11 August 2012

In Memoriam: Timmy the Bun

Timmy came to us during the summer of 2005.  He had been abandoned at the vet clinic where A. was working at the time, and initially, was a foster-rabbit. But when it became clear he was unlikely to be rehomed, we decided we'd better keep him.

Unlike his former cagemate Gnasher, who ended up with us because her aggression made her unattractive to potential new owners, Timmy had a sweet and loving temperament. But we knew it was unlikely he'd be rehomed because of his various handicaps.  It was obvious that he'd suffered, when young, from a serious ear infection with left him with a permanent head tilt.  He also likely had some sort of bacterial infection early in life, which led to a malformed jaw and nose. As a result, he leaned permanently to one side, and because he was lop-eared, he was effectively half-blind (as one eye was often covered by an ear).  On top of all that, he was also largely deaf. 

Though he became (after a few months of regular care in our home) healthy, his handicaps were permanent, making him less attractive to potential adopters; understandably, they worried about the cost of future veterinary care.  So we kept him, and are very glad we did.

Despite his various problems, Timmy was a sweet, gentle little guy who always enjoyed a cuddle. Sadly, this meant that he was often bullied by the other rabbits in our house - at least, until we managed to bond them.  He also wasn't the smartest rabbit we've ever had, as this video demonstrates; one evening he upended a plastic basket over himself, and couldn't figure out how to get himself out from beneath it!

Kids, in particular, loved Timmy.  They didn't mind that he was a bit crooked, and often smelly (as he wasn't quite capable of grooming himself fully, and needed regular bathing).  He was just that lovely.

Timmy left us very quickly - taking a turn for the worse on Wednesday, and becoming very weak on Thursday.  Despite extra care and feeding, when we came downstairs on Friday morning, he was gone. I'm glad he didn't have a long, drawn-out period of suffering - and truth be told, he lived far, far longer than we ever expected, given all of his health problems.  We had him for seven years, and he would have been at least a year old when he was abandoned at the clinic - making him an elderly rabbit.

He was predeceased by his former cagemates, Fawn and Gnasher, and will be greatly missed.

04 May 2012

In Memoriam: Gnasher the Bun

Gnasher came to us sometime in 2005 - we can't recall the exact month.  She had been dumped by her previous owner at the veterinary clinic where A. was working at the time.  She initially stayed with us for a month or two that year, as a foster-rabbit, before returning to the clinic for a time in the hopes that a new home might be found for her - but eventually, she made her way back to us, in the summer/fall of 2006. At that stage, we estimate she was 1 or 2 years old.

It was pretty obvious why Gnasher was unlikely to be rehomed: she had quite the aggressive streak.  Like the Killer Rabbit of Monty Python fame, she was possessed of "great, gnashing teeth" which she was not afraid to use (and which inspired the name we eventually gave her.)  Who knows what was done to her when she was very young, to bring out such a nasty streak, but it made her a highly unattractive prospect to most, for rehoming.  We thought we could give her a chance, though, and decided we were going to have to be the ones to take her on - since nobody else was likely to do it.

I have had many bunnies as pets, over the past 12 years or so, and I must admit that Gnasher was not my favourite of the bunch. Her temperament made her a difficult animal to care for.  For the first two years we had her, I had to wear leather gloves any time I wanted to pick her up or even get close to her.  When approached, she would hiss and honk in warning, then bite with little provocation.  She bit me more times than I can count.  Eventually, however, after several years of care, I learned to handle her without getting bitten (most of the time, anyway!).  And we eventually bonded her to our other rabbit, Timmy - though not without a great deal of blood and flying fur at first!  Poor Timmy really got the crap kicked out of him at times, but managed to hold his own.

 Gnasher and the infamous "bunny corset"

Over this past winter, however, A. and I noticed that things were slowly changing. Gnasher didn't seem to be her usual self - but she was, after all, getting old.  Her interest in food declined, and she began losing weight (not a bad thing at first, since she was always a bit of a porky critter and often stole poor Timmy's food).  But more notably, her aggressive streak began to wane.  In recent months she hardly ever honked or hissed at me when I approached her, and I could often pick her up with little fuss.  A. examined her regularly and determined that she didn't appear to be in pain. Ironically, he had plans to take her into the clinic this weekend, and draw a blood sample to send away for analysis.

