Woody’s Big Rocks

August 29th, 2007 § Comments Off on Woody’s Big Rocks § permalink

It all started so innocently. When we moved the deck against the back of the house it didn’t quite cover the old foundation from the summer kitchen. The width was fine but the depth fell about four feet short. On a lazy afternoon of my vacation I decided to clean out some of the remaining rubble from where the back wall of the summer kitchen foundation was…

I’m an idiot. This house has tried to teach me a lesson many, many times but for some reason I refuse to accept the Woody Housing Project’s teachings. Here’s an illustration of what happens:

The Woody Housing Project: You know Woody, you never know what lies beneath.

Woody: Um, OK.

The Woody Housing Project: I don’t think you fully grasp the importance of what I’m trying to teach you.

Woody: Um, OK.

The Woody Housing Project: Please pay attention Woody. Absolutely anything could lay hidden beneath any surface. You may think you know what lies beneath, but take it from me, it absolutely will not be what you expect. The unexpected findings will make the project more difficult, longer, and more expensive.

Woody: OK, thanks. I appreciate the warning.

A short while later…

Woody: What on earth is this! There is rotten drywall behind the tub!

The Woody Project: I told you. Now do you believe me?

Woody: *sigh* Yes.

A short while later…

Woody: Oh god, not again! There is rusted out plumbing beneath the bathroom floor!

The Woody Project: There you go again, not listening. You’ll remember now.

A short while later…

Woody: Arrrrgh! I took down a plaster wall and discovered that all the wiring in the house needs to be replaced.

The Woody Project: What is wrong with you! I told you to expect the unexpected. You should have known that no project would ever be short or smooth.

Woody: Yes, yes, you told me. I’ve learned my lesson now.

A short while later…

Woody: For crying out loud! There are giant rocks buried in the backyard. I didn’t expect that.

The Woody Project: *sigh* Idiot!

And so it goes. I’ve had myriad experiences where I’ve been surprised with what I’ve discovered after starting a seemingly straight forward project. The project then spirals out of control and I continue to be surprised by this.

It happened again.

I thought that I had removed most of the foundation stones when I levelled out the area in preparation for moving the deck. I moved some very large stones, even dug a few up. The foundation had crumbled so much that I *assumed* that there weren’t any more.

When I started picking the small rubble out of the ground I found the corner of a rock that I couldn’t move. Bad sign. I got the pry bar out of the shed and tried to get under it. It didn’t seem to have a bottom. Even worse sign. I got the 5-foot ugly stick out of the shed and did some probing. It turns out the foundation was set about two feet below grade. The top of the foundation had crumbled so bad that it was almost entirely made up of dirt, gravel, and small stone fragments.What I had thought was the foundation was just the tip of the iceberg.

The bottom course of the foundation was made up of very large stones. Many of them so large that Dad and I could not lift them. We spent the better part of two days probing and excavating all of the foundation stones from the back wall of the summer kitchen. When we were done there was a substantial pile of stones in the backyard.

When you have level ground and then take many large rocks out of that level ground, you’re left with a large hole in the ground. This hole needs to be filled.

Dad and I made a run with the truck to get a load of topsoil. When we get a truckload of topsoil, we usually get a half yard, which mostly fills the bed. This time around I didn’t want to make more than one trip so I got them to load a full yard into the truck. My poor truck! I drove home very slowly because I was afraid that either the springs would give out or the tires would explode. However, we made it home without incident and I swear I heard the truck sigh with relief as we unloaded it.


With some of the excavated stones Dad and I built a step and laid a small stone patio. It turned out much better than I expected. I’m going to try to grow grass between the patio stones to help hold the dirt together.

As was the original intention, we created two flower beds which the Lovely Christina used to plant mums (the red flowers) and flowering kale (the cabbage-looking stuff). I think the finished product looks very good.

And that is the story of how one lazy afternoon a ten-minute project turned into two days of back-breaking labour.

I’ve leaned me lesson this time! (not really)

Four Degrees, Two Days, One Curtain

August 29th, 2007 § Comments Off on Four Degrees, Two Days, One Curtain § permalink

What do people do when it’s raining outside and there’s nothing good on TV? They make… curtains!

Last week the Lovely Christina and I decided to teach ourselves how to make curtains. For the most part we’re still using the ones that came with the house. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the curtains… if you live in a brothel. Anyways, we’re cheap (I mean frugal) and we want new curtains so we walked downtown and checked out the discount section of the local fabric store. We bought two meters of a blue damask for $8 and a spool of matching thread for $7 and then rushed home to setup our sewing machine.


After spending way too long hunched over the sewing machine, the two of us, with a combined four university degrees and eleven years of higher education, managed to get the sewing machine threaded and then proceeded to celebrate with some test sewing.

We worked the rest of that night and the next morning sewing our curtains and you can see the results in the above picture. The curtain is a basic rod-pocket design but we plan to upgrade to more difficult types now that we have built up our sewing machine confidence.

(The weather has since cleared up and I have moved on to some more manly home improvements.)

Instant Grassification

August 25th, 2007 § Comments Off on Instant Grassification § permalink

After moving the deck, there was suddenly a large square of dirt in the backyard. I solved the problem by covering it up with pretty green carpet.

This isn’t much of a post but there’s really not much to say.

Side Porch, Inside Painting

August 25th, 2007 § Comments Off on Side Porch, Inside Painting § permalink

Earlier this summer, the outside of the side porch was painted. With the summer running out we thought it was high time that the inside get a coat of paint. The way our schedules worked out this summer, the Lovely Christina and I had the entire month of August off together which means I had an additional helper on The Woody Housing Project.

The interior of the outside walls were painted white, the green-painted brick was repainted the much less offensive colour of “terrace taupe” and the floor and steps were painted for the first time in a blue/grey “deep shale”.

In this picture you can see all three paint colours. In addition to being a good painter-person, the Lovely Christina insisted that we replace the bare bulb with a more suitable fixture, which, if you look carefully, you can also see in the above picture. It’s amazing what $14.95 at Home Depot can do. The Lovely Christina was right, it looks much better.

After a week of scraping, cleaning and painting, the side porch is done. Just for the record, here’s a photo of the entire, completed side porch.

There, take that!

Move That Deck!

August 25th, 2007 § 1 comment § permalink

When we bought the house there was a fenced-in deck in the middle of the backyard. At that time it was a curiosity and nothing more.

When we moved in, it became increasingly puzzling – why would you ever want a fenced-in deck in the middle of the yard?

The second summer I was here it became a temporary dumpster for all the debris from the summer kitchen ordeal of 2005. Shortly after, the fence was removed with a chain saw. Since then I have been talking about moving it against the back of the house but it never seemed to happen.

This is where the deck used to be:


This is where the deck is now:


Some of you may think that I just picked up the deck and moved it where I wanted it, but it turns out that I needed help. I was lucky enough to have Brad, Chad, and Tanner helping me.

We used 4 small logs to roll the deck across the yard. The whole job took about an hour, including three 15 minute breaks.

Chad and Tanner showed up with an ice cream cake to celebrate the occasion.

(Who knew they made cakes for this sort of thing?)

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