The storm passed. Everyone’s happy.

Well we survived our visit from Arthur – the first Atlantic hurricane of the season – although it was downgraded to a Tropical Storm by the time it hit the island.

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We lost power last night and have been without for about twelve hours now.  (Note: I’m currently writing this blog entry in my notebook to be transferred to the computer once power is restored). 

We’ve only been without power for a few hours now, but it certainly drives home the point of how reliant we are to the grid.  Since we’re so deep into the renovations, and we’re going to rewire the house anyhow, I’ll be hardwiring a few critical circuits to run off a generator if needed – the fridge, well-pump, a few lights and plugs, etc.  Nothing extravagant, just enough “juice” to get us through a lengthy blackout if needed.  With a well, no power means no water.

Not that we had any issue with this storm – there was lots of advance notice of the impending hurricane.  We had filled a couple of water containers we use for camping with water – and the bathtub as well.

So other than the power outage, we came out of things unscathed.  The roof was finished on Friday – one day before the storm hit….

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….and thankfully we didn’t lose a single shingle.

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Not to say the house didn’t rock in the strongest wind gusts – because it certainly did – but there were no significant issues.  I’ll admit it was pretty unnerving how the house shook in the strongest gusts – probably made all the worse because the house is completely gutted on the second floor.  One gust tore off the Tyvek building wrap from the exposed area on the back of the house and it’s now M.I.A.  The way the wind was howling, I suspect someone in Prince County is picking it up from their yard today.

Before the storm came, I closed in the floor of the addition to prevent and wind from gusting through the basement.  We didn’t need the basement filling up with water before the concrete floor gets poured, either.

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So suffice to say we’ve now got our work cut out for us.  Everything we’ve been doing to date has led up to this moment.  The demolition was in anticipation of the new foundation.  The new foundation allowed us to get the roof re-sheathed and shingled, which now allows us to finally get the upstairs renovations underway.

In fact, we had a big lumber order delivery on Friday to start restructuring the attic floor, install the roof vents for the cathedral portion of the ceilings and rebuild the partition walls.  This week, we’ll be getting our clawfoot tub, shower unit and associated hardware.

But it’s not all work, no play either.  We had a surprise visit from a good friend and former co-worker, Skip and his beautiful daughter Brooke.

Skip and Brooke Collage

Skip and Brooke. Not an accurate representation.

They had an east-coast road trip planned and paid us a totally unexpected visit.  Skip was our lead-carpenter back in my Ontario life so I was tempted to shove a hammer into his hand when he walked in our front door.

Our work days have been lengthening as of late to get as much done as possible before our family arrives in August for vacation.  I’ve been preparing them that they shouldn’t expect the Royal York Hotel here, rather more like the Hav-a-Nap motel.  Either way, it’s going to be great to see family again and show them what we’ve gotten ourselves into.

In anticipation of their visit, we’ve been exploring the island ourselves for ideas to bring them.  Murdoch on the other hand is quite happy to just go to the beach.

Insanely happy

Insanely happy

Oh yeah, and to wrap things up, my birthday came and went.  We just did a small celebration this year….

b-day fireworks

Oh, wait.  That was Canada Day in Charlottetown.   For my birthday, we just sat in the dark.

Thanks, Arthur.

 

 

The eagle has landed!

No more bouncy-castle.  No more walking-the-plank to leave the house.  The house has its new foundation and now, we’ve nowhere to go but up!

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It’s only been a little over three weeks since the house first started to creak its way off the old stone foundation, but yesterday it completed the round-trip to its new (and last) foundation.

After the the excavation was done and footings poured, the stone-slinger arrived….

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….and we started forming the foundation walls.

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Needless to say, once the four concrete trucks pulled up to the house,we had more than our share of visitors.  Everyone came out of the woodwork to introduce themselves and see the progress we’re making.

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In no time the foundation was poured and all that was left to do was wait for the concrete to cure for a day or two, then strip the forms.

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Everything was going so well, then the skies opened up and the rains came.  And it rained.  And rained.

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Oh yes, then hail.

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Other than these couple of days, the work pretty much chugged along.  The forms were stripped and the walls damp-proofed.

