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And these days, there’s a lot of doors closing loudly, and being opened, and being closed again, loudly. All of it seems to be loud.

Here we have our new, nicely draft-proof doors.

Let me tell you a little something about them:

  • They don’t swing open on their own in the night with a strong breeze.
  • They don’t let in icy drafts from all edges.
  • The handles turn the way they should.
  • The keys turn in the deadlocks the way they should.
  • They open with THE SAME KEY!

Oooooh, and look! A doorbell!

Ooooooh and look! An outside light!

Ah, yes, you’ll notice that the wood edge has not yet been covered. It will, never fear. And the wood will survive just fine until next month. Also, the cement edge below the door frame was skillfully built up by Rupert.

The old decrepit light had been home to a robin family. I’m sad to say they’ve been evicted. They left their mark on the wall above the light, though (peer closer, you can see it, yes you can). The nest came down, and in it — until the nest got bumped and dropped from where I was saving it to take a picture — was a perfect little blue egg which hadn’t hatched. Here’s the post-catastrophe nest-and-egg reconstruction:

There are also doors on all the rooms upstairs. In hindsight, door handles (as opposed to knobs) were perhaps not the most baby-friendly choice. Twinkle Toes has mastered the art of stretching to reach the handle, pulling the door open, getting her body to the other side of the open door (this move is key, for some reason), stepping back, and pushing the door shut with a loud bang. Then she usually turns and looks at me with a mix of wonder and self-satisfaction.

Little birdie, you won’t be flying away any time soon. You can’t reach the deadbolt yet. 🙂

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Ah, this morning started off as a foggy continuation of last night. Rupert and I watched a movie until nearly midnight. Twinkle Toes had been feverish since the late afternoon, but after the movie ended, she woke up with a very high fever. I nursed her, gave her some Tylenol and worried over her, then finally put her into bed. As I got into bed myself, I heard the unmistakable blurping sound from Twinkle Toes which could only mean one thing: she’d just thrown up. I went in to console her, and as I picked her up, she threw up all over my shoulder and down my back. 😦

Rupert bustled about cleaning us up and changing the bed while I nursed Twinkle Toes some more and rocked her back to sleep. Unfortunately, that was the last dose of Tylenol in the house. She’d just evicted it from her body. 😦 Poor little thing was awake and uncomfortable most of the night. As a result, so was I. When the Master of Home Renovation showed up at 8 this morning, Rupert and I were still trying to cling to the last tendrils of sleep.

Just the same, by noon we had this: Rupert is learning from the master how to tile a floor.

 

And a close up (Little Miss was the stand-in photographer while I rocked and rocked and rocked Twinkle Toes):

And really, in no time, we had this:

Which was followed by this masterful creation. More to continue with tomorrow, and some work staining and varnishing, and putting in trim, but wow are we ever pleased with ourselves. Points for effort go to Young Jedi who seemed to think that by closing his door when he went to bed meant he could get away with reading instead of sleeping. The glow from around the edges of the door was like something out of poltergeist. Busted!

And now, everyone is asleep, except me. Twinkle Toes is feeling better, and I’m sitting in front of the wood stove enjoying these precious few minutes of peace and quiet. And also fearing that as soon as I lay my exhausted head on my pillow, someone else will throw up.

We have lovely new soffits! We also have new fascia, and a nifty thing called a drip lip. In the process, Rupert removed the wiring which ran from the old antenna (outside, along the wanna-be soffits) and was so motoring along so well tearing down old stuff and cutting off wires that he cut the phone line, too. So we (I because Rupert was still demolishing) called Bell from my cell phone (which would lose reception after I’d finally gotten through to an agent after being on hold for 10 minutes)… long story short, we survived the 24 hours without a phone or internet. By Sunday morning the work on the soffits was complete, and Rupert turned his attention to the inside, and a problem with the floor joists in the kitchen area.

We have arranged for someone to install a seamless eavestrough (yay!), have eliminated one of the on-ramps to the mouse-squirrel-bat super highway, found two dessicated squirrel bodies and have bandied about plans to change the windows and cover the house in vinyl.

After some discussion and a couple of rye and gingers, we decided that next weekend (yes, folks, two days from now) we will 1) put in door frames and doors to all the bedrooms — hey, we won’t have walls, but we will have a door! — and 2) finish the upstairs bathroom. You know what that meant: I had to go shopping.

After two solid days of running around Home Depot and Reno Depot, we have a toilet, a sink, tiles, a light fixture, and doorknobs for all the upstairs doors. Wowee! I’m so excited to be getting a finished bathroom upstairs, that I’m not sure I can believe it will really happen. Maybe it won’t. (But maybe it will! And then I won’t have to stumble down 14 then 4 then 9 stairs in the dark.)

Ah, that last picture? Me trying to take a photo of myself to update my linkedin profile. Seems pictures of me are of three kinds: Terrible expression, child somewhere too close to my face to crop out, or fat because I’m pregnant.

