Friday, June 30, 2006

Bathroom Destruction

Destruction has begun in full force. I love these visible signs of progress. Today they worked on the main floor. The bathroom is gutted except for the tub. I am so happy to see the last of that hideous room. The ceiling has been ripped down from the bathroom and the front hallway. It’s pretty dusty, although they did tape plastic over the doorways to the kitchen and living room.

Yesterday they put up a staircase in the backyard. No struggling up and down awkward ladders for these guys – they get a nice solid wooden staircase. I look forward to watching them glide up and down with their building materials. It’s a shame there’s no bannister, imagine the fun they could have with that.

The sound insulation has been installed in the floor upstairs, and the floor boards are all in place, except for around the edges. It feels very solid and strong.

The new rafters are being delivered next week.

We’re getting to the part where there’s actually something to show for the money we’ve spent. It’s getting exciting. Now as long as the rain and the birds (now they could fly directly into our bathroom) hold off for a while, things will be good.

Happy Canada Day!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Last Day of School

Clay and two other guys have been working on the house all week. They’re working on the outside perimeter of the second floor, reinforcing the edges where the existing 2x8s were cut at a slant. They’re trying to do as much as they can while the roof is still on, for obvious reasons. There’s nothing like the sinking feeling in your stomach when you wake up at night and hear thunder and you have no roof on your house. Or so they say. I am very much hoping I won’t experience that.

We’re packing up and taking the kids to Dale’s mom’s tonight. I’m going to come back to our house for night since I have to work in the morning, but after tomorrow we’ll probably be with Dale’s mom for a while. Clay said the basement bathroom will probably be intact (as intact as it ever was), but now that the kids will be home all day, it’s just easier if we’re out of the way. Our main floor is so far unaffected by the construction, but it’s pretty crowded with the furniture we had to move down from upstairs. Since the kids’ beds are in the basement and Neve’s often sleeping down there, the living room and study are now the play areas. It’s all a hopeless mess, filled with toys, junk, end-of-school artwork, and children. I’m trying to tell myself the worse it is, the more we’ll appreciate it when it’s finished. And that’s just one of the ways I talk myself out of cleaning.

Today is the kids’ last day of school. If I was them, I would be more excited. Spencer doesn’t seem to care one way or another, and I think Chloe would be happy if school kept on going indefinitely. Last night she took an English workbook to Spencer’s soccer game and sat there, filling in the correct homonyms in the blanks. I’m going to have to hide that book. Excited or not, we're going to Boston Pizza to celebrate tonight. Summer vacation has arrived!!

Saturday, June 24, 2006


I got home from work Thursday to see scaffolding at the front of the house, the siding from the upper part of the house torn off, and all of the soffits & fascia gone. Yesterday the windows upstairs were taken out and we’re that much closer to the roof coming off. There’s plastic over the open windows, but I’m a little (okay, a lot) concerned about birds getting into the house. Dale duct-taped a piece of poly over the stair doorway, but I know they could easily peck through that if they wanted.

At any rate, it cheers me up to see progress. The good advice in the comments section also helped. Rob, you’re such a good advocate for the legal system. You get me all fired up and I really want to sue someone now.

There are a couple of property casualties to report. Part of the kitchen ceiling was lying on the floor when I got home at lunch yesterday. I was kind of expecting that. You may remember my prediction from an earlier blog entry. The other sad news is my Endless Summer hydrangia shrub. I bought it last summer. There is a scaffold standing on it now. Its summer wasn’t so endless after all. Maybe I’ll take legal action.

(took the kids to the Ex yesterday - it's as grimy & sleazy as ever - I LOVE IT!!)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Soffits & Fascia

I’m happy to report that the work crew reappeared yesterday morning at 7:45. Not only that, they finished ripping out the floor ahead of schedule. I was told to “place any valuables out of sight,” thereby more or less confirming my suspicions that they’re all familiar with the feel of metal around their wrists. But they’re nice guys and good workers and we’ll be using them at other stages of the renovation. Three cheers for cheap labour.

