Simple stitches

On top of all the fun we’ve been having, last week our washing machine decided it had washed it’s last load and decided to go up in a puff of smoke (literally – I HATE the smell of burning appliances).

I can complain really – we got it for free from Dave’s Mom last year. It replaced our previous washer, which we got for free over 15 years ago (and it was 10 years old when we got it). We’ve literally never had to buy a washing machine. (We’ve been through three dryers in that time – all three used, and only one of which we had to pay money for).

Still… it’s rather inconvenient timing.

Dave wanted to hop on Kijiji and find us a new used washer. But with only a few weeks left in the townhouse, I said – what’s the point of hauling one home, having to lug it down to the basement, hook it up, only to have to unhook it again and lug it back up the stairs in just a few weeks.

Happily, I have an awesome Mom with a HUGE washing machine, and she’s more than happy to let me use it once a week until we move.

So, last Thursday, I took my laptop (a benefit of working remotely – I can work from anywhere with internet), three loads of laundry, and headed to Mom’s.

She was still a work, so I threw a load in and settled down to get some work done. I knew the moment Mom got home!

It took a couple hours to finish all my laundry, but I didn’t have much work to do, so I soon settled in to get some knitting done on my lone sock project.

I’m now through the heel and onto the gusset. I’m very happy that I decided to keep a simple pattern. I don’t think my brain could handle anything complicated right now. Part of me is longing to cast on something super lacy – it’s probably a very good thing all the yarn is packed up and out of reach.

Poor Baby Burt

A few of you have asked how the cats are handling all the recent commotion

Of all of them, Rupert is the least perturbed.

As long as he can still get his day-long 12-hour nap, maybe a little time outside, and an evening snuggle on the couch, he’s a happy cat.

Relic is not upset, but he definitely gets annoyed on the days we go to the house.

On any day, the first thing Relic does is go outside the moment we get up. That’s usually between 8 and 9 am on a normal day. On the days we go to the house, we’re up around 5:30 a.m. He thinks that’s wonderful.

However, he’s not so thrilled that I bring him in again before we leave around 6:30 a.m. He gets to go out again as soon as we get home (usually between 6 and 7 that night), but he definitely doesn’t like being stuck in the house all day. I’m not quite sure why – he mostly just sleeps outside when he is out. But he’s a cat – he wants what he wants.

I know he’s going to VERY excited when he figures out the cat door and realizes he can go in and out as he pleases.

But Burton…. oh my poor little baby Burton.

He’s been spoiled. When I brought him home as a kitten, I was already mostly working from home – only going into the office a couple times a month. Six months later, I was working from home permanently. He has NEVER liked in when I leave the house. When I go to up to Mom’s to quilt for the day, he follows Dave around and cries.

So you can just imagine how he feels when we are both gone for hours on end. He knows something’s up when the alarm goes off at 5:30 and he tries to guilt me into staying with the saddest cat face you’ve ever seen.

And when I am home, he’s my little fluffy shadow. Either on my lap, or close by my side.

Whether I’m working, or reading, or just chilling out.

He’s also not very happy that I won’t let him use any of the boxes lying about as scratching posts! Life is just so hard for the poor boy!

Still… just wait until he finds out he can go outside without a harness and leash!

Great garden expectations

If there’s one thing this move has taught me, it’s to temper my expectations.

Our initial reno plans have already change several times, and we are definitely not going to be able to complete all the things we wanted to before the “big move”. (Truck is booked for July 24th!)

And when it comes to my garden… well you know my initial plan…

The plan was to dig everything up and put it in the ground at the new place as soon as possible.

The first road block to this came not long after we took possession, and I got a good look at the front garden space. There used to be some cedar hedges there that the previous owners cut down. But they left the roots. Those roots have to come out before I can plant anything there.

Time was against us the minute I gave notice at the townhouse – and there’s just not enough time to address that before we move, on top of all the other things we actually NEED to accomplish.

