Thursday, December 29, 2011

almost Happy New Year - 2012!

Our blog has a New Year's resolution, we'd like more followers...if you read it, please become a follower!  We'd like to thank Emily for the faithful comments....and other people commenting would be very welcome as well.  On the tinfoil tiaras blog you will see Emily (daughter) looking lovely in front of our barn and with Marmalade on the bench by the side of the house. 

We had a great Christmas Eve, enjoying tortiere (a wonderful French Canadian  meat pie) and wonderfully decorated surroundings at our dear neighbours' home across the street.  Snow had steadily fallen all day, so the walk over was magical, indeed.  We shovelled the car out and enjoyed a beautiful candlelit service at our St. Luke's in Annapolis Royal.  Brian was one of the readers and did a fine job, I love singing the carols at this joyous time of year.  We came home and watched the Black Adder documentary before falling into bed.  Brian awoke me wondering if I'd heard the shouting in the night. No, I'd slept soundly.  He then wondered if I'd heard the scraping noises on the roof.  Good heavens, I thought, are the shingles blowing off...will we need a new roof on top of everything else!!!???  Well, he then surmised that I must not have heard a voice yelling "Damm it...the chimney's hot and there's a lid on it!"  A stunned moment later I cracked up...he always can tease me!

I have to admit to snuggling under the covers again, while Brian made some phone calls to England.  We finally opened lovely presents before arriving in Granville Ferry to enjoy my friend Kim's fantastic eggs benedict, a new treat for us, and the fun of checking out their daughters' new toys and goodies.  Next stop was Aunt Marg's, where there was more present opening, a fantastic turkey dinner with the best gravy I've ever had, a domino game where I got the worst score I've ever had, and all in was a marvellous Christmas!

Boxing day included a hike in the sunny snow covered woods, and a pot-luck gathering at Aunt Thelma's where her adorable great-grandbabies got cuddled and 19 family members opened even more presents! 

We were delighted to host a surprise birthday party for cousin Marcia (of de-construction fame this spring) and she was very surprised indeed.  We attended a great party, where Brian learnt the uniquely Canadian game of crokinole.

Tomorrow is chores day...there's been far too much frivolity and chocolate..time to get some work done!  I need some shelves in the kitchen for my cookbooks, the beam in the basement needs adjusting, the drip from the shower needs sorting, and there is a towering pile of paperwork to be dealt with.  New Year's plans?  None yet...but vague intentions (I find "resolutions" far too vehement and terrifying) include the annual 1. get in shape  2. produce even more art than last year  3. get this house finished so I can start up my British cream teas (yummy) business, and have a WARM studio...Brian's resolution is that he doesn't make resolutions.  A PROSPEROUS, HAPPY and HEALTHY 2012 TO YOU ALL!

Pictures follow, and remember....become a follower of our blog, puleeeeese!
I enjoyed making a mini-cupcake tree!
The river starting to freeze.

A prickly fringe of icicles.
Brian NOT impressed with a Thomas toy!

The house in the snow.

The snowy mountain.

A flock of starlings highlighted against the snow.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

One Christmas Day to go!

Ho...ho...ho....It's -6c outside, toasty inside the bed here with the thermal fleece sheets (compliments of Aunt Marg and Uncle Bill...many thanks!) and an orange and white hairy hot water bottle by the name of Marmsie.  It's snowing, and Brian is grumbling about the "bloody snowplow" as he gets ready to go shovel.  The plough roars along the road outside the house, depositing a small mountain of snow along the width of the driveways as well as clipping any mailboxes that lean into it's path.  It's just shot by and we can see the ridge of the snow left in it's wake above the fallen snow.

This is quite a contrast to last week when we trudged up the Longley Mountain Road with Uncle Nels to cut down our Christmas tree.  Very green and mushy underfoot then.  The tree is sweet, decorated with ornaments from my grandmother, mother, my childhood, some from England and some made by Em and Steph,

I picked up Em, Steph and Maher from Wolfville on Friday the 16th, where Steph had just finished her last exam.  They wedged in between groceries just purchased and a lot of suitcases.  We descended upon the warm house, where Brian and a roaring fire in the woodstove awaited us.  The open house the next day saw fifty people dropping in, and although we forgot to take pictures, a good time was had by all. 

Sunday included a church service and pot luck lunch in the church hall followed by decorating the church.  Emily, Steph and I then walked up the street to the Art Gallery where we enjoyed a closing reception for the Member's show.  Emily bought a decorated tree and purchased a photo by Lisa Proulx, a talented local photographer.  Brian and Maher skipped the reception and gleefully trotted down the street to the pub where they flirted with the waitresses, drank and ate fried cheese sticks and chicken wings.  We dragged them home and had a Zumba practice in the living room, as Emily was wanting to rehearse for the class she was giving invited friends at the Tupperville Village Hall. 

On Monday, the three ladies went shopping, leaving the men ensconsed in the warm living room with computers.  That evening we had great fun at Emily's Zumba class...she is a talented, enthusiastic instructor with great moves and music. 

