The Great Dishwasher Installation Saga

When we bought Mist Cottage many people were looking at it, because it was so inexpensive and in such a great neighbourhood. But no one was interested in buying it, there was just so much work to be done. Most people would have just torn it down and started over, but not us! Here was our chance to invest in a place where we might comfortably retire, as neither of us could expect a pension. It has proved to be a lot of work, and on most days it seems worthwhile; not on all days though.

Let me tell you what we found in the kitchen the day we took possession of the house. The lower cabinet shelves were lined with… carpet! It was dark blue floor carpeting, stapled to the shelves. The carpet was covered with mouse urine and droppings, the stench was extremely off putting. My first project in this house was to tear out the carpet in the kitchen cabinets and spray the whole area with bleach. That first summer we rented the largest dumpster bin available on the market, and filled it with the carpet and items with similar horrific physical qualities.

We have been fighting the mice ever since we moved in here. Slowly but surely we are blocking their entrance points. Below the kitchen sink where the plumbing comes through the floor was one of the entry points, and the wall behind the kitchen sink another. They are now both completely blocked.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Saturday began with a trip to Canadian Tire to pick up plumbing parts to connect the new dishwasher. After arriving back, Attila set to work. First the area where the dishwasher will be installed had to be prepared. The cupboards are the originals, old, solid wood frames, nothing prebuilt about these old cupboards. Attila did the work, I am describing it.

The cupboard doors were removed. The cupboard shelves were removed, one inch thick wood needed to be sawed through and removed, and new supports for the what remained of the shelves were built. The bottom of the cupboard was removed, which proved time consuming.

This is the inside of the cupboard where the dishwasher will reside. Already one shelf has been removed, the rest need to come out, which includes the bottom shelf.
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Here is what we found under the bottom shelf of the kitchen cupboard! The large mouse nest was built using insulation from the wall behind the cupboard.

With this potential health hazard in the kitchen, we turned off the central air system, removed the curtains from the windows, stapled sheets over the doors from the kitchen to the rest of the house, and removed all visible items from the kitchen, storing them temporarily on the living room floor, creating another tunnel!

I sprayed this mess with hydrogen peroxide, then Attila donned a mask and gloves, and proceeded to use a paint scraper to remove all of the loose debris into garbage bags, which were sealed and put in a larger green garbage bag to go out with the trash next week. The area was sprayed for a second time with hydrogen peroxide. Attila then took a shower.

A second trip to the hardware store was undertaken, more parts were needed.

Upon return the thick wood shelf surrounding the sink drain and plumbing was removed using a oscillating saw.

A third trip to out, again to Canadian Tire, to replace a part that sported the wrong sized threads. Then home again to eat dinner, before Attila took up the project again. After installing a new drain trap, he called it quits for the day.

Thus ended the first full day of work to install the new dishwasher. We have a sterilized hole to place it in. The contents of the kitchen are strewn across the living room, covering every surface.

We have had intermittent rain, and it is beginning to have an effect, after an entire day of infrequent showers.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Installing the new kitchen taps was first on the roster this morning. The water supply to the house was turned off just after breakfast. Removing the old taps proved to be a mega-job, taking all of the morning. The air was blue in the kitchen this morning. I made very effort to be busy in one of the adjoining rooms, and asked no questions.

At one point Attila became concerned about the number of ants suddenly crawling everywhere in his small tool area in the garage. They crawled all over him when he needed to fetch items, or work on something. Off I went again to Canadian Tire and purchased Wilson’s AntOut spray (not aerosol), hurrying home with it so that Attila could continue with his project in relative comfort. The product, by Attila’s account, was a great success.

Then on to cleaning up the kitchen sink where the old taps had been removed, and installing the new taps. By this time it was well past lunch time, so I was very grateful to have the Lentil Salad sitting in the refrigerator ready for a quick meal.

