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April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

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Hooray for gorgeous spring mornings! Happy Easter from Poplar Road. I hope everyone is enjoying the long weekend. Thanks to the new wagon Richard built from scratch for me, I managed to haul four bonfires' worth of tree and shrub prunings spread all over the yard out back to burn (and got a good start on this year's freckle crop in the process). The sunshine may be short-lived but I think I have just enough time to mow the lawn and pull up some daylily corms for a friend. And make garden plans. A productive weekend! However you're spending your holiday, I hope it leaves you feeling rejuvenated and blessed.

Posted by anita at 11:14 AM

April 18, 2011

One Year Ago Today

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Happy anniversary, Chris & Dagny! Dag and I were comparing notes on spring, and how lucky she and Chris were that spring arrived so late in Vancouver two years ago, just in time for their wedding. Well, spring is definitely late this year, and I could say my yard still looks a bit dreary. But here's how it looked on April 18th of last year. Yikes! Last spring I never posted all the photos of the landscaping process, which was so transformative but I was NOT permitted to share at the time because Richard wanted it all to be an UNniversary surprise. I'm vetoing that next time. If I don't do it right after or during, I get behind and never catch up! If you're interested, I might do a bit over the weekend if the flowers come up and I can show off before and after. IF the flowers come up - between the hordes of hungry deer and the late chill I've lost quite a few plants out of the new ones that I put in when we finished the rock walls and lawn. But the forsythia are in bloom, the hyacinths are close, and one daffodil has got some yellow showing. And deer have little taste for irises, thank goodness. Soon, soon! And it's a long weekend, thank god!

Posted by anita at 8:28 PM

April 17, 2011

Facelifts

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Thanks for posting a comment, Chris! In return I shall post the long-overdue pics of the marathon reno job you and Richard pulled off over last Thanksgiving long weekend. And in case readability is lost in the reduction in file sizes, I’ll caption the pics per Richard's hilarious signage.

I wish I could show everyone the complete slide show, the way Richard set it up for me on the TV as I came in the door from my long weekend on the coast and collapsed on the couch. The first shot at right isn’t the first one he showed me, but it was the point at which I finally registered what I was looking at: Chris in my basement, looking even cheekier than usual, above a large hole in the old bathroom floor.

The plan, as you’ll see in the following photos, was to surprise me with a new laundry room for my birthday. My pretty new steam washer and dryer (aka Anita’s new Ferrari – the closest I may ever get to a shiny red sports car) are full-size, not compact apartment stackers like the old ones which just fit in the downstairs bathroom. Richard was dismayed to find, when the ensuite upstairs could not accommodate the laundry as planned, that my new units wouldn’t fit in the only other possible location, our new basement storage room. They stuck several inches out past the door jamb. Our newly framed, drywalled, mudded, taped, and painted storage room would have to be renovated again!

So this was a bigger job than just hooking up the washer and dryer to the vent and plumbing Richard had already built into the existing wall. And of course this is Richard we’re talking about. Go big or go home. So instead of a functioning washer and dryer, I got a complete room, all in one weekend. Woohoo!

2-HappyBirthday.jpg"Happy Birthday!" A drain. Thank you.

12-BathroomToo.jpg"He has a PLAN." Wait. What?

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Quite the birthday present, don’t you agree? The boys wore themselves out doing an amazing job, not only to finish a brand new laundry room floor to ceiling, but to re-route the labyrinth of old drains in the basement floor to allow the guest bedroom to be finished, and to eventually get a tub into that downstairs bathroom.

Above, Chris is kneeling in the rotten old sink’s drain in the first pic, which will become the drain for the tub as in the third shot. They'd already done half a day of gruelling work digging up concrete and moving drains before they started taking photos. Huge thanks to Dagny for reminding the guys they ought to take some pictures. (And loaning Chris for the long weekend!)

"Fit These" - "In Here!"

The solution to fitting the huge washer and dryer in the narrow space was to take out the bottom half of the wall and set it back several inches. The equipment in the mechanical room had set the placement of the storage room wall, but there was enough leeway in just the lower half of this corner to inset the laundry. It even created a perfect shelf to house our satellite internet modem and all the satellite TV switches. Brilliant!

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The boys took over 30 photos, each with a caption written on the cardboard pulled off my washer and dryer. At this point in Richard's slideshow, my jaw was on the floor and I was beginning to realize Chris was probably still in the house!

(On the coast for the weekend, I’d spent Friday night with Dagny and she’d spoken to Chris via cell as if he’d run out of the house on an errand just moments before we got there. I was clueless! More on that below.)

