Jun 232017
 

Quick shout out to the ReStore!

Habitat For Humanity opened one of their ReStores in Maple Ridge and I have found some great stuff for Hammond Forever House.

Last Thursday I noticed some toilets there that were still in their boxes. What we really want was a toilet like the one we had in Japan which had a little sink on top of the tank so you could wash your hands with the water that was refilling the tank–what a simple solution to reduce wasted water! We haven’t found one of those in Canada, so we’ll settle for a dual flush toilet that uses as little water as possible. (Oh wait, I found one that looks like you can have shipped to you in Canada! Find it here for a mere $468.00. Um, maybe next time we’ll be able to afford it.)

I came back the next day and another customer had checked out all the toilets very carefully before I got there and was taking one. There were some toilets without boxes, and some pieces, but there was also a perfectly good dual flush toilet brand new in box.

$130!

This thing is going in the new kids bathroom upstairs so it doesn’t have to be fancy (but it is) but it does have to conserve water.

The ReStore guy told me it had come from Home Depot.

Later that day I happened to be in Home Depot brandishing some birthday gift cards and I took a look at the toilets (as you do).

I don’t think I saw the exact model–it was probably discontinued–but I did see this one:I’m pretty sure that’s pretty much the same pretty toilet. But $200 cheaper.

I bought a “hardly-used” dual flush toilet for the main downstairs bathroom from craigslist for $100, but I have to say I think this is a better deal. We haven’t had any problems with the craigslist toilet and I’ll let you know if there are any problems with the ReStore toilet.

It is always better for the planet to re-use something instead of buying new. Sometimes it takes a little time to find the right thing, but it always saves us money.

Jun 182017
 

**WARNING — this post contains graphic details of home medical treatment. Squeamish people may want to skip this one.

Have you ever hit your thumb with a hammer?

Have you ever hit your thumb with a screw gun (you know, a drill with a screw bit on it for screwing in screws)?

Until this month I could say that throughout this whole Hammond Forever House renovation I had done neither.

Now I have done both. And I have some advice (brace yourself).

If you see blood under your nail, you’re probably going to have to puncture the nail somehow to let the blood out and relieve the pressure. Sorry, but that’s just the way it is.

Sometimes photos get flipped for some reason, so I don’t know if you are seeing this right side up or upside down. The thumb with the single red dot is my left, the one with the more impressive blood-under-the-nail effect is my right.

About a month ago I was squeezing a stud with my right hand against another stud so that when I screwed them together with my left hand they would fit nice and snug. (Okay, I know that sounds dirty but I’m talking about the vertical 2X4s that are in the wall, not the other kind of stud. Please note that I was doing this to reinforce the wall where the glass of the new shower wall is going to attach, so I could have added, “in the shower” but I didn’t. You can thank me now.)

Anyway, I was pushing hard on the screw gun and it slipped and the bit jammed into my right thumb. If you have ever done this, you’ll know that it really hurts.

Fortunately, the kids were home so I could go downstairs and grump at them for not doing chores while I put ice on my thumb and felt stupid. Neither action really made me feel better and by the time Leanne came home, I had decided that I would need to puncture my nail to relieve the pressure.

The screw bit had hit high up on the nail, just under the cuticle, so it wasn’t too hard to push a sewing needle through. We sterilized a needle with a match, Leanne held my iced thumb steady and I pushed the needle with a thimble. A drop of blood formed and we knew we had gotten through. After the pain of the “operation” had subsided, I knew I had done the right thing because the pain caused by the trapped blood was much less.

It didn’t look nice though, with a large blood stain under the nail. People said my nail would “die”, but it didn’t. A couple of weeks later–you can see in the photo–fresh nail was growing out and the top surface was flaking off, revealing new nail underneath.

That’s when I smacked my other thumb with a hammer.

I was putting finishing nails in the tongue-in-groove ceiling on the top floor (photos in a future post). Just a light tap and I instantly felt like the stupidest guy in the world. I could see the little spot of blood under the nail.

“Here we go again.”

This time I thought I could ice it fast enough that I wouldn’t need to puncture the nail. We even took some time out when Leanne got home to have a picnic at a local playground until I realised that another home operation was unavoidable. It was hurting too much. The kids were upset, but we went home.

I went straight to the bathroom with the sewing kit as before, but this broken blood vessel was under harder nail than last time. I couldn’t force the needle through and it was painful to push so hard.

So I did what you would do and got the drill.

