Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Get Growing

So my garden has had a few days to think about what it's going to do for me. As it turns out it was all eager to get growing. I have little cucumber leaves popping up already!
There is also evidence of some peas making an appearance so I'm pretty excited. It said 10 days to germinate and it has hardly been a week. Things are so jazzed to grow here. That right there is a little pea brain.
Back into the house I decided, on a whim, to see what the heck was underneath my kitchen floor. I suspected that all of the original flooring was hardwood except the bathroom. Turns out I was right. Sooooooo ... what the hell?What I'm seeing here is the laminate floor, the foam backer, a layer of lino aaaaaaand a layer of plywood and then the hardwood. Oh, don't forget the carpet glue along the threshold. Someone glued and stapled a carpet down(in a kitchen?), someone else pulled the carpet up, put plywood down, then put lino on it. Before installing the plywood they decided not to pull the carpet underlay staples out of the hardwood. That will be a fun project. Then the last person(I presume), put laminate down overtop of the lino on plywood on hardwood. While the hardwood is in need of some TLC, a sanding and relaquer, it boggles my mind why someone wouldn't just refinish the hardwood rather than very poorly install some laminate. I guess I'll find out why when I pull up this crap job of a flooring installation.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

How Does Your Garden Grow?

I am finally making progress on the garden. Now that the fence is up I can start planting things knowing they won't get mashed, dug, chewed, stomped, ripped or dragged anywhere. I kind of have a layout of what I want to plant in the garden area and what my eventual vision is but it will come with time. I'm waiting for a few things to go on sale, should be within the next month that the bushes I want to be reduced in price and I can plant like crazy in the hope that the new stuff has enough time to get established before winter. What I did need to get in right away was the veggie garden because the season is high.

Okay, so the ground here is a bitch to dig when you're pulling up the sod. It's like ... 8 inches thick. Comes up easy but it's heavy and hard work. Originally my garden was going to be 8 x 8 feet square but as I was pulling up sod I realized that I was running out of time to get the ground seeded soon enough to ripen.

I cut the size down by half to 4 x 8 and am satisfied with that this season. If this garden is successful I'll dig out the balance next year but start sooner than June in the cool weather! It's not immediately impressive I know, it looks kind of small and pitiful but I tell you, I could only work for about 20 minutes at a time before I was dripping in sweat and had to take a break. It was about 20 degrees and humid too ... no fun doing yard work in that.
I because I had to dig out a chunk of ground I knew I'd have to fill in the hole I'd made. I bought some black earth soil to mix with the red soil to fill in the gap - 10 bags for a $1 each at Walmart. Easy peasy. So now it's seeded, marked, and ready for little sprouts to appear. This is my very first tomato plant. Apparently they are so easy to grow here it's laughable. None of this crazy covering, frost danger, greenhouse/hothouse crap you have to deal with in Calgary. Plant it, cage it, walk away. I never tried to grow tomatoes in Calgary because it sounded like way too much work. We'll see what this little sucker yields.
There's also peas, carrots, lettuce, cucumber, and spinach. I'm not sure about the spinach, I think it might be too hot now to grow because it likes cool wet weather and we have warm wet weather. Whatever, if it doesn't do well I'll just plant something else. Maybe peas ... you can never have too many fresh peas ...

So what did I do with all that sod? Why, I filled in the drop at the back of the concrete pad so it's easier to mow. If the grass dies no big loss, I'm sure it will grow in again one day. That brick is marking where I want to put the maple tree I plan to plant there. I have to drive to my parent's house (or to Bill and Donna's - they are closer in Trenton) to choose some trees to plant. I think I know where, now I just have to actually go and get them. Soon too, I think Raimi is at a loss for something to pee on.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dirty Business

Last night I woke to pouring rain at about 2:50am. As I listened to it fall heavily on the grass I thought "Wow, it's raining really hard" so to showboat a little it increased it's efforts and rained even harder. In Calgary it doesn't really rain like that. The only time it did was a few years ago when everything flooded and most of the province was in a state of emergency. It was the year Fish Creek Park suffered devastating damage and the entire community of Okotoks was facing a disaster - it truly was the worst flooding I can remember in 30 odd(29) years in Calgary.