The new kitchen taps, well tap, the original had two knobs, one for hot, one for cold, but this high flyer has one handle that you can lift to turn the water on with back of your hand when your hands are dirty… what luxury!
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I abdicated responsibility for trying to prepare a meal and ordered a pizza, from the only pizza establishment that lists all the allergens in their food.

After dinner Attila got the hoses and electrical hooked up, but the dishwasher will not fit under the counter, it is too high. He will try to raise the counter, we will see how that goes! After the hookup Attila wanted to try the unit out, to make sure it works. I got it all loaded and setup, then pushed the start button. Soon thereafter Attila shouted from the kitchen that I should come and turn it off, as he raced to the basement to turn off the main water supply. It leaked, all of the water that should have gone into the dishwasher poured into the area below the sink. Another mess to clean up. More parts were needed.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Day three of the great dishwasher installation dawned. Oh heaven, above let this be the last day of the dishwasher installation!!

I arose early, showered, then wakened Attila. We have important things to do. He is taking a day off work, and although it was originally planned so that we could have a camping weekend, it isn’t turning out that way! This morning the car was dropped off at the garage for an oil change and checkup, and Tank transported us, bright and early, to the Home Depot a half an hour away, so that Attila could return parts he did not need, and buy more parts that he thinks he does need.

After arriving home Attila went straight to work on the dishwasher. Finally it was time to turn in on for the second time, keeping close watch on the discharge pipes and under the machine and the sink, to ensure that the water was all going where it was supposed to go. It was!

The washing machine took three hours to cycle, and during that time we noticed quite a strong “mousey” smell in the kitchen. We had a serious chat, and both decided it would be best, since the kitchen was already emptied and the cupboards torn up a bit, to carry on removing the base level of the cupboards to reveal the floor below. There had been quite a large mouse nest, full of urine and droppings, below the lower cabinet floor where the dishwasher was installed, and from the smell we suspected there were more nests under the other cupboards.

At this point there was some discussion about installing new cupboards, but the expense was determined to be beyond our means. The old cupboards would have to be made functional, there was no choice but to forge ahead with the old.

I headed off to the Hardware store to purchase a litre of BIN, to use to paint the exposed floors under the kitchen cabinets. I took the opportunity to visit the library while I was out, to return books, and borrow more. I was pleasantly surprised to find a book written by Kip Harness, a singer/songwriter from Toronto who frequented the same places I did when I lived there.

The opening for the dishwasher with the shelves removed, and the floor painted with BIN. Note the holes in the drywall are “sealed” with steel wool, to keep the mice from coming in through the back wall. Someday, when we put in new kitchen cabinets, we will remove this old drywall, and all the nasty mousiness behind it, seal the area to prevent further mouse incursions, paint the whole thing with BIN, insulate, rewire, put a vapour barrier in and install new drywall. Putting in new kitchen cupboards will be expensive and very, very, very time consuming. Eventually we will reclaim this house back from the mice!
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Once again everything in the kitchen was covered with sheets, and all items were removed from the kitchen. Attila donned his breathing mask, and latex gloves, and set to removing the entire lower shelf floor. This involved dismantling the supports for the kitchen cupboards, so that they sagged to the floor, to wait there until Attila would install new bottom shelving. Basically, Attila had to rebuild the bottom kitchen cupboards. I knew this job would not be a simple put-in-the-dishwasher, hook-it-up-and-go job. In an old house these little projects are seldom, I might venture the word never, simple.

The kitchen draped with sheets as Attila removes the bottom shelf of the kitchen cupboards, to reveal two additional huge mouse nests, full of urine and droppings. Mice are so disgusting. Those who find them cute should drop into their homes for tea sometime.
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Just as we suspected there were two other huge mouse nests, filled with dried urine and faces, built from wall insulation, under the sink cupboard. They were soaked from the leak experienced on the first trial run with the dishwasher, and reeked. Attila spent a few hours removing the mouse mess, using copious amounts of hydrogen peroxide to kill any viruses or bacteria that might be floating around. The cooling system had been turned off before the removal of the boards began, so there was no air circulating through the house to spread bad things in the air all around.

