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Now that our deck project is all but complete – bar a little making-good and top-coat paintery – I thought it might be interesting to have a final look at the ‘before’ and ‘after’ images.

We are not only delighted to have removed the dangerously rotting structure that was an add-on on to the back of the original house – to our mind the whole look of the property has been significantly improved. We have added an excellent al fresco space (just in time for the weather to turn really nice) and have re-connected the house to the garden (yard) by the addition of the external staircase.

Interested to know what you think…

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

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It occurs to me that regular readers (should any such be in attendance) might care for a progress report on the hummingbird that chose to nest on the string of festive lights that were left hanging immediately outside our front door. Any such adherents will doubtless be delighted to hear that the mother is finished her long stint of nest sitting and is now furiously feeding two rapidly growing chicks. The nest itself is starting to expand to keep pace with their increase.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidIn the above image you can just make out one chick’s fast growing beak poking out of the nest. Whilst in the egg the bill is tiny – no more than a bump – but it grows quickly once hatched. I must apologise, incidentally, for the grainy nature of these images, to which a certain amount of enlarging, cropping and processing was required for them to become at all clear. I really don’t want to impose myself any more than I have already done on these gorgeous but minute creatures.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidIn this image above (double-click to get it as large as your screen will allow) you might just be able to make out the mother delivering a regurgitated mixture of insect protein and nectar to one of the chicks. Yum!

Here below – one hopefully happy hummingbird family (sans father, naturally!)…

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

 

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Of all of the many joys that the natural world has to offer the expat from Europe one of the most enthralling is the prevalence of hummingbirds throughout the Americas. These amazing, beautiful but minscule birds are simply not found in the wild to the east of ‘the pond’.

For the price of a cheap plastic hummingbird feeder and a bag of sugar one may readily contrive countless hours of wonder and entertainment throughout the year as the diminutive creatures besport themselves before our mesmerised gaze (although not, of course, actually for our benefit!).

The nesting habits of hummingbirds are – however – considerably less public and significantly more mysterious. This – from ‘Birds & Blooms‘:

“Like a crown jewel, the nest of a hummingbird is one of the great wonders in all of nature. They are so tiny, yet so perfect. Few of us have ever seen a hummingbird nest. This is because they are nearly impossible to find. From the ground, they look like another bump on a branch. From above, an umbrella of leaves conceals them. And from the side, they look like a tiny knot, quilted with lichens, plant down and fibers.”

…and this from ‘The Spruce‘:

“Hummingbirds choose safe, sheltered locations for their nests, ensuring that their hatchlings are protected from sun, wind, rain or predators. The most common nest locations are in the forked branch of a tree, along thin plant branches or sheltered in bushes. Thicket-like areas or thorny bushes are especially preferred for the extra protection they provide.”

Why should it be – therefore – that one particular hummingbird has chosen to construct her nest (the males play no part at all subsequent to conception) in the string of festive lights that I had left up for far too long after Christmas – immediately outside our front door? Hardly a ‘safe, sheltered location’, given that most traffic into and out of the house passes immediately below the spot. Did the bird simply not notice?

Given that ‘The Spruce’ advises:

“Like all nesting birds female hummingbirds can be shy and skittish, and may abandon nests if they do not feel secure. It is always best to keep your distance from a nest and enjoy it from afar rather than risk harming the nest or chicks by being too eager to see them.”

…we have been forced to adopt a new route into and out of the house – through the garage…

We know our place!

(I do encourage the gentle reader to enlarge the attached image by double-clicking it. I didn’t want to get any closer to the nest and my little Fuji camera has only a limited zoom).

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As suggested in my post on Victoria Day, week six of our grand deck project was busy, busy, busy – with major progress being made on all fronts.

On the Monday the plywood deck was laid:

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidOn the Tuesday and Wednesday the vinyl installers applied the waterproof covering and our contractors installed the new sliders (patio windows):

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidThe Wednesday also brought a bevy of electricians who installed cables for lighting, re-instated our irrigation controller and put in a new feed for the hot tub:

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidFinally – on a blazing hot Friday and working alone – a Vietnamese gentlemen installed all of the new soffits:

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidThe deck rails and glass panels should be done in week seven – with final detailing and painting still to be done – but one can already get a good idea as to how the whole will look:

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

 

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Week five of our exciting new deck project was indistinguishable from week four – but week six started with a bang. Regardless of the fact that Monday was a public holiday in Canada (a joyous celebration of Victoria Day) our contractors arrived bright and early to lay the plywood surface for the new deck. They had obliged themselves to work on what could otherwise have been an extremely sunny and welcome day off because they had booked the vinyl installers for the following day.

The Kickass Canada Girl and I did not stay around to spectate but ran away instead to spend a lovely day in the sun at French Beach – out to the west of Victoria beyond Sooke. French Beach looks across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the Olympic Peninsula – the closest part of the American mainland to Victoria.

