A Good Screw: Performing Manly Jobs Around the House

While Jarrod was away, I decided to step into a manly role around the house, break out the power drill and get some projects done. First off we needed to baby proof, so I assembled and installed the baby gate. Secondly, I had been wanting to put in an indoor retractable clothesline, so that I could use the dryer less to save energy. Lastly, I wanted to install some hooks on our closet doors to hang bathrobes, towels, etc.

My New Clothesline

I gathered up all of my supplies and got to work. First up was the clothesline. It went up relatively easily. I’m a little concerned with how cheap it is and hopefully it holds up over time, but so far so good. Now the goal had been to anchor it into the studs, so I pulled out my trusty (insert laugh here) stud finder and drilled my holes.

I'm hoping this will save some money on the electric bill!

One problem….on the first wall there wasn’t a stud where the finder said there would be. Let’s hope those drywall plugs do their job! On the opposite wall my stud finder worked and I hit wood. 50% success rate in finding studs. Sounds more like a dating site than a household project. Anyway, with the closthes line installed I got a load of laundry hung and it seemed to work just fine. I think though, that I’ll reserve heavy items for the railing.

The new baby gate

Second project, the baby gate. The instructions included were actually in English and pretty good. It went together relatively easily. The only problem I encountered was installer error (I forgot to use a level to check for straightness before installing the latch) so my gate is a bit akimbo but functionally sound.

The last project, however, which sounds like the easiest (seriously, how hard can hanging hooks be?) had me seeing red! By this point, I was a pro with the drill. I measured my doors so that I had the hooks centered, marked

Cheap, broken screws!

the holes to be drilled, drilled pilot holes into the wood and then attempted to drill in my screws. This is where I failed. The screws were Phillips (i.e. “X” screws or “star” screws) which are about the MOST USELESS screws invented. They strip really easily especially when they’re made of cheap metal (as these were). As soon as they started to strip I stopped with the drill and started to hand

Note that the head of the bottom screw is broken off!

tighten them. They were SO cheap though, that the snapped in half with the shaft of the screw buried in the wood and the head of the screw in my hand. Grrrr. I was able to pry 2 of the 4 screws out with pliers. The 3rd and 4th however are a lost cause. I then replaced them with less cheap screws that I could screw the rest of the way in. The other 2 hooks had the same el- cheapo screws and so I decided right off the bat NOT to use them. I went digging around in our “loose screw jar” and found 4 small screws that would do the trick on the remaining hook. One problem….they were stupid Phillips screws again.

Stripped, useless screws!

Now I don’t know who this Phillip guy was, but clearly he was an idiot. His¬†screws are useless and always strip. Now I have 2 stripped screws only half embedded in the wood and are too stripped to drill in or twist out. I’ll have to grab the pliers and remove them. This project, which should have taken 10 minutes tops, cost me the entire evening and I still haven’t got it finished. You see, what I need is a good screw (mind out of the gutter people). Now when it comes to reliable screwing, you should always count on a Canadian to get the job done. Seriously. The Robertson screw (aka the square) is the best out there (initially invented in 1908 by P.L. Robertson from Milton, ON). While it can be annoying, because you need a screwdriver that fits it perfectly (as there are several sizes), it does not tend to strip. So, now I’m off in search of an old-fashioned, trusty Canadian screw to unscrew my initial screw screw-up.

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Really, we all live under one roof, so let’s be nice to each other!

Our New Roof Being Installed

One of the main reasons we wanted to move back home to the Maritimes is for the people. Having come from here, I could never understand it when we lived in places where people didn’t want to be neighbourly. I’d pass people on the sidewalk waving and smiling to have them turn their eyes and glance at their feet to avoid personal contact. In extreme cases, people would even give a dirty look as if to say, “why are you looking at me!?!” And in some places even your neighbours don’t want anything to do with you. In many parts of this country there is a cold front that is completely unrelated to the weather, where people are content to live in their own little worlds. Not here though. Here, people smile at you on the street and nod hello. People wave at each other through their car windows when they pass on the road. Complete strangers strike up conversations with you in the supermarket line-up or at the Tim Horton’s counter or in the aisles of Canadian Tire. And people want to help you. So much so, that they’ll go out of their way just to help others out.

Just today for example, we had a leak in our new roof. We called the fellow who installed the roof and not but 3 minutes later he was returning our call. While we were waiting that whole 3 minutes for the call we also called our contractor. While we were on the phone with the roofer, the contractor actually showed up to come check out the situation. So within 5 minutes of discovering the problem we’d received two phone calls back and had a house call to help us out. Now the problem stems from our recent ice storm. It has caused a real mess and to top it off, after two days of -30C weather the temperature rose to +7C today! This freak weather has caused ice damming and leaks even on the best (and newest of roof tops). And as such, we’ve been affected and have sprung a minor leak. The ice just needs to be cleaned off of the roof and the moisture in the house is nothing that a dehumidifier can’t handle. The contractor is even planning on coming back tomorrow to bang all of the ice off of our roof. Talk about service! Now this isn’t a post about the weather, or ice-damming or roof repair/maintenance. This post is about the goodness of people and the neighbourly spirit that exists here on this Island. It’s nice to know that when you have a problem, that someone has your back. It’s nice to know that people care about the work they have done for you. Most of all, it’s nice to live in a place where you can wave and smile at strangers and receive the same in return.

