Thursday, July 31, 2014

Nearing Completion and Busy, Busy, Busy!!!!

The back yard renewal is progressing well.  When I last blogged about the deck project, the framing was completed and I had taken delivery of the composite decking material.  I could only dedicate a couple of days to the deck project, this past week, and that was sufficient to complete the entire surface.
Easton is checking out the progress.
Our daughter Ginette was away in Edmonton, on a very quick business trip, for a couple of days and Jeanette and I looked after Easton and Brie during her absence.  Dad, Trevor, would collect the two kids early in the evening and take them home for the night. Easton did opt for a sleepover at our home on the second night.
Brie was so taken with seeing her mom on the iPad, calling from Edmonton, this past Tuesday.
Even little five month old babies can benefit from modern technology.  Brie's Facetime  with mom proved to be a sweet event.  I was quite thrilled to watch Brie react with her mom.
Easton trying out our nearby bicycle obstacle course.
I quit working on the deck early to take Easton on some fun activities while Jeanette would look after Brie.  It worked out well to split the tasks.  Watching Easton ride up and down the obstacle course was fun.
It took little time before he felt confident to tackle the long and arduous bicycle boardwalk.
Easton only fell off the boardwalk once.  He face planted in the soft wood chips but got quickly up, dusted off, and back he went for another round or two on the course.
Sitting by the pond on the finished deck surface.
With the deck surface completed, we did get to spend a bit of time enjoying it.  I plan to install all of the composite skirting material mid-next week.
Although ready to work, it is tough to get anything accomplished when a five  month old and a two year old call out for some one on one time.
One angle of the completed deck surface.
I had not worked with composite material till we undertook this project.  I found working with it was easy enough; no different that working with wood.  It cuts well.  When properly stacked, the boards do not warp. The clip system we chose to use made the surface look so good.....and without flaws.  The wood grain style is most appealing. A 25 year warranty from fading, scratching and damage - combined with never having to sand and stain the deck surface - was all the convincing we needed to opt for composite over wood decking.

Although we thought the surface would be hot when exposed to strong sun rays, it proves to be quite easy to walk on while bare footed.  Great!
The surface has not been washed but, once that happens, the dust covered boards will brighten up considerably.
The picture frame look we wanted is also quite appealing.  The deck looks so well finished. The contrast from brown to reddish colour is appealing too.
All exposed pressure treated wood skirting will be covered with 1/2" X 12" composite boards.  The entire deck and skirting will be completely maintenance free, other than the occasional wash with a brush and water hose.
The privacy pergolas will be built and the final step will be to plant a complete cedar hedge behind the pergola and  also on the opposite side of the yard where I previously built a large cedar hedge planter.
Our objective to completely privatize our yard is very, very close to completion.  Yeah to that!
Arriving at the Sandpiper Golf Resort - Rowena's Inn - Harrison Mills.
Jeanette and I did take last Sunday off and rode off to the Harrison Mills area.  Lunch was enjoyed at Rowena's Inn, along the Harrison River, while enjoying the golf course view at Sandpiper Golf Resort.
We enjoyed lunch at the famous Rowena's Inn on the Harrison River.
With being so busy, this past month and more, to get away from it all to enjoy a nice lunch at Rowena's Inn was a treat.  We enjoyed some very nice seafood along with a couple of iced teas. 
Rowena's Inn on the River
About a one hour motorcycle ride from our home, a lovely Sunday was enjoyed riding to and from Rowena's Inn and the hours we enjoyed over lunch and walking the lovely grounds that skirt the Harrison River in the eastern Fraser Valley.  
The view from our outdoor courtyard lunch table.
Looking out towards the Harrison River - while watching golfers tee off - is about as perfect a setting as one could ask for.  Our golf group gets to play this Sandpiper Golf Course a couple of times every season.
We took a long walk around the Rowena's Inn grounds
Mom is getting some special time with her two kids following two nights away in Edmonton, Alberta.
Brie was enamored to see her mom.....!
Easton and I were at the Abbotsford Airport at 10:00 am this (Thursday) morning to meet Ginette who had flown back from a few days away in Edmonton.  It's nice to witness the excitement for both mom and her little boy.  What a thrill!  Back at our home, Brie was still enjoying a nap but once awake, she just melted when he mom picked her up.  Beautiful moments!

