Sunday, 24 November 2013

Day 22: Sunday Morning

View of the Humber Mouth from the side of Humber House.

The mountains across the water (on the north side of the Humber Valley)
are part of the Appalachian Mountain chain and in 2003, the Newfoundland and Labrador
chapter of the International Appalachian Trail was founded.

The Humber Valley Trail starts 5 minutes down the road to the right of the house.

The Appalachian Mountains were formed
in the Paleozoic Era more than 250 million years ago.

The Sentier International des Appalaches / International Appalachian Trail (SIA/IAT) is a hiking trail that connects all the Appalachian regions in North America from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mount Katahdin, Maine, U.S.A.

It then crosses the Canadian-American border and continues through New Brunswick, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Cape Breton and Newfoundland.

The Newfoundland section of the IAT begins at Port aux Basques and extends north to Crow Head near L'Anse aux Meadows on the Strait of Belle Isle.

Read more about it here:

Friday, 15 November 2013

Day 21: Newfoundland Birch Beauty

Wallace Decker refinished my floors.
This is what they looked liked before.

He masked off the parts of the house that weren't being done.

This was necessary as a lot of dust was generated during the sanding.

Both the living room and dining room had sections of floor in the centre that were
laid with raw lumber. 
They used to do this to save money on hardwood.

It is not uncommon to find this in older houses in Newfoundland.
An area rug would have been placed over this part of the floor, anyway.

This is the entrance on the main floor at the foot of the stairs.

The floors were quite grungy.
Old shellac and wax.

Here's the old staircase.

Initially, I wanted the top of each stair sanded down but I quickly decided
that I wanted to keep the staircase exactly the way it was.

It's just so old and interesting.

The upstairs landing before.

What a huge job it was to refinish the floors in the house.
I can't believe I even considered trying to do it myself.

This is what it looked like after the first day of sanding.

He had to use super coarse grit sandpaper.

Wallace sanded the main, large areas of floor with the machine.
The edges are done with an edger.
Small, tricky, uneven areas had to be sanded by hand.

He sanded at a diagonal to the grain of the wood to even out the raised edges of the boards.

I wanted to expose the softwood areas in the middle of the rooms and keep that history.

I asked Wallace to finish them.
He counter-sunk the nails, filled the holes with wood filler, and finished
 those areas of the floor, as well.

The front hall area after the first day of sanding.

The Newfoundland Birch was so much lighter without all the old varnish and wax on it!

It took Wallace six days in total to do the floors.

 This is what the floors looked like after the final sanding with fine sandpaper.
I loved the colour of the wood at this point.

Three coats of semi-gloss varnish were applied.

There were a lot of fumes.
The grain of the wood really stood out when the varnish was wet.

This is what it finally looked like when it was finally dry.
It actually dries very quickly. It took only half a day or so.

So beautiful!

I'm so happy with how they turned out!
I love the wood.

I also wallpapered the living room with white, embossed wallpaper.

The white walls and natural wood floor look beautiful together.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Day 20: Recent Acquisitions

A few things that I picked up in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia recently.

I found this basinette in a local thrift store.

Baby basinette with fold-out wooden stands.

The hood part hinges back and forth.

Label inside.

The Barden and Robeson Corp. The Mark of QUALITY Penn, Yan NEW YORK

I was in St. John's driving in the country and a man in his forties was clearing out the family home.
He was putting stuff out to give away.

I took four chairs (their family dining room set) and these three, ornate, old wooden, silver frames.
The decorative part is moulded plaster.

He was grateful that I took the things and said, "Thank god for the ends of driveways!"

Below is a small, green, wooden table with pull out leaves.
I bought it at a local used furniture store (some time ago).
Another chair from St. John's.

 I found this print in an old wood frame in a thrift store in Nova Scotia this summer.
It was $5.

Detail of print.

I found this box at the local Salvation Army thrift store last weekend.
I paid $2.
It's handmade, wood, quite lovely. 

It is very solid. Very sturdy. Like a plinth.

I have no idea what it would have been used for.
It is 11.75"h x 12.75"w x 19.75"l

On the ends, there are handles, of a sort, that look like they have a hole for metal rings.

The interior had been papered a few times.

Woodgrain paper and decorative pink flower pattern paper.


If you have any ideas as to what it might have been used for, let me know.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Day 19: Vistas

Humber House in the summer.
An overcast day.
Lots of green.

