Tuesday, November 29, 2011

the bathroom that Jimmy and Barb built

remember the gawd-awful bathroom at the Manor? if not - here's a few pics to refresh your memories....the vanity:

to the left of the vanity (our bathroom is L-shaped) - remember those duck curtains?

the shower, held up by construction tape and the jiggling shower head:

well, our friends Jimmy and Barb, their son, some of Jimmy and Barb's friends and some of their son's friends all had a really fun time ripping that entire bathroom out and rebuilding it from scratch - NOT!

but they did rebuild it for us so that when we got to the Manor we had a nice bathroom. and we really appreciated all of their hard work. Jimmy said that he must have pulled out 9 million nails - and i believe it to be true as every single job that we have done around here first involves pulling out 9 million nails!!! Jimmy et al ripped out all of the walls and after rebuilding the walls, put in a brand new vanity, sink, toilet and tub/shower insert. they also put down a new floor for us and replaced the bathroom window. we added an over the toilet stand and built shelving along the back wall. here is the Framboise Manor bathroom as it is today:

vanity has been moved to a more functional location, i.e., NOT under the window. and did you notice the beautiful new window?

here is the new toilet and over the toilet cabinet....notice the new floor?

the curtain on the right-side of the bathroom has a cubby hole behind it with storage for towels/linen, etc.

here is the new shower/tub insert with new shower head - no red construction tape!!!

this pic is of the vanity taken from the opposite side of the room:

and here is the additional shelving that jambaloney and i built:

it's a wonderful thing to have a completed room in this house. the only thing left to do here is to paint the vanity a darker brown to match all of the rest of the dark brown. we love the vanity as is, but were unable to find an over the toilet cabinet in that shade of light-ish brown. so we will paint it and it will all come together quite nicely, i think.

anyway - our tastes are simple and i know that there are much fancier bathrooms out there - but we love the bathroom that Jimmy and Barb built!

(Edited to add: i will be around to everyone's blogs this afternoon. i haven't been on the computer much in the past few days - but don't worry - i will catch up on all of the backposts that i have missed!)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

a "SciFiChick kinda' Thanksgiving Dinner"

oh man...i was sooo looking forward to yesterday. that's when we celebrated American Thanksgiving Day. as we had missed Canadian Thanksgiving Day - we were thrilled to be able to celebrate yesterday!

jambaloney had gone into town a few days prior to pick up whatever we didn't already have. and i planned out our traditional menu. our day started off pretty gloriously, slept in a little, all the snow was melting, and we drank our coffee and tea in the hottub.

what started out as a glorious day very quickly turned into a "SciFiChick kinda' Thanksgiving Dinner"! oh SciFi - i had good intentions too! wrong!

our menu was simple and one that we have been making for years! with great success!

turkey, stuffing, gravey, mashed potatoes, honeyed carrots, maple syrup turnip mash, brussel sprouts with bacon, and ginger/pear cranberry sauce. although it may seem like a lot of complicated items, with proper preparation and timing - i can do this menu in my sleep!!!

have a look at our 2009 Thanksgiving Dinner (we didn't do Thanksgiving Dinner in 2010 as that's when we were showing our house for sale):

that's my famous stuffing - this stuff is so full of flavour and goodness and the croutons are home-made! next up - my now Cape Breton famous ginger-pear-cranberry sauce.

look at this beautiful turkey-drippings gravey!

and here is the spread that we put on that year for just ourselves. and yes - those are edible nasturtiums decorating the bowls.

honestly - i have made this Dinner so many times and have never screwed it up! but i guess the gods conspired against me yesterday or something! or, i guess SciFiChick and i really are sisters from another mother! because she royally messed up her dinner yesterday as did jambaloney and i. and after reading her post about messing it all up, and laughing, not at her but with her, and seeing how honest she was about screwing up their first Thanksgiving - i had to come here and be brutally honest, too. oh ya - we royally messed up our favourite holiday and our first Thanksgiving dinner here at the Manor in grand style.

