Welcome to our travels and adventures

Welcome to our travels and adventures

A Slower Week

1405226 May 18 Baby Robin With Mommy RobinBarb & I took Sunday off, Barb was able to do some quilting and me, well I just hung out and got some restful down time. We watched a family of Robins flitting around our mounds of muck filling themselves with discovered delicacies. We need1405234 May 19 Terry Adding Gravel To Trenched the time off, we were both exhausted from the renovations so far. The trenching was unplanned and set us back in our timeline and it is hard not to play catch up.



1405237 May 19 Gravel In Around HouseOn Monday, we finish the backfilling of gravel and made an attempt to remove some of the muck and mire sitting around1405238 May 19 Tractor Leaving Our Property. Without the proper equipment, it was futile and after an hour or so, we called it a day and said farewell to the mini backhoe. Terri & Mark stopped again to help out. This time, we removed the low ceiling joists in the front part of the house, removed all the nails and re-used the joists to raise the ceiling up to 8 feet. With the vaulted ceiling on the centre and 8 foot ceilings in the front – wow, does that ever open it up! It is sooooo much more fun when we’re constructing instead of de-constructing. After a beverage and a little personal clean up, we took off for dinner to ‘He’s Not Here’, a great place for wings or burgers and of course, a cool one too! They have an outdoor patio that over looks the Niagara River – it’s not Big Daddy’s works for us as a replacement.

1405242 May 19 Taking Down The Centre Wall1405245 May 19 Terri Barb Cutting New Rafters1405247 May 19 All Work No Play Isn't Fun Thanks Terri






  Not too much was accomplished on Tuesday. We fused around with the wires for the sump pump, 1405249 May 20 Terry Digging Indoor Trenchchiselled a hole under the foundation and dug a trench inside the crawl space so we could place a weeping tile and gravel to help keep the basement/crawl space drier. Yes, the trench and the hole 1405250 May 20 Barb Mushing Down The Muckunder the foundation lined up and water was able to drain from inside out to the perimeter trench and down to the sump pump. At the end of the day, we also poured our concrete footing for support of the beam in the back of the house. These activities will not be apparent at the end of the project but necessary.


1405251 May 20 Barb Making Drainage Piping

1405252 May 20 Terry Adding Gravel

1405254 May 20 Terry Mixing Cement For Beam Support









1405256 May 21 Barb Drilling In ScrewsWednesday was a little more productive visually. Barb & I installed the collar 1405258 May 21 Terry Installing The Collar Tiesties on the vaulted ceiling and joist blocking in the newly raised ceiling in the front part. We also removed 3 windows of the sunroom where the laundry and closet will be located. The windows will be re-used in the east wall of the bedroom. You may think it a little early but our activities are moving us to getting some of the spray foam insulation done.



1405262 May 21 Barb Cutting Wood For Sunroom

1405274 May 23 Terry Removing Water To Fix Long Time LeakThursday was a slow day for us. Our water main has been leaking and we have tried to have our local plumber come by to let us know what we can do since it was on the city side (before the water meter) of the service. We also want to move the water meter and shut off into the ‘warm side’ of the house so it won’t freeze up in the future. We think that this leak has be leaking for a long long time and could possibly be a major contributor to the wetness in the crawl space. Did you know that cement takes longer to dry than paint? We have to wait for the concrete before we can do more with the beam support and hanging floor joists.


So on this rainy Friday morning, we’re off shopping for the plumbing supplies to fix the 1405275 May 23 Water Meter Brought Up From Crawlspaceleaky water main. Since the city water valve does not shut off the water 100% and you can not solder pipe with water in it, we have to use the more expensive Sharkbite fittings for the repairs. I have to borrow a water main shutoff wrench from our friendly local plumber so have to wait until he is done for the day before we can start work. More digging to expose more of the work area keeps me busy for part of the afternoon. We finally have the water off and Barb & I remove, clean and reroute our water line so it is more accessible in the future and hopefully will not freeze in the winter.

We were lucky enough that a previous owner left us the old wooden garage doors leaning up against the back of the garage! We thought we could just carry them out to the bin and drop them in – wrong! 1405283 May 24 Terry Dumpster DivingThey are way to heavy and need to be cut into smaller, more manageable pieces so that is our first task on Saturday – the bin is close to being full so we’ve got to get them in soon. As I am running the circular saw through the doors, I smell that earthy smell of cedar – these doors are solid cedar and a shame that they were not maintained. They would have been a beautiful door in their day but way to far gone now to be restored.



