. So we (I because Rupert was still demolishing) called Bell from my cell phone (which would lose reception after I’d finally gotten through to an agent after being on hold for 10 minutes)… long story short, we survived the 24 hours without a phone or internet. By Sunday morning the work on the soffits was complete, and Rupert turned his attention to the inside, and a problem with the floor joists in the kitchen area.

We have arranged for someone to install a seamless eavestrough (yay!), have eliminated one of the on-ramps to the mouse-squirrel-bat super highway, found two dessicated squirrel bodies and have bandied about plans to change the windows and cover the house in vinyl.

After some discussion and a couple of rye and gingers, we decided that next weekend (yes, folks, two days from now) we will 1) put in door frames and doors to all the bedrooms — hey, we won’t have walls, but we will have a door! — and 2) finish the upstairs bathroom. You know what that meant: I had to go shopping.

After two solid days of running around Home Depot and Reno Depot, we have a toilet, a sink, tiles, a light fixture, and doorknobs for all the upstairs doors. Wowee! I’m so excited to be getting a finished bathroom upstairs, that I’m not sure I can believe it will really happen. Maybe it won’t. (But maybe it will! And then I won’t have to stumble down 14 then 4 then 9 stairs in the dark.)

Ah, that last picture? Me trying to take a photo of myself to update my linkedin profile. Seems pictures of me are of three kinds: Terrible expression, child somewhere too close to my face to crop out, or fat because I’m pregnant.

And the purple flowers? Something managed to bloom! (I thought they were yellow and brown flowers, more like black-eyed Susans. They’re aren’t, but they’re pretty, anyway.)

 

It seems like just yesterday I was sweltering in 30 degree heat and wishing for a reprieve, but today it feels like fall has set in. The nights are cool, we’re using our duvet again, and while the afternoon sun is still quite hot, the air in the shade is not. The season of sweaters and “hot again, cool again” has returned. Windows which get opened during the day suddenly need to be closed at night, the wood stove has seemed mighty tempting a couple of times, and our thoughts are turning to getting all those last things accomplished before the cold weather (and snow) sets in. Things like eaves troughs and soffits, insulating the trap door, draft proofing the front and back doors. Yesterday, for the first time in a few months, I made a roast chicken, and my mind wandered to making soup. Not yet, but soon. The kids returned to school this week, and that also makes me feel old, and happy, and sad.

I can’t say I don’t welcome the cooler weather, but summer sure flew by fast, and that makes me feel old and sad. The weeds in my garden are doing better than the plants I wanted there, which also makes me sad, but soon I won’t need to feel guilty for not weeding the garden because it will be too cold for anything to survive. So it won’t be my fault that the garden is dead and unproductive.

Things we’ve done this summer:

  • Planted 180 cedars. (Dug 180 holes!)
  • Went camping for a week with Twinkle Toes for the first time as a family. Really, have you ever gone camping with a one-year-old? It is more of a challenge than it sounds, and it sounds daunting. One of the lessons learned that week: When you suspect your child has a full, poopy diaper, do not continue to roll around in the tent playing “tickle”. I’ll spare you the details.
  • Acquired a new motorcycle, sold one, and fixed several bits on several motorcycles.
  • Successfully (just about) finished a room! I put down, stained and varnished the pine flooring. Now I’m thinking of another career. (Not really, but that pneumatic floor nailer was a lot of fun.)
  • Rupert built a two-storey deck with a friend of his. Quite the accomplishment given he is afraid of heights and that even only 5 years ago, he wouldn’t have known how to hammer in a nail. (I exaggerate, but only a little.)
  • Got over the dread of returning to work after maternity leave, had my position abolished, dealt with that stress, and came out the other side thinking that the world is full of possibilities. Today I ran into one of those possibilities. I’m going to start a production blitz in time for the International Plowing Match which will be taking place in my area in a couple of weeks. I also found out that I may be eligible to take some entrepreneurship courses, which would be dandy!

Casa Cat Creek has been experiencing quite the heat wave. I’ve only just now regained enough energy for anything other than moving to the basement where 28 degrees feels cool, and sitting there in a puddle of sweat to moan.

The sun has been unrelenting and the temperature has been up around — or above — 30 degrees for what feels like ages, but is probably only two weeks or so. I’m happy I’m not 9 months pregnant like I was during last year’s heat wave, but I’m not enjoying it!

