Thursday, November 8, 2018

November 8, 2018: Just for the record - No brush hog/field mowing this year or even a final mow of the lawn due to the fact that the entire rear of the property has standing water. Today is one of the few days we've seen sunshine since June so the Reno Queens took the opportunity to take pics. Fingers and toes are crossed that this year's soggy, dreary weather was a fluke and not a new meteorological trend!

Meanwhile, this week's mid-term election results have the Campbell gals smiling in spite of the disappointing summer and fall weather - so many encouraging firsts regarding women with a range of ethnicity as well as LGBT wins! Sending all the victors wishes for a successful future. Click the link below for the Washington Post synopsis:

 Mid-term elections results: A Night of Firsts!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Fall 2015
Fall sunset 2016
October 11, 2018: An autumn not to be remembered. Actually not much to remember about this last summer either, so this will be yet another post just for the record. The photos in this post were all taken in previous fall seasons...because this one hasn't offered a single breathtaking site. It's rained almost every day since June, often heavily for hours. The pool required regular dumping because of overflowing and a balanced chemical content couldn't be maintained because of the dirty/acid rain.

Speaking of the pool, Joie & Marilyn were given detailed instructions on how to "open" and "close" that hole in the ground (something they never heard of doing in South Florida). They are very proud to announce they accomplished both tasks on their own & can now do it for all the springs and falls in the future!

On a separate note, Joie spent a good portion of the summer doing research for her dissertation in Alabama, New Orleans and Washington, D.C. library archives, and Marilyn used the time to finish her third time-travel mystery novel, so no renovation work or property improvements took place. Marilyn did try doing yard work whenever the rain let up but that resulted in numerous bee and yellow jacket stings and poison ivy rashes, so Joie ordered her to stop fighting Mother Nature this year.
Fall 2014

Other positive notes: in the past month, we enjoyed visits from several family members and friends who were only slightly disappointed about the lack of fall colors; plus we once again have a full house of wonderful grad students in residence.

Finally, the Campbell gals apologize for the lack of reno updates over the past year, but they have big plans for next summer, so stay tuned!

Red Maple 2014
Golden Maple 2014

Sunday, July 15, 2018

How many grad students does it take to... *
June 30, 2018: Bartering is a beautiful thing! Because of such an exchange, the Reno Queens just got to take care of an item that had been on the Chateau de Joie's to-do list for 4 years without ever nearing the priority level. With the necessary material and tools in hand, and the help from an extra pair of hands (namely those of former housemate Katherine), the deteriorating metal screen on the upstairs porch was ripped down and new, nearly invisible screen was put up.
Joie impatiently waiting for her turn with the new staple gun
Although it is still only a temporary fix since the entire porch and its roof must eventually be replaced, at least the magnificent view is now less obstructed. The photos below were taken in the same amount of sunlight & nicely show how much clearer the view is through the new screen!

* Note: Apologies to Katherine, who is no longer a grad student as she graduated last spring and is well on her way to a sparkling career as a professional historian, but Mama Marilyn could not resist using the old joke in the caption.
July 15, 2018: A just for the record post...
Unlike last summer, the summer of 2018 is not one of multiple major renovation accomplishments due to several factors. The most important reason is that most of Joie's time is filled with traveling to and from  academic conferences and multiple library archives where she is conducting research for her doctoral dissertation.

Marilyn's excuse is based on the fact that Mother Nature seems to be angry with her this year. Within a ten-day period - while mowing the labyrinth, she disturbed some bumble bees, which stung her left ankle 9 times resulting in considerable pain and swelling, while trimming the bushes by the front door, she disturbed a nest of yellow jackets, which turned her upper right arm into a fat red balloon, and while weeding she failed to recognize a type of poison ivy, came in contact with it and spread it to various spots on her legs and arms before scrubbing the toxins off.

Adding to all that are temperatures rising as high as 112 degrees and the almost new air conditioning system stopped cooling on July 3rd, the day before a holiday. An emergency service call was required to discover that a rather long milk snake had somehow gotten into the outside condenser (which is up on blocks and has no ledges to  be climbed by any critter let alone a snake) and wrapped itself around the fan blades until they stopped moving and shut the system down.

And it's only mid-July.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

May 28, 2018: Ain't that suite!
In 2014 when the Campbell gals moved into Chateau de Joie, it was a mud-room/open storage area, packed with spider-web coated furnishings and stuff left behind by the previous owner. It had a non-functioning shower and massive equipment for a built-in vacuuming system from the nineteen-sixties.

But Joie knew it had the potential to become a master bedroom suite to be added to the downstairs apartment. One year and a LOT of manual labor later, her belief became reality...but the space still wasn't quite what she had envisioned.

Over the last 12 months, along with all the other downstairs renovations that have been reported in this blog, the suite got the upgrade it deserved with...

...walls, doors, new lighting, carpeting, and wood plank flooring...

...a contemporary bathroom with new granite-topped vanity, toilet, pedestal sink, medicine cabinet and mirrors...

...closets and shelving...

<This area was previously dead space at the bottom of the stairs...until Joie had another vision. Our fave contractor, Ryan Regan-Ladd, made it happen by enclosing the space and custom-building a cubby and shelf unit. (See the "Closets, closets, closets" blog for work-in-progress pics.)>

<This closet used to be mostly unusable, inaccessible, understairs space but, between Ryan and Joie, it became a very usable, enclosed closet in the walk-through closet area. (See the "Closets, closets, closets" blog for step-by-step photos, including Joie doing a tricky drywall job.)>

...a tall chest of drawers and shoe rack...

