Wednesday, September 26, 2012

a weekend in Montreal and Casselman, Ontario

After more than two weeks away from the city we returned Friday to do some shopping, see the kids and celebrate Christina's birthday. We also had a chance to meet the new addition to the family - Bella the American bulldog - with very sharp teeth I found out the hard way! It was especially nice to sleep in our queen size bed again and enjoy a real shower! At the cabin for me it's a navy shower - wet down, soap and rinse in a pot of hot water. It has been a warm late summer so I have been doing it outside but the last few weeks the nip in the air has driven me into our little shed where we have our toilet and shower set up. Montreal was the usual madhouse - especially IKEA which I particularly hate - with a sea of orange cones greeting us the minute we crossed the Champlain bridge. While we there I had a chance to get the Ram undercoated  for the coming season of salt they love to spread on the roads the first forecast of snow - hell they have the salt trucks out if the temperature goes just under 32 degrees in Quebec. And now you have to have your winter tires on before December 15th or risk getting fined. No problem there as I am a great believer in winter treads after our accident in 2004 driving on all seasons - useless in snow. We fussed over Amy as usual and I had a chance to visit with Lara who is showing a tiny belly for her 5 months. We stopped off in Vermont on the way back to pick up some more parts for our radiant floor system at the Radiant Floor Company in Barton. Thanks Dave again for your help and for those who are thinking of installing radiant floors check out their web site at And now its back at the house to continue the construction - this week preparing the site for the generator and finishing the wiring, working on the propane and finish framing the last two walls. And to enjoy a beautiful display of colour in the hills! I will have some great pix of the fall foliage in the next post so check it out! gws

Shopping at IKEA

Amy in her bouncer

Amy and Bella

Sarah & Christina, blowing out 32 candles

Sarah, Amy and Isabelle, Casselman, Ontario

wake up Grandpa!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Our Retirement Home Part Sixteen (Fireplace and Chimney)

Last week myself and Alexandre, a local carpenter we hired on the recommendation of our friend Benoit, installed our new BIS Ultima wood burning fireplace in the living room, in the corner facing the patio doors. Marie and I chose this one as it is an energy efficient, heat circulating, close combustion fireplace - meaning over 86% efficiency. We raised it about six inches off the floor to make it a bit more accessible and built a frame which will hide the chimney around it and up to the top of the cathedral ceiling. The chimney, like the fireplace, is made in Quebec and composed of six sections of insulated stainless steel, tested to 2100 degrees F! Although this will not be our main source of heat we just couldn't built a house like ours and not have at least the ambiance of  real wood burning! Erecting the chimney was a bit of a challenge as we had to squeeze into the narrow confines of the attic, around pipes and trusses and cut the hole for the chimney to pass through. I actually got enough courage up to climb onto the roof and help Alex caulk the storm collar, bringing my camera to get some views we wouldn't normally see from the house. The weather still continues to be warm and dry, though we did have one day of very heavy winds and rain - just enough to fill up the cabin water barrels. Next is a trip back to Montreal to see the kids - Christina will be 32 on the 23rd so we are off to Casselman, Ontario for the day. Amy is growing more beautiful every day and I received even more good news recently: Lara is 5 weeks pregnant! She and Jesse are very thrilled and we all wish her much happiness and a very healthy and successful pregnancy. gws

Bats in the belfry

Venmar AVS Air Exchanger

maybe a little more to the right...

chimney and view to the east, from the roof

Alexandre risking life and limb

Another view to the east

Installing propane lines

early Friday morning, leaving the Domaine 
happy Mama Lara!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Our Retirement Home Part Fifteen (Internet and Propane)

It is with great pleasure Marie and I can now say we have INTERNET at the house! This past week we had the high speed antenna installed on the north corner of the roof sending us back in the 21st century and bringing our little place here in the mountains that much closer to the world again! No more lugging our laptops to McDonald's in Megantic just for free wifi and all the noise and disruptions one finds there. And no excuses not to reply to emails I guess and keep in touch with everyone who thought we had become hermits. How did we ever survive without it for so long? The next day Bell Gaz arrived with the 1000 ( this is not a typo) litre propane tank. It was trucked up our road, swung into place and installed on a clear piece of ground we had leveled off last week. Today the lines will be run throughout the house as well as outside on the deck to provide propane for our back up genny, stove, dryer, fireplace in the basement, bbqs, etc. I had to dig two trenchs from the tank - one to the house and one to where the back up generator will be placed sometimes next month. I have plans now to paint the tank yellow and install a fake periscope on top or paint it green to blend in with the woods....This week as well we finished installing the air exchanger, ran the ductwork and tested it. We have also hired a young carpenter, Alexandre, to help us install the fireplace and chimney next week. Up here we are constantly reminded now that the leaves are changing colour that cold nights are just around the corner!  gws