He never got the chance to do so.  This morning, when he went down to the basement to feed our fish, he heard a thumping sound coming from the cage.  It was Gnasher, in the midst of a seizure.  A. picked her up and she immediately went limp.  He examined her and attempted to resuscitate, but with no effect; minutes later, she was gone.  Thankfully, it appears that she did not suffer.  We'll never know what the true problem was, though A. suspects it was likely a liver or kidney issue (neither of which could have been treated effectively.)

Though Gnasher was definitely not an easy animal to love - she was what the late Steve Irwin might have classed as a "naughty little ripper" - we did care for her very much.  Sometimes people and things come into our lives which are difficult, but we must nonetheless learn to live with them.  She certainly taught me a thing or two about being more patient and tolerant.  She is doubtless chasing other rabbits in Bunny Heaven right now, hissing and honking gleefully as she does so.  

She leaves behind her cage mate Timmy, who will now live out his days unterrorized, but doubtless a lot more bored.

Gnasher and Tim

31 December 2010

New Books for Christmas

I've got some good reading coming up in 2011 - including plenty of research material for our planned trip to southwest France in October. To wit:

24 October 2010

I've Become a Jogger!

I've never been the sort to have naturally robust cardiovascular fitness. Growing up feeling tormented by Phys Ed classes, as as kid I hated endurance runs, team sports, and pretty much anything that involved getting sweaty and out of breath. As a teenager I made many abortive attempts at becoming an aerobics bunny, but could never manage to sustain a routine long enough for it to provide any real benefit. It wasn't until my late twenties that I discovered forms of exercise - first yoga, then Pilates - that I actually enjoyed and managed to stick with for more than a few months, before getting bored and giving up. But while both of those regimes are amazing for building flexibility and strength, they don't do much in the way of working the heart and lungs, and burning fat.

I've thought for some time now that I really should do something to address my rather pathetic cardiovascular capacity, but wasn't sure what this should be. Sprinting for more than two or three minutes left me wheezing, with a pain in my chest. The idea of running around a field somewhere until I collapsed still sounded as hellish as it did when I was a kid. But then, I found out about walk-to-jog programs; specifically, I found this:


Since I've always walked a lot (including regular four-mile return commutes to my office), I was intrigued and decided to give it a go. It felt realistic and achievable to start out by walking, but with a few short bursts of jogging thrown in. And I liked the fact that the increase in jogging time was slow and steady. Still, I was a bit skeptical - the thought of being able, at the end of twelve weeks, to jog for ten whole minutes at a time seemed unreal. Other people - fit, athletic types - do that sort of thing with ease, but not the likes of me!

Well. Fourteen weeks later (I took two weeks off the plan, due to travel and mild illness), I can report that I DID IT. I actually did it! When I started in mid-July, I jogged for just 3 out of 15 minutes (walking for the remaining 12). But by week 4, I was up to jogging 50% of the time - 12 out of 24 minutes. By week 8, I was jogging 24 out of 30 minutes. The last four weeks were the most intense, as the jogging time quickly ramped up. I was worried I wouldn't make it, but really surprised myself - it was nowhere near as strenuous or difficult as I thought it would be. And now that I've finished the program? I can jog for 40 out of 44 minutes.

To say I'm amazed is an understatement. While these workouts have undoubtedly been challenging, at no point did I ever find myself thinking, "This is just too hard...I'm not going to make it." Credit to the slow and steady nature of the training, I guess. Successfully finishing each week of the program felt great, and really motivated me to keep going. Plus, I'm seeing the benefits in my body, as well as feeling them - so far, I've dropped 5 lbs and 2.5% body fat.

Now that I've finished the program, I'm definitely not resting on my laurels. After so much effort, I'd hate to lose the conditioning I've built up. So I've joined a gym for the winter, and have moved indoors to work on the treadmills over the coming months. Now that I have some endurance, I'm going to start working on speeding up my slow, shuffling gait, as well as adding some inclines and interval training.

