Tag Archives: renovations

Library Renovations are complete!

Or at least, they should be. I don’t go in until later today.

Talkin’ ’bout my …..Renovation…

This week has been long-awaited. By me, anyway. The Eldest Weasels are off on their first residential camp. They’re probably going up the climbing wall in their kayaks right now, or practicing archery as they jump off the pontoon into the lake. Tiniest Weasel is too tiny to attend, so each morning I drive her over to a day camp at the local Heritage Village. (What? You don’t have a local heritage village? Well, if you’re in the UK, you probably live in one…) Anyway, the upshot of all this Weasel Absence is an increased likelihood of me achieving things. On the days when I am not Greeting, I have been rushing off to….The World’s Largest Home Improvement Retailer! Yes, strange but true, because this time I’m going in as a customer. It’s quite a thrill to go in through the main doors, click my fingers at the staff and demand service.


I’m going in to work on my days off because the Reno work has stepped up again. We’ve met the man who’s doing our new roof, and it’s going to happen very soon. Trouble is, there are a couple of other jobs that we need to take care of first.

We said that we’d demolish the old stairs that lead up to where the back door isn’t. But we can’t do that until we’ve taken down the porch roof over where the back door used to be. And we can’t do THAT until we’ve plastered over the board that covers the gap that used to be the back door.

And this is how it looks at the beginning...

***Sub Note: It’s not plastering, obviously. What I should be covering the door with is STUCCO, but I’m not, for several reasons.

1. My store does not sell stucco.

2.The rest of the house seems to be sheathed in some sort of reinforced concrete.

3. Stucco is stupid.

4. I can’t be bothered.

Instead I’m using a mix designed for another purpose entirely, chosen on the basis of some muttered advice given by a guy who was on the phone to someone else at the time. I’m mixing it using the time-honoured “That looks about right” method. END OF SUB NOTE***

I may have mentioned that I’m not a world champion at DIY. The fact that my staircase is still standing three months on is a source of wonder:

Advanced stairs - they go up AND down! And these days they look better than this too...

 So, I did research on the internet, asked for advice at work, bought a carload of kit, and eventually had to admit that I couldn’t put off starting any longer. And to be honest, starting was the easy bit, because all I had to do first was staple on the waterproof backing. Like this:

Just like wallpapering...with a staple gun!

Then I had to cut some wire mesh to the right size and staple that on. I found the easiest way to do this was to catch my trousers, arms and hands on every bit of wire so that I resembled a person who’s just run through ten miles of brambles. I made a note to buy some gloves for the next day, when I wouldn’t be doing anything that needed gloves.

Finally though, I had arrived at the part I was dreading. I had to mix the stuff and slop it on the wall. This was where it could all go horribly, horribly wrong. Could I get the mix right? Would it stay on the wall, or all dribble off to make a messy lump on the floor? I mixed the first batch by hand, literally mushing the powder into the water with my bare, scratched hands. Then I read the warning on the bag that said the mixture was corrosive. YIKES! I loaded up my trowel and set to before the mixture…er…set too. An hour later, I had almost all the door covered and no more mixture:

As darkness fell, so did my enthusiasm...

So today I swung by work one more time and picked up a couple more bags. Wearing my new gloves I mixed with a stick and got the rest of the door covered and slapped on a second coat. Now I reckon I’m one or two bags away from bringing the door up to the level of the walls, and we can set about demolishing the porch roof for tomorrow. Then I might get around to doing to writer-type work again. On the plus side, the e-book (www.tiny.cc/ghfo9) has been selling again and I’m itching to get back to some older projects. It’s all working with the hands, folks.

Yes, it's scruffy, but when we take the stairs away it'll also be ten feet off the ground, and who's going to notice?

More milestones

Sometimes it feels like we’ve been living in Canada for decades, and other times I’m surprised to find an anniversary arriving. This week it’s Canada Day that has crept up. To be fair, it’s hard to miss the fact that it’s Canada Day, especially since The World’s Largest Home Improvement Retail Store is having a huge sale, but I only really thought about it recently in terms of last year.

Last year we were still living in the rental house in Birch Grove. We had a bundle of friends around us and the weather was so hot the kids had been sleeping in the basement because it was cooler down there. This year we’re out on our own in our crumbly new house, and we’ve had to buy a heater for the basement because it can get chilly. Oh, and ours is the only house for miles around with any Canadian flags hanging out. We’re hoping the sun will come out in a little while so we can go and visit our Birch Grove friends and share a little Canada Day cheer.

On the home front, it’s nice to have some progress to report. The IN-Laws have been working their socks off on our behalf, putting up archetrave around the doors, using baseboard (skirting board to you UK types) to cover the dreadful mess Mrs Dim and I made of the lino laying and rehanging doors downstairs to make it look nicer. Look: This is what is was like when we moved in…

What a mess....

And then we repainted and set to work tidying, and got this far:

Looking better already.