That's because water there doesn't drain since the land and rivers are not designed to handle that kind of volume. Here, it rains and rains and and rains for days and the water just ... disappears. I keep expecting to wake up to ditches full, garden washed out and my house floating in the middle of the harbour. Even digging in my lawn yesterday (to remove the top layer of sod to put in a veggie garden) the dirt was wet but loose even though it had absolutely poured for the previous 12 hours and there was still a heavy sprinkle.

The soil here is red or brown and kind of loamy and soft. It is hard packed the deeper you go but the top layer is relatively loose and easy to shift - even when wet. It's a little heavier when wet of course but not harder to work with - it's ideal gardening soil which becomes obvious when you see how things here grow. Just try and stop things from growing.

To me dirt has always been shades on the gray scale. In Alberta it varied from region to region in quality and color - the slate colored hard packed clay north of Cochrane grew hardly enough grass to keep a horse alive on 5 acres whereas the black soil of Crossfield grew enough thick green grass to founder a horse in a couple days. Here, dirt is shades of red and brown and has been strangely hard to get used to seeing. Maybe it's because when smeared on your shoe, or pants, or hands, to a Prairie bred girl, it looks like dog pooh.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

... Or Get Off The Pot

I realized recently that along my street there seems to be a strong representation of the demographics of this town ... something you'd only see if you came from 'away' (which is how a lot of people here refer to outsiders - in Scotland I'd be a Sassenach).

The town itself seems on the verge of tipping one way or the other. It used to be a town of industry with a shipping yard, mills, strong fishing grounds and large factories close enough for a commute. Within the last couple decades a lot of those industries faded away and that the town launched a large venture toward tourism. They gathered funding to create the Hector Quays Heritage Centre, built the Hector replica in an attempt to revitalize the town and did a large improvement project on the wharf and businesses. It was the town's concerted effort to ensure it's survival. Because of the timing of these events we are now in a rift between what people remember as 'the good old days' and what the town is trying to become.

The neighbours on my west are your average work-a-day folk, no savings, no prospects, not old enough to retire, and what I would easily refer to as white trash. They are nice enough folk but the man has a huge chip on his shoulder which is all-encompassing. He is not smart enough to be successful, and not dumb enough to simply accept his lot in life. He is stuck somewhere between.

The people on my east side are retired folk - he was born in Pictou, grew up here when the land our houses sit on was a farmer's field. He worked in Antigonish most of his life and then retired to Pictou. He and his wife are extremely pleasant and quiet. A vast majority of the people here are retired or very close to, I would put the number around 40%.

The people across the street are idiots. Oh, did I say idiots? I meant to say there are 4 people living there all under the age of 22. No offense meant of course, to anyone I know under 22, living on your own responsibly, not driving your car into the boulder in your front yard, not stumbling along the block at 6am yelling and giggling in a drunken/high stupor, not mowing your lawn only when it gets to 10 inches high, and respecting the people who live around you. These punks see no future here, are angry about it and spend most of their time and money in methods of escape. All they see is a dead end but choose apathy instead of forging their own new paths beyond the end of the road. It's simply easier to acquiesce. No crystal ball required to see their future ... they just have to look across the street and see my resentful neighbour.

The woman directly across from me is a single mom with a teenage son. I only ever see her to drive her son places, run errands, put out the trash, and mow the lawn. A perfect neighbour.

By far the vast majority of people here are happy, pleasant, and working hard to ensure that the town survives, prospers, grows into a tourist trap. A town that doesn't evolve and change with the times dies. From what I can tell the people who are content with those changes are happy here and embrace the future whatever it brings. People who are not content do nothing to change their own situation and simply bitch about how it used to be or how it just isn't good enough. Those are the people I welcome to leave.