So plans got adapted. After Dad got the greenhouse down, we set aside some of the large framing timbers. My plan was to use them to build a large, temporary box, fill it full of soil, and at least get all the garden plants in there. Then I can move them as I build new gardens. If some of them over winter there, that’s just fine. (Dad has a large garden like this at his place – I call it his “transfer garden”)

Now, as the clock is ticking away, I might not have time to do that before the big move. Though I can probably do it soon after. So the plants will just have to live in pots for a while. This is not the end of the world, they just need more regular watering than the would otherwise. Some plants don’t like being in pots at all (I’m looking at you Lupins), but I’d just have to make do.

So… the other evening after things cooled down, I started digging things up. And plans changed again.

So far, I focused on the plants that had already bloomed. The Columbine came up nice and easy, and I got some seeds from them for extra insurance. Same with the oriental poppies.

But then I got to the Pasque flower. It’s been in the same spot for a few years now and it’s pretty big. And apparently has some pretty deep roots. I had a heck of a time getting under them without destroying the whole plant. I managed to get a chunk off, and I hope it survives. The rest is staying right where it is.

There was a similar issue with Candy Tuft. I couldn’t even get a piece of it! I’m going to try again with my big shovel (I have to bring it back from the new house first), but I have a feeling it’s a permanent resident.

Still – I managed to get seven or eight pots full of plants ready to move. The big winners this round were the strawberries.

I started with a couple of good plants, and not only have I gotten a good bounty of berries from them (and gotten them before the wild residents!), they’ve also sent off runners in every direction. I pulled up five of them, meaning I’ll be taking at least seven strawberry plants to the new place.

So while I might be leaving more than I planned behind, I’m also taking more than I expected! And there’s still lots of digging in my future!

House treasures

As many of you know, when moving into/renovating and old house, there’s often treasures and history to be found. As we’ve been working away, we’ve had a few conversations with the neighbours, and pieced together a bit of the history.

We knew from our lawyer that the home was owned for a very long time by a lady named Mary Campbell. (The infamous Mary from under the wallpaper). She had at least two sons (one of whom was named Robert, I can’t remember the other) and when she passed in 2015, the house passed to them.

I learned from the neighbour on the left of us, that Robert lived with Mary, and when she died, he lived there until his death early this year. Mary was 94 when she died, so I’m going to assume Robert was at least in his 70s, possibly 80s when he departed.

The neighbour across the street didn’t say much about Robert himself, but said that Robert’s brother was supposed to take care of the house (repairs/maintenance) when Mary died, but we all know that didn’t happen. He also confirmed our suspicions that the garage had been used as a grow-op. (Legal here, but only four plants per residence – and from the evidence left behind, they were growing a lot more than that!)

We had an HVAC guy come out to quote central air, and he grew up on the street behind us. He told us Robert was disabled. He didn’t specify if it was mentally, or physically, but apparently Robert was notorious for riding his lawnmower down to the local pub for a few drinks, and doing donuts on it on the road out front after.

So, our house was home to at least one character (that did a lot of bathroom chain smoking!)

As we’ve been working, we come across a few things Mary and Robert left behind. You’ve already seen the elephant planter, which is still my favourite.

But after moving a small cabinet by the side door, I found this glove, sock and cowl. I

I can just picture Mary putting on her warm woolies in preparation to go out in the snow. Maybe to walk the little dog we know they had (though I don’t know what kind yet).

In the kitchen, there’s a built in buffet. While cleaning it out, I found a couple crayons and an old dried up snowman sticker.

Perhaps some grandchildren came to visit Mary and she kept some colouring supplies in there.

Under the counters by the kitchen sink, we found this lovely crystal fruit bowl.

It actually matches a crystal vase I have (which an old employee left behind in the office when I started working there.)

Mom found this can of carpet deodorizer in the bathroom.

We know from the state of the carpets and the fact that it was full, it had never been used! And judging from that can design… I’m going to say it’s been in the house since the mid-80s….

While pulling carpet, I found a pretty green marble.

And under another carpet, these little treasures

I think the plastic canvas is meant to be a snow shovel, but the “snow” has seen better days. It went in the trash, but I hung the little hummbing bird sun catcher on the kitchen window for now.