A couple of hours following pick up at the airport, Ginette and her two kids left for their Langley City home.  They have to prepare for a one week trip at the family cottage at Barriere Lake - north of Kamloops, BC.  We are joining them there (for about four days or so).  Jeanette and I plan to motorcycle up there; a five hour ride; leaving tomorrow morning.  A nice surprise will be waiting for us when we arrive.  Our son Deni, his wife Courtney and their seven month old baby boy, Owen, will be joining us there too.  We are looking forward to that family time together.

With no internet service and no cell phone service, we will be out of touch till we return home.

And that has been our canvas these past several days.  Life is good!

Thanks for dropping by.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Jamming, Staining, Sitting, Building and Camping....

Our great summer weather has returned.  And the long range forecast is for sun, more sun, more and more sun, and bright blue skies, with wonderful west coast type temperatures.  Between now and mid-September, our west coast summer weather tends to be sunny and mild.

Two days last week - Wednesday and Thursday - brought dark skies and plenty of rain.  That is when Jeanette decided to get 'jamming'.  She had picked several pounds of plums from a friend's home and purchased a couple of heavy boxes full of huge blue berries from a local blueberry farmer near us. 
Jeanette made jam with the plums....
.....and made jelly with the blueberries.
Check out the size of those blueberries!  They were huge!  They were also freshly picked, when Jeanette drove into the farmer's yard to pick up her order.
Mass production taking place in Jeanette's kitchen.
While Jeanette was busy with 'jamming', I was busy with 'staining' in our garage.  I needed to get more material stained. Two rain days were perfect to get that job done.  Just staining a 4X8 sheet of cedar lattice takes three hours of work; and that's for both sides!
Easton offers to help me move the cedar lattice into position for staining.
Time consuming work.  One cannot be in a hurry when staining lattice. 
Once the deck is completed, this lattice will extend the existing 8' pergola.  The big 6"X6" post, behind the lattice in the photo above, will complement the existing frame work.  I dug a three foot deep hole, on Friday, and placed the post with Jeanette's help.  Once leveled, 6 bags of 'QuickCrete' (post cement) were mixed and placed in the hole.  That post is no going to move!!!!!
Easton is reading with his Nana
Ginette and her two kids dropped by for a visit during one of the rain days.  The grand kids played in the sun room - out of the rain - while we visited.
Brie is quite serious when checking out the monkey that is hanging on to the rolling chair.
Ginette and the grand kids joined us for lunch on Wednesday.  We were thrilled to bits to take a few hours away from our self imposed chores to hang out and enjoy the time with Easton, Brie and their mom.
Brie is looking in on her brother as he enjoys playing with his favourite motorcycle on the road mat. Brie is already making effors to crawl.  She does manage to move herself around. 
Easton was curious about the circular chop saw and I gave him some lessons and reasons why one needs to be careful with power tools.
After our visitors left back for their home, Jeanette and I resumed our chores.  She jammed....and I stained.  She in the kitchen....and me in the garage!  We did get together again for dinner though!!!  LOL
Jeanette is enjoying a full day of fun with friend Mariette, downtown on Vancouver's waterfront, on Saturday.....!
Jeanette texted the photo above while I busied myself with receiving the second truck that delivered the balance of our deck order.  The driver was delivering our composite decking material.  With his truck mounted fork lift, he lifted and placed the load on our driveway. I began hauling the composite material to the back yard.  It took some time to get that job done.  Anyone who has handled composite decking knows that 16' lengths can be quite trying.  I got my morning walk, however.  I must have walked 90 times, between the front and back yard, while carrying composite decking.  Phew.....!  Great exercise though!

The new post installed, levelled and the hole filled with 'QuickCrete' cement.
Once all of the composite material was moved to the back yard, I began installing the brown composite outer 'picture frame' decking.  The inside decking material has a reddish hue and wood look.  'Picture frame' gives the deck a nice finished looked.  You will see once this job has been completed.
Adding a step......
Example of the picture frame brown composite decking.
It took quite some time to square everything off, make the 45 degree cuts, the 25 degree cuts and more angle cuts, just to 'picture frame' the outer area of the large deck, the smaller sitting deck by the pond, and the 4X8 lower deck along side the hot tub.  The inside decking material is reddish in colour and will complement the hot tub colour.  It should look nice once it is all done.  To 'picture frame' requires a lot more work to frame and to install decking.....but it is well worth the effort, in our view.

