Archive for the ‘Round Hill house’ Category

arrival of autumn   no comments

Posted at 8:33 pm in Nova Scotia,Round Hill house

I’m not quite into the swing of posting on my blog again, but hopefully will have more time for it soon. I’ve been preoccupied with rebuilding the north wall of this old house, removing some hideous fake brick asphalt shingle covering and a number of water-damaged planks. The walls are basically timber frame with 6 inches of air space between the outer planks and the primitive split board lath covered in plaster. I have put R22 rockwool insulation into the big air space up up to the level of the ceiling of the first floor — I really only use the first floor of the house, so am not doing anything about insulating the upstairs for now (probably forever!). Here’s a photo of what the wall looks like when it’s opened up from the outside, but before I put the insulation batts inside. The stuff at the back is a fairly thin board that has been split and nailed to the inner side of the walls as lath on which to apply plaster.


After some deliberation, I decided to use a kind of pine boards called V-Groove Pine from the lumber yard in our town. I have looked around (for years) for siding like the original shiplap pine siding on the rest of the house. Unfortunately, no one has been interested in milling some for me. Anyhow, I found this stuff which is usually used for interior siding, but there’s no reason it won’t work fine on the exterior of a house once protected with a few coats of paint. It’s not cheap, but it’s quite nice wood – fairly clear of knots and almost an inch thick – which is the thickness of the original siding from around 1850. It actually looks rather similar, and definitely looks a lot better than the fake brick stuff! The only catch has been getting it home from the lumber yard. My van is currently tied up for some repair work, so my only lumber hauler is the new (used) Kia Soul. Here’s a picture of it with the 10 foot long pine boards loaded. I have to rest them on the armrest on the center console, and then secure the load before tying down the back hatch door. I had to make 3 loads to bring in enough wood to do an area of wall that is about 14 feet long by 10 feet high.

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I’m quite pleased with this little car. I had so much stuff packed into it today — lumber, some other building materials, my groceries, and a few other things. It’s nice to drive. The engine is very quiet. Easy to find a parking space for it — unlike the big van. In any case, at least I’ve been able to get the lumber home. Today, I worked all afternoon on the wall. The insulation and the replacement of rotten planks is done. I may begin doing the pine siding tomorrow. I’m already enjoying the benefits of this work though — the temperature in The Pod doesn’t drop down the way it used to do on a cool evening. I’ve been hoping that would be the case, and it is. Now that I’ve managed to do this with the worst wall on the house, I’m contemplating doing some of the other walls — probably not this autumn, although I may tackle a section of one of the other walls. It’s hard work, but seems so worth it.

In between all of the above, I’ve made a couple of forays to pick up squashes for this winter, and seed garlic for the garden. Most of the squashes have come from Fairns Orchard down the road from me, but quite a few from a farm in Nictaux. He has quite a variety of squashes. I spoke to him yesterday — it’s basically self-serve, but he happened to be putting out a bunch of pumpkins when I stopped by. He gets his seed from Mennonites in Pennsylvania. This is what I picked up yesterday.


Yesterday was also the first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. There was a lot being said and written about the residential schools. I think many people didn’t realize what went on with the schools. I’ve known for a long time from speaking with First Nations students when I was at Carleton U working on my MA and studying FN art and literature. A number of fellow students were FN and we did discuss the residential schools. One of the students in a graduate seminar session course was FN and had been in a residential school. She always spoke extremely quietly — actually, just in a whisper. I never really thought about it that much — just thought she was very soft spoken. As part of our course work, each of us was required to prepare and present a seminar for our fellow students. When it was her turn, she tried to present her seminar, but couldn’t seem to speak and began to cry.. After awhile, we all said it was okay and she sat down and was able to tell us that the reason she couldn’t do her presentation was that she had been beaten so much for speaking her own language while at the residential school, that she found it almost impossible to speak in front of people. It was very sad — she was a very articulate, talented person, but so traumatized by her experience in the school. I heard more stories like that back then. Anyhow, I’m glad that many non-Indigenous people seem to be making a good effort to learn more about a history that has been pretty much swept under the carpet for many decades. First steps on a long road to reconciliation.

Earlier today, I stopped in town to pick up a few things at Arch&Po Bakery by the government wharf. There was a fishing boat on the haul-out. A couple of years ago, I had the idea of trying to photograph all of the boats that were worked on at the dry dock over a period of a year or two. I did manage to photograph a few, but that project fell by the wayside during covid. Maybe I’ll make another attempt in 2022.

Well, that’s the kind of week it’s been around here. Lots of work – not all mentioned here. Sometimes I feel like I don’t keep up very well, but it’s more a case of having too much to do. Somehow, I suspect that will never change.


Written by Administrator on October 1st, 2021

end of summer 2014   13 comments

sugar maple trees across the road from the house – as they looked this morning

It’s become something of a tradition for me to put together an end-of-summer post to document the work and events that happened here at Round Hill. I do this mainly for myself as it’s proven useful for me to be able to look back and see what was accomplished each summer. This year was particularly notable for the type of projects completed. I’ll get to that below.