The site of one of the other mouse nests, wet after being sprayed with hydrogen peroxide.
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You can see here two issues. first, the dishwasher does not fit under the lip of the kitchen counter, so the counter will have to be raised. Second, in removing the bottom shelf of the kitchen cupboards, the frame sank down to the floor. Attila needs to rebuild the base of the cabinets to bring the cupboards back up to the correct height.
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After showering and changing his clothes, Attila and I drove over to the garage in Tank, where I left him to pay the car maintenance bill before bringing the car home.

After arriving home, Attila performed a second cleaning of the floorboards under the kitchen cupboards, again using a spray bottle of hydrogen peroxide to damp down the small amount of debris remaining, as he scooped it up and discarded it. When this dried, the BIN was applied by brush, and we left it to dry with all the kitchen windows open and the ceiling fans running.

At last, the two coats of BIN have dried on the floor beneath cupboards. The mousey smell is gone. Time to rebuild the cupboards.
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The BIN drying to the left of the sink.
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The BIN drying to the right of the sink.
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Luckily the pizza I had ordered yesterday was adequate for two dinners, so all we had to do was heat it in the microwave.

After a quick dinner, Attila was off to cut the planks for the lower cupboard shelves, pine that he had purchased years ago at a good price. Then, as the two coats of BIN were dry, the reconstruction of the lower cupboards began. The pine boards were installed across the cupboards, supporting the structure of the cupboards, later the cedar boards that line the cupboards would be installed at right angle to the pine, lending great strength as it is needed in these hard working cupboards. With the installation of the pine and cedar in one cupboard it was after 10 p.m., Attila was out of time.

And so ends day three of the Great Dishwasher Installation saga.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

We awoke to the sound of rain on the roof. It was a slow, steady rain, and already the rain barrels were full to overflowing. The rain continued steadily as the day progressed.

After Attila left for work I jumped into the shower to prepare to attend my first Tai Chi class. It is funny, but I was quite nervous about attending, new situations can sometimes hit me that way. I was determined to make myself go though. Before I left I received a message that additional copies of my first book were ready for pickup near the location of the Tai Chi classes. Perfect.

I drove through a wet greening landscape, where some of the plants had turned a vibrant green in the rain, but others were reacting slowly, turning from brown to yellow. It felt like mother earth was gulping the refreshment offered from the sky. It rained all day.

When I arrived at the Church where the Tai Chi lessons were to take place, I was concerned that there was only one other car in the parking lot. Undeterred I ran from Tank through the rain to try the doors. They were locked. Soon a very friendly woman with a briefcase came to the door, and I asked her about the Tai Chi classes. She unlocked the doors and invited me in, where she checked the schedule, no Tai Chi at the specified time! I don’t know what the mixup has been, but I now know that there is no class on Tuesday mornings.

The next stop was the print shop, where the books were waiting for pickup. The books looked good, so the bill was paid. The next destination was home.

The rest of the afternoon was spent emptying the dishwasher’s first load, and stacking the items on the floor in the bedroom, the only area in the house with free floor space. Yesterdays dishes were washed, and the kitchen counter cleared off completely.

Attila arrived home from work ready for a bath and some dinner. After Attila had a refreshing bath it was time to think about something to eat. To save precious evening time for working on the kitchen project, a can of ravioli was opened for a quick meal. Not ideal but perfect in that it involved only two bowls and two spoons in the way of dirty dishes.

The next stage of the dishwasher installation project was to raise the kitchen counter so that the dishwasher would fit under it. The kitchen was built before dishwashers became a commercial success in the 1950s, and so the counter was too low to accommodate such an appliance.

The dishwasher is too high to fit under the kitchen counter. Attila raised the counter on “shims” by 3/8″, and then in she went.
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After the counter had been raised 3/8 inch, I began to vacuum, then wash with soapy water, the empty finished cabinet to the left of the dishwasher. The contents of the drawers were washed in the sink and dried, the drawers were washed out, dried, refilled with the clean utensils, and inserted into the cabinets.