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Then at long last, the jacks were reinstalled to lower the house onto the foundation.

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With the foundation work now done, the process of removing and replacing the old and rotten floor joists and carrying beams will start.

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And just like everything else we’ve done here, this seemingly enormous task will also get done – one step at a time.

Red soil and red sky

So with the foundation work chugging away, we finally have an opportunity to get our gardens planted.

Whenever we had some spare time over the last couple of weeks, we raked the old grass and straw from the garden area, laid-out the bed locations and tilled the soil.

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Last week we had a load of compost delivered to our place to help enrich the beds.  With time running against us, we didn’t test the soil or composition – we’re just trusting that the fertile soil of PEI doesn’t stop at our property line.

Speaking of fertile PEI soil: I suppose it’s only fitting that even compost in Prince Edward Island would be full of lobster bits.

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Once the compost was worked into the bed, it was time to start planting.  We started with the tomato beds – all from seeds started earlier this spring.

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In all, we’ve planted about twenty-four Roma tomatoes for sauces and canning.  In addition to the paste tomatoes, we also planted six each of four Heirloom-varities: Brandywine, Pruden Purple, Mountain Merit and Golden Cherry.

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With the tomatoes planted, we jumped over to the potato bed.  Not originally planned as part of our garden, the potato bed was a last minute addition.

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We never really thought we’d need to grow potatoes in PEI – we’re living in Canada’s potato capital, afterall.  Heck, we even have lobster in our soil!  So, like everything else, we went all-out and planted four types of potatoes: red potatoes, Yukon Gold, Russet and a purple-fleshed variety.

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Before the day was up, we planted two of our berry beds – raspberry and blackberry – and also got our asparagus bed planted.

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We’ve never grown asparagus before but have dedicated a 25-foot row for it – although it will still be a few years before we’ll actually be able to harvest spears to eat.

Finally, before we headed out for our drive, we finished up one more bed.

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Three types of cabbage, rutabaga, broccoli, broccolini, cauliflower, kale and collards.

All in all, not a bad start on the gardens.  We’ve still got the beans and peas to plant, as well as carrots, beets, sweet potato, corn, summer and winter squash, cucumbers, onions, garlic and peppers.

As of late, our backyard is taking on the appearance of a motocross course.  As exciting as it is having the foundation-work done, I’m really looking forward to getting the mess cleaned up.

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We’re still deciding where to use all of the island stone salvaged from the foundation….

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….and exactly how to get it all in place.  I do know, it’s going to be a beautifully landscaped property once we get to tackle that pile.

But as the sun was going down, we decided to take advantage of the remaining daylight to go for a walk on the beach.  A quick drive from the house and we arrived in Cavendish just in time to watch the sun set.

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Still early in the season, we had the beach to ourselves.  Tide was low and we walked along the shoreline to take it all in.

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I think this was the first time we really stopped to let it all sink in: this is our home.  We’re only minutes form the ocean in any direction from our house.

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With the sun down, we walked back through the sand dunes to the car.

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No matter how crazy the renovations get, we’re exactly where we want to be.  With the house.  With the gardens.   With each other.

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Fast and furious

What a whirlwind week we’ve had.  When we last left you, the foundation repairs had started.  The steel supports were delivered and a few of the damaged sills were replaced.

That was child’s play compared to where we are now.  In fact, things are progressing so quickly, that what you’re currently reading is old news (well, to us anyhow).

Thankfully the weather has been on our side – for a change.  With an exception of one rain-day last week, it’s been non-stop progress.  So with that said, here’s how the last few days went:

After the sills were replaced, the soil was cut down around the house and stones removed from the foundation to make pockets for the big steel beams to be installed.

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Picking up one end with the excavator and slowly guiding it through the pockets in the foundation, the beam is pushed from the back of the house, with only inches to spare….

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….out through the front of the house.

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Needless to say, Elmer has done this once or twice before.  Now for the second beam.

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So that takes care of the main cape.  The kitchen ell has two smaller supports perpendicular to the two mains.  These will be jacked by hand.

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But the two main supports will be raised pneumatically.  With the cribbing and jacks in place, it’s time to start lifting.

