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Batman vs. Ramses vs. Will Smith vs. Neil Armstrong vs. Hitler vs. Joe & Anne

Batman, Ramses II, Hitler, Will Smith, Neil Armstrong, Joe and Anne Cospito.

These revered, historical figures all have something in common. No, it isn’t that they all hate broccoli or resent rising gas prices (I hear your gripe, Ramses II. Even though our chariot mileage has vastly improved from your days, they still gouge you at the pump/stables). It’s not even the fact that they all gazed at the same moon (although Ramses worshiped it while Neil just walked on it – whole group snickers at Ramses.)

No, no, no. These historical figures share one common thread: they all have a house they built and call home. Their proverbial ‘crib’. A place of tranquility from which to save the world (Batman and Will high 5 at this point). Or in SOMEONE’S case (awkward cough as Batman, Neil, Ramses and Will all raise an eyebrow in Hitler’s direction) attempt to dominate the world. Or in Anne’s and my case from which to eat pasta and Google ticket prices to Disneyland.

So I decided to have these fellows over, put on a pot of coffee and do our own little version of MTV cribs. The room’s a little cramped right now, and Batman and Hitler keep giving each other the evil eye. Ramses is in the corner attempting to worship his mug of coffee, and we only got his attention back on the blog by telling him to stop by the shrine of Timmy Ho’s on his chariot ride home for a truly spiritual experience. Will Smith and Neil are arguing incessantly in the background about who is more awesome. No doubt a question for the ages.

So with no further ado, let’s go visit these guys’ pads, because they want to play some Wii before heading out. They each gave me a mug shot of themselves followed by the place they live in.

Unfortunately, Ramses had every photographer in his kingdom executed when the famine of 01 hit. He eagerly provided me with this......statue of himself instead. Ramses, might I recommend Gillette Sensor Excel for that goatee and a Wal Mart photo booth? No? Ok. I guess a 300 ton shrine to yourself will do as well.

Ok Ramses. We get it. You are awesome. Shortage of lumber in the kingdom back in the day eh? (Batman snickers and elbows Will Smith)

Batman, I can't even begin to imagine how long you stood on that rooftop waiting for these ideal photo conditions to occur for maximum awesomeness. You do realize that you still get wet even if you are carrying knives right? No bat umbrella or something? Mm?

Ah yes. The Batcave. Proverbial home of the Batman. What red blooded male hasn't dreamed of coming home from work and kicking back in the batcave? Like, hello! Mood lighting. Big screens everywhere. A freaking bat emblazoned into the floor. Ominous ledges galore disappearing into the shadows below. (Batman smirks and elbows Will Smith who just glowers)

The 'Kang' of cool. Will Smith himself. So, Willy, a few questions. I get the gun, but why are the top two buttons of your shirt undone and why are you gazing thoughtfully into the........WHO AM I KIDDING? WHAT'S WITH THE MACHINE GUN, WILL??? It looks like you just parked your car. Trouble returning something at Toys R' Us?

Not sure what to say about this. I at first thought it was a small town. It is in fact the Corporation of the Municpality of Will Smith. I mean, come on Will, your own backetball court, tennis court, swimming pool, but no statues like Ramses II?? (Joe and Ramses high 5, while Will glowers)

Ok, seriously man. We got to do something about that smile. And we need to get you out of those dictator scrubs and into something a little more personal. How about I lend you some PJ's and we play some Foosball to loosen up a little?

Hitler's Austrian pad - the Berghof. Or as I like to call it, 'the Berggy'. Hitler wined, dined and executed heads of state from this hilltop house of horror.

Unfortuntely, he put the place on Kijiji in '45 to try to make a few bucks for an escape submarine or some nonsense. The old lads in Britain happened to be surfing the Kijiji that day looking for post-invasion property in Germany. Her Majesty's 145th Angels of Death squadron was promptly dispatched and quashed any realistic hope of getting more than $5 bucks for the place. Should have kept the sale private man.

Talk about your fixer upper. Well Adolf, you might want to speak with Ramses II - he seems to have this 'durability' theme going on with his stuff. At least his place is still coverd by his Contractor's 4,000 year warranty.

For the last hour, this man has been bragging about that little moon walk he took in '69. We get it, Neil. You're the moon walker in the room. Ramses is sitting cross legged on the floor staring reverantly into his face, and frankly it's getting a little creepy. Sigh. Yes, Neil, it's your turn now. Here he is in his little outdated space ship from '69. By the way, Neil, your secret is out. We know you saw Transformers on the moon in '69 when you "lost radio contact for 20 minute" or some nonsense. Michael Bay told us everything. I even saw it in 3D.

The planetary base of operations for moonwalker Neil Armstrong is located in the distant, exotic city of Cinncianti, Ohio. Is that a launch pad or swimming pool in the back yard, Neil?

Ok, we got a ton of photos this time around, and I need to get it done before Will Smith strangles Batman for looking cooler than he does and whupping him at Wii Fit. I told Batman that he is not allowed to use his grappling hook in my place, but who am I kidding here, Batman uses his grappling hook as often as you and I put on pants every morning. We are on borrowed time, let’s get moving:

We decided to go for the "ocean" feel in our master bedroom. Our floor is ocean blue, and our bed is a replica of a Viking funeral pyre.....maximum peace garunteed every night as you drift off to sleep, dreaming of Valhalla and ancient warrior ballads. Maybe it's just how we relax.

The most important room in any Italian's house is this one right here. The cradle of life. The pasta nursery. The orchard of opulence. The grazing garden.

Now this was a treat! We hired my wife's cousins who have their own masonry business in Virginia to come up to lay our stone. Shocking fact: We purchsed their airfare, hotel, car rental, fishing license, and paid their wage for exactly half the price of what the mason in Dryden wanted. Dryden is 100 km from our house while Virginia is 2,480 km from our house. I am not sure what to say about that. Like what did that Dryden mason include in his price??? I mean REALLY? Perhaps he was to be delivered on a litter borne by bronzed servants in leopard print loincloths. Perhaps he accounted for a warm milk bath at every lunch break. Ramses just interrupted me and smugly stated that he built the pyramids of Giza for free. Uh, yeah, about that Ramses, we need to get you caught up on slavery laws these days. They've changed just a tad. But I appreciate the suggestion.

So let's introduce you guys to the guys! (poor Engleece there Joe??) This here is Lyndon. Master of the 45 degree corner. In Lyndon's manly hands the rock wall became soft and palpable, like putty, succumbing to his will. This stone laying beast ran purely on chocolate chip cookies. Fortunately my wife kept an unstemmable flow of the doughy discs flowing to the job site to power this machine.

Steve. Lot's of Steves working on our house. Steve stands for stability. For suitability. For style. For straight rows. Look at that pencil in Steve's hand, ready to do as the master bids. Rumor has it that this man was involved in the very invention of rock itself. Hearsay perhaps. Steve used the alignment of the stars to lay his stone. Hm yes. Stars.

Ah yes. The patriarch of the family himself. The relenless Roger. Or "Uncle Rogg" as I prefer to call him. This man was hired by the US government to fix a bad case of acne that sprung up over night on Mt Rushmore in 09. It was a treat to watch the precision with which these guys put brick up on our house. The brick was basically begging to go up in their masterful hands. A harmony of man and nature. I am nearly in tears.

Our Auntie Ruth got right in there as well.....mixing up the mortar for the boys. Just like mixing up some fudge in the kitchen with the Bosch mixer. Work it Auntie Ruth, work it!

The cousins also hired this stranger off the street to hand them stone. However, he didn't last long and was laid off shortly after this photo was taken.

Work = happiness!

