Saturday 18 May 2024

Back to the city

Finally, the painters arrived on Monday to start the job of transforming the old house from worn out and drab to fresh and slightly less worn out. We are talking about a house that is nearly 115 years old, after all.  I met them at the house and walked through with one of the painters to confirm the work we needed/wanted down. I also mentioned that I was adding to the scope of work as I needed them to paint the ceilings in the kitchen and living room/dining room because the repairs CT made were obvious. Let's just say those ceilings turned out to be a real pain in the butt!

I walked down early in the afternoon to meet with the guys who were making a dump run to get rest of the crap out of the garage. Stepping into the house briefly, I was pleased to see the progress and the lighter colored walls. Caleb had met with us Sunday to test the color and I liked it then, and seeing several walls with their first coat had me liking it even more. Out in the garage, the guys first cleared out the cardboard boxes that I'd found in one of the old sheds and took it to the owner's blue bin. They returned with two vehicles and took away the rest of the stuff, along with a pile of yard waste. I was cringing at what the cost might be...I shouldn't have been as the price was more than reasonable in my mind. I sure wouldn't have hauled it all away for what they charged me.

Tuesday was a quiet day for me, as the painters were busy working, and I stayed away until late in the afternoon. I went over and walked through, and failed to notice that the ceilings were still an issue. D noticed it though, they had cut in the ceiling with one color of white and painted it with another. It looked terrible. She reached out to Caleb and he agreed they would return to make it right later in the week. (Not sure if you can see it, but the pink on the underside of the window sill is the spackle I was using for fill. It starts out pink and dries white).

Meanwhile, back at the new house, the heating/plumbing company was there to install an air conditioning unit, and a cold air return and heat vent in the basement. Eli's play area is set up in the basement, and it is quite cool down there despite a couple of vents on opposite walls. Part of that is likely due to the lack of the cold air return, and there has been a noticeable difference since the installation. It doesn't look like we'll need the a/c for a few weeks yet, but with a second story, it should help keep D and Eli's room cooler in the hot weather.

I spent the day Wednesday, painting window trim and the stairs, hand rail, newels, and spindles, as well as the baseboards in the upstairs bedrooms. D came to help clean up some paint spatters on the floors left by the painters, but mid-way through the process she called Caleb and he agreed they would finish this job as well. With my hip still grumbling at me, I came home exhausted and in a lot of pain. After a shower, I climbed into my pj's, ate dinner, and was in bed and asleep by 7 p.m. 

Thursday, I returned to finish the painting, including touch-ups, and second coats on a baseboard in the master bedroom that had, for some reason, been painted gray by the previous owners. All of the other baseboards were white. D came over in the afternoon, and she took apart the stove door, as there was a spill a few years ago that never been cleaned up.  I scrubbed that while she did some vacuuming, but the mess was cooked on. We took a drive to Canadian Tire, where she bought some oven cleaner, and I talked myself into buying a couple of hanging containers. At $19.99 a piece, I just couldn't resist. I knew I'd left two shepherd hooks in the city, and will take them back with me.

On Friday, I returned to my son's place for a couple of weeks. I've got yardwork to do in the back yard - he'll have to help me with it as there is some heavy lifting to be done. Meanwhile, D has been left a list of things to do to finalize the preparations for the house sale. She met with the painters that morning, and they re-painted the ceilings. Neither she nor they were satisfied with the results, so they'll be back on Tuesday to try again. She's since told me it looks better but still streaky. They also took the time to clean the floors of the paint they dripped.

I had planned to return to the city for an appointment with the autobody shop to replace the side mirror that I broke last winter. The operative word here is "had". I first visited the autobody shop in February, so they could determine what they needed to replace the mirror. My appointment was scheduled for early March, however the night prior to the appointment we had about 6 inches of snow. I called and advised I wouldn't be able to make it due to the heavy snow and they rescheduled me for the next available appointment, May 21. I managed to tape the mirror to the side of the car and have been driving it since. However, with the recent warmer days, the tape I used came loose and while the mirror didn't fall off, it was clear it wasn't where it ought to be.