first up - the stuffing. i was sure that we still had wild rice. we made several prep run purchases when we first got here and one of those preps was a 5lb bag of wild rice. i guess we ate it all up since then and haven't gotten around to replacing it. and what i thought was a container of wild rice turned out to be korean sticky rice - which is not so good for stuffing. no prob - we'll just leave the rice out! i normally use dried cranberries in the stuffing but because we have so many fresh ones, i tried using fresh ones in the stuffing - not a good idea! they made the hard-as-rock-homemade-croutons, that normally retain their texture, a big mushy blob! adding very healthy hemp-seed hearts, in place of wild rice, just contributed to the mushiness! woops - forgot to pick up celery (the celery that we grew this summer was a total bust)! all in all the stuffing just sucked! and we wasted those delicious giblets when we could have made giblet soup - arghghghgh!

moving right along - we thought that using frozen brussel sprouts would work just like fresh ones. wrong again. i steamed those babies for only a minute or two and they came out soggy as crap. oh well - they will firm up when i fry them in bacon grease. nadda chance. those were crap too!

because we have such a tiny stove we had to pull out our hotplate. and cooked the bacon on it. or tried. the bacon just went watery and we ended up adding additional bacon grease, from our stash, to it. the hotplate took forever to heat up, but when it finally did - it went into overdrive. we went from cooking bacon for almost a half hour to it burning our honeyed carrots in minutes. so both of those were dismal failures as well!

at this point we have dirtied every pot and pan in the house - jambaloney is washing pots and pans in the sink AND in the bathtub (look - ya gotta get creative when you live in the middle of nowhere and don't have any counterspace!) - and that's when we realized we couldn't bake the potatoes - because the turkey was in the oven - so we would have to boil them. and because we had planned on baking them - we dug up russet browns. they are great for baking first and then mashing - they are delicious! but they suck when steamed. but at this point we were going for broke to just try and finish and have a nice meal. but they came out like soggy, whipped with too much cream, potatoes.

the turnip was steamed for almost 45 minutes before i said enough is enough and pulled it out to mash. into hard little chunks. not even the butter, maple syrup or cream could save it. it tasted good but what was supposed to be a nice mash turned into nice, maple-syrup coated little hard balls of turnip. oh man!

the gravey....well....the drippings just didn't seem strong enough. or turkey enough. so i took one of those packets of turkey gravey and added it to the drippings. suddenly it became very dark brown - not unappetizing looking - just very dark brown. something was wrong. i took the packet out of the garbage and realized i had added a packet of ROAST gravey....oh someone kill me now!

on the plus side the turkey came out beautifully moist and browned and delicious! so that is our saving grace - we can still cook a turkey!

all throughout this mess of a dinner - jambaloney kept saying "it's okay babe, we'll enjoy it anyway". he has a way of doing that and keeping me calm when i want to climb the walls.

so after cooking all day (from about 10am until 5pm) - and we had to cook all day in batches as our stove and oven are sooo small, and although our stove has 4 elements, you can only use 2 at a time - unless you are using smurf pots. and there is no counter space in the kitchen - we had dishes everywhere for the whole day and were taking turns keeping the dishes being washed and dried and used again - well, after all of that - we took the time to lay out a spread and have our dinner at our dining room table.

here's a pic of the spread (nice and blurry eh?):

and here's a pic of the dining room table:

we set up our plates and sat down to what was not a very enjoyable meal. jambaloney kept saying, "oh the brussel sprouts aren't that soggy" or "well - the turkey is really good"...and then we just laughed and talked and gave thanks for all of the things we are happy for...and picked at the stuff we liked best - for me, the turkey, the potatoes (i'll eat any kind of potatoes!) and the roast/turkey gravey. for jambaloney - it was the turkey, the cranberry sauce and the turnip mash. both of us stayed away from the burned carrots and the soggy brussel sprouts.

afterwords, we gathered up the last of the dishes and got 'em all washed and sorted. then we took our glass of wine and did what any self-respecting cooks would do when they royally screwed up a meal - we got in the hottub!

all is well that ends well. and we did spend two days remembering and sharing all of the things that we were/are thankful for on our first Thanksgiving Day at Framboise Manor. we had lots of things to be thankful for. but not that dinner!

we pray that next year will be less SciFiChick and more Gordon Ramsay. no offense Sci!