Yesterday we had scaffolding delivered and we got a new bin. The other one was full already (the new one is the same colour as the old one). Today the eavestroughs and fascia were removed. Or maybe the soffits. I keep meaning to find out which is which, but it hasn’t gotten to the top of my to-do list yet. Clay wants to start roughing in the plumbing for the bathroom upstairs. In order to do that, he has to wreck the main floor bathroom (which we’re redoing) and he thinks the basement bathroom will also be un-useable during this time. I really want to stay in our house until school ends next Wednesday, so he’s going to hold off until then. Once the bathrooms are out of service, we really have to move out. We should already be out – the workers have to dodge the kids and meticulously pick up every single nail and splinter off the ground. Today Spencer had a friend over and they were sitting on the deck watching the workers take off the eavestroughs, asking question after question: “What are you doing? Why? Are you going to go on the roof? Why not? Are you going to touch the power line? You’ll DIE if you touch that. Are you going to? Is that heavy? Why?” I told them to leave the workers alone, but they were just way too curious.

Anyway, progress is being made slowly but surely. I have to admit, every day I wonder if it’s too late to cancel the whole project. I’m looking forward to the day when we’ve made it over the hump and the finish line is closer than the starting line.

Monday, June 19, 2006

A Wedding & A Dumpster

First of all, the wedding was beautiful. It was a gorgeous day, everything went off without a hitch and Jim & Sabrina have now been married for two days. Chloe (with her cousin Tia) was a candlelighter, and Neve & Spencer were the “flower princess” and ring bearer. They all did great. Neve was very cooperative, so cooperative in fact that she kept walking right past my bench (where she was supposed to end up), right up to the front with the attendants. She started climbing the stairs to the choir area at one point, then flopped down on the floor in front of the bride and groom and just sat there. The priest had to walk around her. Eventually I managed to grab her and Dale’s mom took her outside. Spencer lasted up front a little longer. I was standing up front doing a reading and he sauntered over and poked my leg. I think everyone was sort of hoping he’d do something more entertaining, but by some miracle he went back to stand with the groomsmen. So it was all good and we had lots of fun. Here's a photo of us, all shiny and clean.

Things are back on track with the reno now that the asbestos removal is finished. A demo crew (who bear a close resemblance to the Asbestos Guys) showed up today and started ripping up the floor. It is so loud, it feels like they’re going to come right through the ceiling. In fact, if that doesn’t happen by the end of this, I will be quite surprised. I hope it will be the living room ceiling because that needs fixing anyway. At 2:30, it was suddenly time for the crew to leave because “we have to give our tickets to the office.” I have no idea what that means. They asked if it was okay if they came back tomorrow. I’m guessing so. They asked what time and when I said 8:00, they said, well we’ll have to see when the bus comes. I’d say the chances of ever seeing them again are 50/50. I took a peek upstairs and the floor boards are almost all ripped away. Underneath where the floor used to be, I can see traces of “stuff” that looks remarkably like asbestos, but I prefer to call it “drywall dust.” No one’s saying anything, so neither am I. What do I know?

A bin (more commonly known as a dumpster) was delivered today. It’s aquamarine, which I thought was a pretty colour for a dumpster. I didn’t get to choose the colour in advance, so I feel quite lucky. It’s in the back near the Porta-Potty (which is beige and dark beige). It feels like an authentic construction site now. I just wish we had a crane. That would be impressive. Oh well, I’m happy with my bin, as long as I don’t find any bodies in it.

Friday, June 16, 2006

The Last of the Asbestos

Just a quick update to let you know that everything went well with the air quality test and two Abestos Guys arrived around 10:00, shortly after I posted the entry below. They had the whole place completely cleaned up by 12:30. The upstairs is just a bare shell and it's crazy hot up there. But everything is back to normal, except for a few stray pop rocks here and there (or maybe that's leftover asbestos. I'll have to taste it to find out). We are now the proud owners of an asbestos-free house. Makes me want to take a deep breath.

