Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Before and The After

All the talk about what we did on the house this summer warrants a few pictures. If you've ever clapboarded a house, you will appreciate the amount of work it took to get from the Before to the After pictures.

Before: Northwest side After: Northwest side

Before: East Corner view After: Northeast side

How it was done:
Step 1 - They removed the old clapboard and replaced any rotted sheathing boards, and there were some.
Step 2 - Old windows were removed and replaced by new. (In some case, this step had to wait because the new windows hadn't arrived)
Step 3 - A house wrap of breathable foam insulation was nailed on, and the seams taped with Tucktape (I have a real loathing for this stuff!).
Step 4 - John ripped 2x4's into 3/8" strips to make strapping which would support the clapboard. We borrowed a neighbour's table saw for this which helped some, but still a time-consuming job. On the 2nd side of the house, John gave in and purchased strapping in order to eliminate this step.
Step 5 - The strapping was nailed vertically over the house wrap 16" on centre.
Step 6 - At the base of the wall, a narrow (15") and continuous length of metal screening was placed in back of the strapping and then folded under and over the front of the strapping and stapled in place. The bottom of the strapping was then secured.
Step 7 - Window facing boards (not sure if this the right word), sills and drip caps are installed. They had all been made beforehand. Big job in itself. In most cases we had also pre-painted them.
Step 8 - Clapboard went on. One board at a time. I try to keep up with supplying the stained boards while two men nailed them on. (See previous entry for my clapboard factory!) I put two coats of stain on the front of each board, and one on the back. Wore out many rollers, but beats using a paint brush.

Terry and John look down, way down After: East corner view

And so next summer, 2011, we will complete the clapboard on the southeast and southwest sides. I will have to get out my wrist support because my right wrist took a beating this summer. One step away from carpal tunnel syndrome, I'd say.
Hope Terry will be available for work again, because sure as shooting, I won't be getting up on that scaffolding any time soon.

Friday, October 15, 2010

I'm baaaack!

I realized how long it`s been since I blogged when I logged on just now and found comments that had been left by some kind people who take the time to read this blog. I apologize to them for not having replied. I`m really not rude; I`m just scatterbrained.

The last post was almost exactly a year ago when John's mother died. The rest of the year was pretty much a blur after that. Some health problems surfaced and got taken care of. I spent a lot of time scanning all my old photographs. Everything. With the intention of editing/annotating them during the summer.

Well, intentions are nothing if not fleeting for a ditz like me. Needless to say the pictures did not get edited during the summer, but the Newfoundland house did. Two sides of it are now very different than they were when we arrived in June.

John did his Energizer Bunny impersonation all summer. I was to have helped him with the clapboard, of course, but needless to say my intentions once again were fleeting. Getting up on the scaffolding was simply beyond my capabilities (arthritis, fear of heights, general wimpishness) so we found a local fellow who was available for work.

Terry and John became an awesome duo, working in all weathers and even on Sundays, despite the disapproval of some in the community. Perhaps more on that later.

The intention this summer was to replace the worst of our windows -- the ones that had broken inner panes, rotting sashes, etc. Namely, four windows. Four turned into five. Five turned into seven. And before you know it, we had replaced ten and added one new window. Still have eight more to replace, but those are more modern (but no less ugly) and we can make do with them for a while yet.

We knew we would have company this summer so we had to make sure we had our guest rooms ready for visitors. The plan was to fix up the back bedroom to a point where it could be slept in. There had been a leak in one corner of this room which we discovered last year. The ceiling joist was rotten, as was one of the wall studs, so we knew we had to address that this summer.

The walls we knocked down

As is often the case, one thing led to another. Fixing the damage caused by the leak led to conversations about the other rooms at that end of the house being rather small and useless as they stood. Perhaps it would be a good idea to incorporate them thus making a much larger bedroom.

      The expanded room

This triggered the thought that we should keep such a large room for ourselves and give our current bedroom to guests. After all, they wouldn`t be spending months and months. And so it came to pass. Not only is our bedroom the largest room in the house but one corner of it has been walled off for a future powder room. No more going down slippery stairs in the middle of the night to pee.

    The new master suite

Our new bedroom has been drywalled (not a right angle in the place); mudding, sanding and painting will come in 2011. Our old bedroom is now a beautiful guest room. The ceiling tiles need replacing and peeling old wall paper, but for now, it`s okay. A second guest bedroom was cobbled together across the hall from the first. It desperately needs painting but it works for now.

The biggest job was outside. In addition to the windows, John and Terry replaced the wooden clapboard on two sides of the house, and on part of the third side. It went from peeling white to fresh Dory Buff (a historic colour). The guys did the cutting and nailing. I did the staining. And on days when the weather did not cooperate, I stained the clapboard in the shed.

Clapboard factory

John devised a great set-up for me. See picture at left. The supports in the middle held the board I was staining, the others supported the finished boards to dry.