But Richard made me stay put and watch the whole slideshow (stalling!), up to the point where it showed Chris desperately assembling a storage unit with the caption “10 minutes left” crossed out and “2” written above it. (They were so rushed to finish it, Richard called me as I was passing through town and made me turn around and go back up the hill to the fast food place furthest away, to get a ridiculous amount of food for dinner. Perfect for three, but I didn’t clue into that until I saw these pics. It gave them an extra half an hour.) Only after I'd seen them all - but not with any questions answered - would he let me downstairs to give Chris a thank you hug and see the results.

3-ThePlan.jpg"The Plan." Notice he's holding a chainsaw.

7-WallsCloseIn.jpg"Help Me! The walls are closing in....

8-DrywallDone.jpg"Drywall Done", again, with 5" inset.

11-LeftisRight.jpg"Anita says, Dryer on the Right / Washer on the Left." Hah.

9-PlumbingDone.jpg"Plumbing Done. Exception: Laundry Sink."

10-ElectricalDone.jpg"Electrical Done. Exception: Mount new light."

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Cheeky man. The sign reads: "No Top Gear marathon... She knows nothing."

Richard just got off the phone with me at this point, claiming he was watching TV. Even gave me grief for taping a couple of hours' worth of one of my shows when there was a Top Gear marathon on BBC! As other slides merrily reported, when I had checked in before Sunday brunch with my friends from Japan, and he was complaining his back was out, he was actually just sore from working until 1am and had been up at 7 to do another run to to town for materials before breakfast. Few things entertain Richard as much as being sneaky and surprising the hell out of me. I have tried and failed to pull something like this on him. (Suggestions welcome.)

The long hours were making them really goofy. Sunday night they painted, and the sign on one photo reads "No Dinner 'Til You're Done!", followed by this next shot, as well as several comments about Chris and his caulking gun that I've deemed too juvenile for print. (But I admit, I laughed.)

14-Kidding.jpg"Kidding. 8:30pm Dinner." Painted!

15-ChrisIsOK.jpg"Chris is OK." On a floor!

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I was floored. Ha ha. Chris's sign continues, "I checked his pulse and he's still breathing", which is surprising when you consider what the guys accomplished.

They installed plumbing from the back of the washer, around the mechanical room, and over to that drain from the first photo; cut out and re-studded the wall, moving the electrical and dryer venting; re-drywalled and trimmed the 5" inset nook (which you can see more clearly in the photo at right), and painted the whole room; laid 100 square feet of laminate flooring (leftovers no longer taking up storage space, yay!); created a custom cabinet with sink and gorgeous faucet from a one-piece Costco unit; installed an attractive and bright overhead light fixture; assembled two rolling storage shelves complete with clear bins; and last but not least, got my washer and dryer working.

Happy Birthday to me!

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So there you have it. It looks a bit more cramped than this now that I've filled almost all of those bins, but it's working well for me. With all that storage I was able to tidy up a considerable number of other areas around the house that have been landing zones for all manner of junk, including our bedroom - another facelift post on that to come - and the living/dining room. And none too soon, as we went on to update all our living and dining room furniture just before Christmas.

If you were keeping track you might notice that past posts on renos have generally included the phrase "Playing House" at some stage of each project, and this post could have been labelled number XIII. But now that we have painted walls and a couple of nearly finished rooms in the basement, and our upstairs has had a makeover to bring it from 80's shabby to modern country chic, it doesn't feel like playing house any more. It's home. Which is especially nice when outside is dull and grey (or - ugh - snowing as it is right now). I love my new rooms and I can't wait to show them off, in person or here, as time allows. Now if I can just land a new job, we can get on with the next round of renos!

Posted by anita at 10:20 AM

April 12, 2011

Spring?

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Happy Spring, readers – the few that are left. To somewhat explain why I’ve been silent all this time, let me briefly recap our longer than usual winter. Back in mid-December, Richard was involved in a bizarre and frightening incident while doing driving training for work, and the health and financial ramifications of that are proving difficult for him to deal with. A couple of weeks later, I lost the competition to continue permanently in my admin job, getting the bad news on Christmas Eve. In a word, winter sucked, and then it dragged on and on and on.

When we look at what we accomplished and experienced last spring, summer, and fall, we had a really good year; it just went out with a whimper instead of a bang, and unusually grey days with little sun or snow and lots of mud since then have added to the tarnish on the new year.

Desperate for signs of spring, I’ve spent a few hours in the garden the past few weekends clearing away winter debris (enabling the deer to find my tender tulips and other shoots to chew to pieces), and finally pulled out the camera tonight in search of some colour. I also visited with the mini-minis, kids of the neighbour’s miniature goats. (They look sturdy in the pics below, but they aren’t much bigger than kittens.) Lots to keep us distractedly busy around here, and lots to be grateful for, all things considered. I think our spirits will revive when winter is truly behind us (daffodils by Easter, let’s hope!) and it’s wholeheartedly spring.

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April12-Kids.jpg April12-DangDeer.jpg

Posted by anita at 7:47 PM