I never would have imagined that at the age of 37, I'd become a jogger and actually enjoy it. Just goes to show that if a wimpy gal with an aversion to getting sweaty and out of breath can do it, anyone can!

02 October 2010

New Farmers' Market: An Inspection Tour

After all the hoo-ha in recent months about the move of the Halifax Farmers' Market from its old location at the Keith's Brewery to the new "Seaport" site at Pier 20, I've been meaning to check it out. With over a month having passed since the new site opened, I got up early this morning and headed down.

My verdict? Too soon to tell for certain; best to wait another six months to a year before passing final judgment. However, based on what I experienced this morning, I fear that the market may have sacrificed the charm and character of the old brewery location for little to no benefit. When I arrived at 8am, it was very busy - and when I left at 9.30, it was beginning to heave. The same could be said of the old location, however - and despite the new site being a cavernous open space, there are still bottlenecks in the flow of people at certain points (a major drawback at the brewery location).
It seemed like pretty near all the vendors from the old location have made the move, though, and I was left to wonder who is still holding out over at the brewery. May need to go down there next week, to see.

The market organisers tell us that it's early days yet, and in a few months, once the market is open several days a week instead of just Saturdays, the congestion levels will lessen. I certainly hope so. By the time I left this morning, I was reminded of why I don't often go to this market - I prefer to spend my Saturday mornings tucked up in bed, instead of battling the hordes. Based on today's experience, the new location isn't yet living up to its promise of making the market experience more enjoyable.

That said, there were definitely some positives.
Obviously, there's a great selection available and I picked up some lovely Annapolis Valley goodies - beets, corn and apples (including two varieties I've never seen before: "Ginger Gold" and "Mollie's Delicious"), free-range eggs, and excellent yogurt from the Fox Hill Cheese House. The availability of ample free parking is a major bonus (though unless you arrive at the crack of dawn, you may have to walk 5-10 minutes between where your vehicle is parked and the market entrance). Also, the new space has a mezzanine level where most of the arty/crafty vendors are located - useful to have them separated somewhat from the food vendors. Finally, the lousy acoustics of the open hall have ensured that the legions of wailing hippie buskers - who plagued the Brewery Market with their dubious musicianship - have largely disappeared. Huzzah! (hehe)

In the final estimation, I think that for the short term at least, I will be sticking with the little mid-day Friday market
at the Victoria General Hospital. It's just down the street from my office, has my favourite vendors from the Saturday market, and I rarely have to wait more than a minute or two at the stands. But if the new Seaport Market does what it's meant to, hopefully shopping there will become more pleasant and more convenient in future.

29 August 2010

Summer Holiday on the South Shore

Having decided against going away for our holidays this summer (and in the interest of keeping things relaxed and low-stress), this year we opted instead for a three-day “staycation” down on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. I was a bit embarrassed by the fact that I’d never really been further southwest than Lunenburg, and knew there were some interesting sights to be seen. So early on Monday morning last week, we hit the road.

Two hours down Highway 103 got us to the village of Port Joli, where we veered off onto the side road to the Seaside Adjunct of Kejimkujik National Park. I’d heard lots of great things about the Adjunct (though I still have yet to visit the main park – maybe this fall) and we planned to spend the morning hiking to the beach there. It’s really a beautiful spot – a half-hour’s walk through forest and across bogs strewn with pitcher plants brought us to the seashore. The white sand beach stretches for several miles, and had just been re-opened to visitors after several months – access is barred for part of the year as endangered birds use the beach as a nesting place. The large rocks found just off the shoreline are home to lots of cormorants and other seabirds, as well as a colony of seals, who could be seen sunning themselves on the rocks.

The afternoon was spent doubling-back to the town of Lunenburg, where we’d planned to spend the night. We took the scenic option, however, following the Lighthouse Route east along the coast from Port Medway – a very pretty stretch of road, passing through lots of small fishing villages (and a nice local coffee house in the middle of nowhere, at Broad Cove). At LaHave, we queued up to take the cable ferry across the river (sailing time: 10 minutes), then drove into Lunenburg via its southern back roads.