The house looks beautiful and apparently I'm not the only one who thinks so. neighbours say the house has become a tourist attraction with everyone and their dog coming down to the cove to see the house that's being reno'd. Just wait till we get the rest done, a front door added and that wraparound bridge I want.

It was a very productive summer. Not only did we get a lot of work done, but we squired around three sets of visitors. We climbed Brimstone Head on Fogo Island twice. I would have done it a third time but we ran out of time that day and had to hightail it to the ferry. I should have lost weight with all that exercise. Alas, the story reads otherwise.

John is talking about going down early next spring to get a start on the indoor work so that when the good weather arrives, he`s ready to get going on the remaining clapboard work.

I'll make a separate entry with pictures of the outside of the house. Read on.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Obituary for Isabel

ELLIOTT, Marion Isabel (nee McDermid) After a brief stay in hospital, Ottawa, on Wednesday, October 21, 2009, at the age of 84. Beloved wife of the late Donald. Loving mother of Jean Marengere (Yvon), and John Elliott ( Norma). She will be lovingly remembered by grandchildren Shauna, Tarryn, and Nathan; and step-grandchildren Marcus Joseph, Chantalle Marengere, and Phillipp Marengere (Elizabeth). Survived by sisters Beverley Devine and Grace Teske; predeceased by sisters Eileen McKay, Helen Murray; brothers Keith and Kenneth McDermid. Friends may visit at the Central Chapel of Hulse, Playfair & McGarry, 315 McLeod Street, (at O'Connor) Ottawa, from 2-4 pm and 7-9 pm Friday, October 23. The Funeral Service will be held in the Chapel on Saturday, October 24 at 11 am. Contributions in Isabel's memory may be directed to the Ottawa Heart Institute.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sadness rains

The funeral for Isabel Elliott will be held at Playfair and McGarry, 315 McLeod Street, Ottawa at 11 a.m. on Saturday, October 24th.

Immediately after the service, guests are invited to join us in the reception room for a bite to eat. Those who wish may accompany the family to the burial at Capital Memorial Gardens.

Today the skies are heavy in sympathy with our hearts.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

We are sad

John's mom, Isabel Elliott, died this morning. We are sad. We are busy. I'll write more later.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Red shag carpet project - Phase I

As most of you know by now, we're slowly fixing up an old house in Newfoundland. It was built, we think, sometime around 1875, but nobody is sure. Could be older. Given the state the shores we in when we raised the house, I'd say so.

  Red shag in living room circa 2007

Anyhow, we finally took the bull by the horns this week and tore up the red shag carpet that was in the living room and on the stairs and along the upstairs hallway. Actually, the upstairs hallway still has it, but the rest is gone. Took it to the dump this morning in the pouring rain. Fellow at the dump said that there's no doubt we're from Ontario because no self-respecting Newfie could be caught dead at the dump when it's this wet. He's probably right.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

We had um'd and ah'd about taking up this carpet since we bought the place three years ago. Not that we didn't want it up. Heck, it probably harboured life forms that nobody in their right minds would want living with them. But we had on several occasions pulled up a corner here, a loose bit there, just to see what was underneath. All we saw was plywood, pressboard, odds and sods of other kinds of wood filling in the gaps, and scraps of canvas peeking out here and there. Neighbours told us to expect newspaper in places as well. So we knew it would be dog's breakfast once we started. And thing is, once you start, it's hard to stop since one disaster leads to another.

But, curiousity got the better of us yesterday. And we debated the best way to proceed. We decided to pull up just one section and see what we were faced with underneath. If it was too awful, we'd put the plywood/carpet, etc. back again and forget about it until we felt stronger in a year or two.

We decided to start near the kitchen door in what would have originally been part of the central hallway. That carpet bit was easy since it was a separate piece that was just laid down. Two nails held it in place. Easy peasy. Underneath was three pieces of plywood, held down by mostly nails, but also enough rusty screws to give us trouble. And not only were they rusty, but they were bent. Watching them come out of the wood was like watching a flower emerge from the ground looking for the sun. Round and round the head went.

Floor boards as uncovered Aug 2009
Under the plywood, once we swept up the dust of the last 50 years was something painted that I thought was floor boards because there were grooves like wide old boards. I was getting excited, but it turned out to be just painted wall paneling. Up that came.

Next was a layer of canvas - faded, worn, brittle and nasty. Up that came. And lo and behold, beneath that was wood. Wide wood boards. Worn down in the centre by many footsteps. Discoloured in spots, shiny in spots. In other words. Once we vacuumed and swept, they looked very nice. I could live with them like that if I had to. Might want to sand down the old knots that have risen up like pimples to the surface -- or rather that the boards have worn down around the knots.

And so Phase I was complete. We knew what to expect underneath, or at least what to hope for.

