Wednesday, August 25, 2010

On Marriage - for Philippe and Fernanda

Phil & Fer,Fortress Louisbourg,Cape Breton,NS Aug 2010

   Marie and I were delighted to hear the news of the upcoming marriage of our son Philippe to Fernanda this coming December in Cancun, Mexico. To them both we wish the most wonderful life together and much happiness. I hope we have set a good example over the years, and although our wedding was back in 1989, I can honestly say to them that the celebration still continues to this day! Here is a poem by Kahlil Gibran, poet and author of the Prophet, I have always liked and which I would like to share with them called On Marriage :

You were born together, and together you shall be for evermore.

You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.

Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.

But let there be spaces in your togetherness,

And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:

Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.

Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf

Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,

Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.

For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.

And stand together yet not too near together:

For the pillars of the temple stand apart,

And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each others shadow.

August 15th 1989 Bridgetown, Nova Scotia

Phil was thrilled to find out from PC Insiders (Loblaws grocery store) this past week that he was the official Grand Prize winner of the Presidents Choice Big BBQ Party for the Quebec region! This includes a backyard makeover design consultation and a BBQ meal to feed 30 people, equipment and staff to a maximum of $7500! He is planning the big event for September after I return from Florida! Meanwhile we are all preparing to spend Christmas in Mexico City before flying on to Cancun until the end of the year. Rumour has it that Mexicana airlines will be cancelling more flights as they have recently filed a protection petition through Chapter 15 of the United States bankruptcy code. Keep your fingers crossed we are not affected. Here in Montreal the hot, dry (mostly) summer continues. We (Marie and I, Phil and Fer, and Lara and Chad) all greatly enjoyed the Michael Bublé concert at the Bell centre earlier in the month, but next time we will get tickets a little bit closer! Our seats were in the nose bleed section and the supply of oxygen at those heights was limited! Paul McCartney played there the following week and I am still kicking myself I did not get tickets when they were announced...We are slowly finishing the renovations to the duplex -Verdun Windows and Doors was in to take some measurements for the dining room windows and bedroom door to the balocony which will be installed in September, and I am waiting for a quote on the balcony replacement. I have almost finished the entranceway and stairs, having now installed limestone tile from Turkey in the foyer, replaced the lights and painted a two-tone blue on the walls. I did the steps in a light grey acrylic anti-slip paint that has a gritty feel - a runner will be installed as soon as we can find something to match the colour scheme. The pictures do not do it justice - the beautiful embroidery under the sconce was done by Mom in 1995! 

 Last weekend we were at the cabin installing t&g pine on the ceiling - it looks good and we should be done before October. Marie and I spent a morning going over the final list of potential homes we will choose from and measuring out the footprint for the foundation. These photos will give you an idea of what style we think will look good in our location and size (1000sq ft approx) we can afford! Invariably the final result will be a  combination of them all with redeeming features like a large deck, chimney on the north side and large ground to ceiling windows facing the southeast. Because of the heavy snow in the area we have to go with a steep sloping roof. I am partial to the second one.....

We moved our firepit up to the house level as well - closer to the wood piles I made when I cleared the road a few years ago - and away from the bushes near the cabin. The view is nicer and its drier when it rains. It is one of our ongoing pleasures when we go out to the cabin to sit around the fire after supper with a glass of wine waiting for dusk to creep up on us and the stars begin to appear, watching the flames slowly burn down to a bright glow and listening to strange sounds from the woods. A few weeks ago we were at the bottom of our driveway and met a mother moose and her calf walking towards us. They watched us for a few minutes and disappeared into the bush, not batting an eye! They are so quiet and always about but usually only can be seen in the evening. Last month when I was up at the cabin by myself I noticed three wind turbines way off in the distance (much to my surprise!). It was evening and the sun was setting. It was the slanting rays of the sun hitting the towers that attracted my attention - just visible to the naked eye. I found out that they are part of the Kibby Mountain wind farm project — comprising forty-four 3 MW wind turbines strung along the ridges of Kibby Mtn. to the southeast of us across the border. Half the turbines were put online in October 2009 and I only just noticed them! Click on the image and it will open up in a larger size and if you look at the centre of the photo you will see them - they are too far away to see the actual blades without binoculars but you can pick them out in the photo.