That evening we’d booked dinner at the much-lauded restaurant Fleur de Sel, which last year opened a suite for overnight guests on its second floor. As a treat, we booked a package which gave us a night’s accommodation in the suite, the chef’s seven-course tasting menu for dinner that evening, and breakfast served by the chef the following morning. The suite was lovely – nicely-decorated, spacious and very comfortable. I took a bath in the big clawfoot slipper tub, then dressed for dinner.

The meal was – unsurprisingly – outstanding. Unusually, A. and I were served different dishes throughout – I’ve never been served a tasting in a restaurant where all the guests weren’t served the same things. Of course, we also asked for suitable wine pairings – so in effect, over the course of the evening, we tasted 14 different dishes and 14 different wines between the two of us. The next day, the restaurant emailed me the full menu (posted here), which was a good thing as I'd never have remembered it all!
The biggest surprise on the menu was definitely the pig’s head roulade - sounds appalling, but it was absolutely delicious. Also, the Nova Scotia wines – God knows we produce a lot of nasty plonk in this province (I’m looking at you, Jost Wineries), but there are a couple of small vineyards which are beginning to produce some remarkably nice wines. But the entire meal was superb – save the pig’s head, there was nothing weird or exotic about it. Just good, fresh, local food, cooked perfectly and served with style. A memorable meal.

Tuesday morning we awoke to pouring rain, thunder and lightning. It didn’t bode well, so we hibernated at the restaurant (breakfast/reading/packing up) until 11.30 am, when the worst of the storm had passed us by. Then we headed west again, this time bombing down the 103 until we got past Port Joli (where we’d headed into the park the day before). Then we turned towards the coast and followed the scenic route once again.

On a whim, we drove into the town of Liverpool – lured by a sign on the highway that promised an Outhouse Museum. I’m a great fan of eccentric museums, and this seemed like just the spot to check out on a potentially rainy afternoon. The Rossignol Cultural Centre turned out to be an odd place, housing several small museum collections and galleries under one roof. We got natural history collections, guiding/hunting/trapping collections, a Mongolian collection, a stately panelled room purchased wholesale from an auctioneer in England, and a replica of Maud Lewis’s house. Oh, and the outhouses, of course – not only full-size examples, but a collection of outhouse-themed memorabilia as well. It was wonderfully bizarre, and we passed a head-scratching hour or two. Well worth the $5 admission fee!

Back on the road that afternoon, we headed for our most westerly stop on the trip: Birchtown. It was once home to the largest settlement of black Loyalists
(American colonists who did not support the Revolutionary War with Britain) in North America. At its peak (in the 1780s) it was apparently the largest community of free black people in the world, outside of Africa. Nowadays there is a cultural centre on the site of the original settlement, which relays some of the history of the place itself and the bad deal that the black Loyalists received at the hands of the British. Instead of the promised grants of arable land for each man and woman, the people were dumped at Birchtown, which had poor soil for farming and where almost no ownership of land was ever granted. Onsite are reconstructions of the “pit houses” where the original settlers would have lived for the first few years (basically holes dug in the ground, with log roofs). We also visited the burial ground and church used by the community through the 19th century. A very interesting and historic spot, which not enough people know about.

From Birchtown, it was just a few minutes’ drive east before we reached the town of Shelburne, our stopping place for that evening. I knew a few things about Shelburne’s remarkable history, but had never visited. Its heyday was over two centuries ago – it was first settled in the 1780s by a group of 3,000 (mainly white) Loyalists , and within a couple of years further Loyalist settlement meant the population of the town had swelled to 10,000 - making it the fourth-largest settlement in North America at that point. But its excellent harbour and convenient location for ships sailing up the Eastern seaboard couldn’t make up for the lack of arable land in the area (a problem also experienced by the black Loyalists in nearby Birchtown), and when the local authorities stopped providing provisions to the townspeople in 1787, the Loyalists began moving on to Upper Canada and England. By the 1820s, the population had dwindled to just 300 or so.