On Tuesday, I received a call from the autobody shop - I assumed to confirm the appointment, but no. The clerk advised me that the mirror had been lost in transit. When I questioned how that could be, as they'd had the part in March, she advised that they don't have space to keep parts in stock, so it had been returned in March. What? It's one mirror! She could not give me an estimate for either the availability of the mirror or an appointment. 

My daughter called the local autobody shop who had replaced a mirror for her a few years ago, and I went down to their location Wednesday morning. Within 20 minutes, the part was on order - it should be in within 10-14 days, and the job will take about an hour. Better still, the quote was about 50% below what the city shop had quoted me. The owner Paul, also taped the mirror back on but wasn't sure it would hold (it did not).

Meanwhile, the exhaust pipe on my car gave up the ghost. The noise is annoying as all heck, and I'm sure other drivers are surprised to see a gray haired old woman driving when they'd expect to see a teenager. I was able to make an appointment with a muffler shop here in the city for Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. Hence the cartoon on Friday. I'm not sure what the repairs will cost but I expect it will be more than my last muffler repair - on a different vehicle about 30 years ago.

This is our May long weekend and I plan to relax for much of it. My hip is getting much better, unless I sit too long, and I'm tired. It has been a very busy few weeks and I'm ready to curl up on the couch with Saku and watch television. It rained overnight and we're expecting showers for much of the weekend. My son has plans for the evening, so I'll have the peace and quiet of the house to myself. 

Have a great weekend everyone!

Saturday 11 May 2024

Two steps forward, one step back

It's been another full week that didn't quite work out as I had originally planned. Even so, we've made some good progress at the old house and at the new house too.

Sunday was a lovely day, sunny and warm. I made a drive into the next town over to pick up a few items, including some potting soil. After I returned, D and I worked out in the back yard at the new house, digging up the dreaded creeping bellflower and other weeds. I'd picked up a few packets of vegetable seeds, and Eli grabbed the carrots, dug a hole in the garden, opened the packet and dumped the entire thing in the hole before covering it up. It's an experiment...we'll see if anything actually grows. D bought more seeds later in the week, just in case. :)

The photo on Wednesday is of the columbine, and some of that darn bellflower in the rocks at the base of the house foundation. Nearby is a false lamium, with white spotted leaves. We're finding lots of perennials, including Oriental poppies and a ground cover with silver grey leaves - I think it may be a variety of an Artemisia (photo below) but am not certain. If you know what it is, let me know. :) These are all in the backyard near the fence.

While they headed to park in the afternoon, I turned my attention to the small bed in the front yard. I dug up more weeds, and more bellflower. In that bed, I found hen and chicks, a salvia and to my surprise a single hollyhock. I supect the latter was planted by a bird dropping seed. In my experience, hollyhocks rarely are a singular plant and I'll gladly allow it to go to seed this year.

On Monday, between rain showers I did some gardening at the old house. I had placed cardboard in the gravelled area between the neighbour and D's house a week or so ago. While it didn't kill the weeds, it did stunt them, and with the rain, I found it easy to dig out the weeks. A spray with weed killer, I laid down the cardboard again and hopefully the heat of the sun we're expecting will keep them from coming back too soon.

I was surprised to find a hyacinth growing in the flower bed. Neither D nor I had planted it, so it is a mystery. Since it was nearly hidden beneath a juniper, I dug up the bulbs and have planted it at the new house out front.

The painters were expected to be at the old house on Tuesday morning, but when they hadn't shown up by 9 a.m., I gave Caleb a call. They have me in their schedule for the following week. Not what we agreed to on the phone but this does give our handyman CT, a little more time. He has made the necessary repairs to the walls, replacing plaster with drywall in two bedrooms, filling in a hold in the drywall on the main floor, and repairing some water damage in the ceilings in dining room and kitchen. He discovered that under the popcorn ceiling in the kitchen are those square tiles. I'm not replacing the tiles, so he has mudded/plastered the area and sprayed more popcorn on it. He's also moved the light fixture in the main bathroom, it was just below the rafters, now there is a proper ceiling and he put in an LED pot light. Much nicer and neater now!

It was rainy and cool for the remainder of the day, so I didn't do a whole lot. I did empty more of the items in the shed and loaded them into the car for transfer to the other house. 