1405279 May 24 Lifting Old Hardwood FlooringBack in the house, we are starting to remove the old 1405282 May 24 Crawlspace Exposed All Is Goodhardwood in the centre of the house and cut the subfloor 2 feet from the edge so we can inspect the rim joists for rot and sturdiness. We are surprised by 2 things: no standing water and the rim joist look fine, as do the beam supports in the centre so now we do not have to take up this part of the floor – halleluiah! It’s early afternoon now and we decide to take the rest of the day off, hit the beer store and take a walk down to the Niagara River and enjoy our surroundings for the first time.

In a few blocks, we are on the Friendship Trail, overlooking the Niagara River and some very nice 1405284 May 24 Terry With The Buffalo Skylinewater front properties. Now, we did not walk all 17Kms of the trail here in Fort Erie but we did manage to get out of the reno mode and enjoy our adventure. And yes John, we did manage to find a place to pick up an ice cream!

I think that is all for this week. We’ll leave you with a picture of a bloom from our magnolia tree back at the Plantation thanks to Ann & Bill for taking it and sending it to us. We hope all is good where you are….

1405610 May 19 A Beautiful Blossom

Project Detour

Cleaning out spider websWhew, another week of excitement and fun! We started Sunday off by cleaning more debris from the crawl space – margarine containers etc that the previous owner used to feed the cats that were living under the house. 1405129 May 11 At Corries For Mothers DayWe also cleaned out the spidies from the garage so we could hang the floor plan and the project timeline for easy reference. We cleaned ourselves up and spent an enjoyable afternoon and evening at Corrie & Dean’s for Mother’s Day dinner.

On Monday, we completed the rim joists for the back of the house. Thankfully, we were 1405131May 12 Terry Installing Rim Joistable to re-use some of the floor joists that were not rotten to fit in. It would have been a more difficult job to do with todays lumber dimensions – a lot of shimming would have been needed! A beam is needed to support the floor 1405136 May 12 Barb Building Boards Togetherjoists in the back part of the house so Barbie & I set about laminating some 2x8’s together and got it in place and levelled up.



1405137 May 12 Terry Checking Main Beam For Level


1405139 May 13 Our New Hole Fills With WaterMonday was a long day but we accomplished a lot. When we woke up on Tuesday, we find a few inches of water in the crawlspace from the overnight rains. Crap! If this is going to happen every time it rains… well, I’m sure you can imagine. Anyway, we were not ready to put in the weeping tiles around the 1405143 May 13 Finding A Cement Box In Groundhouse but it appears it needs to be done sooner than later. This throws a wrench in our plans and pushes us back some. We have a neighbour that mentioned he would help with knowledge and equipment when we were ready to put in the weeping tiles. I wander over to his home and ask him to have a look at our water problems and see what he thinks. Well, the ne1405159 May 15 Rain Comes Down Trench Fills Upxt thing I know, we’re digging test holes and discussing plans to dig a trench around the house and install the tile and backfill with gravel. One of the test holes revealed an old ‘grease pit’ where they drained the kitchen sink into. The top was broken so it was not hard to open and wow, did it stink! We get it all cleaned out so we can place a plastic barrel in it with the sump pump.

We realized we needed to get a ‘locate’ done for gas and other underground services but when called, they would not commit as they require 7 days notice. Dave calls in a favour and the next thing we know, I am out in the pouring rain at 9:30PM with amber lights flashing talking to a ‘locate’ guy. He said this was not an emergency situation and there is nothing he can1405150 May 14 My New Ruler Pencil Bag do. He spoke to t1405195 May 17 I Am So Muddied OUthe dispatcher and there will be the proper ‘locators’ out the next morning to identify where the services are.

Barb sidelined herself because ladies do not work out in the muck but she kept herself busy working on some quilt projects and made herself a little quilted bag to hold her measuring tape and pencil on the mitre saw.


After the rain stopped a little, we noticed the locate paint marks, showing us where the gas and telephone lines were. It has been a week of cool and rainy weather but we manage to dig the trench on Wednesday and avoided the gas, water and sewer lines successfully. Now Barb & I had to shop for the drainage pipe and parts so we can start moving gravel and laying in the pipe on top on Thursday. This seems like last minute stuff and it is! We gat back to the house around 10 PM with the drainage supplies and more lumber. Terri and Mark plan to come by on Saturday to help build the vaulted ceiling in the main area of the house and we wanted to be sure we had the supplies.


1405161 May 15 Drainage Pipe Found In Front LawnThursday morning, our first task was to get the sump pump set up in the cement tank that we found Tuesday. At least we can start pumping some of this water away to help dry the ground up some. We are up to our ass in mud and mire around the house. My arms are a little longer now after pushing the wheel barrow thr1405166 May 15 So Much Water In Trenchough it to dump gravel in the trench – now I have to wear gloves all the time to avoid scratching my knuckles on the ground when I’m walking!