Arriving in Shelburne late that afternoon, we went straight to the historic centre – a small area one block wide and about 6-7 short blocks long, peppered with beautiful Georgian buildings constructed by the Loyalists during the boom years of the 1780s. First, we hit the Ross-Thomson House and Store – a well-preserved example of a late eighteenth-century store, with a Georgian house attached that served as home to the Loyalist storeowners, the Ross brothers. Afterwards, we picked up a map and guide to the historic district, and toured around the little “lanes” running between Dock Street on the waterfront and Water Street (the main street of the town). These streets retain some of their eighteenth-century character and are little more than a single lane wide.

I took lots of pictures, and the architecture was wonderful – but the town still had an odd, almost creepy character to it. Even on a sunny summer evening, it was so quiet – it felt like a ghost town. It also felt like a film set – which, in fact, it once was. Most famously, in 1994 the movie “The Scarlet Letter” starring Demi Moore, Gary Oldman and Robert Duvall (based on the novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne) was filmed in the historic district of Shelburne. Two structures built as sets were left standing, and can still be seen today. I suspect that the filming of that movie was one of the last major economic boosts that the town received, however - there’s not much industry left in the area, and nowadays, it’s so remote. I’m glad we visited though, as it’s definitely a special place.

In the early evening, we headed to our B&B just outside the town – a 19th-century riverside house on the site of an old mill, which was very comfortable. We got changed and cleaned up before heading back into town for dinner at the Charlotte Lane Café – whose culinary fame has reached as far as Halifax. We really enjoyed our dinner there, though I wouldn’t say it’s destination dining. But clearly, it’s the best place in the area. The chef (a Swiss émigré) came out of the kitchen at the end of the evening to ask how we’d enjoyed our meal, which was very nice (I had the Swiss pork tenderloin with mushrooms and rosti potatoes – yum).

After a comfortable overnight at the B&B, we were dispatched with a hearty breakfast, then hit the highway back to Halifax. En route, we stopped at Ross Farm in New Ross – again, a place I’d never visited before (though it’s less than an hour’s drive from the city). It serves as a living agricultural museum for the province and made for a pleasant enough stop for the afternoon. Fun to check out all the different farm animals, and we took a ride around the farm in a wagon pulled by two lovely big working horses.

Only three days away, but it felt longer. Had some fun, saw lots of interesting new things, and ate some great food. What more could be asked for?

(Lots of photos to be found here.)

26 March 2010

Kitchen Reno: Final Pics and Video

I almost forgot! (Sorry, Blogger.) Our kitchen reno is all finished!

Since my last update, several more finishing touches were applied. In September, we decided against the glass mosaic tile I picked out last summer, after the supplier refused to do a custom blend for us (too small a job, apparently). Which is fine, except that they took three months to make that decision and communicate it to us - argh. So I chose another, similar, mosaic pattern, with 1"x1" glass squares in greens, whites, greys and light browns. As it turned out, this is an almost-perfect match for our quartz countertops, so I'm very pleased with the end result. By October, we had a tiler come in to do the work of installing our tile backsplash. Unfortunately, we hadn't done a very good job of measuring, so he got about 90% of the work done before running out of tile! We had more delivered a few weeks later, but by then he'd moved on to other work...and it was mid-February before he returned!! Tradespeople - what can you do?

But with that job completed, we can truly say that the Great Kitchen Renovation is finished. It took nearly 14 months from start to end, but we are so happy with the end result!

My kitchen reno photo diary on Flickr has been updated and is now complete, and can be viewed here (latest pics on the second page).

08 December 2009

In Memoriam: Fawn the Bun

Fawn: born Dublin, Ireland, April 2001.

We adopted Fawn, along with her mother, Ginger, from the Dublin SPCA in May 2001. She was one of four kits in the litter; her other three siblings were all red, just like Ginger, but Fawn was "agouti"-coloured, like all European wild rabbits (greyish-brown on the fur's surface, sooty black beneath). The photo below shows Fawn (on the right) with one of her siblings, at the DSPCA - aged about five weeks, in May 2001.