Wednesday morning, I woke up in significant pain from my hip. It felt as though it was out of place. I couldn't lift my right leg, could barely walk on it, and getting up and down from a seated position was difficult. Hence, not much was accomplished that day. I used some A5-35 cream and later a heating pad. It became less painful, and by morning while there was still a dull ache, I was able to move much easier. Who knows what I did, I'm just grateful the pain didn't last too long.

I picked up a few groceries on sale on Thursday morning and then worked in the yard at the new house. I managed to clear the front flower bed of most of the bellflower and the weeds. I still need to mulch the bed. There are several peonies in this bed and another four scattered in the front yard. I'm also seeing more lilies, though I don't believe they are day lilies. This yard will be a riot of color when things start to bloom. 

My brother drove out to visit and bring us the dining table he built for D, and my chair. He built it last year and I had him keep it for me until now. He's such a good guy; while he was here, he helped with a few other chores that we needed doing. We sat on the side patio and visited for several hours before he headed back to spend the night at the family cottage less than an hour away. I'm pretty sure he stayed so he could see Eli and two of them had a good visit too.

Friday, I was back at the old house to do more gardening.  There are a bazillion volunteer elms growing in the flower bed that needed to be removed. Most were small enough to pull but I had to use cutters to clean out several others. The worst of the weeds are now cleared out, at least for the time being. 

In the evening, we used the fire pit for the first time. The fire chief had stopped by earlier in the week to review our application and provided his approval. We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire for our dinner that evening. It's been years since I've done either. 

Today, I'm heading back to the old house in the morning to finish taping the windows for painting. I will be doing that once the painters have finished their work. D is meeting with them in the afternoon for the swatch painting - I gave them a color, which they've asked for four times since and to be honest, I could care less what it will look like. It's the same color I used on the old house in Regina. The afternoon will likely find me back in the yard at the new house trying to rid it of more of the creeping bellflower. 

Have a great weekend everyone.


Monday 6 May 2024

May 23 - Fort Lauderdale and finally home

This post is brought to you by my memory, which isn't the best, because I neglected to make any notes. As you'll find out, the day was pretty darn memorable and not necessarily for entirely good reasons.

I don't recall exactly when I left the ship, but it was around 8:30 or 9 a.m. First up was finding my suitcase among the multitude of bags. My bag is a bright teal blue, and my ticket was red. Hmmm....no red signs that I could see. I finally asked a worker and was pointed toward a sign that looked pink in my estimation where I quickly found my luggage. A cursory review at the US customs desk and I was heading for my bus for my morning tour in the waterways. 

My flight wasn't scheduled until 4:15 p.m., so it made sense to book the excursion as my luggage would remain in storage on the bus until drop-off at the airport at 12:30 p.m. It was
a wet, cool day, but I quite enjoyed the excursion. We were delayed along the way as the Vice-President was visiting the city, and several blocks were blocked off by the police. Our destination was the Carrie B, a paddlewheeler. 

The boat is well equipped with restrooms and a small concession stand providing drinks and snacks. On the enclosed lower level are several tables for passengers to gather. The upper level is partially covered, but I did spend much of my time out on the deck taking photos. It rained off and on, and I had to keep ducking in under cover to stay only moderately wet. Here are some of my favorites:


I had done a similar tour on the Jungle Queen, another paddleboat, several years ago, which took us past some of these houses on our way to a nature preserve. I remember this one, because the tower is supposed gilded with gold.


At this point, we were turning around to return. The clouds were low, but we were out of the rain for the moment.


While it appears these people were getting wet, they are actually statues!


On our way back to the wharf we passed the Ruby Princess. 

At that point, the majority of the passengers would have disembarked and the eager guests for the afternoon sailing were likely queuing up in the terminal.

We also passed this play structure. Wouldn't Eli (or any other youngster) have fun in/on that? I don't even want to hazard a guess at the cost. 


Shortly after docking, we were back on the bus and off to the airport. This is when things went a little sideways.

