Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Week 4: A Helping Hand

The weather this week was variable and by that we mean cloudy, threatening, unpleasant, et cetera. Nonetheless Spencer had been in touch with a few contacts given to us by our real estate broker. The purpose: serious renovations.

When we met with Peter he told us of how vandals had been at work at Twin Ponds in the previous season. Evidence of their malfeasance was abundant that first trip we took their and lingering traces of the handiwork remain still. The most pronounced damage is that the front door is split from top to bottom and barely closes and the front windows are all broken (and now boarded up).

So it was that we decided that some remediation was in order not only to restore Twin Ponds to its previous glory but also to discourage and, to the extent possible, prevent further intrusion. To that end we developed some preliminary ideas.

In the weeks before this week's visit we made arrangements with one of a few contacts given to us by Ed the Broker. It took several hit-and-miss calls to finally get in touch with someone. Finally, though, one of the contacts called back and after some discussion with him about the nature of the problems that had been had, it was clear that he was the guy.

Our not-yet-usable wood stove
We therefore made plans with him to meet him at 11:30 a.m. (relieving the pressure to be there earlier than we might have wanted to be given the weather). We actually arrived at around 10 and puttered around for a bit. Al arrived as scheduled and we were impressed by his punctuality.

After speaking with him for a few minutes it became abundantly clear that Al is not just your run of the mill handyman. He's an actual contractor. Plus he's a really nice, down to earth kind of guy. Plus he's knowledgeable and he seems to know everyone who he needs to know to get any type of home improvement done.

This was the plan we developed with Al during this week's visit:

1. New front door: It has to be metal to prevent the type of damage to which a wood door is susceptible. The door we're getting will be internally reinforced.

2. New front windows: A necessity given the state of the current ones. But the wrinkle is that we've decided on a whole new plan for the face of the cabin.

3. New Cabin Face: Al is going to reconstruct the face of the cabin by moving the door to the center and installing windows on either side of the door. Although this will involve ripping out what's there, we see it as a true improvement on the aesthetic plan, both internal and external. We're crossing our fingers that it will turn out to be a good decision.

4. New Front Bedroom Window: We want light and fresh air in the bedroom to avoid it becoming too stuffy, so we're getting an entirely new sliding window. Another aesthetic and function improvement.

5. Metal Driveway Gate: Al's son does welding and metalworking so Al told us he'd put us in touch to discuss options. This is actually a quite important part of our plan, because we feel that having a large, imposing, and properly locked gate will discourage potential bandits from trespassing. Neighbours notice things out there and if someone parks their vehicle at the side of the road to trudge into the property on foot, that's fairly conspicuous. Sure, interlopers can always find ways onto the grounds, but we are not going to make their job easy by having merely a chain in their way.

At the conclusion of our visit with Al he promised to get us a quote, which he subsequently did. We both speculated on the price, which as luck would have it was quite reasonable.

After Al left we turned out attention to getting a small refrigerator. We were considering a bar fridge kind of thing. The problem was that we didn't know who in the area sold appliances. We went to a Home Hardware (who didn't have any), but who recommended a local, family-owned vendor nearby.

The vendor ("Mr. M") was a very nice and old-fashioned appliance salesman. When we told him what we sought he showed us a unit which was what we first thought was just what we'd wanted. However, after thinking about it further we decided to get a proper upright fridge (albeit small). It's actually best to think of it as a bar fridge with a freezer connected on top. It was cute how Mr. M pointed out, in a quaint anachronistic way that, "the unit even comes with ice cube trays." Overall our experience there was delightful, particularly because (unlike in the big city) they delivered. Free of charge and when we needed/wanted them to be there (which was, oh, about 45 minutes later). It was incredible. We actually stared at each other momentarily in disbelief.

The reason it was 45 minutes later rather than 30 minutes was because we wanted to go into town (i.e., the town near Twin Ponds) to check a few things out. By the time we got back to the cabin we were not waiting long before Big M and an associate arrived bearing said fridge. They offloaded it, carried it into the kitchen, and installed it. And voilá - we had a brand spanking new fridge!

Fish and chips!
As a bit of a digression we point out that one of the side benefits to this little foray was that Mr. M's associate figured out how to turn the lights on in the kitchen. Another voilá to be sure, since we thought we had to get an electrician in!

After a few minutes of polite chit-chat they departed (and it completely eluded us that we should tip them, d'oh!!). Who's Alex now?

After they left we did this and that.

Eventually we decided to grab supper in town so we headed out. During our earlier reconnaissance of the town we'd noticed a fish 'n' chips joint so we went there to check it out. At some point on our we couldn't help but notice that Jazzle decidedly stank and that we as co-occupants of the vehicle were forced to enjoy her odeur. Looking at her it became clear that she'd rolled around in some animal's crap (maybe her own, for all we knew). Regrettably we had no way of dealing with it right then. Luckily it didn't completely ruin our appetites.

At the fish 'n' chips joint Sim ordered a single fish dinner while Spencer ordered a double. His order turned out to be a slight miscalculation since each single was fairly large. But it was exceeding tasty and certainly hit the spot after the excitement we'd had.

After supper we went back to the cabin to hang around for a while. We did some cleaning (including cleaning Jasmine), cut wood, and even had a bit of a fire in the evening. Regrettably, though, the weather wasn't that great and although we'd brought sleeping gear with us, it was cold and raining so we decided to head back to T.O.


  1. I'm glad to see you have branched out from the local Tim Horton's when it comes to food options... Man I miss good fish and chips!

  2. Haha yes, it was a very good decision. We'll definitely take you up there when you come visit!