She was the smallest of the litter, but made up for it with a sometimes bullish temperament; as a youngster she would often "box" with us, retreating to a corner, getting up on her back legs and swatting with her front paws when we tried to pick her up against her will. She was very active and curious, always getting into scrapes. When she was a year old, her hijinks resulted in the dislocation of her hip, which fortunately healed (though as we discovered later, it left long-term damage).

When we left Dublin in 2004, Fawn made the journey with us back to Halifax - even though it meant thirty days in quarantine (at my in-laws' home) before her import papers could be stamped by Canada Customs!

Many domestic rabbits live for a period of 8-10 years (sometimes more) and certainly in the last year or two, we noticed that she began to slow down. But fortunately for her, as the years advanced and she became elderly, she remained healthy. It was only this past July that we noticed she had developed a limp in her left hind leg. When the limp had not resolved itself after a few weeks, A. took an x-ray which confirmed his suspicions. The hip joint was badly degraded, and Fawn was suffering from arthritis - brought on almost certainly by the dislocated hip she'd suffered in her youth.

As the months passed, her mobility became more and more impaired, to the point that by November, she was unable to use either of her back legs. It was very difficult to watch her struggle. Over the past week, however, it became clear that she was experiencing pain. We knew it was time to do the kind thing, and put her to sleep. Earlier this evening, we said our goodbyes to Fawn, then stayed with her as she was sedated. Finally, A. administered an injection that stopped her heart. Her passing was quiet and peaceful.

Fawn was a wonderful, much-loved pet - the longest-lived of any of our rabbits. We will miss her very much.

Fawn: died Halifax, Nova Scotia, 8 December 2009.

01 November 2009

Blondie at the Casino

A few weeks ago, when I found out that Blondie were coming to town to play two shows at Casino Nova Scotia, I decided to check it out. Sure, they're well past their heyday, but with such a wealth of brilliant, classic songs, it seemed like a show not to be missed.

It didn't disappoint. We checked out the show last night at the Casino's Schooner Room (my first time in that venue, which seats 1,000 and is quite pleasant). The set was a shortish one, being just shy of 90 minutes. But the performances were solid and they cranked out lots of classics - "Call Me", "Hanging on the Telephone", "Maria", "The Tide is High", "Atomic", "Rapture", "Heart of Glass", "(I'm Always Touched by Your) Presence Dear", "One Way or Another".
Granted, Deborah Harry's voice isn't quite what it used to be, but at 64 (!!) that's to be expected. She looked fabulous in a tight, sequined fuschia dress with matching eyemask (it being Halloween night and all). And I nearly snagged the mask as a souvenir at the end of the night! Debbie tossed it into the crowd as they left the stage, and both me and another girl grabbed it. That person wouldn't let go, so I told her we'd play Paper, Stone, Scissors for it. She won...bugger. Ah well.

My only real complaint about the show had nothing to do with the band - but rather, with the lethargic audience. Most of the people in the crowd sat on their arses the entire time! Which I could understand if the place was mainly full of old folk, but it wasn't. I ended up leaving my seat and heading down to the front after the first couple of songs, to dance with the rest of the people with pulses - which was a lot of fun, and livened up the mood considerably.

It also allowed me shoot a couple of surreptitious videos. Herewith a clip from "The Tide is High":


For their three-song encore, I was surprised to find that the band performed two covers. The first was a tongue-in-chic, very Blondified version of "My Heart Will Go On" (yes, the Celine Dion song...hehe). The final number was a tribute to Michael Jackson - "Don't Stop Til You Get Enough"! A very cool end to a very fun show. Here's a clip:


27 August 2009

Kitchen Reno Update - Late Summer Ad Hoc Edition

Ah yes, the kitchen reno. To the casual observer, not much has happened since we started being able to use the new kitchen back in March. As you can imagine, after so many months of hard work and disorder, we felt like taking a bit of a break from kitchen stuff, and just enjoy the new space. In the interim, though, we got on with lots of other jobs that needed doing - painting the front hall, getting some guys in to paint the aluminum siding outside, and having our driveway paved (three years after it was first torn up!).