I think it’s good to do this kind of photo documentation as I tend to forget just how much I have done each year. In fact, just looking for some representative photos for this post, I kept thinking, “Oh, yes! There was that project too! Oh, and that one as well!” I know I would otherwise forget all of this stuff in short order as the years really are running together lately.

The first thing to mention is that the old house sustained some fairly extensive damage to the roof during the late winter blizzard that hit Nova Scotia in March. Upon my arrival here in early May, I was dismayed to find torn up shingles strewn throughout the front garden. Even before going indoors for the first time, I wandered around the property inspecting the roof from different vantage points. I soon spotted a couple of badly ripped up sections where the roof planking was exposed. This did not bode well for the old place. Upon entering, I went straight upstairs and, not too surprisingly, found some areas of major water damage where the plaster ceilings and walls had been become soaked. These were sections of rooms that I had already finished replastering during past summers. Big mushy heaps of plaster lay on the floors or slopped over objects directly below the spots where water had entered the attic and come down through the ceilings. I wasn’t much amused. However, I’ve become quite adept at dealing with chaos and disappointment, so I wasn’t overly upset by the sight.

roofing company scaffolds set up around the east side of the house

The weather didn’t give me much of a break upon arrival. There was a heavy rain within a day or two. Water immediately seeped through many areas of the upstairs ceilings – including two spots in my bedroom. Armed with about a dozen buckets and plastic trays, I climbed up a ladder and through the attic hatch and set to work locating the worst of the holes in the roof. I did this during a heavy rain. Quite a depressing sight to watch streams of water splashing down onto the attic floor. However, it was also the best way to locate the hot spots that required a bucket to catch the flow. I soon realized that finding a good roofing company was job #1 on my list. As it happened, I spotted some fellows working on a roof up the road from my place. I liked what I saw (they were meticulously cleaning up the ground after completing the job). I emailed them and arranged to have someone come out to inspect the roof and give me a rough estimate. I already knew it was going to be an expensive job as I’d checked the planking while up in the attic and many of the heavy planks on the east side were soggy and rotten. We agreed on a price and then I went into “waiting mode”. Unfortunately, this area got hit with the tropical storm tail end of Hurricane Arthur, so the roof sustained even more damage. Fortunately, one of the roofers had done some minor patching to see things through until they could begin the job, so things weren’t quite as terrible as they might otherwise have been.

whale weathervane looking down from his newly shingled tower roof

Finally work began. The roofers ripped off all the old shingles and replaced about 20 big planks. There was one nasty surprise — the wood siding on one of the gables was a water-soaked mess from improperly installed flashing at some point in the distant past. That added a lot of extra cost to the job. Ho hum.

From 3 to 5 fellows worked on the roof for almost a week. The house is high enough and the roof steep enough, that scaffolding was needed in order to work safely. The work was done well and looks quite neat. I spoke to the roofing team fellows a couple of times a day. The fellow who did the pyramid-shaped tower roof told me that he was pretty nervous when he started the first side. The angle is quite steep, so even with a wide plank on roof jacks, he didn’t feel very secure. By the time he got to the fourth side, he said he was hopping around without any trouble. Anyhow, at last it was completed. They had to remove the whale from its perch for a couple of hours, but it’s back in its familiar spot now and spinning freely to indicate the wind direction.

my soffit and fascia replacement project nearing completion

As most of you probably know, almost all of the work on this house has been done with my own two hands. However, when it came to the roof project, that was totally out of the question as I am pretty much terrified of heights. That said, I did take on one “high project” this summer. The entire 30 foot soffit and fascia of the west side of the house was totally rotten and needed to be replaced before the roof could be done. I got an estimate for the work, but decided that I could handle it myself during the time while I waited for the roofers to begin the job. It was, to be quite frank, a rather shitty kind of job as I don’t own scaffolding and the section of the roof was about 12 feet above the ground, so at just about the very limit of my comfort zone for working off the top of a ladder. However I managed to get it all done. The wood itself did not cost all that much, so this was a job well worth having done. It turned out well and I didn’t fall and kill myself. I should mention that when one of the roofers found out that I would be doing this alone, he asked if I wasn’t nervous in case I fell. After all, who would know and come to my rescue. I showed him where I set my cellphone while working — down on the ground right below wherever I was up on the ladder!

the “sandy beach” tile project in the front entrance hall

I finally got around to another job that I’ve long thought of doing — and that was to tile the front entrance hall. I bought a carton of tiles that were about the colour of a sandy beach with streaking through it. The idea I had in mind was that the hall floor would be painted to resemble an ancient mariner’s ocean map with fanciful sea creatures and a compass rose – and the tiles would be the beach overlooking all this. The tile turned out quite nice, although shortly after it was finished, I dropped a heavy piece of metal on one of the tiles and cracked it. I have a spare tile that I will insert there — some day!