I have a really nice tiny drill bit that would have been perfect, but my cordless drill can’t grip it. It’s too small. So I had to use a slightly larger bit–still very small, but…

This time I didn’t ask Leanne for help. Nobody came in the bathroom until I made that little macho pain sound. It’s kind of a grunt, like a cross between “Oh!” and “Ugh!”.

Then Leanne and our daughter came in and saw the drill on the counter with a drill bit, blackened from the match, with blood on the tip and nice little balloon of blood sitting on my thumb nail.

“Wow.” said my daughter.

“Your dad is a badass.” said Leanne.

The moral of the story can be gleaned from the photo. My left thumb is healing nicely with a small hole in it. My right thumb is also healing but it looks like a nightmare. I don’t think the needle hole allowed enough blood to escape. Next time I’m just going to get the drill right away.

“Or,” my daughter said, “you could quit hitting your thumbs!”

May 042017
 

I got pretty political during the Federal election in 2015 and I even wrote a post titled “Vote for Bob D’Eith“. Bob was the NDP candidate in my riding.

Well, it’s Provincial election time and I haven’t had the time to investigate the candidates too deeply, let alone create a well-researched blog post about it, but I do have something to say, for what it’s worth.This is my political T-shirt this time around. That’s Neil Degrasse Tyson saying, “What if I told you that it’s okay to change your opinion based on the latest evidence?”

With a T-shirt like that, you’d think I’d be voting Green, wouldn’t you? Sorry, but we still have a first-past-the-post system here, and in my riding of Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows, the race is between the NDP and the BC Liberals and I have to vote against the Liberals IMHO. So do what you want, but this time around I’m voting for Lisa Beare of the NDP.

Do I have something personal against my BC Liberal candidate? No, but if we look at the responsibilities of the provincial government, especially healthcare, housing, education and transportation the evidence shows that those files, after 16 years of Liberal government, are not doing well.

What we typically hear from Liberal candidates is that they will create jobs, but I’m hearing from economists that provincial governments have very little control over the economy as a whole. The promises that Liquified Natural Gas will solve everything have been proven hollow, yet they continue making them.

Speaking of LNG, how does such intense support of the fossil fuel industry jibe with fighting Climate Change? I’ve written about the inconsistent support for reducing home energy use, even though I appreciate the new Oil to Heat-pump rebate, but how can a government simultaneously build a massive hydro-electric project like Site C, push LNG and still support homeowners reducing their GHG emissions?

They can’t and they don’t.

Priorities like LNG and Site C demand that the world use more natural gas and more electricity, not less. China should move (and is moving) directly from burning oil and coal to using renewable energy. British Columbians can and should reduce their energy use and switch to renewables, too.

UBC researchers have even found that halting construction of the Site C dam is our best economic move. “The report calls for the project to be suspended as it has become ‘uneconomic.'”

Without First-Past-The-Post, I would say let’s collect the best information from experts on how to solve the challenges before us–the housing crisis, the drug-overdose crisis, rising healthcare premiums, rising BC Hydro rates, climate change, etc.– and then vote for the party whose platform most closely matches what the experts recommend. It is my impression that the NDP and the Greens have platforms that are far more evidence-based so, in this system, it becomes a question of voting for the candidate who stands the best chance of defeating the BC Liberals, whose platform seems based on populism and trickle-down economics.

A case in point in Maple Ridge is the homelessness issue. It’s not unique to Maple Ridge, but two years ago there was a large “tent city” that sprang up in the downtown and wouldn’t go away. Many residents and local businesses naturally wanted to blame the people camping there because they are breaking the law, but homelessness and drug addiction are problems that can be traced to failings in Provincial policies related to healthcare, housing and education.

It’s a question of priorities. The good folks in the BC Liberal party like to campaign on the concept of balancing the annual Provincial government budget. Every election, if they can claim to have done that, many people will vote for them. I guess we think of our household budget and how hard it is to balance that, and surmise that if the government does it, they must be good fiscal managers. However, a province is not a household and the long-term economic and social well-being of the province cannot be managed in this way.

If you want to balance your short-term budget, you must ignore the experts that tell you to invest in education, affordable housing and healthcare. In the long-term, failing to invest will cost far far more. (To be fair to the BC Liberals, our political system is not set up to manage long-term challenges very well and it takes a lot of trust for someone to vote for a party who says they will run a deficit, even if its the right thing to do.)

