Tuesday, October 28, 2014

October 27: SNOW! No it's not snowing yet, but there is a report that we might see some as early as this weekend. After repeatedly being told not to wait until the last minute to buy the necessities, we headed back to Home Depot.

As luck would have it, one of our superhero tenants, Ben, (vogue-ing by the goods at our request), was available to guide us through the whole store & make sure we had the right shovels for the driveway and shovels to keep in the car and scrapers and boot pans and door mats and fire extinguishers and smoke alarms...

Betcha didn't know Home Depot has personal shoppers! Or maybe it's just the one in Hadley. Or the inordinate amount of time we have spent in that store since we arrived in Massachusetts.

We also ran into our other superhero tenant, Rob, AND our fave carpenter guy, Ryan, who took the time to give us a lesson in generators. And then along came Joie's "bourbon guy", Eric, from the Four Seasons liquor store...another place that holds the necessities of getting through the winter months!

By the way, have we mentioned that we're living in a really, REALLY small town?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

October 24: ANGRY SQUIRRELS! - The plan to lure the squirrel population into de-leafing our gutters may have backfired. Seeding the gutters with acorns seemed so logical, and it was starting to work, but when the lawn mowing squadron vacuumed up the leaves on the ground, they sucked up all the fallen acorns as well. And what we have now is an all-out squirrel revolution.

They've surrounded the house, scampering constantly across the roof and railings. They've even taken to running back and forth across the porch screens, hanging on with their tiny sharp claws. They are refusing to leave until we supply more nuts.


But today they made a fatal mistake...one of them tried to recruit Milkdud and Sweetie to join their forces.

What it couldn't possibly understand was the intense loyalty of our puppies. Nor could it know that they had years of experience as squirrel hunters in Florida and Texas. A few ferocious warnings from them and the rebellious little rodent ran for the woods. The puppies have been waiting at the window ever since...preparing for its return...

Friday, October 24, 2014

October 23: PROGRESS! Just when we were getting mired down by thoughts of winter and how much reno work is going to have to be put off until next summer (for a number of reasons), our spirits were given a big boost.

First: Master Electrician Marc Bussiere sent his two lovely Russian assistants, Vitale & Serge, to the house yesterday to finish up several items. We're happy about all the work they did but the one we're showing off today involved their installing OUTLETS in the kitchen appliance nook. (Memory jogger - this was the corner section that had housed the 2 little, original, brown ovens that we got rid of & Marc was the one who suggested using the space as a nook for the small appliances taking up the little counter space we had.)

Then: The oh-so-wonderful Mr. Ryan Regan-Ladd, who enlarged the space and built the nook's walls, came by with his magical gift of SHELVES! (One cannot truly appreciate shelves unless there are none.)

Finally: Since Marilyn had never made removing the packing tape glue streaks from the microwave and toaster oven a priority, she now had to take care of that before placing them in the shiny new nook. In case you were wondering, the plan is to paint the nook when she refinishes all the cabinets to a pretty cottage white, but until the weather is warm enough to open windows again, that project has been... "shelved".

Other than that little bit of cleaning and future finishing, we admit this project wasn't our idea, nor did we do any of the hard work to make it happen, but after the past three months, progress of any kind is a beautiful thing!

And now we can turn some attention to the barista station we want to create on the other side of the kitchen where the old fridge used to sit. Anyone who knows the Campbell girls, know how important coffee is to our happiness.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

October 20: What's the diff? South Florida vs Western Massachusetts. With each passing day, we face more and more of the differences between the two areas. This blog was created to document our renovation progress. And we were pretty proud of what we were managing to accomplish. But in the past couple weeks, hopes of refinishing kitchen cabinets have been replaced by a to-do list titled "Winterizing"!
Winter is coming...
It started with the pool. Accustomed to Florida, we'd never heard of a back yard pool being "opened" and "closed". But as the leaves were falling into the water faster than we could skim, we at least started to understand the need for a special winter cover. So we called the only recommended pool service company around Labor Day and were more than a little stunned to be told the first appointment they had available was October 16th. Apparently, pool owners are supposed to call and schedule their openings and closings at the beginning of February! Let me repeat that -- at the beginning of  FEBRUARY! We were sternly advised to mark our calendars to that effect.

On the fun side of things we have no experience with is the way the lawn service team took care of the 12-inch deep blanket of fallen leaves. They arrived the other day with the regular squadron of riding mowers but huge vacuums were now attached. Back and forth they drove, leaving a lovely green carpet in their wake, and each time the huge canisters got full, they dumped their load into a compost area. Oh yeah, we have a compost area. Maybe by next fall someone will tell us why we have one, or what can be done with it other than providing habitat for the property's wild things.

We've had the first tank of heating oil delivered and equipment checked out, which is a YAY!, but it still needs electricity to run so we need someone to teach us how to use the fireplace (preferably without burning down the house) and maybe someone should sweep the chimney, considering the rodent problem we found when we first moved in and how many dead mice were in the oven hood exhaust pipe. But now we've been told not to expect much actual warmth from a fireplace since most of the heat goes up that chimney. So now we need to look into a generator backup. BOO! When the power goes out in Florida, we open windows or go sit under an umbrella on the beach, barbecue instead of using the stove. When the power goes out in New England, mere survival becomes the challenge. Joie is convinced we'll be able to use the experience to train for the coming zombie apocalypse.

Next on the list is the cars, although we're not sure convertibles can truly be winterized.