(make sure to go and read her post! it's hilarious!)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

averaging 10 inches of snow and Happy Thanksgiving!

boy we sure didn't expect this when we woke up this morning! we have so much to do INSIDE of the house that we can't be worried about all the snow OUTSIDE of the house. oh well, we bit the bullet, did some shoveling and then got in the hottub. as my Uncle Gerald says.....oh man!

here's the side deck. poor cats couldn't even get out the catdoor although one tried at some point in the night.

here's looking out front. it's pretty but it is a ton of work to clear and we just aren't ready for this. what else is new?

another shot of the front of the house:

here's the front deck covered!

here's the back deck and backyard. again - it's so beautiful. we just don't need snow today!

the side deck and truckdura. poor truckdura is buried on all sides.

because this snow storm came out of nowhere, and because we should be seeing average temps again for the next few weeks - we said screw it. we'll see how much melts in the next few days. then we'll worry about plowing. it should all melt as we are supposed to get clearing sunny skies this afternoon and rain tomorrow. that should take care of it.

but we did get the ATV plow set up yesterday so if need be, we'll plow and shovel tomorrow or the next day.

for today - we completely re-arranged our living room. it looks much more open and spacious and we are very happy with our work.

for all of my American friends, i thank you for all of your uplifting comments on our last post. that means the world to us. you are all in our thoughts and thanks for today - although we are celebrating Thanksgiving proper - tomorrow! time to run and prep for tomorrow's dinner.

we wish you all a wonderful and warm Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Framboise Manor American Thanksgiving Day Menu!

wow! that sure was a mouthful!

well, seeing as how we missed Canadian Thanksgiving Day (October 10) - how did we do that? by never really knowing what day it is around here! we often start our mornings at the kitchen table asking each other - "is it Thursday?" - "no, it's Wednesday" - "are you sure?" - "ya, remember, we had darts last night" - "oh, right, okay, then it must be Wednesday".

so ya - we completely missed Canadian Thanksgiving Day and didn't figure it out until a few days later. and Thanksgiving is one of our favourite holidays. and we have sooooo much to be thankful for this year. so we are glad that the country to the south of us has a different date for their Thanksgiving Day Holiday. Thank You United States of America!

so we will be celebrating Thanksgiving with our American friends. for the past 10 years we have put on ginormic spreads of food - all of our favourite things! even though there has only ever been the 2 of us. except for one year when we had my friend over. we love to celebrate Thanksgiving with just the 2 of us - it is almost like our anniversary or something. and we always overdo it on the food. a big giant turkey, 80lbs of mashed potatoes, enough stuffing to feed 96 or 97 people.....for three weeks! you get the idea! but we love the left-overs and will happily eat them for the next month!

we have been trying to learn to claw back a little - but it isn't easy. we spend the whole morning cooking everything up, then we set an elaborate table (we don't use candles on the table anymore since i set our hanging lamp on fire last year - oops - my bad!), and then we stuff ourselves until we can't eat anymore. we're usually done in 20 minutes. the kitchen will look like a disaster pit and we go and climb on the couch. and the only thing that can get us off the couch is to go and have a "tax" - a tax being a piece of turkey or a spoonful of stuffing.

anyway - we are pretty traditional with our Thanksgiving Day meal. we don't like to change it up at all. we have the same thing every year. we love it!

so without further ado - i present the Framboise Manor American Thanksgiving Day Menu:

1. a big honking turkey. after thoroughly rinsing the turkey, i rub a fresh lemon all over the outside and inside, squeezing the lemon as i rub. then i rub the outside with a mixture of olive oil and butter. then i generously sprinkle with sea salt. fresh sage leafs under the skin of the breast. for the first half of the cooking time, i cook the turkey breast-side down. halfway through cooking, i flip it to breast side up. this keeps the breast so moist. basically, during the first half of the cooking gravity is pulling all of the juices down to the breast. then when you flip it, most of the juices stay in the breast (i have cooked turkeys and chickens breast side up before. they are never as moist and full of juice as when you start them breast-side down).

