Friday, November 21, 2014

Pro Tips

#1 It undermines your ability to complain about how busy you are, when you willingly take on joining Parent Council at your kid's school (despite the fact that forced to give a Gladiator review of the school's performance thus far, it would get a resounding thumbs-down), and you sign up for the fundraising committee for a local community service provider.

#2 Deciding to be a general contractor for the finishing of your basement reno ALSO undermines your ability to complain about how busy you are (BUT I LOVE DOING THIS SO G-D MUCH!)  Why couldn't I just be a GC?!

#3 When you're doing a massive job, like underpinning your basement, it makes the job infinitely better when you hire amazing contractors to do the job and they have the good sense to hire a team of 20-25 year old hunks to do the work.

Further to Pro Tip #3, guys, this team is SO HOT.  They are tall (at least 6'2").  They are tattoo'd and hunky (think slightly scruffier Abercrombie models) and polite and respectful.  I can't recommend our underpinners enough.  I wish I could hire them AGAIN, and that's saying something, because generally we burn through a trade (like, to the point of me withholding a significant percentage of cash, no longer on speaking terms, salt-the-earth style of burning through) with each reno.  The main dudes are cautious, respectful, very conscientious and they don't pass on extra costs to us.  The team is a bunch of sweethearts - they come in every morning, prep the area, say good morning to everyone, remember the kids' names - I'm so impressed so far.

They are also BLOWING through the job.  They started November 11th, and by Friday, my basement looked like this:

The electrical panel on the top left of this photo (next to the conveyor belt they use to get the dirt out of the house and into the bin), used to be at my HEAD HEIGHT.  And now I can't even reach it.  Unbelievable.

The white pipe is our drain, being supported by strapping.

The job is done in stages.  You can see the spray-painted areas of the wall marked 1, 2, and 3 in the pictures above.  They dig out all the section 1s, then pour, then start on the section 2s, and so on, so that your house is never at any point more than 1/3 unsupported.  They let the concrete cure for the full 48 hours.  Then they start the next stage.  They will likely be done by the first week of December. WHAAAAAAT.

Then I've got to figure out a way to get my furnace reconnected (it's supported right now, but the last thing they'll do is hang the furnace while they dig underneath it and pour the slab) and my laundry reconnected.  A WHOLE NEW FLOOR OF THE HOUSE, GUYS!

This job hasn't been without its headaches.  THE JOYS OF LIVING IN A SEMI, PEOPLE!

At the end of this though, I will have an 8'2" basement.  EEEKS!!!  When the Dotytron and I stand down there now, it's amazing how spacious it feels.  It's not a tonne of space, granted, not by normal, non-downtown dwellers standards.  We are going to try to maximize it too, by getting an office/bedroom, a laundry/bathroom and a living room (in addition to the furnace room) under there, but still!  A WHOLE OTHER USABLE FLOOR OF THE HOUSE?  Nothing to sneeze at, basement haters (i.e. all those people who told us that it wasn't worth it).

My reaction to the Underpinners team of hotties put me in mind of that Hollaback video that made the rounds on the internet in late October.

I watched the video, but then questioned myself as a feminist.  While the majority of the exchanges were gross and would definitely make me feel uncomfortable (hate being told to "smile" like a trained dog), some of them seemed benign (to me), which is what sent me spiralling.  When is it okay to say hi to a stranger?  Is there any context?  Commentary on the video seemed to indicate no.  That a woman has the inherent right to walk around without being encroached upon by men who only see her as an object.  I get that, I do.  But then, how are you supposed to meet people?  Is it okay in a bar/club setting?  When I see someone that I find "interesting" and approach them in a public space, am I similarly objectifying them?  It was really hard for me to wrap my head around.  Saying hi isn't okay?  I was confused by that as a general mode of practice.  That being said, there is a house around the corner from us, on the main street, that's clearly a rooming house and the dudes there (who don't work and when the weather is nice seemingly sit outside drinking all day) have verbally harassed my nanny, the neighbour's nanny, and when I walk by them, they don't dare say anything, but you can feel the predatory colour to their gaze.  It was gross and discomfiting and enraged me before I knew they said stuff to our nanny, and now that I know, if they so much as do it again, I'm going to tear a strip off of them.

