I sometimes wonder if we just can’t do weekends “right”. On T.V. and in movies people seem to have these leisurely relaxed weekends of people reading books, lounging on decks, and generally kicking back. Even people we know in real life seem to have down time. For some reason we fail at the “relaxed weekend”. If I were to look over the last few weekends, we had the “strip the house down due to a mouse invasion” weekend, followed by “drive out to the coast and work on the tub” weekend, with the next one being “plant the trees and reinforce a rotting floor” weekend. This weekend followed the trend, we shall call it “the epic pruning” weekend.
It all started innocently enough. Earlier in the week I started clearing tree branches away from the garage roof as I would like to have it re-roofed. Some simple branch cutting with loppers and clippers, while our youngest played in the backyard. Quite manageable, nothing too intense.
On Friday we had a child home from school sick, so we decided to spend the weekend at home instead of going out of town. We thought it was a good way to finish off the little bit of tree trimming we had left.
On Saturday everything was quite civilized. Even though the trees were quite a jumble we were still able to tackle the project with loppers and clippers. Some trimming from the ground, some from the ladder, and some from on top of the roof. We cut up the tree bits we had pruned, saved some pieces to make wooden buttons, and decided to do the “last little bit” on Sunday.
Sunday afternoon we head out to the backyard expecting an hour or two of work. We cleared everything we could clipping by hand and stood back to see how it looked. After clearing away some branches we realized we needed to rake debris off the garage roof. My husband soon discovered that there was dirt six inches deep in spots where leaves had composted on the roof. He indicated that “it looks like really good dirt”, so into the flower bed below it went. I guess that dirt explains the sunflowers growing out of the roof! He also mentioned that in 20 years of being in the roofing and exterior industry he had never seen a roof like ours. I guess that makes our roof “special”.
Once the dirt was cleared we could see there were still some large branches (some laying ON the roof) that needed to be pruned. Out came the chainsaws. This is where the pruning job transformed from a little maintenance into a very big job.
First we cleared the branches laying on the roof. Then it was the larger branches around the roof so that the roofers will have better access. Of course seeing that we had the chainsaws out we may as well take care of some of the dead wood in trees. This also gave us the opportunity to turn an old trunk into a nice flat little spot to place a drink with a slice of the chainsaw.
Once we removed the dead wood we saw there was A LOT of work to do. We realized that our trees had grown so large that they were blocking most of the sun coming in our yard. This year our yard never dried out from rain due to the shade, we have had grass and mud all summer long. It was time to fix that. We started cutting back branches here and there so that light would again filter in. Then we started thinking about problem areas if we had a heavy snowfall, after all it is better to trim now rather than sort out a mess later. We trimmed all the trees over hanging the fence, trees brushing against the house, tree branches laying on the hedge, and tree branches threatening power lines. Hours and hours of whirring chainsaws with flying wood chips everywhere. As evening approached we decided we were “done”, then we stood back and saw this…….
Huge mounds of branches everywhere. Branches larger than a lot of trees. Even after hours and hours of cutting it still only looked as if we had tidied up the trees in the backyard, it didn’t look like a crazed afternoon of chainsaws had occurred.
We then embarked on the task of sorting out the branches. We saved the larger pieces for “projects”, one pile for me and the other for my dad. I should be able to make a lifetime supply of wooden buttons while my dad can turn a lifetime’s supply of pens. We clipped the branches into manageable pieces until 10:00 pm when we decided to leave the rest until the next day. There are still several more hours of sorting branches ahead of us.
The motivation for doing all this is a little bit more than just putting a new roof on the garage, even though it is in dire need of needing one. We have decided to tackle the garage as a “project”.
The garage is 1946 or older. A classic specimen. For years we talked about tearing it down and replacing it, mostly because that is what people “do” with old buildings. The more we thought about this the less it made sense to us, I personally could not send all that good wood to the landfill. We also have the situation of having to conform to current city rules on placement and such if we rebuild which gets very tricky on a non-conforming lot; old neighborhoods and new city rules generally don’t get along too well. We aren’t exactly “park your car in the garage” people, so we started to think about what function we wanted the garage to fill. We determined we needed storage, and a workshop space would be nice. A studio space away from the house would also be a bonus. After a lot of thinking and discussions we have decided to renovate the garage.
This is going to be a BIG project over a few years. I gave the front a quick paint job with left over paint a few weeks ago just to get the ball rolling. The roof will hopefully be replaced soon. After the roof is done we will replace the doors. The plan for the new doors is a sliding barn door style on a track; we think this will function better in the winter when we are dealing with piles of snow.
After the doors are replaced, which really need to be done as some critter has decided to EAT them (we’ve never seen that before!), we will then begin to evict the squirrels and start framing it in. It is a massive job, yet bound to be interesting. I like the idea of renovating rather than bulldozing.
I have been working on a “fulled” project. In this case it is knitted items that are then partially felted through the process of hot water, cold water and agitation. The process shrinks the item and makes it quite dense and compressed.
I have discovered that there seems to be no science or guarantee with fulling, quite honestly it is one big science experiment that will drive you insane if you let it. For example, I have now tested 4 different yarns plus about 6 different needle sizes, a couple of different wash/agitation methods and tested dyeing before fulling and after. This has been a project of testing for almost a year. This has produced numerous failed test swatches, that are now known as “Barbie blankets”. Yes indeed the Barbie doll house has been furnished nicely with my rejects (but our daughters are thrilled!).