2. giblet/fresh cranberry/apple/celery/walnut/wild-rice stuffing. made from home-made croutons. i let my home-made bread sit out for 2-3 days, cut into 1-inch pieces. then i brush all of the pieces with some olive oil and sprinkle fresh chopped sage all over them. bake them in the oven for about 12-15 mins until golden and crunchy. these make a great snack if you like savoury and crispy snacks. set these aside in a large bowl.

cook your diced up giblets (neck, heart, kidney, liver) in a pan with butter. get the pan all nice and browned on the bottom. when giblets are cooked, add 2 cups of last Easter's turkey broth. scrape up all the nice browned bits. remove the neck from the pan and give it to jambaloney to snack on - then add the giblets to your to your croutons and one cup of giblet broth. add your cooked wild rice. add a nice handful of fresh cranberries, a chopped up apple, chopped up celery and your chopped walnuts. mix it all together and add more broth if need be. spoon stuffing into the chest cavity and body all the way to the neck and legs. tuck your legs.

3. smashed potatoes - i always make too much of this but we eat tons. scrub your potatoes but don't peel them. pierce them all over with a fork. rub olive oil all over the skins and then liberally salt with sea salt. bake them in the oven for about an hour. remove. split each potatoe down the middle. scoop out that delicious baked potatoe goodness. add a ton of butter and cream - heat until the butter melts and the cream heats. this is the only way we make mashed potatoes - no boiling! baking them first makes them absolutely mouth watering!

4. minted-honeyed carrots. peel and clean your carrots. cut them into 1-inch sections and then cut each section in half. cook them in hot butter on each side for almost 10 minutes each. once cooked, pour a large dollop of honey over them and mix it in well until the honey is heated. add fresh chopped mint.

5. maple-syrup turnip mash. chop up your turnip into 1-inch pieces and steam them until soft and mash-able. add butter. add cream. don't skip the cream! then add a big dollop of maple syrup. these are delicious!

6. brussel sprouts with bacon. steam your brussel sprouts for only about 6 minutes - you want them to still be crisp. cook as much bacon as you like -we make alot! remove the bacon and some of the bacon grease. add the brussel sprouts to the pan, coat them with the bacon grease. cook for about 3 minutes or until nicely-browned.

7. fresh cranberry/pear/ginger/cinnamon/clove sauce. sort through your fresh cranberries (see my beautiful cranberries below!), about 2 cups. chop up pears to equal a little over 1 cup. make sure to use a nonreactive saucepan! heat 3/4 cup of water, 1 cup of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of salt until sugar is dissolved, stirring often. once at a boil, add 1 and 1/2 cups of the cranberries - save half a cup of them for later. once the cranberries have returned to a boil, reduce heat to a nice simmer. keep stirring. after two-thirds of the cranberries have popped (about 5 mins), remove from heat. add the chopped pears. add a 1-inch piece of fresh crushed ginger. add 1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground cloves. add the 1/2 cup of uncooked cranberries. stir it all together. if planning to serve hot, put a lid on and quickly re-heat before serving. if planning to serve cold, let the sauce come to room temperature and then put in the fridge. this keeps well in the fridge for over a week. and is great canned. and is delicious as a traditional cranberry sauce, or can be used as a jam on bread or toast and tastes amazing on vanilla ice-cream.