So, when other parties promise to increase funding to deal with these problems, the BC Liberals fire back that what they are proposing is impossible “within the framework of a balanced budget.” This is a false standard. People are dying. People can’t afford to live in the Lower Mainland. People can’t afford childcare. Beyond the human cost, these crises have long-term disastrous effects on our economy.

The way the BC Liberals have chosen to “balance the budget” has been to cut (or fund inadequately): education (including childcare), healthcare and transportation. Ironically, the result is that ordinary households shoulder the burden of increased healthcare premiums, higher BC Hydro rates, traffic congestion, housing costs, childcare costs, etc. (And if you want to take the extra step of renovating and retrofitting an older home, forget it!)

Yes, while the Provincial government’s books look nice, most households are borrowing heavily. That’s not sustainable.

So what happened to the homeless camp? Did the provincial government step up? No.

As I recall, it was the Municipal government who arranged for a temporary shelter made sure the homeless camp was dismantled. A lot of people didn’t like that our property taxes helped fund a homeless shelter, and neither did I, but somebody had to do something.  Was it worth it? Apparently, yes. While deaths due to fentanyl overdoses are still rising in other municipalities, those in Maple Ridge have gone down. That’s a Municipal Government taking on a Provincial Government responsibility and showing them how it’s done.

Did Maple Ridge Council listen to the experts? Here’s a story on BC Housing presenting to Council last year: click here. BC Housing is the Crown Corporation that should be leading our representatives with fact-based advice. I wonder why their website, www.bchousing.org is showing “service unavailable” right now? Perhaps their fact-based advice is not something Christy Clark would like us to hear right now? Ah well, the information is still out there. UVic’s Centre for Addictions Research wrote a policy framework for the City of Victoria and it clears up a lot of questions.

That “temporary” shelter’s operation stretched out while the homeless hot potato bounced around. How much easier it is for a government if homeless people keep to themselves so we can ignore them, eh?

Nobody wants a homeless shelter in their neighbourhood, but experts will tell you it needs to be centrally located and accessible (among other things) or there is no point. The way it usually works is the city provides land and the Province builds the facility. The Quality Inn was identified as the next step–still temporary, but it would do until a permanent shelter was built with $15 million of Provincial funds. There was, of course, a protest and it seems that our two local BC Liberal MLAs intervened and asked the Housing Minister to cancel the Quality Inn plan. That extended the use of the first temporary shelter.

In this photo of a house I pass on the bus a lot, a BC Liberal supporter displays a “No Shelter” sign in their window. This slogan epitomizes to me short-sighted, mean-spirited NIMBYism.

Next, the City agreed to buy another plot of land for $1 million. In the face of more protests, our MLAs rejected that site, too. More recently, they held a public forum and appointed 7 residents to choose a location for the shelter. Any experts on that panel? Nope. The big thing we know about the panel’s recommendation so far is that it should be outside the city centre and shouldn’t be “low barrier”. Now, I’m sure these are well-meaning, concerned citizens, but how much do they know about where a permanent, multi-faceted housing and service center should be located other than, “not in my back yard”? If we put the facility out of sight (and out of mind) there is a good chance we will pay $15 million for a hardly-used facility while the crisis continues. That’s right, a shelter AND a homeless camp.

This is hardly evidence-based decision making. This is populism at its worst.

While this staggering inaction is continuing, the 2 year-old “temporary” shelter is being closed down and the situation is returning to where we were two years ago when the homeless camp sprang up. Is there another camp? Of course there is. Politically speaking, what our BC Liberal candidates must be hoping is that their supporters will take their anger and frustration out on the people creating the new camp and not on them.

It’s not a bad bet politically. I can imagine a crowd chanting, “Lock them up! Lock them up!” However, what we really need is leadership which listens to both the public and the experts but is not afraid to do what is right based on the best possible evidence. What we have now is MLAs who listen to the people who shout the loudest.

This is where my vote is going this time around.

One last note about the NDP. Someone I know says they will never vote for the NDP because of experiences they had with a labour union 30 years ago. Is that still a thing? I pointed out that Christy Clark was Education Minister 15 years ago when the BC Liberal government illegally altered the teachers’ contract and has been spending millions of Provincial government money fighting a case they must have know they would lose. “But it’s a different party now” came the response.

30 years vs. 15 years.

I don’t like party loyalty and you won’t get me to pledge my future support to any party, but if you hate the NDP on principle but are willing to accept that the BC Liberals can change their ways, you should read my T-shirt again.

What if I told you that it’s okay to change your opinion based on the newest evidence?

