Catching up: History, downsizing, and house work

It’s been almost 2 months since I last posted here. That’s one of my longest absences ever, but as my long-time readers probably know, it’s not because there’s nothing going on. It’s actually just the opposite – my life is so crazy that I hardly know which way is up. Here’s a brief look at the self-inflicted chaos.

While each one of these projects would nicely fill the time of any sane person who claims to be retired, I’ll start with the most amazing one. In November 2014, I started a Facebook Group that I called Yukon History & Abandoned Places. It had been growing slowly but steadily, and with just over 300 members we were getting some great material posted. All of sudden in January, something clicked – I have no idea what – and membership went crazy. As of a minute ago, there are 8,607 members! Some of the stories and photos being posted are simply amazing. For me, seeing this many people getting interested, and even excited, about our history is wonderful, but it has also made thousands of people aware of the fact that their family photo albums may very well contain images that are important in interpreting our history.

CBC reporter Sandi Colman noticed what was happening when she and I started talking about the old hospital in Whitehorse, and invited me in to their studio to talk about the group. You can hear that 8-minute interview here.

Yukon History & Abandoned Places
The weather has been very erratic this winter – it seems to be getting more so each year. In mid-January, we had another dip to -40° (which is the same in Celsius and Fahrenheit) – I think it bottomed out at -43°C (-45.4°F). Although I don’t want those temperatures to hang around for very long, I don’t mind a few days.

Yukon thermometer reading -40 degrees
Cathy and I have always hated the en suite bathroom in our house, and I finally came up with a plan for it. On January 15th, I began the demolition. The jetted tub has never been used in the 10 years we’ve been here, so one of the biggest changes in the bathroom would be to replace it with a shower. The black tiles are high quality and may have been cool in 1992, but they’re quite awful now.

En suite bathroom with jetted tub and black tile surround
The wall that divided the bathroom into 2 rooms was the main thing that I couldn’t wrap my head around – it had to go before I could get a proper vision for the new room.

En suite bathroom
I gave the jetted tub away, and on January 17th could finish off removing the tiles. It was very well attached, and the drywall came with it, so smashing holes with a hammer and then ripping off large slabs was the easy way to deal with it.

Removing bathroom tiles with a sledge hammer
With the tub and dividing wall gone, we could see that the room had a lot of potential. By moving the toilet and swapping the 30-inch vanity for a 48-inch, installing a large modular shower, and adding linen closets, we’d have a much more functional and pleasant en suite. The sheet at the far end is keeping demolition dust out of the walk-in closet. Another big change was making the door frame between the bathroom and bedroom smaller and installing a real door to replace to bifolds.

Bathroom demolition
I’ve parked my old F-150 pickup and it’ll be for sale soon, so moving stuff now entails renting a U-Haul. For the 3 or 4 times a year that needs to happen, the trailer rental is much cheaper than keeping the truck on the road. Not as handy by a long shot, but much cheaper. This was the bathroom demolition load to the dump, on January 20th.

Hauling bathroom demolition scrap to the dump with a U-Haul trailer
We had a few days of spectacular weather, with sunshine and thick hoar frost. This photo was shot on the Alaska Highway heading into Whitehorse on January 22nd.

The Alaska Highway at Whitehorse in January
Man Not Working! Taking a break on January 25th at my favourite pub, The Cut Off, a couple of miles down the highway.

Taking a break at the Cut Off Pub, Whitehorse
The delivery guys from Home Hardware scratched the modular shower getting it off the truck, and I refused to accept it. They had to order another one in, and on January 30th, a different crew successfully got it into my garage.

Modular shower in my garage
I’ve hardly taken photos of anything except stuff from my collections for weeks now, but did manage to stop long enough to get a few shots of the Toyota dealership’s new building on the Alaska Highway near the airport.

Whitehorse Toyota dealership's new building
The City of Whitehorse arranged an Indoor Garage Sale for February 10th, and I booked a couple of tables to see if I could make some substantial headway in my downsizing. I had a whole lot of stuff to go through, and some of the bulkier stuff like this router system went on the local Buy & Sell site, priced to sell (and for $50, it did quickly).

Router for sale
Holey moley I have a lot of stuff! Sorting, sorting, sorting… It took me about a week to make some sort of sense of what needed to go. A lot went on the Buy & Sell site, but I soon had far more than what would fit on the 2 tables at the Indoor Garage Sale.

Sorting my collections during the downsizing
The Indoor Garage Sale was very successful. Not only for me – everyone seemed to be pleased. As fast as a spot opened up on my tables, I added something else from the boxes below. I went home with a full wallet and half a dozen fewer boxes 🙂 I also heard about an Antiques and Collectibles Sale coming up in a couple of weeks – more about that below.

Indoor Garage Sale in Whitehorse
Even with all that’s going, it’s very much in my mind that Spring is coming quickly. April 20th is still my planned date to be on the road in the motorhome, so on Valentines Day, I shovelled the snow off its roof and took it for a short run.