A close up of the upper and lower deck 'picture framing'.
The next several days will be devoted to completing our deck works and to build the pergola to extend with the existing one.  So...more work to accomplish but it's all going well.

Shortly after I originally posted this blog, our son - and his family - texted that they were on their first day of holidays, enjoying a camping trip  to British Columbia.  The left Edmonton, Alberta this morning.
In Sparwood, southern Alberta, their first night out.
Deni, Courtney and Owen are headed to the west Kootenays of British Columbia for a family reunion on Courtney's side.  Next Friday, they will join Jeanette, me, Ginette, Trevor, Brie and Easton at Trevor's parents' cabin at Barriere Lakes, north of Kamloops.  We are looking forward to that.And the long term forecast is exceptional! 
Nice, rustic campsite in the trees.  Good fun....and great weather too!
 Thanks for dropping in.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Smoked and Rained Out...

What was to become a five day, southern BC motorcycle ride turned into a two day ride to Osoyoos and back home.  We left home on Monday morning.
Leaving home, Monday morning, to join five other motorcyclists in Abbotsford, BC.
Checking out the weather before hand, it looked like we would be OK for our five day, southern BC motorcycle ride.  That was not to be though.
Fueled up and taking a break in Princeton, BC.
The weather, going over the Allison Pass, eastbound on Highway 3, was very nice and sunny.  In Princeton, the temperatures were typical of summer in the southern interior; hot and dry.  We continued our journey east towards Keremeos and our first overnight in Osoyoos.

Very hot here!  Some early signs of smoke from the forest fires in central BC and major forest fires in Washington State. 
Our arrival in Keremeos was where we saw the first signs of smoke from major forest fires.  The majority of the smoke was working its way up from the fierce fires in the Okonogan area of Washington State.  It still was not too bad.  We pressed in into Osoyoos.

Enjoying an early evening chat outdoors.
We found a nice dinner spot where some decent food was enjoyed while we looked over Osoyoos Lake.  Back at our motel, we sat outdoors and contemplated where our two wheels would take us the next morning.  Checking iPad and iPhone weather services, it appeared we would be OK heading further east and into the west Kootenays.  The heavy smoke from nearby Washington State was working its way north and into our area though.  Hmmmmm!
Heading back home - a brief rest stop at the Manning Park Resort.
When we awoke on Tuesday morning, a look outdoors was telling us that the winds were gusting north and bringing in some heavy blue smoke from the Washington State fires.  The air was much thicker.  What to do?  One rider called a friend in a town further east from us and we learned that the smoke was even worse and the rains were active. 
The sun peaking through heavy smoke from forest fires.
Not able to head south over the 49th parallel and into Washington State; not able to head east due to rain and smoke; not able to head north due to forest fires just north of Osoyoos, led to our decision to head back west where there was no rain and no smoke.  That meant heading back for the west coast and home.  

It was a good ride back.  We rode 700 KM, on our two day ride, and although our trip was cut short, we all felt right by our decision.  We can get together again, for a longer ride, anytime in the near future when the weather cooperates and forest fires abate.
Courtney and Owen dropped by for a brief visit.
Tuesday morning, Courtney dropped by our home before she and Owen were to catch their flight  back home.  I was away but Jeanette got to spend some nice time with them. Owen enjoyed some time playing around in our sun room.
"Hey.....this is fun....."
Our little Edmonton grand son enjoyed playing around and he was his usual happy self. We will get to spend some quality time with him, his folks (Deni/Courtney), Ginette, Trevor, Brie and Easton when we get together again, as a family, this August long weekend.  We are looking forward to that.
Hanging out with Easton and Brie at their home.
Jeanette dropped over to a friend's home to pick some plums.  And pick she did!  Two boxes of plums are to become some fine jelly/jam today (Wednesday).  Jeanette is busy working on that project as I write this blog.  
Jeanette's plum jelly project about to start.
We are living with two days of much needed rains - today and tomorrow (Wednesday/Thursday) - and that means I can spend some of that time staining some pergola pieces in the garage.  Although time consuming (especially staining lattice sheets) I don't mind garage based projects when it is raining outdoors.  We especially need the rains to quell the numerous forest fires that are battering residents in nearby Washington State and many, many locations in British Columbia.

And that colours our little world from here.  

Thanks for dropping in.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Decked Out...

