Monday, October 24, 2016

Ottawa October 2016: Logs, Lumberjacks, Lumbersexual, Lunch and Dinner

You may all think us a little crazy leaving town while the little crooked house is being renovated, but we had this trip planned for months before we bought the little crooked house. Chris has never seen the fall colours and I had a business meeting and thought the two might mesh nicely. We walked from our little basement apartment to the Bytown museum, which is in the shadow of Parliament and the Fairmont, right up against the Rideau Canal. There we found a lovely sugar maple in full fall flush.

 The Bytown museum was originally a Commissary for the military in the Bytown (now Ottawa) area.
 I'm always in favour of supporting museums, so we paid our admission and made a quick round of the Bytown museum. Did you know that malaria was endemic to this part of Ontario back in the day? Me neither. It was a big killer of workers on the canal. The fine folks of Bytown were loggers and lumberjacks back in that same day. Check out the boots in the far right corner of the display case... they'd still be the same today.

 The axe is a hefty one, reminds me of the one wielded by Beorn in the Hobbit movie, played by that Swedish actor... who apparently hacks his own firewood in real life - check out the extra features for a fearsome demo of the specially smithed axe.

 We got bikes for the week for $90 each - a great deal for bike friendly Ottawa. Then we went for lunch in the Byward market at an East Indian place...

 Then we were off again, across the Laurier Bridge, then back around under to meet up with the Rideau Canal trail with our bike bags filled with fixings for dinner.

Bags filled with groceries, we pedaled home. Here's a glamour shot of dinner. I made Sicilian style mussels and clams with eggplant parm. Oh, and we had fresh oysters to start. I do love seafood. 

Caught in mid finger lick!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Wheeler Street Crooked House Renos - The Basics: Safe and Warm

Chris and I really don't want to be slum-lords with our little downtown cooked house, in particular we want it to be safe and warm. Those two things turn out to be very expensive. I have to keep reminding Chris that we've only owned the house for 10 days, so this is a lot of progress.

After tearing out the nasty mouse nests in the attic the electrician got a good look at the wiring and the initial price doubled. On the up side, there's no aluminum wiring. On the other hand, the wiring is so old it has decayed fabric on it and we were informed that there are no grounds on any of the outlets. After realizing how unsafe it all is, we were very happy that the tear out went without incident.

We're installing a vent in the bathroom, so it won't continue to be moldy and manky; making the hood vent in the kitchen vent to the outdoors instead of into the attic, again dealing with mold and mank in the attic.
There's the new kitchen vent going outside instead of into the attic space

The attic - at the dawn of time when the house was new, it was obviously used as living space, but no longer.

The garage, with the moldy drywall gone

The yard, with me checking out the views

Hallway with the flooring gone and the washer dryer moved

We have a plumber replacing all the piping in the house, which was to deal with the fact that the sewer line wasn't sloping properly. Any one who's tried to fix one thing, knows that you need a permit for replacing plumbing. Once you need a permit you are going down the road of having to fix everything related to the plumbing. So, the permit reads; "replace plumbing in entire home", which ,incidentally, includes a new hot water tank. The water in all worked fine, but wasn't up to modern building code, so now instead of a small thing to ensure the sewer leaves, we've had to pay for re-plumbing the entire house. There is a whole other rant here that has to do with the perfect standing in the way of the good when it comes to building permits and requirements for upgrading an entire system when there is nothing wrong with it and the direct effect this has on the stock of affordable housing in Canada.

Oh, and we are salvaging the copper pipes for their re-cycling value.

Bathroom partially torn out with the plumbing exposed

The bathroom again, partially torn out

More bathroom tear out

The garage making itself useful

Back of the house with supplies

Part of the 'lipstick' , the new bathroom vanity with the white tiles proposed for the back splash
Then there was the removal of the old wood/oil burner/boiler that used to heat the house until it packed in a few years back. That was fast and dear.