And the purple flowers? Something managed to bloom! (I thought they were yellow and brown flowers, more like black-eyed Susans. They’re aren’t, but they’re pretty, anyway.)

 

First, he assembled the scaffolding. Rupert did this while I was away with Twinkle Toes buying groceries at the farmer’s market and getting pants for Young Jedi, and generally killing time so as not to be home to witness Rupert fall and get pinned under the scaffolding. I was pleasantly surprised when I returned home. Scaffolding was up, Rupert was alive and well.

The old eaves and wanna-be soffits etc have been removed. We can see the insulation — what is it, R5?

All kinds of ugly here:

Closer shot of the insulation. You can see part of a hole in it. There were many many holes in the insulation. That means many many little animals found their way in over the years. (Ask me how I know. Go on. Ask.)

Someone attempted, at some point, to replace the old stuff with pink batting. 

Only a small sampling of the bird nests and wasp nests that fell down. 

The Fat Max crow bar-wielding hero and lord-master of home renovations: Rupert. 

Here, he is doing his part to keep the Red Army alive. 

Ever seen one of these? EW. So gross, it is still outside. But too fascinating to chuck. I want the kids to see this. Apparently, our home was home to TWO different kinds of wasps. These guys, the mud builders, and the other papery nest wasps. 

Yesterday, we put most of the finishing touches on Young Jedi’s room.

There are still a few bits of trim to go on just as soon as we get our hot little hands on a coping saw. After that, there’s the door. and the door trim, but after 3 years in a room with no walls, what’s a missing door?

The room was finished enough that we could move Young Jedi (back) into his room! Yay!

(The kids refused to let me take normal pictures of the room. They kept jumping into the frame…)

(The room looks really small with us in it.)

(Young Jedi slept in his room last night and today I moved his desk in. I wanted to get his toys etc in and organized, but Twinkle Toes was having Napping Issues today. And just in case y’all are wondering, it’s not because I don’t want my kid to have to do some of the work of moving in and setting up. I want to do it alone due to the “disappearing” of items that has to happen while he’s not around. If you’re a parent, you know what I mean. Right? I’m not the only one, am I?)

 

It seems like just yesterday I was sweltering in 30 degree heat and wishing for a reprieve, but today it feels like fall has set in. The nights are cool, we’re using our duvet again, and while the afternoon sun is still quite hot, the air in the shade is not. The season of sweaters and “hot again, cool again” has returned. Windows which get opened during the day suddenly need to be closed at night, the wood stove has seemed mighty tempting a couple of times, and our thoughts are turning to getting all those last things accomplished before the cold weather (and snow) sets in. Things like eaves troughs and soffits, insulating the trap door, draft proofing the front and back doors. Yesterday, for the first time in a few months, I made a roast chicken, and my mind wandered to making soup. Not yet, but soon. The kids returned to school this week, and that also makes me feel old, and happy, and sad.

I can’t say I don’t welcome the cooler weather, but summer sure flew by fast, and that makes me feel old and sad. The weeds in my garden are doing better than the plants I wanted there, which also makes me sad, but soon I won’t need to feel guilty for not weeding the garden because it will be too cold for anything to survive. So it won’t be my fault that the garden is dead and unproductive.

Things we’ve done this summer:

  • Planted 180 cedars. (Dug 180 holes!)
  • Went camping for a week with Twinkle Toes for the first time as a family. Really, have you ever gone camping with a one-year-old? It is more of a challenge than it sounds, and it sounds daunting. One of the lessons learned that week: When you suspect your child has a full, poopy diaper, do not continue to roll around in the tent playing “tickle”. I’ll spare you the details.
  • Acquired a new motorcycle, sold one, and fixed several bits on several motorcycles.
  • Successfully (just about) finished a room! I put down, stained and varnished the pine flooring. Now I’m thinking of another career. (Not really, but that pneumatic floor nailer was a lot of fun.)
  • Rupert built a two-storey deck with a friend of his. Quite the accomplishment given he is afraid of heights and that even only 5 years ago, he wouldn’t have known how to hammer in a nail. (I exaggerate, but only a little.)
  • Got over the dread of returning to work after maternity leave, had my position abolished, dealt with that stress, and came out the other side thinking that the world is full of possibilities. Today I ran into one of those possibilities. I’m going to start a production blitz in time for the International Plowing Match which will be taking place in my area in a couple of weeks. I also found out that I may be eligible to take some entrepreneurship courses, which would be dandy!

Cat Creek is all about the little fixes and improvements I can make by using what is already on hand, building on what already exists, and making low cost and low impact choices.

We are undergoing a major renovation to our home (some might say “major” is an understatement); expense and consuming can’t be avoided. We are certainly producing more than our fair share of garbage, and buying a lot of material with all that entails: packaging, carbon footprint, gas spent on trips to the store. When we started this endeavor three years ago, we had an idea of how it would unfold. That didn’t happen, and we have had to re-assess repeatedly, adjust for what we could afford, change plans, revise the timeline.

