Archive for the “Cottage” Category

As far as random blog updates go, it appears I’m now the king.  I blame a combination of having a job that requires actual work and still not getting as much sleep as an adult requires, but since this content is free to you, I have no need to apologize for sparse updates (Joel, I’m looking at you).

Sleep is still elusive in our house, but some nights are better than others, so we’re closer to the end than the beginning… I hope.

This weekend we’ll be hosting “les grandparents” (Danielle’s dad and stepmom), so I’ll need to brush up on my French.  The following weekend, I’ll be heading up to the cottage on my own with Mojo to open it up for the season and babyproof it as much as possible since we’ll all be heading up there as a family on Victoria Day weekend.

Technically, I’ll be up there to work, but I also plan on getting some sleep and doing a bit of relaxing.  Frankly, I think I’ve earned it.

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Sorry this is so late, but I’m still dizzy from all the rides and unhealthy food at the Shawville Fair.  A good time was had by all, in spite of freezing temperatures and surly pre-teens (more on this in a minute).

Our trips up to and back from the cottage were a breeze thanks to the crappy forecast.  I guess most people opted to stay home rather than haul up to the cottage for a weekend spent indoors.  Not us, but no one ever accused us of being smart.

On Saturday, we headed out in the afternoon to watch my dad sing in a choir.  He did a spectacular job, and even learned a thing or two about microphones.  I’m assuming that by next year, he’ll be doing a solo act with singing and dancing, so buy your tickets to the 2011 Shawville Fair now, and let me know how many signed photos you’d like (for a small fee, of course).

We hit up most of the rides and checked out the petting zoo (complete with chickens coloured blue and pink, no doubt for the city-slicker tourists) and hung out with some really cool Alpacas.  We made it a short trip and spent the evening with my parents and grandma catching up.  The weekend wasn’t ALL about the fair.

On Sunday, we headed back to the fair grounds where Andrew and Ericka made the trek all the way from Ottawa to visit us.  We again visited the chickens and Alpacas, but also took in more rides.  Danielle and Ericka even had strong words with a pre-teen girl who tried budding in our line right as we approached the ride.  We all concluded that teenagers these days are all sass and that we would never have given our elders lip like she did.  That’s when we realized we were elders and headed back to the cottage to console ourselves over homemade pie and “elder only” libations.

It was great catching up with friends, nearly getting sick on rides and otherwise getting out of the city.  You should all come next year.  We decided it would be an annual event, not only because it’s fun, but in comparison to the CNE, it’s dirt cheap (even accounting for the gas it takes to get up there).

Now we’re back to a short week, which is a total ripoff after a long weekend.  Basically you enjoy and extra day off by ignoring the fact that once you’re back, you have to squeeze five days of work into four.  Travesty.  An elder like me shouldn’t have to put up with this nonsense.

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Thanks to the borderline drought conditions this spring up at the cottage, I think I only saw about 5 mosquitoes all weekend.  That’s the silver lining to a dark cloud that were swarms of deer and black flies that made us and the dog miserable whenever we were outside.  Mind you, the gorgeous weather made even that sufferable.

We spent a surprising amount of time outside given that we could pick up World Cup on CBC with our meagre aerial on the TV.  Fortunately, between the bugs, the games and the short amount of time we were there, I had plenty of excuses not to do any work around the house, so that’ll have to wait until our vacation later in July.

Another highlight of the weekend was celebrating my dad’s 65th birthday and Father’s Day with awesome steaks, corn on the cob and birthday cake.  You don’t need much more to have a great weekend.

And now, I need to settle in for a busy, busy week.

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As you’re reading this, I’m no doubt driving on many of Ontario’s two-lane highways that lead northeast to the greatness that is the Ottawa Valley.  Sadly, I won’t be staying at the cottage as I’ve already put in a few hours of hard work cleaning it for its winter hibernation, but I need to do a bit more work finishing up the work I started earlier this fall on the foundation, and I want to get it done before the old gal is buried under a few feet of snow.

My car is weighed down by tools and winter work gear, as well as a few things lying around the house that aren’t ready to be thrown out yet, so they are destined to be banished to the cottage until future generations of my progeny decide they are finally ready for a final resting place in a dump somewhere.  Waste not, want not.

I’ll be heading back home on Friday, and in the meantime, I’ve left a few blog posts to keep you entertained.  I did this mostly out of guilt for leaving this poor blog abandoned for a week the last time I was up there.

Enjoy!

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Yeah, so by now you’re sick of hearing about how sick I am, so instead I’ll tell you about how I cheated death on my way to the bathroom last week.

It was after dark, but there was plenty of ambient light from the moon and the lights in the house so I headed to the outhouse without a flashlight.  Just behind the house, a couple of deer were making a late dinner of the leftovers on the ground from an apple tree.  I didn’t want to disturb them, so I tried to be as quiet as possible as I headed down the path to the outhouse.

Just as I got to the door, I noticed a dark lump on the ground near an old rotten stump about 10 feet away.  I figured a tree had fallen earlier in the evening and went to open the door when the lump made a ‘harumph’ sound and got up on its hind legs.  It was a bear and it scratched its chest, harumphed again and then dropped back to all fours while turning away from me to trundle off into the woods.