After waiting to drop my bags, I learned my flight out of Fort Lauderdale was delayed until 6:30 p.m., meaning I would likely miss my connecting flight in Toronto for home. After a conversation with the rep, Air Canada provided a voucher for a cab to send me to the Miami airport (about 35-45 minutes away) as they had an earlier flight to Toronto scheduled. Ha! 

When I arrived at the Miami airport just after 2 p.m., I wasn't able to print my luggage tags at the kiosks as the printers were down. That meant standing in a long line to reach the counter.

By the time I got through that line-up it was about 2:45, and the line for security was even longer. This photo was taken after I'd stood in the line for nearly 20-30 minutes. I was starting to think I wouldn't make it to my gate in time to board! The sign indicates another 20-24 minutes to security.

Eventually, I made it through security and made a run for my gate, as the plane ought to have loading by this time. Ha again! The board indicated the flight was delayed until 5:05 p.m. This gave me some time to grab a (not so) quick bite to eat, though the two restaurants nearby declined to accept the meal voucher the Air Canada rep had given me. I wasn't too fussed about it, as I had intended to eat at the airport anyway.

The flight was further delayed until shortly after 6 p.m. I guess I ought to have stayed at Fort Lauderdale! I was concerned about my connection as my flight to Regina was scheduled to board at 9:15 p.m. For those not familiar with the Toronto Airport, the international gates are, what seems to me, miles away from the domestic gates and I had to get through customs first.

Finally onboard, I settled down for a nap. If I don't have to drive, I can sleep and I did for much of the flight. After arrival in Toronto, I was quickly through customs, hooray, and started the dash to the domestic side. On the way, there were two Air Canada reps standing inside the area with new boarding passes for anyone who might have missed their connection. I stopped briefly and learned that my flight was delayed. Phew, no more attempts at running!

I don't recall the exact time, but I know I was in the gate area for at least 30-45 minutes. I finally got up and went to the restroom, where I finally heard the pre-boarding announcement. Again, once on board, I napped for a good portion of the flight. Two flights arrived into Regina at about the same time, which for a small regional airport generally means chaos at the carousel and that night was no exception. I was thrilled when I finally picked up my luggage and got in a taxi for home. In the door at about 1:30 a.m., I dropped off my bags just inside the door, and headed down to my bedroom. It was a very long day.

I've said this before, air travel is not for the faint of heart these days. One of the couples I'd met in line in Miami, had been scheduled to fly out the afternoon prior, and had waited until 2:30 a.m. before they were informed the flight to Toronto had been cancelled. They weren't hopeful we'd get out that evening either, but of course, we did. She was quite upset because she had planned her sister's 30th birthday party that evening and knew she wouldn't be able to attend. 

While I have no more cruises booked, I have decided that it makes more sense to overnight and take the earliest flight home. Those flights generally originate from the departure city and are less likely to be delayed, except of course, due to weather or mechanical issues. It's worth the cost to ease the stress, I think.

Final thoughts, overall, it was a wonderful cruise, and I had some great excursions and met some awesome people. My favorite port on this adventure was Aruba, with Bonaire a close second. My friends, S and P, actually have a time share on Aruba and have been extending an invitation for me to visit with them over the past several years. I've been in touch with S and told her I'll be taking them up on their offer sometime in the future. 

Thanks for following along with my sporadic posts. It's been fun reliving of my memories of the cruise, or at least most of them. 


Saturday 4 May 2024

Some Days are better than others


Monday was not one of those days. My daughter had been to the old house about 3 p.m. on Sunday to take out the recycling bin. We had taken the day "off" to do some work around the yard at the new house. All was well. However, when I arrived at the old house around 8:30 on Monday morning, I opened the back door and found the toilet in the bathroom (just off the porch) was overflowing. I quickly called my daughter as I didn't know where the shut off valve to the house was located, and I turned off the valve to the toilet.

Thankfully, the water had not made it much past the bathroom door to the porch, however, the damage had been done when the water flowed down the heat vent into the basement. While my daughter went downstairs to start mopping and bailing water in the unfinished basement, I contacted the insurance company and started a claim. They called our local restroration company and Rick was at the house within a half hour. After his review of the situation, he went to his office to submit a report to the insurance company. Meanwhile D and I continued the efforts to clean up as much water as we could in the basement. She spent two and a half hours, while I was down there for at least an hour. 

