No condo retirement for us (too busy getting our hands dirty)

(Here’s a copy of an editorial I wrote for our local paper last fall — a good summary of our renovation project and current lifestyle, for both new and old blog readers.)

The glossy real estate ads pitch a very specific lifestyle, generally to a very specific demographic. The lifestyle? Condo living in or near the downtown core in the larger centres promises carefree living – maintenance-free and with easy access to shopping, hospitals and cultural and sporting events. The demographic? Aging baby boomers. Continue reading

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Wordless Wednesday — The Beauty of Hoar Frost

hoar frost on trees at Prairie Woods

After a foggy winter night, beauty is revealed in morning light.

Close up of the hoar frost on crab apples waiting for hungry birds

Hoar frost on crab apples -- nature's "frosting".

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New windows, and even some new wall

This blog may have been silent, but work has been continuing on the 100-plus-year-old house at Prarie Woods in rural Saskatchewan.

With old aluminium framed single pane windows in some of the house, it was obvious from day one that we would be replacing some windows. John also knew we would have to rebuild some sections of wall below and beside some windows as we could see water damage on the sills, frames and even surrounding boards.

Continue reading

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The stucco has to come off

Stucco removal?  What the . . . ?  Yes, we are now a year into this project and sidetracked with a new challenge.  All the lath and plaster that is to be removed (on both floors) has been removed.  The living/dining room and TV room are insulated (Roxul and stryofoam both).  The ceiling joists in the spare bedroom have been replaced (2×6 instead of 2×4) and lowered in preparation for a loft bed.  Lots of new wiring is in place, although there is still more to do.  But . . .

We had actually hoped to have drywall up by now.  What happened?  Well summer for one thing and along with lots of beautiful weather, some fishing and camping, lots of grass to cut and two family weddings, the summer brought thunderstorms and heavy rains.  Rains that found a way into the inside of the house! Continue reading

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Burning Up the Lath, Part 3: Fire out of control

Upon reflection, there were so many things we could have done differently.  In  particular, we should have had a Plan B, but we didn’t.

After seeing how quickly this fire moved through last year’s grass — although it was still early spring here in Saskatchewan so we had some areas of snow and the ground was damp — I have a whole new appreciation for our pioneers when they had to deal with prairie fires.  Watch this video I posted to YouTube to see how fast the fire spread:

One more video to come in this saga of “burning up the lath”.  Click on the “Sign me up” button, in the top right corner of the page under “Staying Informed,” to automatically be notified when I finish and post the last video in this series.

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Burning up the lath, Part 2

The preparation was finished.  John had harrowed away the dead grass around the pile of old lumber and lath, pallets, cardboard boxes and old hay.  We had waited and waited and finally we had a day that dawned still and clear, with little to no wind.  Although most of our invited guests weren’t able to make it, at least daughter Elizabeth was home.

Shortly after 5:00 p.m. on Easter Sunday, with the video camera running, we started the fire.

At the very end of this video, you can see, on the north side of the fire (left hand side of the screen), a bit of grass beginning to burn.  As soon as I finish editing Part 3, you will be able to see what happened next!  (If you like, click on the “Sign me up” button to provide your name and email address, up in the top right corner of the page under “Staying Informed”, to automatically receive notifications whenever I update this blog.)

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Burning Up the Lath, Part I

For many months we have been collecting lath, other unuseable old lumber, cardboard boxes, etc., into a big bonfire pile.  We invited people for a New Year’s Eve bonfire but the weather was too cold to spend the evening outside.  During the February school break, we hoped to have some older children and grandchildren home to enjoy the blaze, but the weather was even colder (-40 C and -40 F most of the week).

Fire dates were made and fire dates were broken but as the snow melted and the ground started to dry up, we knew we needed to have the fire soon or not at all until snow fell again late in the fall.  Our college student, Elizabeth, was home for the Easter weekend so we decided on a Good Friday blaze.  The wind blew and we didn’t dare risk a fire.  Saturday, the wind continued to blow.

Easter Sunday dawned clear and still and remained throughout the day.  The forecast was not calling for any gusting, so we spent the afternoon preparing for our mighty blaze.  (How mighty it was to be, we had no idea!)

Here’s a video for you — showing the growth of our pile and our final preparations before the big moment.

Like the video, the story of our fire will be continued in my next blog post.

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