By Friday, we have the pipe in the trench and start back filling the gravel – the pump is running a lot and moving out lots of water. The water in the crawlspace is slowly disappearing. I knocked a small hole at the base of the foundation and plan to dig a trench inside to help catch more water to ensure we do not have standing water again under the floor.

1405200 May 17 Terri Mark Terry Setting Up ScaffoldSaturday, we get our money’s worth out of Terri & 1405203 May 17 Putting Up The Next RafterMark! But, there is no way to get in the house! The front door was closed due to the moat around the house and there was no floor in the back. So, before they arrived, Barb & I installed some floor joists and laid some plywood so we could get into the house through the back door. After removing the old ceiling rafters and some discussion on how, the new ceiling was in and looking great. With some time left, 1405222 May 17 Terry Taking Down The SupportTerri & Mark moved lots of gravel to areas that were not accessible by machine. With Barb shovelling gravel into the wheel barrows and Terri & Mark hauling them and me raking – yep, I had the easy job – we moved a lot of gravel in short order.

Just reliving this week, I am exhausted so that’s it for now. Hope all is well where you are….1405123 May 10 Beauty Among The Rot Daffodils

Forced Day Off from the House

1405055 May 04 Terry Lifts CornerWe are ramping up to start rebuilding but we still have some floors and the ceiling joists in the back of the house to remove. If the ceiling joists had been installed 1405059 May 04 Barb Lifting The Floor - Copycorrectly, we would of left them, they were at the proper height but sagged and swayed. Originally, we were going to build a beam across the house to support the new ceiling joists but then changed our mind so our design would not be questioned by the town’s inspectors. Now, we’re going to support the ceiling on the bedroom wall so now we have these 16ft 2 x 6’s sitting on the floor until we get to that point in the re-build.

1405063 May 06 Terry Cutting Main Support In FloorWe get the floor up and  see that some of the exposed floor joists need to be replaced. We also find some of the rim joists are also rotten. Thankfully, some of the floor joists we are taking out are the same dimension as the rim joists and we can re-use them to replace the rotten rim joists. We knew when we 1405068 May 06 Rotten Wood Removed From Foundationbought that we would have some weak timbers in this area but not as bad as we found so it means a bit more work but the house will be better than before.

The crawl space under the house is wet and we will need to address that before we secure the subfloor. For now, we continue to pump it out and hope for no more rain. As we dig down to place our cement pillars for the new beam, the hole fills up with water but Barb’s excellent idea to pour the cement in ‘Lowe’s’ pails works perfectly and the cement is not submersed in water.

1405071 May 06 New Beam InstalledIt was a very physical day and we’re both exhausted. When we try to fix dinner, we get a shock to find our potatoes and onions soaking wet from under the kitchen sink in the rig. What is going on now?? I crawl under and see a stream of water coming out of the top of the water out connector of the hot water tank! Crap, we do not need this at this point. I added our pressure regulator to see if that was our problem but it just slowed it down – thankfully we have had our showers and do not need any more hot water today but it is something I need to look into tomorrow.

So, tomorrow arrives and I squeeze myself under the 1405077 May 07 Terry Spent Day Fixing Hot Water Heater - Copycabinet to see what’s going on – holy crap now, I can’t really tell if it is the hot water out fitting or if it is the tank that is causing the leak. I disconnect the hot water line and turn out the plastic coupling that goes into the tank fitting and it appears to be ok. I wind on a couple turns of Teflon plumbers tape and tighten the plastic fitting back in and turn on the water – damn, still leaking. Ok, so maybe it needs more tape or tightened a bit more. Well, guess what – correct, I put another wrap of tape on and tightened it a bit more and CRACK! The plastic fitting breaks off and yes, right at the tank – nothing left to grab onto and in no space to manoeuvre my slim carcass! Now what? Off to the local hardware store to get a new fitting and maybe some sort of an extractor tool that will make it easier to get the broken plastic fitting out and yes, you are correct, I did NOT get a plastic fitting to replace the broken one once I get it out.

No one can sell or tell me how to get the broken piece out of the tank fitting. There is a plumbing contractor at the end of our street so I may have to bite the bullet and pay someone! I stop off and one of the plumbers was there and he suggested I use a spade drill bit, heated to somewhat less than cherry red and push it into the plastic, leave it until the bit cools then carefully turn it out. It worked! Wow, so simple but effective. With the new BRASS fitting installed and all the connections snug, the water on and no leaking now! This little episode only cost us a day of de-construction!