Feb 212017
 

When I finally have time to clear Leanne’s computer enough to download all the photos and videos I’ve been taking for the last six months, half of the posts are going to be gratitude posts.

There are so many individuals, companies and tradespeople who have been so generous with their time, labour and expertise that it is overwhelming, but I want to do them justice and give each of them a gorgeous, sloppy thank you post full of photos and video of their awesomeness.

While we wait for that day to arrive, here is a short time-lapse video that I took on my iPhone.

That is the brand new Master Bathroom and I am stapling down radiant heating pipes to the subfloor. The space on the right side with no pipe is where the bathroom vanity and sinks are now. We don’t need heat there. At the bottom of the screen is the border where the floor starts to slope down toward the shower drain.

The next step was to cover the pipes with sand mixed with cement and then tile it.

The result is a heavenly warm floor underfoot in the bathroom. The thermostat calls for heat, and hot water circulates through the pipes. The concrete and tile serves as a thermal mass, spreading the heat out evenly and retaining it for hours.

These days, if you can’t find the cat, she is probably lolling on this floor like a rug.

On the topic of gratitude, there is a lot to pack into this 17-second video.

Thank you to Richard of Meadow Ridge Plumbing and Gas who let me borrow his modified nail-gun, supplied the radiant pipe and staples and taught me what to do. He and his company have done all our plumbing and heating, but also helped us save money by showing us how to do some of the most tedious tasks ourselves.

Thank you also to Ron, our neighbour and tile expert. He convinced me to put the pipes into the floor, (“I can’t see why you wouldn’t”) and we are so glad we did. He also helped us with the next steps, including installing the beautiful tile floor.

There will be more sloppy blog kisses for Ron and Richard in the future.

Thank you to everyone else who has pitched in, too! You are not forgotten. Do not worry. You will get your kisses.

Feb 102017
 

About this time last year, Leanne and I were stressed out and I was trying to

Keep Calm

&

Blog Positively

After three weeks of trying to get our contractor to give us a reasonable answer as to why our invoice was higher than their quote with the project nowhere near finished, they had up and left.

I wrote a rambling post which saying that we were going through a rough patch, but stopped short of pointing fingers.

Buried at the end of the post was this video with little context. Let me give you a little context now.

For three weeks in rainy January our contractor pressured us to pay their invoice while their crew continued to work. They had us over a barrel. The house had no roof so if they stopped working, what would we do? Over three meetings with their management (but not the owner) we paid them a further $35,000 in the hopes that we could work something out.

This photo might be upside down on mobile devices–sorry!

On January 26th, they packed up and left.

On that day, we took the first part of the video in which you can see how badly the make-shift plastic cover was working. Leaks were coming through the plywood “roof” and making their way into the heritage interior.

Our contractor warned us that hiring another roofer was a breach of our contract, which, it turns out, was BS. Was it a scam pure and simple? Did the contractor deliberately send the invoice through the roof right when we didn’t have one?

Whatever the case, we’re stubborn and don’t like feeling bullied so we set about finding a good roofer (which you can read about here).

That’s when the wind storm happened.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Living next door in the Little Yellow House, we were sometimes woken by the sound of the great plastic sheets blowing in the wind. Our nightmare was that the cover would be blown clean off one night.

And it almost did. Two nights after being left in the lurch, on January 28th, while the kids slept blissfully on, Leanne and I woke up to wind, rain and plastic blowing free.

We ran over to Hammond Forever House and wrestled to get protection back on the house for over an hour. I was clambering all over the slick plywood surface in the dark while wind blew plastic in my face. Leanne worked below to fasten the ends that I handed down to her. We would secure one corner and move to another and then discover that the first one had come undone again.

Listen to my voice in the video. Listen to how difficult it is for me not to curse our contractor’s name. How reserved I was. How deep was my anger. We must take comfort that it was only wind and rain and not the 25 cm of snow and freezing rain that we are getting now, one year later!

Is this normal for the home renovation industry? You can share your experience in the comments if you like. I would love to know.

Feb 082017
 

I wish I could show you a photo of the house today. It is buried in snow. Unfortunately, Leanne’s computer is still too full and I can’t download the photos from the camera yet.

This photo from New Year’s 2017 will have to suffice.

January 1st, 2017 at 12:43 am.

We thought this was a lot of snow. (Ha!) Besides less snow, the other thing that is different in this photo is all the lights are on.

Over the past weekend, due to heavy snow breaking branches, we have had 6 separate power outages.