Still, since my last update
, we've done lots of little jobs in the kitchen that needed finishing up - like installing a new pendant fixture in the dining room (to match the ones in the kitchen) and the last of the cabinet hardware (which was backordered and took three months to arrive). The door and window frames (some of which were removed and altered during the reno work) were re-installed and painted. But a couple big jobs got finished too:

  • Paint: Argh. What a palaver. Over the winter, before the cabinetmakers came in, I painted the empty shell of the kitchen in "The Thames" by CIL - a pale green I thought I'd love. It turned out to be too minty, however. So the search began for a suitably neutral sagey-greeny-grey colour. Six test pots later, I finally found a winner - "Blue Gray" by Farrow & Ball. Despite the name, it's much more greenish than bluish! And it's very soft, as well. I was worried that grey paint might look too cold, but this one is anything but. And it goes fantastically well with our countertops, too.

    We used the same colour in both kitchen and dining room. Originally, I had planned to leave the dining room with its original yellow paint, which I really liked. But as our kitchen designer/neighbour advised us months ago, once the renovation work was done we could see that with our new open-plan design, the kitchen and dining room would really look best if they were painted the same colour. Luckily, I think the "Blue Gray" looks nice in there too:

  • Crown moulding for the dining room: another case in which we should have listened to our kitchen designer/neighbour. When planning the work for our cabinetmaker, she suggested that we replace the existing crown moulding in our dining room with something that would match what was being installed in the kitchen. I poo-poohed the suggestion, however, as I thought the existing moulding was perfectly nice, and at that stage I was determined to keep unnecessary costs to a minimum. So the cabinetmakers went ahead, installed new moulding in the kitchen only, and made the transition between the two rooms as neat as possible. Once the job was done, however, I could see that our designer was right, and that since the space was now essentially one big room, it would look much better if everything matched. So in April, the cabinetmakers came back to take out the old crown moulding from the dining room, and install the new one. It makes for a much neater, cleaner finish - no doubt about it. The moral of the story? When you've put so much time, effort and money into a big job like this, you shouldn't cheap out on the finishing touches.

So those were the biggest accomplishments of recent months. Still several big things left to do, though:

  • Backsplash Tiling: ARGH. OK, granted, the delay on this is my fault as midway through the reno, I changed my mind about the kind of tile I wanted. But by mid-April, I'd decided on a variation of this glass tile design, from Olympia Tile:

    I asked Olympia to customize this standard pattern, replacing the blue tiles with a mid/dark green. Along with the greenish-white, grey and brown colours in the pattern, it looks as though it would be a perfect complement to my quartz countertop (which has all those same colours in it). I also love the mini-brick shape (the individual tiles are 1"x2"). Being a custom order, however, we of course wanted to have a sample made, before making a final decision. Placed that sample order at the end of April...waited...and by the end of July and much hassling of our designer to find out what the hell was going on, Olympia admitted that they'd lost the sample order. (Why it took three months to find this out is another matter altogether.) So - currently, I am awaiting my sample, and hoping very much that it will arrive in the next week or two.

  • Floors: When we had the kitchen floors refinished in March, we planned to have the guys come back later and give the dining room a light buff and re-coat, as it's got a few scratches. We'd hoped they'd be able to do that this month, but (surprise) there have been delays, and they will come sometime in September now. In the meantime, my buffet and hutch (and everything in it) have been moved into the spare bedroom, in preparation.

  • Heating: back in June, we ordered new radiators - European-style, thin ones from Runtal. Given the tight space at the end of the kitchen (and the need to be sure that we had enough clearance to open the door of our lower oven) we couldn't go with standard radiators. However, the good thing about a custom order, of course, is that you can get exactly what you want. The three new rads arrived last week - one will go in the entryway, one under the far window in the kitchen, and one in the bathroom next door (as the baseboard heater in there has never done a good job of heating the room - it's freezing on winter mornings). So a call will be put in to the plumber shortly, to get them hooked up - and voila! We will have heat this winter!

So, that's where we are at the moment. Next time I update this reno diary, I hope I'll have pics of my new tile backsplash to post!