Sunday, July 26, 2009

The House that Wilson Built

July 25, 26. On Saturday we had a slow morning, and I baked bread and butter tarts. I am getting a reputation for my butter tarts! That afternoon we were invited over to Ray and Gisele's for a drink. Ray invited Sue and Mike; they are the current owners of the log home on Airport Road that Wilson built. All parties were delighted to meet each other and talk about the house. It was very interesting to listen also to learn about the construction of this very unique building. It was truly an accomplishment that Wilson rightfully feels very proud of. We then invited them back to our place for dessert- Butter Tarts- and more conversation. Mike and Sue brought their laptop to show Wilson and Fran their pictures of the house. I looks like not alot has changed. Wilson is delighted, and something tells me that they will become friends.

Again, it was serendipitous that this meeting came together. Back from "Sloshed in the Sauna" Gisele had invited the girls over for a sauna and swim. I met Sue for the first time, and making small talk I asked her if she lived out here year round. She replied that she lived in a log home on Airport Road, and of course that caught my attention. When I pushed for details, and before she could finish her answer I said "Does it have a huge stone fireplace and cherry floors in the kitchen ?" She was kind of taken aback that a total stranger was familiar with her house!!" Then I told her that my Uncle built the house. It wasn't until the next day that I new that Wilson and Fran were coming to visit. Small World. Serendipitous. Six points of separation.

A great evening was had by all. The next morning Wilson and Fran were off to Massey to see her brother.

Wilson and Fran and the Lumberjacks!

July 23: Wilson and Fran came to visit!! They arrived on Thursday loaded with trout and other goodies. Rick and Anita joined us, and that was great for me to get caught up with them. We had a great supper that Wilson cooked. They preferred to stay in the Cottage, so the camper is still a virgin!

On Friday mid-day, Ray Lavasseur came by. Ray is a " logger" and I had contacted him earlier about taking some trees down here. So we made the arrangements and he started, with his friend, Mr Lawrence Luthanen. Boy, that was something to see, how they took down the trees quickly safely and cleanly. Ray made his fortune as a logger and running logging operations. Lawrence was a miner. Both of them shared many stories with us and they were a treat to get to know. Very interesting men. I expect them back next week to do some more.

On Friday Sean and Ken came out to visit their grandpartents and they joined us for supper. They are Rick's eldest and youngest boys. It was nice to meet them.

Toronto Timmins Express July 20 - 22

I have many bulky things in Toronto that would be better here at the Cottage, but getting them here is a challenge. Gisele, who is not afraid of big adventures, offered the use of her truck for us to make a run down and get some stuff. Early Monday morning we departed in the truck equipped with a tail gate extension so that we could load up. We stopped in Sudbury to see Mom, then sought the scenic route to Toronto. We lost count of how many dead ends we met, but on the way we went through Mctier and Coldwater. The latter is a very nice town. Then we took Hwy 27 from Barrie to Toronto. Had Pizza and took our weary bodies to bed.
Tuesday morning we found a great breakfast spot and headed out to do shopping. The biggest stop was Costco where Gisele loaded up with goodies, including shelving units for her cousin. We didn't get started to load to truck till late afternoon, and then we were further delayed with rain. But at the end of the day we had loaded the 8 ft harvest table, chop saw and stand, generator, Doug's big bucksaws, red kitchen table, and a variety of small tools that may be useful here. Oh yes, of course, and Sandpaper. All tied down like the song " A flitin" . A small glitch, the tow ball was not the right size, so we got to Canadian tire very early and they installed the correct size ball for us. So we were off!! We traveled at a moderate speed, and found that the trailer pulled very well. However the trailer is small and cannot be seen behind the vehicle, so we had to spend some time finding a way to attach a flag. We "shopped" along Hwy 27 and bought Salami and other goodies at the 27 Country Market, and some curiosities at the Flea Market " Barn" at Cookstown.
We were in Sudbury by 5 pm, stopped for supper in Cartier, were we found a great restaurant. But is was quite late and we did not get home till almost 11 pm. Glad we got home safely. I was baffed and stayed up until 2 pm getting unpacked. I was excited because Uncle Wilson and Fran were coming tomorrow!!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sloshed in the Sauna.

