Turning Point

Elna Lotus Sewing Machine
Elna Lotus Sewing Machine: I bought this during my training to become a Home Economics Teacher, been going strong since 1970, me and the machine.

Like a hot house flower, I am adjusting to my new environment. The first week of physically challenging work the pain was extreme. I’ve kept at it, pacing myself, using pain killers, heating pads and pain killers. I’ve worked through the worst of it I think. I still ache, and I am very, very tired, but I am no longer experiencing significant pain. The heating pad is back in the cupboard, as are the painkillers. I feel physically better than I have for the last year and anticipate feeling even better as the weeks pass.

So that’s me sorted.

I’ve been busy at home today, and what a great pleasure it is to attend to my own life, rather than be consumed by someone else’s greed (my former workplace).

Months ago Attila purchased new work pants through his employer. They need hemming before he could wear them to work. Too exhausted and harried to distraction by my former employer, I’ve had no energy to hem the work pants. Today though, I dragged out the sewing machine, cleared off the dining table and set to work. It took me two and half hours of patient work to hem the pants, and the deed is done. I am left with a feeling of satisfaction.

After deciding it was time to do a little something for myself, I sat down to write this journal entry. However, my software informed me that an update was required on the server side, so I downloaded the software update files and got to work. After doing the update, I could not access the Web site at all. So, taking the error messages I began to research the issue. Each time I fixed an issue, a new error message appeared, like magic. Patience is a must in these situations and eventually I worked my way through the error messages and here I am!

We are in the midst of a heat wave. I have been lucky in that the workplace where I’ve been posted this week is air conditioned. Attila though, is not so lucky. He worked out in the sun, probably sweating his own body weight each and every day. He is exhausted! It is not as hot out there today, and he has a day off tomorrow, so hopefully he will be able to rejuvenate himself before Monday.

We have been waiting for the contractor to arrive at the little house in the city, to remove the front porch, dig up around the basement, install drainage tile, tar the exterior walls, apply dimplex protective barrier and backfill. He started the work last week and finished it by last Friday. We had to go down to the little house to see how things were.

We are very pleased with the work. The house looks completely different! All of our landscaping is gone! We had transplanted most of the plants we wanted to keep to the back garden. There were several shrubs that are completely gone, no trace. The front yard has been graded. The soil is low quality, so we think the grass seed spread around by the contractor will not grow. It hasn’t been watered and we are experiencing a dry spell. Landscaping is something we will put more thought into when we decide what kind of a porch we will construct. These projects will not take place this year, as I am not working and there will be no funds for such things. However, we do not feel any need to rush forward with the new porch and the landscaping. All in good time!

There are two major issues we hoped to address by removing the porch, digging up around the foundation, putting in drainage tile and waterproofing the exterior.

The first issue was the chipmunks. They lived in the house when we bought it and had destroyed the finished basement, which we immediately gutted when we bought the house. They had continued to access the house by digging up under the former porch and walking through the gaps left by rotting siding, floor joists and sill plates. Until the rotted structure covered by the old porch was repaired, the chipmunks would continue to invade the house at will.

The wall behind the former porch was a total disaster, as we saw when we arrived at the house last Saturday night. There were places that you could actually put your arm through to the basement, no siding, no wall left at all! Rotted completely through! I took pictures with my old cell phone, which are now stuck on the cell phone because I haven’t found a way to get them off. Attila went to work on the repair job Sunday morning, Canada Day, and worked right through till it was time to come home to the country house on Monday afternoon.

What a great job Attila did! He repaired and replaced sill plates, floor joists, walls and siding. He covered the entire area with hardware cloth, to ensure that no enterprising chipmunk would EVER chew through the siding again to gain entrance to our house! He even managed to paint all the new siding and touch up around the bottom of the door. It looks great.

The front door is up in the air, with no porch or steps for access; so we will use the garage door as an entrance until we figure out what kind of replacement porch to construct.

The second issue was the extreme dampness in the basement. Where the porch was attached to the house the concrete wall of the basement was super saturated with moisture, all the time. We have been running a dehumidifier constantly when we visit the house, but it could not keep up with the moisture coming in through the wall. Of course we have mould and mildew issues in the basement as well, which has been part of the odour issue in the house (the chipmunks and mice caused another odour issue!).