And here is the finished product............took them 2 1/2 days, and we positively love it! Hey Ramses, how long did those silly pyramids take you? You should have sweetened the deal with chocolate chip cookies and fishing licenses rather than using the ominous shadow of death as the motivating force. Not once did we discuss death while working on our wall Ramses. Not once.

And here are the cousins, Uncle and Aunt with their very happy clients. Side Note: You guys have no idea how long it took to take this picture. Self timers are just ridiculous. It was perched on the cement mixer and my wife ran back and forth so many times I am sure she got more rushing yards than the New England Patriots are going to get all season long. I assure you, all our smiles are superficial.........we all charged the cement mixer in a blind rage moments after this picture was taken and threw the camera into the bush before another photo could be taken.

After the guys finished up, we took them out to camp for some general frivolity. Here we are sallying forth to wage our war of attrition on the fishies. Here fishy feesh.

We went to the falls and caught supper........this was one of those days where I was reminded of the spectacular beauty of where we live.

No Ramses, we don't worship these any more, but they do appear on our currency. Have another cup of coffee Ramses. Batman, put Will Smith down. Almost done now.

THE GERMANS!!!! Actually, come to think of it, I'm pretty sure our cousins are Germans. But they are the nice Germans.

Here is Lyndon mastering the "Tim Tam Slam". Hilarious good times. Basically, you take a Tim Tam, bite off a corner at each end and then quickly dunk it in your coffee and start sucking like its a straw. As soon as you taste coffee, slam the whole gooey, chocolatey mess into your mouth. Very narrow window before it turns to putty in your fingers. What's that Ramses? Do I have any more Tim Tam's?? How about you just sit tight Ramses, we are nearly done. Go back to staring at your coffee.

So we have begun to move stuff in earnest to the new place.......here we packed our Xterra so full we had to get creative with a few of the remaining bags we managed to stuff in. You know, looking right at turns is over rated anyways. Just honk and turn baby. Honk and turn.

Why there is my wife!! I thought I packed her in here too but couldn't quite remember. Looks like it is about time to honk by this rare view out the right window.

Friends, here is a very special picture………..I was really excited about this one. A picture of firsts at the new house:

Our first role of toilet paper in the new washroom. Very big day for us. This poor little guy is just hanging out over there all by himself, not to be used for at least another week or so. I smell change on the wind. And it smells good. I want to turn this picture into a 1000 piece puzzle and put it together with my son/daughter one day.

Finally my friends, we have reached the end of relevant photos. I could continue a relentless barrage of nonsensical photos, but it sounds like Batman is getting the best of Will Smith upstairs, Neil Armstrong has just discovered Google Earth and is bickering that the view of earth no longer belongs to just him, and Adolf is playing with our BBQ lighter. I better go get things back under control up there. Besides, Ramses and I want more coffee.

As usual……only the photo of my best friend in the whole world left to go……

Can you tell we love life?? Who is driving that boat by the way......?

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Queen Mothers

Hello again friends, family and foes,

I am slipping into 3 weeks hiatus’ (hiati? Or is that a country?) from the bloggage. Life has spiralled madly out of control, like a B-17 super fortress blasted from the skies by a ME-109 and is now a plummeting, flaming, spiraling ball of fire heading to earth. Except it is one of those spiraling, flaming, plummeting falls that is really enjoyable, setting you down –  nay – kissing down, in a vibrant green field, next to sheep, who promptly pick you a bouquet of daisies as soon as you step out of the wreckage, ask you to shear them so they can sew you a new blankey, then offer you infallible advice on your stock performance.

Life is grand in a busy way, in other words.  The end of construction is rushing towards us like a meteor of pleasure, and we are standing there with arms wide open and huge silly grins plastered on our faces. We got a ton of pictures to show you guys from the last 3 weeks, so strap on your water wings and lets dive into the pictorial pool, shall we?

Two Queen Mothers for $1,000. Not a bad deal eh? And not just one of them – BUT 2!!! I was shocked to find that written in my wife’s impeccable hand writing on a sticky note sitting on my office desk. I mean, I am a big fan of the British royalty and all, but what gives here? Is my wife planning a house warming party and has rented the services of 2 Queen Mothers? What would a queen mother do at a house party? Why is she renting her self out so cheaply? $1,000? I can’t even get Clarence the Clown from Family Fun Rentals to make an appearance for a grand. Maybe the Queen Mother is saving for William and Kate’s baby shower and needed extra cash, resulting in her……………selling herself to 2 Canadians in the boonies in Ontario?? And why 2?? Is 1 Queen Mother not enough? I mean look at her……


Does this picture scream ‘high maintenance’ or what? Look at that broach. She would go straight to the bottom if she went swimming with that on. Although she could probably paddle herself to shore with that fan before she got in any serious trouble. Why is my wife buying this lady x2 for a cool grand? Do we need her to finish our place? Is she really good at cleaning? Is she helping me move the freezer? That’s got to be it. Joe + 2 Queen Mothers would be just about the right manpower to move our behemoth freezer. Just as I was getting excited about my reduced scope of moving labour, my eyes glanced at the note again.

Doggone it.

2 Queen Mattresses for $1,000.

Of course.

Right, photos, Joe, photos.  Swan diving into the pictorial pool right now…………

Allow me to tell you about this picture. We bought our laminate flooring from Winnipeg and had it shipped to Dryden, where my wife went to pick it up. Obviously, from this photo, one can deduce that the flooring was shipped in one of the following manners:

1)     In a tank that picked up our flooring and then did a tour of duty in Afghanistan

2)     They strapped our flooring to an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile and fired it at Dryden.

My wife surveyed the carnage, scolded the tank driver, and then directed the soldiers to load the packages in our pickup truck.

However, the little packer men / soldiers decided they would rather go cause more collateral damage with their tank to other innocents, so they left my wife and the wonderful Mrs. Susan Hochstedler to pack up our ½ ton truck. And so they did! Look at those pecs. Pectacular.

Not surprisingly, the silly tank drivers damaged about 3 boxes of the flooring before my wife and Susan wrestled the packages from their destructive hands.  The flooring for our living and dining rooms is called “Noguera Walnut” What is a ‘Noguera’? Sounds more like a car than a nut.

This is the PSX-TL3000 ‘Ice Age’ edition air conditioner we had installed. Ok, ok, so the name is maybe a little fictitious, but Anne and I have high hopes for this unit. There were many, many nights this summer where we laid in bed, sweltering and suffocating – with the only thing missing being the jungle drums from the tribal village and an anaconda hanging from our ceiling. No longer. ‘Hey there heat – TASTE MY PAIN!’ Can’t wait to fire this bad boy up next summer. I think Anne and I will fire it up for the first time drinking tall glasses of lemonade.

While investigating the PSX-TL3000, we found this guy. I wanted to keep him and launch him at the Germans, but Anne refused to even look at it. Really hard to load ammunition when you can’t even look at it.

After a long gestation period, our kitchen was finally birthed last week………here it is in its freshly delivered state. A little messy, a little crabby, but the doctor says it’s a girl and she is going to be healthy and beautiful. We have hired a private nanny to come put it together for us.

My family came by to conduct a building inspection and to make sure the kitchen is ‘Italian Cooking Approved (ICA)’. That is a huge approval by the way, since it dictates our diet until the mortgage is paid off. I was as nervous as I was at my first job interview.

Fortunately, I know the kitchen inspector personally. Earlier that day, I threw a couple wheels of provolone cheese and some prosciutto her way which practically guarantees a pass on our kitchen. Mangia mangia bella Nonna!

My brother Julian coming out of the closet.

I call this photo “The Twin Towers”. I want to frame it and put it in our dining room.