Saturday July 18:
I promised myself an " inside" day to get started on Mom's manuscript. But mid morning Gisele came by and invited me for a Girls Sauna Day and supper. - now that's a great idea!! I rushed and baked bread for supper and made butter tarts, and by 1 pm the girls were in the 150 degree sauna and going in and out for swims. It took some getting used to get into the cold water, but I had a great swim or two. ?? It was great. I think the wine and the heat got to me, because I needed a lay down!! Had a nap for a bit, and then got up to help with supper. Felt much better. I really had a nice time. I don't think I was bad. I met Gisele's neighbours and found out that they now live in the log house in Timmins on Airport road that Uncle Wilson built!! Small world. A great recreational day!


Friday July 17.
Lenny arrived as scheduled and he accomplished a fair bit. I made a long list and he managed to get through most of it and finished a big job that was not on the list. We cleared the area for the future woodshed, moved some things around and dug a big hole behind the camper and finished the " leech pit" for the grey water . That was very heavy work. The hole was 3 ft deep and about 3 feet wide. Gisele came by to give direction and help gather the stones needed. Lenny is anxious to come back to do more so I will plan to have him back to help with the woodshed when he can work under the supervision of someone more qualified than me.
July 15, -16 2009. Weather was off and on for Wednesday , but I managed to get the woodchipper going for a couple of hours to do some of the brush, but now I think that bringing it to the dump is the easiest way. That's what Dad used to do, and I guess that was the best way. I was able to get into the garden area to bring that meadow under control with the big weed wacker. I called Job Connect to see about getting some general labour, and a young man named Lenny called me right away. He was very anxious for some work so we agreed that he should come out to give a hand on Friday. I was planning to pick up the materials to build a woodshed so I drew a rough plan to figure out the materials. However Stephen dropped by in the afternoon and shook his head. Not a good plan. I scrapped that idea. The good news is that Stephen may be able to take on the electrical job to run the 30 amp service to the trailer.
Gisele and I were in town running errands all day Thursday. I picked up the valve to put in an additional shut off at the lake.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Evil Gasoline Engines

July 14, 2009
My relationship with small gasoline engines has never been an easy one. I think I inherited a bad gene from my father. My memory of Dad with gas engines- snow blowers, ski doos, outboard motors, and earlier cars- always included wrenches and bad language. Clearing the driveway involved cussing at the big machine to get it to start, and then half way through something would need adjustment, and out came the wrenches. When I was very young, about 3 I think , we were out in a boat, and in his effort to pull start the outboard motor, his fist whacked me in the head. Maybe that's were the curse got passed to me! Now unlike Dad, who had knowledge of the internal workings of these evil machines, and could do something about it, I am just simply left abandoned and hopeless, and not knowing what wrench to use, or for what.

Doug, of course, new everything about these contraptions. After all they were "tools" and Dougie loved tools. I guess building a race car for Mosport gave him the edge.
I, however maintain that gasoline engines should be illegal.

Now, the aforementioned wood chipper did not have to go into town for medical treatment, thank goodness, but was brought to a start by Ray, who removed the spark plug and liquored it up with gasoline. But that trick didn't work for me the next day. However Gisele came later today and taught me how to coax and cajole it into starting. I have found that cheering it on like a race horse was quite effective.

This winter I think I will take a course in small engine maintenance and repair, but hope against hope that cordless or solar powered tools will be developed very soon.

I did not get all the tree debris cleared today. Far from it. But I moved the pile out of the way so I could get the garden area mowed. That was a bit of progress. Next I guess I should challenge the gas hand held weed eater. Oh joy.

Tomorrow the weather is supposed to include showers, but I will try to get down to the dock shortly after sunrise if it is not raining then.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Problems and Solutions

July 11, 2009
Today was a bit frustrating because of a few unsolved problems. I still cannot get the chipper shredder going. Bob came over to try and he suggested that he could bring it to Canadian Tire on Monday. I think that is a good idea. I will ask if they can put an electric start on it.

