The Woody Housing Project Christmas Special

December 21st, 2007 § Comments Off on The Woody Housing Project Christmas Special § permalink

This post is going to be a hodge-podge of recent activity at The Woody Housing Project.

While not technically part of The Woody Housing Project, I think this deserves special mention. My parents recently had bamboo flooring installed on their entire second floor. In the master bedroom and master bathroom they had an inlay added. It follows the perimeter of the room and is two boards wide. I think it looks very snazzy!

We have had two large snowfalls this month, and when I say large, I mean it. Before these two storms we had virtually no snow. After these two storms we now have more snow than the past two winters combined. I’ve been on Christmas holidays for about a week and I have spent every day shovelling snow.

There is so much snow that I’m running out of places to put it. The only place left is to move it all into the back yard.

One of the nice things about having high ceilings is the ability to get a bigger Christmas tree than anyone else! This one started out as 11 feet, was trimmed to 10 feet at the Christmas tree farm, and was then trimmed to 9′ 8″ so that it would fit in the house. If you look closely, the star on the tree is approximately 1/8th of an inch from the ceiling. How’s that for precision?

Aside from being a little nutty, the people who operate the Christmas tree farm we visit each year don’t have a contraption for putting netting around the tree to make it easier to transport. This isn’t such a big deal if you buy a normal sized tree, but when you buy a monster like we do, and your truck has a cap on it, it becomes… tricky.

The tree gets loaded onto the tailgate, trunk first, and then they push until they can’t push anymore. The result is a lot like a lobster in a lobster trap, easy to get in, not so easy to get out. The only consolation is that it’s virtually impossible for the tree to fly out while you’re driving home with it. It’s also virtually impossible to get the tree out once you’ve gotten it home.

After wrestling it out of the truck, the next step is to get it into the house. The tree is 7 feet wide. The widest doorway it travels through is 3 feet wide, and the narrowest is 2 1/2 feet wide. Simply put, there is no elegant way to do this. One person grabs the trunk, another person grabs the top, and they both run full-tilt at the door. To make matters worse, two of the narrowest doorways are spaced about 5 feet apart, making it important to keep the tree-momentum up or risk getting permanently stuck.

Other than the usual holiday shenanigans, we’re still stripping paint and getting goofy from the fumes. That’s all for now, we’ll see you all in the new year.

Happy Holidays from all of us at The Woody Housing Project to all of you, our faithful readers.

Ted the Angry Zombie

December 5th, 2007 § 2 comments § permalink

In my view, hobbies fall into two categories. There are the hobbies that have a narrow focus and there are hobbies that have a wide scope. Let’s refer to them as narrow and broad hobbies. Many people have more than one hobby and many people have both types. I believe that having both types of hobbies is important.

By now you’re probably thinking “What’s he talking about?” (which is a typical reaction to my rants) or maybe “What does this have to do with Ted?” (patience, all things in good time) or maybe even “I’m hungry, I could do with a cookie.” (in which case I urge you to go get that cookie) so I’ll try to illustrate.

Movies are a narrow hobby of mine. I spend a few nights a week in a projection booth. I also spend a fair bit of my personal time watching movies. This hobby focuses one one thing and gives me no useful skills. Sure I can thread a Victoria or Simplex 35 mm projector in under 2 minutes and rattle off movie trivia all day long but where in life is that going to be useful outside of a movie theatre? Not once in my life has someone come up to me on the street and asked if I could help them with their projector (yes) or how many William Baldwin movies I can name (5). I can’t think of many scenarios where these skills would be helpful. Narrow hobbies could also be called useless hobbies.

On the other hand, broad hobbies are of immense practical value. Broad hobbies are those hobbies that require you to master a wide skill set which can be easily translated to other situations. My broad hobby is home improvement. More specifically, old-house restoration. Since I’ve been taken hostage by The Woody Housing Project I’ve done everything. I’m a plumber (I’ve got the crack to prove it), an electrician (I’ve got the electrocution marks to prove it), a carpenter, a tile-setter, a cabinet maker, a stripper (don’t ask me to prove this, you don’t want to see it), a mason, a trucker (10-4 good buddy!), and most often, a labourer. These skills are useful. When something unforeseen happens around here I can call on one of these skills and deal with it.

Ted he Angry Zombie was unforeseen. While I was still in that land between asleep and awake I heard Ted, only I didn’t know at the time that it was Ted. At that time I was positive it was the bearings in the furnace fan making the horrible scraping, scratching noise. I got off the couch and went down to the basement, took the cover off of the furnace and waited patiently for the furnace to start up, my useful old-house renovation skills ready to spring into action. They didn’t spring because the furnace fan wasn’t making the noise. Back up to the couch.

The noise was intermittent and seemingly random. This time my old-house renovation skills sprang into action and took the form of me standing very still until I heard the noise and then moving closer to it when heard it (kind of like an agonizingly slow, one-sided version of hot-and-cold). I started in the living room, moved to the front hall, then to the living room again, into the kitchen, grabbed a cookie, into the bathroom and then into the living room again. While the retelling takes very little time, the actual event took about an hour. Sometimes the noise would happen about every thirty seconds and other times it would be quiet for three or four minutes.

After a long time of standing still, listening and moving, I pinpointed the noise to a wall in the dining room. In one corner of the dining room there is a bump out which I had always thought was a chimney but after listening carefully to the noise coming from within the wall I’ve determined that it’s a hollow space that was used to block up Ted the Angry Zombie.

Somehow Ted had awoken after who knows how many years to find himself trapped inside a wall. You can understand that he’d be angry at this and to show his displeasure he scratched and scraped at the wall with his bony fingers.

The scratching noise continued for two days and then I finally had to explain to Ted that he was a zombie and that as a zombie it was his lot in life (death?) to be trapped in strange, uncomfortable places like walls and tombs and pyramids. I explained that it wasn’t me who put him there, and that there was nothing I could do to get him out without making a terrible mess.

“Besides” I said, “you’d probably just eat my brains if I were to let you out, wouldn’t you?”

He answered with a resigned “Arrrnnngh” (which means “Yes, I suppose you’re right” in zombie).

We talked for a while (actually, I talked, Ted groaned and scratched) and it turns out that Ted the Angry Zombie is a big movie buff and in particular likes romantic comedies starring Julia Stiles. We came to an agreement whereby I would try to play more romantic comedies starring Julia Stiles so that he could listen to them and in return he would stay in his wall and keep quiet like a good house-zombie.

The point of this story is that someone with a healthy mix of hobbies can deal successfully with anything that life throws their way. I’ve always felt that the world would be a better place if some people had more hobbies.

Note: Some people have suggested that it could have been a bird or a squirrel in the chimney but that’s just silly.

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