Boy, it sure has been a while, hasn’t it?
I’ve been taking a hiatus from my blog for a while, dealing with life, or rather, uprooting it completely. If I could have planned how this year would have unfolded I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have chosen to take on a major renovation wherein I would need to move all my belongings into storage, forfeit a year of gardening and find somewhere to live temporarily for several months. Not after losing my Dad so suddenly. And not with my Grama having to be moved into a long-term care home and helping my Mom get through preparing Grama’s house for sale, and dealing with a self-destructive alcoholic rock-bottom-hitting uncle. But that’s how it is. That’s how I gotta roll.
And here I am. On what I hope is the other side of at least most of that stuff. Obviously my grieving is ongoing. But Grama is moved and happy in her new digs, her house is listed for sale, my uncle has moved on to become someone else’s problem (for now) and we are moved into our temporary home for the next few months. Today we’re at the farm, and will be bringing Luna and Smokey home to our new spot. Hopefully they won’t find that too stressful. And our new routine begins.
As for our renovations, they are chugging along and progress is being made. We’ve so far made one VERY big discovery in the project: that we will need to do external waterproofing on top of the internal waterproofing that we had already planned for. We discovered after the basement was gutted that water was weeping through the foundation even on the most average of rainy days. Given the kind of weather Toronto has had this year (such as the epic storm that dumped 124mm of rain on us in one evening — the day we moved out of our old house), this is probably a good test case year for finding such issues and doing something about it. The external waterproofing unfortunately adds a lot of other repairs to the list, including replacing the deck and the porch and probably repaving at least some of the driveway — things we wouldn’t have been doing right now otherwise. But while we bemoan the added cost, we are not begrudging the work — it’s good added insurance against water damage and means we will have taken all precautions to protect our investment. And after last week’s deluge and witnessing the bucket brigades people were running out of their basements during the power outage, we’re also looking into a battery backed-up sump pump.
Inside the house, the steel beams are in place to make the main floor entirely open concept. In the basement, the slab was dug up, new gravel put down, insulation under the slab put in and in-floor radiant heat installed, and the concrete poured. The framing is now underway. Interestingly, our contractor is using stranded, Sustainable Forestry Initiative certified lumber for the framing. This stuff is super strong, and allows us to install studs at 24-inch on centre instead of the standard 16-inch on centre, allowing us to use less lumber overall. They call this “advanced framing techniques.” Pretty cool stuff!
Outside the house, the masons are hard at work. We’ve added a window in the kitchen area, made a window on the front of the house narrower so that we have room to install a powder room on the main floor, and we’re shifting where the windows and doors are along the back of the house and deck area. We’re also bricking up what was most recently a series of windows in the kitchen area (historically this was a porch). It’s all coming along really well and the masons are fantastic — you can hardly see where the window on the front of the house was made narrower. I didn’t even notice at first that it had been done.
We’re now starting to gear up around some of the interior finishing choices. We went shopping for floors this week and have a lot to consider.
In an effort to salvage all that I could from the years of work I did at our old house, I dug up most of my hostas, peonies, columbine, a bleeding heart and bulbs this spring. There are also hen and chicks and some oriental poppies that I salvaged from my Grama’s house. The bulbs have been dried and packed up for planting in the fall, but the perennials are sitting in pots in the backyard at our temporary home awaiting their chance to get into the ground at the new place before we get too far into fall. I also managed to harvest off my (insane, huge) garlic crop from the old place just before we left it. That’s now at the farm drying on a rack. I plan to plant next year’s crop of garlic there, as I’m not sure when I’ll have my raised beds reinstalled at the new place. All of this depends on when the exterior waterproofing gets done.
Onward and upward as they say…