They are not the most relaxing events, but the kids love a good black-out. We light candles and revel in the adventure. “I love Earth-hour!” says my daughter.

Beneath the fun of it lies my worry that the decisions we have made on the house leave us vulnerable to power outages. Specifically, back-up power.

I have this insecurity that there is a silent mass of onlookers waiting for us to fail. “Let’s see how this ‘Forever House’ handles a power outage” they say in my head. “Bet they wish they had a gas generator!”

Well, I must admit it was a bit shaky, but we did okay and I remind myself that we’re not done yet.

Surprising to many, my master plan calls for no fossil fuels and no wood-burning. I want to keep the brick fireplace but insert an electric fire that looks good and gives a little heat. When the power went out, however, it was very comforting to be able to light a fire. It reminded us of the winter of 2014 when we challenged ourselves to live without buying more fuel oil and so we relied on wood and a little electric heat.

Leanne wants to keep the fire, but we don’t have to decide now, because we have a lot of other things to do before we come to that.

The fact is, we moved in before the house was done. I am not finished insulating and sealing the basement and top floor. The root cellar door is not sealed and insulated as well as we plan to. I’d also like to re-apply the weather-stripping to the windows, seal up the stained-glass transom lights in the front rooms, and improve the front door.

All this insulation and sealing is key, because we are counting on it to keep our heating bills down.

At the moment, our heat is supplied by the same water heater that used to heat our tap water before the renovation. Hot water is pumped through pipes stapled to the underside of the main floor and it warms the floor above.

Heating water with electricity is 100% efficient, but it is expensive, so I have been steadily trying to finish insulating wherever I haven’t reached yet.

The first time the power went out for more than an hour, I was anxious that putting our eggs in the electricity basket had been unwise. However, we noticed that the house did not cool very quickly. The insulation we had done so far was having an effect. It was the front rooms with their thinner walls and heritage windows that cooled the fastest and that’s where the fireplace was.

I also noticed that the bathroom floor, where the water heating pipes are embedded in concrete just below the tile, stayed warm for two hours or so. I realized that one great advantage to heating with underfloor hydronic pipes is that once the water is warm, it continues giving off heat for some time.

Once the house is finished, we will be able to last a long time without feeling the chill, but maybe you still think we need a back-up source of heat for longer emergencies. They tell you to be prepared for 72 hours without assistance.

My answer to that is my father-in-law Dave’s idea which he has helped us implement: the Toyota Prius as back-up generator. Read more about how we’re doing that here. When the wiring to the garage is complete, we can use the Prius or any other hybrid or electric car to power important stuff in the house like the fridge.

A more obvious solution is a large storage battery like Tesla’s Wall. Charge it in the daytime with solar panels and charge your car from the battery at night. If there is not enough to completely charge the car, BC Hydro will tip it up.

Incidentally, this is the same principal we hope to implement with the solar hot water panels someone handed down to us: heat a large tank of water in the heat of the day and use it (or simply let it warm the basement) in the evening.

It seems I have to get used to the idea that the house will be completed bit by bit. There will probably not be a ribbon-cutting ceremony. That fantasy of moving back in with all systems working perfectly is just that, a fantasy.

Meanwhile, it looks like it will be sunny tomorrow so the kids will go back to school. Then, later in the day, another winter storm is expected. At least now we know we can handle it.

Oops, we’re a little low on dry firewood…

Anybody got some?

 

 

 

Feb 032017
 

I’m changing up the blog a little.

I wanted to give a play by play of the project, but it hasn’t been possible. Most recently, the goal of getting into the house by Christmas made me abandon writing altogether.

The next deadline is renting out the Little Yellow House again. That means moving everything out of it and making room for all of it in the big house. That, in turn, means finishing the upstairs rooms and basement.

On top of all that are the simple but essential needs to rest, re-learn how to live in the (unfinished) house, and re-connect with my family after so many months of renovation stress.

My posts need to be shorter and snappier. My habit of writing lengthy and detailed essays must end. You don’t have time to read them and I don’t have time to write them.

So once I get the photos somewhere that I can use them, check in regularly and I’ll paint you a complete picture, one piece at a time.

Thanks for visiting Hammond Forever House

Feb 012017
 

Leanne, our two kids and I snuggle together in the living room of Hammond Forever House. The wood-burning insert is blowing heat over us as we cherish our togetherness in our incomplete home.

Outside and to the south, America continues on its troubled path.