  Living room with canvas floor
We felt so encouraged, we figured we could take the carpet up from the rest of the living room floor. This section had previously been a separate room from the hallway where we had excavated earlier and underneath the carpet here we found old canvas. Green wavy pattern with yellow flowers. Worn and cracked in places, but we can live with it until we're ready to excavate further. I'm sure I've walked over canvas like that many times growing up. Might even have watched my mother pull a mop over something very similar.

We did find a mess under the carpet around where the chimney used to be. There was no canvas there and the plywood was quite black. Figured we'd better get rid of that asap since who knows what was on it. Probably just encrusted soot, but we didn't take any chances and put on masks to take it up and throw it out in the trailer.

Phase II will come later. We'll work on a section at a time as we feel the urge.

Pink, white and green steps
This morning, before heading to the dump, we decided to uncover the stairs. The carpet was held to the stairs by rods. The rods are held to the stairs by screw eyes that had been painted so many times they're part of the stairs. No way they we were going to get those off in a hurry. So we had to cut the carpet off. Took forever.

But the hard work was all worth it because under the carpet, the stairs are crudely painted in the colours of the old Newfoundland flag - pink, white and green. I love it. And I'm so tempted just to leave it like that. Maybe I should tidy up the edges but maybe not. What do you think? Let me know.

And so, the shagging carpet, er I mean the red shag carpet is no more. It's soaking up rain in the dump as I write. And the living room actually has a lot more light than before. Shows off the paint job we did on the walls a week or two ago.

Once we expose the floor boards, we'll see what we'll do with them. John is tending to want to leave them bare, maybe just some verethane. I'm leaning towards painting them and making a canvas rug for the living room (not anytime soon, needless to say).

Oh, and check out the cushions on the couch. I've been knitting and crocheting since we got here and these three covers are the result. Starting on a lap quilt next. With fish on it.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Sweet William is bleeding?

Our garden is only a little less of a mess than it was last year. In the fall before leaving, I planted some bulbs - tulips and daffodils and anything else that was interesting and available at the local hardware store. Neighbours tell us that they enjoyed the display of colour in the spring so I guess something worked. One thing for sure. I'll have to get a volunteer to deadhead the tulips next spring if we're not here. We found out what happens when you don't. They form seed pods. Strange things. I didn't believe it when I saw it and thought they were mummified tulips blooms. I didn't even know tulips produced seed pods. I thought they grew only from bulbs. Of course, Ottawa is not the place to find tulip seeds since the bulbs are whipped out of the ground before the blooms have even fallen. I understand that one can plant the seeds but then it takes about seven years to produce anything resembling a tulip. I'll pass. I cut the pods and put them in a dry vase where they very quickly deteriorated to a white, powdery rotten mass. Guess I'll throw them out and see if the birds like them.

The rest of the garden was pretty much fence-to-fence weeds. And tall. Fortunately, most of them were mature and were easy to pull out, leaving bare ground. I pulled the last of these yesterday. (And got stung by the tiniest nettle I've ever seen. A baby. Barely as big as the tip of the Bluenose on a dime.)

The Mother-of-Thyme that I planted in the fall hasn't died, but it hasn't prospered either. Still five sad mounds, although they did flower nicely. It may be because they're in the shade most of the day and most sources recommend full sun. However, if they survived a winter in Hillgrade, they are most likely hardy enough to withstand anything. I might just have to fill in with some more plants.

On one side of the house is a hill, okay a rise. A rocky rise. Probably eight to ten feet above the level of the rest of the garden. It's covered mostly with grasses, coltsfoot, sheep sorrel, some purple clover, ladies mantle and moss. The lady who lived here before used the outcroppings of rock to clean her paint brush so we have blue and pink and purple hued rocks between the wildflowers. Silas, the neighbour's cat, likes to view the world from this hill.

There is also a growing patch of Snow on the Mountain. I really don't want it and will have to see if I can at least contain it. But pulling it up will be tricky since I don't want to lose whatever bit of soil there is.

Growing among the Snow on the Mountain are Sweet Williams. Lots of Sweet Williams. Pink. White. Deep Pink, and multi-hued Sweet Williams. So many that they were spilling into the area that we want to use for a walkway. I hesitated for days but then decided it was best to just get it over with and I picked the ones that needed to be gone so that John could mow the area. I ended up with two large bouquets of Sweet Williams, one on the kitchen table and one in the window near the stove, for the enjoyment of all who passed.

We then noticed droplets of water on the table near the bouquet. Wiped them up and wondered if we'd been messy eaters the previous night at dinner. By nightfall, there were more drops of water on the table. Just under the perimeter of the bouquet on one side.

That was nearly two weeks ago. The bouquets are still looking wonderful (have changed the water only twice in that time) and we are still seeing drops of water on the table. A day or two ago we were finally able to find water on the plant just above the drops on the table. And again this morning.

Here are a few more photos: Left - Yellow Loosestrife growing up against the woodshed; Middle - Yarrow (as a child we called this Dead Man's Flower) and something whose name I don't know; Right - Monkshood which hasn't yet flowered.

So, are the Sweet Williams bleeding or crying?