My guess is everyone here thinks I'm totally insane to be in my early thirties and moving to Pictou ... I think it's one of the sanest things I've ever done.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Great Barrier Fence

This should be the last fence I ask my Dad to help me build. I use the word 'help' loosely here because most of what was done yesterday did not actually require two people. I held things on occasion, carried stuff and will not be getting my journeyman carpentry ticket any time soon.
During projects things always look like an unholy mess. We did decide that should there ever be a next time we will need at least 3 power cords so we're not constantly unplugging and replugging things.

It actually didn't take as long as I'd feared and after a lunch break down on Pictou Wharf (where I sampled Thai food for the very first time in my life) we installed the gate which, by the way, you can make from scratch if you know what you're doing by gawd. The lattice came through with shining colors despite it's rough start in my possession and I hope to enjoy years of it's dog/garden separation advantages in the years to come ... along with a good anecdote.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Grass is Greener

I'm going to be a cheater today and post a link to my dog blog for the house post today. It's both dog and house related so I don't want to repeat myself ... but mostly because I'm just lazy that way.

Don't Fence Me In

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Washer Woman

I have been steadily working on my house with various activities inside and out. First, the laundry area which will one day be sectioned off with real walls and whatnot but for now we'll have to make do with expens. The dogs were being kept in the spare room but Raimi's anxious destructive behaviour was taking a toll so I was happy to have the fence up and able to assemble the expens in the kitchen where he is safe and secure.

The laundry area was just white with a window and a door. The door, you may notice, has some issues with part of the frame - that will be fixed in the coming weeks.
The washer and dryer space is shared with the water heater - once I get the walls up all this will be hidden but for now I can live with it. So can my pocketbook. I went with a darker color because this is a south facing area and hell ... I had left over paint. This is a busy wall - it holds the washer/dryer combo, the water heater plus it's the garbage area as well and soon I'll have shelves up to store dog towels. Let's not forget the expens - there is room to walk behind them to get to the garbage and to do laundry. There's the back door again. Still not repaired but ready for it just the same. And a cat asleep on a chair. I like the dark colors because it makes the room feel warm and close instead of stark and cold. The dog collars are all hung with care on their hooks, ready for walks at any given moment. Plus there's an extra hook for a towel to dry wet dog feet as they come in from the backyard.
A better view of the expens - who else but the crazy dog lady would have expens like this practically taking up her entire kitchen?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Series of Unfortunate Events

I swear I have new photos of various things painted and built but I just haven't gotten around to posting them. Then the following event happened and I just had to get it down before I forgot the minute details.

Often I find myself doubting the work of others. Could be I’m controlling, could be they know better than me, could be I just prefer doing things myself to ensure that should something go wrong at least I know who to blame and not fuss with suing anyone. Also, when someone is nice to you I think you tend to let things slide, perhaps thinking that their nice vibes will prevent imminent disaster.

Today is a good example of that to which what I refer. I need to put up a garden fence to stop the dogs digging in the non-existent garden. It’s a pretty simple affair, 4 foot by 8 foot preserved wood lattice (in keeping with the natural wood of my backyard) held up by posts , a simple gate and voila – safe garden.

I saw a great deal in a flyer for a store I’d never heard of - Central Home Building Supplies - and flyer in hand I marched into the store, got my good deals plus a few more and went round back to pick up my wood. Everything slid easily into the back of the truck save four 4x8 sheets of lattice. Hmmm. I already figured they’d need to go on the roof so I brought along some bungee cords.

Young man who was helping me turned into three men helping me and with testosterone brimming over they put the lattice on the truck. I secured it with my bungee cords but didn’t feel it was tight enough so young man #1 said they’d reinforce it with twine at my request as I drove out of the yard.

Older, nice, helpful guy cheerfully told me all about how some customers don’t appreciate the effort the staff goes to and I nodded and tutted at appropriate intervals all the while thinking “I wish he’d just give me the damn twine so I can do it properly”.

The load finally battened down I waved goodbye to the nice guy and was on my trepid way. I eased out of New Glasgow, going a cautious 80km/hr and felt things were going reasonably well. I got on the highway to Pictou, maintained speed and kept an eye on the rearview for any AWOL lattice.