Shovelling snow of the RV roof
With the Antiques and Collectibles Sale coming up on February 24th, I booked 3 tables and got back to work. With the material for this sale, there’s some scanning of documents to do before I let them go. This is a photo of what is now known as Old Valdez (Alaska) because it was completely destroyed by the tsunami that followed the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake. It’s in an album of photos from an Alaska cruise in 1930.

Old Valdez in 1930
I have many envelopes (called “covers”) that have been carried by sled dog teams, including this one from the 1987 Carcross-to-Atlin Commemorative Mail Run.

1987 Carcross-to-Atlin Commemorative Mail Run cover
Pretty much anything that doesn’t store well will be on the block, like this limited-edition diecast Alaska Highway Jeep Cherokee (it left the table very quickly at the sale).

Limited-edition diecast Alaska Highway Jeep Cherokee
It really pains me to get rid of some stuff. For 60 years now, I’ve been moving/storing/moving/storing an extra roll of wallpaper from when Dad papered my bedroom in our home in Surrey. Is this design classic or what? It went to the first person I showed it to at the sale, a collage artist 🙂

Vintage car wallpaper
I have a lot of royalty china. In theory, the Antiques and Collectibles Sale would be the perfect place for it. I only took a haf-dozen pieces, and there was zero interest in it at any price 🙁

I’m still pulling out other stuff as well, such as my scuba gear. It went on the Buy & Sell – I could have sold 6 tanks, but to get it, you have to take everything, and I still have it all.

Sure, let’s babysit a puppy for a couple weeks, too! Elvis is a cute little bugger, but Tucker hated him. He’s a pug and Brussels Griffon mix – apparently a popular designer-dog.

pug and Brussels Griffon mix
Regardless of what Tucker thought, Elvis got very comfortable. This is what happened a few seconds after I sat down on the couch to make a phone call one afternoon 🙂

pug and Brussels Griffon mix
We had very little snow until February 23rd, and then Mother Nature dropped a load that came close to breaking that day’s record. Which still wasn’t a lot – about 9 inches.

Heavy snow in Whitehorse in February
Bella loved the deep snow and fairly mild temperatures (about -15°C). With the snow pretty much over his head, Tucker more shared my level of enthusiasm about it.

Heavy snow in Whitehorse in February
The Antiques and Collectibles Sale was very successful, and the Yukon Historical & Museums Association (YHMA) hopes to be able to sponsor another one in April. As well as selling a lot, I met a few people from my Yukon History group, which was fun.

Antiques and Collectibles Sale in Whitehorse
February 27th – more snow. *sigh*…

Heavy snow in Whitehorse in February
A post by the Yukon Animal Rescue Network (YARN) a few days ago, looking for a short-term foster to help get a dog from Carmacks spayed, put me back in dog mode. I met her family in Whitehorse on Tuesday, and once we got home, Ruby settled in quickly. She’s a Siberian husky, but I think there’s a pit bull in there as well. She’s incredibly sweet, and she and I bonded quickly and deeply.

Ruby, my foster Siberian husky
Even in dog mode, there’s lots of other work to do. Raking the snow off the roof is one of those jobs. The overhang and the gutters are the only worrisome areas – other than that, the roof will take far more of a load than we’ll ever get.

Yesterday, March 8th, I took Ruby to the vet to get her spayed. I had planned to keep her for a few days after the operation, but that didn’t work out, so after I picked her up, I drove an hour north to the Braeburn Lodge where I met her family. It was lovely evening for a drive.

One last photo of Ruby as we waited for her family to arrive. She’s a very special girl, and she made me wish that she could join my family. Cathy jokes that I do this with all dogs, but that’s not true – very few dogs get this reaction from me. Anyway, she has a wonderful life in Carmacks now 🙂

So there we are, all caught up. The craziness isn’t quite over yet, but the end of the tunnel is near. Soon – very soon – I’ll be talking about the summer’s plans. And have I got some cool places to show you this year, my friends! ttyl…


Catching up: History, downsizing, and house work — 3 Comments

  1. The black tile made me think of Tron, the old movie. Nice renovation and it would’ve taken me a whole lot longer to finish. The hoar frost has been a familiar sight around here as well as getting dumps of snow last month. But I don’t think we ever saw -40° here in Fairbanks this winter.

  2. Looking forward to see what other adventures oyu have in store this year. And you weren’t kidding on it being a busy last couple of months.
    Incidentally the snow here has been a pain lately too.

    As for the china, that looks like a probably eBay posting to me. Chances are you’ll find a collector interested in it a lot easier. Mind you it could take some time. I don’t see a lot of that at the collector shows down here – could be from lack of interest or I could be completely not focusing on that sort of stuff. I certainly can appreciate the history though!