For three years, we have been living in a gutted house. Rupert and I have certainly had our disagreements about the situation, but for the most part, we keep the long term goal in perspective and keep reminding ourselves (or each other as one or the other of us falls into despair about the situation) that we are doing this so that we can have a wonderful, beautiful family home without going into excessive debt. We choose to go slowly and do the work ourselves so that it remains affordable. Important, too, is the pride and accomplishment we feel, the new skills learned, the success and triumph over challenges like hanging drywall on hopelessly crooked framing. By living in this bombed-out looking space, we’ve learned more about the house and become rather intimate with its peculiarities: the way air flows, where the natural lighting is best, where the floors creak, how we move through the space, and how we would prefer to move through it.

Our plans have grown and changed as we’ve settled in. I’m glad we didn’t have it all finished before moving in. If we had, we’d have a bar where I now have my desk, and I’d have my desk in an upstairs room, which would mean less interaction (or more likely, less time spent at my desk); we’d have a smaller kitchen with an L-shaped counter separating it from the dining area. We wouldn’t have a wood stove on the main floor. Many little things and some big would be different, and not as convenient. There is definitely something to be said about taking your time. Oh, spontaneity is good, too. Spontaneity is Rupert’s domain. Mine is slow and thoughtful. I let ideas brew. I may not look like I’m planning anything, but the ideas are working themselves out in the back of my brain. 😛

So here is the real reason for this post: the floor of the main level of the house.

Making do. Necessity the mother of all invention. Thinking outside the box…

The main floor is open concept. We demolished walls and erected big wood beams to support the upper floor. The only part of this level of the house that will have walls is the bathroom (someday it will be a bathroom, but for now it’s pantry and recycling… something I will miss). Still, there are four distinct areas: The fireplace end, the living room, the dining room and the kitchen.

We spend most of our time in the living room, as this is where the comfortable seating is. The living room is where we have the nicest view outside, as there are large windows on the two walls. The floor here is bare plywood secured by a million nails. Previously, there was carpet — the carpet was the very first thing we removed. The plywood floor of the living room is the same as that in the dining area. It is not unpleasant to walk on, although some of the nails are coming up and they catch on socks or slippers. The texture and porous nature of the wood makes it very difficult to keep clean. I can vacuum up the dog hair, but dirt is ground in.

In the winter we are most often in front of the wood stove. The floor in that area was previously some kind of tile. We removed that immediately, also, but are now left with a layer of cardboard/paper stuck onto the plywood. This area is particularly heinous. I have to use the carpet setting on the vacuum, and in places where the floor has gotten wet (dog puke spots, the area where I had the birth pool for Twinkle Toes’ birth) the paper has come off. It’s really ugly and extremely difficult to clean.

I also spend a whole lot of time in the kitchen which has retro pink tile. I like that flooring. It’s funky, unusual, and most importantly, I can mop and sweep! There’s nothing quite like a freshly mopped floor to help clear a cluttered mind…

Soooooooooooo… now that we have a baby who is not content unless she is crawling or walking, the filth is painfully obvious — all over her knees and the feet of her sleepers. I’ve barricaded the living room area so that she can move around, but be contained in a mostly safe area, but she’s crawling all over dirty plywood. I got to thinking about how to solve the problem. Carpet is out of the question because the dogs will make it theirs. Same thing with those popular interlocking foam mats. Then, OMG, it dawned on me. What I really need is something like a varnish. Something to make the floor washable.

A trip to Canadian Tire made it immediately obvious that varnish is the expensive way to go, but floor paint — floor paint is the shizzle. The paint guy tried to sell me on the ugly industrial grey, saying it would hide the dirt. But, EW. I will most likely have to live with this floor for another couple of years. (And if Rupert agrees, then it probably means I need to revise that to another four years.) So while I don’t need to have perfect floors, I don’t want to hate looking at. The other colour option is white. (Tempting, in a beach house kind of way.) But then the paint man told me really I could have the white tinted any colour I like. He gestured to the wall of paint samples. “Any of those,” he said. “No extra cost.”

Suddenly a world of possibilities opened up and I was frozen by the many options facing me. It’s a nice feeling, sometimes. Options, that is. Indecision, not so much.

So what would you do?

I’m thinking — in terms of minimizing the number of paint cans required, and minimizing the work — of a simple two colour design. A base coat, with a stencil on top. But oooooooooh the colour choices! Green? Sage? washed-out white? Dark burgundy? Brick red?

I’m thinking of a green and white for the living room. I’m thinking of a deep red-purple with rust or orange or yellow for the dining area, and something dark wood, espresso… not sure for the fireplace area.

I’m all ears if anyone has suggestions!

My Etsy Shop

A little bird told me…

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