Tuesday 14 March 2017

Break Through

I am currently struggling with my camera/PC link (mainly due to having nearly 16 Gig of pics on the camera card, which takes the PC more than 10 minutes to riffle through looking for new ones it has not seen before! It gets fed up looking and times out declaring, like a teenager sent to find their school uniform in a typical bedroom, "Nope.... It's not there"). This post may get published sans pictures and I will edit some in at a later date. If you are reading it now like that, then do come back in a day or two and check them out.

Kitchen looking from 'old' to 'new'
We reached a major landmark in the kitchen extension project on Sunday, finally breaking through the inner wall to reveal the true size of the new room. You may recall that the wall here was the traditional Roscommon blend of boulders and concrete (at least down here on the ground floor - upstairs this changes to modern cavity blocks telling us that this rear extension was built in 2 stages) 11 inches thick inside of which we, when we rebuilt, we added standard studwork framed with '3 by 2' timber, infilled with 3" insulating foam but then covered with half inch plywood and then the plaster-board. The ply being to let the wall take the weight of any shelving we might decide to put in there and load to the gunwales, as we do. Total wall thickness then, 15 inches. No mean wall.

...and from new to old
You may also recall that we had kango'd our hole from the outside inwards but left all the stud-wall intact (with a sheet of MDF across the window) so as not to fill the kitchen with dust and rubble. Eventually though, we were going to have to make the new end (door/windows unit) draught-tight and lock-able and then cut out our aperture through the stud-wall. That was, as I said, Sunday's game. We also made the concrete step which rises you from the old kitchen. 3" or so up to the new.

Our replacement suite
You can now stand in the kitchen and see the full size of the the new space. It was (and still is) 8 feet wide but was, up to now, only 8'3" long. A bit 'bijou' and hence Liz having to do all her bakery prep, bread-kneading etc in the Dining Room as well as us having to store a lot of kitchen gear, bakery stores and crockery in there too. The extension adds 11'9" to that length giving us a new dimension of 20 feet. I don't think we have ever owned a room with a 20' length in any house.

There is icing on this cake and a cherry on top, too! The icing is that we now have a big area of glass looking out at the garden, the raised flower bed and the big pond, plus at sunsets in Summer. OK, it also looks out at the car-port and the various piles of wood, pallets and straw bales there-in but every silver lining has a cloud. We have never had a window looking out that way up till now (except the old kitchen window which was always a bit 'tunnel vision' buried as it was 11 feet down between house and Tígín). It is also nice when I am walking the dogs or working out there to be able to look in, see the kitchen light on and wave to anyone in the kitchen. After a couple of weeks with the west window aperture boarded up with that MDF it is also amazingly light in the new kitchen now that we have the acres of glass.

I treated my chain saw to a new chain for the 'Doris' tree
The 'cherry' is undoubtedly the cat flap. Cat-folk will know that cats can be very demanding of being allowed in and out and you spend a good part of any day hearing the pleading 'miaow' and getting up from what you are doing to open a door for the animal. If it's raining they tend to get you to try all the doors in succession just in case it might not be raining out of the 'next' one. They will also happily use the house as a corridor, miaowing to come in the front door, then striding through the house and straightway asking to be let out the back. Or asking to be let out and then sprinting round to another door to be let back in.

The tree looks much diminished now
it's all cut up.
We have 4 cats at present so all of the above is four-fold. Each cat has its own way of making its demands known. Blue will scrabble and scratch at the aluminium threshold at the bottom of the front door. Soldier seems to fling himself at the door like some kind of DEA policeman on a drugs bust and hangs by his front claws from the window panel with his chin just high enough to look in accusingly like the "What? No Meat?" character in the war-time cartoon. He has destroyed the paintwork and scratched up the wood quite badly. If we can ever break him of the habit it will take quite some filler, sanding and painting to get the front door back to its glossy red of 5 years ago.

Messing with the bottom slice of tree.
Up to now we have not been able to do a cat-flap - both the front and back door are good strong ones with fancy panels which would not take a shop-bought cat flap. The new kitchen 'end' though has flat panels (all be it 3 cms thick) so we installed one and are now getting the cats used to it. All 4 quickly learned how to use it and that it is always open, even when humans are asleep or not indoors or (Heaven forbid!) saying things like "No - I just let you in the other door...you can bloomin' well wait!"

No more need, soon then, for our in house 'scoring' system which we use to decide whose turn it is NOW to let the cat in/out. We started with a simple "Please, Liz, I have a dog on my lap" - if you had a dog on your lap you were exempted from cat doorman duties, making coffee/tea or what ever. This then got a bit more complicated if we both had a dog, and a whole Poker-score system evolved. A dog on your lap AND a kitten on your shoulder trumped a mere dog. A single cat trumps a single dog. A cat and knitting trumps any combination not containing knitting. I'm on the phone/email/Twitter/Facebook carries some weight but not much. Ultimately, if all else is equal then a simple "I did the last one" settles it.

Our dogs never do "lying in a heap". None can stand being
in contact with another to sleep - so 3 dogs, 3 beds!
Possibly, just possibly, all that will go away and all the cats will exclusively use the cat flap. There will be no more need of humans attending doors, upstairs windows (yep, they quickly worked out that you can shout in through the main bedroom window from the new kitchen roof; you just leap onto the cattle-race wall and from there up the Tígín north gable, then walk along the ridge of that building and descend to the roof at the south end. Wait on the kitchen roof though - a half asleep human might knock you off the window sill when they open the window for you). What could POSSibly go wrong?

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