A Little Downtime, aka the Value of Lists

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Hello World

Well, after coming off a successful 3 week run of races back to back to back, I was looking forward to having a couple weekends off to spend time at home and get some things done. Our calendar for the summer season is already quite full, with maybe 2 to 3 weekends not fully booked till the fall! That basically means I have to cram in all my house-type projects into a pretty short period of time. That’s not so bad for me, since I like to stay relatively busy, but I certainly don’t feel like being completely flat out all the time :-). So with that, I figured I’d write just a short little post talking about a few of the things that have kept us busy over the past two weekends. Oh, and for good measure, I also managed to rustle up some pictures of the final products of our labour!

I should start out by admitting something to you all. I like lists. Whenever I’m faced with a big task, or just a whole series of s maller tasks, I like to break things up by making a list of all the things I want to get accomplished / pack / plan for, etc. etc. Well, last year, Deanna and I took that to a slightly different level. While I wouldn’t call it a bucket list of any sort, it was nonetheless a multi-year goal list. What was on that list? Well, things like getting motorbikes, specific travel plans, big home projects, etc. To keep us on track, we actually slotted each of them into specific years. I’ve gotta say, it’s a heck of a way to stay motivated, and really pushed us to getting some things done. In fact, after the last couple weeks, the end result is that we’re both ahead of schedule AND under budget! When does that ever happen?

High on our list of things to get done were the following things: building raised beds for our veggie garden; installing a garden shed; getting a hot tub; and dealing with landscaping between our driveway and the neighbour’s driveway. Amazingly, we got all these things accomplished in the past few weekends! We worked on most of them somewhat in parallel, but I still ended up putting in some ‘overtime’ by hauling rocks in the pouring rain to meet my self-imposed timelines.

Slideshow of Pictures

First up was the garden shed. I’d picked the model and our location, and got right to work on preparing a solid base. That meant some light excavation and hauling literally tons of rocks, stone dust, and patio stones to get the job done. I even bought the appropriate construction permit to make sure everything was above board. Unfortunately, when the time came to build the shed, it turned out Costco was out of stock, and I was worried they’d never have it again. This would have been bad, as there are not many models that would have worked, as we chose a 10 foot wide, and 8 foot deep model, rather than 8′ wide, 10′ deep. Luckily, the crisis was averted, and in under a month, the shed was back in stock, and we spent Ottawa Race Weekend erecting it, finishing just as light rain started coming down. Why a shed? Well, with 2 motorbikes, 2 kayaks, 5 bikes, woodworking tools, and tons of race gear, our garage is too full! Although we haven’t filled it up yet, we have the plans all figured out, and will gradually move things over. Hopefully it’ll give us some extra space for motorbike goodies, and as a bonus we might re-claim our full backyard!

Next up was the raised beds. Last year, you may recall that I had to re-build 2/3rds of our fence, which meant replacing all the fence posts. Well, the lumber was still good, so I had planned on repurposing the wood with the intention of building a rasied garden. I still had to buy a few extra materials, but by and large, I had everything I needed. In the end, I was able to build a raised bed about 19′ long by 3′ deep and to a height of 12″. That should be more than enough for us to grow a nice, weed-free garden of the fresh veggies of our choosing. Deanna has done a great job getting the planting done, and our crop is already coming in nicely with the rain.

Now the next one was really almost too easy. In the end, our neighbour was also quite motivated to get the landscaping between our houses done, and took care of finding someone to do the work. All we really did was agree on the layout, costs, and planting. This was all done while we were off at work over a 2 day period, and the results are actually really nice. We’re pretty proud of our whole house and yard situation now!

That brings us to the final, and surprise task. HOT TUB!! Originally, the plan was to do this in 2013, and was going to be a big fancy-pants tub requiring expensive electrical work, cranes, etc. etc. However, just by luck, I stumbled across an ad for a plug-in tub on an email list I was on. The logistics of getting the thing would be tricky, so I offered quite a bit less than they were asking. However, the seller was motivated by a home move, and said if I could pick it up, it was mine! This tub will seat 4 comfortably, has jets, lighting, waterfall, and plugs right in the wall. And we got it for a song. It cost me most of the holiday Monday to move, and only happened due to having the best friends in the world (thanks Kev, Matt, and Jim). I had to drive to Calabogie to get a truck, then drive to Carleton Place to pick it up. Drive to Gatineau to set it up, drive the truck back to Calabogie, and finally return home. I left home at 1pm and wasn’t back for good until 9pm! Then over the next couple days had to build yet another solid base before finally filling it up, but let me tell you, it was well worth it!

Now that all the work is done, Deanna and I are enjoying the fruits of our labours. We love soaking in the tub, watching our veggies growing, and coming home in the evenings on our bikes to see the nice landscaping and our new shed. The only problem is that our list has now shortened considerably through till 2014. We are left with building a bar (probably to take place in the fall), and travel to Switzerland (planned for October) and travel to Tibet (or more likely, Bhutan next year). I suppose we can also add “plan wedding” to the list, seeing as that will need to get done!

So there you have it. The benefit of making a list, and following through. Just wanted to assure everyone that we don’t just spend our time racing and training! However, the next 4 posts will likely be race reports, as I’m about to embark on another 4 back to back racing weekends culminating in an iron-distance tri on July 1st in Dartmouth! Check back for more exciting stories!

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