Marie ecstatic with the arrival of the internet installer

they don't call it HIGH speed internet for nothing

the propane tank arriving - between a rock and a hard place!

tank swinging into place

easy does it!
Miss Propane Tank 2012

Fill er up and don't forget to check the oil...
eye eye captain!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Visit of Lyn and Dad

This past week, while the plumber was up at the house honeycombing the walls and connecting pipes, vents and water lines, Lyn arrived with Dad from Florida. They had driven up in her Ram, spending three nights on the road, travelling north on the I-95 and then cutting over onto the SR27 near Bath, Maine to cross into Canada at Woburn, 15 minutes away from our place. We found a nice house for rent a few minutes away that was cozy and ideal for them, complete with kitchen, satellite TV, firepit in the backyard and a BBQ. The first night was chilly but it warmed up into the low 80's the rest of the time and, although it was too early to see the changing of the colours, the clear late summer air made it easy to follow the distant rolling hills into Maine. It was quiet and we had the Domaine to ourselves mostly. At this time of year wild turkeys wander through the property, roosting each night on one of my trees, perhaps enticed by the spilled food from the many bird feeders I have put up near the cabin. I had a fire every night while Dad was here and, although he never said much about that or the beauty of the place, I think he enjoyed a few moments where he would gaze off and think about his life. On Sunday I drove him and Lyn to Piopolis, the little village on Lake Megantic fifteen minutes away where he walked onto the jetty and admired the peace and tranquility of the lake. At one time there were several wharves on the lake in Piopolis, the lifeline supplying the villages around with food, clothes, medicine as well as a means of transportation for people and livestock. We didn't see any boats while we were there but according to the plaque at the waters edge between 1906 and 1930 the ferry service was provided by two steamers, the Lena and the Jubilee. We had a nice lunch at the nearby Auberge Au Soleil Levant while we were there before returning to the cabin. Unfortunately Dad had his mind set to leave Quebec after only three nights, saying he missed his home, felt he was too far from civilzation and nervous about trying to reenter the States - no words from us could convince him to stay longer, or at least visit his grandkids in Montreal and say his goodbyes - he won't be back and I guess we will have to head back south if we want to see him again any time soon. So brave Lyn relunctantly headed back to Florida, this time taking a different route to avoid the madhouse of NYC and all those other big cities along the I-95, promising to be back with Don next year sometime. Thankfully they made it home to Brooksville safely. It will be strangely quiet for a while without Rich or Lyn here but Marie and I can now carry on with the next phase of the house - having the 1000 litre propane tank installed!

wild turkeys by the shed

view of distant Kibby wind farm, Maine, from the house

enjoying Marie's stew

jetty in Piopolis

contractor installing pipe on the mezzanine

boxes of ABS

plumbing the bathroom off the kitchen
6am Monday morning

Lyn, saying farewell by the solar array, 8am, Monday morning

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Our Retirement Home Part Fourteen (Solar System)

After a few days at the duplex in Montreal seeing the kids and recharging our batteries we returned to the cabin with Richard who arrived by train from Georgetown and got ready to start the next phase of the construction - setting up the solar system! Just after we arrived back at the property Mathieu and his crew of four from WattOSoleil  in Montreal arrived and spent the next three days putting in the electrical solar system. First thing was, atop the wooden frame Marie and I had built last month, to erect an elaborate aluminum frame to hold the 16 panels. Once that was finished Richard, Mathieu and I ran the 100 feet of heavy wiring from the array up the bank and into the house through the carlon pipe we had put in place earlier. It took the next day to finish installing the panels and wire them to one another. The housing for the batteries was built, the pipe installed to vent them outside and the batteries hooked up to the inverter and array and by the time you could say 'no more electrical bills' we had power! The weather was superb and we had all the sun necessary to make electricity - and to run the system making sure all was okay. During that time Marie and I had a chance to take Richard to the bakery in the village and except for making him dig some holes, lay a trench, pile firewood and wash dishes I think he had a relaxing four days with us! Now we await the arrival of Dad and Lyn from Florida....gws

Mathieu deep in thought

The panels....

and the batteries....

Richard the supervisor watching the action from below

Mathieu and Louis with the first two panels in place

finishing the first row of eight

Richard still supervising...

view of rear of array

top row going on

rest area outside Notre Dame des Bois

Me and Rich digging a trench 

constructing the battery housing

taking a break at Mamie

Inside Mamies

I,m right here!

the finished array

view from back with wire running up to house

back of solar panel

array and house

view of solar array and wood construction

finished panels and battery housing in mechanical room

the 16 batteries