The amount of storage space in the kitchen has been reduced by 1/4, which is a lot in a small kitchen. The items stored there needed to be sorted, some to go in a tote which would be kept handy in the basement, and some to be returned to the kitchen cupboard. It was decided that no food would be stored in the bottom cabinets in the kitchen, they would be devoted to cooking utensils, baking dishes, pots, pans, and the various items we frequently use as we prepare all of our food from scratch.

Attila spent the rest of the evening installing the pine boards and cedar boards on the bottom of the cabinets to the right of the dishwasher, screwing in a board barrier at the back of the dishwasher to prevent mice from entering the cabinets, and finally putting the dishwasher in place and securing it.

Last night, as Attila finished packing his lunch for work for the next day, we loaded the dishwasher together. Oh what a feeling!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The dishwasher is functionally installed, but the job was not done yet.

The newly installed shelves to the right of the dishwasher needed to be washed, then allowed to dry, before items could be stored there. As well, two boxes full of casserole dishes, pots, pans, lids etc. needed to be washed and sorted into what would go back into the cupboards, and what would go into a tote in the basement. These were tasks I easily performed.

Atilla needed to install the footplate on the dishwasher, and install trim on either side of the dishwasher, as the cupboards were not deep enough for it to install flush with the front. Also the raised countertop left a gap at the top of the cupboards at both ends of the cabinets, and that needed trim as well. It was a cluster of fiddly bits, but needed to be done.

After work today, Attila installation for the dishwasher, and began working on the needed trim for the job.

So here we are, so close to being done, just the finishing touches to go. The dishwasher is installed, insulation and all, and it works! Already today’s supper dishes are waiting patiently for an overnight run with a full load.
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There is a large cupboard at the end of the kitchen that currently holds detergents, cleaning agents, and all kinds of hardware like light bulbs. Attila wants to convert that cupboard into a food and appliance storage centre. I am all for this! But I would like to leave that project until the winter months, when we won’t have the nice weather to visit parks and go for long walks, or go camping in our trailer.

I know what kind of kitchen cabinets I want if we replace the kitchen cabinetry. Our country house had an island with drawers that pulled all of the way out, so that I could easily see and reach every item in the drawer, without having to move any other items out of the way, or guess what might be hidden in the depths of the cupboard. If I ever get new cabinets they will all have deep drawers and no doors!

We have some pretty serious arranging to do with our belongings as this dishwasher project nears completion, and the garden shed nears completion as well. Things will be shuffled about in the kitchen, in the new garden shed, in the garage, and in the basement. There will be a lot of sorting an organizing going on from now until Christmas, and perhaps beyond. And maybe even some purging!

The heat wave has broken, as has the drought, with yesterdays all-day rain. This morning I took up my morning walks once again, with great relief.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 11:00 AM EDT Sunday 14 August 2016
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.3 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 24.4°C
Dewpoint: 19.1°C
Humidity: 72%
Wind: WSW 14 km/h
Humidex: 31

SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT IN EFFECT “A significant widespread rainfall event is expected beginning overnight or early Tuesday morning and ending Tuesday evening. Rainfall amounts will range from 25 to 40 mm in most places. There may be appreciably higher amounts exceeding 60 mm in some locales.”
Date: 11:00 AM EDT Monday 15 August 2016
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.3 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 24 km
Dewpoint: 16.1°C
Humidity: 64%
Wind: SSE 13 km/h
Humidex: 28
[OK, can you believe this, after experiencing a summer long drought, we are now warned that nature may bring to us a sudden, short deluge from the sky. I think that next may come the locusts!]

Date: 10:00 AM EDT Tuesday 16 August 2016
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 102.0 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 10 km
Temperature: 19.8°C
Dewpoint: 18.8°C
Humidity: 94%
Wind: NE 8 km/h


“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
427 BC – 347 BC

This saying never gets old for me, and I find that I need to be reminded of it with some regularity as the years slip every more quickly into the past.

