Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Barn

Our barn took a bit of a beating during our most recent windstorm.  Considering the severity of the storm we had, we were surprised to even find it standing the next morning.

It looks like we added a bit of unintentional ventilation, didn't we?  The metal roof that's stored in the fore-front of the photo above is destined for the south side of the barn, after we tear down the dairy addition that was probably added at the turn of the century.  The half-wall is the original outside wall.  When we tear down the addition that runs the length of the barn, this will be the outside wall once again.

Here's how things looked on the north side of the barn in spring 2007.  That's the year we had this side of the roof re-done:
There's nothing like a good patch-job, is there?  I'll never understand half-done jobs, but this is not a philosophical discussion, I'm just voicing my opinion.  (That doesn't explain why today, five years later, just half of our roof is done, but at least it's the whole half!)

Moving right along...ahem.

When we re-did the roof of the house (remind me to tell you how that went someday!), we were encouraged to buy the roof for the barn at the same time, because metal prices were set to jump 30%.  We knew what needed to be done, and although we didn't have a clue who would do the work, based on the gong-show of workers we had for the house, we went ahead and ordered the metal roof.

Entire sections of the roof needed to be replaced before the metal went up.  Working with our local wood-pusher, we kept the sawmill humming with lots of custom orders.  The white pine used to make the repairs was cut on order and delivered as needed.  It's experiences like this that make you realize you've got friends in your suppliers, because I don't know anyone who would turn around and deliver wood the next day like our sawmill does.  Our wood-pusher is rooting for us, of this much we know.  The fact I ply him with home-canned goods might have something to do with it, too.

The roofers we found were methodical, thorough, and got the job done in a timely manner.  I think it took about a week to re-do this side.  We were happy with the roofers' work and professionalism.  You'll notice Cooper in the above photo, too.  He made many new friends, and shared many a lunch.  It was win/win all around.

The north side of the barn is looking good.  It's re-done, it's solid, and now we really need to concentrate on the demolition of the lean-to on the south side of the barn, and bring the barn back to it's original state.

Here's a view of the inside of the dairy addition after this latest storm:

We've got a bit of a cave-in happening here.  (Notice my optimism - a "bit of a cave-in" is like saying, "a bit pregnant", perhaps).  Let's face facts here.  If we don't do something - soon - we'll be shoveling sawdust before long.

I can't tell you how many builders we've had look at the barn in the past 10 years.

They all say the same thing: "We'll call you".  And then they peel out of the driveway, kicking up gravel, and looking in their rear-view mirror as they shake their head in a combination of sympathy and despair.

That is why I see myself with my hard-hat, a harness around my middle, dangling from the roof as I take my tin-snips to the metal in a feeble attempt at destruction.  Eric's read about 20 books on timber-frame construction, and the wood for the repairs is already stored in the barn.  We're this close to doing the work ourselves.

Stay tuned for yet another saga in our lives at Shim Farm.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Uh oh, BobCat's Helping Knit again...

...and he's got his partner in crime he's trying to teach the ropes to:

Tessie is more interested in the camouflage aspect of my new Saga.  Yes, that's right, my new Saga.  I've knit another one, but this one is less "saga" than the first one.  Let's just say I still had a bit of momentum on from the last one.  This is the neutral version, and I'm in looooove.

I need just a day or so more to finish it, but it's coming along, and I won't stop until it's finished.

My knitting resolution for 2012 is going to stick, I hope!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Windy Enough for You?

Winds are currently 84 km/h gusting to 100 km/h at Montreal-Trudeau Airport.

And it's well past 1:00 AM, and yes, I really should be in bed.  Remember the scene in "The Exorcist", where Linda Blair's bed was shaking violently?  Well, I'm not in need of an exorcism, so I don't know why the entire upstairs is quaking like it is.  It's like a 3.5 on the Richter scale, with the house is creaking from every corner in this wind.  The noise and vibration are keeping me awake.  The front door is rattling on its hinges, and even little Schatzie woke up with a start from her deaf slumber and moved to a leeward sofa.

THAT'S how bad the wind is.

Wow.  We've felt wind before, but never like this.

From time to time, the sky is filled with the bright blue light of yet another transformer blowing.  That we still have power in our rural area is nothing short of a miracle.

The night is still young.  Wish us luck.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Yet More Sunset

Here is today's:
It's -20C outside right now, and we probably have a ways to go before we reach our low for tonight.  The revised Environment Canada forecast gives us a guesstimate of -24C for tonight, which is hideously cold.  The thermometer will tell us the truth tomorrow morning, but if I had to bet, I'm putting my money down on -28C.

Tonight's sunset was incredible.  I fumbled the camera with bare hands, and within seconds, my fingers were numb.  The things I won't do to get a half-decent picture.  The colours were spectacular, and every pastel shade was somewhere to be found.  The snow squealed beneath my feet as I turned on my heels to high-tail it inside, and even Cooper was on 2 paws by the time I opened the door.  I was outside for all of 30 seconds, so that should tell you something.

