The Current Normal – Expanding Our Bubble

Throughout the pandemic, we have been diligent in keeping just the two of us inside our Covid bubble. Yes, we have visited with kids and neighbours, but always while physical distancing. Until all this gets sorted out, we do not wish to risk our own or others’ health.

All that being said, the looming, cooler fall and cold winter weather has not eluded our notice. If we were going to continue to physical distance visit on our back deck, then we needed to make some modifications.

So, over the past few weeks, we have been brainstorming to come up with a solution. In fact, some of my best thinking was done while I lay awake at night, instead of sleeping.

It started with sourcing the kind of thick plastic that everyone’s Granma uses to cover their best linen table cloth. Found and ordered from Home Depot, the next thought was how to attach it. The simple answer was with cup hooks, but cup hooks could rip through even thick plastic and could also allow the plastic to detach in the wind.

Taking a page from the Red Green Show, we arrived at the answer of using duct tape. “If the women don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.” was Red Green’s trademark saying.

I did a whole lot of measuring and confirmed that way back 20 years ago, I had built my deck cover with a reasonably consistent opening height. Unrolling the plastic, my beloved and I worked as a team, measuring once and then measuring twice, before making a cut. Panel by panel, we cut the plastic, then attached a strip of duct tape on each side of the top and bottom edges.

Once that was done, it was out to the deck, where I measured the upper hook positions (used to hang our fabric sun shade in summer). This done, I punched the holes and pounded in the metal grommets. Once the top was hanging on the hooks, I lined up the positions for the bottom grommets, cut and pounded, then used flat washers and screws to attach them as tight as possible to the deck boards, using wall plugs in the gaps between the boards, so as not to damage the deck boards permanently.

Sheet, by sheet, I completed the installation, ensuring that all panel seams were lapped. As I worked, I could feel the deck growing warmer and warmer, as each successive panel blocked more and more of the wind.

The last problem to solve was how to fit the plastic to the sliding patio screen door. My Patty came up with the solution of using binder clips to grip the plastic. The only trouble was that the plastic covered the inside pull handle, so I added a binder clip at that location to resolve that issue.

Once closed up, the heat gain from the afternoon sun was noticeable. +22 C (72 F) outside, +28 C (82 F) inside, likely not the appropriate day to test it, but it will be cooler over the next two days.

With the addition of a small ceramic heater and using our patio lights, it creates a nice bubble for continued socializing as well as extending our deck time by a few weeks. Life is good, inside the bubble. Cheers to all.

These photos were taken September 3, 2020.

The completed project.

Upper attachment
Lower attachment
Patty’s Patty-O door solution

Early evening

The night time is the right time.

Cool spell over, it was now time to test how easy it was to take the plastic down. Our September 9 temperature hit 22 C (72 F) and tomorrow is supposed to hit 26 C (79 F). With the film up and solar gain, this would add about 6 C (10 F) to the deck temperature. Not wanting to roast, I set out to open up the bubble. In a matter of about 10 minutes, I popped the panels off the top hooks and rolled them up on the deck. Flat white on the deck this afternoon and icy frappucino tomorrow. We love fall.

Here are the panels down shots, much better for bird watching too.

screen view with bubble plastic down – perfect for bird watching
plastic sheets rolled and stored ready for reattachment

19 thoughts on “The Current Normal – Expanding Our Bubble

    1. Thanks. We hope so. It will be hot here for our location today 26C. So, for now the bubble is popped and we will enjoy the warm sunshine. Will likely need our plastic by the end of the weekend. Thanks for reading and commenting. Allan

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Nicely done, and this effectively increases the use of this transitional space between indoors and outdoors. And it also allows the birds to observe you in complete safety as you are well locked in 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a piece of art glass, we bought way back when. In the winter, it sits inside and catches the sun. In the summer, it rests on our deck table and does the same. Not sure how it was made, but it is a source of beauty in any level of light.We saw it at Park Lighting in Edmonton, when we were shopping for light fixtures. Thanks for reading Bernie. Allan

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I wonder if our local restaurants might employ a method like this? Living in a cold climate restaurants are going to start to have a hard time. Many have benefited from outdoor patio dining but with winter almost here (well, it sort of was here this week) this will be difficult.

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    1. We have seen this idea used all over the world, New Zealand, Australia, Italy, Ireland. Their plastic storm curtains are a bit more sophisticated than mine, but boy do they work well, especially once you add a heater. I hope some of them can do this. We are going to dine in a restaurant on Sept 17, for the first time in over 6 months. They did renos to increase spacing and also added UV germicidal lights in addition to their sanitizing procedures. Thanks for reading and commenting. Allan

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m glad to see you guys keep yourselves busy with all sorts of projects. What I’ve learned so far living in isolation- staying in can be just as fun and productive as going out. Sounds like you are going to enjoy your little crazy patio in weeks to come. I love your garden and beautiful shadows from the trees. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 😀 Aiva

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    1. You have to stay busy and like you, being restricted as to travel has made us more inventive and more appreciative. I have the plastic panels down today, as it is 26C here (a heat wave for us), but temps on Tuesday are only supposed to go up to 13C, so the panels will go back up soon. I know we will enjoy more fine days on the deck. Company coming tonight for a physical distancing get-together. My poor veggie garden is a shade of its former self, but the back yard still looks good. I did a bit of tree pruning today. Will have a major harvest of tomatoes tomorrow. Thanks for reading Aiva. Allan

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. At +26 yesterday, I had to roll the bubble down, but it will be back up tomorrow as temps cool. We are a team, bouncing ideas off each other, so came up with this after seeing plastic storm curtains elsewhere and modifying them with the Canadian genius of duct tape. Thanks for your kind comments and for reading. Stay well and enjoy your weekend. Allan

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ann. We are just back from a 48 k (30 mile) bike ride and enjoying an iced coffee on our deck right now. Only one side buttoned up as 20 C (68 F) and watching the Blue Jays and squirrels fight over the acorns. Life does not get much better than this. Thanks for reading. Allan

      Liked by 1 person

    1. In the cold war, they built bunkers…during Covid, we build bubbles. Crazy times Scott. Only up to +12C (54 F) here today, but I put a little heater on and we ate dinner on the deck, without shivering. Thanks for reading. Allan

      Liked by 1 person

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