It’s Spring And There is Water

Friday, March 11

Secret Shopper

Attila has come up with a plan. He calls it the Secret Shopper Plan.

What got him thinking about the need for a plan, was the disparity in how he is treated as a male in some retail environments, and how I am treated as a female in those same retail environments. We have had upsetting instances where the male staff at a retail store where we have been doing business are very friendly to Attila, and respectful, but when I go alone to the same store I am met with a less than pleasing standard of service. This frustrates Attila, because he has no way of knowing that this will happen. Because he is being treated so well there is little indication that anyone else would be treated in a less satisfactory way.

So, to solve this problem, Attila has proposed that I do the initial contact with potential retail establishments, when we are trying to purchase an item. That way we know immediately if there is going to be a gender issue, so we can avoid establishments that have a difficult time with female customers.

We will begin this Secret Shopper approach with the purchase of a new roof vent for Iris.

Iris Has A Leak

Iris has a leak. We thought the window might be leaking. I went in to check Iris this morning, as it was raining hard. I noticed a stream of water running under the dining table towards the corner where we discovered the leak. As I stood there examining the situation, a few large drops of water landed on my head. I looked up to find the roof vent leaking, quite a bit, through the screw hole. I gathered together my toolbox, measuring tape, some rags, some plastic tubs, and pen and paper.

I used the rags to clean up the water running across the floor. I placed the tubs under the numerous drips, after removing the vent frame which was full of water. I measured the roof vent and wrote down the particulars. The roof vent is 14 x 14 inches, a standard size.

After putting away all the tools, and closing Iris up again, still dripping, I set about finding a new roof vent. I called the place where I purchased the butyl tape, they had no roof vents in stock, and weren’t expecting anything on the shelves until next week. I called an RV store in a different nearby city, and they had one in stock for $44.95. If this keeps us dry it is worth every penny.

So sometime soon I will be visiting the RV store to buy a roof vent. If they treat me well, we will go back for more parts as we need them going forward with Iris. If they don’t treat me well, there are other retailers to do business with.

Now we know why the Iris came with a large tarp! The tarp is now covering Iris.

The Flooded Driveway

While Attila slept on Thursday, I was very busy. I had dealt with the leaks in Iris’ roof vent. It was still raining. I stepped out of Iris and into a huge puddle of water. Half of our driveway was covered with water.

When the town repaved the road, they graded it so that all the water running down the road pours into our driveway, which is below the grade of the road. When it rains our driveway is flooded.

I rummaged around in the garage, which is full to the rafters with “stuff”, until I found a shovel. I splashed my way to the end of the driveway, shovel in hand. I have wonderfully warm winter rubber boots, so splashing around in water is not a problem.

At the lower edge at the end of the driveway, where the water landed as it poured across, I began to dig. The ground was frozen, so it was a bit of a struggle. I dug a three foot long hole, about two inches deep, at the edge of the concrete, it filled with water immediately, but the water could not drain.

Chopping through the snow, and icy earth, I dug a four foot long trench angled toward the road and the deep ditch beside it, where the water could drain away. It took me quite a while, but at last the water began to flow from my newly dug hole toward the ditch.

That didn’t quite resolve the problem, I needed to block the rest of the water that flowed past the hole and down the driveway. So I began to make a pile on the driveway with the earth I had just removed to dig my hole and trench, creating a barrier that protruded a foot into the driveway. That did it. The pile of mud blocked the water from flowing down the driveway, and diverted the water into my hole and trench.

It was quite a mess, and still is. Mounds of mud line the end of the driveway and the trench. Landscaping will be needed.

Digging the Trenches Here is my rectangular hole and trench to the ditch. The ground was frozen solid, but turned to mud after I hacked it out.

