Tuesday, August 18, 2020

 July 4, 2020: A plethora of celebrations packed into one barbecue -

Brittany completed her Master's degree and graduated in May, but because of the plague, the university did not conduct the usual pomp & circumstance, so Chateau de Joie's porch had to suffice (with social distancing of course).





Then Chris, James, Brittany, and Sam completely surprised Joie & Marilyn with a SECOND cake and party hats to celebrate their July birthdays.

    The celebration ended with fireworks, as every Independence Day picnic should, but the minimal display was barely enough to draw an ooh or an aah so here's one of Jake Campbell's gorgeous photos from an earlier 4th -

Sunday, July 12, 2020

December 2, 2019 - First Big Snow!

Due to extenuating circumstances - like a global pandemic, racial injustices, and Joie being critically ill - these videos are being posted on July 12, 2020. When the winter wonderland appeared in the back yard, the Chateau de Joie housemates (all except James who was away for the holidays) just wanted to enjoy some childish fun in a beautiful, deep snowfall. Little did we know that in the coming months, our world was about to be turned upside down.

7 months later, our country is still in a state of upheaval with daily shocks to our lives and belief systems, but at least Joie is finally on the mend. Thus the Campbell gals wanted to try to stir up a few memories of happier days.

Brittany accepted the challenge of filming with her cell phone, while Joie, Marilyn & Chris set the stage.

Jo's Ride
Chris' Ride

Marilyn's Ride

Britt's Ride

Fingers & toes are all crossed that next winter has more fun and a lot less stress!

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

March 9, 2020: Seriously...according to the calendar, it's still winter here in New England, but you would never know it by the temperature!

Feb 2015 - 4'+ of snow
A little background here -
This is not the first winter that surprised the Campbell gals. They moved to Massachusetts in June, 2014 with the resigned expectation of 4 to 5 months of gloomy, ice cold weather and tons of snow every winter. That first year supported that supposition as it was one of the area's "hardest ever" according to locals. However, it wasn't as difficult to endure as expected, so the Reno Queens' attitude toward winter lightened a bit.

And then...

February 24, 2017

February 20, 2016

No photo evidence saved, but in January 2018 the temp dropped to a shocking 15 below 0, only to rise in February to an even more surprising 74!

At the time of this post, there's been a full week of sunny skies and temperatures in the 50's with a high of 69 again on February 23rd and as illustrated by the above photo, it hit 76 today!

In February 2015, the town held its annual "Winterfest", but since then there hasn't been enough snow to do any of the usual wintry activities. Last year they changed the name to something non-weather related, this year the event was cancelled, and it was completely deleted from next year's calendar.

Although Joie, Marilyn, and their housemates are all appreciating what appears to be a new annual respite (especially the lack of snow that needs to be shoveled daily), they are aware that it could be an indication of something more important than their personal comfort.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Lady Willow & Labyrinth at Center Stage
 "C"FALL 2019Colorful Trees, Clearing Fields, Carving Pumpkins, and...Croquet?

First things first... Mother Nature clearly made up for last year's rained-out autumn display in Chateau de Joie's back yard.

Red Maple

Northwestern view

Wide view with glorious sunset

Second thing that had not happened last year due to excessive rain was brush-hog clearing of the back field. (Southwestern view, almost finished)

The machine did most of the work but Joie and Lisa cleared out a section the hog couldn't get to.

Housemate James hosted an Everything Fall evening at Chateau de Joie that included an abundance of comfort food (see previous post), a spooky movie and carving pumpkins. Really great fun for all!

Croquet may not have anything to do with Fall, but Mama Marilyn insisted everyone at Chateau de Joie break in her new yard game before snow made it impossible, so, of course everyone complied.
To give you an idea of how large a regulation-size croquet field is, the red dot is MM setting the posts and wickets.The field covered the entire lower lawn from the labyrinth left. The distance, combined with high grass made for a very long, very slow game for the bunch of amateurs. 

L-R: Brittany, Sam, Lisa, Katherine,Chris, James, Marilyn

The mallet was more than a bit short for James

Joie doing her best to keep up

Brittany & Sam (the two with arms raised victoriously) were the only ones who had experience with the game so it was no surprise when their team won by finishing the course first. And thank heavens they did, or the rest of the gang would probably still be playing!

They'll try it again in the spring...after a very low mow and a much smaller layout.

But as of today, we have to bid adieu to all the pretty leaves and start prepping for winter...because, according to the weatherpeople, snow is due this week!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

October 27, 2019: 7 Scary Pumpkins and 1 Black Cat--it must be time for Halloween!

Housemate James hosted a seasonal party at Chateau de Joie that starred 7 plump pumpkins (with the help of Chris and his blue chariot) and an array of delicious comfort foods like James' authentic-from-Halifax poutine, a crock-pot full of beef stew made by Casey, an apple pie baked by Brittany from apples she hand-picked and a chicken pot pie purchased at Costco by Joie & picked up by Lisa. Marilyn and Chris brought cheer-inducing beverages and healthy appetites. Unfortunately, no one wanted to wait for pics to be taken before the feast began!
 The after-dinner activities included a background movie with witches and magic ("Stardust") while everyone carved a face on the pumpkin of their choice. These absolutely had to be digitally immortalized.