Here is our kitchen, partially assembled, but still being nursed to maturity by our nanny (carpenter). I think we have enough cupboards to hide the great pyramids of Giza in our kitchen, but Anne assures me that ‘there are enough’ in a voice that implies that we almost didn’t have ‘enough’. I am sort of expecting to move in and place each one of our forks in a cabinet of its own, but my wife never ceases to amaze me with how much kitchen gear she has. She is like a Navy Kitchen Seal with all sorts of black ops kitchen utensils used to carry out clandestine culinary missions. Come to think of it, it’s less of a kitchen and more of an armoury for her weapons against bland cooking. My wife, the champion of Italian eatery, thank you dear Lord.

Do you guys know what this place is? I know I am getting a lot of looks right now with raised eyebrows and rolled eyes. Being from Sioux Lookout, the only time I have used an Ikea is in a game of scrabble, and not even legally since it is a proper noun. This place is happiness. Pure, unadulterated mind blowing happiness for new home owners. Allow me to digress. My wife, my brother and myself went to southern Ontario for a wedding and to visit an old university friends of mine, Steve. I know a lot of Steves. Anyhow, my buddy took us to this place, sort of like you would take someone to show them where you get your mail. Then in total amazement you watch as they get all glazey eyed, start foaming at the mouth and rubbing their bodies all over your mailbox. That would be weird right? Of course. Nearly the same thing happened here when Steve nonchalantly took us to Ikea.  Bless those Swedes. Bless them with a blessing.

The best part of Ikea, by far, was the names of their products. I was expecting to find an assortment of brand names. Oh no. It is all Ikea brand, and they give their products utterly ridiculous names in Swedish. I assume Swedish names are given to boost the appeal of the product. Take for example this bed. Wait, it is not a bed, as the tag proclaims, but a Hemnes. Sounds way cooler than saying ‘bed’. Makes the purchse way more exciting when you can say, “I want to buy 3 hemnes, 4 glockespiels, and ½ a box of lubenfluffens”. In reality, all you purchased was 3 beds, 4 slippers and ½ box of earplugs. You see, WAY COOLER IN SWEDISH!! However, I should note, I personally would not be comfortable sleeping in a bed called a “Hemnes”. Sounds a little too much like an STD for my preference.

A ‘Godmorgon’………fancy Swedish for “drawer organizer’. For some reason, I couldn’t look at this without picturing Morgan Freemen in a white suit holding it up with a big cheesy smile in a commercial. Wierd.

Steve and I explored the kitchen section of Ikea where I believe I found one of the original stone slabs used by Moses for the 10 commandments trying to pass itself off as a cutting board. If a thief breaks into my house, I ain’t running for my gun, I heading straight to the kitchen to get my cutting board.  Look at the thickness of that beast!! It’s like a chopping block from the French Revolution. Villainy doesn’t stand a chance in my household when I am wielding this. Oh no.

My brother Clement found the ‘wearable blankey section’. I think as a child, this would have scared the living daylights out of me. Sort of looks like a Shrek who just got ran over by a steamroller. Or perhaps a sapient pickle with a bad case of self-awareness. Either way, I couldn’t stick my little body inside this abomination as a child and expect to sleep at night.

In an awkward moment of discovery while writing this blog, I came across this extremely recent photo of Neil Armstrong posing with my wife at a dinner party. Neil, I see right through your web of lies. Get out of my Jacuzzi and make yourself useful around here.

So my friends, there you have it…..another 2 weeks in the exciting construction life of the Cospito family. Only about 3 more weeks until we move in!! I better go pick up those Queen Mothers, we are going to need them.

Until next time…….


Menards for the win!!!

My homies. Microsoft Word is telling me that is the incorrect way to spell “homies”, but neither does it have a suggestion to spell “homies” the right way. Nothing like telling someone they are doing something wrong when you have no idea how to do it either.  Microsoft for the win!

I wanted to apologize for the serious delay in the bloggage. I wish I can say it was because I was out saving kitties, or selling homemade lemonade or doing something heroic like stopping the entire USA from going bankrupt, but truly I have to blame Neil Armstrong for the delay in the bloggage. Yes, Neil. I AM TALKING TO YOU!!! The crazed moonwalker has been boarding with us for the past 3 weeks as he teaches a low gravity cooking course at the local high school. Whenever I get home from work all he wants to do is “watch Star Wars and do the manly bonding”. Turns out that while watching Star Wars, all 6 of them, he slowly became more and more sullen, finally slipping into a chocolate pudding and Nutella binge which lasted for 4 days. When he finally kicked the calories and went into withdrawal, he confessed what had been bothering him. He pulled out an old photo from 1969 and placed his photo next to a picture of his all-time #1 hero and role model. Here is what I saw:

Um, Neil, you look like something I pick up at the Taco Bell drive through window. I can see why he would be upset though. Instead of an awesome lightsaber which says "I own this room", he got stuck with tin foil underwear. Instead of a black cape of villainy, he got a shiny black umbilical cord. What does that connect you to, Neil? Do they feed you lunch through that? I have to admit that Neil's shiny aluminum space boots are far more social that Darth Vader's combat greaves. I mean, if these two guys step into a nightclub, Neil is ready to dance in his boots while Darth will be klutzing around the room in his battle greaves. Then there is the issue of helmets. Darth Vader's helmet screams "I DARE YOU!!!" while Neil's helmet manages to gasp, "Do you have any Windex?" I always pictured Philistines' helmets from the Bible times to look like Darth Vader's, while Neil's reminds me of the Jamaican bobsled team. Ya man! The final item of comparison is the setting of the photos. Neil's picture is taken........in a nursery? Sea world? A couple blue pieces of cardboard shoved together? Meanwhile let's evaluate Darth's. He is on a mountain top in a thunderstorm. His Star Destroyer obviously just finished scorching this lame planet free of life and he personally led the ground team to mop up any residual resistance. He is now waiting for his Tie-fighter to come pick him up. What do you got, Neil? Apollo 11, which looks like something I could kick over my neighbour's fence.

Obviously, none of the above points went over very well with Neil. Anne and I have been beside him night and day for the last 2 weeks in case he felt tempted to pull out his black umbilical cord and end things. Many sleepless tear-filled nights with Neil have passed, but I believe now we are firmly on the road to healing and recovery. We bought him a Lego Apollo 11 model which has been helping him cope.

Onwards.

Upon deep reflection, I believe there will truly be no references to weapons, Nazis or catapults in this edition of the bloggage. A sure sign house construction is going well. In fact we had a very special guest visitor at our house……..truly! My dear, canonized Nonna. My only living grandparent. She ranks in the top 3 women in my life. Do you have a top 3 women list? You should have one, they’re great. Anyhow, allow me to introduce 2 of the 3 women in my top 3 list:

My Nonna (on the right obviously) - Maria Bastone. I guarantee you, Jesus has booked her to cater the Supper of the Lamb when we all get to Heaven.

My Nonna is simply an epic woman, for better lack of a description. Her heart is humongous. One of the most dedicated women I have ever encountered. She and Nonno came over from Italy after their country was ravaged during WWII. She still remembers running from American fighter planes who were bombing the Nazis out of her village and living in a cave for 3 months.  She even remembers the Germans coming to her house. My great grandfather, Dominic, begged them not to harm his family. Instead the Germans simply took off with food and cooking utensils.

Man, if I was a German invader, I hope I would realize what a goldmine I had just stumbled across. I would yell to my sergeant as he climbs back into his Panzer: “Yeah boys, good luck in your battle for the Fuhrer, I am gonna chill here, get all agricultural and stuff, work with Tony at the bakery AND EAT NONNA’S PASTA!!” Yet another reason why the Germans lost that war. Panzers over garlic bread is a lose-lose situation on any reasonable day.

Here are German soldiers who are eating pasta and loving life. Mangia my friends, mangia.