Attila and I are discussing how to add a short concrete berm to replace my pile of mud, to divert the water away from the driveway and into my newly dug hole.

Within an hour the puddles of water in the driveway were gone. Mission accomplished.

I was so preoccupied with playing in the mud that I didn’t really notice how hard it was raining. I was soaked.

That was easy to solve. Into the nice warm house I went, out of the cold wet clothes, and into warm dry clothes. I finished the project by sitting down to a hot cup of tea at the kitchen table, happy and satisfied with my day’s work.

Saturday, March 12

Attila was listed for mandated overtime for Friday night, it was listed on Wednesday. I had wanted to visit my Mom, I miss her so much, and haven’t seen her since she before she began her treatments. The overtime meant the visit was a no-go. Then ten minutes before the end of Attila’s shift on Thursday morning, he was told that the overtime was cancelled. Oh boy!

No time to plan, I just wanted to get in the car and drive! But Attila needed to sleep after working all night, so he turned in for about four hours. We were ready to leave by 1:30 p.m.

Who knew! The traffic jam began on one side of Toronto, which we had to drive through to the other side. Hours later we thought we had managed to get through the worst of it, but we were wrong, it was bumper to bumper, stop and go, all the way to the exit ramp to my sister’s house. The fastest speed we obtained was on the off ramp coming off the highway at the end of trip. We arrived in town at 6:45 p.m., grabbed a quick bite at McDonalds, and headed over to see Mom.

We had a good long visit, and I loved it. Mom is doing so well with her recovery, not pushing herself too far, but just far enough, and bit by bit she is regaining her strength. Her vitality, well I doubt she ever lost that! It was so great to see Mom, I had been worried about her for months, always assured by her messages and those from my sisters. But I needed to see her with my own eyes, I needed to hug her.

My sister-the-middle-girl, with whom Mom lives, has been assuming evening and nighttime home care duties for the duration. I am sister-the-oldest. It has been a labour of love for sister-in-the-middle. My sister-the-youngest, who lives within walking distance of my Mom, took a week off work to stay with Mom through some of the worst of it, and several days off work to accompany Mom to appointments, to push for the care Mom felt she needed. My nieces took time off work and school to assist with daytime home care, and accompany Mom to her appointments, and my brother-in-law was available to check on Mom when everyone else was at work, and to drive Mom and my nieces to the appointments when the weather was severe and the roads were bad. They whole bunch of them were one impressive team of support, so that Mom was able to remain home, loved and comfortable, while she dealt with the treatments. I don’t think people fare as well in hospital, loving home care is much preferable, and I think it helped tremendously in Mom’s endurance and recovery.

We stayed the night, and had a nice breakfast with Sis and Brother-In-Law. They gave us a tour of new-to-them Airstream trailer which is being restored to it’s glory by Brother-In-Law. It is going to be beautiful! After visiting a few hours more with Mom, she looked tired, so we hugged goodbye and headed home.

The trip home took only three hours, the traffic was light. It was a beautiful day for a drive.

Sunday, March 13

I tried to upload this entry last night. I changed the password to the server account recently, and have lost the bit of paper where I wrote down the new password. This meant a call to customer support, who responded this morning, and it is resolved. So here is today’s entry as well!

One of the stops we made on Friday’s journey to visit my Mom, was a visit along the way at an RV shop, where I purchased a new RV Roof Vent. We have all the parts we need now, so when we feel ready, we can tackle the job. The tarp will remain securely in place, to protect Iris from further leaks. I am going to put a small dehumidifier in her today and run it for awhile to give the drying out process a boost.

The purchase at the RV shop was our first experiment with the Secret Shopper Plan. It was interesting. I had called the establishment on Thursday, and been given a price. When I walked in alone to the parts department, the fellow was on the telephone, talking aggressively to someone. Then he asked if he could help me, neutral tone, no problem there. I said I was looking for an RV Roof Vent, he told me they had them in stock and quoted a price $15 higher than the price quoted over the phone yesterday. I told him I had been quoted the lower price, only yesterday. He went to the storeroom and came back with two boxes containing RV Roof Vents, and told me that the price I had been quoted was wrong, but he would give it to me for quoted price since it was their mistake. He proceeded to remove the price stickers from both boxes, which was the lower price I had been quoted. The next individual who purchases an RV Roof Vent Fan from him will be paying the higher price, even though it is last years stock.

