Monday, November 11, 2013

Gutter Toads and Other Things...

Well, so much for the promise of having our blog come back full force in September! It's now....November. Better late than never, I guess! This past weekend someone asked us how the house renovations were coming along. I had to pause and think about it because it didn't really seem like we've been doing much lately, just little things here and there that didn't make a huge difference. But sometimes, little things can really add up.....


This is what was left over after all of the major renos had taken place. All those little bitty things you told yourself you would eventually do.....and then never did.....and now here they are, staring at you all the time, because they are sitting on the coffee table in the living room. And when people come over to visit they look at it and say "Hey, what's this?" and you say "Oh that old thing? That's just my arch-enemy, ignore it, here, have a cookie, it will go away". But it never goes away. Funnily enough though, I actually really like the list. I feel a bit better when I can see everything that needs to be done instead of having it swim around in my head. It feels less overwhelming, somehow.

So that's sort of what we've been working on. And sweeping. There's been a lot of floor sweeping. As it turns out, dogs are really dirty. One of their main activities is going outside and collecting dirt to bring inside. It didn't help that we trained Ru to go out the guest entry door, which is where we've been doing a lot of work and creating a lot of dirt that she had to pass through many, many, many times a day. She's like a little furry dirt magnet.

Remember the guest entry?

We decided that we wanted to try and get it cleaned up a little bit so visitors can actually use it, rather than have them traipsing through our mudroom/laundry room/storage room/place where we throw stuff. The flooring people from Tops to Floors had already started the clean up a year ago when we had new flooring laid in the kitchen. At the time we discovered just how rotted the floor was in this area, as well as how shaky the walls were, but since we hadn't budgeted to do an overhaul in here, we decided to try to fix it for the time being and then worry about it later. Subfloor went down, then laminate. There wasn't much we could do to the walls at the time, other than to tell people to be careful when opening and closing the door. To get an idea of what's going on in this room, here's a picture of a painting we found:

(Fun house fact: You can see what things used to look like before the library area was added on...the door to the far left is the door that currently leads down into our "reading porch")

Originally the entryway was open, and someone had decided to close it in. Pine panelling went over the existing exterior walls, and then they quickly framed in a makeshift door/wall/window section to close it up. Once it was cleared out, it looked like this:

TJ got to work sealing up all of the drafty bits, then we taped it up and he got to work painting. Here is a bit of free renovation advice: When faced with a problem area, paint it. You will feel better.

Here, you can see how painting works. Things are much happier. Except the door, which is a clear example of how terrible things are when they are not painted. Please excuse the frog tape, there has been a small issue with its that it is not removing. Also note the trim that TJ added along the floor to distract from other undesirable areas....

This picture kind of gives you an idea of how the room was closed in. On the left, that white strip down the middle is one of the original exterior walls. On the right, that dark square is a gap where all of the various materials just didn't quite meet up the way they should have.

However, once you take a step back and kind of let your eyes go out of focus, it doesn't look so bad! I'm not sure what will happen to this entryway a few years down the road, I like the idea of opening it back up again but I suspect that wouldn't really help with our draft situation....

So under the Guest Entry section of our list we can now cross off "painting" and "shelf up". Still to go are "clean door", "clean windows", "tape removal", "fix concrete step", "paint concrete step", "get bench" and "new lamp post".

One thing on the list that bugged TJ was the gutter/drainpipe situation. In short, they didn't work. This may be due to the fact that they were pieced together in an unusual way that did not lend itself to proper drainage, but rather to the collection of rainwater. In particular, the guest entry side of the house was quite bad, so it needed to be replaced. We found many interesting things once the gutters were removed, such as...

Holes. Apparently there's supposed to be a metal piece that goes in behind the gutter to keep out things like water and birds. We had no metal piece, but we did have the water and birds. There was actually a nest inside this hole, which would account for some of the weird scratching noises I kept hearing in the ceiling. Sometimes, when the holes were quite apparent, we would also find treasures such as this:

Gutter gloves! I guess TJ found these stuffed into one of the holes and then spray foamed/tarred over? As it turns out, the squirrel that ate our hammock earlier in the summer really liked the gloves, and stole one of them to take home. He actually carried it over the telephone wire that crosses over the street. Very impressive feat for a little squirrel.

We also found this nice little toad:

He wasn't in the gutter, he was on the ground, but I was very excited because I haven't found a garden toad since I was a kid. It took a few tries to catch him, then we put him somewhere safe, away from the squirrel (just in case).

While all of this was going on, Ru managed to scar herself for life by getting stuck in the garden hose.

The garden hose winder (for lack of a more technical term) used to be up by the lamp post. Ru somehow got her leash tangled around it and became absolutely terrified when it started to move behind her, so she ran.....and it chased her, which scared her even more. Then it knocked over a pile of pots and a sprinkler, and Ru ran around the wood pile, smack into the neighbour's car, which also scared her. This picture is taken after all of this, once I uprighted the garden hose and stopped laughing. I'm a terrible mother, but it was hilarious. I had to pretty much carry Ru past it, as she would go nowhere near it. We tried to keep her outside with us but she was shaking so badly that she could barely stand, so we put her in the house for the rest of the day where she felt sorry for herself and did her best impression of a Victorian fainting lady:

Eventually the gutters were fixed:

Overall, things weren't looking too bad:

A huge change from before. Gardens are cleared, grass is growing, leaves are raked. Well, they were at the time of this picture. Autumn happened right after, so we'll have to break the rake out again next weekend before forgetting moving inside for the winter and beginning to plan for next spring. Vesseys Catalogue, here I come! 

So that's what we've been up to over the last month or two. And, as promised, a side by side comparison IS coming! Sometime....

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