............and here is a German soldier who decided to fight rather than eat pasta. Notice how unhappy he is.

Side Note: Did I really just talk about Nazis again, 1 paragraph after saying I wasn’t in this blog???? Net Nanny just gave me a withering look and sent me to the corner with a crust of bread and a glass of lukewarm water.

Back to my Nonna, another thing you should know is that she has a black belt in Italian cooking. In fact this woman invented Italian cooking. If you come to our house right now, you may not leave. Ever.  She will strap you to a chair and feed you pasta until you bleed sauce. Italians don’t take no when it comes to feeding people. “Never Say Never” was an Italian cook book written by my Nonna before Justin Beiber bought the movie rights. I am not kidding when I say she arrived in Sioux with a suitcase of sausage and cheeses from little Italy, praise the good Lord. She took one look at me and said “Jose! You a lose a weight! NO MORE!! MANGIA!!”

At which point my eyes glazed over and my inhibitions dropped away like the fuel tanks off the Challenger shuttle. YES NONNA!! LET’S START RIGHT NOW!!

And then the eating started. It is still going on. I have stopped using water for my showers and have switched to pasta sauce for the next month. Tomorrow night we are going over for Tiatelli. I have no idea what that is. But I am pretty sure it is not a sports car. Not unless it is a car slathered in sauce with a robust side of garlic bread.  Bring on the tiatelli, Nonna. I will be sitting on the floor at your feet, eagerly begging you to stuff more foods that end in “elli” down my gullet.

Pasta in my family is as necessary as oxygen and gravity. We have never questioned life without pasta. Such a thing borders on madness…….why would you not have pasta? Why not walk down the street shirtless flogging your own back with a whip? Going pasta-less in this Italian family is comparably just as mad. In fact, one of the last things I heard my Mom ask her brother before Nonna spent the night at his house on Saturday was “Do you have canned tomatoes in the house?”

That’s right, ’cause we Italians don’t go anywhere unless there is canned tomatoes in the house.

I love my Nonna. Rivaling Peter for sainthood, she is an absolute shoe-in for my top 3 women list.

Anyhow, all that to say that Nonna visiting was a major highlight of the past 2 weeks. The second highlight was traveling to Utopia to buy all sorts of goodies for the new house.

In legends of old, there is rumor of a store staffed by intelligent humans, not monkeys, who are knowledgeable in what they are selling. A place of legend where what you see on the display shelf can actually be purchased. A place where goods can be purchased at prices not requiring you to go into slavery to the store owner for the next 10 years, making mud and straw bricks in an outdoor kiln like the Israelites did for their Egyptian masters.

I doubted such a store existed – until yesterday. My eyes have seen, my ears have heard and my tongue hath tasted the sweet bounty of this fabled store. Behold, allow me to introduce the topic of this week’s bloggage:

Through the magical forest, past the wicked witch's house, and through gumdrop pass, lies Menards. This place is for real.

I have babbled far too much in this bloggage already. With no further ado, allow me to take you on a walking photo tour of our shopping trip to this store. Our visit in the store lasted 5 hours; 5 hours of unadulterated home shopping bliss. My eyes are already moist.

Upon entering the store, I screamed out in pain, as my retinas were singed by the home lighting department. Burning like a supernova past aisle 417, it easily contained more lights in it than I have ever seen in one location in my life. In fact, the outdoor lamp section alone (shown above) has more lights on display than than all the houses in Sioux Lookout combined.

After purchasing a welder’s mask to facilitate entry to the lighting department, we encountered Tom. Tom was the bomb. In fact, I am pretty sure Tom is still alive so that should read, “Tom is the bomb”. Behold:

Tom. Tom definitely assisted Mr. Edison in the creation of the light bulb. What a gentleman and such a help!

The best, bestest, bestly part of shopping at Menards was that we could buy things off the shelf. We could literally walk into the store and see something for sale and they would sell it to us. That doesn’t happen here in Sioux. They mostly just tease you and jest that things are for sale then tell you they are out of stock because their supply ship got hit by a rogue artillery shell off the coast of Mozambique and it will be 37 years before they get another light/handle/piece of wood in that you need.

"Look Honey!!! They have lights for sale on the shelves that we can purchase!!!"

In fact, the combination of purchasing excitement and the 5 million candela power of the lighting department caused me to spontanesouly start bleeding. Anne stemmed the flow with a small nightlight, which was surprisingly comfortable.

We got a couple of these for our washrooms.

There are 3 too many zeros here for my comfort.

This photo has not been edited. What you see here is a wide variety of door hardware for sale in quantities more than ZERO. In Sioux, they ended up ripping the models out of the display boards because "we don't have any more, and we haven't taken our display down in 3 years and we can't order any more either, and in fact, we are pretty much useless but still pretend to be a store, and in fact we sell gumballs and Resse's Pieces up front".

Here is my wife looking fabulous with her door hardware. In her right hand is the main entry handle set which costs 130% more in Sioux. 130%. Is that some sort of joke??? What's going on here? Why does door hardware cost so much in Sioux? Is Sioux Lookout door hardware made in a dwarven forge with Thor's hammer Mjolnir?? Does it cost alot to rent Mjolnir from Thor?? Why not sub the work out to Mexico?? Way cheaper than Thor, God of Thunder.

My stunning wife found 2 mirrors for our washrooms......these mirrors tell you how hot and brilliant you are every time you brush your teeth. On sale this week. It was a steal.

This cart was so unbelievably loud and unruly to steer. Seriously, it was like the running of the bulls in Spain trying to get this thing to the checkout counter.

We rolled a freight train of shopping carts up to the checkout line and promptly sent the cashier shrieking madly out of the store into the night waving her hands wildly above her head. She was not seen again. I offered to sell myself into slavery to Menards for a season to help pay for all this but was refused. Anne, Neil and I are going to be selling alot of lemonade this summer.

We then celebrated the depletion of our bank account with a trip to a local pizzaria "Giovanni's". We ate pizza and then I swooned my wife with the epic Italian ballad of Mario and Luigi, the poor twins from Sicily who aspired to be more than sheep herders and ended up revolutionizing the plumbing industry and video gaming. Brings a tear to my eyes every time. Anne was sobbing openly by the end, too.

There was some serious number racisim going on at the gas station we filled up at. It's ok #5, we love you.

And so we find ourselves at the end of another bloggage, and as we all know, there is only one way to finish this off properly….

Dinner in the kitchen, al la carte. I managed to seduce the waitress into eating with me. Yikes!

In all seriousness, we are truly blessed by all these secondary things. Our thanks goes to our Heavenly Father above who makes all this possible and so enjoyable and for blessing this marriage with such compatibility and friendship.  Blessings are what we are experiencing and we need to be careful and realize that blessings are exactly what it is, not something of our own efforts. Tough times will surely come, but for now, we want to enjoy the blessings:) We hope you can come visit us and Neil when this is all over.

Until the next bloggage…….

 

 

 


Post Office Warfare??

Let the bloggage barrage begin.

Firstly,  I am slightly embarrassed, slightly pleased and slightly uneasy to share with you the following fact. Turns out the last bloggage I posted was blocked by “net nanny” on our friend’s computer. Yup. She was not allowed to view this blog, because net nanny blocked it due to “weapon content”.

Weapon Content.

Thinking back on that bloggage, I remember being only slightly flustered with some of the local hardware vendors, and apparently I used weapon references. In fact it may have been “Thermonuclear weapon”.  I suppose that would classify as weapon content, since it is the most destructive force our species had managed to concoct. However I am glad our governments are much more conservative in their threatened uses of nukes. I mean, if we really just went around nuking every place that had poor customer service, there would be a serious deficiency in places to shop. And a serious shortage of customers too.  Personally, I would never EVER enter a store unless there was one of those big bragging sings posted outside, sort of like McDonald’s, that says something like “456,345 days of service since our last nuking!!!” Now there is a store that cares.