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There she goes!

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Front-to-back, the main beams are raised and the side supports are jacked manually to keep pace.

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Murdoch’s such a trooper, too.  He’s happy just to be out with us and the guys from Moveall Structures.  Of course, anytime he gets attention, he’s happy.

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And there it is.  The house is up a couple of feet off the old foundation wall and the next step is to remove the old stone wall and excavate to a depth to accommodate the new full-height basement.

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Unfortunately, Thursday is where the week ended for the crew.  Rain came on Friday and the remaining excavation would have to wait until after the weekend.

But, in spite of the rain, Friday was just what we needed.  Our good friends, Aarno and Helena were passing through the maritimes on their way back to Ontario and paid a visit.  How awesome to see old friends and familiar faces – and to share a glimpse in what we’re doing.  We went for a quick drive along Cavendish and stopped for lunch at the Blue Mussel Cafe in North Rustico.

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Vanessa with Helena and Aarno

It was there we met Steve, the new owner of the restaurant.  He and his wife just moved to PEI last year, looking for a change of pace and had just opened the restaurant for the season only six days earlier.  And to top it off, they were originally from Ajax – practically neighbors to us in Ontario!  If you ever find yourselves in the area, I’d certainly recommend their cafe.

The day off was more than a welcome change.  It was entirely necessary.   During the week of the foundation work, we were digging and preparing the vegetable gardens.  Vanessa was raking and shoveling while I was getting dragged around the yard by the tiller we rented.  Needless to say, we took advantage of the rainy weekend and rested up.

On Monday, the guys were back to complete the excavation.  The goal was to finish in time to get the footings poured.

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I’ll hand it to them: they put in a long day to get it done, and by the end of the day, the milk truck, er, concrete truck was backing in and the footings were poured.

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What an enormous undertaking, but I’m sure well worth the investment.

Like I mentioned before, it’s all happening very fast.  But in the same breath, I can’t wait until the foundation is done and we’re back on the ground.  Vanessa says it’s like living in a bouncy-castle.  Perhaps not quite that bad, but you certainly feel every wind gust and the floors spring under your feet.

I’ll keep the posts coming as quickly as I can, but remember, find Our Old Island Home on Facebook and “like” us for real-time updates.  You’ll have already known that we’ve started forming the foundation walls today.

Until next time: keep your feet on the ground!

 

The start of something new

At long last, the foundation work is underway.  The long, cold, wet spring has put us a little behind schedule but hopefully we’ll make up some time with the nice weather as of late.

Vanessa and I were sitting at the breakfast table last week when this hauled up outside our house.

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We stopped traffic on Highway 2

The huge carrying beams had arrived, the excavator was already delivered – so it was time to get underway.

First, make a cut in the topsoil to provide access to the sills – the first to be replaced.  Once all of the old sills are removed and replaced and the walls are re-supported, the house can be lifted and the excavation can start.

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So I thought I’d take you on the grand tour of what’s under our house before it all disappears.

Go ahead....after you.

Go ahead….after you.

The original foundation is hand-cut sandstone, dry-stacked to about 5′ high.  The mortar you see in the joints was applied sometime in the past in an attempt to keep some of the moisture out.

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All of these stones will be removed and salvaged from the foundation and stored at the back of our property.

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A lot of these stones will be used in-and-around our property as part of our landscape design as garden borders, retaining walls, walkways and steps to the deck.

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The stones are beautiful – all hand shaped and fit precisely for the foundation – and will have a prominent place in our garden.  But still – that’s a lot of rock.

The whole process for the new basement will take a few weeks, but while that’s underway, we’ve kept busy building our gardens.  The plants we started inside need to be transplanted so our first job is to build the garden beds.

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The areas we’re working in have never been farmed before.  Decades of grass growing waist-high and dying back every season has made the digging difficult (to say the least) but because of this, I suspect the soil is going to be very fertile.  We’ve easily got a couple more days of digging and tilling the soil before we actually plant anything.

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There are some vegetables that should have been planted by now, but with the disagreeable weather and the house demolition monopolizing our time, we will just have to make do.

