Lazy Sunday

I like to take Kip to areas that will challenge him in terms of training. So today, taking advantage of the nice fall Sunday, we went to Niagara-on-the-Lake.

We saw historic buildings.

We met some horses, and sat pretty even though they smelled really really really good.

We thought about going here for afternoon tea.

But they said "NO dogs!!". We didn't want to go there anyway.

We pondered the wisdom of a tourist area planting poisonous plants.

We thought about going to the theater, but instead...

... we just sat on their bench.

We window-shopped for artwork.

And then we came home, made soup and went to sleep. Well, one of us made soup, and one went to sleep. Guess which one??


There is another debate raging over at the Pet Connection site, this time about declawing cats.

(A note here: on Yahoo Answers, every so often, someone gets all het up about "declawing" dogs. I find it indicative of the general level of knowledge of many "animal rights" people (mind you, most of them are teenagers, but still). They read "dewclaw" as "declaw", and proceed to try and change the world so no dogs are ever declawed again. How nice!! Anyhow, back to today's topic.)

I have mentioned here before that I'm against the vast majority additional of "anti-cruelty" legislation, mainly because such legislation has a number of unintended consequences, doesn't address the issue, and has a slim chance of ever being used to prevent abuse of any animal, since most Animal Controls (at least the ones I know of) are understaffed and under-funded, and the court system doesn't seem to treat any but the most egregious cruelty cases seriously (case in point - Michel Vick didn't go to jail for animal abuse).

It seems many of the proponents in the current debate are British (or English, although I don't know how one can be English and not British, but I digress). Which makes me think of the hunting ban over there that worked so well, that it's possibly in danger of being repealed.

We on the other side of the pond also have those that wish to ban hunting - both the mounted-fox-hunts kind of hunting, and the person-with-a-gun (or bow) kind.

Cuz you know, it's mean. It's nicer to let the poor little animals live their lives in peace. Yes ma'am, hunting and fishing is cruel and should be banned.

These same people, if one were to ask, would surely support environmental awareness and habitat preservation for those same poor little animals. But try to tell them that one of the BIGGEST supporters (in terms of cold hard cash, not just rhetoric) of habitat preservation was established, and continues to be supported, by hunters. It makes sense when one thinks about it - no habitat, no animals. Most hunters and fishers I know are environmentalists as well, but aren't the tree-hugger types one generally associates with that term. They don't have time to protest and sign petitions - they are to busy actually spending time in the same habitats they are trying to preserve.

These same people, if one were to ask, would surely be against having those poor little animals die of car crashes, starvation or disease. And of course they'd be against having Fluffy and Fido end up as coyote food, right? But try telling them that's exactly what happens to deer and coyote populations (and probably to more animals, but those are the 2 I'm familiar with) in areas where hunting declines. Deer populations increase (good, right?), and more get killed by cars, and more starve to death as food resources become scarce (this is Animal Ecology 101). As deer populations increase, so do their predator populations - generally coyotes in many areas of North America. And coyotes are incredibly adaptable. When the deer population crashes, they happily turn to the dog-and-cat buffet (FYI, the Beaches area of Toronto is most definitely NOT suburban or rural - it's right between downtown and Lake Ontario. Fort Erie is a town of ~30,000 right across the river from Buffalo - a bit more rural that Toronto, but a town none the less, and these attacks took place in a densely populated neighbourhood only a few block away from me. These are city coyotes we're talking about here, not their country cousins). As populations of animals increase, so do their diseases - like mange and rabies.

Like it or not, humans are part of the environment. We cannot be left out of the equations. Sure, it's nice to think about a "nature" where all animals are free from disease, starvation, and predation, but it just doesn't happen. So that's why I support hunting, and fishing, and even fox hunting (and please note, the fox is NOT killed in North American hunts). Even though I don't own a gun, fishing rod or fox hound.

Because, you know, I can separate logic and emotion, and use my little grey cells to try to understand what our world actually is, not what I wish it were.

Of fall and foam

Three things have recently made me realize that summer is indeed over.

Orion is back in the night sky.

The leaves are turning colours.

And these are back on store shelves:

It's odd - I'm not a big candy eater (Chocolate, yes, but chocolate isn't candy, it's a food group). But candy corn gets me every fall.

Since I've finally succumbed to the idea that fall is here, I really can't ignore the fact that winter is soon to follow. Last winter was COLD. Not outside, but inside - that's what you get when you live in an under-insulated house (or uninsulated) in Canada. But this year...

FOAM!! I got foam! Not the entire house, but at least the crawl space is finally done. I initially contracted the job out last November! But spray foam is applied with equipment that uses electricity, and a small wet crawlspace and electricity don't mix, so it had to wait until the crawl space dried out - which it should have done this summer. Except...

This summer was insanely wet. We finally got a run of dry weather, I repaired the cracks in the foundation, and wonder upon wonder, the company that was applying the foam was able to fit me in soon after I called to make the apointment and the weather stayed dry!!!

Why am I so happy? Well, all the plumbing is in the crawl space. Which means the crawl space needs to stay heated all winter. Which means a great deal of heat (and my $$) went into the crawl space last year. By simply insulating this area, I can reduce the amount of heat I divert to the crawl space, and either reduce my heating costs, or keep the house warmer this winter. One of these weekends, I also need to get my tallest, skinniest nephew over here with my dad to put plastic down under the crawl space as well - that should help keep the house drier (well, as dry as you can get when living within sight of one of largest lakes in the world).

So why spray foam? And not the standard Fiberglas batting (which I will be using in the walls of the house)? The only thing you can really do with fiberglass insulation in a crawl space is insulate the "ceiling" of the space (basically the floor of the house). This is a great and much, much, much cheaper option - as long as you don't need a heated crawl space. Additionally, spray foam provides a good vapor barrier (not really critical in this application, but it will help with the dampness). But spray foam is $$$, needs to be applied by professionals ($$$$), and off-gasses (UGH! That wasn't too bad with just the crawl space, but I can't imagine living here soon after the application if I was going to get the entire house done). So, it's foam for the crawl space, Fiberglass for the walls, and probably blown-in insulation of some sort for the attic.

It's fall. But I have foam and candy corn, so life is good!

Hey! Wasn't this supposed to be a home reno blog?

Yes, yes it was. So here, without further ado, some home renos.

Actually, making pie pastry is remarkably similar to mixing up concrete (mix wet to dry until the right consistency is achieved...), making this weekend eerily similar to last one, just with fewer peaches.

There were holes in the foundation, which allowed water into the crawlspace, which meant the insulation guys couldn't spray the foam onto the crawlspace walls (something about water and electricity not mixing). So, after a few (finally!) dry days, a batch of hydraulic cement, some grubby clothes, and hey presto, a patched foundation. And yes, I did this by myself!!

Those were the largest cracks; there were a few smaller ones that patched easily. In fact, it was all pretty easy. It's not perfect, but it will do the job until I get the entire thing re-parged (which won't happen until the new siding is put on, which won't happen for a couple of years yet).

The astute amongst you will wonder at my lack of hysteria re: a cracked foundation. That's because what was patched isn't actually what's holding the house up. The house is on a pier foundation, and the cracks are only in the areas between the piers, which are not structural at all. The astute may also wonder at the green pipe. We* think it was the old waste water pipe, but it's not actually connected to anything inside the house. Where is goes and what it's connected to outside the house is anyone's guess. I told my boss this week at work that the more I look into things there, the more mistakes I find, so I'm going to stop looking. The same goes for certain things in the house... like the green pipe :)

*We = Dad. I have no opinion on odd green pipes.


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