Protests and confusion at airports, state, city and foreign national governments condemning his #Muslimban, and Donald Trump says, “it’s working out very nicely.”

It’s a technique straight out of 1984.

As surreal and frightening as Trump’s double-speak is, I can’t say it is unfamiliar. There are definite comparisons to be made with our former contractor.

I mean, I spent a lot of time itemizing problems with our project and questions about the invoice and earnestly presenting them. Then came the professional opinions of other trades, city inspectors and, most importantly, our structural engineer.

I think our contractor’s response can be summarized, aside from “just pay the damn invoice already”, in this paragraph from one of his emails:

[My company] is a well respected contractor and because you didn’t like [the Site Supervisor who was fired for incompetence] and blamed me doesn’t change how we build. You have a very well built house.

This from the owner of the company who was hardly ever on site.

In other news, Trump just confirmed that he will never release his tax returns. That sounds familiar, too.

On June 9th, 2016, I sent another email:

We haven’t heard from you in a while regarding our request for copies of all invoices for materials and wage records (pay slips) for labour which [your company] has listed on their invoices as well as a list of all employees who have worked on our project, their titles and their professional credentials. You promised to provide these on April 1st, 2016.
As part of that list, I would really like your clarification on the $11,141.62 that you have invoiced under “[Company Name]”. We learned last week that you are this company and we would like to know what service [Company Name] provided on our project.

It’s not like I expected a real answer, but this was the response:

You can contact GVHBA, Bbb all these places to try to pull down our reputation and if you can live with your lies and sleep at night great.

Yes, my facts are lies and asking for information is not even worth a response.

Finally, just as you would expect to be sued by Trump if you stood up to him, so we are being sued.

We are being sued for “breach of contract” because, apparently, the contractor did a fantastic job, the contract is clear as a bell, the invoices are 100% legit and all our questions and concerns are unreasonable.

Are you starting to see one of the biggest barriers facing people who want to preserve and retrofit their homes instead of bull-dozing them?

That’s right, the barrier I’m talking about is an unregulated and unaccountable home renovation industry. The many good companies are too busy, and the bad ones are, well, bad. More on that another time.

PS: I’m trying to ease back into blogging after our big push to get back into the house for Christmas dinner, but my most recent photos are trapped on the camera until I free up space on the one computer in the house that really works: Leanne’s laptop.

Fear not, I have much to show you so stay tuned!

Jan 272017
 

There’s also a very different feeling when you know you’re near the end of your credit to when you reach the end of your credit.

It’s a constricting feeling. When you cook at home instead of ordering in you feel less proud about your penny-pinching and more bitter that you don’t have a choice.

We budgeted our renovation based on what we thought was a fixed quote from our first contractor. That didn’t turn out so well.

On the positive side, there’s nothing like running out of money to make you look under the furniture for lost change. Our financial squeeze reminded us that our credit card rewards program lets you use points toward paying down debt. We took a look and it turned out we could use our points to pay $1090 towards our credit card!

Woo-hoo! (As you know, carrying a balance on your credit card at 19.5% interest is no fun at all.)

We’ve still got a balance and we’ve had to make arrangements to pay for plumbing and electrical work by installments, but it’s little boosts like Credit Card Rewards that can help you see the light at the end of the tunnel.

 

Jan 222017
 

Yesterday we stayed home and worked on the house.

The kids had a couple of friends over who had slept over in the living room because the bedrooms upstairs are not finished yet.

In the morning, I worked on adding more insulation to the sloped ceilings in my son’s room and Leanne made a big batch of soup for everyone–lunch for all the kids, lunch for Leanne’s parents and cousin who were coming over to help on the house, and meals for the future.

Later, Leanne’s dad worked with me to finish making an insulated door for the new root cellar in the basement, her mom worked on cleaning up the mess we had been ignoring in the kitchen, Leanne and her cousin worked on clearing out the little yellow house and the kids…continued being kids.

Vancouver yesterday. Photo credit: The Georgia Straight

Meanwhile, millions of people all over the world gathered, rallied and marched in international women’s marches. More photos like this one can be found on The Georgia Straight’s website.

We like to think what we’re doing with our house–exploring and sharing what it’s like for regular folk to preserve and retrofit a beautiful old house–is doing some good in the world but today Leanne and I both woke up regretting we hadn’t taken a day off and gone into Vancouver to join all those people on the right side of history.

There is so many actions we can take to make the world a better place, sometimes it’s just hard to choose.