Fortunately, out seedlings have been thriving inside our grow-op.  We’ve slowly acclimated the plants to living outdoors by daily increasing their outside exposure.

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Hopefully by this time next week, the veggies will be all planted and we’ll be starting on the new shed/chicken coop.

So, things are looking up.  We’re turning that corner that we’ve been waiting for – restoration instead of demolition.  We still have a lot ahead of us, but it’s a nice feeling that we’re into a new stage.  Until then, though, we continue working in the garden and getting our beds planted.  That in itself is like therapy.

Vanessa says: "ever feel like you're being watched?"

Vanessa says: “ever feel like you’re being watched?”

"No idea what you're talking about."

“No idea what you’re talking about.”

 

The week that was….and will be

Monday.  Cold.  Rain.  Sounds like a recipe for a quick update on what’s happening at our old island home.

Last week we finished all of the outstanding little demolition projects – the rear deck is now gone and cleaned up.  Not much to show from there, but we did find a couple of old things under the deck.

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That’s kind of cool – but I have no idea how old it is.

While the weather was on our side, we also got the front porch off and cleaned up.

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We covered the areas where there is no siding to keep the weather out for the next few weeks – both on the front and the back of the house.

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Vanessa’s also been busy tending the compost piles as well – mixing the fresh manure in with all of the yard waste and grass clippings.

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The manure is too green to add to our garden at this point – it will need some time to further breakdown before use.

And finally, the last of the chimney was removed.  We had already removed the portion through the roof, the attic and the second floor level.  To remove the remainder on the main floor, we erected some dust containment in our Living Room (future Dining Room)

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and opened up the wall to expose the bricks.

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Then, like above, remove the chimney brick by brick.  Fortunately, unlike upstairs, we could just toss the bricks out the window as they came down making our cleanup and project quick and painless.

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So with that said, today the last dumpster we’ll need for a while has been taken away.  It’s nice to have our driveway back – for the first time in almost four months.  But here we are – everything done to date in anticipation of our house being supported, lifted off the old foundation and having a new foundation built underneath.  Today we rest, because later this week….

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That’s right – all of our prep work and anticipation is coming to a head.  Tomorrow we enter a new and exciting phase in our renovations.  For the next three weeks or so, we’ll be focusing on some of the outside projects because our house will be up in the air with excavation and foundation happening below.

So, that wraps up this uncommon beginning-of-the-week update, but safe to say, we’ll have much, much more to report as the next few days and weeks progress.

Excuse us while we go do our happy-dance.

"Please.  No dancing."

“Please. No dancing.”

And there she was, gone!

It’s been a while since my last post, but we’ve done so much.

And there she was....gone

And there she was….gone

I sit here trying to collect my thoughts and put something to paper, but frankly, I’m exhausted.  My body aches and my brain is foggy, so I think this post will rely heavily on pictures and quick captions to let you know what we’ve been up to the past two weeks.

We’ve really taken advantage of the beautiful weather and the longer days.  Now that it doesn’t get dark until almost 9:00, we’ve been putting in some long hours to get the last push done before the foundation starts.

Under the watchful supervision of Jill and James

Under the watchful supervision of Jill and James

My last post showed the removal of the chimney above the roof.  Since then, we’ve removed the remainder of it from inside the house.

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With a little help from the air compressor and an air-hammer, I made quick work of busting it down, brick by brick.  Vanessa sorted and stacked the bricks we were keeping for reuse elsewhere.

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Then we turned our attention to outside – the addition. We started with the roof and worked our way down.  Nothing overly complicated, just a lot of effort and grunt-work.

"GRUNT"

“GRUNT”

Strip off the roof, remove the roof boards, wall sheathing and framing.  The demo took longer than we originally anticipated because we did decide to salvage as much of the material as possible.

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Rather than “grip-and-rip”, we dismantled everything, cleaned, sorted, denailed and stacked the material for our new garden shed/chicken coop that we’ll be building later this spring.

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Minus the rot

Minus the rot

We’ve also been cleaning up the yard in anticipation of our vegetable beds and gardens.  We picked up several wood pallets from the building supply store for free (the best kind) and built a couple of garden composters.

