Monday, October 29, 2012

Red Sky in the Morning...

...sailors take warning.
Sad news this morning to hear the venerable Nova Scotia-built tall ship HMS Bounty (replica, it should go without saying!) sank off the coast of Cape Hatteras during Hurricane Sandy.  Two crew are still reported missing.  One can only hope they had cold-water survival suits on, as was reported, and then pray for the best.

Having grown up on the Saint-Lawrence river, I can recall the times the Bounty came through the shipping channel, and even dropped anchor right in front of my child-hood house once.  Each time it - or any tall ship for that matter - would sail by, we'd grab our binoculars and run to the shore, waving at the crew like we were ship-wreak victims waiting for rescue.  We marveled at her size and her complex rigging.  Our imagination went rampant as we'd imagine climbing aboard. 

Alas, I digress, but the above photo genuinely was our sunrise on the morning of October 29th, the day Sandy will make landfall somewhere on the US east-coast before meeting the cold front sweeping in from the north-west.  Like with any tropical depression, we can expect high winds and rain, but I feel confident that we'll be spared the brunt over the next few days.

All told, we have had the most beautiful October I can ever remember.  Sunny skies, mild temperatures, and only a few glove-worthy mornings sum up the month.

And the colours!  I'm not the only one to remark that this fall has been particularly bright, with reds and yellows and oranges more vibrant than the norm.  Also, the fall colour season seemed to last longer, perhaps because we didn't see any large storms blow through the area - until now!

We'll see what Sandy has in store for us as the hours and days unfold.

In the interim, I leave you with a few parting shots of our local colours:
I love the contrast of the the yellowing ash leaves against the blue pine.
Frost-bitten hostas look just like seaweed, don't they?
Dark skies against drying grass.  The light is particularly beautiful and muted at this time of year.

These wild asters are still showing their colours.  They're pretty much the only thing blooming these days.

The sunlight filtering through red maples can't be captured in a photo.  It's luminous and glorious.
The sunsets this time of year never cease to amaze me.  Warm, humid evenings cast a peach-y glow across the fields.
Inside the house, it brightens the living room.
And inside the barn, shining through the wood below, it lights up the timber-frame.
I find it awesome how the light squeaks though the little cracks above.
There is so much harmony to be found in the landscape.  Only Mother Nature can put yellow and red and green together so perfectly.
These are the trees in the back yard at the office.  We're near an old growth forest on the flank of Rigaud mountain, and the trees there are just awe-inspiring.
We have had beautiful days, and the grass seems greener than ever.
And, last but not least, Capucine says hello.  Cool as a cucumber, this cat watches me mercilessly.  She's plotting something, waiting for me to turn my back as she makes off with yet another ball of yarn.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Renovation Day 1388

Yes, it has been 1388 days since we started the Knotty Pine Purge.  But who's counting?

Today started off auspiciously:
This was our sunrise this morning.  Glorious.  I never, ever tire of our views.

Today Eric installed the new culvert in the drainage ditch that divides our property in two.  With the building of Highway 30 and the drainage work that was done earlier this year, our old culvert was removed last February.  Now that the soy is cut and our field  is accessible again, the new 25 foot-long and 5' diameter pipe could be placed:
Eric still needs to place some rocks around the edges to prevent the clay from washing away, but the biggest part of the job is done.  Our two lots are now accessible again, and heavy tractors can access the back field without having to make a big detour over neighbouring properties.

Here's the back field:
If you "embiggen" the above photo, you can see the two ginormous light standards lit by the setting sun just behind the forest.  Using Google Earth's handy measuring tool, I can tell you they are just shy of one kilometre away from where I'm standing.  This is where the new Highway 30 will pass just before it goes under the Soulanges canal, and then over the mighty Saint-Lawrence linking Cedars with St-Timothée.

Walking back to the house,  I captured this shot:
The phragmite  grass is as beautiful as it is annoying.  Short of using napalm, we can't get rid of it, so we might as well sit back and enjoy it.

Here's a view of the sun setting behind the house:
All's right with my world today, how could you tell?

And if that progress wasn't enough, Eric started work on the final (well, not final, but getting there...) stage of our upstairs renovations.
The missing link is the frame around the door to the master bedroom (behind the formidable plastic zippered door).  Although the master bedroom is finished (well, again, finished but not done to our liking...), the frame around the bedroom door is proving to be quite the production for many reasons.  Part of this is our fault, and our high-falutin tastes.  At some point in time during the upstairs renovations, we decided to finish the master bedroom with a sliding glass door.  Our chosen product is made in France by Sadev, and the hardware has been sitting in a huge tube in the living room for the past 3 years.

Part of what makes this work challenging is the fact Eric is working at critical part of our house.  The unfinished wall you see in the above photo is the old exterior of the original house which has already been butchered by previous owners.  Also, the door leading to the bedroom is not a standard size, and to top things off, it's located right beside the stair and close to the chimney.  It's like a trifecta, a perfect storm of sorts, where more head-scratching, planning and procrastination are needed to fix the various issues.

Of course, the fact we're using a product like the Sadev sliding door rail compounds things even more.  By this point in my life, I don't think we're complicating things, I know we're complicating things.  But when that door is finally rolling on smooth stainless rollers, I'm convinced we will have made the right decision.  I say that with the ease of someone who hasn't had their knuckles ground off against rough-hewn wood, of course.

Eric, who over-engineers something fierce, set about putting up a frame composed of 5"x5" BC fir.  The beams need to fit squarely against the original structure of the house, which, being about 170 years old, calls for some fiddly framing work:
Here's a look behind the chimney, where we have legal clearance of just over 4" (really not obvious from that angle, but the clearance is there).  The old wall needed to be notched and carved out to fit the new beam, but thanks to our new Fein tool, even this onerous task proved do-able.

Again, we can't laud the Fein MultiMaster enough.  We actually hold it and shake our heads in dismay, wondering why we didn't buy it earlier.  We'd probably be finished our renovations by now, come to think of it...

Here's another view of the ensemble, where I'm letting it all hang out, so you can get a good impression of the hovel we somehow manage to thrive in:
Once the frame around the door is complete, we can finally finish the insulation and vapour barrier.  The white thing taking up valuable floor space is but a tiny corner of Eric's massive drafting table.  I'd love to hurl it out the window, but Eric's somewhat disturbingly attached to it.  I fully intend to offset the drafting table with my junk when the upstairs is finished.  That should serve as a warning to Eric that my three sock machines are heading upstairs, along with my sewing machine, and a table large enough to let me work comfortably.

Anyhow, we still have a way to go before finishing the upstairs, but the start is made, and Eric is back into the swing of things.

Hopefully, my next report won't be 1388 days in the making.

As Eric likes to muse, "This is not a race, it's a marathon".

Truer words have never been spoken.
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