 This weekend Lara and Chad finally move into their new home and it is only a few days before Christina and I drive the old Ram van down to Florida for the last time for the wedding of sister Dee and John. I bought a new tire for the 30 year old beast, had the garage across the street give it a tune up and changed the oil, and put on the spare that has been lying in the weeds behind the shed for years. She is ready ( I hope) to go. We leave on the 30th and I am giving us 4 days to get there - arriving a day before the wedding. Marie has been busy replacing some faulty water connections on the toilet and cleaning the interior for us. I can tell she wants to go as well and I am sure we will both miss the van - we have had it now for almost 10 years and it has given us many miles of pleasureable and reliable service, twice to Florida, twice to Boston, a few times to the Maritimes, around the Gaspé and two years ago to Campbell River on Vancouver Island, BC and back through the deserts of Oregon and Utah! But it is getting too old to fix here in Quebec and will probably cost too much before it could pass the rigid safety checks they insist on doing to any vehicle coming into the province from outside (in this case, Ontario). We now have another reason to escape the long winter here by going south for a week in February to do some work on it. We will eventually be replacing the van and our current 1999 Dodge Dakota with a new diesel HD 3-4 or 1 ton pickup that can carry a camper and, because both these Dodges have been reliable, we should probably consider another Chrysler product. Ford, GM or Dodge - they all have their followers or naysayers and as this will be our last vehicle it will be a difficult decision to make. Recommendations and testimonials are always welcome!
   That is it on the news at this end. The next time I blog will be after the 8th of September when I fly back to Montreal. In the meantime thanks for all the positive feedback and to all of you out there who read this enjoy the remaining weeks of summer! Love, always....


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Summer 2010

"August rushes by like desert rainfall,
A flood of frenzied upheaval,
But still catching me unprepared.
Like a matchflame
Bursting on the scene,
Heat and haze of crimson sunsets.
Like a dream
Of moon and dark barely recalled,
A moment,
Shadows caught in a blink.
Like a quick kiss;
One wishes for more
But it suddenly turns to leave,
Dragging summer away."

- Elizabeth Maua Taylor

How quickly the days fly by since last I posted! - the poem by Elizabeth Taylor aptly conveys the hectic and rapid passing of the past few months! It's been almost 4 months that we left Ottawa for Montreal and work on our duplex continues and will do so for some time yet. But between painting, scraping, sanding, nailing and sweating Marie and I have had time to spend a few weekends at our cabin in the mountains, take a week off for my birthday in June to fly to Florida, and enjoy a day by the ocean in Booth Bay, Maine. It has been an unusally hot summer here in Quebec so we finally had to break down and buy a portable aircon to make working on the renovations bearable. As you can see from the pictures the old place (built in 1924) is hardly recognizable. Phil has been busy as well - tearing down concrete block walls in the basement and adding electrical outlets to his workshop, and installing a beautiful deck in the back yard. Upstairs we have yet to install two new windows in the dining room, replace some doors and completely redo the front balcony. Meantime we have enjoyed the fruits of labour from the garden and the masses of flowers I planted this spring (see pix above) and are slowly getting to know and appreciate the neighbourhood - the varied and international shopping, parks and the convenient access to the Metro. As well as living in close proximity to ones neighbours - forget about privacy here!! But renovations have occupied most of our time and I often wonder where we can still find the energy, drive and pleasure to continue. We never realized the sheer volume of work that had to be done to bring the place up to our standards. As an eventual rental unit there are things that can be completed a little cheaper but in the long run everything we do really reflects on our own personal satisfaction to a job well done.  So, without further ado, the before shots......

and after....