Speaking of store signs, I remember being totally shocked one of the last times I visited the post office in Middlefield, Ohio, during one of our visits to our fab fam. Posted on the door was the following sign (no joke):

“No guns allowed on premises” with a big “X” over a Glock 9.

WHAT!! But man, I always take my AK-47 when I go check the mail. If the door is jammed I just spray it with a clip or two to loosen things up a bit. And if I get one more furniture store flyer, I can blast it into oblivion with my pump shotty.

Actually, that sign made me nervous when I entered. I am only used to signs on establishments that say “No shirt, no shoes, no service”.

I guess I should have felt relieved being in that Post Office. “Whew! FINALLY, a gun-free public establishment!”. It actually had more of the opposite affect. What are you telling me here? Are you saying that enough people pack heat when going to check the mail that a freaking sign had to be posted discouraging against it?

Rather, I felt nervous and jittery, and looked at people with suspicion, wondering if their trigger fingers were itchy and twitchy since they had to leave their piece in the Land Rover. Nothing like getting your mail at the O.K. Corral. This sign would make more sense to me if I was a marine checking my mail at the local Sunni post office in Kandahar.

At that point, if someone decided to go postal in the post office, my escape plan involved superman diving over the postage counter at the first sign of hot lead, and then throwing fistfuls of free stamps over the counter as the tracers fly while screaming “postage on the house!” and making my escape in the ensuing mad rush for free postage stamps by all those involved in the gunfight. Hopefully I remember to bring my furniture flyer out with me, then at least it’s not a total loss.

Why am I thinking of post office anarchy? Well, shockingly, there actually is a connection to our new house. For my entire life I have been getting mail at the local post office located just a block away. But no longer! The other day we timidly, and with great trepidation, visited the bank of post office boxes in our new neighbourhood.

Here I am risking getting my mail without a gun. My wife would kill me if she knew how careless I was that day. Besides my careless act of striding up to the mailboxes unarmed, I also was slightly, albeit only temporarily, confused by which unit our box was in. The Post Office told us "Unit 5, box 9". I foolishly counted 5 boxes and thought it was one of the end units. No, actually. Unit 5 is the second one from the right. In my feeble mind that would make it either unit 4 or 2. But I am not the Boss of them.

After the gunfire erupted and I managed to throw free stamps to affect my escape, I managed to get our mail for the first time. Sadly, however, it was only ANOTHER FURNITURE FLYER. Really needed my shotty that day.

So it has been a CRAZY week up at the ol’homestead! And by ol’homestead, I mean our brand new house which is in no way associated with farming or an ancient family lineage. And now, with no further weapon references, here are the pictures:

Firstly, we have a slab of concrete in our garage now. Known to the common man as a "concrete garage slab". It rocks.

And mounted upon our new garage slab, like the Vatican gleaming above the city of Rome, is our nice little wood staircase. Mr. Pope, please don't be offended that I just likened our wood stairs to your pad. Other people can have nice stuff too, Mr. Pope.

They delivered our drywall this past week too and stored it in the garage. I'm no drywall expert, but something seemed...............off. I asked for new drywall to be brought, cause I had a bad vibe about that stack of drywall.The roads up here can wreak havoc on delivery trucks.

We had this drywall delivered on a litter by slaves in loincloths. It was stacked in a much more orderly manner and after Neil Armstrong approved it, we decided to keep it. Good job Neil.

Our drywallers then arrived on site, and slipped into something a little more intimate before commencing work. We don't enforce any sort of dress code in our house, and I personally would not want to impeed the efficiency of the crews with trivial things such as "clothes". In fact, this guy is great. The guy without the bunny. His name is Ryan and Anne and I work out with him every day at the gym. Solid guy. I don't really know the other guy and things were getting a little too scandalous over there, so I brought in the family friendly bunny to help. This is gonna trigger "net nanny" software for sure.

While the drywallers were changing, I dashed in for a quick snap shot of the dining and living room then dove out the nearest window before my vision was compromised.

These boulders were left in the back yard when the Decepticons took our dirt pile. We will have to find a use for them.Perhaps I will build a trebuchet and launch them at the Germans when they come. Don't kid yourselves now, the Germans WILL come again. Only a matter of time.

Just so we're clear on what I am talking about. Behold, a trebuchet and an attacking German. You guys are welcome to find refuge at our place when it happens. Help me load rocks. By the way, does anyone out there know enough German to translate this poster? My Google-ing of the words is coming up with "SO WE ARE GOING CAMPING - AFTER WE LAY SIEGE TO JOE & ANNE'S HOUSE!" By the way, all our German friends are also welcome to find refuge as long as they are not carrying steilhandgranades.

Steve has also continued siding our house, despite the obvious, and inevitable threat of invasion. This is a shot of the back side of the house. We went with a color called "Chestnut Brown". We based our selection on a sample the size of a baby rattle, so we were pretty pleased we liked it on a full scale model!

Here is the watchtower from where Anne and I hope to spot the German invasion. I have a frying pan hanging by the window I will begin banging which is your cue to begin loading the boulders into the trebuchet.

It’s time for some hotness! My favorite person is up next…………..

Here she is!!! The real seat of power in any house is in the laundry room. She is modeling it quite well in this picture. These two windows directly overlook the main entry stairs so you can decide if you want to let the person into your house, or grab a bottle of Javex and make threatening motions at them.

So there you have it – another week at the ol’homestead. Hopefully your net nanny software didn’t have a conniption, and let you in to read this blog. I guess in retrospect we did briefly discuss shotguns, Nazis, trebuchet’s and clothing issues. We’ll tone it down for the next one, I promise.

Take care friends!


What I say to the stores in this town: Help me help you.

My friends, it is time. Tim to slog through another blog. However, I must warn you that this bloggage is one of chastisement. A veritable volcano of constructive criticism, spewing forth from the swirling sea of emotion within. Of what am I speaking? The procurement of building materials.

Since we are more like the little piggy who built his house out of brick, rather than the silly little piece of bacon who built his house out of straw, the procurement of raw building materials is fairly essential to said building process. However, with two building supply / hardware stores in town we confidently sallied forth, thinking that we could simply select the materials locally.

So totally wrong. On what scale were we wrong? Probably comparable to how wrong those poor white-wigged chaps were who believed the earth was flat until they witnessed Magellan came barreling around that last point back into the harbour.

If you want to look at pictures, just skip the raging monologue to follow and head to the bottom for the pictures.

So allow me to tell you about mein kemf. Yes, it started with a small hiccup with the siding. We chose our siding months ago, and sent the product line and name to the hardware store. A nice deep, chocolatey brown. However, what arrived on site last week was more of a snot grey. Now, both snot and grey are fine, on their own and all. But when we combine them into siding, yeah, no. No worries, we called up Steve who was understandably upset with the supplier since he wanted to do siding this week.  Poor Steve was stripped of that right. So he called up the hardware store and told them about their mistake. What we got back was that they made the order mistake because “they couldn’t keep up with all our changes”. All the changes eh. I guess that must be referring to the single email we sent 2 months earlier choosing our siding – FOR THE FIRST AND ONLY TIME. I guess picking something once is just too much. I suppose we could have just stuck with this…..

This look could grow on me. I mean, siding is just so "mainstream". We could just paint on a siding pattern.

Steve made us laugh though. When we went back a few days later we found he had left the supplier some signage to instruct them about the new load of siding:

Yes, please do. Speak English yes? Hooooooooo-ked on Ph-hon-icks, whurked for meh. FOR MEH! (Hooked on Phonics worked for me. For me!)