8. and i saved the best for last - GRAAAAAAVEY!!! i love turkey-dripping gravey and sometimes gross jambaloney out with how my dinner is floating on my plate and looks like gravey soup! everyone already has their own favourite way of preparing gravey - i use all of the drippings without skimming them. before i put the turkey in the roaster, i pour some olive oil in the bottom of the roaster and add chopped onion, celery, carrot, cabbage, parsley and sage. once the turkey is cooked and removed from the roaster, i add a spoonful stuffing and then some dark meat. i heat all of that, strain it and then make a slurry with half a cup of the drippings and 6-7 tablespoons of flour. stir the slurry back in to the drippings until your desired thickness is reached. for the next few days as you are re-heating the gravey - add some of your reserved giblet broth.

anyway - everyone here knows that we love cranberries. and people have been picking tons for us. i made the cranberry-pear sauce for a function recently and everyone loved it and wanted the recipe. and that's when we started getting bags and buckets of cranberries from various folks. one of my friends is having out-of-town family over this weekend and asked if i would make the cranberry sauce for her. her husband's sisters picked these cranberries for the sauce. aren't they beautiful cranberries?


so i have this tub of cranberries and two 2lb bags of fresh cranberries. time to make some home-made cranberry juice. yummy!

we are planning on having our Thanksgiving Day Dinner on friday. ya - we're sneaky like that!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

what starts with an "F" and rhymes with truck?( hint it's not "dang" or "golly gee whizz")

'cuz that's what came outta my mouth when i crawled outta the above!!

our anniversary is jan 19th. last year, after just arriving to the Manor in December, i went into town on jan 18th to do some banking and get a pile of groceries and things we needed (and some preps). it was a loooong day and that was the day the flaky sump pump really didn't work right. i had a feeling it would happen, but even though it was raining that day over a bit of ice, we had experienced worse, so i rolled the dice. when i got back, i brought all the anniversary food (we were gonna cook up a storm) and then went to check the basement - it flooded to the max, read more here on "Ted's Seeds".

in the back of the truck was a new sump pump. not technically ironic, just a case of a day late, a dollar short. picture me in flooded boots., 2 and 1 half feet of COLD water holding the new sump pump in my arms until it emptied the basement, kymber on the porch sorting wet treasures...

the flood was bad enough, next day - happy anniversary. it was our 10 year anniverary and we spent it trying to dry out what we could. that was thursday... sunday it got so cold that we turned on the tap and nothing came out... hmmm. at this point, i didn't know a lot about a rural infrastructure... we waited and waited... no water. it got warmer...still no water.

so on a drastic hunch, i went down to look at the jet pump and noticed the cast iron casing had a crack... split because it froze. there was long project after that involving insulation, a kerosene heater and trips to the basement every couple of hours in an *^)^&*^*(^%^!! day to make sure that temps were above zero.

oh yeah, the day of the flood, our phone crapped out. two days AFTER we lost water (tuesday) , and then we lost our power. while we were huddled in our bed BEFORE the power came on, BEFORE we got a generator and a kerosene heater... the phone guy showed up and fixed the wiring by using the blue and white instead of the brown and red. buddy (my polite name for the previous owner of fm) had put in his own phone line which went to the basement and was BURIED IN THE DIRT!! frost heave had caused a short. the technician was classic cape breton, ignored my lunatic look, fixed the problem and left me enough free wire to make a new line... i have wired cat 5 for networks many times, i fixed that mess later...

ANYWAY... after all that i went to Landry on thursday , one of my local saviors.. it they don't have it, they can get it!! never have i got help and service like i have from them!! best supplier ever, that's cape breton for you!! i brought the broken pump and they ordered a new one. based on my description of the well situation, they upgraded from 1/2 hp to 3/4 hp.

so i waited and Landry called the next week - pump is in!! now, i don't know how to install a new one, but step one, go get it. at this point, kymber and i are still in shock since, well, we got here, but we are determined to succeed, off i go.

by now, i have 100 hours total driving under my belt. the day is perfect driving weather. snow MOSTLY cleared, temp at exactly zero, a bit of fluff melting on the road, no salt yet... and i am in a complete daze from it all....