Serendipity, the Jeep, joins forces with the Magick Canoe

A lot of other things happened this summer. It wasn’t always work and no play. As some of you may remember, my poor trusty van sort of blew apart on the highway back in early August — one of the front ball joints gave out and the van suffered some damage. Fortunately, it could be repaired, but it was out of commission for several weeks. To tide me over, I bought a rather long-in-the-tooth little Jeep for not too much cash. The whole story of the van’s breakdown and the Jeep’s serendipitous acquisition may be found here. At first, I found the Jeep to be quite skittish and I thought, “Whoa! What I have gotten into!” but in time, we bonded and get along extremely well now. I have actually grown to love my little Jeep which wore a canoe hat all through August and September. It’s been fairly trustworthy and got me around – almost happily – while the van was being overhauled. And speaking of the canoe, it is finally “home” after being stored and used by good friends back in Ottawa. I brought it here this spring and its maiden voyage in Nova Scotia was made particularly memorable as I took Arizona friends, Tom and Helen, for a small canoe trip on an upper branch of Round Hill Brook (up on Barry’s Stillwater). I guess I should have included a photo from that trip, but I see that I already have more than enough photos for a blog post. I would have written this as a two-parter, but know I would never have gotten around to part two.

plastering is finally underway in the final room of the house

As you might guess, there was a hell of a lot of plaster repair work to be done upstairs in the wake of the terribly leaking roof. I used up several buckets of plaster, but all is pretty much back to where it was before the disaster. I also managed to get going on plastering the final room of the upstairs — yet another gargantuan job — but it’s almost finished! Not sure if I will get it done before I leave, but if not, I will surely finish it next spring. The above photo is of one corner of that room.

the long awaited wood stove finally installed!

One of the really neat projects of this summer was the installation of a wood stove. Yet again, this was something I had hoped to see done some day. Don and I installed the wood stove in our farm house back in Ontario, so I had contemplated doing an installation on my own. However, the roof on this house is pretty high, so I decided that might be risky and stupid. As it happened, one of the roofers said that he could do the stove installation as he had done many in the past. He said that if I got absolutely everything assembled in advance, he would come and install the stove on a day off from roofing. It was a lot of running around, but the day finally arrived and the stove got installed. I love it! It’s beautiful and it has made such a difference to the comfort of the house. Should have done this ages ago.

I move my bed into the living room to enjoy the wood fire as the cool autumn weather arrives

Of course, with such a nice wood stove in the living room, I had to find some way of enjoying watching the flickering flames at night. I decided to move a bed in here and start sleeping in this part of the house. Hell, who cares if it’s the living room? I’m at the point that I just do what I like and this made sense, so I fixed up a little sleeping area and it’s really rather nice. I can look down on the river through the windows by day, and watch the wood fire by night.

one of the paintings on the “ancient mariner’s map floor” in the front entrance hall

This proved to be the summer of reawakening creativity for me. As many of you know, I’ve been struggling with a general lack for a very long time. It has been hard to feel very creative when I felt like I was barely keeping my life strung together with invisible duct tape. Anyhow, I began work on more painted floor projects — the above image is one of the figures on the ancient mariner’s map in the front entrance hall. I managed to finish painting all the rest of the downstairs rooms this summer. That felt pretty good.

I carve my first folk art piece in probably 8 or so years!

I also made my first folk art carving in many years. I used to do lots of carvings each year and had studio shows and sales back at my cordwood studio building in Ontario before my world fell apart. I have decided to try to get back into art again. When I return here next spring, I intend to start making pieces once more. I’m really looking forward to it.

the first group of arrivals — chairs purchased at yard sales awaiting crazy folk art paint and carving

Another project was to start accumulating chairs for painted chair projects which I’ll sell along with folk art and other painted furniture. I watch for them at yard sales and thrift shops. These were the first three. Now there are a bunch of others – a veritable stable of them awaiting my attention when I return in the spring.

a little shipment of specialty seed garlic to be planted in the garden

Of course, no summer here has been complete without a garden. The vegetable garden did wildly well. I grew watermelons that did really well — a first for me! This autumn, I planted a bunch of new seed garlic purchased from Rasa Creek Farm in British Columbia. I have always wanted to grow specialty garlic after buying a half-dozen wonderful bulbs from a grower at a farmer’s market in Grants Pass, Oregon, during one of my autumn trips long ago. That garlic made such an addition to many meals during my month long camping trip in the redwoods of northern California. I’ve long dreamed of growing such garlic here. Now it’s all planted and will hopefully be coming up when I return in the spring.

some of the beautiful sunflowers that I grew this summer

The sunflower patch did really well too, as did the gladiola patch that I plant and tend for my nearest neighbours who are not able to grow a garden anymore. I was able to keep vases of cut flowers going for them for several weeks.

Sage and Shelby taking time out for some play.

Throughout all of the above, I’ve made time for some fun. I’ve played a lot of music, made many new friends, and enjoyed plenty of pilgimages to the terrific Saturday morning market in Annapolis Royal. In spite of the steady pace of work around here, it’s all been kind of idyllic. Sage and Shelby and I had a lot of fun playing around together between all the daily tasks of mowing lawns, weed whacking with the weed trimmer, cutting and hauling firewood, and all the other stuff that goes into life here at Round Hill. I am so thankful to have such a great place to live, work and play. In spite of some of the problems – like the roof – all in all, I would have to say it has been a wonderful summer.

Sage watching me stacking firewood from the comfort of my bed!!!!

Written by bev wigney on October 17th, 2014