So the white cube van will be no longer by parking in front of my house every day. I think I might miss them (except for the phlegm-spitting one). They’ve become like family. Family that mostly stays in the attic, but still. They’ve seen my children grow before their eyes. They know my routine – when my brother Dan came over one day this week and I wasn’t home, they said I had walked to get the kids from school (I never told them). Well, all good things must come to an end and I must say it is quite a treat to get from one end of my house to the other without going outside.

Anyway, my day turned out well and I accomplished everything I wanted to (besides getting a university degree and visiting Europe). Now Neve is in bed and we're going to have a little family movie night. Dale rented March of the Penguins, so off we go to traumatize the children.

Where are They?

I just got to our house after dropping the kids off at school (after a 45 minute drive that usually takes 20 minutes) and there’s no sign of the Asbestos Guys. I’m thinking that’s not a great sign. The air quality inspector was here yesterday to set up an air tester that runs overnight. He said he’d be here at 8:00 this morning to check it, so I don’t know what happened. Where are the Asbestos Guys and why are they not dismantling the decontamination zones?! I want my hallway back. So appreciate your hallways. Don’t take them for granted. Take a moment to tell them you love them.

Clay (our contractor) & I also went downtown to get our electrical and plumbing permits yesterday. It was a very un-City-like experience – the staff were friendly, we didn’t have to wait at all, and we were done in about 5 minutes. And we even got free parking. I guess they’re trying to encourage people to apply for permits – now if they’d only give people fudge or something. Or I know – not punish us by raising our property taxes! I suppose the fudge is more realistic.

On a different note, Jim & Sabrina’s wedding rehearsal was yesterday. Neve & Spencer walked down the aisle okay. Who knows what will happen on Saturday though. Spencer’s planning to stand up front with the groomsmen for the whole ceremony – that should be interesting. Fortunately Sabrina is the most relaxed, easygoing non-bridezilla I have ever seen. She looks like she is genuinely enjoying herself – way to go Sabrina! And you too Jim, you guys are doing great. Soon it will be Monday, so have fun!! Here’s a picture of them from the rehearsal dinner last night.

I better run. This morning, I’m getting my nails done, picking up Spencer’s tux, and taking him to a birthday party at 1:00. I also have to buy Dale a tie and get Chloe to her manicure appointment at 3:00. Fortunately Dale’s mom is keeping Neve all day, so that is a huge help.

And I really have to find out what going on with my house.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

On Saturday I took a deep breath, made my way past the Do Not Enter sign, through the “zones” and went upstairs. My heart was pounding and I felt like I was committing a felony (I now feel a bond with my co-felon asbestos workers). When I parted the sheets of orange poly on the last chamber that opens up to the stairs, there on the stairs at eye level were a pair of black rubber boots. I thought someone was standing there keeping guard and I almost screamed. Luckily I kept holding my breath and continued upstairs. I took a quick picture and ran downstairs. See the things I do for my readers? I knew I had to do something exciting to keep your interest when there’s nothing new to report. Someone suggested a naked photo and I was thinking of pasting my head onto someone else’s body but I haven’t got around to that yet. If anyone wants to send me a naked photo, I’ll see what I can do. I guess I shouldn’t write that, who knows what I’ll get.

Okay I got a little sidetracked. The second floor is pretty much down to the studs. There’s a big pile of bags of asbestos at one end, but it looks like they’ve gotten a lot out. Here’s a picture (taken facing east, which was Neve's room).

Today the Head Asbestos Guy said they’ll be vacuuming the next couple of days, then the Air Quality Inspector comes on Thursday and if everything’s okay, they will dismantle the zones and clean up on Friday. YAY!!