as i get to a small town on the way.. (pop: 10-15 ??) and round the first corner... the truck veers a bit, i try to correct, it goes the other way... etc. i have two choices, 15 feet down or a snowbank... (sorry duke, only 1/2 of a "not so good")... i chose the snowbank - THAT part was lucky:

- i have a cab on the truck, prevented full roll
- there was snow on the side of the road
- the ground wasn't frozen, just wet mossy stuff

there i sat, looking out the windshield sideways, dazed but not confused to realize - "F*(&()&& - i just had an accident!!

i ALWAYS wear a seatbelt and was going no more than 30-40 km an hour (18-24 miles an hour) when i bailed, i was okay, but i couldn't open the driver's seat door - i had to go out the passenger door (do you know how heavy an f-150 door is when you have to push it up??) .

i jumped on the road, two feet apart on solid ground, and called kymber on my iphone (was very handy when i was cap't computer in ottawa) .........

uh, i forgot, no signal at this crash site , so much for the iphone being any good, the camera worked though - small blessing!

i stood there, dressed light for the occasion, listening to crows, waiting for ... ???

after about 10 mins, the woman who drives the local school bus came along and stopped, radioed in my predicament to her dispatch and had them get a tow truck and call kymber. kymber was on the phone at the time and missed the call, BUT, Richmond Transmissions & Towing got the call and after an hour and two other logging trucks who stopped to make sure i was okay, my saviour did arrive:

lowering the boom...

hooking up the truck..

you can see the wire...

over she goes!!!

after the truck was righted, there was a nice dent, the wheels were misaligned and one back tire was almost flat. the driver recommended i drive it back home as opposed to him towing it away. i did and came in the door white-faced, kymber all happy to get the new pump... had to burst THAT bubble. "dang" ;-) ;-)

after a bit of discussion, we called Jimmy who came and took me to Landry and then replaced our pump and helped fix all the burst pipes. what a friend!!

i managed to pump up the tire and get the truck into the dealer in and got it fixed without insurance for a price that would have been triple in the city. Truckdura was none the worse for wear... it did have a chunck of frozen ground struck in the front that i removed a month later, but all's well that ends well!!

it was that kind of a winter, behold Vandura !!!

&%*(^&% happens!!! ;-0 ;-)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

the road that Jimmy built!

i have mentioned our friends Jimmy and Barb a few times on this blog. they are the great people who took care of the Manor for us while we were still living back in the city - and they did a ton of work for us! one of the best selling points about the Manor was it came with alm0st 10 acres and 200ft of riverfront - we always knew that when we left the city we had to be on waterfront.

when i first contacted the real estate agent, she let me know right off the top that no human being had ever seen our "waterfront". at some point in mankind's history, someone had cleared about 20 ft just at the back of the house; however that was many moons ago and it had all grown over again. with wild raspberry bushes. it's not called Framboise for nothing. anyway - the rest of the 1000ft hike to the "waterfront" was pure, virgin, overgrown forest.

that threw us for a bit of a loop and we re-considered. but because the acreage came with a house, telephone, electricity, well, septic system, etc., and because it was located in the exact rural area that we wanted to be in...we bit the bullet and decided that we would have to budget for a road to be built down to the river at some point in the future.

after we bought the place, sight-unseen, we took a vacation to the Manor to finally see our property. we were so excited! running around the cottage and the yard like giggling fools. and then decided to go and check out our "waterfront". here is a pic of what we encountered at the beginning of our hike.

it sure doesn't look as bad as it was. we spent almost an hour tripping, falling, squeezing between trees, getting scratches everywhere, falling down some more and crying. it was only 1000ft. and we have both hiked and whatnot but this was densely-packed forest. however, once we saw the river we knew that we had made the right decision. our only problem was - who on earth could build us such a long road. and how much was it going to cost?!?!?!?!?