And the last treasure is Dave’s favourite. You may recall from previous pictures, that there is a closet under the stairs. It’s big and deep, and Dave has taken to calling it the “Harry Potter room”. He has plans to line it with cedar and turn it into a nice space for winter coats, etc. While he was cleaning it out he found this little man…

If you know your Potter lore, you’ll remember that Harry had knights in his cupboard. Well…we’ve got a little green soldier in ours!

And… I’m sure there’s more treasures just waiting to be found!

Plant-tastrophy!

I have always been a little jealous of one part of my parents’ house. Out back, Mom has a large covered porch where she can sit and relax – even on rainy days. It’s cool and shady and just perfect for house plants.

A lot of house plants are from the rainforest, so while they love being outside in our hot, humid summers, they can’t be in the direct sun because they will burn. This has always been a problem at our townhouse, because my backyard is full sun. I’ve made do with a patio umbrella, and by strategically placing them under and around our limited outdoor furniture.

But I’ve longed for something better. So when we saw this house, and the enclosed sun porch on the back…

… I might have gotten a little excited. It was mostly because it was perfectly situated to become a catio (there’s already a pet door from the kitchen to the porch, and that fenced in area will be re-fenced with cat-proof fencing), but it was also because it was the perfect summer home for my extensive house plant collection.

I’ll admit, I didn’t realize just how extensive my collection was. Every time we go to the house, we load Dory up with stuff so we have less to move come moving day. And since the plants aren’t something I want to put in a moving truck, they were the perfect candidate for a pre-move load. At least, I thought it would be one load. I blush to say… it was actually three truck loads. That’s the entire back (with back seats folded flat for more cargo space) of my Ford Escape, filled to the gills with potted plants.

Like the rest of the house, the porch has been a little neglected. We will probably have to completely replace it in a few years, but for now it’s workable. We have to investigate why the one corner is sinking, but Dad and Dave are fairly sure they can jack it up and get it supported. That’s for after we move though.

In the meantime, I wanted to get the interior a little more usable.

I took this little panorama not long after we took possession.

It’s not great, but it gives you a sense of the interior. The porch is a good size – I haven’t measured it, but I’m guessing it’s at least 10ft square (maybe even bigger). There’s a door on either side (one onto the driveway (where the steps down are) and on the opposite side that leads to the fenced area. There’s also the door into the house. (Which you can’t see here).

As you can see, it was covered in that infamous green outdoor carpeting. Like everything in the house, it was well past its prime. That said, I wasn’t in a big rush to remove it (we have a lot of other priorities, as you’re aware). But then things got hot and humid…

… and all you could smell was urine. We know the previous owners had a dog, and I’m guessing it was allowed to go all over the porch. It was horrible. That carpet had to go. So while Dad and Dave worked away inside, I got on my leather work gloves and went to work…

Much like the carpet in the house, it wasn’t too bad to get up. It stunk, but at least there was no underpad! In short order, I had it all out of there and hauled to the dumpster. (If you ever have to do a reno like this… I can tell you, a dumpster rental is 100% worth the money!)

Underneath is a very thin particle board layer. And as you can see, it’s rotted away in a few spots (probably where the previous owner’s dog was peeing). Underneath that is a standard plank deck floor that appears to be in decent shape. However, Dad decided I should wait until we have more time before I went crazy, and ripped all the particle board off – just in case that deck floor isn’t in as good as shape as I think.

With that decided, there was nothing left to do but get my little plant friends all settled.

First, I loaded up my big wooden plant stand on the right side of the driveway door.

The cacti and succulents and smaller plants found space on the small metal plant stand on the left side of the driveway door.

I mentioned in a previous post that the previous owner was a big fan of nails… and as luck would have it, there were many nails throughout the sun porch in spots just perfect for hanging plants.

And off on the left side of the porch I lined up the pots too big for the stands. (They will be moved around once we get moved in and I get some furniture out here).

I was quite pleased with myself, and happy to see all my plant babies in their new home.