To prove just how busy Joie's been with school, it only just occurred to her that she needs some warmer clothing and at least one pair of boots that don't have stiletto heels. L.L.Bean paid a visit to the University with a "subtle" suggestion that she check out their local store before the snow starts falling. Additional knitted sweaters for the doggies have been requested of Aunt Barbara. Marilyn insists she needs no new warm clothes...she's planning to stay in bed under the covers until spring.

Friday, October 17, 2014

October 17:  Intruder Alert! Intruder Alert!
     That's the interpretation of Sweetie's & Milkdud's barks at sunrise this morning. Considering the fact that the particular tone of the barking suggested we had another wild animal in the back yard, like the bobcat and the coyote, we ran to the window to see what had caught their attention. To our dismay and relief, it was a runaway mylar balloon whose string had tangled on a bush way out past the fire pit where the deer family lived. We gently explained to our doggies that they were appreciated but mistaken in this case, but another gust of wind had the balloon dancing and the dogs resumed their frantic barking. Nothing would calm them down so, to keep from waking the neighbors, and before coffee could be consumed, Marilyn took them out and walked way way out to where the balloon was dancing, untangled it and popped it.
     Milkdud was very excited to be on an adventure. Sweetie kept an eye on everything at a distance then took several sniffs before deciding it was no longer a threat. Joie watched the whole thing from her balcony perch.
M: I swear, I used to have a life of my own.

Monday, October 13, 2014

October 12: Just when we thought the colorful season was all over, we woke up to see the hillside had one more spectacular show for us! The nights are getting chilly but we're very happy to still have sunshine and pleasant temps in the afternoons.
Every time we talk to someone our winterization list gets longer and longer. So far all we've managed is to learn how to turn on the heat and the dehumidifier and to get the garage emptied sufficiently so that both cars are parked inside. And, oh yeah, we've asked Joie's godmother Barbara to knit more sweaters for the doggies!

As to renovation work, Joie's schoolwork is all-consuming, as is Marilyn's writing--LOGAN, Book 5 of The Innerworld Affairs, just came out on Amazon & she's madly working on ROMAN, Book 6.

BUT progress is being made without our help, thanks to Ryan Regan-Ladd!

The new downstairs shower stall is now enclosed and the closet/storage area under the stairs has a bifold door. Marilyn promises to prime and paint next week (or maybe the week after that).

And remember the big blue bowl in the middle of the kitchen floor to keep Marilyn & Milkdud from falling into the hole that went down to the basement?  You know, the one that Joie stubbed her toes on at least once every single day since we put it there? Well, hip-hip-hooray for Ryan - he plugged up that hole AND filled in the valley where the half-wall used to be!

But that's not all...he also drywalled the entire inside and out of the recessed refrigerator nook. Marilyn is excused from painting this until the whole kitchen is ready.

Joie and Marilyn have decided that it is really, REALLY nice to have work being done that doesn't require us to lift a finger or wear a respirator or get a tetanus shot!

Finally, here's a pic just to give you a smile. Apparently the wildlife and insects  are already prepping for Halloween!

Monday, October 6, 2014

October 5: Eureka! We found the point where all the Main Streets in America begin!

Knowing the autumn leaf display was waning rapidly, and the sky was frequently looking more gray than blue, Joie and Marilyn took an hour off to drive a bit on The Mohawk Trail. As Meg Ryan's character said in French Kiss, "Beautiful, beautiful, wish you were here!" The narrow, winding, mountain road didn't allow for much picture taking but we were able to take these in what we thought was the prettiest spot of all we passed.

Ironically, we were at the Town of Orange Water Pollution Control Facility.

It was a bit farther, in the tiny town of Erving, where, as we idled for an incredibly long time at the town's only traffic light, we made our discovery about the source of Main Street, USA. Seriously, North Main, South Main, East Main, West Main...apparently this is where it all starts.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

October 4: Operation Squirrel Takeover update.
M: I have been secretly studying the critters at close range and they have revealed their weakness. They are addicted to acorns.
J: Ummm, Mom, everybody knows squirrels eat acorns.
M: Yes, but does everybody know they will do practically anything to get them?
J: (looking intrigued) I gather you've figured out how to take advantage of this weakness.
M: Of course. Because of my keen observation, I noted that their gutter running was much more prevalent on the side of the house shaded by the massive oak tree. The tree releases its acorns onto the roof, they roll down into the gutter and the squirrels can't resist going after the treasure buried beneath the leaves, thus pushing the leaves out of the gutters in the process. Sooooooo, rather than spending months training them, I just have to distribute nuts in all the gutters around the house. Now all I need is a really tall ladder...
J: I think you might be going a little nuts yourself. If we had a really tall ladder, we could clean the gutters ourselves.
M: Okay, I'll tell you what. I'll buy the ladder and you'll do the cleaning.
J: Acorn planting it is.

Speaking of wild things in our yard...early this morning, the deer family (buck, doe and fawn) pranced right past Joie's office window at the front of the house. By the time she transformed her phone into a camera however, they were already in the back yard, heading back to their home in the woods.

Then later in the day, we saw our first coyote. It appeared to be following their scent but we focused on sending it in the opposite direction and it disappeared from sight before Joie could get a pic.

October 3: Though Marilyn and Joie aren't personally doing reno work this week, Ryan Regan-Ladd stopped by and got started on finishing the fridge nook walls! Looks like we'll be back working on the kitchen soon.
September 30: Today was the first day of No-Renovation-Work Week. It has been decided that points will be divided equally between house and humans during this period. Though we won't have progress to report, we do have a few pictures to share.

Tenant/hero Rob seemed very happy with his new digs.