There and back

Made the first cabin trip of the year, just to check things out. Actually got in this time: the glacier road was thawed and not too bad to drive on. Even so it didn’t help the aches and pains I already had from cutting up a neighbour’s tree for him and then splitting four barrows of wood for me. The jostling of going down that gravel highway at 60-80 clicks didn’t make anything any better. Fortunately some neighbours out there had already been in so I didn’t have to clear any trees off the road. Fergus was first in, and had to cut five. I could have gone in last weekend but herself was away at daughter’s wedding. Look, it’s too confusing even for me to understand so I suggest you don’t even try.

Same ol’ place.

The good news is no big damage to anything and the batteries were full up. The bad news is a packrat tried to move in and made a mess, including dragging tools off. They have a king of jackdaw behaviour about shiny things like screwdrivers. Now I get to see how well the new flooring, along with a lot of other stuff, cleans up from rat mess.

The lake is high.

Now I’ve got to come up with some kind of plan for tackling all the things that still need doing there, along with the clean-up. This includes removing that travel trailer, a process which I dread because it’s big and heavy and will end up clogging the driveway at home. Assuming I can get the van going to move it, and somehow get it up the hill at the cabin and through the tight trees and … yes I know I got it in there. Getting it out is another matter, believe me.

First loon of the year.

The other things working against me include ambient temperatures that run between 0 and 10 Celsius, and a forecast of pretty much cloudy with rain for the next two weeks. This is problematic when your electricity comes from solar panels because despite claims to the contrary they do not produce power in all weather. PVs need direct, bright sunlight to work. Anyone who says otherwise is either stupid or a liar. Possibly both. I can say this because not only have I designed numerous installations besides my own, but have fixed even more systems that were concocted by people who definitely did not know what they were doing.

So when the sun doesn’t shine the batteries have to be recharged via the generator, and gasoline is $1.95/L here now which makes for damn expensive electricity. Like about $1 per kilowatt hour. This also ups the cost of going to and from the cabin, as well as increasing the expense of self-harvested firewood for winter heating at the house. Or Summer heating at either/both places due to the lousy weather we’re having. And no I would not be surprised to see it suddenly flip into hot and dry with wildfires everywhere again. It has happened before (2017, the year of the worst fires).

I don’t know what I’m going to do yet. The bathroom needs a complete overhaul and the upstairs needs finishing and the exterior needs restaining (it weathers horribly on the windward side). Never mind all the other chores of daily life like lawn mowing. Oh yes; the wood trailer needs some serious repair.

You know, the best plan might be to take the year off and just enjoy life instead of trying to undertake all these big projects that ultimately I will not see the benefit of. It’s going to be one horrifically expensive year no matter what I do, that’s for sure.

Ready, set …

Okay today is the day! That is to say I have planned it to be. First cabin trip of 2022. Possibly.

Here’s how it’s going so far:

Got the Nissan Xterra re-insured and it was $100 less than expected. However, I couldn’t get them to start the registration on May 1 as I wanted: they claimed they couldn’t do it. They always managed to before. This time … no. But what was behind this? Well the day after I went in to the office and did this fine thing ICBC (the crown corporation that handles motor vehicle matters in this province) announced that as of May 1 you could renew on-line and registration plate stickers are no longer required. Well how nice. They could have told me that when I asked about starting it on May 1, couldn’t they? Evidently not.

So Saturday I went in to town on a little pre-check drive and to get gasoline. Hmm. Started out with 1/3 of a tank full, spent $75, and still didn’t fill it up. Thanks, Justin. Otherwise everything seems to be working. I even fired up the chainsaw to make sure it works too: no telling how many trees are down along the way.

I also took off the ‘dirt collectors’ by the rear tires:

Dirt collectors: useless pieces of plastic.
Plastic removed.
Sprayed on some Fluid Film (as close as I get to painting things these days).

Now … we’ll see how it goes. If there’s mounds of snow/ice blocking the road I’ll turn around and come back. There’s always later.