enter A and C, stage left. C is Jimmy and Barb's daughter, A is her boyfriend. because the hike to the river was so gawd-awful, we decided to go to the beautiful private beach nearby. A and C were set up in a camper trailer down at the beach. as soon as we pulled up, their gorgeous pit-bull jumped right into my unrolled window and proceeded to lick my whole face. then jumped in the backseat. then chased his tail. then jumped in the front seat and licked jambaloney's whole face. then back into the back seat. this proceeded for many minutes with both A and C, embarrassed, leaning in the car, trying to get that rambunctious little/big guy out of there - it was funny to say the least! and that poor little dog recently got hit by a car and had one of his front paws removed right up to the shoulder!!! but that hasn't stopped him. C told me he was dragging her up the road at lightening speed on his 3rd day out of the hospital. and for anyone concerned - he has really adjusted. and still jumps in strangers' cars i am sure.

continuing on, we went a ways up the beach and set up our towels then ran into the water. we were splashing around in the freezing ocean for about an hour - laughing and laughing! we are water babies. once we got out and were properly dried-off, A walked down and asked us if we would like to join them for a beer. so we went up to where they had parked their trailer and sat and chatted. they are really nice kids in their early 20's. they told us that C's mom and dad, Jimmy and Barb, had just gone off to get some firewood and would be back shortly. we enjoyed chatting with them and playing with the dog.

enter big, black, beaten up Chevy Silverado, stage right. loaded to the gills with firewood. and when i say firewood - i mean entire trees! and when i say entire trees - i mean entire trees, about a foot and a half in diameter, that he had pulled out of the ground - no chainsaw, no hatchet - no anything. just pulled them out of the ground - bahahahaha! oh he's a character is our Jimmy! imagine a 6'2, 220lb Cape Breton guy who claims he got his Grade 12 - cuz he repeated Grade 6 before quitting school! he is friendly, always smiling and is glad to help anyone out with anything that he can.

Barb's quite the character herself and the exact opposite of Jimmy - in some ways. she is tiny like a faery, complete with a faery-smile and has a huge heart of gold (i wish she had a "pot" of gold!). but don't get her started or you are in for it - she could easily take on 3 or 4 guys Jimmy's size and she would be the ONLY one walking away.

anyway - there we are having one of the best afternoons of our life - yakking with our new-found friends and swimming. i'll never forget the way Jimmy kept saying, "welcome home, buddy. welcome home". he was making me teary-eyed!

we probably stayed at the beach until about 10:30 that night and left after much hugging and promises to return the following morning for breakfast. we came back to the cottage and spent the night on a mouldy, old mattress but slept like kings! we woke up late and went back to the beach where Jimmy, Barb, A and C had already had breakfast and had passed A and C on the road as they were heading home - about an hour and a half away. when we got down to the beach there was more hugs and welcomes and then more chatting.

at some point we explained our situation with not being able to get down to the river. and that's when Jimmy told us he's a certified heavy equipment operator. one year he laid fibre-optic cable 6,000km from British Columbia to Halifax, Nova Scotia. THAT is the entire distance across our country! he built airports in Nunavut AND the Northwest Territories. and he was an ice-road truck driver for years! there is not a piece of heavy equipment that he is not trained to use. he spent this past summer dredging Sydney harbour (a fair-sized harbour) to make it deeper. the man has been everywhere and done everything!

and very casually told us that he would come take a look and let us know if it would be a problem to build us a road! VERY CASUALLY?!?!?!?!?

they came up - Jimmy walked around, said he could clear all around our house, could build the road to the river and it would not be a problem - WHAT?!?!?! oh and he would also re-grade our driveway?!?!?!

they stayed with us a few more hours. we exchanged all of our details. gave them the keys to the Manor. they had to leave to go home. lots of hugging and kissing! we had to leave the next day to come back to the city. we called them when we arrived back in the city. Jimmy told us he would have all of the work at the Manor done by November as he first had to finish another contract. November?!?!?!!? we couldn't believe our incredible luck! and we weren't even planning on moving to the Manor for another several years. but with Jimmy getting that work on the driveway, yard and road done for us - it meant that we could visit the Manor and be able to enjoy our waterfront - can you even believe this story?!?!?!