What's left you may ask? The lipstick. Things that you can actually see like a whole new bathroom and flooring. Which of course was another building permit because when the boys tore out the bathroom fixtures they discovered that what insulation there was in the walls wasn't doing much. That means all new insulation in the bathroom. When you watch those home improvement shows you realize that all most people care about is the lipstick. They don't like the flooring or the paint colour or the drapes. None of them seem to care a whit about whether their house is properly wired, warm, vented and whether the roof will collapse next Tuesday. From that Chris and I have taken the lesson that if you are fixing the foundational elements of your home, you've got to put the lipstick on so people believe you.

That's our plumber's assistant getting down to work in the basement/crawlspace

Basement crawspace with plumbing stuff happening

Copper torn out for salvage

More salvage copper
Plumbing in action

The new plumbing, not near as pretty as copper, but supposedly better

There's the nice slope to the shit pipe we needed

Safe and warm. Who would have thought it would be so hard?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Spinzilla Rogue Results

So, all told I spun 395010 cm - or almost 4 kilometers of yarn during 7 hectic days. I was up until midnight of the last day plying, and even then didin't finish plying all the yarn I got spun. I'm pretty pleased. Oh, and for the imperialists amongst you, that is 4320 yards or 2.45 miles of yarn spun.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Hey Honey, we bought a house!

I don't know if you do this, but for years Chris and I have looked at property when we travel, imagining alternative lives in odd places. That has translated into us buying a little crooked house here in downtown Whitehorse. I wouldn't invest in a house that I wouldn't live in, and Chris has obviously been itching for another construction project (!) so we bought a place that seriously needed some love, but has 'good bones' (I couldn't see it, but Chris assures me it is so). Two weeks ago we put in an offer and yesterday we took possession. I wouldn't recommend such a fast closing, but it worked for us only because Chris really works well under pressure. He got quotes for all the trades people we need to fix the house, and arranged for them to start work right away.

Amongst the stories to tell about this house is the one about the former owner agreeing to take away all the detritus in the garage and around the yard. Right up until the day before closing things were appearing and other things disappearing from the yard and garage, the sum being there was still a lot of garbage. Yesterday, the day we took possession, Chris had two dumpsters delivered to take all the construction debris we expect to produce this weekend (the Thanksgiving long weekend) as we make repairs. Chris arrived at the house to discover the former owner had cleaned up most of the garbage - by filling the dumpsters! Keep in mind this is the end of day on the Friday before a long weekend. Chris was able to sweet-talk the company which delivered the dumpsters into making a special run to dump them so we'd be able to use them. The former owner agreed he'd pay, so it all worked out. And Chris has added locks to the dumpsters so no one else can use them.

Stay tuned for news about the renos.

Thursday, October 6, 2016


This year I joined Spinzilla as a Rogue spinner. It is an event during which you try and spin as many yards of yarn as you can. My mission is to spin a sweater's worth of a lovely dark grey wool kid mohair blend that was made for me by Wellington Fibre Works with some of the wool and mohair I'd had in my stash for some years. I've got 4.45lbs to spin...

Royal Market

Chris and our friends Eric and Ed helped me put up our fabric wall tent and put the wood burning stove in place so that I'd be nice and warm for this past Wednesday's Royal Market. We were visited by Prince William and his wife Kate. Sadly, I didn't actually get to clap eyes on them, but it was fun anyway getting myself all organized and it was great to try out the tent. The nice warm tent was a big hit with everyone.

Indigo and Shibori with Jane Calendar

This past weekend we had a world famous textile artist here in Whitehorse for a workshop. We spent two days working on manipulating fabric with various resists then dying in three different types of indigo vats. I love blue, so I was very excited to learn more about how to keep an indigo vat happy. They are notoriously temperamental and the few times I have tried to make one on my own have been very unsuccessful. Now I think I've got the skills to make it work. I came away with numerous samples and pieces of work to turn into new projects. I even dyed blue one of the vintage French linen sheets I got last year on our vide grenier adventures in Montrejeau.