Tuesday was our first Christmas.  We slept in a bit, Brian got some emergency groceries, and we opened presents.  Dinner preparations then took place, with Brian master-minding the timetable and basting.  We enjoyed a great feast, with the vegetarians having mock chicken fajitas, and the veg from the turkey meal.  A super day ending with laughter as we watched "An Idiot Abroad" that Maher had downloaded. 

Wednesday we dropped the kids off in Wolfville to go onto their father's for the rest of the holiday.  It was great to have spent time with them.  Brian and I then went to see "Sherlock Holmes 2", and went home to a quiet house!  I was impressed with Maher's delicious lentil soup, Steph's cupcake tree, and Emily's shepherd pie and dish washing skills. 

We are looking forward to more festivities today, Christmas Eve and tomorrow, Christmas Day with church services, and visits with family and friends.  We hope you have a joyous holiday.

To ensure our guest's comfort level in un-insulated bedrooms, Brian moved the basement heater to the long bedroom that Emily and Maher shared.  This involved some re-wiring, but it worked well.  Steph relied on an electric blanket. 

All the old, original windows in the house now have a layer of thick, clear plastic sheeting called vapour barrier on them to help insulate.  When there is a high wind, they suck gently in and out...showing how much draft they trap! 

Brian was on the roof of the summer porch last week, hammering and caulking in place the metal L-shaped strip that will prevent the rain/snow/bats from coming in the crack between the main house and the porch.  When the house was lifted, the builders were unable to get the summer porch to settle back properly against the main house.  Some work has been done to fill the gap, but extensive work on the roof and house sides will have to be done next year. 

We will be starting work on the house again in March 2012, with the removal of ceilings on the second floor.  This may be hazardous, as the ceiling cavities are full of mice, racoon and bat poo, not to mention the overall sad state of the ceiling!  When Brian and the electrician were in the attic, checking on wiring, Brian wondered about the large amounts of old corn husks under the floorboards.  Another wacky type of insulation?  No, the electrician explained, racoons must have wintered in the attic over the years, and the corn was their food.  I hate corn, so am grateful for truffles.  Note to self:  start fitness program on Jan. 2

Nels and Brian on the Longley Mountain Road in search of the tree.

Interesting patterns on the freezing puddles.

The men with the appointed tree.

On the way home with our prize!

A little Zumba rehearsal in the living room.

Lovely Steph making delicous salmon spread.

Sisters chatting.

Em looking lovely as Brian does her fashion photos outside in front of the barn.

I recently hosted an ArtyParty in the studio...we painted Maude Lewis cats!

My favourite Christmas treats...homemade truffles!

Marmalade on the snowy step.

Brian took this shot from the warmth of the gallery overlooking the rink where he curls.

View from the back step.

A beautiful winter sunset.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Snow, snow and more snow!

Well, whether Jenn likes it or not, I have gained temporary control of the blog and this will make two in a week!

And the news is the snow has arrived. A storm pushing up from the eastern USA has hit the cold air over Nova Scotia and hey presto, it's snowing. No different from the UK really, except that cars still move, thanks to most vehicles being fitted with snow tyres, and there are also fast moving snow ploughs. Our neighbours tell us that it has been known for the ploughs to rip through the mail boxes fitted by the road side, and by the look of one post box that's possibly happened as it is leaning at a 30 degree angle.  With all schools cancelled and no need go out there is still plenty that needs doing in the house.

So the fall (the Autumn to the rest of us) has now finished and the winter begins. But the colours were simply amazing and sadly photographs never seem to do the colours or the spectacle justice.

On the Annapolis River, the ever changing water is captured in a picture below. Its is so still that the reflected image in the water has barely a movement on it.

I have also had a great opportunity to spend an evening in the projection booth at the local cinema for their film society screenings. For those that remember way back, I was one of the projectionists for the Newham Film Society in the 1970's using 16mm equipment. On occassions I would bring the projectors home for charity screenings in our house in Wanstead. So this was a really special treat and I will be going again.

Also in the pictures are one of the new beams that was put in place last Saturday, this was quite a performance. It still needs some adjustment but as you can see there are some jacks in place for me to do that. At least the kitchen floor above is now solid, which worried many a visitor by the sound and movement of the floor. Fear not, it's been fixed!

House in  Bridgetown showing off her colours

The river after heavy rain

The 35mm cinema projectors at Kings Theatre, Annapolis Royal

Reflections on the river

Our new beam 16ft long and 8" square, spaning the two concrete walls

Our wood pile in the basement

Marmalade taking a look out the window. She hates snow

Our back door this afternoon

Brian ventures out

Jenn showing that she is ready for any weather

Our barn, taken this morning.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho, it's off to work we go!