This leads me to another issue that had me very confused in the month of October.  The hashtag #rapedneverreported started appearing, as a (very positive) offshoot of the Jian Ghomeshi thing.  Someone I know was sharing her story on Twitter and as part of that conversation, she tweeted that a thing we could do is to model consensual behaviour when we tickle our kids.  The whole POINT of tickling is that the kid is laughing and saying no!  I was so conflicted about that!  I brought it up at Academic Book Club and they reminded me of that experience most of us have had, where we've been tickled by a weird uncle until we almost barfed.  THAT'S the kind of tickling we're supposed to stay away from.  The tickling "game" where the kid is obviously enjoying it is okay (I think.)  Just trying to avoid irrevocably contributing to rape culture, thanks!  UGH.  I know I sometimes purposefully push past the line of the Big Yam's comfort zone for the sake of my own sadistic pleasure.  Not with tickling, but sometimes I'll be fake-scary and then verge into real scary and I can tell that he's wavering and I'll put it justthatlittlebit past the point where he's okay and into starting to feel real fear.  I'm a monster.

We've had ourselves some proper good weekends.  We were in our favorite USA small town last weekend, eating copious amounts of food and lying around until we atrophied and lining up the cousins on a couch for cute photos like this:

The weekend before was a doozy - my mum came over and was being super-cute with the babies and SMckay was over and I had my eyelashes filled (oh, I didn't mention that I'm an eyelash extension ADDICT?!  Cuz I am), and we went with my mum to T&T and I made dinner and then SMckay took the Big Yam out for his birthday present excursion (a TTC ride and hot dogs) and then my mum went home and SMckay and I went to see Gone Girl while the Dotytron hosted record club.

The following day involved some weird March Break trip investigation that suddenly through Disneyworld into the mix (?!) and then dinner at our friend's JJ & S's house.  Busy!  But I love all the people I saw so it's a good kind of busy.  The kind of busy that means you never get around to raking leaves or tarping up the outdoor furniture and then all of a sudden you have to do it when it's premature polar vortex winter and there's snow and then the job is a million times worse.  That kind of busy.  That's what's on our agenda this weekend.  Tarping and raking and bagging, etc., etc.

There was also a 13 (!!!!!) year anniversary dinner at Bar Isabel for me and the Dotytron.  He did the math: apparently when we're 43 we will have been together longer than we were apart.  There's nothing to say about that, other than the obvious: I like the guy.

We were advised to order 5 dishes but ended up closer to 10.  Even at that, this left us satisfied, but not hating ourselves.  If we wanted to hate ourselves we could have ordered 5 more plates of the croquettas alone.  My pics are dark but I'm an Asian girl so will take pics of my food until I die, bae:

Raw bay scallop with honey crisp apple, cucumber and dill.  I  enjoyed eating this dish (because I love raw scallops like nothing else) and understood the textural inclusion of the apple and cucumber, but the cucumber fell flat for me.  The watery vague bitterness of the rind didn't match with the cool, crisp sweetness of the other elements.  Also, the cucumber wasn't chilled enough, which I think was a problem with the palatability.

Pintxos!  Who doesn't love pintxos?  Not me!  On the left we have bacalao (salt cod spread), a pickled egg and a little wee sausage and on the right we have sobrassada, shaved foie (must have been frozen and shaved) and honey.  I would have taken about 10 more each of these two bites.  SO GOOD.  So balanced between smooth, rich, sweet, briny.  

These croquettas ruined my life.  All I want is more of them in my mouth all the time.  Gooey and molted on the inside with a sobrassada spiked mayo for dipping.  

Obligatory bone marrow with salsa verde.  Why don't I just make bone marrow all the time?  Good Q.  I should do that and sweetbreads and foie more.  YOLO.

Patatas bravas is something I really miss having.  Those Spaniards (Catalans?) are really good at getting a chunk of potato blisteringly crisp on the outside, only to have your teeth then meet a puffball explosion of fluffy starchy innards.  We got the supreme version, which came with boquerones, blood sausage, slices of jalepeno, and some other stuff.  On the left you have crispy fried sweetbreads served with tuna.  

I have parent council stories to regale you with, but those are tales for another day.  In the meantime, here's a photo of Lenny as an environmental activist, and the Quincess as a tiny, shrunken, old man:


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