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Friday, February 23, 2007

Week 5 of Renovations.

This is it....the tiles were set in the floor and in the bathroom stall. The vanity and the toilet arrived and the plumbing was hooked up. The trim was nailed in and then columns were constructed around the supporting pillars. The place is just about ready for the big move. What's left....a few nice light fixtures, warm shelving and carpet in the bedroom.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Gong Hai Fatt Choy

Welcome to the year of the Pig! Lots of tasty eats, fat ang pows and good health to all.

Reunion dinner was the traditional fare of juicy prawns, stewed mushrooms and other fungus delights and chili chicken (this is my mother's modification). All washed down with some good Syrah and Port.

Telephone calls were made to various relatives aboard including my brother in law to whom I dedicate these pictures of the snow which fell last Wednesday. Next time he visits Canada to see snow, I would suggest a trip around the Chinese rather than Western New Year.

Week 4 of Renovations

We were blanketed with over 25cm of snow this week. This really slowed the work down for our renovations as the floor tiles could not be delivered until Thursday. The electrician though did manage to install the pot lights and the wiring for the heated ceramic tile floor in the bathroom. The floating ceiling went up and our carpenter Manuel made a bannister for the stairs. The stairs, basement entrance door and bannister were all stained. The countdown to the finish is on.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The anti-Valentine

Now that I have found a love of my own, many have asked if my opinion of Valentine's Day has changed. A hallmark marketing creation designed to sell cards in the coldest month of the year remains a devious holiday.

Those fallen roses (usually of such poor quality they lasted barely a day), discarded candy and chocolate boxes (more pounds to add to that obesity factor), must-have reservations to some romantic restaurant (where the prices are jacked up for this very special day).....all for what? Like Christmas and Halloween, this holiday needs to be rescued from the hands of materialism. Many countries have taken to burning the manifestations of Valentine's day citing them as evidence of the corrupting influence of the West.

This year, Mother Nature was aligned with this view. She blanketed most of southwestern Ontario, the martimes and the Northeastern USA in over 25 cm of snow. This coupled with an extremely frosty wind chill kept the holiday at bay.

Remember those kids who didn't get a Valentine card on February 14th. Another popularity contest designed to destroy self-esteem. This holiday is detrimental for singles and couples alike. The former dubbed this day as Singles Awareness Day and the latter as Extreme Relationship Stress Day. Being single is not a disease although on Valentine's day, the state of one is regarded as that of a leper. Could you go into a restaurant as a single man/woman on this day without being stared down? Couples fair no better. Men and women alike struggle to find that perfect valentine day gift...just like the perfect Christmas present search. Disappointment invariably follows the stress.

Hence, I say "Out with Valentine's Day". After all, the celebration of love (platonic or romantic or otherwise) belongs to all the days of the year and should not be hijacked by the 14th of February.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Week 3 of Renovations

Now the ceiling stucco is applied, the doors and a new staircase are installed.

Week 2 of Renovations

The pumping is installed and the floor in the bathroom is sealed. Then the ceiling insulation goes in followed by the drywall and then the mudding.

Week 1 of renovations

In the first week, the framing was done, the insulation for warmth was brought in and the concrete drilling was done for the installation of bathroom pumping. Finally, the electrician came in to wire the basement for lights, electrical sockets and CAT5e too.

Before the renovations

Canadian winter is here at last. Frigid temperatures and lots of snow on the ground. I really missed the ole girl and was quite worried that she was never going to show up at all. Now, another surprise, the renovations of my basement which started last month are well on their way to completion. The contractors were recommended by my colleague Golden Boy. They built his deck and renovated two of the bathrooms in the family home. They not only do good work but quickly and meticulously.

These are pictures from the first day when the crew cleaned out the basement and then started the framing.

Friday, February 02, 2007

The Ghost of Home's Past

I recently received a card from my former landlady. It was a rather sad note, actually the tone was that of a goodbye note. Her health had taken a very sharp downturn about three years back (specifically her mental health). To quote her, "my mind is not what it use to be and I feel that I must write to you now while I can."

The note brought back a very eerie memory. On the day I moved out, she proceed to tell me the tale of the ghost which she claimed occupied my apartment. This was quite a shocker as you can imagine as this was the first time that she had spoken of this spectre.

It seems my landlady had heard voices of an angry little girl coming from my apartment. This little girl seemed very concerned about her lost pet, a black cat named Whiskers. Whiskers could not be found despite her best efforts and inspite of her rising frustration.

My apartment was one of four that were partitioned from a century's old house . The first owner of this house was a prominent Hamilton family. This couple and their 3 year old daughter lived here for a few years at the turn of the century before a tragic house fire forced them to move. The little girl was known to have a black cat. However, the blaze had consumed most of the first floor and sadly, the family pet was never found.

Co-incidently, there had been a fire in this same house about ten years ago. The blaze started in the basement and spread to the first floor. That same space which had been my apartment for the past three years. My landlady claims she first heard the voices of the little girl after the post-fire renovations were done.

I had never met the previous tenants of my apartment. Did they hear the cries of this little girl searching for her long lost cat? My landlady had an explanation for why I had never seen or heard of this phantom. Naturally, it had to because of Chaos, my own little black cat. Perhaps the little girl felt reassured that her long lost black cat had been found and no longer wandered the house crying for it.

Now that I have moved to Milton, I wonder about the couple who took over my lease. Had they a pet cat? If not, had they seen or hear this little girl? Would she return again now that there was no longer a cat in the house?