Considering we've had a mild winter thus far, I won't complain, and with +7C and rain in the forecast for next Tuesday, I can realistically say there's light at the end of this proverbial tunnel.  This cold snap shall pass before long.

Our upstairs is toasty-warm.  It's 21.5C in the spare bedroom, and that's without the heat on.  Just the heat from the wood stove working its way upstairs is enough to keep things more than comfortable now that the renovations are mostly complete.  I am so thankful that the other half of our house is liveable, and that we can safely leave paint cans upstairs without fear of them freezing.

Besides, when it's registering +27C beside the wood stove, and I have 3 cats surrounding me like bookends, (albeit Cooper's watching me with disgust because the cats seem to be getting all the attention these days), what's there to complain about?  There's a steady flow of wonderful hardwood - mostly ash these days - sort of high-octane wood stove fodder - to keep us warm.  Throw some nice knitting on the needles, a good book within reach, and another day to sleep in, and all is right with the world.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Two Sunsets

I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Here's January 5, 2012:

 And January 8, 2012:
To say that I'm pleased about our relative lack of snow is an understatement.

Spring.  It's right around the corner, isn't it?

I said: isn't it?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


BobCat's a riot.  This feline lush came to us as a feral stray.  We'd see him hanging around from time to time, and I guess the pickings at our place must've been good, because he'd started to make our house a regular part of his rounds.  We'd see him all over our neighbourhood - his territory was easily one square kilometer - and sometimes weeks went by where we didn't see him at all.

We had a cat already.  Her name was Amelia, the petite female version of Bob.  Where Melia was a delicate little orange and white kitty, BobCat was her perfect opposite.  The only thing they had in common was their colour.  I've always had a soft spot for orange and white kitties.  Two of my childhood cats were orange and white, and for sentimental reasons, I still maintain they're the best.

We found Amelia at the side of the road one fall night.  We'd spotted a dirty-looking white cat several times driving into town, and were in the habit of leaving a bowl of food at the side of the road for him or her.  One evening, Amelia jumped out of the bullrushes, nearly clawed herself into my pant leg, mewed piteously, and it was pretty obvious that we'd just been adopted by a new cat.  Amelia settled down on my lap on the car ride home, and acted like long-lost family.

Amelia had previously had a litter of kittens. She was still very young, probably under a year by our vet's best guess.  She weighed just 3 pounds, and was terribly emaciated.  Once we got her home, she settled down on a hutch in the corner of the kitchen and didn't move for 2 days. I felt terrible that someone would abandon such a wonderful creature, and Amelia quickly found her way into my heart.  We all have pets that we bond more with, and Amelia was one of those cats.
She was quite the card - very docile, very playful, and very diva-esque in her own special way.  She thrived on a strict schedule, and one of her most endearing qualities was her verbosity.  She had different meows for different things, and the most remarkable thing she would meow came out sounding like this:  ming wing.  I kid you not.  Ming wing.  It meant she was sitting in the tub, waiting for her daily Q-tip to bat around.
One early May day, I found Amelia's lifeless body in the middle of the road.  It was one of the saddest days of my life.

The next day, BobCat showed up on the doorstep.  But this day, he came in through the front door, walked straight into the house, something he had never done, walked up to Amelia's scratching post, dug his claws in, and then settled down on an Ikea chair in the living room and had a day-long nap.

It looks like we had a new cat.
BobCat cheated on us in the beginning.  BobCat's a schmoozer, and must have wormed his way into many a home and heart, because he went missing for days on end.

In the beginning, he'd stay away over night and normally be waiting on the stoop the next morning.  After two nights AWOL, I'd go on a recon mission.  Driving up and down the street at night-fall, the headlights of my car would catch his eyes at the side of the road.  I'd pop open a tin of his favorite cat food, and he'd come bounding over to me.  We'd drive home together, and he'd settle in for a few more days.  Once, I found him at a stable a kilometre from our house.  When I called him, he jumped out of a box-stall window and came bounding over to me.  You could practically hear the music from "Lassie Come Home" playing in the background.

One day, he came home after a week's bender wearing a flea collar and smelling of cigarette smoke and laundry softener.  I promptly put a new collar on him with a note that his name was Bob and that he had a phone number, but I never got a call from his other "adoptive" family.  As it was, I'm the one who had him neutered (you should see our vet bills -  I should have a payment plan, or just straight-out give our vet a BMW or Mercedes), but with some patience, BobCat became "our" cat.

We're going onto 8 years of Bob's presence.  He doesn't go far these days, mainly down to our barn and back, and spends his nights sleeping with yours truly.  Yep.  He's even pushed Cooper off the bed at night.  This winter he's really staked his claim.  He doesn't bother me at night any more, for which I am truly appreciative.  I can do without his 5AM wake-up call.