Turns out I needn’t have been watching the rearview because when the lattice was abruptly ripped from my roof I heard it loud and clear. I did glance in the rearview to see the truck behind me swerve to avoid the now dangerous addition to the highway and the 6 other vehicles behind him also managed to avoid driving over top of my goods.

I hit the brakes and coasted to a stop. Put on my hazards. Popped the truck into reverse and carefully eased my way back to the debris to assess the carnage. I glanced up and realized some concerned citizen in an SUV had pulled over to stop and was reversing … with his lights flashing. It was a police officer.

Just my damn luck. Now I’ll get a ticket or something for an insecure load.

So I dragged everything to the side of the road and realized that while the lattice had done a spectacular swoop-de-loop in the air behind my truck it was all still in one piece. All four sheets of it. A corner here and there was a bit road rashed but otherwise it looked salvageable.
The cop reaches me and gets out. A pleasant looking fellow who’s first question is “Is everything okay?” Uh … yes? Well, no … I’m retrieving my lattice from the middle of the highway halfway to Pictou. He was very concerned the lattice was all broken and beyond use now. How nice … no
mention of the incredible good luck that it didn’t hit the truck following me, causing him to swerve and drive himself into the ditch where his truck bursts into flame and explodes. His concern was sweet though.

Turns out (are you ready for this Albertans?) *he stopped to help*. He insisted on helping me load the wood back onto the truck, secure it MY way with dog leads of all things (he asked if I really had enough dogs leads in my truck at any given moment to secure a load of wood onto it - stick around pal and you’ll learn all kinds of damn things about me) and battened those suckers down like my life depended on it.

Turns out Officer Phil Oliver just moved to Pictou from New Brunswick about a month ago and he has 5 cats. Huh. The things you learn on the side of a highway in Nova Scotia. Once he was satisfied I had the load secure he introduced himself, shook my hand, took my name and said ”I’ll probably see you around in Pictou.” Probably now you know the make and model of my truck you will be scouting for it to ensure I don’t have anything else strapped to the roof waiting to release itself from its earthly ties and scythe the top off someone’s vehicle. Maybe next time he’s driving behind me a dog will fall out of my window

And that … was my day. The lattice is now safely earthbound in my back yard waiting for more Daddy help to put in yet another fence. The moral of this story is: always take your Daddy to pick up renovation supplies. Always.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Beyond Baths

It's safe to say I'm sick of painting. Too bad I have three more rooms, all the trim and doors, ceilings and exterior painting yet to do. I have completed the main rooms though and that is a load off.

I love the bathroom now. Of course, it's easy to love something when you worked very hard to erase this:
My gawd who chose that color? I hope I never meet them. I had to paint over it with tinted primer which did effectively cover the hideous pink and I ended up with a more livable, for a few days, gun metal grey bathroom - like so ... Like my duckies? A couple days ago I painted the first coat of the pretty blue I chose and then today I finished the final coat. It's safe to say I love the bathroom now. The dragonflies are so cool. You push metal pins into the walls and then the magnetized dragonflies just stick to the pins. It looks neater in person. You can't see it but there's a starfish pendant on the cabinet ... so pretty. Please ignore the 'over paint' on the ceiling ... it's getting painted over one day so I wasn't as careful as I am normally. (AAAHA HA HA ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ... and so on)
It only took me two tries to get the toilet paper roll where it was supposed to be. I miscalculated the height of the towel bar which the toilet roll is underneath. Then I had to move the hook my bathrobe is on because the drill snapped off the drill bit in the hole.That picture was bought in Pictou today at a gift shop. I'd driven by the picture in a store front several times and thought I'd better get it otherwise one day it will be gone and I'll kick myself. I have enough bruises. And I love the sailboats. Why is the towel bar so high? Easy - the cats can't reach it.

So the bathroom, for now, is complete. Only things left to do are: insulate around the window, install window trim, paint the ceiling, install baseboard, replace vanity, paint the trim and door, replace the door handle. No problem.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

On the seventh day ...

The fence ... is finally ... complete. It's been an educational adventure.