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We’ll still have a few more to build around the garden, but it’s a start.  Our neighbor was kind enough to give us some poop, too.  Well, his cow’s poop to be exact.

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We’ve got our blueberry, raspberry and blackberry bushes, as well as two cherry trees, a pear tree, three cherry bushes.

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Our Honey Crisp apple trees should be arriving soon as well.  Our little grow-op has been a tremendous success this spring – the best ever, actually.  The only problem we’ll have is deciding how many of these little guys make it into the garden.

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As you can tell, I haven’t the energy to put into this tonight – my apologies – but I also didn’t want any longer to pass before updating you on our progress.  So before I face-plant into the keyboard, I wish you al. bjhbsk rch p ccczzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Jokes.

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Today I ate a worm

I thought that would get your attention.

There it is.  Up on the roof.

There it is. Up on the roof.

Now before anyone calls PETW (People for the Ethical Treatment of Worms), I didn’t actually consume an earthworm.  It’s a metaphor (or a simile….or is it an onomatopoeia).  Sorry, English class was never my strong subject.

No – it’s a metaphor.  Imagine you’re on a long journey and you’ve reached a point where the only way you can progress any further is to eat a worm.  That’s where we found ourselves this week.  I had a worm to eat and there was no putting it off any longer.

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With our foundation guy ready to start in the next couple of weeks, I need to get the old chimney torn down – and that means starting at the top.  I haven’t been looking forward to this.  Not by a long-shot.  And excuses have been easy: “too cold”, “too windy”, “too much snow”, “still lots of time”, “I’m too hungry”, “I’m too full”, “my nose is itchy”.  You know how it is – lots of reason to not eat this worm, but it needed to be done.

So far, so good

So far, so good

Today was the day.  The sun was out, the roof was dry and the winds were calm.  The weatherman is calling for rain for the next few days – so here we go.

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I had to build some “steps” just to get some traction on the steep roof.  I tried a few times to just scramble up to the ridge but couldn’t get any grip.  These cleats gave me something to climb on, but needless to say, a 13/12 roof slope is still hard to get up.  That’s more than 45 degrees.

"Yeah - that's not too bad", said no one ever

“Yeah – that’s not too bad”, said no one ever

I’ll be honest, it’s not the heights that bother me – it’s the risk of falling.  Duh, right?  Seriously though, I’ve never had an issue with heights – bridges, buildings, CN Tower – no sweat.  There’s no risk of actually slipping overboard.  But perched up on the roof, swinging a hammer with nothing but the chimney you’re knocking down to hold onto?

Not pictured: a happy guy

Not pictured: a happy guy

Here’s the part where I say: it’s now done, I’m safe.  The chimney is down below the roof line and the hole is patched in until the foundation is done, then the roofer can do his thing.   I didn’t mention previously that I’d be doing this this week – my Mom’s reading this post afterall, but needless to say, I’ll be grounded on terra firma for the next while.

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Just ignore the missing shingles

Quite a view, though

Quite a view, though

With the roof now enclosed, we’ll be spending the next couple of rainy days taking the remaining chimney down from inside the house.

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We’ve got the rear addition completely gutted now and the shingle siding and trim removed.

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So the plan is to remove the chimney when it’s raining, and when the weather’s good, we’ll dismantle the remaining portion of the addition.

And only 1,823,522 nails to pull

And only 1,823,522 nails to pull

Vanessa’s been busy cleaning up the yard – raking up the old dead grass and straw – and burning whatever we can – including the cedar shingles from the addition.

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Murdoch’s been enjoying hanging out with us while we’re outside, too.  It’s been a long winter for him as well.

Enjoying the shade of the barn

Enjoying the shade of the barn

So, back to my original point: how do you eat a worm?  You just close your eyes and swallow.  Unless your “worm” means getting up on your roof.  In that case, I’d suggest keeping your eyes open.

Not so tough now are you, chimney?

Not so tough now are you, chimney?

From river to plate: catching dinner

Well I guess it’s no surprise as to what the content of today’s post will be – at least not to any of you who follow us on Facebook.