This large Maple in the front yard is beautiful.

But, the other day, I was looking at it from the deck and noticed that... it was huge.
Taller than the neighbours' houses on either side.
This made me very nervous.

We have storms here: wind and snow.
I looked at the roots. They didn't look deep.

It was time for it to go.

I hired a local man to fell it. 
He came prepared: several chainsaws, scaffolding, a pick-up truck,
a thoughtful approach and a sense of humour.

He arrived at 9:30 am or so, and worked all day.

Despite the wind and rain, he didn't stop until it was down around 5 pm.

He went home to clean up and have supper and returned at 8:30pm to remove the wood and branches in the semi-darkness.

 He came again the next morning for several hours to finish the job.
He raked up and took away every last branch and leaf.
I let him keep the wood (I don't need it).
He will split it and sell it.

He did a great job.

The next day, I worked on my bedroom window.

It is high and narrow: 60" x 22" and faces south.
It had a sheer curtain on it that created diffused light but was too transparent at night.(
I took the curtain off, installed mini-blinds and put the curtains on top, again.
Result: diaphanous privacy!

I took a walk in the backyard and found an overgrown rhubarb patch.

I harvested the rhubarb and some cherries and made a pie.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Day 18: Homage to a Friend

This one is difficult to write...

Colette bequeathed me her Russell Spanner dining set: vintage, mid-century modern, iconic Canadian design.

I, and so many others, shared many fabulous meals with Colette and many others at that table.

I am happy she will have a presence in my house.

I also bought, and was gifted, a few other things from Colette's estate.
Colette had impeccable taste. 
She had a great eye for good design and colour.
It must be genetic because her sister Julie does, too.

Julie made sure everything was labeled properly, according to Colette's wishes, so that there was no confusion.

Soon the chairs will be occupied by friends at a dinner party.

The house is still a work in progress.
I am looking forward to getting the floors refinished soon.

Label verso on chairs.

The hutch, that goes with the dining set (table and six chairs), still contained Colette's things: Full Tilt Green candles and linens.

The candles look radioactive in this picture: like Kryptonite. They glow.

A Warholian, Campbell's Soup plastic table cloth and a Full Tilt Green table runner I gave her a few years ago.

These are some of Colette's books that I now own.
They create a portrait of who she was.

Animals were a motif in her work.
She often assumed the guise of an animal in her performances: an owl, a bear, a moth.

From the performance Hoot (2010). Image from:

From the performance Bare (2008). Image from:

She was interested in ritual and formalized it in her work.

For example, in the piece Thirst (2010).
Participants were given a drink of water in a paper cup in exchange for a story.

Colette Urban and Gerri Lynn Mackey in "Nellie" (the Trillium trailer) performing/participating in Thirst (2010) at Full Tilt Creative Centre, McIvers, Newfoundland and Labrador. Image from:

She was an organic farmer and built Full Tilt Creative Centre.

Cut paper, collage.

Matisse, a master of colour and two dimensional space.

She was a teacher. I'm reading this book now.
It argues that "teaching is a performance that incorporates the personal in acts of im-personation."

So many great art books: can't wait to read them all.

The creative disruption of everyday life?
Perfect description of Colette's performance below, Consumer Cyclone (1993/2008) originally performed by Colette in shopping malls in Montreal, Windsor and Qu├ębec City. Colette wears a costume that is fabricated to make it look like the performer is covered in trash. She uses a toy megaphone to announce, "Look at you. Look at me."

This is a page from a brochure, the REEL ARTISTS FILM FESTIVAL (2010) Toronto. It was the premier of Katherine Knight, David Craig and Marcia Connolly's feature film on Colette, Pretend Not To See Me (2009).

Meanwhile, in the garden of Humber House, the cherries have ripened. 

They are bright red and quite transparent. They are on the sour side and have a high water content.

I pick my first cherries at the house.
I wash them in my colander, coincidently, it is one that Colette gave me -- Full Tilt Green, of course.

I made a delicious pie with the cherries. I added peaches, pears, and apples. 

I have decided to plant a tree for Colette in my yard.

I bought this one. It is a 5 in 1 Pear Tree. Just quirky enough for Colette, my friend Marie commented. And she was right. Five varieties, each grafted onto the main trunk, six varieties in total.

It is already bearing fruit.