I still have my doubts though. The above signage could be too complex. Perhaps a picture would have been better. With an angry T-Rex in it eating any wrongly-coloured siding.

So the work continued! Good times. Until it came time to order the laminate flooring. I should add that it took no less than 30 days to get samples from the hardware store. “Yup,” they kept telling us.  “We just can’t get ahold of anyone, and have left messages and all”.

At that point, Anne and I googled the manufacturer, my wife called them over breakfast, received instructions on ordering samples, and within 10 minutes she had ordered the samples to be delivered. This impossible feat of daring exhausted us, and left us nearly too weak to continue with the home building experience, but we forged on. Anyhow, the samplage came in and we made our selection. We then sent it back to our supplier for pricing.

I did not realize it at the time, but apparently asking for flooring pricing in Sioux, is equivalent to asking for depleted uranium fuel rods.

It just ain’t happening, my friends. Another 2 weeks went by. Finally we called a place in Winnipeg, 5 hours from here and had a quote in 48 hours. Our supplier eventually did deliver a quote, though it seemed about as difficult as a heifer having quadruplets.  Then came the pure shock of the local quote being $1000 more for the exact same amount of flooring compared to the other place. $1000.

$1000. We are only 60 klicks off the highway, not like we are building a lunar landing base on freaking Jupiter. Perhaps our military has to deliver building materials to Sioux in a Hercules, complete with a fighter escort. I can understand the fuel costs in doing that. But seriously, other than a large scale military mobilization to deliver materials, what could possibly lead to these ridiculous prices? I slapped a great big “F” for FAIL on that quote and sent it back, requesting that they stop playing Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and give me a call when they are ready to try again. If it doesn’t change, I’ll send them an envelope of Monopoly money and tell them to dispatch the truck. Sheesh.

Ah yes. But the best is the door hardware. This is the case of Andrea vs. Un-named Sioux Hardware Store. Well, Steve asked us to go get our door hardware (just knobs and handles is all that means) for our outside doors so that he can begin locking up the house at the end of the day. Makes sense! So off we went to the hardware store to buy hardware. No worries, right? I mean it’s like going to Pizza Hut to buy a pizza right? I mean, what I am looking for is even in the name of their store!

If looking for flooring was like trying to buy depleted uranium fuel rods, then hardware is like trying to find the Holy Grail.

We walked into the un-named hardware store and within 10 minutes had picked what we wanted off their display shelf.

That was as far as we ever got.

After an exhaustive search, they told us “we’ll search the truck that just came in and get back to you tomorrow.” Well they did, and this was the message:

“Uh, yeah, got some bad news on that hardware. We don’t carry that line anymore. In fact we can’t even order it. In fact I am not even sure what it is called, we have no record of those models”.

Nothing like screwing some random pieces of metal to a display board and then trying to sell them to your customers eh? Not sure where they came from, what they are and what they do. I’LL TAKE EM ALL!

Sadly, it does not end here. We decided to buy the floor models – who cares if we don’t know what their model numbers or name is. We got a decent discount too. We then chose a main entrance handle set that they could order and asked them to place the order.

Fail.

We were informed that we had to choose a “trim” to complete the order. No problem! I love choosing stuff. We asked them what “trim” was for a door handle set and what our options were.

They told us they had no idea.

Rather then make a rash, rushed decision on trim based on their eloquent description, we asked them to call their supplier and figure out what our choices were.

Apparently their supplier lives on the dark side of the moon and is attacked on a weekly basis by aliens. The hardware store kept telling us that they were “getting the run around” from the supplier on what the trim options were. Obviously, between shelling and strafing runs on their moon base, the hardware supplier was having a hard time accessing their inventory logs. I checked in every other day for a week and a half. It peaked when I called last Monday and said “yeah, I am calling about my door hardware”, to which I received the following response from the hardware support staff.

“Oh yes! Did you make your trim selection yet?”

FAIL.

After I laughed out loud on the phone. I called up my wife. She googled the manufacturer. She called them. She spoke to a nice old lady. She told my wife trim meant the style of handle on the inside of the door. My wife picked a trim. She took it in and deposited the selection on the desk of the hardware staff and told them not to bother the poor, battle sieged moon base supplier any longer. We then suggested that they hire our good friend, Neil Armstrong, to replace the inventory manager on their hardware moon base since you know, he is a moonwalker and has been consulting us through the house building process.

You owe me one, Neil. Send me your tips.

It helps to belt out a few stanzas of “The Love of Jesus is So Wonderful” when things get a little tense in ordering materials.

So besides playing Legos with our kindergarten hardware stores, we have also had the most epic Festive Feasting Friday last week! My wife is amazing, and is continuing to plumpen up all our contractors with her mad baking skills. To what end, I do not know. In fact this week she tag-teamed with another Sioux Lookout baking legend. Together these twoaccomplices drew up battle plans and prepared for D-Day (Donut Day).

The one and only Mrs. Susan Hochstedler - Mistress of Donut Mayhem, Sugar Seductress and Bodacious Baker Extrordanaire.

Loading the bomb racks for optimal dispersion. Flight is a go.

Yes, homemade donuts. Weaponized food. The Hiroshima of flavor. Susan’s donuts have been used on several NATO missions to quell uprisings in rogue states by randomly carpet bombing the country side with these oval food hugs. In fact, what the US military is keeping under wraps, is that in fact, a load was dropped on Osama’s compound mere hours before the SEALs stormed the place. They all died happy men with big donuty sugar creme smiles on their faces. Anne and Susan made dozens of donuts and then descended upon the job site…………..

Weaponized food moments before impact.

Weapon Impact. Reaction Time: slowed. Pupils: dilated. Speech: Reduced to grunting. Cognitive Skills: primal. Motor Skills: reducing to feeding motions only. Mortality rate: Total.

After the paramedics left with this crew, the next crew came in and finished off all the insulation, vapour barrier and taping. I managed to sneak the photo below while dancing around all the body chalk lines on the floor.

Construction Progress in 2 A.D. (2 days After Donuts)

So there you have it! I want to thank you all for letting me vent. I feel my blood pressure has dropped to normal levels, and only half my monitor is covered in spittle.

Before we leave, here are my favorite photos from the week……..

Our first sunset from the back deck. Or is it the fallout from the nuclear donut bomb dropped mere hours earlier?

Just in case you all forget how amazing and ridiculously pretty my wife is. We had a date at camp for the long weekend and she caught this poor little lonely loner. That little guy had big dreams. Can you imagine rapidly running down the street chasing a hotdog and bun half as tall as you? And just as your tiny little teeth latch into the leviathan hotdog and a big silly grin plasters your face, a giant hand from the heavens plucks you off the earth and holds you up to be photographed by an object the size of the sun. Seconds later, you are dropped back down to earth with a new lip piercing.Man, they would have to institutionalize me after that. Probed by aliens indeed.


Washrooms and Decepticons

Firstly, I just want to say, I am once again performing the bloggage in total comfort. But then again, is there really any other way to perform the bloggage? I assume most people don’t blog while being spanked, or being charged for a DUI or while receiving an epidural. No, I guess most bloggage is performed while the individual is in relative comfort, after the event in question is over. Well the setting in my case, is a beach. Yup, my lovely wife is sunning herself beside me on a blankey, I am sitting here in my board shorts, laptop balanced on my knees, slathered in enough white sun goop to baste a thousand turkeys. The waves are pounding against the shore 10 feet from my little piggies (toes), the celestial orb is excreting its UV excrements, and I am rocking some old school Petra on this incredible Sunday afternoon.