Before and After… A Year in the Life of Our House.

Our Place on the Lake

A year ago today Jarrod and I took possession of our place on the lake. We took before and after pictures of all of the work that was done on the house. There’s still lots we’d like to do, but we’ve already accomplished so much. On the anniversary of our closing date I thought it would be fitting to post the before and after pictures of the house on my blog. A picture truly is worth a thousand words, so for once I’ll keep it short and sweet and just let you enjoy the slide show.

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What a ride it’s been. Thanks to all who have helped make this house a home!

The Not So Gentle Island – Winter on the Lake

A view of the winter dunes as I look up the lake.

This week’s posts are going to focus around my home and where I live. This is for one simple reason….it’s our anniversary. A year ago, as a Valentine’s Day present to each other, Jarrod and I bought our place on the lake. Really, it wasn’t for a Valentine’s Day present, but we had the closing date set to Valentine’s Day because we knew we would always want to remember the day we purchased our dream property.

More Icicles- they're so pretty!

So with that said, the theme of today’s posts is winter on the lake. PEI is famous for summer. It has wonderful ocean beaches, delicious seafood, glorious sunny days and is a summer vacation hot spot. People come from all over the world to enjoy the beaches on the island and as such the province has coined the slogan, “The Gentle Island” to describe it. That’s well and good in the summer months, but here on Canada’s East Coast the days of summer are far from endless! In fact, even though PEI has a large part of it’s economy driven by tourism, it’s tourist season is extremely short. At best, there are typically 8 good weeks (or peak season weeks). The remainder of its season (which runs from May to October) can offer anything from snowstorms to hurricanes. This is probably the largest downfall for PEI’s tourism market. We used to live on Vancouver Island. In fact we moved from Vancouver Island to PEI (Probably one of the farthest island-hops that you can do!). Vancouver Island, which also has a huge tourism industry, is blessed with more moderate temperatures and weather and as such truly has a 6 month tourist season. Anyway (as usual) I digress.

The winter dunes

So here I sit in -30C temperatures (that’s -22F for those of you South of the Border) after a weekend of being ravaged by winds gusting upwards of 100 kph, freezing rain and snow, thinking to myself that really there’s nothing gentle about this Island right now. Once September hits, all bets are off on the “Gentle Island.” Hurricane season starts in September, and while major damage from hurricanes is uncommon, it’s not unheard of (See Hurricane Juan). The hurricane season can last into November, which is just in time for the snow storm season to start. Again, the storms are variable from year to year (last year was a snowy one, this year is primarily a windy one) but this pretty much lasts through until May. This is typically when the rain and windstorms start again and when all of the tourism operators start praying for a nice summer.

Winter sunset

So now you’re probably wondering why did we move here? Why do we live on this not so gentle island? There are lots of reasons (real estate prices, closer to family, closer knit communities, etc) but even in the winter there is still a sense of serenity and beauty in this place.

A frozen branch & looking up our lane

A wicked, windy, ice storm transforms the barren winter landscape into a crystalline wonderland where every branch gives off a thousand sparkles when the sunlight hits. Living down a road which is primarily used by summer cottagers becomes a whole different experience in February. There are benefits in not having any neighbours (as my husband will tell you, it doesn’t matter now if we walk around naked- not that it mattered before. We live well off of the road and are surrounded by woods. Add to the fact that “we” means “he.” Further add to the fact that when we had neighbours it never really bothered him.) Oops….more digression!

Finlay and I on the lake.

But the reality is there’s a peacefulness on the lake in the winter. Despite the winds, snow, rain, and cold it’s tranquil here, with only the sounds of the wailing wind to keep you up at night. And even in the winter, there’s still lots to do here. Only 15 minutes from our home is Greenwich National Park,(part of PEI National Park) where there is a snowshoeing club that meets every weekend, our backyard lake also has excellent snowshoeing and skating, and we’re minutes from the beach for winter beach walks and cross-country skiing when there is snow. The main part of PEI National Park also hosts a ton of winter activities and has groomed trails for skiing and snowshoeing, skating, and more. And don’t forget the Confederation Trail, a trail that spans the entire province and can be skied, snowshoed, or snowmobiled.¬† So we may be “iced-in” (a term used to describe the shoreline once the winter ice has settled) for the winter, but spring will come and things will thaw. Until then, I’ll enjoy the splendor in my backyard on this cold February day! I’ve included this slideshow of our winter paradise because a picture truly is worth a thousand words and I could never fully explain how nice it really is here in the winter. So see for yourself…

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