1405080 May 08 Terry Removing East Corner Wall - Copy1405081 May 08 Cut Line From Outside - Copy1405084 May 08 Barb Cutting Up Wood - Copy








1405086 May 08 New Wall For East Corner InstalledOk, now back to the house – one corner of the house must have gotten a lot of water over time as it was totally rotten and weak. We re-built everything from the foundation up, rim joist, stud section with sole plate, top plate and the exterior wall. Whew, this was fun. We also removed all the substandard wiring but that left us 2 circuits that we can use for our power equipment for the re-build. It is a miracle that the house did not burn down from an electrical problem. We found open junction boxes, connections made with out improper connectors and connections made without a box!


So, we’re moving along with a little more work than expected but we’re still having fun. Barb is able to do a little quilting even with all we have going on.  Hope all is well where you are …..

1405091 May 09 Findus The New Pillow Case1405105 May 09 Baltimore Oriole In Bush

Hello’s and Goodbye’s

Through all our excitement of arrival and getting started on ‘our project’, we almost 1404198 Apr 28 Anniversary Dinner At May Wahmissed our 47th wedding anniversary! Mark arrived on Saturday to help with the house and presented us with a bouquet of flowers and said happy anniversary from Terri , I & Ali and we looked at each other & said 1404202 Apr 28 Barb At The Table Cheersoops. So, on Monday, we decided to take a day off and celebrate with dinner out. A neighbour had told me that there was a particular Chinese restaurant that made excellent food so we decided to take the leap and try it out. Well, it was excellent, good food, good service and of course, good company – just the 2 of us at a window table overlooking the Niagara River and Buffalo. It was a nice evening but a few days later, we found out we went to the wrong Chinese eatery – so now we have another one to try out.1405010 May 01 Pick Up 6


After all the work done on the weekend, we filled the dumpster and had to have it taken away and a new 1405021 May 01 Drop Off 7one dropped off. That was an experience in itself. Taking it away was no problem but bringing in the new one was a bit different – we have had lots of rain and the ground was real soft and the truck got stuck part way in and couldn’t really drop the box due to overhead cables. The driver called his office and they sent a back hoe/loader to push the truck 1405025 May 01 Truck Stuck In Muckin a little farther and then pulled it out after he dropped the new bin. The driver of the back hoe was the owner and he pulled up to where I was standing and introduced himself and asked where he should send the bill to, me or the truck driver! Of course, I said the driver, he’s the one that got stuck! We had a short laugh and then the back hoe started to repair the ruts that the truck left – great service and I would recommend Jim Flake’s service to anyone.

1405029 May 01 Terry Shovelling The FloorNow that excitement is over, back to the job at hand. We have the centre and the front of the house to remove wall panels, drywall and insulation yet. It only took Barb & I 2 days to remove and clean up the rubble 1405038 May 01 Barb DeNailing Boardsand the house is down to the ‘bare bones’. For the most part, all above the foundation was in good shape but there has been moisture issues over the years and we will have to re-build one corner of the house. At the foundation, there is extra work that we did not anticipate, some blocks were left out for venting and we’ll have to replace a few rim joists that sit on the foundation. The floor at back of the house where the bathroom and leaky hot water tank were located has to be taken up and most floor joists replaced. The tank must have been leaking for a long time for this much rot and weakness. The floor joist were built in an unusual method, forming a series of rectangles, sistered together instead of the standard joist structure with supports at the ends and a beam in the centre of the span. No wonder it sagged badly!1405040 May 01 They Knocked Out Corner Support

May 2nd we were invited to the service placing Gerry’s ashes in the niche the family choose at Mount Pleasant Cemetery in London. After some pivoting around about travel time during rush hour.  We would be heading to London in morning rush hour, Ann invited us to come down on Thursday night. As we were getting ourselves organized, friends dropped by to say hello and welcome us to the ‘Hood’ – they live in Crystal Beach. We chit chatted, showed them our new hobby and chatted some more. It was a nice visit though short and we hope they didn’t feel we pushed them out the door  so we could head to London.1405045 May 02 Kerry Harley At Counter

It was a cold and rainy day as we gathered at the cemetery to remember Gerry as his ashes were placed in the niche.  Thought we had cried ourselves dry but the tears once again flowed. After a great lunch at Sunnydale we went to Anne’s sister Rose’s house for the afternoon and supper.  We watched movies of life with Gerry and our Ellis Family Roots DVD.   We stayed with Ann until Saturday and headed out to see Vicki & Ron in Sparta. Vicki & Ron have a challenging time ahead and we wanted them to know we are here for anything they might need.

On the way home, we stopped at Lowe’s to pick up some materials – we’re excited to be starting to build! Almost all the de-construction is done except where we have to replace joist etc and ripping up floors but we are gonna be cutting and nailing!

We hope all is good where you are…..

1405042 May 01 Giving Anne Gerrys Keepsake Wallhanging