Well, what happens when a large truck drops a load of lumber in one's driveway?  Well, one dons the tool belt, sets up the necessary tools and gets down to the business of building.
Framing lumber
Last Monday, the anticipated framing lumber for our planned back yard deck arrived shortly after lunch time.  It had been ordered the Friday before.  The decking surface material of choice had to be special ordered and is slated for arrival in about ten days from this writing.  We decided to use composite material for the deck surface.  The framing material is standard 2X8 pressure treated lumber.
The chop saw saw a lot of action
As soon as I had signed off with the truck driver, I began the framing process. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and part of Thursday, last week, - the hottest days of our summer, so far - were deck framing days. It was a busy few days of cutting, leveling and nailing.
Jeanette is making sure my framing work is level.....
We are building a fairly large deck that will cover the existing smaller exposed aggregate concrete deck and bleed past a previous planter and down to the pond.  The new deck is framed at the sun room exit level. 

This is the point where the deck drops 8" to a lower level along side the pond.  Steps will be added soon.
The view from the sun room
The deck is being framed to satisfy the composite manufacturer's 25 year warranty.  That's right! The framing requirements are to meet standard building codes.  It is a box frame style that will prevent the composite decking from warping.  Although more expensive, Jeanette and I opted for the composite material over pressure treated or cedar decking to avoid rotting, staining and high maintenance issues.  The composite decking is scratch resistant and is fully warrantied for 25 years.  The only maintenance required will be one yearly cleaning.  Easy!

I was drinking gallons and gallons of water to stay hydrated during the framing build.  Man....was it ever hot.  My work clothes were drenched.  I would start work early in the mornings but would suspend the build by 4:00 pm.  Just too hot.....for me, that is!

The air  framing nail gun  sure makes quick work of nailing,
Jeanette was busy in the flower garden.  The large brimmed hat kept the sun at bay and the long sleeves kept her arms scratch free - unlike me.  I am scratched up from framing the deck.

Our golfing group played a lovely golf course on Friday.  We visit this course at least once each year.  It is a test and a treat to play the Eaglemont Golf and Country Club.

Eaglemont is an 18 hole championship-quality public golf course and a world-class events venue, located in the heart of the beautiful Skagit Valley in Mount Vernon, Washington. Combining challenging golf with spectacular scenery, the course at Eaglemont offers golfers a memorable experience. Each golfr hole s is unique and separated from the others (no up and back golf here) and you will likely hit every club in your bag at least once during your round. The Clubhouse sits on top of a hill, overlooks a couple of our signature holes, and in the background, the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains are visible!
"10th Rated Course in Washington State"
     - 2011 Golf Digest Magazine
"4 Star Rating"
     - Golf Digest Magazine
"The views of Mt. Baker and the surrounding Skagit Valley are breathtaking"
     - Inside Golf Magazine
"Easily one of the top 5 public courses in Washington State"
     - GolfWashington Magazine

 While I was waiting at the border to re-enter Canada, following our Friday golf round, Jeanette joined Easton, Brie, Ginette and Trevor at the Aldergrove fair.  This yearly fair is a fun place for young kids to try out some nice rides.  Easton got his chance to try a few and he sure enjoyed that.
 Although the opening Friday evening was not well attended, going on the rides was a lot of fun.   Ginette with Brie is watching in the background
 "Yea!    this is fun!!!!!"
Even dad Trevor got to hang out with the ride handler while Easton got to ride the rails.
I also dropped the tools long enough to join in on a Thursday evening motorcycle ride.  The group, informally known as 'Thunder Thursday', has been meeting for better than ten years.  A few years back, I weened myself from the group.  The membership grew too large. Riding with such a large, eclectic group became tedious and dangerous, in my view. The riding group dissipated these past couple of years, but was resurrected with many of the original riders.  I was invited back.  It's nice to get back to a much smaller and like minded riding group. Thursday night's ride was good fun. I am already looking forward to next Thursday's ride.
All shined up before the Thunder Thursday ride....
Today (Saturday) Jeanette and a friend are taking in a few softball games at the 
Canadian Open Fastpitch International - Welcome  in South Surrey/White Rock.  A large, international women's fast pitch tournament, it is a well attended annual event.  The facility is within a five block walking distance from our previous home.    

So that sums up our very busy week.  Once the composite decking boards arrive (in ten days or so), we'll get to complete the largest of our planned 'reno back yard projects' for this year.  The back yard re-make is well on its way to completion.  Nice!

That's our story from here, for now.  Thanks for dropping in.