It was an acceptable experience. I would prefer a more relaxed and friendlier type of interaction, so we will keep trying other RV parts departments until I am totally comfortable.

We have Grackles. They were born in a hole in our roof facia and have returned home to the nest to start a new family. Attila had blocked the hole, but they are determined to get in. Also using the hole were wasps. Last week Attila filled the hole with foam insulation. This will be effective in keeping out the wasps, but the Grackles are incensed. There are often three or four of them attacking the foam insulation, claiming what they perceive as their territory. Their sense of entitlement and determination will not gain them entry; we are equally endowed with a sense of entitlement and determination to enjoy our home. Today Attila will cover the insulation with wood, so that the Grackles do not destroy it.

There is no snow left on our property! This is so wonderful. For the last 11 years at the country house, March was full-blown winter weather, with no real signs that spring might arrive until well into April. We may get another snow storm here, but it will be an outlier, and of very short duration. March is actually a month of transition from winter to spring at Mist Cottage.

There was a lot of food preparation going on today. Croutons for salads were made, a raspberry crumble and homemade bread for Attila’s lunches this coming week.

I have projects galore to work on, none of which entail a deadline, which means they are the best kind of projects.

The highlight of my day, what really delighted me, was hanging my laundry to dry across the clothesline on the back porch!

Now I had better get this entry posted before another day passes me by.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 6:00 PM EST Thursday 10 March 2016
Condition: Mist
Pressure: 101.4 kPa
Visibility: 4 km
Temperature: 5.9°C
Dewpoint: 5.2°C
Humidity: 95%
Wind: N 16 km/h


“I merely took the energy it takes to pout and wrote some blues.”
Duke Ellington

Back in the Saddle

Mom is sounding better all the time!

The snow is melting! The breeze is cool, and gentle, and welcome beyond belief. It is only 5C and cloudy, spitting a bit of rain, but it could be 20C and sunny, if the way I feel about it were any indication of the weather. How sweet it is.

I am ramping up on my project, cleaning Iris.

Yesterday I washed Iris’ exterior. She was covered with salt from the trip home, and I wanted to remove that to avoid any undo rusting. It took all day, and I even found myself at the top of a stepladder, attempting to reach the centre of the roof, but couldn’t quite get to it. I will have to devise a cleaning wand of some kind. The centre of the roof is not supported, so it will bear no weight. I finished the outside, then I moved to the inside to see what was what.

To my dismay, we discovered water in the “bilge”. I found it quite by accident, as it was hiding in the back passenger corner, under a bench seat, under a carpet. Being a thorough cleaner I was starting with the corners and working my way out towards the door. That first corner was a doozy.

It took three cotton t-shirts that were rags, to soak up most of the water, then a few rags more to finish the job. The water was clear, not soapy, and it was difficult to tell where it was coming from.

Attila checked the back signal light, and there was some mildew behind the fixture, but the hole in the fibreglass where the wiring came through was a dry as a bone. No leak there.

My next suspicion was the back window. A telltale sign that there were problems with the window was the thick application of clear silicon caulking all around the window. We won’t know if the window is the culprit until we reseal it. If then the leak is gone, that would be the problem. If the leak persists we will move on the reseal another window, and then the roof vent which looks poorly installed.

I did quite a bit of research on resealing the window. Caulking an RV window is a no-no, it won’t fix the problem for very long. What is needed, according to many excellent sources online, is to remove the window and reseal it, replacing any rotted wood during the process. The materials we need are butyl tape, a plastic scraper, mineral spirits, TSP, and a screwdriver. It will be a big job, mostly because we have never done anything like this. Today my big adventure was to call around to find a source for butyl tape, then to venture out and purchase it. We have all the other materials needed. Now we must wait for some mild, cloudless days to do the job.