The sleeping situation continues to improve. I had the best sleep yet last night. I’m still sleeping on the futon with Chloe, but I moved Neve’s playpen into the bedroom with Dale. When she wakes up, Dale gets up with her and takes her for a walk while the rest of us sleep. The kids are doing well, but Spencer misses home. He’s been acting up a bit and I think he’s feeling unsettled. After the asbestos removal is done, we’re planning to stay at home until the roof comes off. Hopefully school will be done by then and we can be free and routine-less.

And the wedding-clothes update: I am pleased to report I am all set for the wedding! I bought shoes and a purse, and shoes for Chloe yesterday. I bought two different little shrugs on Saturday but wasn’t thrilled with either. But a friend happened to have one that’s the exact shade of one of the colours of my dress (what are the chances of that?!) and she kindly lent it to me. I’m so relieved to have it all taken care of; I feel like I’ve finished my Christmas shopping. Unfortunately Dale still needs a tie, so we have to deal with that yet. But how hard can that be?

Friday, June 09, 2006


Nothing new to report – the Asbestos Guys think it will take another full week til they’re done. Nothing’s happening on the flide entrance either. No progress to be seen anywhere. But I thought I better write something to keep Shannon and my other loyal reader(s) happy. I just want to make the world a better place. I was finally able to post some photos.

Things are going well at Dale’s mom’s and the kids are happy Yesterday they skipped school and stayed with Grammy all day because I went to work and forgot to make arrangements for Chloe for before & after school. I wasn’t too concerned; I don’t think they’re learning much this time of year anyway.

Good news on the sleeping situation – I slept on the futon with Chloe last night and had a much better sleep. The futon is firm and big, and I even brought my own comforter from home, so things are looking up. There is one downside (isn’t there always?). The futon is in the main area of the basement and Neve can see me from her playpen in the corner. It’s nice to be popular and loved of course, but not at 6:30 a.m. I let her run around the basement while I tried to sleep, but she preferred climbing on me and pulling my hair. Now I’m thinking I might move the futon into the bedroom in exchange for the bed. I just realized I should have stopped writing at “Nothing new to report.” I’m sure you all have much better things to do than hear the minute details about my sleeping situation. If not, tomorrow I’ll go into detail about the pattern and dimensions of my sheets and comforter. I’ll save the pillowcases for the next day.

On a totally different note, Jim & Sabrina’s wedding is in eight days and I still need a little sweater/shrug/shawl thing, a purse, and shoes for me and Chloe. The weather’s not supposed to be that great this weekend, so I should be able to get some good shopping in (I can’t go shopping when it’s sunny and warm). Have a great weekend.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Yellow Garbage Bags

The asbestos removal continues. I am told they scoop most of it up, and then vacuum the rest. I am quite disappointed that I can’t see the workers in their space gear. They change from their street clothes to their asbestos-wear in the first compartment of the zone and then continue on. When they emerge (at lunch and at the end of the day) they are wearing their street clothes again. I am a little skeptical of the whole situation. Tuesday afternoon they started bringing out bags of asbestos. Load after load of yellow garbage bags were carried right through my kitchen. Would there not be asbestos dust on the bags? And the guy is in his street clothes (of course) going in and out of the chamber to get the bags. It’s starting to feel stuffy and dusty in our house and it hurts when I breathe. I hate asbestos.

Last night was our second night at Dale’s mom’s. We have a nice newly-finished basement to spread out in, with our own bedroom and bathroom. I think it will work out quite well, except I’m a little concerned about the bed. It’s a little larger than a single bed and very soft. I can’t stand any part of me touching any part of Dale (or anyone else) when I want to sleep. I was getting claustrophic and Dale wouldn’t move over. He was saying something about almost falling off the bed, blah blah blah. Things were getting ugly. Not sure what we’re going to do about that situation, although I have a few ideas. Chloe has a huge futon to herself and I think she really wants Dale to sleep beside her tonight. I just need to convince her with the help of 7-11 and $1.29 (the medium).

