Another Leisurely Weekend (not…)

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.

sunflower growing out of the roof

sunflower growing out of the garage roof

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.

the trees before pruning

the trees before pruning

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.

raking 6 inches of dirt off the  roof

raking 6 inches of dirt off the roof

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”.

our "vintage" garage roof

our “vintage” garage roof

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.

the garage area after being pruned

the garage area after being pruned

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…….

pruned branches in the backyard

pruned branches in the backyard

and this…………………..

pruned branches by the garage

pruned branches by the garage

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”.


garage before painting after a quick fascia board replacement

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.

garage after a quick paint job

garage after a quick paint job

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.

Something is eating our door!

Something is eating our door!

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.


8 thoughts on “Another Leisurely Weekend (not…)

    • Thanks for reading the blog. The outside of this project is mild compared to the inside. It will be great to work on as no matter what we do it is an improvement .

  1. oh dear Deb, it brings to mind the saying ‘it never rains but pours’ I hope this is your last unexpected project, the roof on my lovely stone shed needs replacing but I simply can’t afford it, I sometimes dream of how it could be used if I had the money for the work entailed, happy planning for your remodeled garage, Frances

    • I imagine your roof is slate which is very pricy. When we lived in the UK my husband worked for a firm that made manufactured slates.

      The garage is an exciting project. We did something similar with a shed at our cabin a few years back and now it is very lovely inside. We are toying with eventually trying solar power on the garage as the exposure is perfect for it, something I have really wanted to try putting into one of our places.

      You wouldn’t believe everything that has happened in the span of 2 weeks: broken camera lens, mice invasion (again), rotted floor, husbands laptop broke and then his printer a few days later, and to cap it all off yesterday we were in an accident and are waiting to hear from insurance as to whether the van (not quite 6 months old) can be fixed or if it is a write-off. I keep saying to Mark that you could wonder what you have done wrong for all the bad luck that has occurred, but maybe it is what we have done right for no one to have been injured in the car accident.

  2. Deb I’m glad no one was hurt in the accident, I’ve noticed as I’ve gone through life that ‘things’ happen to some people/families while others seem to sail through life with nothing ever going wrong,
    no my shed has not got a tiled roof it was a felt roof that had been tarred, when I first saw signs of it deteriorating 10 years ago I contacted some builders on the island, only one looked at it and gave me a quote, I agreed it but I never heard from them again, the shed is very large, it’s stone built and like a small barn, it’s the size that makes the cost high and I am on a low income, just my state pension, for some people it wouldn’t be expensive, I just feel lucky it’s not my house roof and I have a home, so many homeless people in the world,
    good luck with coping/dealing with all these difficulties, Frances x

    • Do you have any trade schools in the area or high schools that do a few trades courses? They might tackle the roof as a learning experience. My son’s high school has a course where the students help build a house.

      My husband just mentioned you could look for a rolled roofing product that you, or someone else, could install yourself. He did mention checking for rot before going over the current roofing.

      Now I do have to ask this as it is THE news of the week, which way do you think the Scotland vote will go? We’ve been watching quite closely. Of course we live in the country of eternal separatist talk so it is of interest to us.

  3. thanks Deb, no no trade schools, there is less here than Vancouver island, Stornoway is smaller than Victoria, thanks Deb’s husband, the rolled roofing would have worked when I first saw signs of it going, I couldn’t do it and finding workmen here is not easy, the roof is too far gone now on one side, if I had the money I would like a clear roof then I could make a covered walled garden 🙂

    THE news of the century over here!, I’ve no idea which way it will go as it is very close, I personally have decided I’m moving back to England if it is a yes result, I don’t want to move but don’t want to live in an unknown foreign country, Spain has been taking most interest right from the start because of Catalan wanting independence, Quebec and Canada have taken an interest more recently, tomorrow morning UK summertime we will know, Frances

    • Your covered wall garden is an interesting idea. Our neighbor at the cabin built a green house frame and instead of glass used a white fabric made specifically for greenhouses. I am guessing it kept the cost way down. It has survived at least 3 winters and his veggies are amazing.

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