Thursday, November 25, 2010

Week 8: Apocalypse Now

.: November 20 & 21, 2010 :.

Cabin face is built! Staining to come.
As some of you may know, Spencer is an avid Fallout fan. He played Fallout 3 until its timely demise, which was brought about only when it was supplanted by Fallout: New Vegas. For those who aren't familiar with the Fallout series its central theme is the survival of mankind in your run of the mill post-apocalyptic world.

The apocalypse in this case was the drastic change wrought by the cumulative effects of the recent renovations and, more importantly, what we accomplished this weekend.

Despite the weather forecast Spencer felt it was going to be very cold. Be that as it may we decided to spend the weekend, because it could very well be the last opportunity for doing so this season. November is after all a potentially stormy and unquestionably unpredictable month when it comes to weather in ever-so-slightly northern Ontario. There were a few things we wanted to accomplish:

As Luke said: measure once, cut twice.
(a) prepare the cabin for the winter;
(b) get a lock on the outer gate;
(c) meet with our contractor to pay him and discuss future projects;
(d) install blinds on all the windows; and
(e) install the floor in the front room of the cabin.

So Saturday morning we packed our stuff consisting of a couple of sleeping bags, toothbrushes, nightware, etc. (remember, we're minimalists) and headed to our sanctuary. The trip there this time took longer than it typically does, since we stopped no fewer than four times on the way. Probably the most important stop was going to Burger King for breakfast, which is becoming another tradition. The croissanwiches there are terrific. The other stop of significance was at a place that sells electronics and coffee. That's right. You can buy a monitor or computer and a bag of coffee while you're at it. How convenient. In our case we picked up an iPod dock with speakers so we would have music to work by. Regrettably (and to Sim's chagrin) it did not come with a coffee brewer attachment, so we were forced to forego the little tin of espresso on the neighbouring shelf.

We were scheduled to meet our contractor, Al, at 1:00 p.m. and by the time we got there we had only 10 minutes to spare. Al had always previously arrived on time and we had no reason to think he wouldn't again, so it was important that we weren't late.

We unloaded the car and ushered the dogs into the cabin. It was SO cold. The first thing Spencer did was turn on the space heater we'd previously brought. He then started our very first fire in our newly serviced wood stove. It was so cold that it took a while before it started to make any difference inside, but before too long it became cozy and delightful.

By about 2:00 Al hadn't arrived yet so we started installing the blinds on the windows adjacent to the front door. Regrettably our hand held drill hadn't been charged and Spencer had to install by hand the screws that held the brackets. That was a bit of a chore.

Right after getting the first one installed Al arrived. He apologized for his tardiness but it was truly no big deal. We then sat down to settle what was due for his services up to that point and talked turkey (or was it turducken?) about the projects we'd been contemplating for the spring (more on that in future posts).

Following Al's departure we swept and vacuumed with our new shop vac and started the weekend's main event: installing the new floor. What you should appreciate is that neither of us has ever done this before, so we were not exactly brimming with confidence as we started. Sure, we had done a minimal amount of due diligence when we bought the laminate floor tiles by asking the Home Depot guy about how to do it. Spencer had nodded in faux appreciation at his instructions. Luckily Sim had understood what he was saying, so we had nothing to worry about.

New blinds and an amazing find
At first we fumbled a little through the proper steps, but after a little while we got the hang of it. However, regardless of how adept at this stuff someone is, it's bloody hard work. You're constantly bending over, kneeling down, laying the tiles, measuring space, measuring pieces, standing up, cutting pieces, kneeling down, re-laying the tiles, forcing them in, standing up, feeding the wood stove, and repeat. Heilige Scheisse it's tough on the body and neither of us expected how fatiguing it would be.

About halfway through the afternoon Spencer was digging through the wood basket container thingy and came across some old Toronto Star newspapers. He pulled them out and Sim asked him to check the date. The first one was dated sometime in July, 1989. He then looked at the one beneath it - that one was dated October 7, 1989. It was so cool to unexpectedly go back in history. Coincidentally the first page of the October issue's entertainment section contained a review of John Goodman's role as Dan Conner in Roseanne - one of Sim's favorite TV shows. We flipped through the rest of the section and got a chuckle out of some of the movies playing, including Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors. We naturally spared the papers from the fire and in fact intend to preserve them as an interesting tidbit in the history of Twin Ponds.

It was just after five when we decided that we needed a break to get some lights from the local Home Hardware as well as supper. We headed into town, got an indoor and outdoor light, went to Tim Horton's for soup and a sandwich, and were back at the cabin by 6:30.

It was around 10:00 p.m. when the new floor had reached the half-way point in the room and we were totally wiped out. So we decided to do something less stressful, like hang more blinds.

Ahhhh, so nice!
By this time our handheld drill had been sufficiently charged so the process was relatively straightforward. First we did the second one next to the front door. Then we moved to the kitchen. After a brief bad-shoulder incident we moved to the bedroom to finish the two there. The first blind right next to the bed wasn't too bad. Unfortunately though the fifth and last blind couldn't be installed until we did a bit of a mini-major remediation of the area around it. We had already tossed the hideous and aged blue and pink curtains, but the rods were still there and on closer inspection there were numerous cob webs and other crap hanging or dangling from the walls and ceiling around the window. By the time we had taken care of the surrounding grime and gotten the blinds up it was about eleven o'clock, so we got ready for and went to bed.

At half past two Spencer woke up. It was pretty cold outside the sleeping bags. We had closed the bedroom door and turned on the space heater so that neither we nor the dogs would freeze to death, but although we were warm enough the dogs weren't, so in his semi-comatose state Spencer turned up the heat on the space heater. That was a fail since he didn't turn it up all the way. For the rest of the night Jasmine continued her fitful sleep which kept waking us up. At 8:00 we both got up and we felt terrible that Jazzle had had such a bad night. We decided that it would be faster for the car to warm up so instead of starting a fire in the wood stove straightaway we decided to go for breakfast at the nearby inn (it was inexpensive and good!).

By the time we got back we still weren't quite ready to resume work on the floor. The cabin was still very cold and Spencer fired up the stove. Again it took a while to heat up the interior of the main room, so in the meantime we found little things to do which weren't directly related to installing the floor. The rest of the day was spent just getting the floor in. Intermittently we would step back, gauge our progress, and tell ourselves how awesome it was looking.

Completed! Well, almost.
Incidentally, this weekend we decided to count the number of times Spencer hit his head on the overhead lights in the main room. He reached 15. That's right. And every time it happened there was a cute little bell type of chime when the bulb hit the fixture which his head had struck. Ding...

Anyway, by the time we had expended as much sweat as we could (about 87.2%), the room really did look awesome. In fact, a few of the other adjectives we used to describe it were "fantastic," "astonishing," and "unbelievable." Those are all words which (justifiably) expressed our feelings for the difference this new floor makes to not just the appearance, but also our desire to spend time there making additional improvements. The possibilities now really do seem endless.

Thus it was with tremendous satisfaction that as we closed (and locked!) the gate for possibly the last time this season we enjoyed the beginning of Twin Ponds's post-apocalyptic era.


  1. A rather unfortunate acronym, but thank you!

  2. Great work, you guys! I can't believe how handy you've both become... just reading your posts makes me tired! :D

  3. You know, reading this makes *me* tired too!