It’s pretty uncommon for a bear up there to get rough with person unless it’s a mother who is protecting her cub, so these ‘friendly’ bear encounters are actually quite common, although that’s the closest I’ve ever been to a live one and it’s not something I care to repeat anytime soon.

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I’m back from the cottage, and I’m absolutely beat.  With help from my dad, I managed to get the shed foundation nearly finished and all the work needing concrete is done, so frost can now come without any worries about finishing it up before winter.  All that’s left is some work with wood and she’ll be ready for another 60 years of abuse from the elements.

I realized this weekend that I could very easily live in pioneer times except for one thing.  I can live without running water, and I can easily get by with just candlelight but I cannot handle the constant fetching of firewood from the shed to fill the woodbox.  That’s just too much work for this old, weary body.

Being up there alone meant that all the little tasks of running an old house fell squarely on my two shoulders, which included putting up the storm windows for winter and hauling water from the well and wood from the shed.  All of that was on top of the work that I actually went there to do.  Needless to say, I’m pretty ragged today, but it’s a good kind of ragged.  My hands are raw and my muscles are sore, but all of it is just a testament to the hard work I put into a house I love.

Now I’m back for my first week of getting the next few months sorted out.   More to come!

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If you’re reading this and you aren’t on your way to your cottage, then you probably aren’t me.  I was really tempted to say “… then you probably aren’t funemployed” which is a pretty great word aside from my general hatred of words that were once two words and are now just one (see my archives on ‘staycation‘).  Hmm, so it appears I’ve digressed.

Anyways, what I was trying to get at is that I’m at the cottage.  If you’re reading that here, on the internet, well, that means you aren’t there with me, so you’re probably pretty jealous.  Life’s tough that way.  You have two choices here; you can drive up and hang out with me or you can leave angry comments (or fun comments, I guess) for me to read when I get back on Sunday.

The ball is in your court, internet people.  The ball is in your court.

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An ice-cold tempered steel ring encased in a brick of equal strength and secured by a tumbler-based locking mechanism; what could be more secure, right?  I’ve long put faith in the security of a good ol’ fashioned padlock, having once witnessed a high school janitor spend 45 minutes trying to cut one off a locker with a very hefty looking pair of bolt cutters, so when the 6 year-old Master branded lock on our cottage shed seized its locking mechanism, I wasn’t looking forward to having to remove it.

*Click on any photo to see it larger in a new window

The finest in security?

The finest in security?

I tried lubricating the locking mechanism and even picking the lock (which I have no idea how to do, and just stuck pointy things inside in the hopes it would pop open), but the key would just go into the keyhole and do nothing.  While I asked around for a pair of strong bolt cutters, I decided to head to the internet to see what my fancy-dancy Dremel could do (a great Christmas gift from my beau-parents.  MERCI!).  It turns out, it could do a lot.

From what I read, and saw in a YouTube video, the claims of what a simple Dremel could do with a cutting wheel and some safety equipment (absolutely necessary, more on this below) seemed too good to be true.  Still, it was worth a try.

The hero of the day

The hero of the day

I loaded up my Dremel XPR 400 with a cutting wheel (one I had used a few times before to cut some nail heads and to buzz through some aluminum framing for a screen) and looked skeptically at the gauge of the lock steel and the seemingly flimsy cutting wheel.

Safety first, kids

Safety first, kids

Everything I’d read online suggested that cutting through steel would produce A LOT of steel sparks that could do some pretty nasty stuff to eyes and other delicate bits, so I opted on the side of caution (especially given my ability to harm myself in even the simplest of activities) and it paid off in spades.  The first aid kit, which was handy, was not needed.

Halfway home

Halfway home

I’d planned to take my time and cut in stages, but once the wheel was spinning, it was like a hot knife through butter.  It took a matter of seconds to get halfway through, where my already weakend cutting wheel (from previous projects.  Tip: if you’re cutting steel, don’t chince out on the $0.20 and use a fresh one) turned to wheel dust, most of which bounced off my facemask.  Safety wins again!

A fresh wheel to finish the job

A fresh wheel to finish the job

I took a few seconds to reload a fresh cutting wheel and was on my way to finishing the job.

Success!

Success!

And boy, did I finish it.  In a matter of seconds and a flurry of sparks, the Dremel cut through the lock like it was twine.

Quick and clean

Quick and clean

In retrospect, it would have been easier to get off the hasp had I cut in a straightaway rather than in the curve, but I thought I would need more room to navigate with the wheel and that it would be easier to manouver in what I expected to a long cutting project.  In reality, from setup to cleanup took less than 10 minutes, including taking photos, getting all my safety gear on and changing cutting wheels.  If I’d used a fresh wheel and not taken pics, it could’ve taken as little as three minutes.

Busted

Busted

This was a great lesson in how absolutely insecure a padlock can be for anyone who really wants to get past it and has ready access to an electrical outlet.  Although I now have a new skill should I ever consider switching to a life of crime, I think I’ll just file this knowledge away in the “What to do when the shed lock seizes again” category and in the “Awesome things to do with my Dremel” category.

If you need a padlock removed (legally), just let me know.  I’m dying to do it again, this time with video!

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