It took 20 minutes to drive the kids to school, which is not much more than the time it takes to walk to school from our house (we have to allow extra time for everyone to select their daily mode of transportation, find helmets, and whine about not driving). Neve and I did errands in the morning and went back to our house for the afternoon. Spencer and Neve had their naps in the basement and at 3:30, we picked Chloe up from school and headed back to south St. Vital where they only have nice new houses with no asbestos

Monday, June 05, 2006

Danger Zone

The rocket has landed and the spacemen have come and gone for the day. Actually it was a white cube van with three rough looking guys. I suspect they've all done time. That being said, they were very nice and polite and hardworking. We are now the proud owners of a 3-zone decontamination chamber. Lucky us. You too could have this for a ghastly sum of money. Although if you don't actually have asbestos, they might charge less. They're pretty much done the set-up, tomorrow the vacuuming begins.

The chamber is made of orange poly on a 2x4 frame. It begins at the bottom of the stairs and extends into the kitchen. There are 3 separate chambers. The middle one contains a shower. I use the word "shower" generously - it's a metal tub with what looks like an intraveous bag hanging from the top. This unit entirely blocks the hall, so you can't get from the front of the house to the back. If I'm in the kitchen and have to go to the study, I have to go outside and walk around to the garden doors. Actually today there's still a slit which we can go through to the back of the house, but tomorrow it will be blocked and sealed. I'm thinking we will be vacating the premises soon (although if anyone from the insurance company is reading this, I'm only kidding). If the kids need us in the night, it could get a bit awkward having to go outside to get to them. It's probably not the worst thing in the world though - might prevent them from making fake trips to the bathroom when they're supposed to be in bed. (No one except Dale EVER uses the basement bathroom. How could we have expected Neve to sleep in there when we refuse to even pee there?) So we're off to Dale's mom's, either today or tomorrow. I'll be back here every day after dropping the kids off at school since I need my computer to do my work, and to keep an eye on the workers. I guess I really won't be seeing them since they'll be isolated upstairs and can't come down all day. Hopefully they bring good magazines. I don't envy them being stuck up there all day - it's hot and there's orange poly covering all the windows. Maybe they're used to it from their incarceration.

I tried uploading some photos, but I'm having some technical difficulties.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

In The Beginning

We are insane. Or brilliant, but I suspect it's the former. What began as a plan to get a new roof (new shingles) on our one and a half storey house has evolved into adding a full 2nd storey as well as a new front entrance on the side of the house. I call it the "flide" entrance - our front door, but it's on the side of the house. Let me know if I need to explain that further.

At any rate, after months of deliberation and decision-making, things are on their way. The foundation for the flide entrance was poured last week and the floor has been built. Yesterday a spray insulation guy came and sprayed some kind of foam insulation into the floor of the entrance. It's supposed to be very good. blah blah blah. I don't know anything about anything, but I'm getting good at pretending I do. After a paramount glitch in which asbestos was discovered in our attic and knee-walls, demolition has begun upstairs. All the carpets, doors and trim have been removed in preparation for the space-suited asbestos crew who are expected to arrive on Monday. They are scheduled to be here for two weeks. No one knows what they do for that long since no one is allowed to set foot upstairs For all we know they're eating freeze-dried fruits and pop-rocks (isn't that what space-people do?). Ironically enough, we are allowed to stay in our house during this time. They are covered from head to toe with respirators and oxygen tanks, but my little children can happily skip about, inhaling and exhaling as usual. We are prepared to go to Dale's mom's at any time, but we'll play it by ear. We set up the kids beds and furniture in the basement, and they're quite enjoying the novelty of it. Chloe said it was like a really expensive hotel (which we've never stayed in, nor can I imagine an expensive hotel resembling our basement in any way). We had Neve's playpen set up in the basement bathroom, but after one day of that we took pity on her and moved her out of the damp, musty, moldy room and moved her into the main area with the other kids, which is marginally less dampy, musty and moldy. Still working out a few kinks with that. Afternoon naptime is ugly with Neve waking up Spencer every time. Oh well, it will all be worth it.