All work and no blogging makes Jenn annoyed!  So, finally, here is a new post.  Since school started in early September, I have been working a lot doing substitute teaching and art teaching.  It's great to have the income, but blogging and what little housework I ever do has gone by the wayside.  Brian has four weeks left of his course and has been a real help during the computer classes, as some of the participants had never used a computer before and needed help getting started.  I have really enjoyed teaching two evening classes in the studio (formerly the summer kitchen) for adults and children.  I just finished a six-week series, and will do a few Christmas workshops and start up again in January.

Sadly, Jasper is gone.  We really miss him, and Marmsie demands that Brian play with her in the evening when she and Jasper used to run about and have a mad half-hour.  So, Brian ties something to the end of a length of string for Marms to chase, and runs around....not quite as quickly as Jasper could, but he does his best!

Brian has got both tennis and golf elbow from sanding and varathaning the living room floor.  I knew it must be painful when he visited the Dr.'s office, and is now going to have to go to physio.  The floor, however, looks wonderful!  The electric baseboards for downstairs go in tomorrow, and once a beam is replaced in the basement we will call a halt to major renovation projects for the winter.

Thanksgiving dinner was fantastic, with 25 family/friends in attendance.  Brian did a wonderful job cooking and carving the turkey.  We had a great feast followed by fun with games and prizes.  The last guests left after midnight.

The next social gathering will be an open house here at Christmas, when Emily, Maher and Steph will be with us.  Emily is taking a Zumba course to teach this fitness style of dance and hopes to give the female relatives a lesson over the holiday season.  She is enjoying fashion styling for photo shoots, fashion writing, and managing the Ottawa Dress for Success boutique.  Steph just turned 20, and we enjoyed a dinner and visit with her in Wolfville.  She and four friends (all four are nutrition students, so nice meals will be prepared!) have rented a small house to live in for next university year.  We were delighted to hear Andrew (also 20)hosting an on-line radio show that caters to Star Trek fans.  He and a friend may visit here on a North American tour next summer. 

Hunting season has started, so any walks up the mountain road are done early in the day, wearing an orange reflective vest.  The coyotes seem to be howling more than usual, and they are now on this side of the river and closer than before.  So Marmalade doesn't go out at night, and I tend to walk very quickly to the car if I am going out in the evening!

Frost this morning, and had to scrape the car's only a matter of a few weeks before shovels will be needed!  We already have the snow tires on the car and the wood stove works a treat so we are ready.

Brian starting to sand the floor of the living room.

Ta Daaah!  the finished floor

Making moasics in the art studio.

Brian carving the first of two 14lb turkeys for Thanksgiving.

The table set for 25 guests, our Thanksgiving Dinner on October 8th.

Sunset from our house

Our new mail box, teamed up with our neighbour's.

The colours of the North Mountain this autumn

When this woodpecker gets bored with the tree, he lands on the side of the house and pecks at that!

Friday, September 23, 2011

adieu Jasper...

Our dear Jasper, Marmalade's shy, handsome brother, was last seen on September 9 in the morning when we let both cats out.  An hour later Marmalade returned, but Jasper didn't.  We have posted notices, asked neighbour, informed no avail.  We really hope he has gone "walkabout" and returns, as he is missed a lot. 

On a happier note, the substitute teacher day bookings are steady and Brian is enjoying taking a paid course that will equip him to start the bed and breakfast business.

Marmalade has caught two bats recently while prowling around in the attics above the main house and the summer kitchen.  Thankfully, both were unharmed and we were able to catch them in a container and move them to fly away outside (where they probably promptly fly back into the attic via one of the several holes and cracks!).  That is the construction project for the close those access areas and put up a bat house along the eaves on the outside of the house.  They are amazing mammals, and the ticking noise an angry bat makes is very interesting to hear.

Brian has uncovered several beams and boards that have Roman numerals and symbols incised in them by the builders in 1760 when they put the house up, so I have attached a few photos of those.

The living room has now been completely gyprocked, and by doing research on the net and watching a few YouTube videos, Brian found out about a gyprock (plasterboard) hoist that made doing the ceilings a breeze.   He rented this rig, and as you can see from the photos, the room is now looking much different than a few months ago!  We had a fierce dominoes game with Aunt Marg and cousin Marcia in the living room with a fire burning in the wood stove to celebrate the coziness of the new insulated living room with double-glazed windows (Marcia remains the undefeated champion). Floor sanding is next on the list, and we should have a living room with furniture in it by Thanksgiving. 

There are approx. 25 adults and various littles coming to the Thanksgiving dinner here at the Valley House.  We haven't had one since Dad's death in 2004, so it will be just wonderful to gather here again.

Bye for now! 

Looking for her brother


A beam with the carpenter's marks

Brian contemplating the ceiling of the living room...will the hoist work?

On goes the gyprock, tilt it so it faces the ceiling....

Crank the wheel and up it goes!

The gyprock is held in place while being attached to the underlying strapping

A happy "gyprocker"

What a great job!

Full moon in September

Annapolis Royal taken from the Granville Ferry side of the Bay of Fundy

Loved this garnet coloured dragonfly