And then we got the lino and tiles done and it’s a useful playroom and laundry at last:

You're welcome to come and visit...

And with such improvements downstairs, we’ve been inspired to work on the rest of the house, putting up pictures, pinboards, shaving doors to make them close. All good stuff.

That, in turn, has inspired me to put a bit more effort into the other work. I picked up the Sinbad script again and bashed out another page and a half, and actually enjoyed it. I turned out a three-minute screenplay for a competition I’m entering as part of TLC (Because it’s a UK based writers competition, and Canada is just outside the UK these days…) I’m hoping to have enough of my old “Tribute to Myself” screenplay complete by the deadline for the Red Planet prize, and of course, I got the e-book finished. Tomorrow I’m going to the local printers to get a real print copy of the e-book to show around my writery friends over here, try and build up some interest.

The biggest surprise of all is that the Summer Holidays have begun and there’s been no panic. We haven’t even done the traditional “Summer Wish List” poster to help keep us on track because this year the Weasels are all off to various camps, entertainments and being babysat by grandparents while Mrs Dim and I go off to work. More than any other, this year will be the blueprint for the ones to come, so I’m hoping it will go well. I doubt we’ll ever again have the volume of visitors that we’re having this year, so we’ll be certain to make the most of it.

I have to live like this so I’m able to live like this….

Nose to nose with Moose

What Moose did on Holiday...

I was going to call this post “Work/life/work balance” but then I saw the current title on a T-shirt worn by a customer at work. Much better, if more long-winded.

A long time ago, so long it was still probably before the Multiple-Weasel era, Mrs Dim and I were busy with stuff. There was work, and there were social events, and there were outside work hours commitments that we both had. So much so, that we rarely had time together of an evening. So we came up with Chinese Night. Every Friday, no matter what, we would get take-out, a decent movie and have an evening together. Six months later, we realised that however much we enjoyed the Chinese, we felt terrible the next day, and introduced Steak Night instead.

Steak Night has stood the test of time, and even made the transition to Canada. It’s actually survived longer than the demands on our time that made it so important. Even after four nights of slumping on the sofa, glassy-eyed in front of cable tv, we still got excited about Steak Night and debated hotly about what kind of movie to get.

And this is what I think of when people talk about work/life balance – I think about Steak Night. That was us, balancing our life against work with one precious night a week. It worked, more or less, getting us through the mad early days when Mrs Dim’s Career in the military was on the ascendent, and we had fencing classes, Theatre Club, Saddle Club, Families Club and so many other things to keep up with.

But now it’s my own work/life/work balance I’m struggling with. I don’t work a lot of hours at the World’s Largest Home Improvement Retailer, but I notice that when I’m not doing that, there’s a lot of other stuff to do. We’re renovating, so there’s the staircase to build, the flooring to arrange, the law suit to persue. There’s the regular raft of domestic duties to keep up with, sometimes complicated by the renovation (this week we’ve moved the washing machine down to the basement, which meant a mountain of washing appeared during the time it took to unplumb and re-plumb. Along with a huge bill from the plumbers. Like all renovators, we have more bills than a flock of geese right now, but it’s all in the plan. Or a plan.) That all comes under the heading of work, since I don’t intend for life to consist of washing socks, so Mrs Dim and I try to fit in time for walks, for trips out as a family (even for simple things, like walking Moose down the local trails.) We managed to give Mrs Dim a reasonable Birthday to compensate for the Mother’s Day Disaster (of which we do not speak..) so we are managing a reasonable work/life balance.

But like I said, it’s the work/life/work balance that’s been bothering me the past few days. I’m still a playwright, still a reviewer of plays, still the author of an e-book that is taking shape sooooo slowly but will be very, very good and just what you need if you’re considering writing a play for the Community Theatre Group near you. I know I am all these things, but to believe it, I have to DO some of those things. I’m not going to totally blame the outside influences of the real world – I know there are occasions when I’m in front of the computer and I fail to use them efficiently (for example, I’m blogging right now when I *could* be writing or reviewing. Reviewing is on today’s “to do” list. Blogging isn’t.) but I can’t help thinking longingly of those halcyon days only a few months ago when I would return from walking the Weasels to school and pile into some play reviewing before ticking some things off the domestic list and knowing all the time that tomorrow would be more of the same, not taken up with Greeting Duties.

This is, of course, another ungrateful whinge. The regular job is not demanding or difficult. I get time to think, I get to talk to all kinds of people and I have  new circle of friends. It allows me to keep collecting the weasels from school, and seems flexible enough to cope with the Summer Holidays and the occasional half-day holiday that the school springs on us. And let’s not forget, the wages allow other exciting things, like paying for the mortgage or weekly groceries. I need to remember that when I had all that luxurious time on my hands, I wasn’t much more productive than  am now, I just filled more time with Facebook and games. So, in amongst the phone calls, washing, reviewing and carpentry today, I shall be looking for balance.