Alot of things yet to do as you can see by the photos - I am presently sanding the stairs in the main entranceway, painting it a 2-tone blue and relacing the old banister with a new oak one, and putting limestone tile on the floor as you come in. Most of the electrical work is completed - much done by Phil who has been a great help, especially updating the old fuse-style electrical panel with one with breakers. All the light fixtures have been changed, switches updated and the old baseboard heaters removed to be replaced with newer, more efficient models.So work continues until the end of October at least - hopefully before the cold weather arrives we will have completed the replacement of the doors and windows. The rest can be done anytime, but I would like to have everything finished by the spring so I can concentrate on the next major job at hand : our new house! 2011 is just around the corner and time grinds on...

It was great to be able to fly down to Florida on my 60th birthday and surprise Mom - she turned 83 as well on the 25th. Marie and I drove to Plattsburgh, NY, our favourite jumping off place to anywhere south as its cheaper to fly out of there, its only an hour from Montreal, and parking is free! We flew Allegiant into St Pete, where we rented a car for the week. We picked up some flowers from us and Phil and hid behind them when we rang the doorbell at Lyns place when we arrived. By prearranged agreement Mom was to be there and answer the door and look suitably surprised. Dad said he knew it was us at the door posing as the flower delivery men! We had a wonderful birthday party there at Lyn's with everyone pitching in with the food and cooking and were even successful at getting Mom into the pool. Don and Lyn took us out to a Thai restaurant the next day and Dee and John, with Tyler, took us out to Skippers Smokehouse in Tampa. Later in the week we all went out to Homosassa Springs on Don's new boat before heading down to visit with Dee and John, before heading back to the airport. But before we left Marie and I drove down to Ft De Soto and spent the day on the beach and explored the old fort. The beach was voted the best in Florida last year and the Fort, built during the Spanish-American War, actually never fired a shot in anger. The weather was hot while we were there but returning to Canada we never thought it could actually be cooler in Florida!

When we returned to Montreal Phil had finished his deck so we enjoyed the use of it as well as tasting some of his famous ribs he has perfected on his new BBQ. The deck itself is over 20 feet and as solid as a battleship - it was his first attempt at carpentry and should outlast the building itself!

The next weekend I drove up to the cabin with some tongue and groove pine planks to start the inside walls. I had laid cedar planks on the floor just before we went to Florida and was happy with the way they looked and was eager to finish the interior. We have had the cabin for 2 years now and slowly getting it to look the way we want it. I moved the outhouse a foot away from the dripline of the roof to prevent ice and snow buildup and installed our Separett composting toilet.  The first picture was taken during the World Cup - I still am flying my England flag. Phil and Fernanda spent that week touring Cape Breton and as predicted Fer fell in love with Nova Scotia!

Lara turned 30 on the 20th July and we invited her and Chad over for cake and wine. They are both eager to move into their new duplex that is being extensively renovated. They actually gutted the whole first floor and are completely bringing it up to date. There are some roof and foundation problems that have yet to be addressed and after working on this place since April I can sympathize with them both. They are about 5 minutes from us by car here in NDG so I'm sure we'll see more of each other. Next milestone will be Fernanda's 33rd tomorrow on the 6th of August and then Christina's 30th on September 23rd! Why do I feel so old?

A few weeks ago we went back to the property for a long weekend to work on the van which I will be driving down to Florida in September for Dee and Johns wedding and purchasing another 10,000 square feet of land to our north, just where the edge of the house will be built. As it was a rainy weekend we spent Saturday in Maine, crossing the border at Coborn Gore and taking SR 27 south to the very end. We try to find a different spot on the water everytime we go and this time we ended up in Boothbay Harbour, a very touristy spot in Lincoln County, near Bath. I did not remember at the time but part of the 1956 movie version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel was filmed there.

Tonight we are off to see Michael Bublé at the Bell Centre downtown for Fernandas b-day then heading east to our property on Friday to finish putting up the walls in the cabin. Hopefully the weather will be nice and we can do what we most enjoy there at night - sitting around the campfire and watching the stars! I will try to post sooner next time as I know you are all eagerly awaiting our further adventures!Till later, much health, happiness and love     gws