I spoke with the adjuster later that morning and explained we were in the process of moving and prepping the house for sale. One of the questions asked, was what was the last date anyone slept at the house - April 11. I explained we were in the house every day since as we continued to clean, prep for painting, and making minor repairs. 

As of Tuesday afternoon, I had still not heard anything from the insurance company and called the adjuster. She advised that she had sent the report to her supervisor, but believed they would be denying my claim because the house is "vacant". We disagreed on the definition of vacant - I said, walking out the door, turning the key, and walking away would make the house vacant. She stated it occurs when someone moves out of the house and does not intend to return. I suppose her definition is the legal one but frustrating none-the-less.

On Wednesday, I went over to the house to meet our handyman - he's doing some repair work to the old plaster walls in the bedrooms on the 2nd floor. I told him what had happened, and he checked both the furnace and water heater and confirmed there was no damage to either piece of equipment. Thus, the only work needed to be done, in his estimate, was drying out the basement, and replacing the toilet upstairs. A far cry from the restoration company's assessment! 

While CT was working upstairs, I continued the process of filling cracks and nicks in the walls. I also ran out to the hardware store and picked up a toilet and a few other items. I left to pick up Eli from school at lunchtime and returned at 1 p.m. to start clearing out the garage. CT returned shortly afterward and made some repairs to the ceilings and one wall that were beyond my capabilities. He also took out the old toilet and put in the new one.   

Thursday was grocery day so I didn't get over to the house until mid-morning. CT has keys to the house, and I knew he was installing doors on another job, so there was no rush. I did more sanding, vacuuming and washing of walls before heading home for lunch with my grandson. Not that he pays much attention to me, as he is busy on his tablet and eating. After lunch, I ran out to the local insurance agency office to discuss obtaining insurance on a "vacant" property. I have decided to cancel my policy with the existing company as I had still not heard from them in regard to the claim. (I didn't call them to tell them about the furnace and water heater...if they can't be bothered to call me, why should I?)

It started to rain in the afternoon, and since I was hoping to do some yard work at the old house, I decided just to drop in and check if CT was there. He was not, so I grabbed the mop and bucket - our kitchen floor desperately needs cleaning. D went over in the early evening. We know there is little likelihood of another issue with the new toilet; it was the liner in the old one that failed and caused the problem, but we're still checking frequently.

Friday, we woke to more rain. I checked the rain gauge about 7 a.m. and we'd had about 10 millimeters, about 4/10ths of an inch overnight. I didn't empty the gauge as we were expecting more rain throughout the day. By evening we'd received just about 20 millimeters or 3/4 of an inch. I waited until around 9 a.m. to go to the old house to do more sanding and vacuuming, before washing down the walls. D met me there briefly, and I had her finish packing up the set of cabinets over the washer and dryer before she left for home and I went to Canadian Tire and to the Co-op. The latter was to pick up some meat that hadn't been available the day before. We're well stocked for the next few weeks.

Today, the sun is shining as you can see in the photo of our backyard from this morning, but we are expecting more clouds as the day progresses. Tomorrow, however, is forecast to be sunny and warm (18C/64F). D is already planning to take Eli to the park tomorrow afternoon. I'm taking much of the weekend off, as the sanding is as complete as I'll get it, and the painters are expected on Tuesday. I'm going to add to their workload as I want them to paint the ceilings in the kitchen and living/dining room areas. I do hope they'll have the time (since I did much of the wall repairs). If not, I'll need ot ask them to return because I am NOT painting ceilings. 

The ground is very wet, but I may spend some time out in the yard. I've discovered that someone or something allowed creeping bellflower into the front flower beds, and it has seeded itself in the back yard as well. It is an invasive plant, spreading both by rhizome and seed. I suspect we'll be digging these suckers out for some time. 

There is a Blue Jays game this afternoon, and I think I'll watch while either knitting or stitching. It will depend on whether it has clouded over. I will go over to the old house, sometime this morning and again in the evening, but just as a check of the premises. I doubt we'll have another flood but I'm being extra cautious for now. 

Have a great week ahead everyone!