Canada Day: the good, the bad, and the ugly

Clouds made of smoke.

Canada Day, 2021.

First the good news; one of the missing cats, Hannibal, has returned! I happened to look out the window and there he was sitting on the deck. Appears to be none the worse for his four day adventure, except for an insistence on going out again. That’s not happening, big furry cat.

The bad news; wild fires have broken out all around, thanks to the thunderstorms last night. The air smells of smoke, the sky looks of smoke, and the nearest one is at the next lake over – just five kilometers away.

As seen from above.

This satellite view taken at about 4:30 PM Wednesday off Zoom Earth shows the cloud formations from the two largest fires. The one on the left you can follow the smoke trail down to the Lytton fire, and the one on the right leads down to the Kamloops fire. The shadow on the right is caused be the density of the smoke clouds, and they look white because of reflecting the sun back to the satellite. From beneath they are dark and grey-brown.

Raven lamenting.

The ugly part is that we don’t have much to celebrate in Canada this year. The revelation of the horror that was the residential schools has justifiably put a damper on all the good news, even the advances made against the pandemic. For those who don’t know, these “residential schools” were authorized by the government and operated largely by the Catholic church. For over 100 years, right up into the 1990s, they essentially kidnapped native children and abused them in some delusional effort to integrate them into mainstream society. What they really did was damage and often kill them. Then they tossed them into unmarked graves like so much garbage. The concept alone is appalling and horrific. The way they carried it out is akin to the Holocaust. Really. That this happened under what should have been the watchful eye of a supposed modern-day democracy rather than some ancient civilization or evil dictatorship only emphasizes how horrible it was. I don’t know where we go from here, but the road will be long and difficult.

As always, I concentrate on the little things I have some control over. Slowly work progresses, and I try not to think about the fact it may all burn down soon.

I am tired, I am weary, I am sad.

Of late

We are finally at the cabin together. It wasn’t easy. Along the way the road bumps took a few casualties among the packed goods, such as reducing a dozen eggs to half a dozen. The jostling alone did the damage, and it took me a couple of hours to clean up the mess once we got here.

First of the flooring upstairs.

The place is far from done. It’s just usable. But my poor wife hasn’t been able to stay out here since 2018 due to one thing or another or even more. The cats are very unhappy about being here, growling and hissing at each other and the world in general. Two of them have “left home”. They should return once they’re hungry. The dogs are fine. They love adventure. I’m not so keen on it myself.

The new china cabinet.

This was the big ‘sticking point’ for being able to fully occupy the place. Fortunately a couple of friends dropped by and help me lift the top piece on to the base. Three old guys that took. Many thanks to Wally and Danny ’cause otherwise I’d have had to build a crane or something. I swear the top alone is 200 lbs.

Of course with the dogs around the wildlife has taken off so no more deer. Probably no more bear or woodchuck or other sizable beasts. Fortunately they are smarter than the dogs, who’d try to play with a wolverine if they found one.

Timmy the Idiot; a yearling buck who kept coming ’round and poking in the ash pit.

The mosquitoes are still here. They seemed to disappear Saturday when the temperature got up to 97 (sorry Celisus; you’re no good for daily living). It’s expected to be 108 tomorrow and Tuesday. This is highly unusual for the area. Inside the cabin it was only 75. Now this morning it’s 60 outside so the windows are open to let the temperature drop. Once it starts climbing again I’ll close up and keep the heat out. It works and it’s cheaper than air conditioning.

Mosquito Patrol.

We’ll be out here now while I continue working. Not sure what I’ll get done, but there sure is a lot left to do. Going to go slow during this heat wave of course, and not planning on going back to town for anything until next Friday.

 

Just an update post

Work, work, work. Rain, rain, rain. Mosquitoes, mosquitoes, mosquitoes.

That about covers it.

Note the lack of “photographs, photographs, photographs”. It hasn’t been suitable in any way for that.