However, as they say, every cloud has a silver lining, and the heat and unrelenting sun, as much as it is making the lawn brown and crunchy, the cedars wilt and me sweat, is fantastic for making cucumbers into pickles.

(It’s also great for bleaching and airing cloth diapers, so get your fluff out on the line!)

Here are my first forays into pickle making:

 

 

I’m following my mother-in-law’s recipe (as I remember it). For the pickles, add fresh dill, garlic and salt, and fill with water above the cucumbers. Add a piece of bread for the yeast which will start the fermentation process. Cover with saran wrap and the lid. Leave the jar in the sun for three days and then refrigerate.

The process is the same for the green tomatoes, only this recipe is a little spicier: Use peppercorns, red pepper flakes and bay leaves.

The jar on the right has been out for two days already. Tomorrow I’ll bring it in. The other two I just set out today.

🙂 Happy pickling!

Cat Creek is all about the little fixes and improvements I can make by using what is already on hand, building on what already exists, and making low cost and low impact choices.

We are undergoing a major renovation to our home (some might say “major” is an understatement); expense and consuming can’t be avoided. We are certainly producing more than our fair share of garbage, and buying a lot of material with all that entails: packaging, carbon footprint, gas spent on trips to the store. When we started this endeavor three years ago, we had an idea of how it would unfold. That didn’t happen, and we have had to re-assess repeatedly, adjust for what we could afford, change plans, revise the timeline.

For three years, we have been living in a gutted house. Rupert and I have certainly had our disagreements about the situation, but for the most part, we keep the long term goal in perspective and keep reminding ourselves (or each other as one or the other of us falls into despair about the situation) that we are doing this so that we can have a wonderful, beautiful family home without going into excessive debt. We choose to go slowly and do the work ourselves so that it remains affordable. Important, too, is the pride and accomplishment we feel, the new skills learned, the success and triumph over challenges like hanging drywall on hopelessly crooked framing. By living in this bombed-out looking space, we’ve learned more about the house and become rather intimate with its peculiarities: the way air flows, where the natural lighting is best, where the floors creak, how we move through the space, and how we would prefer to move through it.

Our plans have grown and changed as we’ve settled in. I’m glad we didn’t have it all finished before moving in. If we had, we’d have a bar where I now have my desk, and I’d have my desk in an upstairs room, which would mean less interaction (or more likely, less time spent at my desk); we’d have a smaller kitchen with an L-shaped counter separating it from the dining area. We wouldn’t have a wood stove on the main floor. Many little things and some big would be different, and not as convenient. There is definitely something to be said about taking your time. Oh, spontaneity is good, too. Spontaneity is Rupert’s domain. Mine is slow and thoughtful. I let ideas brew. I may not look like I’m planning anything, but the ideas are working themselves out in the back of my brain. 😛

So here is the real reason for this post: the floor of the main level of the house.

Making do. Necessity the mother of all invention. Thinking outside the box…

The main floor is open concept. We demolished walls and erected big wood beams to support the upper floor. The only part of this level of the house that will have walls is the bathroom (someday it will be a bathroom, but for now it’s pantry and recycling… something I will miss). Still, there are four distinct areas: The fireplace end, the living room, the dining room and the kitchen.

We spend most of our time in the living room, as this is where the comfortable seating is. The living room is where we have the nicest view outside, as there are large windows on the two walls. The floor here is bare plywood secured by a million nails. Previously, there was carpet — the carpet was the very first thing we removed. The plywood floor of the living room is the same as that in the dining area. It is not unpleasant to walk on, although some of the nails are coming up and they catch on socks or slippers. The texture and porous nature of the wood makes it very difficult to keep clean. I can vacuum up the dog hair, but dirt is ground in.

In the winter we are most often in front of the wood stove. The floor in that area was previously some kind of tile. We removed that immediately, also, but are now left with a layer of cardboard/paper stuck onto the plywood. This area is particularly heinous. I have to use the carpet setting on the vacuum, and in places where the floor has gotten wet (dog puke spots, the area where I had the birth pool for Twinkle Toes’ birth) the paper has come off. It’s really ugly and extremely difficult to clean.

