Monday, December 18, 2017

June, 2017: D.O.U.S. = Doors of Unusual Size

One huge thing (literally huge) got taken care of this summer with little or no least not by Joie or Marilyn. The original two-car garage door was literally falling down, a chunk of old wood at a time, and had wide enough space between it and the frame to allow the outdoor weather and sizable animals to wander in without challenge. The track was badly rusted and the coils were so worn, the screeching and grinding during operation was enough to wake up the household.

Lacking a full frontal photo of the dilapidated garage door, the original dilapidated fence next to it exemplifies its condition.

The only effort required on Marilyn's and Joie's parts was a phone call to Devine Doors and a leisurely drive to view their work and samples of style and color choices.  Within two weeks of choosing the options, the Devine team came out, removed (and hauled away) the old door and accompanying parts and installed the new door with all new mechanisms. The remote-controlled operation is now very quiet and completely sealed on all sides--much to the dismay of the local wildlife.

A bonus is that the color turned out to be a near perfect match to the new fence Joie & Marilyn built last summer.

Of course, next to the new door, the deteriorating wood siding looks even worse than it had before, but that won't be the case for much longer. 

By the way, M & J are now leaning toward a more traditional white siding, with a charcoal front door and mixed gray-toned roof, but with a bright color for the shutters. Any thoughts?

Sunday, December 17, 2017

August-November, 2017: Finally! An easy improvement!

With the kitchen being totally renovated and expanded, the living area of the great room needed a whole new look as well. A fresh coat of baby blue paint on the walls with bright white trim and the gray plank flooring started the project off. Next came a comfy new sofa with matching love seat and contemporary tables and lamps. A large area rug in the same tones as the new bedroom carpeting made this the perfect area for studying or group discussions.

Lightweight white drapes with a design of silver branches let in filtered sunlight when closed and frame the new picture window when open.

You never know what animal or bird will appear right outside to offer a distraction.


As always, Marilyn and Joie want to share a "before" picture...

One living room item could not be improved with a few hours of on-line shopping. It required some "tedious" painting for Marilyn but it was worth the time. After move-in, the fireplace in the apartment had been cleaned up, but with everything around it being updated and converted to a palette of black, white and grays, the red-orange bricks, brown wood frame and blue and gold carpet remnant stood a bad way. And yes, that is a hamster cage in the opening.

Marilyn cleaned up the black slate hearth, chose a charcoal paint for the brick and replaced the old carpet remnant with a properly shaped piece from the new carpet.

Joie picked out a lovely mirror with a mosaic glass frame of black and silver, and the fireplace suddenly became the focal point for the entire apartment.

All that's left is to pick out some brightly colored wall decor but since the gals haven't found the perfect pieces yet, they wanted to share what they had so far.

Lots more renovation work is on the list for the exterior structure and upstairs interior but, once again, winter has put a hold on all of that.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

October 27, 2017:  Fall, 2017, Part 2 -  Just when most of the leaves have fallen, another annual event takes place at Chateau de Joie that is nearly as entertaining as Mother Nature's color splashing. We're referring to the clearing of the back acreage. The pic at right gives an idea of how high the vegetation grows in one year.

Big thanks to Cody, from New England Greenscape, for putting in a long day behind the wheel of the bobcat and the photos show what a great job he did for the Campbell gals!

First, a couple more before...

And now the after...

 With all the larger animals' hiding places mowed down, Marilyn and Sweetie took a looooong walk around the property. The photo below was taken from the eastern border, far, far away from the house.

A closer inspection of the "pond" was now possible and, although the UMass geese drop in for a dip now and then,  it's obvious some dredging will have to take place before it can be considered an asset to the property.

Joie's response: Meanwhile, we should build a bridge over the troubled water.

And on that musical note, we promise more interior renovation pics next week.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

October 28, 2017:     10,000 hits and climbing!!!  
The Reno Queens in full battle gear

THANK YOU to all our friends for checking out our blog posts over the past three years. We realize that number might not seem impressive to everyone, but we're very excited about it and are really pleased to see that you're enjoying our progress reports.

To commemorate this milepost, Joie and Marilyn decided to re-share a handful of their favorite fun posts & pics from their first year of life in the country, starting with...
-- Their favorite joint selfie

Marilyn's favorite photo of Joie -

         Moving from South Florida to Western Massachusetts only posed a few Joie learning how NOT to move a Tempurpedic mattress.

Favorite feminist dialogue -

JULY 21, 2014:

After 3 weeks of gathering analyses and cost estimates from the sub-contractors who weren't too busy to return our calls, it was painfully clear that, unless we suddenly won the lottery, we would have to do some of the physical work, such as demolition, ourselves...and that would require some serious tool purchases...

M: How much do you think a sledgehammer costs?
J: I don't know...thirty bucks?
M: Hmmm.....
J: Why do you ask?
M: We should own one.
J: You're right...I think every woman should own a sledgehammer.
M: Do we own a shovel?
J: I don't think so.
M: We should buy one.
J: So what you're saying is.......every woman should own a sledgehammer and a shovel...?

M: Exactly.

