Barn-Raising, Part I

The first two weekends of this month (before the cold weather returned with a vengeance this Friday), Richard excitedly started work on the next phase of his project to transform our 35-year old horse barn/chicken coop into a 1000 square foot shop. (Click the link for a recap of the first three years.) The latest challenge is a floor like moon rock. The so-called slab appears to have been dumped in bucket loads and left to dry as it fell, and there’s a varying slope which amounts to a 6” difference in height between the east side and the west. Richard came up with a simple solution to a) lay a new slab capable of supporting the weight of his hoist and other shop equipment and b) ensure his 14 foot ceiling remains to allow for the hoist. He began on the 5th, with (forgive me, fellas) the most adorable little red jacks I’ve ever seen. Once all the walls, posts, and roof beams were supported with criss-crossed struts, and the handful of bolts that were all that was holding the walls to the floor had been cut, eight or nine of these bottle jacks was all it took for him to begin lifting the barn off its footings. I couldn’t believe he actually did the entire lifting process by himself—to about 10” above the footings. In the space he inserted concrete cinder blocks. These will form a strong new perimeter within which to pour the new slab overtop of the old one, the height allowing Richard to make it completely level from east to west without having cement touching and rotting the walls. Chris and Dagny came up for the weekend again, and the boys spent all day Saturday and well into the night laying the cinder blocks with rebar and buckets of cement. They had to call it quits at 2am with only a dozen blocks left to do, which Richard will finish when he recovers from this flu. (Let’s hope the cold weather will be gone for good by next weekend!) Next he’ll fasten the walls and posts to the blocks and cement everything in place, and then an expert will pour the new concrete pads, both inside and out. After that, the interior of the barn just needs basic finishing work to get it ready for its new life as Richard’s shop. It’s about time.

Anyone for a Barbecue?

Look at what we woke up to this morning! My sister and nieces left yesterday morning after a great visit that we spent mostly outdoors in the sunshine. Most days it was 18 degrees in the shade in the afternoon. But on Friday morning, snowflakes were falling, just a little, and Elisa’s drive home via the Fraser Canyon was harrowing, with snow falling the entire trip (until she got to the coastal side’s torrential downpours, which were worse, apparently). Here it remained chilly and windy all day, and then around 6 as I headed to the post office, the flakes turned as large as quarters and by the time I got home it was accumulating. By bedtime it was two inches thick. We never thought we’d wake up to find it still snowing! I got up at 6:30, shocked, and tried to post a photo, but of course in the heavy snowfall my satellite internet was down. It’s thinning out now, but there’s a good 4 inches on the ground (except on the road and the gravel driveway) and no yard work in our futures this afternoon, I expect. Last I checked, the forecast was for “flurries” and a high of 8 degrees, but we’re in a snowier pocket that’s sometimes 2 degrees cooler than the airport 75k away, so who knows. Mother Nature is giving us the day off, I guess. Might as well rest – both of us are feeling like the flu is coming on – not surprising since both nieces seemed to have a touch of it. But I was really hoping to spend the day in my garden, it was so lovely to be outside so much this week. I hope this is the last of the cold weather. I’ve already got daffodils, forsythia, bergenia and dwarf irises in bloom and pruned my black currants and roses, ready for spring!

Anita’s Closet Project

It’s taken me almost as long to get these photos sorted out and posted as it took to get the project itself done; but here is our long-awaited new closet! I’d been waiting two years, since we first finished the master bedroom, to get shelves and rods into my 17 feet of closet. It had been filling up with junk on the floor, and cobwebs. Emptying it out filled every nook and cranny in the spare bedroom. For clothes storage I was using a bureau and Richard was using the spare room for both closet and dressing room. I’ve been frustrated with that setup to no end, and every time my birthday rolled around I begged. Finally this Christmas, Richard presented me with a gift: a sheet of paper with a closet organizer printed on it, wrapped around a wad of cash. Hooray! I knew just where I wanted to spend it: PAX closet units from IKEA.