I think I have finally figured what works best. Strangely the knit is so big and sloppy in the beginning, yet this is the combination that shrinks down the tightest and most compact. The best wash/agitation method turned out to be the washing machine which is awfully convenient as our household with five children means the washing machine is ALWAYS running.
The funny thing about this whole process of figuring out fulling is the fourth combination I ever did was the one that gave the best results. Somehow I was convinced it could be better so I kept knitting and fulling more and more versions and only seeing disappointment. I guess there is something to be said for the saying “quit while you are ahead”.
This cabin season we had noticed a few shifts in the floor. They were a little squeakier with the odd wobble . It had been a bad winter and chalked it up to frost heaves. One spot in the bathroom seemed to get worse each week. At first it was a squeak, then a wobble , then a bounce until this weekend we decided time to fix the wonky area. We wiggled out one piece of laminate and it was a bit spongy underneath. At further examination my husband decided we would replace the wood from the area where it seemed a little soft and put a concrete pier under it for good measure. Off we went to Home Depot expecting an hour fix when we got back to the cabin.
Back at the cabin we decide to feel around a bit more. We lift back vapour barrier and pull out a few more pieces of the laminate flooring, the sheeting is soaking wet, so wet it starts to crumble as you touch it. Our hands are down the hole and it is wet in every direction. My husband keeps exploring trying to form a game plan and comments that the damp goes under the vanity . I comment that maybe we should look on the other side of the wall just in case. We slide the air hockey table out of the way, step near the wall and the floor gives way. Not good.
We slice out a couple pieces of laminate, carefully, because I have this crazy notion that it will go back in place. My husband reassures me it isn’t going back in, but I still draw a perfectly straight line to cut along. If two holes in the floor isn’t bad enough, finding rotten joists just adds to the drama. If rotting joists aren’t drama enough, the ones are the ones supposedly supporting a wall.
We start walking around the one part of the cabin and start to notice more bouncy parts. More in the bathroom, one in the kitchen, all in a straight line.
All in a straight line that leads to our hot water tank (and the floor right in front of it is spongy too!)
We start to figure out what had happened. The beams on the bottom still seem dry and fine, but the ones closest to the floor are soaking wet. All we can think is it is hot water tank related when we look at where it is wettest . We think back to a few years ago. My husband was up at the cabin one February checking on the cabin. He called me from the cabin and said the hot water tank looked funny, but as it was winter and we had drained it off we thought “frost heaves” and never thought anything of it. Right after Thanksgiving every year we empty our hot water tank, empty our 1250 gallon water tank, unhook our pump and take it home, so a water issue doesn’t happen. Once spring had come and we again could use water at the cabin ( we use water May-Oct only because of freezing ) we decided the tank didn’t look right and planned to replace it.
Replacing a water tank at a cabin is no easy task. After multiple phone calls over a couple of years, this June we eventually got a plumber who would come to our area and replace it. We were thrilled as we had been washing dishes with boiled water. We mentioned the bouncing laminate to him as we chatted , and he said it was solid under the tank. So all was good and fixed.
Looking at the floor, and the direction of damage, all we can conclude is that somehow there must have still been water in the hot water tank that one winter . We drained it until it was dry, but that is our only guess as to what has happened. Out of the habit of having hot water, there haven’t even been any showers or baths this year, so the water isn’t from that. But here is the peculiar thing, the winter when my husband came across the wonky tank there was no water on the floor. It was -30C, it should have been a skating rink in the bathroom, but there was nothing. All we can guess is that the water, if there was some left trapped in the tank, must have flowed under the bath tub and then soaked into the wood like water does with a sponge . It is the only place it could have gone and not been seen.
It is so weird to have never seen any water. You could not imagine the surprise we had today finding the rot and soaking wet wood.
Now we have the task of seeing how far the damage has spread. Now that a few pieces of laminate have been removed we are finding more and more soft spots . It was as if the laminate floor was holding the whole structure together. All this damage happening under our feet and we had no idea. We had noticed something was off since May. We thought the cabin had shifted in the winter and had been watching the joins by the ceiling for signs of shifting ……… and there were none. Were we ever looking in the wrong spot, we were looking up when we should have been looking down.
Who would have thought there would be such a disaster lurking under a floor board .
Unexpectedly we were able to buzz out to the island (Pender Island, BC, Canada) for a slightly extended long weekend. Due to the short time constraints it meant we drove out (and back) at slightly different times of day and were on our way to the ferry literally at the crack of dawn.
These images are taken on the Trans Canada Highway “just” before the 6:00 am cutoff. The scenery is in the stretch between Hope and Bridal Veil Falls in British Columbia (Canada).
We witnessed day break over the mountains as we sped towards the ferry. A quick detour was made for Tim Horton’s breakfast sandwiches and to fill the car with gas. We always fill with gas before Abbotsford, the last of the decent (kind of) priced gas; last time we checked, gas on our island was $1.65 per litre (crippling!).
These images were also taken on one of the last days before my lens ceased to work for a SECOND time…….. a story for another day………..but let’s just say there will be mostly wide angle shots in the blog in the near future (I might be forced to rethink camera gear soon! Possibly the only shopping I enjoy………and hardware stores.).