I also spend a whole lot of time in the kitchen which has retro pink tile. I like that flooring. It’s funky, unusual, and most importantly, I can mop and sweep! There’s nothing quite like a freshly mopped floor to help clear a cluttered mind…

Soooooooooooo… now that we have a baby who is not content unless she is crawling or walking, the filth is painfully obvious — all over her knees and the feet of her sleepers. I’ve barricaded the living room area so that she can move around, but be contained in a mostly safe area, but she’s crawling all over dirty plywood. I got to thinking about how to solve the problem. Carpet is out of the question because the dogs will make it theirs. Same thing with those popular interlocking foam mats. Then, OMG, it dawned on me. What I really need is something like a varnish. Something to make the floor washable.

A trip to Canadian Tire made it immediately obvious that varnish is the expensive way to go, but floor paint — floor paint is the shizzle. The paint guy tried to sell me on the ugly industrial grey, saying it would hide the dirt. But, EW. I will most likely have to live with this floor for another couple of years. (And if Rupert agrees, then it probably means I need to revise that to another four years.) So while I don’t need to have perfect floors, I don’t want to hate looking at. The other colour option is white. (Tempting, in a beach house kind of way.) But then the paint man told me really I could have the white tinted any colour I like. He gestured to the wall of paint samples. “Any of those,” he said. “No extra cost.”

Suddenly a world of possibilities opened up and I was frozen by the many options facing me. It’s a nice feeling, sometimes. Options, that is. Indecision, not so much.

So what would you do?

I’m thinking — in terms of minimizing the number of paint cans required, and minimizing the work — of a simple two colour design. A base coat, with a stencil on top. But oooooooooh the colour choices! Green? Sage? washed-out white? Dark burgundy? Brick red?

I’m thinking of a green and white for the living room. I’m thinking of a deep red-purple with rust or orange or yellow for the dining area, and something dark wood, espresso… not sure for the fireplace area.

I’m all ears if anyone has suggestions!

We really cultivate a lot of weeds here at Casa Cat Creek. Those, there, I think are lavender and chamomile as well as some lilies and irises. There’s also a lot of dry grass clippings. One day this will be properly edged the whole way around the outbuildings.

This wall of the garage is already that much better because I dug it out last year when I planted those lilies. Last year I got only one measly little flower, but this big bunch looks promising!

I added some irises next to the lilies, and something else from mom. To the right is the Great Expanding Snowball Bush. It will probably have to be tamed every year.

More irises among the snowballs (and weeds. No shortage of weeds.)

 Yay! The weather is finally dry enough to hang the clothes out!

 The front of the house with some irises and some ground cover. The left has many weeds but also something else mom gave me last year, which also seems to have taken root and spread quite well.

 This is another weed we’ve been having a lot of difficulty eradicating. 😛 She won’t stop growing or getting into things she shouldn’t! (Really, Twinkle Toes is quite happy after a good long morning nap, and because we were headed out to two of our favorite thrift stores.)

This is the split rail fence that runs along under our big tree. Terrible terrible weed situation here. The burdock is taking over. I planted mint. I’m very aware how mint will spread, and that is exactly what I want. This is a shady area that also gets trampled when The Young Jedi and Miss Teen climb the tree, so it needs a hardy plant. I’d prefer it be overrun with mint than burdock!

The end of the fence. I had potatoes planted here last year and they did a wonderful job of loosening up the soil. I’ve enlarged the semi circle a little more this year, and put in some chicken and hens, some peonies, and other nameless plants. This is also the location of the poppy plant’s demise.

The bean teepee which houses the asparagus! I’m still planning on planting beans, but I figured this is a good way to shelter the asparagus from inadvertently getting mowed.

Right next to the bean teepee is the new cucumber patch. The Young Jedi is a cucumber fanatic, and Rupert is a pickle connoisseur, so here we have English and pickling cukes, in the spot where I had tomatoes last year.

The garden. It’s shaggy and messy and full of weeds, but there is a lot of good stuff in there! Perhaps next year we’ll fix up that fence and create a second raised bed.

Toodoodoodoo… it’s all right…

🙂

Finally, the deluge has ended, and I had a chance to cut the Cat Creek grass — my, was it ever getting long! I planted a few starts that I hadn’t managed to get in the ground last week, but I will have to remember to water them because the forecast calls for lots of sun and dry weather this week.

I’ve had one casualty so far: the fuzzy ones mom gave me to transplant. The two I planted have both fallen over, wilted and died an ugly death. I don’t know what they were, though. Poppies? 😦 If so, that’s too bad. I like poppies.

Everything else seems to have taken to their new locations quite well, though, even with the dogs doing their best to lie on everything. 😛

Pictures of all the garden glory tomorrow, promise!

My Etsy Shop

A little bird told me…

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