The target of the bloggage today is washrooms. More specifically, the washroom under construction in our house and my traumatic history leading us to design a comfy comf washroom. Firstly, however, there is a matter of grammatical, cross cultural importance. I have been led to believe that my dear American friends refer to their washrooms as restrooms. I find this puzzling on several different levels. Primarily though, is the lack of a bed or couch in the restrooms I have visited in the south 49. Most public “restrooms” I have visited in the states, or anywhere else for that matter, are, in fact in my experience, completely devoid of anyone resting at all, come to think of it. In fact American restrooms are functionally the same as Canadian washrooms. However, perhaps I am just missing the boat here. Truthfully I have never visited a restroom at Holiday on I-35, crawled into a stall, wrapped some TP around my eyes and put my head on the toilet for 5. Maybe I am missing out. But until I get an opportunity to try that, I will continue to use American restrooms in the only way I know how, as a washroom.

So please, feel free to exchange the words “washroom” and “restroom” in whatever way you see fit during this expose.

So our ensuite washroom design was heavily influenced by a horrible, horrible, horrible experience I had back in my university days. Horrible. Anne and I have attempted to craft a “healing space” in our washroom, mostly through the use of a Jacuzzi and conservative use of a concierge service.

Meet our jacuzzi, Jerry. Note how Jerry has a built in hard drive (blue thingy) so we can play relaxing Celtic tunage while floating in our sea of tranquility. On the other hand, it may actually be part of the motor. That could explain why I had such a hard time jamming my flashdrive into it. Hmmmm.......

 Anyhow, the installation of this Jacuzzi is actually a desperate attempt on my behalf to repress a horrid experience from 2003. I was but a young sprout attending Lakehead University in Thunder Bay. I was staying in a small apartment in a pastor’s house with two other roomies. The renowned David Mobach was one of those roomies. Now Dave and I were tight. In fact we were confident enough in our masculinity to take saunas together at the end of a tough day of classes. Yes, that is correct people, the small basement apartment came a complementary sauna. It was tucked away in behind our walk in shower.

The day that altered the course of my life was like any other. Dave and I ate supper on the main floor and retreated to our dungeon to watch CNN, slouched on the sofa, debating the finer points of life, like when Robin, the CNN anchor lady, was ever going to change her hairstyle. Dave offhandedly suggested a sauna. I seconded the motion and we retreated to our rooms to slip into something a little more appropriate for the sauna. Dave then headed to the shower room to activate the sauna.

Activation of the sauna did not happen.

Dave returned to me, knees knocking and pale cheeked. He collapsed on the couch opposite me and didn’t say a word. “Dave?, what’s up, man? Sauna good to go?” Dave shook his head, no. He then asked me to come with him to have a look myself.

I wish I had never done that. In fact, I think there is an ancient Greek tale about Oedipus, an outcast slave boy, who eventually becomes king, and marries the widowed queen. Problem is, through a spectacular, and not entirely impossible sequence of events, said queen was also his momma. Poor Oedipus proceeded to gouge his eyes out with a spoon upon discovering the truth. Oh, that I had the courage of Oedipus that night!

I stepped into the shower area with Dave. Now, the walk in shower was basically a concrete floor area with a small drain in the centre and door opposite to access the sauna behind the shower. But something was terribly, horribly, utterly wrong.

There was poop everywhere. Poop on the floor. Poop on the walls. Poop ON THE CEILING. Help me, Lord.  The source of fecal matter was quickly identified – the floor drain had erupted like Mount freaking Vesuvius, blowing the grate clear off the drain and scattering the unholy organic matter everywhere. My initial reaction was one of self preservation. One hand rushed to my eyes to block out the site, the other reached for my mouth to stem the flow of stomach contents straining to be unleashed like a race horse. We stumbled back into the living room – shells of men we once were. The putrid stench had infected us, groping our senses with its evil fingers, laughing evilly in our heads. We curled up in the fetal position and waited for the inevitable. But death did not find us.

After working up the courage, we returned to the shower to assess the damage and begin the fecal abatement. It was obvious the sewer line to the main had backed up, finally erupting angrily in our happy place. Dave suited up in the only rubber boots he could find – little pink girls boots about 5 sizes too small and waded in to stem the flow, armed with naught but a plunger. Shellshocked, I clutched the door knob and watched in morbid fascination as he bent over the drain, ballcap on backwards and began feverishly plunging the drain. Occasionally the beast from within the drain would gurgel and threaten to unleash another poop handgrenade into our midst. We took turns, to no avail. In fact, the last memory I have that night before finally blacking out in my bed, was our landlady, Jane, wearing big black boots disappearing into the void to battle the demon. Her faithful dog, Sabu, an absolutely retarded black Labrador, stuck with her, lapping at the buckers of water mopped off the floor. How Labrador retrievers made it on Noah’s Ark, I don’t know. I spent that night lost in a nightmare – running through the city sewer system while being chased by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in pink boots wielding plungers. I can still hear Dave’s screams….

Back to the present. As a part of my healing journey, I have endeavoured to make our washroom more of a restroom, if you catch my drift. A place of love, peace and tranquility. Hence the Jacuzzi. Hence the soft lighting. Hence the Celtic music. Hence the concierge service. Hence the toilet that is programmed to play the sound of a gentle ocean surf with seagulls in the background when you flush it. My therapist, Neil Armstrong, says we are making major strides.

Major strides.

Anyways, this is ridiculous. I have only posted one picture so far and it is of what may or may not be a hard drive in the Jacuzzi. The house is moving along at a blitz; Steve is taking no hostages, relentlessly pursuing the completion of our home. Friends, here are some highlights from the past week……..

Rest easy folks. The fat-apault won’t be needed. We got stairs. However, it appears our house is currently a crime scene, since these stairs have been blocked off already by Steve.

Luckily, Anne found the murder weapon lodged in the wall which was used to commit the heinous act. "I submit that Colonel Mustard, did it in the washroom with an exacto knife."

Anne followed the bloody handprints down the hallway to the back window where she caught the thieves red handed stealing our dirt pile. Turns out it wasn’t, in fact, Colonel Mustard. Rather, a pair of Decepticons were in the process of stealing our dirt pile. Obviously, the machines have discovered a way to use dirt as fuel, and are stockpiling it in preparation for the coming invasion of earth by the larger Decepticon force, who are already on their way from Cybetron.

My wife forlornly watching the Decepticons stealing our precious dirt. But what can one do against such reckless hate? I wasn’t even wearing my Optimus Prime shirt that day to confront the evil machines. Yes, I do in fact own an Optimus Prime t-shirt. That was more embarrassing than I thought to admit.

Our electrician, Tim, installed our pot lights in the dining and living rooms. You know, there is another puzzling name. Pot light. We don’t plan on keeping drugs in them, and a pot in this position won’t hold squat. Hole light makes more sense, I think.

Ok men, now would be the time to shut this blog down and go lift a heavy object or eat some meat. Ladies, read onwards for cute pictures of small children who came to visit our house. Last weekend was Marcia and Keith’s wedding in Sioux and my wife was in charge of the two little flowergirls  – to get them dressed and ready for the big day. On the way home from the reception they joined us for a visit of the house. Yes, yes, yes, cute pictures abounded.

This is Hannah. Or “Hannah Banana” as we call her. She is toasting peace from the ensuite shower.

Hannah Banana and Aerie Berry posing on a tool bench. World peace, a common theme with these two dears. Is that............Klacksang behind them??? BY JOVE, IT IS!

So much beauty, so little time.

Well friends, it has been an hour and a half on this beach, typing the bloggage. It is alot more chilly now and a stiff breeze is coming off the lake.

In fact my lovely bride just looked at me and said “Joe, there is no more sun anywhere” to which I replied “Ah, but there is love everywhere”. Score!

Also, I believe that means it is time to pack the Xterra and head home from coffee and a movie. Happiness! Until next time friends, we bid you adieu and a great week!