The trailer is lined with Ensolite, which has a white dimpled vinyl coating on the interior side. The vinyl is quite dirty, and the ceiling and walls at the back are sticky, yucky sticky, to the touch. The sticky isn’t old age, because there are sections in the cupboard where it is not sticky in the least. There is a propane range in Iris, I believe the stickiness is a result of 39 years of cooking in an small enclosed space.

Product Description :
Ensolite PVC-NBR-CR is an energy absorbing foam originally developed by NASA to protect equipment from damage. It has virtually 100% memory and is waterproof. Ensolite has been tested to various standards and meet many automotive, military or industrial standards.

How does one clean this stuff? Opinions and techniques vary. Some recommendations are Tilex, which didn’t work for me; painting over the surface, which I do not want to do; using a rotating scrub brush, a very expensive option, and possibly dangerous to the integrity of the vinyl; bleach which no one described as effective; and soap and water which no one described as effective. I think I have listed them all.

I wasn’t really happy with any of these solutions. So my next thought was to research how to clean old vinyl that was sticky. A few suggestions were found scattered all over the internet. Then I read something that tickled my memory. One of the sites mentioned coating a sticky vinyl chair with WD40, to loosen the sticky oil on the surface. I had an AHA! moment.

I discovered last winter that a mixture of oil (I use canola) and baking soda will take off the label glue on the outside of a glass jar. So I thought, perhaps this same concoction will work on vinyl to remove the sticky greasy film.

I mixed up a small batch of 2 parts oil to 1 part baking soda. A wet rag dipped in this freshly stirred concoction was used to scrub a small area, about a 6 inch by 6 inch surface. I let that sit for 10 minutes, then used a vegetable brush to work it into the dimples, scrubbing with moderate force, for one or two minutes. Then I took a wrung-out cloth that had been dipped in soapy water (Dawn detergent, degreasing formula), and washed the area thoroughly. The stickiness was gone.

This will be a very big job, as the entire ceiling and most of the walls need this treatment. I won’t do it all at once though, most of the job is overhead work. It will be tackled in small spurts, when I feel the urge, recording the sections that I have completed. In this way, at some point in the summer, the entire interior Ensolite will have been cleaned.

Cleaning Ensolite: Materials Used. The bucket contains hot soapy water (Dawn detergent). The white cup contains 2 teaspoons of canola oil, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, stirred with the spoon before each application.
DSCF7980 ensolite
Cleaning Ensolite: The Applicator. An old dishcloth, dipped in the hot soapy water and wrung dry, then dipped in the freshly stirred oil and baking soda, shown here ready to apply to the ensolite.
DSCF7975 ensolite
Cleaning Ensolite: The Test. A sticky section of the ceiling beside the vent. there is a “stain” to the left of the vent that would not wash off with soapy water and a brush, and there is mildew around the vent, not a good sign!
DSCF7981 ensolite
Cleaning Ensolite: The Result. The procedure was followed, and the result is that the “stain” is gone, the mildew cleaned up and the stickiness is also gone.
DSCF7982 ensolite

This Oil and Baking Soda solution is effective, and it will be time consuming. I like the ensolite interior, so it is worth the trouble as far as I am concerned.


Two girls walking down our street, coming home from school, waving their arms above their heads, laughing hysterically, skipping along, throwing me a look and a smile as I came up behind them in the car, joyous and enjoying the wonderful weather. They reminded me of spring lambs.

Worldly Distractions


Date: 3:00 PM EST Wednesday 9 March 2016
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.2 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 5.3°C
Dewpoint: 2.1°C
Humidity: 80%
Wind: S 12 km/h


“For purposes of action nothing is more useful than narrowness of thought combined with energy of will.”
Henri-Frédéric Amiel