...and a full-length mirror and a hall tree by the private entry door!

Ta-dah and hip-hip-hooray - Chateau de Joie's new master suite is ready for a new housemate!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

May 3, 2018: Spring has FINALLY sprung at Chateau de Joie! It wasn't the worst winter ever, but it did last almost SEVEN months, with cold starting in October and the last snow falling April 18th.

Unfortunately, with the temperatures already hitting the 90s, it doesn't look like spring will be with us for long. But first comes the daily thunderstorms...

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

May 2, 2018: The Board of Champions is finally off the never-ending to-do list and up on the wall of the laundry/workout room! Joie & Mama Marilyn are so very proud to have shared Chateau de Joie with these stellar grad students:

Chelsea Miller, the first housemate to earn her Master's Degree in 2016

Chloe Spinks and
Katherine Fecteau earned theirs in 2017

The PhD Candidates still have a little ways to go before donning the cap and gown, but, as of today, they have all successfully defended their dissertation prospectuses like the champions they are!
Congratulations to
Chuck Weisenberger, today's honoree,
Sarah Lavallee,
Chris Fobare,
Joie Campbell, and honorary housemate
Adeline Broussan

There's no such thing as "down-time" at Chateau de Joie!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

July, 2017-Present:  Closets! Closets! Closets!

Joie and Marilyn believe one can never have too much storage space and true closets have doors. Thus came the one improvement to the downstairs apartment that involved almost every area.  See contractor Ryan-Regan Ladd being patient with Marilyn's inspection of the new louvred door for the shared bathroom.
Dead space being prepped

But before closet door installs began, Joie had an IDEA!
At the bottom of the stairs, before entering the apartment or the laundry/workout room, there was a sizable area of dead space. So she asked Ryan to convert it into additional closet space for the master suite...with her help, of course.
The first step was to remove the "back door" into the suite and the old flooring in the wasted section of the foyer.
Next came building a new frame and drywalling that on both sides.
Building new walls

Drywalling foyer side

Drywalling suite closet side

Et voila! Dead space becomes a closet with a shoe cubby
Aah, but Joie was not yet done with her closet ideas for the suite. There was poorly-used space under the stairs as well. So she put her strength and determination into tearing out all the unnecessary wood (including a built-up platform that hid things she'll never be able to unsee) until it was down to the bare bones.

Having successfully passed Ryan's Drywalling 101 class on the other side of the apartment, Joie tackled the challenging job of drywalling and soundproofing what would become the slanted ceiling of another new closet space.
FYI, the low space at the back became a usable storage space on the basement side. 
Gross to gorgeous!

While Joie's efforts were focused in the suite, Ryan installed sliding closet doors in each bedroom (there were none before) and replaced the old, solid closet door in the shared bathroom with a louvred one to provide air-flow.

Now those are finished spaces!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

April 16, 2018: Another just-for-the-record post -
Dear Mother Nature,
The first day of Spring was a month ago. There are robins all over the yard. The deer family has come out to feed. The crocuses are blooming and the daffodils and lilies are poking their fingers out of the ground.
And yet THIS is what you gave us today...

Just wanted you to know, WE ARE NOT AMUSED!!!

(After note: it snowed again on 4/18/18!)

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

May 12, 2017: GRADUATION DAY!!!
(Accidentally not posted appropriately)

This year, Joie & Marilyn are very pleased to congratulate TWO of Chateau de Joie's housemates on earning their Master's degrees at UMass Amherst! Hip-Hip-Hooray, Huge Hugs and Highest Honors to


In their more usual attire, below are K & C as they were nearing the finish line.

Katherine's family members gathered around for her big day but since Chloe's family lives in England, Marilyn and Joie happily accepted appointments as surrogates and loudly cheered as she entered the auditorium beside Katherine.

Proud & pretty Chloe in front of UMass pond
Chelsea-2016 Master's grad
Graduates Chelsea, Chloe & Katherine; PhD candidates Chuck & Joie


Last year at this time, it was housemate Chelsea's turn to sport the flat hat, but she was present to congratulate this year's graduates so, with some lucky timing, they got a great group housemates photo (only missing Sarah who was in Boston).

With so much brilliance passing through Chateau de Joie, Marilyn decided to commemorate the graduation of every housemate (actual resident and honorary) with a photo board in the laundry room. So whose picture(s) will go up next? Chuck? Sarah? Joie? The newest PhD candidate housemate, Chris, is the closest to completion but Joie, Sarah, Chuck & Adeline aren't too far behind.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Marilyn rescuing garbage can in storm
January 1, 2018:  HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
(A just-for-the-record post)

Joie's Texas friend, Lisa, celebrated with us this year. Because 2017 was such a difficult and stressful year for each of us, and all 3 of  us are Cancer babies, our celebration included a ritual burning under the Cancer Full Moon on the 1st,  followed by a snow slide down the "bunny" hill in front of the house despite the icy cold.

Lisa was still with us to experience January 4th's "Bomb Cyclone" snow storm that had hurricane-strength winds and deposited 20 inches of snow on us.

But Mother Nature must have decided the snow storm wasn't harsh enough. A few days later, while it took Lisa 2 days of airline hassles to get back to Texas, the temperature in western Mass dropped to NEGATIVE 15 degrees.

Then, just as shockingly, it rose to 56 degrees and remained in the 50s for several days and proceeded to rain heavily and continuously until all the snow disappeared.

Uh, right, there ain't no such thing as climate change.