The saturated wall was drying out nicely when we left for home on Monday afternoon. It will be weeks, perhaps months, before we manage to dry things out down in the basement, but we are gaining on it, rather than losing.

While Attila was repairing the floor joists and sill plates, I was very busy cleaning up the entrance from the garage to the basement.

The basement has been a sort of “no man’s land” for us. It was disgusting in so many ways. The smell, the mildew, the mould, the dampness, the chipmunks, the mice and the spiders. The chipmunks are gone, the mice are under control, the dampness is disappearing and the mildew and mould along with it. That left the spiders! I do not like spiders, but the job needed doing. I used the shop vac to removed every spider and every spider web I could find between the garage door entrance and the steps to the main floor of the house. On our next visit I will tackle the rest of the basement.

I am trying to find a reasonably priced machine that produces ozonated water, to do the basement cleanup. I found one at Amazon, but they will not ship to Canada. There is one unit I found in Canada, but it is $335, which is a lot more than I wanted to spend. BUT it is the ideal solution for removing the mould and mildew from the concrete in the basement. I continue my search.

Our little house in the city feels more like home all the time! Removing the porch and addressing the damp basement and chipmunk issues is a major turning point in the long-term renovation process. It is costing us a pretty penny indeed, but we knew this expense had to taken if the house were to be truly inhabitable. The most urgent structural projects are now behind us, gutting the basement, removing the rotted and dangerous back deck, painting the siding, putting on a new roof and removing the front porch and waterproofing the basement. And that is what we did “on our summer holidays”.

Here at home I’ve been working since I lost my full-time job. These on-call hours have been a blessing. The adjustment has been difficult, but I’ve had no time to feel terrible about losing my full-time job, just too busy; the more time that passes, the less sting. So, I reckon I’ve been lucky to have the distraction of on-call work during a time where I might have experienced feelings of loss.

Worldly Distractions


25 °C
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 101.3 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 24.6°C
Dewpoint: 17.2°C
Humidity: 63 %
Wind: WNW 9 km/h
Humidex: 30


“Providence has hidden a charm in difficult undertakings which is appreciated only by those who dare to grapple with them.”
Sophie Swetchine
1782 – 1857


Sophie Swetchine

“Madame Swetchine, was a Russian mystic, born in Moscow, and famous for her salon in Paris…

Sofia Petrovna Soimonov, daughter of Secretary of State Peter Alexandrovich Soimonov (1734 – 1801) from his marriage with Katherine Boltin (1756 – 1790) was born November 22, 1782 in Moscow.

She spent her early years at the court of empress Catherine II, as her father was one of the empress’s closest advisors. She was given a good education and spoke several European languages and was popular at court. In 1797, she was made lady in waiting to Empress Maria Fedorovna. In 1799, she married General Nicolas Sergeyvitch Swetchine. Her husband, General Swetchine, was 25 years her senior. Their relationship was described as a good one.
She was said to have suffered because of her lack of children, and therefore turned to religion. Under the influence of Joseph de Maistre, she became a member of the Roman Catholic Church in 1815; she had also been under the influence of the Jesuits. Because of the law, which disallowed Russian nobles who converted from the orthodox religion to live in Russia, she was forced to leave Russia, and she decided upon Paris as her new home. In the following year she settled in Paris with her spouse where, until her death, she maintained a famous salon.

From 1826 onward, she held her salon at number 71, Rue Saint Dominique in Paris. Her salon was considered remarkable for its high courtesy and intellectuality. She often received Russian exiles at her salon. It was also a centre of the French contrarevolutionary movement. Frequent guests were people of France’s literary, political and ecclesiastical communities. With her “fervent and enlightened Catholicism”, which took the form of a rational and intellectualized form of faith, she is described as an influence on the French Catholic community until her death in 1856.”

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sophie_Swetchine

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Wow! Such times as you have been having. Glad you were able to battle through the physical challenges and are feeling some overall improvement as a result. [Note to self: it can be done!]


I’m glad things are progressing, and you are more used to the increased activity. (Stay cool!)