Plus he's spent nearly 15 minutes spilling out of the double-decker wicker-wonder cat bed, so I love him all the more.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Welcome 2012

After a great night's sleep into 2012, I woke up with a migraine on January 1.  Happy 2012!  It's what happens when a rapidly-advancing cold front with a 20C differential combines with female hormones.  It's a cruel, cruel world.

All that to say, January 1 was pretty much a write-off.  Eric's still working (he left on Christmas Day), so we haven't really been doing a lot of socializing this season.  While Eric returns tonight at midnight if all goes as planned, I return to work tomorrow morning.  Things didn't quite work out for us, schedule-wise, this holiday season.  We did spend a lot of time on the phone though, planning next year's strategy.

When the throes of a migraine have me in firm clasp, there's pretty much nothing that will help to make me feel better.  I wasn't at the point of slapping an ice-pack on the back of my head yet and retching and/or whimpering silently into a pillow while curled into the fetal position in a darkened room, so I tackled one of those household chores many people either 1) ignore, or 2) have on their Top 5 Hate-to-do-List.

It's cleaning the shower stall.

Maybe because I still have a bit of a headache left as a reminder of yesterday, and a hard vein in my right temple I can take my pulse from, that I'm taking the opportunity to bitch a bit here.  Yes, I understand, it's the dawning of a new year and all, but let me gripe for a moment.

That effin' shower stall.  We have a big corner shower, one of those molded-fibreglass units with clear glass doors that open and shiny metal tracks that accumulate soap scum like it's going out of style.

I've been bitching about those shower stall doors for years.  It got so bad a few years ago, our plumbing store actually replaced them for us - I can't recall what the problem was, I think the finish was peeling off the rails - and for a decent replacement fee, we got new, easier-to-clean doors.

And despite doing the eco thing by squeegee-ing the stall and doors down after each use (we actually fight about who gets to go in the shower first - meee - nooo - meeee - nooooo - I squeeged last time!) - all that to say we have developed a certain disdain for the shower.

Trying to be ecologically-conscious, I clean pretty much every surface of the house with either Dr. Bronner's soap, or vinegar and baking soda, or just plain old Sunlight dish-washing soap, but when I noticed a 2-for-1 coupon for Scrubbing Bubbles Extend-a-Clean Mega Shower Foamer, my curiosity was piqued.

So yesterday morning I grabbed a pail of hot sudsy water, a toothbrush to extricate the grossness from the rails and around the fixtures.  Then I braced myself and liberally sprayed the shower stall with noxious, toxic, environmentally unfriendly Scrubbing Bubbles.  I waited three minutes (pass the gas-mask, this stuff stinks), and rinsed.

Well, if Oprah had been in my living room with a camera crew, I'd have declared it an Oscar-worthy "A-ha" moment of housekeeping.  I'd also have been stark-nekkid, save for a carbon-filter mask on my head, a worn-down tooth brush in one hand, a chammy in the other and an incredulous grin on my face, but again, I digress.

I still needed to clean the nooks and crannies with my dedicated shower toothbrush, and wipe everything down with my chamois, but man, was it clean.  2012 is starting off with a new-looking shower stall, and I'm warming up to chemicals in pressurized containers...once again, Yin is fighting with Yang.

Of all the rooms in the house, Eric and I have major design issues with the bathroom.  We dislike the tiles, the sinks, the shower stall, and I particularly dislike the corner tub, which I physically need to climb into to clean.  I used to be a bath person until I moved here.  But the bath is so big and takes so long to fill, I feel I'm practically hot-tubbing it when I'm in it.  I now take, like one celebratory bath a year, and the rest of the time, I take my shower and try and ignore the scumminess that forms on the doors.

Because Eric needed to finish the bathroom in a mega-hurry when he moved here, attention was given more to the placement of plumbing than to actual fixtures.  Eventually, we'll replace the tile, change the 2 pedestal sinks (I mean, who does that?  2 PEDESTAL SINKS?) for a one-sink vanity with actual shelves and drawers and space for toilet paper and related accoutrements.  We need all the storage space we can lay our hands on, and a nice vanity would fit my bill perfectly.

But those things can wait for a while.  For now, me and my trusty can of Scrubbing Bubbles will eek a few more years' use out of the shower-stall and truth be told, I can live with the rest of it.

It ain't perfection, but what is?

So on that note, with one day of vacation left, I'm off to polish my stainless cook-top to a mirror shine I can see myself in...and then I'll hunker down and knit, or read, unless something else comes up.

And then, with those 2 most-disliked chores struck from my cleaning list, let the games that are 2012 begin.

Have a good year.  Keep smiling.  It ain't that bad.

And remember, like Momma always says, nothing's eaten as hot as it's cooked.
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