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A few weeks ago, Vanessa and I enjoyed a series of six weekly “get to know you” evenings with our pastor and a few new couples at our church. One week we were asked: if money were no object, how would you spend the “perfect” day off? I knew exactly how I’d respond: I’d be sitting by a stream – fishing rod in hand, enjoying a beautiful day in solitude, enjoying the beauty of nature around me. Actually catching fish would be optional bonus.

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With an endless array of freshwater streams rivers and ponds, there is no shortage of fishing opportunities for us in PEI.  Most of the rivers are short, spring-fed streams that originate from cool freshwater springs providing a near-constant flow of 6 to 7 degree water throughout the year.  As a result, these streams support a good trout fishery.  In particular, it’s said that brook trout can be found in nearly every stream on the island.

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In addition to the brook trout, Atlantic salmon can be found migrating on a few of the larger rivers on the island, and rainbow trout (a non-native species) have taken to a number of rivers and are now a self sustaining fishery.

We had previously fished a couple of ponds around our house without any success so we decided to try a river just minutes from our home.  On Sunday, we had scouted an area of the river when we took Murdoch for a run.  It wasn’t long before we saw big shadows just under the surface and a few fish rising.  That’s exactly where we headed on Monday morning.  And like Sunday, the fish were there to greet us.

We tried the go-to presentation for river fishing: drifting worms.  Nothing.  Then I switched to artificial trout eggs with the same success.  Perhaps a nymph fly pattern?  Nope.  And to top it all off, our presence likely spooked the fish – they were now nowhere to be seen.

The one thing about this location was the deep pool just upstream from some fast-flowing rapids.  Any fish heading upstream would take some time to rest in the slower moving water of the deep pool.  That’s what I was telling myself, anyhow.

I figured the fish were there – we just weren’t offering them what they wanted.  So, I tied on a lure I had some success with back in Ontario – a tiny streamer I tied on a 1/32 oz jig-head.  On the first cast, I had a huge trout chase it into the open.   My heart was pounding.  Another cast.  Another follow.  I could hardly believe it.  Another cast.  I saw a flash of white as it swiped after it….and missed.  Fourth cast.  BAM!  Fish on!

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My first PEI trout – a 16″ rainbow trout.  I noticed the yellow tag on it’s dorsal fin.  The University of PEI is undertaking a rainbow trout study to monitor it’s habitat and possible expansion into other watersheds.  Rainbow trout were introduced to the island accidentally when a hatchery malfunction resulted in the mass escape of a steelhead strain of rainbows.  I noted the tag number and released the fish.

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There is a UPEI hotline to call when a tagged fish is captured.  Simply note the tag number, the size if the fish and the location of the capture.  Your report is even eligible for a reward.

Fishing continued for another while, but this was the only fish that little jig would catch today.

Time to regroup.  Clearly the fish didn’t want worms or eggs.  I did get one with a minnow-imitating streamer, so let’s go with that.  I tied on a small floating Rapala plug, tossed it downstream swam it over the deep pool.  This time it only took three casts.

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My second fish – and probably the biggest river-trout I’ve ever caught – a 22″ rainbow.  I didn’t want to keep it.  Vanessa did.  We kept it, but to be honest I wrestled with that decision.  I hate the thought of keeping the big, brute, breeding-stock.

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It was a male – not a female capable of still laying thousands of eggs.  If it were, there was no question – she’d go back.  And it was a rainbow trout – a non-native species, said to be pushing out the native brook trout and Atlantic salmon residents.  So, I agreed.  It would become dinner that night.

Fishing continued again for a while and we didn’t have much more luck with any of the other lures we tried.   It was getting colder and I really wanted Vanessa to catch one before we left so I tied on a spinner with rainbow trout colors.  I figured if the fish got annoyed by a little trout buzzing around, we might get a strike out of anger.

On her very first cast with this spinner, Vanessa had her first island trout: a perfect pan-sized rainbow.

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And that’s where it ended up – in the pan.  No hesitation.  In fact, given the option, I’d rather keep six of these little guys over one of the big ones.  The big ones may be more fun to catch, but the little ones come guilt-free when eaten.

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So that’s how our fishing trip went.  A rousing success, I think.  And being only minutes from the house, a place I’m sure we’ll frequent again and again.