Then I was thinking of burning the brush, but couldn't make the tap go down by the firepit. But I did manage to fill the tanks at the top of the hill and the lines are full. And I put on the chest waders and moved the intake deeper out in the lake. The water is quite low and I didn't want the intake "coming up for air".
I did some more mowing with the mowing machine. But I can't get to the garden because or the tree debris. The place is not very neat at the moment. I marked a number of trees for Mr. Lavasseur to take down.

And then the fridge in the camper stopped working, but Gisele came over and helped me solve that. And the scanner, I need the scanner for Mom's manuscript. I have spent hours and hours installing and uninstalling , and finally found a convoluted way to make it go.

And the dehumidifier is now working in the basement.
So all in all the day ended okay with a number of issues re solved. I think I should have a drink and watch the news.

Saffron Robe?

July 10, 2009 The camper is in place with no problems, my Internet is working, the computer is set up and working, ( except the scanner ) and other things seem to be going as well. No major problems or issues so I am feeling quite contented. Working on making things in better order. I have not been able to start the chipper shredder so alot of tree debris remains.

The camper can make use of many of the duplication items that have been crammed into the Cottage and this has relieved a bit of the congestion in here.

Ever since 2004 when Mom and Dad moved to Spruce Hill Lodge my life has been a continuum of moving and handling stuff. We moved stuff from Middleton to the Cottage, then when the house sold we had to move more stuff from Middleton to the Cottage. Then Mom left Spruce Hill Lodge and we had to move that stuff here too. Even after begging family to take stuff and donating much to charities we are still overloaded with furniture, kitchen ware, linens and tools. And in Toronto, I had sold my house and moved to a 2 bedroom apartment, more stuff. Then I moved from the apartment to Doug's house. I am so tired of dealing with stuff ! I'm going to become a Buddhist monk! Can you see me bald and in a saffron robe?

The day ended well. Gisele and Ray came over for pot roast and we had a nice time. They always have good ideas.

The Camper Arrives- July 6 2009

Up early to make breakfast for Gisele and I and to get ready for the camper arrival. The truck arrived on schedule at 8:30 and John defied the laws of physics to get it into place!! The Nighthawk people said that John was amazing and they were right. He jacknifed it into place, then they jacked it up to make everything level and got all systems going. Gisele and I spent the rest of the morning getting supplies into it. By noon we were baffed, but it looked like all systems go!.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Having a Blast!

When I arrived there was still a bit of work to do on the trailer site. A cast iron bathtub needed to be moved and a boulder needed to be shoved out of the way. Stephen agreed to take the bathtub, but when he did not come as scheduled, Gisele said she could move it with the backhoe. So we used long pry bars and gently rolled it into the big bucket of the back hoe. Piece of cake!

Then we noticed a wooden box about 2 ft by 1 ft by 6 inches. Wow, maybe Dad has left me some Gold!! We shook it. No, not heavy enough for gold! The box was nailed shut. So we got a hammer and banged it and pryed it, and with great difficulty we wrenched it open. And what did we find? .. Not money..... not gold... But Dynamite!! OHMYGOD!! Now what! Also, under where the tub was was an old tobacco container marked " Explosives" and another plastic bag that we decided we should not even investigate.

Gisele had heard cautions in the news lately about old explosives and suggested that we call the police. Now. So we did. The police advised us to not touch it, as old explosives become unstable. Within an hour 2 constables were on the scene, they cordoned off the area with Crime Scene tape. We waited for another hour for the bomb specialist to come in his "forensic investigation " van. This officer determined that he could safely remove the explosives without calling the bomb squad from North Bay.

Wow. Pretty scary. First, when the area was being cleared maybe the tub could have been " pushed out of the way," and this may have caused an explosion. Also, had Stephen come as planned, he was going to put a chain around it and drag it out of there!! We have to thank our lucky stars that events unfolded as they did. The Dynamite was removed safely and we can now laugh about it. Ha Ha. ......