Most bizarre episode post -

AUGUST 31, 2014:

Marilyn finally worked on this blog today while Joie read and wrote and prepared for class despite the new tenants moving in today. That would have been a little chaotic under any circumstances, but one of the helpers wondered what would happen if he pulled on the bar on the red metal box on the wall...the one that said "FIRE, TO SOUND ALARM PULL DOWN".
We should explain that the walk-out basement of this house was a daycare center for 19 years and thus there were all sorts of fire safety requirements, but we thought everything had been disconnected (another job to be added to the electrician's list).

Alas, the excruciatingly loud alarm went off. The dogs were terrified. Everyone wondered what could be done to stop the gawdawful noise. Fortunately, Joie is really, really smart and she ran to the circuit box and cut the power. Then she had to call the fire department just in case the thing was still connected to them...her call was answered by a recorded voice mail. Then she called the police to make sure no one was on their way here but it took a long time for them to answer because, after all, this is move-in weekend for 25,000 students so the officials all have their hands full without our adding to it.

J to M: It's all going to be okay. Just stay in your room, watch a movie and finish our blog.
M: I can do that.

Favorite "creative solutions to unfamiliar problems" series -

SEPTEMBER 30, 2014

Alex Trebek: Squirrels.

M: Ooh, ooh, what is the solution to getting rid of the leaves in unreachable gutters?
Seriously, it came to me in a flash of inspiration this morning as I was sipping coffee and absently staring at the colorful leaves falling like raindrops outside our wall of glass. Suddenly a squirrel raced full-speed through a gutter packed with leaves, clearing them out of his way as efficiently as a blower. Now, considering a squirrel's brain is only about the size of a pea, I doubt if I could train a squad of the fluffy-tailed rats in time to be of help this season. BUT I believe, if I start collecting a squad of them at the first signs of spring, I should have them under my control by next fall and clogged gutters will no longer be a problem. Electrodes may or may not be part of my plan.
J: That is brilliant! We could turn it into a really lucrative business in this area. But just think, if you could train the squirrels to run through gutters on command, maybe we could also train some of the mice and snakes and the woodchuck, maybe the deer family...hey, we could have our own circus...
M: Hmmmmm, maybe we both need some time away from paint fumes.

OCTOBER 4, 2014: 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.

OCTOBER 24, 2014: 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 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...

Joie's favorite pic of Marilyn -

The last pole dance
Their favorite pic of one of their most used tools -

Testing the maneuverability of the heavy-duty Gorilla Cart
Their favorite post about dealing with cold weather emergencies -

JANUARY 23, 2015:

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! At least we have high hopes that it will be a happy one. Honestly, we're not sure what to think of this year yet. There have already been several dramas, traumas and giggles to keep us on our toes.

Starting on the evening of January 5th, in near-zero weather, the heater motor died in our house. EEK! No problem for the Campbell gals tho. We just moved a mattress into the living room and camped in front of a cozy fire until morning. The heating company arrived shortly after dawn, replaced the motor and we had heat again. YAY! But the 50-year old system is getting terribly close to retirement. UH-OH!

We got some snow at the beginning of the month, but mostly we've been getting rain, lots and lots of rain, rain that freezes during the night when the temperatures drop into the single or minus digits, forming massive, thick ice floes everywhere. The main streets in our area are quickly cleared; our long driveway isn't so easy. We hacked and shoveled and salted for hours just to make a path from the door and a de-iced area for the dogs to do their business. Milkdud, the sleeper in the green sweater above, isn't particular, he'll pretty much go anywhere. Sweetie, the one in the red sweater, has decided she will wait until we create more suitable accommodations befitting her princess status.

After several weeks of that icy rain, we weren't sure what was happening when we heard a deluge of pouring water coming from the garage. It turned out there's a pipe that runs from an outside faucet, up into the attic over the garage, then down again. Why it's in the attic we have no idea, but it froze and broke, and all the water in Western Massachusetts seemed to be pouring out of light sockets and cracks in the ceiling, down onto our 2 cars. Once again, Joie's large brain leapt to a solution and she ran into the basement to shut off the main water valve. Crisis averted. Sort of.

No plumber could come out until morning, which meant we and our 3 roommates downstairs would have no water to flush toilets. Again, no problem. We've survived 4 hurricanes with no water. So we gathered up buckets, filled them with snow and put them in each bathroom...for emergency flushing purposes. And we had bottled water for drinking and teeth-brushing.

Now here's a shout-out to Facebook. Joie posted our dilemma and minutes later she got a call from the wonderful builder-turned-friend, Ryan Regan-Ladd. He told her there should be a shut-off for that one line and to call the previous owner for its location. Fortunately the previous owner only moved next door and was home that night. Braving a steep hill of ice between our houses, he came to our rescue without hesitation, shut off the appropriate valve, restored the house main water line and guided us through the maze of more plumbing-related things that need to be done because we live in snow country.

Despite the challenging nature of the new year's onset, we are delighted to announce that, as of the 20th, Joie is now in her second term at UMass Amherst and loving it! Great professors, great classes, great dining facility, garage parking and a campus office where she's already hung a Wonder Woman poster. 
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We hope you enjoyed our mini-trip down blog memory lane and continue to check in on our renovation progress as we add to our education.