So once home, I cleaned both fish and the little one went right into the fry pan. We split it as a snack while I prepared supper.

Very few of you know that I really enjoy cooking.  I love it actually, so I wanted to be sure the big trout we kept was enjoyed to the fullest – the fish deserved that at least.  It can also be a real challenge when cooking for a non-fish-eater.  I’ll give credit where it’s due, though – Vanessa has eaten more fish since coming to PEI than in the previous twenty years we’ve been together.

I froze one of the two big fillets.  The other was baked with a lemon-dill butter and served with an apricot and almond pilaf.

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So just like the fishing, it too was a success.

A Change of Plans

So the demolition is underway on the back addition.  Initially, we thought we would simply remove and dispose of the structure altogether.

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What we didn’t know at the time was that the addition was near-original to the house.  A covered walkway/wood shed leading from the back door to an “indoor outhouse” was it’s original intent.  Past owners insulated and finished the space, and it’s current condition and use is not practical for our needs.

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So once we removed the interior finishes, we both had a change of heart.  We’ve decided to carefully dismantle the roof and walls to relocate and reassemble it near the rear of the property.

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I think I’ve settled on nesting it under the trees and use it as it as a woodshed/garden tool storage.  We do need (and planned on building) some garden/outdoor storage – and in using the original structure, we get to maintain it’s character and save some serious moolah since the material for the structure is already here.

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I will have to build new footings and floor, but the majority of the walls, roofing – and even sheathing – is reusable.

We’ve never wanted to just ignore the historic significance of this old home we bought.  But in the same breath, we also recognize that it’s current condition necessitates a full gut and renovation.  It will be our dream-home after all, so it still needs to meet our needs.  In relocating this structure and repurposing it for our needs, we can keep its historical ties and fill a need we have by reimagining it for another purpose.

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As part of our desire to be more self sufficient, we will eventually have laying hens for our egg needs and the new shed will be modified to incorporate a coop.  All in all, it seems like a win-win scenario for us.

Another week and another disposal bin in our driveway – although this will be the last one for a while, at least.  We spent a good part of today cleaning up around the back of the barn.  I just don’t understand how people can use their backyard as a dump.  Earlier this year (before the winter really settled in) we cleaned up as much as we could at the time.  Windows, flooring material, mattresses, a piano, wire, tarps, cans and bottles, Styrofoam and countless pieces of wood were left there over the years.  And now with the warmer weather and the grass having died back, we’re able to finally get rid of the last of the junk.  And wow – that feels good.  The only things left there is the oil-drum fire pit and the remains of an old tree trunk – now hollowed out and housing little critters for Murdoch’s enjoyment.

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In fact, while we were cleaning up, he flushed out a vole and quickly dispatched the little guy.  No, no sympathy here.

We also burnt away some of the tall, dead grass around the back yard.  The house has been though two summers without much garden care, so when we arrived in the fall, the grass was waist-high in places.

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Burning off the dead stuff seems to be the most practical option.  Either that or rent some sort of brush cutter before we put the lawnmower to it.

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We also uncovered our driveway.  We had “patches” of asphalt showing through our dirt driveway.  Turns out, our driveway is paved – just buried under years of grass, dirt and pine needles.

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Now cleared away, we have a nice, clean parking pad.  Raking up the old tall grass, we’ve also discovered a few spots of garden plants poking up.

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Looks like we’ll have at least a few beds of lilies around the house in a short while.

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And finally, fishing season opened here on Tuesday.  And yes, I did wet my line.  No, I didn’t catch any fish.  On the weekend, our temperatures soared to nearly 20 degrees and severe runoff from the snow pack thawing, combined with rain on Monday, caused quite a lot of flooding around the rivers.  All of the watersheds around our home had gone from babbling brooks to raging white-water rivers.  Needless to say it was difficult fishing.

It wasn’t all for loss though – Vanessa saw and took this beautiful picture of a heron in the river behind our house.

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We’ll give it a try again soon as things settle down in the rivers.  But I like the way my wife thinks.  She says the sooner we get the demo done, the more time we’ll have to go fishing.

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OK.  Where’s my hammer?