Then Gisele used the backhoe to move the boulder. And guess what? boulders are bigger than they look. It took some doing but all got done just fine.

Enough excitement for one day. Need to be up early tomorrow for the camper delivery.

Tomatoes and Milk

One day Gisele and I went into town to run a few errands, get groceries ( tomatoes and milk) etc. We got alot done, including seeing her father in law, making a drop at St. Vincent de Paul, and.. oh yes, and buying a camper trailer!
It started with me musing about a bunkie as Doug and I had talked about this for a couple of years because the sleeping capacity of the cottage is quite limited. In prior years we had looked at campers and found them to be very scarce. And now I would very much like to invite family and friends to keep me company. Well on this day we dropped into Nighthawk Trailer Sales and found a 26 ft fifth wheel that sleeps 8! Fortunately Gisele and Ray are very experienced camper trailer people and know everything about these things. Also Gisele is a pretty shrewd negotiator. So after a little humming and hawing, I did it!! Ray checked it to see that is was sound & it was judged to be in very good condition and Gisele negotiated a better price. So the deal was done, on the spot! Omygod!! Now what! Well first I had to put the tomatoes and milk in the fridge.

We determined that the best place for the camper would be where the woodshed was. Now moving 30 years of wood seemed like a daunting chore, but Gisele was unphased by the enormity or the task and was ready to get at it ! So she dragged me whining and complaining, and over the next 2 days we got most of it done. We started off stacking it neatly in the parking area, and it gradually turned into "pitching" it. I must thank her and Sue for finishing it off. Also Gisele organized for a tree to be removed and a backhoe to come in and remove the skeleton of the woodshed. At the same time, the driver from Nighthawk came to inspect the site to see if this delivery was possible. So the project had the all clear, and ready for delivery early in July.

May 22-28 2009

Shawn and I travelled to Kirkland Lake with the idea that he would pick up his Jeep from Patti's, come to the Cottage to help with the water etc and then drive the Jeep back to Toronto. Alas, the Jeep would not cooperate. Shawn borrowed Patti's Yukon, came to the Cottage got the water going and had to resort to taking the bus back to Toronto!! By the time I got to Timmins it was all set. That was much to much trouble. Thank you Shawn!

Being here at the Cottage was quite difficult with Doug's absence. He seemed to "not" be everwhere. Over the last four years the cottage had become our spot together, and he was my partner for work and play and to do everything. However one thing we had done together was make some friends, and I found out that our friends were there for me and helped me through and we shared a few tears and some laughs.

Sue invited me to the spring "Progressive Dinner" , a social event where participants travel between several "host" houses to wine and dine. At first I didn't feel up to it, but then, with some encouragement I decided to go. It was very nice, and I had a chance to meet many people and I actually had a very good time. I will look forward to seeing these folks again.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


July 7, 2009

A little bit of background on my visit to the Cottage for 2009.
As my friends know, my dear husband Doug died on March 30, 2009. I have included a summer at the Cottage in my grieving and healing plan. It is hard to be here in some ways, because the cottage was a big part of our life together since my father's passing. Doug was very intregal in keeping Mom and Dad's dream cabin alive and in repair. In Toronto Doug and I maintained separate residences, so the cottage became "our" place. I miss Doug a great deal in this environment. Yet this is a place of peace, solitude and heritage and being here will help me to clear my heart and perspective.

So why the blog?
I am also working on a manuscript that was written by my mother. Mom maintaned a diary of the day to day effort that was required to build this place over 30 years. Through this diary I have learned many things about the cottage, but also about my Mom. She could string a pretty good tale!! She had only grade 8 education, but she wrote with vigor and humour, and without gramatical or spelling error!! So maybe I can try too. I will spare the world my deteriorated handwriting and embrace the new world technology. I just learned how to set up a blog 10 minutes ago.

I hope you will watch for the posts. Lots of love Sharon.