This is the fence with upper and lower rails installed. The rolled up package there is actually the bamboo waiting to be unfurled.
This is the fence at the back of the yard - look how straight. That's my Dad's handiwork.
There's my Dad preparing the air gun to staple, rather than hammer in, the staples we are using.
This is the neighbour's house on the east side. We had some debate over where the property line actually lay but the neighbour didn't mind, he just didn't want his cherry tree affected. Yes .. cherry tree. Nice.

My mom came out to help too. Here she is holding up the expen and admiring the view of the water tower a few yards down. She was very helpful, infinitely patient with delays and we could not have accomplished the fence without her help. Thanks Mom! Check it out. Cool huh? I love it. It literally is split bamboo pieces wired together like a mesh. Hardy, doesn't rot, hard to break, flexible and attractive ... and cheap. Sold.

It is see through to an extent but it allows light in, it's not challenged much by wind, and most importantly it keeps the dogs in.

I let the dogs out at long last into their very own yard and they first did the perimeter check and then spent quite some time rolling around in the grass. That damn Leeloo ear again. Halo seems to like the yard ... ample opportunity for hole digging which I put a stop to. She looks innocent enough here but looks can be deceiving.
And Raimi and Archer enjoying a quiet moment in the yard. Leeloo's ear thing is catching I see.
The fence was way more complicatd than I could have imagined and my Dad's help, unbidden, was invaluable and I could not have done it without him. Thanks so much to my Daddy and thanks to my Mom as well for giving him up when he could have been doing work on their house for the past few days. I can't express how much I, and especially the dogs, appreciate both your support and help!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Hard Truths

The fence ... is complete-ish. We were so bagged on Sunday afternoon that we opted to leave the final step - the gate - for another day. It was a long process which actually didn't present us with too many road blocks ... except one which didn't really turn out to be a block - more of an inconvenience.

Because the ground here is pretty moist they strongly recommend you put concrete in the post holes to secure the fence. We were trying to work out how many bags we required. My Dad guessed about 14 bags total.

I had a couple errands to run and needed to pick up the concrete so my Dad stayed to level all the posts. I went to Home Hardware and between myself and the customer service rep we figured that I'd need 52 bags. Huh. It said on the bag that it would fill a 6" diameter one foot deep hole. We had twenty six 2 foot deep 8" diameter holes. That equals 2 bags per hole according to the directions. It sounded like an awful lot of concrete to me and in fact it had to be delivered as it was over 3000lbs. My truck would have had a coronary.

My Dad was skeptical when it arrived. The bags themselves are 66lbs each. Brutal. Back breaking. Exhausting. Mix a wheelbarrow of one bag, tote it to the hole, pour it in the hole, tamp it down, back to get another bag ... it took almost 3/4 of a bag per hole so ... we had a clear 34 bags too many.

Anyone guess why? Because the pole takes up about 60% of the hole. Spatially adept I am not.

We hemmed and hawed a few moments over where to store the balance of the cement until the next day when I could return it. We were warned, and in fact my Dad was already keenly aware, that you *cannot* get cement wet in the bag. Like ... even a little bit. We debated between storing it on plastic and putting a tarp over it or putting it in my truck despite the weight. We ultimately decided on putting it in the truck because with my luck it would rain and I'd have a cement bunker outside my house. Moving 34 bags of cement into my truck was the absolute end ...

Good thing we did though because it POURED that night. Phew. So the concrete was returned by splitting the weight between the truck and my parent's minivan and all is well. Those posts aren't going anywhere. We were so tired I forgot to take any photos but trust me ... there was a lot of cement.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Good Fences Make ...

We started the fence the other day and it has been an exercise in exhaustion and sometimes a wild goose chase. We picked up the supplies on Friday morning only to discover that Home Hardware didn't have enough rail brackets - you nail them to the posts and insert the 2x4 cross rails into them. As it turned out we didn't need them that day.

