Wonky no more

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I've had a busy spring and summer, working around the cottage. You can find me there most weekends, fixing something. Mom and Bob tried to keep the cottage going, but in recent years, neither had the money or the energy to do the hard things.

Last summer, I replaced a "deck" that was rotting out; Mom had stepped on a board, and wound up knee-deep in it. Not a good thing for a 79-year-old to have happen. So, I went up with a load of lumber and two bags of ready-mix concrete and replaced the deck with something a bit more stable.

I used the concrete for a footing for the stairs coming down from the deck. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough concrete to properly pour the footing, and the footing that I did pour was akilter enough to make the stairs slope visibly as well. I promised Mom that I'd replace that footing this year, so that the stairs wouldn't be "wonky" any more.

Mom passed in December, and I've been busy taking care of both her and Bob's estate. I opened the cottage in mid-May, with the goal of fixing the footing and stair "first thing". Well, first thing turned out to be some much-needed repairs on the back entrance, along with some new furniture, and some reorganization of other things. In other words, the new footing and fixed stairs got pushed back until more important work had been completed.

Last weekend (July 6&7) I went up with the specific intention of fixing the "wonky" steps. I brought five 30kg bags of ready-mix concrete, and a properly designed concrete form. I heaved all five bags up the hill, took down the stairs, busted out the old footing, and laid out the new footing. Using a hand mixing barrel, I mixed and poured my five bags of concrete. And, I found that I didn't have enough concrete to finish the job.

That's the way it goes, up there. You plan expertly, well in advance, and you bring all the required tools and materials, or you get only half the job done.

This past weekend (July 13&14), I returned, with six more 30kg bags of ready-mix concrete, and a bottle of concrete bonding agent. Again, I hoisted all the bags of concrete mix to the top of the hill, and got out the mixing barrel. After spraying a good coating of bonding agent on the previously-poured concrete, I again mixed and poured concrete into the form. It only took four bags of concrete to finish the job (the other two, I'll save for other jobs around the cottage). I levelled out the footing, gave the surface a nice finish, and when it had set enough, I reconstructed the stairs.

Now, I no longer have "wonky" stairs. But, I do need a railing.


I'm glad you asked.

So far, in no particular order, I've

  • brought up a new French Press coffee pot,
  • replaced the chairs at the kitchen table,
  • repaired the back door frame to remove wood rot,
  • put a new lock on the back door,
  • put a new double bed in the guest bedroom,
  • laundered all the sheets, linens, and towels,
  • provided new storage containers for the sheets, linens, and towels,
  • removed the "spring" bed from the master bedroom,
  • moved the mattress bed into the master bedroom,
  • placed a rug into the master bedroom,
  • installed a new hutch/pantry/wash-stand in the kitchen,
  • moved the dishware into the hutch, the dry goods into the pantry and the wash basin into the wash stand,
  • moved the pots & pans into the kitchen cupboard,
  • brought up new kerosene lamps and kerosene for the lamps,
  • replaced the table on the porch,
  • brought up a new first aid kit,
  • serviced the chain saw,
  • serviced both generators,
  • spread carpenter ant killer around in exposed areas,
  • put up a towel ring by the wash stand,
  • put up a white framed mirror on the back wall of the kitchen,
  • put up blinds on the master bedroom main and side windows,
  • put up a shelf in the master bedroom,
  • replaced the dishes with Mom's good set,
  • relocated the fridge (temporarily),
  • put a rug at the kitchen sink,
  • installed coat hooks on the back of the bedroom doors,
  • put an Ikea single bed and bedside table into the loft,
  • got an Ikea dish drying rack,
  • replaced the night toilet,
  • put new oarlocks and oars on the boat,
  • replaced the old colander,
  • brought up a Dirt Devil sweeper,
  • brought up new screwdriver bits and a new hand drill & drill bits,
  • found a new coffee measuring spoon,
  • got a new fire extinguisher,
  • installed the lamp-holder/mirror in the guest bedroom,
  • put a welcome mat at front door,
  • poured a new concrete footing and rebuilt the porch steps,
  • brought up cleaning products and a mop,
  • hung new pictures in the master bedroom and guest bedroom,
  • brought up grooming products including shampoo and conditioner,
  • put up a hummingbird feeder,
  • brought up a new extension ladder,
  • brought up a Britta Filter water carafe,
  • brought up replacement flatware,
  • installed new Ikea dresser for master bedroom,
  • moved old dresser to guest bedroom,
  • repaired the boathouse doorframe,
  • installed new lock on boathouse door,
  • built and placed killick and boat rope,
  • cleaned some trash out of the boathouse,
  • brought up a deacons bench to replace an old settee,
  • installed new door lock on boathouse,
  • got a drying mat for the dishes,
  • got a bottle of wasp & hornet killer,
  • got 3 extra padlocks,
  • got a dust pan and whisk broom,
  • got a 2013 calendar, a 2014 calendar and a journal,
  • felled and split the dead maple across from the outhouse,
  • felled and split the dead birch behind the outhouse,
  • brought up a mat for in front of hutch,
  • added a pair of vice grips to the toolchest,
  • added 2 more bottles of ant killer (borax),
  • provided a fireplace tool set,
  • built a log sawhorse to replace the broken one,
  • assembled and installed a pantry cabinet, securing it to the wall,
  • got magazine boxes for the various magazines,
  • added some window repair tools to the toolchest,
  • added a metre stick, chalk line, chalk to the toolchest,
  • supplied razor scraper to clean stove window,
  • provided an airhorn to frighten animals,
  • brought up the family crokinole board & pieces,
  • built a replacement firewood rack,
  • added a 2nd glass cutting board to counter,
  • adjusted back step to reduce rain damage to support log, and
  • cut and split lots of firewood

and I still have more on my "To-Do" list for next year.

In no particular order

  • the dimensions of each bedroom (will the beds fit?)
  • the dimensions of each window (how big should the blinds be?)
  • the dimensions of the door frame (what lumber do I need to repair the door?)
  • the dimensions of the main room walls (where do I put the hutch, and how big can it be?)
  • the width of the boat (how long should my oars be?)
  • the height of the boat transom (what shaftsize do I need for my new outboard motor?)
  • the dimensions of the step footing (how many bags of concrete, and what size of form do I need?)