About an hour later, it was time to leave. While I was packing up stuff in the kitchen, Dad headed out to his truck. A few seconds later, he called my name…

As the driveway door closed behind him, there was a big crash. As I mentioned, the porch isn’t 100% level, and poor Dad thought the door banging closed knocked it over. But if you look closely, the shelves are flat… This unit is supposed to fold flat to make it easy to move. Unfortunately, it’s old and worn out, and the screws don’t just won’t stay tight to keep it upright (I didn’t realize this when I put the plants on it). It was probably just coincidence that it collapsed flat just as he left.

And while it looks REALLY bad in that picture, in truth it could have been much worse. A few pots are chipped or cracked, but they are inexpensive dollar store pots I can replace easily enough once we get settled. My poor little elephant broke in two (you can see his head lying there), but I’m pretty sure I can glue him back together. In the end, only one plant was beyond saving – a shamrock, and I have several of them. It was in a cute ceramic watering can pot (which was not a cheap dollar store find), and it’s been smashed to smithereens… but it could have been a lot worse!

Once we get settled, I’ll find a new plant stand (or two!)

Meanwhile back at the hovel…

As mentioned previously, I took last week off so we could spend as much time as possible at the house and get as much done as we possibly could. You saw up to Monday, June 28 in my last house post.

I took Tuesday off (and other than making calls to cancel services at the townhouse I did nothing but lay about the house). Wednesday, Dave had to teach, so I picked Mom up and together we gave the kitchen a good, deep cleaning.

We won’t be updating the kitchen any time soon, so I only have the real estate pics of it. But I wanted to illustrate the size of it. It’s a big kitchen, with A LOT of cupboards and drawers. And that’s one of the big pluses pf the house. But… EVERY.SINGLE.INCH of it was covered in nicotine. As soon any part of it got wet, it was just dripping in yellow. It took us almost four hours but we got it scrubbed to within an inch of its life.

I still have to line the cupboards, but at least the kitchen is now move-in ready.

Thursday, Friday and Saturday were a mix of tasks and crew.

Thursday it was Dad, Dave and I. The boys focused mostly on getting the livingroom and studio ready for new drywall. I had a dumpster delivered, so it was my job to get all the previous demolition mess off the sunporch (where we’d been storing it) and into the dumpster.

It was a glamorous job, as you can see! After that, I had another project on the sunporch, but I’ll save that for a separate post.

Friday, Mom and Dad joined us and we each focuses on our own tasks. Mom scrubbed the main floor bathroom.

It’s a big one too… and we are pretty sure the previous owner spent a lot of time smoking on the toilet in there. There are burns in the floor all around the toilet… an of all the rooms, this one was the absolute worst for nicotine staining. (That window glass isn’t really yellow)

Dave and Dad continued with their wall work, and I tackled the floor in the upper part of the livingroom.

We probably won’t get the floor here installed before we move in, but we wanted to get the nasty, stained, smelly old carpet out. And it wasn’t just one layer. The layer you can see was stapled it, but a good bit of muscle got it up. (It was so heavy I had to have the boys haul it to the dumpster). But under it, was more of the red carpet from the sunken part of the livingroom. It wasn’t hard to remove, but the black underpad was so old it was mostly disintegrating, making it a dusty, filthy job.

Saturday, it was back to just Dad, Dave and I,

Dad hung drywall, and now Dave’s studio is starting too look like a real room again.

And what a difference that drywall makes – the room is so much brighter now. Eventually, this room will be a lovely, light green – but we’ve got a ways to go before painting!

Dave and I got the rest of the carpet from the dining room.

And like the livingroom – it was two layers and filthy, dusty underpad.

And once that was finished, I remembered I still had to strip carpet off the stairs.

Because of the confined space, I had to get up close and personal to remove that underpad (with a scraper, and broom and dustpan). Like I said…

I’m all about the glamourous jobs!

I’m back to work this week, so we’re back to weekends only (though Dave and Dad may get out there during the week without me). I’m booking the truck for the weekend of the 24th. I don’t think we’ll get everything we wanted done before then (we hoped to have the sunken livingroom, and Dave’s studio floored and painted), but we’ll do as much as we can.

I’m hoping I can leave the rest of the interior to the boys so I can focus on the catio this weekend – I’ve got post holes to dig! (Like I said – GLAMOUR!)