Basement Stairs at the Little House in the City
Basement Stairs at the Little House in the City. Note the carpeting on the bottom riser, that is what covered the stairs when we took possession of the house a little over a year ago. It was drenched in mildew and covered with mouse droppings.

Attila and I have enjoyed two weeks vacation this autumn. Attila isn’t allowed to take vacation days between April 1 and August 31, which leaves us with either winter, early spring or autumn. Autumn wins, hands down.

As it was last year, this year our vacation was spent renovating. The weather was amazing, wonderful, great the whole two weeks we were away.

Our big project was painting the exterior siding of the house. We completed the front, and both ends of the house, but not the back. We simply ran out of time, it was such a big job. However, the great thing is that the neighbours cannot see the back of the house, so to them the job seems finished.

We are tickled every time one of the neighbours tells us how great the house looks, how “cute” it is. The cuteness comes from being tiny, at 740 square feet it is more a cottage than anything else.

The thing that really slowed us down on the painting project was a little problem with the water supply. The water main in front of our house was leaking and causing havoc in the neighbourhood. Everyone near us had an issue with constantly running sump pumps. Our basement was really, really wet, water seeping up from the floor, along the walls.

Before we knew what the problem was, we decided that we should immediately install a sump pump. Our little house in the city had never had a sump pump. This was not in our plans for our vacation projects.

So we rented a jack hammer and Attila set to work breaking through the floor in the basement and digging a sump hole. He had quite a time, it was clay and saturated with water. It took him all of one day, and by evening he had the whole thing hooked up and pumping water. The 100 litre hole was filing every 30 minutes, courtesy of our public water utility.

A city utilities truck showed up on the last Friday of our vacation and declared that there was a significant leak in the public water main. No kidding! He told Attila repairs would commence on the following Monday, after we had to return home.

We waited in anticipation on our subsequent trip to our little house. Would the basement be flooded? Were we facing a weekend of damage control? The fellow from the utilities had told us our yard was a “real mess”; how bad was it?

When we walked in the door the following Saturday evening we both headed straight for the stairs to the basement. It seemed a lot dryer. The sump hole was dry, completely dry. Not even an inch of water remained in our sump hole!

What a relief.

The condition of our yard was not as bad as we had feared. Although far from level, it is flat enough to walk on. The utilities guy said they would come in the spring and “fix” it. So we will ignore it until after they have come and gone.

Now we need to dig around the perimeter of the house, waterproof the exterior basement walls and install a drainage system along the footings of the house. We will have to remove our lovely concrete front porch to accomplish this. It was caving in anyway, and would need to be replaced eventually. That is our project for next year’s vacation!

Our other projects included installing a door to the basement (a safety measure for Mist, and kids and dogs too), a new basement window and new fascia along the back porch. We hadn’t intended to replace the fascia this year, but Attila leaned on the existing evestrough and it literally fell off the side the house, taking part of the existing rotten fascia with it. Thank goodness it came down when no one was under it!

We did manage one day of rest, to go for a drive, and eat at McDonald’s. McDonald’s is the only restaurant that knows what is in all of their food and is also willing to tell the public. This means that I can eat at McDonald’s because the presence of my allergen is clearly stated in the literature.

We are home again now, and tired from our vacation.

On Monday we began the process of curing our masonry heater. The house was very cold when we got back to the north after being away. Our heating season has begun. It was 14C in the house on Sunday and Monday night, and now Attila has it warmed up to around 17C.

I had forgotten how much I enjoy sitting in front of the fire every morning, partially dozing over my morning cup of coffee.

So here we are, back home again!

Worldly Distractions


7 °C
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 101.2 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 6.6°C
Dewpoint: 5.7°C
Humidity: 94 %
Wind: SW 4 km/h


“Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else.”

James M. Barrie
1860 – 1937


James M. Barrie

“Sir James Matthew Barrie, 1st Baronet, OM (9 May 1860 – 19 June 1937) was a Scottish author and dramatist, best remembered today as the creator of Peter Pan…

Barrie was born in Kirriemuir, Angus, to a conservative Calvinist family. His father David Barrie was a modestly successful weaver. His mother, Margaret Ogilvy, had assumed her deceased mother’s household responsibilities at the age of eight. Barrie was the ninth child of ten (two of whom died before he was born), all of whom were schooled in at least the three Rs, in preparation for possible professional careers. He was a small child (he only grew to 5 ft 3½ in. according to his 1934 passport), and drew attention to himself with storytelling.
When he was 6 years old, Barrie’s next-older brother David (his mother’s favourite) died two days before his 14th birthday in an ice-skating accident. This left his mother devastated, and Barrie tried to fill David’s place in his mother’s attentions, even wearing David’s clothes and whistling in the manner that he did. One time Barrie entered her room, and heard her say ‘Is that you?’ ‘I thought it was the dead boy she was speaking to,’ wrote Barrie in his biographical account of his mother, Margaret Ogilvy (1896), ‘and I said in a little lonely voice, “No, it’s no’ him, it’s just me.”‘ Barrie’s mother found comfort in the fact that her dead son would remain a boy forever, never to grow up and leave her…

Barrie used his considerable income to help finance the production of commercially unsuccessful stage productions. Along with a number of other playwrights, he was involved in the 1909 and 1911 attempts to challenge the censorship of the theatre by the Lord Chamberlain…

Barrie died of pneumonia on 19 June 1937 and is buried at Kirriemuir next to his parents and two of his siblings. He left the bulk of his estate (excluding the Peter Pan works, which he had previously given to Great Ormond Street Hospital) to his secretary Cynthia Asquith. His birthplace at 4 Brechin Road is maintained as a museum by the National Trust for Scotland.”


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I was wondering where you were-you were missed. But at least you were there to see what was happening in your basement! The cottage will be cute when it is all complete.


Despite it’s significant shortcomings, I love our little house! The really great thing about it is that no matter what we do, or how badly we do it, it is an improvement. Guaranteed success!


Oh, water woes! We’re still having them. Though the basement is finally dry and has been for some time, when we walked in Sunday after being away the house smelled musty and there was water on the insides of all the windows. Darned if we know where it is coming from. Now Scott’s got dehumidifiers running constantly. He wonders if, when he reinsulated with styrofoam, he sealed up the house TOO well! We might need Mike Holmes out here.


Mike makes house calls?!? Don’t we wish…

Maybe we should be living in houses on stilts, with garages below them on the ground, and cold cellars below the garages. Bet you couldn’t get a building permit for that!