as it turns out, Barb and Jimmy took care of the Manor for us for a year and a half. Barb painted the entire Manor, and both Jimmy and Barb, their kids, and friends also helped put the Manor together for us. i have previously mentioned putting in a beautiful new window in the living room, a new one in the bathroom, gutting the entire bathroom and re-building it from scratch, putting in a new water heater, new sump-pump, building us a deck - i can't even remember all that they did for us!

anyway - back to the road that Jimmy built. have a look-see for yourselves...here is a pic of the Manor before:

pretty overgrown, eh? and here is a pic of the front yard before:

here's what Jimmy did - amazing isn't it?

remember the gawd-awful driveway?

here's what Jimmy did:

here is a pic of the full driveway:

remember how the back of the house used to look?

here's what Jimmy did. notice that he saved the trees!

and i know. this post is about the road that Jimmy built. here ya go, have at 'er:

you can actually see the river now! and he cleared an area for us down at the river!

he did all of this work for us and charged us only the rental for the equipment. he charged us nothing for labour. and he was at the Manor working his butt off and it was slow-moving because of the horrible weather! and he charged us not a dime for his labour.

on top of that - he happened to stumble across some old farming equipment that a farmer was throwing out. asked if he could have it. farmer said sure. so he dragged that stuff up to the Manor and then painted it red. how did he know of my love of red? i don't know the answer to that question.

here is a pic of our friend, Jimmy. we love him! more than he will ever know.

i look out my kitchen window everyday and see that hand-painted, red,old farm equipment. and Jimmy is always smiling and waving, with his beer in hand in my mind.

from both of us, Jimmy, to you and Barb - thank you!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

hellhole - the final chapter!!

okay - this is the LAST chapter in the hellhole saga - sorry to disappoint (really, you are probably sick of this by now - i sure am! - for what it's worth, this was completed a month ago, just posting it now).

we left off at "hellhole - part 3: there has to be a better way!!!" in which i installed an attic ladder. now we need a floor, what better way to begin that a 14 amp circular saw:

and some 1/2 " osb:

which needs to be cut into bite-sized chunks (2x4 each piece, i used 5 4x8 boards in total):

whoops, we are not worthy, i mean ready:

well, i got the first load up the ladder and then covered the ladder to minimize the blown insulation that would leak into the kitchen, yes, that is my foot:

i put the first load of boards down willy-nilly, but at least i have a place to put the tools now:

some gonzo electrical work. there were no plates on the junction boxes and i wasn't about to dick around with the power - thank god for duct tape!! before:


i NEED to stand here!!!

up off the floor......

anchor as best i can

now the first part of the floor goes down where the ladder opens up to...some success here:

at the wall where the old and new cottages meet, i have to lay some 2x4 supports:

now i can floor this area properly:

down to the end of the ladder:

and around - awesome!!!

now i cut more sections of osb and bring them up:

and start the first long corridor along the load-bearing wall in the middle of the first cottage:

then over to the other side of the load-bearing wall:

the wiring was a pain, buddy just tossed the wires across the trusses, no stapling, nothing. you will see a few boards that he laid in, i didn't bother removing them. i had to cut notches here and there to go over/around the original wiring, cost a LOT of time!

but it's worth it!

when i was done with the flooring, i stapled plastic barriers to keep the blown insulation from creeping into the floored area, it worked better than i thought it would!

i extended the flooring on the second row to go out a second truss support, we'll put bags of clothes and lighter things there:

here is the additional storage in all it's glory. keep in mind, max head clearance is 5 feet, but with some effort, ingenuity and a sore back, i was able to kluge together a suitable storage space. i t is now about 1/2 full and will accommodate the rest of the things that need to go there. we were able to empty our storage locker in town - a milestone!!

so after all that, i deserve this!! :

yeah, it's a camo beer, close as i will get to hunting this year ;-) don't fret over the end of hellhole, wait till you see the basement!!!