Endless Self Promotion

Life has been very quiet since our visitors left on Tuesday. Which is a good thing really, quiet is good; just a little on the quiet side is all.

The weather has been sunny, so that we have been able to proceed with the deck staining project. On Wednesday night Attila applied the second coat to most of the deck, and last night he finished the job. Hopefully this penetrating stain will last through the winter!

Luna brought a very large zucchini with her when she visited, and left it here for us. I used half of it, with some carrots, onion, garlic and olive oil, to make a soup. The other half was cut into medallions and baked as Zesty Zucchini, which is very good. The soup, well it was palatable, but nothing to write home about.

We have gathered together all the materials we think we need to proceed with the toilet installation at the little house in the city. It will be tricky, we will only be visiting overnight on our next visit. I do not relish staying in a house with no toilet! We get there late in the day on our overnight visits, so we won’t be installing the toilet until the following morning. Tricky! Thank goodness there is a McDonalds restaurant, an all-night gas bar, and a WalMart within easy driving distance; we will need to visit their facilities I am sure.

I think this is the worst of the renovation at the little house in the city. We knew the bathroom was truly a disaster, but we were hoping we could get the old toilet out and the new in quickly. That did not happen. Better luck next time!

I have been posting away on Facebook and have to admit that it is the most depressing place to spend time, in my life. I like reading the postings of others, as they alert me to all kinds of truly interesting things on the internet. That is a plus. Be that as it may, the depressing aspect is the “social” aspect of the media. It isn’t really “social” at all. It seems more to me like a bulletin board, sitting out in the wilderness, in the rain, with signs of recent human activity pinned in brightly coloured notes all over it, but no sign whatsoever of the humans themselves. Bleak, a loud and colourful bleakness, and emptier for all the noise and colour.

On the other hand, I find the blogs that I follow quite interesting, and affirming. The blogs I follow are offered as modes of communication, rather then vehicles of self-promotion and propaganda; commercial viability is not a factor in their creation. There is always the opportunity to interact. These are lives I can understand and relate to, the experiences shared are familiar. There is very little high drama, lots of details about day-to-day life; the best kind of “reality” there is. I read blogs written by people of all ages, although with the younger crowd it is difficult to find a blog that does not fall under the category of “self-promotion”; it seems to be how they see the world. Many of the under forty blogs start out with the portrayal of a dramatic shift in lifestyle, that disintegrate quickly into a retreat back to the mainstream. Much of what is written by the under forty crowd reminds me of the Smurfs. Still, I have managed to unearth the writings of some very interesting blogs by people under forty.

“All the lonely people, where do they all come from”?

Here is a video that reflects how I feel about social media, and outlines the concepts very succinctly:


Being a part of Facebook is being a part of nothing.

While eating breakfast, gazing out the window into the sunshine, I became aware of a steady stream of flying insects passing up and by. Further investigation showed that there were thousands and thousands of these insects, launching themselves up and away, from the rocks and stumps near the ground. What are they? I have no idea, but I can see they are not mosquitoes. I do hope they are not planning on infesting and killing any of our forest. One never knows these days, what imported menace will emerge to permanently change the landscape! Hopefully they are harmless and will provide a rich resource for the ecosystem here.

I think they would all agree, it is a beautiful day in the neighbourhood.

Granny’s House
DSCF3070 grannys house

Worldly Distractions


Date: 12:00 PM EDT Saturday 17 August 2013
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 102.6 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 23.0°C
Dewpoint: 9.7°C
Humidity: 42%
Wind: WNW 8 km/h


“The multitude of books is making us ignorant.”
1694 – 1778


Another lovely cool day here at the little house in the city.

I enjoyed my morning coffee black; clear fluids only. I tried a cup of chicken broth, but found it so disgusting that I gagged. Then it was ginger ale, which I am tolerating nicely. I looked for fruit juice in the grocery store yesterday, but came home with only apple juice, which I hate. Acceptable fruit juices must not be red or purple or contain my allergen. They put my allergen in almost all fruit juice. Apple juice was the only product available in the store that met all three prerequisites. So right now, I am down to ginger ale, straight tea and black coffee, for the next two days.

The afternoon brought visitors; two handsome young fellows. Strolling by on the street, they chose our front yard and drive as a perfect place for a rest and a roll. The beautifully healthy and fearless young red foxes paid no attention to us whatsoever, as we watched their antics from the house.

Two foxy young visitors! These two young foxes decided to plop themselves down on the gravel in front of our house, where they rolled around, scratched, rubbed noses with each other, and lay about for some time. I spoke to them at one point, from the safety of the house, but after looking straight at me, they decided I was uninteresting and carried on as if I wasn’t there. Eventually they trotted down the street a ways, then cut through our yard towards the back, where there is a bush. It isn’t often that you see young foxes relaxing on an urban street!

Toilet Renovation Details

After much discussion with Attila about the toilet installation, I have come to the conclusion that we have two serious problems to contend with. One is the raised flange, which requires the toilet to be raised. The second is the sagging floorboards, which require shims and other work arounds to correct.

I have been doing a lot of research on how to raise the toilet, because the flange is 1 inch higher than it needs to be.

Most of the advice is to replace the flange with a newer, lower one. This doesn’t work in this house. The original design has the plumbing running from the front of the house to the back, then across the back to the sewer. If it was lowered, one could not walk under it. Since it is across the middle of the house, this is a big problem.

The drain pipe that runs perpendicular to the floor across the middle of the house between the floor studs, and has very little slope, so the flange was elevated to provide adequate slope to the other side of the house; without lowering the drain pipe, which would prevent access to the back half of the basement. This is probably necessary. One wonders about building codes in days gone by!