We rented a gas powered auger and it only took about 40 minutes to auger 25 holes - we had to go back and re-auger most of them because they are about 2 inches too shallow but at the end of the day this is what we had.
The dogs have been very patient as I haven't been able to get them out for a run for the past few days. It's too bad I can't explain to them all this effort is solely for their benefit.
This is the other side of the back of the house. This part of the yard will eventually be sectioned off so that I can garden and put in some nice flowers. The west side with the concrete pad and some grass is for the dogs.
The trailer is now retired as a trailer, it will become my garden shed once the fence is up. I'll secure it and put in a ramp at the back. It's certainly not staying where it is right now. Is it really any wonder Raimi hopped out of this expen set up? They are truly so sick of this space.
And my Daddy thinking about how much I owe him and totting up all the favours he is going to ask over the next 20 years.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Room with a View

I painted the bedroom at long last. I sleep better knowing I have pictures on the walls and things are where they should be. It still smells of paint but at least it's pretty. This is the main bedroom window which is west facing. The color is not apparent but it was sort of a pale green color.
This is the bedroom door which needs a coat of paint but the trim is all getting done once the rooms are complete so I can do it all at once. I sure do like to torture myself. There's the livingroom in the background .... hideous.
This is the south wall. I painted it a dark cranberry color and the other walls are a sort of rich golden color. The room is Scottish themed which is only interrupted by a collage of Petal and that painting above the bed - I actually chose the wall color really so that painting would really be showcased. It's my very favorite piece of original art in the whole house - my friend Tanja gave it to me out of her dear departed mother's collection. I just have to look at it and it draws me in. It's one of those painting that is a mish mash of blobs close up but further away you stand the clearer it becomes. Very cool.
This is the north wall with my new wardrobe and my dresser. The hanging on the wall is a tea towel(I think) of Scottish landmarks that my mom gave me when I arrived in Nova Scotia. It sort of sticks out in this photos but it's not actually that BAM in the room.
They say your bedroom is supposed to be a haven ... this is my Scottish Haven in New Scotland.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Living is Easy

When one is without internet one must find other ways to occupy one's time. Thus the painting began. I've done a couple rooms so far and next on the docket is to at least prime the hideous pepto bathroom and paint my bedroom.

Here's the livingroom before painting last October. Some kind of army green color - I was so busy unpacking etc I forgot to take more recent photos. The color didn't change in 6 months tho ...
Although it looks brown it's actually a kind of green - very dark, very gloomy, and dirty. So I chose a bright neutral paint that would lighten up the north facing room. This is the northeast corner of the room.

And the corner with the front door with the new closet my Dad assembled for coats and shoes. A few things have been re-arranged since this photo was taken but otherwise it's pretty much as you see it. Nice and bright.

And the south wall of the livingroom complete with dogs ensconced on the couch. Typical. The mirror over the couch actually was supposed to go in the bathroom but as it turns out the mirror is 4 inches too large to fit so it ended up over the couch to enlarge the room. That worked out well.
And that is pretty much the livingroom completed. The baseboards need to be replaced and the trim needs painting yet but so far it's starting to feel more and more like home.

Green Day

The kitchen is almost complete. I intend to restain the cabinets and change the hardware at some point but for now it's pretty much as it will stay for the next few months.

Here it is in October of 2008 - no appliances and some wildlife living under the sink. I opened the sink cabinet to find a spider staring back at me. He is gone now as are several other tiny spiders who needed some convincing that they were no longer welcome in the house.

I had a soft green paint from the place I was renting - I was annoyed by the issues I'm having with the landlords so I brought the paint I'd bought with me. Take that suck-ahs. My parents found a little apartment sized stove for me and so far the oven cooks up pizza nicely. For some reason the sink wall consists of a backboard and not drywall - I'm not sure why but don't care - that's how much I care about kitchens.
I also painted down the 'hall' which is really just a passage way to the living room. This is my tiny little linen closet and atop that sits a container with some pussy willows from the park I went to almost every day for 4 years. The linen closet has some assembly issues which need to be addressed at some point but for now ... it's fine. The plan for the next few days is to paint the bedroom, bathroom, possibly the spare room, the front and back doors and to get that fence in!