P.S. A special shout out to my dear Byler family – I miss you guys so much. Every thought of each one of you brings a smile to my face. I miss my drama dosage. I miss the smell of 10,000 hair products blending into one sweet aroma every morning. I miss the singing clocks, microwaves, toaster ovens and egg beaters which have given me a new appreciation for “when the saints come marching in”. Miss you guys.

P.P.S. Please keep your eye out for a couple of Decepticons at a carwash during the next few days washing up after a good soil thievery. Don’t approach the machines yourself; rather, loose your little dog upon them and hope he marks them as territory.


The Legend of Klacksang

There is an ancient legend of a powerful samurai warrior, who lived deep in the Shianzi mountains, across the jade river in the Hunan Province. This powerful warrior was feared and respected throughout all the land; renowned for his wisdom in passing judgement on quarrels and disagreements. Warlords, emperors and even the commoners would cross the jade river and brave the arduous hike up the steep slopes of the Shianzi mountains to sit at the feet of the samurai warrior in his dojo high atop the highest peak. It was here the powerful warrior passed his judgements with both tongue and steel. When his judgements were not heeded by those who sought him, the warrior was forced to unsheathe Klacksang, his ancient blade, which was said to be forged from the metal of a heavenly body that plummeted to earth many empires past. With Klacksang in hand, it became an extension of his arm, reverberating with the power of elements not born of this world. Those who refused his judgements and quarreled would taste the justice of Klacksang. The sword’s song would sing out as it would cut through the flesh of the wicked, seeming to drink in the purity of the justice it was administering. And so the Hunan province was kept in order and the stature and wisdom of the legendary warrior grew beyond the borders of the Shianzi mountains. But then the recession of 2008 hit. Gas prices skyrocketed and our warrior could no longer afford the drive to pick the rarest flower which grew atop the next peak over and which provided him with exfoliating relief from the chaffing handle of Klacksang. His investments in foreign oil took a beating when the US moved the 5th Marine core into Iraq in 2002 and with the rising success of the  Chevrolet volt, eco-car. Not surprisingly, the final blow which caused the collapse of the legendary warrior of the Shianzi mountains, in the province of Hunan who lived across the jad river was not in fact the cold steel of a quarreling warlord, but the E coli laced bean sprouts from northern Germany which he had brought in special order for his usual Samurai Soup Sunday. Broken, destitute and his body ravaged from E coli induced diarrhea, the warrior turned to the Kajiji for help. He sold Klacksang to the highest bidder and bought the first plane ticket to the University Hospital in Cleveland, which has a special medical wing dedicated to Samurai suffering from acute E coli symptoms.  Friends, this is where the story comes home. Turns out Klacksang was sold to a culinary expert in Sioux Lookout who craved a finer cut of French Fries and was hoping Klacksang would give him the edge he needed. Sadly, his 4 year old took Klacksang to Grade 2 show-and-tell, where it was handled by grubby cheez-whiz hands all morning long before being tossed into the bed of the wrong pick up truck by the teacher at the end of the day. Lo and behold, that pickup truck belonged to one of the guys on our Contractor’s framing crew who soon discovered that Klacksang makes a far better exacto knife for cutting vapour barrier than his leatherman. At the end of the work day, when Anne and I came for our regular visit, alas, we entered the master bedroom, and there laying forlorn and rejected on the floor, was the mighty klacksang.

The mighty Klaxsang, formerly of the Shianzi Mountains in the Hunan Province, across the jade river.

Upon seeing this mighty blade in such a sad state, I did the only thing I could think of given such short notice to help assuage the sword’s suffering.

Klacksang joining me for a shower in the ensuite.

So, besides taming the mighty Klacksang, it has been a ridiculous week of business at the Castle de JoAnne. You know what the keyword has been this week? Starts with “s” and ends with “hingles”. I know that none of us have time for difficult word games at the end of our busy workdays, so how about you glare at me, and say “Joe, just start the pictures already”. Sheesh, ok, here we go.

Proper credit goes to Susan Hostedler for taking this photo as she strafed the block with her husband last week in their Messerschmidt 109. Kinda scared me - I was screaming for Anne to get on the .50 until I realized that duh, the .50 isn't installed until our shingles are on. Not alot of people mount a .50 on their roofs. I tell you what, it's a great stress reliever after a tough day of work just to say "hun, if you don't mind I am gonna hop on the .50 for awhile". You head up to the roof, strap yourself in and just unleash a hot torrent of lead at you know....like.........whatever....ahem. Good pic Susan, thanks.

I knew a girl way back in grade school who had a condition called "shingles". This is not that condition.

Apparently the shingels are called "Aged Redwood". Everything sounds better with "Aged" put in front of it though, so I think its partially a marketing ploy. Aged wine. Aged cheese. Aged ancient ruins. Aging Ape who was out of shape. In fact, maybe I'll insist that "Aged" be put in front of my name in a few more years for an extra bit of "phazzaz".

The Steve also was quite aggressive in fenestrating our house. Yes, that is a word, although no, I don’t blame you for thinking I would just make up a word. In fact it is typically used in the sense of “de-fenestrating” which is, in plain English “to throw someone or something through a window”. So in fact, fenestrating is basically the constructive part of installing windows rather than breaking them. Hence, Steve our contractor has been quite the fenestrator this week.

This is just asking for a tearful encounter with our son, who one day after defenstrating Daddy and Mommy's living room, comes to Daddy and says with a crisp 5 year old slur "theriously dad, the ball thlipped and it thust thorta flew through the window by itthelf.......I'm thooooo thorry! PLEASE DON'T THPANK ME!" It's ok son, why don't we play a round of golf and you give your mother and I back rubs tonight and we'll call it even.

The view from the bridge of the ship of love. Known to the common man as the "living room". I prefer to be alive in all the rooms of my house, so I find the term "living room" quite redundant. I am not building any dying rooms. Bridge of the Ship of Love will do nicely, thank you.

For date night the other week, Anne and I grabbed some burgers and fries and headed out for a true 5 star dining experience. We set up some sawhorses in the kitchen, and made a table with a piece of plywood. We then toasted life, love and other mysteries (such as – would my brother notice if we slowly started stealing fence sections to make out own????)

Food. Ambiance. Hot babe. A typical day eating in my kitchen.

Trust me, these fries were delicious, but OMW, I am sure the oil and grease from the blubber of a Buluga whale went into making this plate of heart attack evilness. This picture actually took a full half hour to upload because of the amount of grease in those fries.

We were also pretty stoked because our jacuzzi was delivered to site. It has more buttons and switches on it than Apollo 13. Neil Armstrong, we are going to need to talk after all. Show me how to work this thing and together we can blast off into a world of total relaxation; preferably separately. No Neil, you can’t borrow my shorts. Yes Neil, I remembered to account for the optimal angle of tranquility when filling the tub. Moonwalkers. They think they know everything.

Houston, we have a problem. We got no water, and Neil keeps spraying me with a super soaker. He is adrift inthe harbour of my patience Huston.

But dear friends, as I bring this senseless bloggage romp to an end, I  come to my usual favorite photo subject I like to close with. The real reason I love building this house is because of this person…….

My amazing, beautiful wife. I have no idea why she is sweeping up a construction site, but how can you say no to that smile? SWEEP ON!

There is no other person on earth I would want to do this with. My amazing wife………wow……she captures the best parts of what God made a woman to be and then blasts me with it ever day. The absolute best part of this process is watching her, and soaking up her excitement which is literally exploding out of her every time we go to site. I love this woman something fierce……so blessed we can build this home together……it doesn’t even make sense. Our Father in Heaven we thank you – from the bottom of our hearts.

To my wife…..I am the video game and you are the code.

Bloggage out.