A picture is worth a thousand words – of course – so here are a bunch of them (double click for the full effect)…

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

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Photo by Andy Dawson ReidOne of the episodes of my youth that turns out to have been somewhat less misspent than I feared at the time was the year that I wasted on devoted to a business studies degree course. Apart from the startling (to me!) realisation that business management was not going to be my forte, I thought at the time that I had not gleaned much of use from the experience. In retrospect – of course – this turns out not to have been the case.

One of the topics on the course that I did find to be of use later was a brief study of Critical Path Analysis (CPA). This fairly basic tool (developed in the 1950s for use on large US defence projects) provides a simple method of keeping projects on track by means of an analysis of the dependencies of the various component parts and the subsequent plotting of the eponymous ‘critical path’ through a multitude of processes to derive the optimum timeframe for delivery.

Though our deck project can hardly be compared in terms of complexity (or indeed of anything else) CPA techniques do provide some useful insights. Allow me to elucidate…

Our new deck has been framed, but nothing further has been done this week. Our contractor is rightly reluctant to lay the plywood deck on the frame until the vinyl installers are ready to apply the waterproof layer on top of it. A large flat surface of exposed plywood would rapidly absorb the sort of rain-showers we have been experiencing of late here in Victoria.

The vinyl installers can’t lay the vinyl until the old sliders (patio doors) have been removed. This is because the vinyl must be run under the new sliders in order that they effect a waterproof seal. The old sliders cannot be removed – somewhat obviously – until the new ones have been delivered (unless our whole main floor is to be exposed to the elements!).

The new sliders and windows are now on order, but that could only happen once the demolition had been finished such that the manufacturers could accurately measure the apertures.

Finally, the cabling for lighting and sockets, the deck railings and glass panels, and all of the other bits and pieces of finishing can only be applied once the deck itself has been completed.

Ergo – a hiatus…

Nothing to see here folks (quite literally with regard to the current view from our drawing room – see image above!).

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If regular perusers of these periodic postings have been able to detect any particular theme prevalent therein, it would most likely relate to the improbability of any of the schemes or plans dreamed up by the Kickass Canada Girl or myself actually panning out the way that it was originally intended.

This week’s ‘retreat from Moscow’ concerns our as yet untried hot tub. The gentle reader may recall that the proposal on the part of our designer to relocate said spa to the end of our new deck had resulted in the requirement that we hire a structural engineer to ensure that the new deck could successfully carry the load. This in turn led to the requirement that the foundations be suitably enlarged.

It now transpires (the which became apparent once the old structure had been removed) that the wall of the house to which the new deck is attached at the point where the tub would be would also require reinforcement. This would have involved tearing out and rebuilding the outer wall of my studio and would – naturally – have added to the cost of the whole project.

‘Enough is enough’ – we cried. The tub goes down below!

Actually – now that we see how things are going to pan out – this is clearly a better option, giving more privacy and protection from inclement weather.

Decision made, our contractors powered ahead with the framing of the new deck. These pictures afford a pretty good idea as to how the whole will eventually appear.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

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After the pyrotechnics of the first week of our deck renovation project – during which the sun-rooms and all of the rotten structure at the back of the house was peeled away – the second week was considerably less dramatic. Our contractors are, however, now into the first phase of the build – which is most exciting.

The first thing to be done was to replace the guttering and downpipes, as the originals had been on the outside of the sun-rooms. This task was carried out in about ninety minutes by a single Vietnamese installer, who thought nothing of swinging from a ladder twenty feet above the ground whilst manipulating twenty foot lengths of aluminium gutter.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidAlthough some of the existing footings could be built upon for the new deck, for the end at which the hot tub will sit it was decreed by our structural engineer that a deeper foundation should be provided.

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidFoundations have been poured and left to set.

Next week the structure should start to rise above ground level.

The house looks 100% better already!

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On Monday last the good ship Dignity left us for a sabbatical with our friends in Saanichton…

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid
…so that her accustomed spot could be taken instead by a humongous ‘bin’!

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhase one of our deck replacement project – remove the old sun-rooms and demolish the deck and spaces thereunder.

Click on the images for the big picture!

Going…

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid
Photo by Andy Dawson Reid
Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

Going…

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid
Photo by Andy Dawson Reid
Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

Gone!

Photo by Andy Dawson Reid
Photo by Andy Dawson Reid
Photo by Andy Dawson Reid

Now to start building…

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The gentle reader may wonder briefly why I am posting somewhat anonymous photographs of our sun-rooms. It shouldn’t take much brain-work to figure out the answer; very soon they will not be there any more!

We are heading off tomorrow for a brief break over Easter on Pender Island (more photos doubtless to follow) but on the Tuesday after Easter our contractor arrives to start work. It has taken a long time to get this far and you will be unsurprised to hear that we are impatient to get going.

The Girl and I wish you all a very Happy Easter…

Photo by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson ReidPhoto by Andy Dawson Reid

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