I am making progress on the cabin, but every step just reveals more that needs doing. It’s like painting a huge bridge – that just keeps getting longer the further you go. A Mobius project?

The livingroom is starting to look like a room instead of a warehouse.

Once again there is further evidence I’m too old to be doing this, as I seem to be breaking out in spontaneous bruising. Unexplained subdermal haemotomas. It seems effort alone is enough to burst the blood vessels. That’s not good. Especially not when moving large amounts of heavy furniture around.

At least the blood is still inside.

By the way, the last trip out here I managed the road at the breakneck speed of 34 KPH (21.5 MPH). Yeah, it just keeps getting better. Not. The additional rain we’ve had since then probably hasn’t done it any good either.

Dashcam view of the road crew on the one day this year they were there. They scraped 1/2 a KM that didn’t need any work, then went home.

It seems I have a deadline of this weekend to make the place habitable as the Mrs. wants to come out and stay – for the first time since 2018. I can’t say I don’t blame her. Unfortunately she’ll bring our zoo with her, and that means certain projects have to be done ahead of then as the animals will get in the way. It also means the wildlife will vanish for the most part.

What? Dogs are coming? Oh no!

Unfortunately mosquitoes are not one of the creatures that will leave when the pets arrive. Oh well. Back to work.

What I’ve been up to

The big project this month (or indeed this year) was the replacement of the flooring in the main section of the cabin. It’s almost 600 square feet, and up until now has been a collection of mis-matched and crumbling vinyl sheet goods, rotting old industrial carpet, and bare plywood. All uneven and tattered and really, really ugly. Even with rugs down the ugly came through.

The replacement wasn’t easy as it could only be done in sections; there was no place to move everything to in order to get one big empty space to work in and on. So I compressed everything into one end of the building and got at it.

There were places where the subfloor was rotted due to past roof leaks. Mould clung to the old vinyl as well. Clean-up, cut out, throw out. After that new underlay had to go down to build up the level to where the end vinyl planking would match the existing tile kitchen and bath floors, as well as the laminate I succeeded in installing in the bedroom last year. Vinyl was the only choice here, as the floor structure and surface and very uneven. It slopes off in various directions and dips and rises. “Undulates” would be one way of describing it.

Here are some of the progress pictures. Even though you can’t see what it started out like, you can see it is now much better. Not done yet, of course; it’s a house and houses are never finished.

First section completed.
Second section completed. (Note how everything is crammed into the far end.)
Third section completed.

Of course most of it will be covered in furniture and rugs (dogs slip on vinyl) anyway but it will be contiguous, and even (but not level) wherever it is.

If you’re wondering why I didn’t level the whole thing and put in, say, hardwood I assure you that was not a practical option: straightening up a log cabin that was built wrong to begin with and then had 70 years to settle as it wished is not a simple thing. Most likely it would have suffered major structural damage with any attempt to rapidly push it back to level, and as for other methods of flattening the surface (like self-leveling concrete) the distortion was too extreme for that to be viable. Example: I measured one spot as sloping 2″ in 4′, far beyond what can be simply filled or raised with shims.

We’re not after ‘perfect’ here. That would require a complete replacement of the whole building. Just “good enough”, and certainly far better than it’s ever been.

Laking

Oh boy am I not having fun here at the lake. The temperature keeps dropping to freezing and sometimes it snows. This is making work difficult and unpredictable, even when the water system doesn’t break down unexpectedly.

Winter hangs on.

The logs there I dragged in from the road. There’s more of that to do, but …

Sometimes the logs float down the lake.

The weather (and work) is interfering with photography too. It usually isn’t sunny enough to take a good picture, and if it is I have to take advantage of it and do work.

A bird takes the easy route.

That bit the bird is floating on is from the dock, which has been destroyed.

Spider of the sun.

So here I am trying to get things done with no time to enjoy the environment I’m in.

The cabin I can’t enjoy.

So much work to do and no sign of improvement in the weather.

C’est la vie.