Sunday, March 18, 2018

Amy Penagos-Steward is 6

Amy turned six in January and we went to Montreal to celebrate, the party held this year at the Parc du Soleil, an indoor amusement park for kids in LaSalle. Fun time was had by all, including Amy's aunt Rocio who was in town from Mexico City. There was the usual pinata provided by Monica and candies galore, more gifts and a delicious birthday cake. Each one of these parties I attend now only reminds me how much older I am getting...gws

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Our Retirement Home Part Forty-Nine (Stone Wall in Basement)

I began planning for the stone work that we had decided to put up on the north wall of the basement this winter, bringing the last of the stone in from storage outside where it had sat for the past five years, a home for spiders and squirrels. I had to let it thaw out and dry before laying it out on the floor to make sure there was enough to completely cover the wall, approximately 100 square feet, minus the section cut out for the big screen TV that was going on the wall. As the propane stove is in that corner of the basement it was always our intention to have stone behind it rather than driwall and a heat shield. I covered the wall first with Durock cement board as I had done in the living room and brought up the bags of Quikrete type S mortar. Marie finished the electrical outlets, covered them up and we were ready to go.

Will I have enough to do the whole wall?

putting up the Durock cement board

enjoying winter meanwhile

a visit from some wild turkeys as I work to keep me company

stone veneer going up!


Driwall  and first coat of mud on!

Ben enjoying a wonderful February 21st thaw of 17 degrees Celsius! 

Marie by the waterfall, Feb 21st

ice formation I found in the woods

In between finishing the stone work we went to Montreal to attend Amy's sixth birthday and, sadly, celebrate the life of Marie's aunt Therese, who died on January 20th, in Sherbrooke. But before completing the stone work I put up the last six sheets of driwall in the rest of the basement, painted the area where the TV will go a flat black and brought in a few tiles to see how they would match with the colour of the wall. The last stone went up in the middle of February and, to my surprise, I had about 50 pieces left over. Before starting on the tile I painted the walls (one side a dark blue, the other a beige to match the lightest shade of the stone) and removed most of the furniture from the room. Again the biggest problem was where to put it. With snowstorm after snowstorm on the horizon there was no chance of putting it outside so into the spare bedroom it went. ...should have built a bigger house.  gws

Our Retirement Home Part Forty-Eight (Basement Ceiling)

After a lot of hard work and cursing the basement ceiling is pretty well completed. We started this project this past summer and, after a terrific rain storm in the late fall that ruined some driwall sections I had just put up and then had to be replaced, the end result is satisfying. Each section of driwall had to be drilled out for pot lights (15), that Marie installed, as well as holes for the smoke alarm, two speakers and a vent for the VenMar air exchange. As you know I dislike taping and mudding over my head so I decided to cover the driwall edges with 3 1/2  x 1/2 inch wood slats to resemble ceiling beams, criss-crossing them the length and width of the whole basement. I beat them up a bit and gouged the sides to make them look old, sanded and stained them a dark brown (Rez Woodstain Grain de Cafe), countersunk the screw holes and hid them with wood plugs. The most frustrating part of the whole project was moving the bookcases, record storage cases and furniture around to make room for the ladder and driwall lifter, the one tool that saved my back. It was a nice feeling to realize after we finished this final ceiling that I wouldnt have to work over my head again! The next task is putting up the wall board and durock before bringing in all the stone veneer left over from the exrerior walls from outside to dry. Then I can start the area where the TV and propane stove will be. This has to be done before the floor is tiled, the final stage in finishing the basement! Hopefully all of this will be done before April, my goal. I"m certainly hoping I won't look like the April Fool should I not complete this by then....gws

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Christmas 2017

December at our place began cool and wet but by mid month we had a foot of snow. The day after Marie's birthday, the snow falling steadily about, we drove around the Domaine looking for a Christmas tree (Holiday Bush as they suggest we say now to not offend those of other persuasions)  to bring home. It wasn't exactly perfect the one I eventually cut down, taking the top 14 feet from a large spruce we found, but we loaded it into the back of the truck and dragged it by hand up the driveway from the cabin and let it dry out on the kitchen floor overnight. As Christmas crept closer the temperature began falling alarmingly and it was all we could do to keep the supply of wood coming in from outside for the fireplace. This though, as much as a vacation south would have been nice, would be our first Christmas at the house and Phil and family were planning on spending it with us. Hopefully the weather would moderate a bit but when they arrived on Christmas Eve the promised arctic vortex was already descending and within hours the temperatures plummeted to -20, then to -28 and two days later to a new record for us here, -30. We did what we could to keep warm but outdoor activities were kept to a minimum! We did get a chance to go tobogganing on Christmas Day down the driveway and the kids loved it. I think Phil enjoyed it more than anyone, although he had arrived at our place with a mega sore neck, and managed not to break any bones. We also went to the free skating put on over the holiday by the village of Notre-Dame-des-Bois at the indoor rink. It was William's first time on skates and he lasted only five minutes but it was a start. Amy seems a natural and didn't want to leave when our hour was up. Another day we bundled up and drove to the Sports Centre in Lac Megantic and spent a few hours swimming in their very modern Olympic size pool, complete with a kids only play area. Everyone had a great time, but like everything fun, it was time to leave and for Phil and Fer also time to think about returning home to Montreal. They were flying to Chicago for a week on New Year's Day, a gift from work, and bringing in 2018 with a bang. Marie and I stayed up on the 31st, the temperature outside reading -25C so pretending it was summer we wore our swimming suits and brought in the New Year together. Happy 2018 to all!  gws

Marie decorating the tree and view from the bedroom
lovely bouquet of flowers from Lara and Jesse

early morning, 24th December
William and Amy in front of the treasure trove of gifts


William and his dinosaur

Amy thinking about going out tobogganing

Amy and woodpile

Phil shoveling a path for the sleds on our drive

Phil, Fer, Amy and William having fun in the snow

me chilling with the kids

Skating rink, Notre-Dame-des-Bois

Merry Christmas!

Christina and Damien, Christmas in Embrun, Ont

 Damien opening up one of his his Christmas gifts - a workshop & tools from Grandpa and Grandma

 a faraway Christmas in North Vancouver, British Columbia - little Maya and big brother Joshua

Happy 2018!