You win some and lose some

Last week Jo and I had been struggling with the idea of driving to Vancouver BC for a holiday and to visit my sister who is visiting from England. The drive through the Rocky Mountains is absolutely breathtaking and I was hoping to share the scenery with you. I have been procrastinating at buying a new camera and the trip would have been a good justification.

I am not cheap; I am just so bad at photography, not sure if it’s worth the money.

I remember a few years ago I took my brother to Niagara Falls, every visitor to Ontario goes there; anyway he gave me his fancy camera and asked me to take a picture of him. He kept saying, ‘turn it around, turn it around’, I didn’t understand, took a picture of my face. I just didn’t get it until 2 years ago when I started filming my garden. Now there are so many things I want to film, for example the aerial acrobatics by the sparrows in pursuit of the mosquitoes. This show takes place in my backyard daily.

Regarding the trip to Vancouver, we had to make a decision by last Wednesday if we wanted to go; the drive which is approximately 11 hrs each way, takes some planning. The decision was dependant on the Calgary weather forecast for last weekend.

You may recall a few weeks ago Jo and I started a project on our front veranda which involved mounting some stones on the front of the house. You may also recall this started out as a strip and repaint project.

 We purchased the stones which had to come all the way from Burnaby BC, not sure why, Alberta is full of rocks. It is amazing how just about every car in Calgary has rock chipped windows. I quit counting the nicks in my windshield. I’ll wait until it gets really bad and replace it.

I just got distracted again, I am suppose to be writing about my veranda; see what happens when you are a couch potato?

OK, I received a call last Wednesday from Home Depot informing me that the rocks had arrived. I went with my son and got them. Nice rocks.

We had some great news; the weather woman says we should be expecting awesome weather for the weekend so we decided to finish the veranda project instead of going on the trip. That was Wednesday, on Thursday the weather woman changed her mind. The weekend is going be a hodgepodge of conditions; rain, wind, hail, and tornado. 

She was right, hated saying that, anyway, we had it all even a tornado just a few kilometres north of Calgary.  Typical, wait five minutes before you answer if someone asks you, ‘how is the Calgary weather’, it may change?

Saturday the sun came out and we decided to go on with the project, we only have a couple more weekends before Jo takes off to the east for her annual escape from us thingy. Yeah she takes off every year and she always asks me if I want to go, she knows I am going to say no, just tricks. I am on to her though.

So off we go to the Home Depot.

We bought the materials that the instruction sheet recommended, vapour paper, wire mesh, type S cement, sand, trowels, nails and bonding compound. May add something else, there is always something else. The week before we had framed the area with weather treated plywood. I bet you are thinking, man they sound professional. The salesman told us that it would be a breeze.

Let the games begin.

It took us about ½ hr to figure out which side of the vapour paper to turn inside. Well we decided that it did not matter, in 5 years we won’t be in this house. Do you know that every year of the 25 years we lived in our house in Toronto we always planned to move? We didn’t have the energy to follow through. Kids.

So up goes the paper, so far so good. Now the mesh, first we put on our gloves and had a heated discussion about which one of us was more safety aware. She won, actually I gave in.

Jo 1: Tony 0.

We installed one section of the wire, then Jo remembered that the instructions said to install with the ‘small diamonds up’. We looked at the wire for sometime before we decided we could not tell when the wire is mounted which way is up, so we ripped it off for inspection. That took 15 minutes; we remounted as it was previously.

At this point we realized we did not buy enough mesh, so off I go to Home Depot. I picked up the mesh headed for the cash register when I realize that I did not have my wallet. I had to put the mesh back, returned home and did it all over. So frustrating.

We started the process around 9am now it is now about 10:30.

Vapour Paper up. Check.

Mesh up. Check.

All is well.

At this point we are ready to have a party, the salesman was right, piece of cake, oops a breeze.

Now we have to apply the scratch coat of concrete. I got my wheel barrow, added come cement, some water and mixed and mixed. I am looking like a pro. When we thought we had it right, my son tried to apply it. Nope, it cement fell off the wall, added some more cement, nope, more water, nope, more, more, more. When I was a kid I saw my dad built two houses using concrete and I watched, how hard can it be?

An hour went by. Grrrrr.

You know when you are cooking and you do a taste test and add a pinch of this or a pinch of that until you get the taste right? Well it was like that. Finally we decided that we were never going to get it right so we started over. Half bag of cement gone.

This time we followed the instructions.

It would be about now that my dad would hit me upside the head. Some things you never learn.

It worked, up goes the cement, totally awesome. It’s now 2pm and we were tired. My neighbour had come by earlier, had seen us struggling and made us some food. We had a Corona, tuna sandwiches with some fixings, mine without onions, I hate raw onions. We were quite grateful.

The forecast called for lots of rain on Sunday, fine with me, I needed a day to recover and do some serious thinking on my couch. We looked at a couple of movies. Bed time; you know when you are tired and going to bed you can literally anticipate the total body rest you are about to experience?

I didn’t have that experience.

 Jo: ‘tomorrow you take the first floor and I’ll take the second’

Me: ‘where are we taking them?’

Jo: ‘the one that finish cleaning first helps the other’.

I am too tired to fight. Jo two: Tony zero.

We got up at 8am had breakfast and started to clean as it rained and rained. Around 1pm the clouds disappeared, the sun suddenly appeared and we hummed and hawed about finishing the project. We went for it.

Before you mount the stones, it is recommended that they are laid out on the ground as you would place them on the wall. That took about an hour. Jo is the artist. As you know art is subjective, I took a walk.

We started to mix the cement, this time we had to add sand and the bonding compound, two new ingredients; mixing, cooking, more ingredients, tasting, more, more, more. We were at it until 5pm, Home Depot was closed, and we just could not get it to work. We ditched the cement, at this point Jo was so peeved she quit; we moved the stones back to the garage, meaning we have to lay them out again; she took a bath and went to bed.

Haha da Couch.

I could not relax, so I went for more punishment. I mixed a few small batches and with a help from another neighbour got a small stone to stay on the wall. Eureka. By this time it was too late to continue, so I cleaned up. I am thinking. Jo two: Tony 1.

Man I so miss the couch.

Monday, Civic holiday, time to finish this baby; Jo laid out the stones again, this time in the garage, just in case and it went really quickly. After some painful false starts, cement mixing is definitely an art; we got the stones to stay on the wall. We only did half of the area. We were too tired to continue and the rain was on the way, so we quit. We will finish next weekend.

I could hardly move. I made a deal with Jo, she gives me a massage and then I return the favour. She did but I am too tired to return the favour. See how sneaky I am?

Oh Yea

Jo two: Tony two.

Damn I’m getting wordy.

Next week a new set of rules for engagement. I wonder if she keeps score also.

The only Kittitian couch potato in Calgary

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