So, we will leave the flange as it is, and will build a pedestal out of plywood to raise the toilet one inch. I have discovered that a pedestal to raise a toilet is called a closet slab, were commonly made out of marble, and they are not available anymore. Wood is not ideal for this application, as it can rot when exposed to moisture; and this is a toilet after all. So, eventually we will have a base made out of some kind of solid waterproof material, probably have it custom cut from Corian or Megantic solid surface counter top material. The counter top material is only 1/2 inch thick, so two pieces will be needed, so as to layer them.

But first, before going to all the trouble of having custom made closet slabs cut, we will do a trial run with a homemade plywood closet slab.

The second problem is much more troubling, and that is the sagging floorboards. The sagging is a result of the hack job on the floor joist under the toilet.

Floor joists under the toilet, no wonder they are sagging! Note the original floor joist has a whole section cut out of it, and has been reinforced by two pieces of wood nailed on either side of it. The whole thing sags, more than 1/4 inch.

After we discussed different ideas for a while, Attila suggested replacing the floor joist with LVL, a huge job. The bathroom would not be renovated this year if we chose to replace the floor joist with LVL. I suggested we use a length of it, and a telescopic post, to level and raise the sagging floor joist. We are optimistic that this solution will work to correct the sagging floorboards.

We have a lot of work ahead of us to properly install the new toilet!

Worldly Distractions


Condition: Clear
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 14.3°C
Dewpoint: 10.7°C
Humidity: 79%
Wind: calm


“Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.”
Erica Jong

Toilet Day

Today the old toilet will be removed and the new toilet installed. It is a day that will find me shopping frequently, and using the washrooms at the stores I visit.

10:30 a.m.

Around 10:30 a.m. this morning Attila removed the old toilet from the bathroom at the little house in the city. Good news underneath, the floorboards were sound, badly stained by water, hacked up by previous renovations, but sound.

Where the old toilet used to be. As you can see the drain flange is elevated, something we are not going to change. Also, the black vent can be seen on the right, where it sticks out further than the wall studs.
DSCF2732 old toilet out

I spent the morning hours shopping for building materials and food, while Attila laboured to remove the toilet and four layers of flooring

He also installed a stud. The stud was installed on the outer edge of another stud, bringing the wall out another two inches, out and around the vent pipe. The solution to getting around this vent pipe, that juts out past the edge of the studs, was to angle the drywall out around it, so that it curved out. The old wall looked crooked and slightly disturbing.

1:30 p.m.

On arriving home we ate some lunch, then discussed the next step. We could apply a layer of mahogany subfloor directly onto the existing floorboards. The 1/4″ mahogany comes in 4 by 8 foot sheets, which will not fit into our car. So Attila worked out and drew a diagram of two cuts to perform on the sheet, so that it would fit into the car and be easy to install in the bathroom. Also, we needed a new water supply hose to the toilet. So I was off to the lumber yard with my list and cutting diagram.

The Home Hardware where I shopped was friendly, and gladly helped me find the water supply hose I needed, cut the mahogany just as outlined in the diagram, and loaded it into the car for me. I like shopping there because there is always an employee around to give advice and assistance, someone who knows what they are talking about.

5:00 p.m.

The mahogany subfloor was just installed. Attila is preparing a “platform”, because the toilet drain flange is raised an inch above floor level. So the toilet will have to be raised one inch. Two 1/2″ thick pieces of wood, cut to the outer dimensions of the toilet, need to be installed, and the then the toilet installed on top of them. It will be a raised throne! Our guess is that the toilet drain flange was raised during a previous renovation, to increase the angle of the drain pipe and optimize the flow. So, it is a good idea to leave the plumbing as it is, and work around the issue with the one inch wood “platform”.

The toilet we bought is “chair height”, so it will be one inch higher than that. Short people might have a problem with it, but I think Attila and I will manage without discomfort. It will be such a change from the old toilet, which had a very low height.

6:00 p.m.

We escaped to a McDonalds restaurant to visit the washroom there. After driving directly there and back again, Attila is hard at work once more. The goal is to have the new toilet functioning before bedtime tonight.

7:30 p.m.

The inevitable snag appeared. The floorboards beneath the toilet sag toward the toilet drain flange. The floor needs to be level beneath the toilet. Oh dear. This will require some thought, a solution must be found.

Attila will connect the toilet for tonight, using some very ugly but wonderfully functional temporary wood shims. The toilet may be left that way for quite a few nights, while we think up a solution. We will be thinking toilets for the foreseeable future.

The upshot is that the new toilet is temporarily installed and functioning. The “platform” will be trimmed to the shape of the toilet, painted with a very high quality, high gloss paint. Plastic shims and plaster of paris will be used to level the toilet. Although the job is only partially done, we can now see our way forward to getting the installation completed.

The new toilet installed, on the new subfloor. Note on the right the additional stud added to the wall, so that we can drywall around the vent pipe.
DSCF2743 new toilet

The stores are closed now for the rest of the holiday weekend, and will not open again during this visit. The materials we will need, plaster of paris, plastic shims and paint, will have to be purchased between now and our next visit.

This is why I prefer demolition! Building the bathroom is all about finding solutions to small but vital problems, problems created over many years, and in the case of the little house in the city, by many people.

8:15 p.m.

Yes! We can both confirm that this new toilet is working, and that it works really well!

Now we can have some dinner, pita pizza’s are on the menu for tonight. I will enjoy this meal. On Monday and Tuesday I am on a clear fluid diet, in preparation for the dreaded colonoscopy. It is one procedure I will not be writing about in any detail!

Worldly Distractions


Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 101.5 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 19.3°C
Dewpoint: 10.7°C
Humidity: 57%
Wind: NNW 15 km/h


“What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.”
Thomas Paine (1737 – 1809)