And finally, about that black cat. Meet Monkey, one of Lisa's two cats, who prefers to watch his humans from above their heads. He sure looks like a Halloween cat to us!

Monday, June 24, 2019

June 23, 2019 - Holy cows! In the midst of one of their projects, Marilyn & Joie caught sight of a very large black animal ambling along a path in the back yard. "Bear!" Marilyn shouted, with a mix of concern & pleasure that they were finally getting to see one of the animal visitors all the other neighbors had sighted. But then more big creatures (of varying shades of black and brown) came out of the woods.

"No, they're COWS!" Joie retorted in a gleeful tone and counted 7 of them, now contentedly grazing in The Viewing Circle. For those of you who don't know Joie, as much as she loathes snakes and large birds, she adores cows.

While Marilyn grabbed the camera, Joie found the number to the police department...not to report trespassers but to ask for help herding them away from the highway beyond the house.
Note: Joie actually told the dispatcher, "We got a coupla big ol' heifers in our back yard!" Apparently, spending all those years in Texas left its mark on her in more ways than one.

A very nice police officer arrived quickly, followed a bit later by the rather petite wife of the owner of the cows. It turned out that a tree had fallen on their fence about a mile or so north of Chateau de Joie and their small herd had taken the opportunity to check out whether the grass really was greener on the other side.

Unfortunately (because Marilyn & Joie really wanted to see the little woman handling the huge cows with nothing but a bucket of feed), the critters had already turned back into the woods from whence they came. Since they haven't returned, the gals felt sure the behemoth leader of the pack led them home without any human assistance.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

1960s paneling & built-ins
February-March, 2019: Abracadabra! The Reno Queens turn a cramped office/storage room into a bedroom!
   In case you're wondering why on earth they would tackle such a big project in the middle of a school term -- Joie's good friend from Texas State years landed a great job at the university and quickly needed a place to live...in 5 WEEKS! So the gals leapt into action to create some space upstairs for Lisa and her two cats, Sammy & Monkey.
   Unfortunately, saying a magic word wasn't enough to make it happen, but here's the pictorial account of how it did. Week 1 whizzed by as the room was gutted down to the studs.

Joie+crowbar= breaking bad

Built-in # 1 eliminated

1/4 way there
Built-in # 2

Housemate Brittany sledge-hammering

#2 gone - useful closet coming

+ behind door cubby for books

Whole room down to studs
New electrical work roughed in
Week 2 started with Bussiere electricians Serge & Vitale(2) doing the rough electrical work (the Reno Queens don't do electric ...yet). No power in the room for the next several steps--but extension cords made it possible to keep working after the sun set (which was around 4 pm when this project started).

Marilyn got the plumbing pipes wrapped in sound-reducing insulation, then Joie installed sound-proof board on that entire wall before drywall was hung over all of it. (Definitely helped with sounds of rushing water & toilets flushing.)
Marilyn installing soundproofing insulation
Wall of plumbing needed extra soundproofing

Ex-housemate Katherine cutting foam board

Exterior walls required rigid foam board insulation


Mixed insulation completed

Katherine installing

Dust was blown up the chimney!
Weeks 3 and 4 were packed with hanging drywall on all the walls and the ceiling. Our contractor/master builder/mentor/friend Ryan Regan-Ladd regularly stepped in to give guidance and suggestions, and to check on our demo and insulation progress, but when it came to hanging the drywall, especially on the ceiling, his expertise, special equipment (like the giant air purifier shown here), and hands-on help was needed and appreciated.
Ryan, Joie & mechanical helper

Drywalling a ceiling isn't for weaklings!

Joie just can't get enough learnin'

Perfectly smooth!

Creating the closet took a bit of creativity but finishing the drywall in the tight space was hardly a challenge for Joie after she had drywalled the closets in the downstairs suite (see "Closets, Closets, Closets" 4/18/18 post ).
Joie with her mudding hawk
M sawing out old frame

Joie taping corner of closet

Beautiful teamwork
Marilyn painting
With only 1 week to go, Serge returned to install modern lighting cans and switches, as well as more wall outlets, in record time. Then Marilyn and Joie tag-teamed to get the walls and ceiling painted.

Deadline-day arrived and Joie and Marilyn were still racing against the clock to complete the final tasks on the to-do list. In fact, they had just begun installing the carpet pad when Lisa pulled in the driveway. Not surprisingly, Chateau de Joie's newest housemate jumped right in to help finish the job...proving just what a good friend she is!

Baseboards and door & window trim are still to be done but here are some almost-final pics of the conversion...


A shelved nook behind the door and a wide bay window ledge make perfect spots for a few favorite things.
Full length mirror on door

View thru bay window

Rods, shelves and a chest of drawers turned office built-in #2 (see above before-pic) into a bedroom closet with a perfect space for the television opposite the bed.

Until doors arrive, a curtain suffices nicely.

And THAT is how magic actually happens!