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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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pool cues and nieces

So on the weekend, Jeff and I went out to dinner with his dad and his girlfriend, Lindsay. After dinner, we showed them The Pool Cue House (near our friend Helen's house; she was the one who first showed it to us). The house on Clinton Ave, just north of Bloor...the house and property are decorated almost entirely from cut-up pool cues, precisely arranged. You have to see this place to believe it, trust me.

We had only been in front of the house for a minute or two when a set of Christmas lights flicked on in the yard. At first I thought these were the result of some motion detector set-up, but then the owner came out. I expected him to tell us to go away, but instead he invited us into the front yard for a closer look. He said his name was Albino (pronounced "Al-BEE-no") and that he had been working on the house for six years. That he had been a construction worker but had a bad accident that resulted in him having to stay at home. Boredom and insomnia nearly drove him crazy until he decided to start his unique re-decorating scheme. It's difficult to describe the, but let me try. Imagine you had about 5,000 discarded pool cues (from a games company, perhaps). Slice each of these pool cues up into pieces about an inch long, screw these all over the outside of your house. Use 190,000 screws in the process (!!!!). Add further decoration with thousands of tiny figurines...frogs, people, Christmas ornaments, penguins...anything. Add a zillion strings of lights. Got a mental picture? Well, forget it...the real thing is MUCH more impressive. I'll bring a camera next time, and post the picture here.

Albino's house has been featured on tv human interest shows, magazines, newspapers; he proudly showed us a feature article on the house in a New York glossy-paged magazine that will be coming out next month. Toronto gave him the "Most Eccentric Garden of Toronto" award. I have to wonder what his wife (who was wisely hiding inside the house during our tour) thinks about her husband's hobby. And the neighbours. :-) In the backyard, Albino showed us the family car, which he was in the process of decorating with hundreds (thousands?) of tiny figurines (he had run out of outside wall space, obviously). The car roof was an incredible creation of pool cues, other wood, and figurines. Albino says he's driving to Ottawa next month to visit a I'd love to see the expressions on the other drivers' faces. :-)

Okay, by now you're probably thinking, "This guy sounds like a real loony!" But you know what? I really liked the guy. Albino was friendly, benevolent, and super-proud of his creation, bubbling with energy and enthusiasm. And I defy anyone to walk into this place and not be impressed...I could have spent hours there, examining all the details. It looked like it should all have been behind glass in some museum or art gallery...and it was all the product of one person.

When we left, I felt as though we'd made a new friend. Albino invited us to come back anytime, and to bring friends. I suspect we just might take him up on his offer. :-)

Saw Sara and Annie on Sunday night. Jeff and I haven't seen them in a little while; Sara was so excited about being able to do "gymnastics" with Uncle Jeff again (it's now a visit ritual for Jeff to rough-house with Sara, throwing her over his head, all the sorts of things that make Ruth and I want to scream in horror) that she had already changed into her gymnastics clothes, and was running around and around the house when we arrived, yelling, "UNCLE JEFF AND I ARE GOING TO DO GYMNASTICS!!!! I'M GOING TO TIRE HIM OUT! YOU'D BETTER EAT A LOT OF DINNER, UNCLE JEFF, SO YOU HAVE ENOUGH ENERGY!!!"

Annie, meanwhile, was in an ultra-cuddly mood. She climbed into my lap and gave me little soft kisses all over my face and patted my hair and murmured "Beebee" over and over.


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