serendipity and good neighbours   10 comments

Posted at 4:14 pm in Nova Scotia, being alone

Serendipity. Perhaps it will be Serena for short. Meet the new-old jeep purchased with a handshake a couple of weeks ago. Of course, there’s a back story.

About three weeks ago, I got to thinking that my trusty van which has weathered several winter trips to the southwest, was in need of some maintenance and repairs. However, how was I to arrange this? I live alone and have only the one vehicle. I have no one to ask for a ride anywhere — at least no one who would not be inconvenienced. And so I began thinking about trying to find a reasonably priced vehicle to purchase as a back-up and general run-about car.

I perused kijiji looking for something local that might fit the bill, but didn’t see anything too hopeful. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I noticed an ad on the bulletin board at the grocery store. It read, “2003 Jeep Liberty, good condition, $2000″ and a couple of phone numbers. I had no pen on me, so I committed the numbers to memory with the intention of calling that evening. However, after arriving home, the numbers had vanished from my memory. Too bad.

A couple of days later, I went to the local lumberyard to buy a sheet of plywood. Just after it was loaded, I noticed a silver jeep with a for sale sign in the window. The numbers jogged my memory. They were the same numbers as seen on the ad in the grocery store. I looked around for someone to ask about the jeep, but everyone was busy with customers, so I departed with the intention of returning in a day or two to find out to whom it belonged. A couple of days later, the jeep sort of forgotten due to so many other things on my mind, I was filling a gas can at the local gas station. I looked up and there was the Jeep parked behind my van, waiting for its turn at the pump. There was a young guy at the wheel. Someone was chatting with him about whether he would be playing fiddle at some local event that weekend. Hmmm… THE Jeep, and it was owned by a fiddler. Interesting.

I walked back to ask about the jeep, then went inside to pay for the gas purchase. I moved the van up alongside the Jeep over on one side of the parking lot. We talked for a few minutes. Me asking a few questions and the young fellow producing a wad of parts invoices to show me what he had fixed on the jeep since buying it a little over a year ago. He wanted to buy a full size truck now. I gave the jeep a quick looking over — under the hood, looked inside and sat on the seat to see if it was comfortable. Then I said I’d probably take it — that I’d think about it a bit more overnight, but that I’d probably be down to the lumberyard to put a deposit on it the next morning. We shook hands on the deal and departed. I did return the next morning to put a couple of hundred bucks down, and left instructions for him to deliver it to my place in about a week — after my yard was less jammed full of roofing company vehicles (the roof was being replaced that week). It was all pretty casual.

Thursday morning came and I dropped by the lumberyard to give the young fellow the all clear to deliver the Jeep the following evening. I went to a music jam that evening. The next day, while I was out and about and driving home along the highway that runs by my place, there was a huge bang from the front end of my dependable van. It swerved crazily as I tried to get it stopped without crashing in the ditch. Finally, it came to a halt. I sat at the wheel regrouping my thoughts. I looked up to see a man jogging quickly toward me. He called, “Are you okay?! I heard a huge bang from up at my house. Sounded like something terrible happened.”

I climbed down out of the van and we walked around to the passenger side. Indeed, something bad did happen. The passenger side front wheel was twisted around into a crazy angle and the van was lying sort of canted over in a huge rut dug into the shoulder of the road. I knew at a glance that it must have been a broken tie rod end or control arm.

The van was off the road enough that it was in a relatively safe spot. The man from up the road ran back to his house and called a tow truck. When he returned, he and I and an unknown but very nice woman who had immediately stopped to help, got my canoe unlashed from the roof of the van and carried it up the road to the man’s house. He offered me some apple juice while we waited for the tow truck. He asked if I would like anything removed from the van and offered to drive me and my stuff home, then backed his van up where we could remove several heavy pails of plaster, a couple of big pails of water, and a grocery order. Then the tow truck showed up. Unfortunately, the van’s size and the kind of damage would require a ramp truck, so the tow truck driver put some pylons around to make the van more visible. He said to me, “It’s all looked after now. I want you to get that worried look off your face. I’ll take care of the rest.” The tow truck departed and my newly acquired friendly neighbour drove me and all my stuff the 3 or so miles home to my place, helped me unload, then drove off after telling me not to worry about my canoe — it would be safe in his yard until I could come by and pick it up.

An hour or so later, the Jeep was delivered by the young fellow. He signed off all the papers on it and I handed him the cash for the Jeep. I couldn’t do anything about getting the licensing done until after the weekend, so the Jeep sat in the yard for three days. The next morning, I thought I should try it out — after all, I hadn’t even driven it around. I backed it around the front yard and it seemed okay.

After the weekend, a fellow widowed friend drove me to Digby to get insurance and a licence for the Jeep. I had made some phone calls ahead of time, so the whole process went very smoothly. We returned home, me with licence plate in hand. She departed and I stuck the plate on in readiness for driving to a kitchen jam at the arts centre that evening.

The Jeep and I have had a couple of days to get to know each other. Sure, it has a bunch of little things wrong with it. Yesterday, I epoxied the brackets for the rear lift glass shocks back into place. There will be other things to take care of, but basically, the little Jeep seems pretty decent for two grand. I’m happy. I drove it out to the garage that’s going to work on the van — if it can be repaired. A very nice mechanic who everyone says is the best and also a good, straight, honest guy – thinks the van can be repaired and that the damage probably isn’t as bad as it looks. I told him to take his time. I have my little Jeep now… Serendipity, that is.

This morning, I picked up a bottle of Gaspereau Valley wine and dropped by at the helpful neighbour’s house to pick up my canoe. He came up from working in the field out back. We tied the canoe up top on the jeep. He even found a good piece of hardwood to make a cross-bar for the roof rack. We had a good chat while we secured the canoe in place. As we finished, I presented him with the bottle of wine. He wished me luck and, once again, I thanked him as I drove off for home.

Serendipity. Not just with regard to the timely arrival of the Jeep, but with the van not crashing worse than it did, or in a really bad location. And for finding a good garage with a good mechanic and tow truck driver. And for all the wonderful help of a neighbour whom I’ve never met before. And a friend to drive me to the licence office to get the Jeep’s plates. All is reasonably well — in a summer that has been a little more stressful than it should have been.

I think Serendipity is a good name for this Jeep. And it wears its canoe hat very well. And Sage and Shelby seems to like lying in the shadow that it casts out on the grassy lawn.

Written by bev wigney on August 15th, 2014

round hill summer 2014   9 comments

Posted at 9:08 am in Nova Scotia, Round Hill house

It’s been awhile since I wrote about how things are going at the Round Hill house. This has been a big summer here. A lot of work and a lot of money spent on the house, but all for the good. When I arrived here this season, there were pieces of shingles scattered on the front lawn. The roof was badly damaged on the east side, having taken a severe blow from the crazy winds that swept through Nova Scotia in late March. I immediately realized that there was no way that I could repair the damage and the roof had been reaching the point of replacement anyhow. I began searching around for a roofing company to repair the roof. All roads seemed to lead to the same local company — Wear Brothers. So, I gave them a call and they visited to give me an estimate. It was not going to be a simple shingle job as the roof is fairly complex and my own investigations in the attic revealed that there were a lot of rotten planks that would need replacing. Anyhow, I went on a waiting list of houses that needed roof work this summer – many due to the same wind storm that wrecked my roof, and then the tropical storm aftermath of Hurricane Arthur. In the meantime, I put plenty of buckets around the attic to try to catch as much of the water that was pouring through areas of the roof. At last, a bit over a week ago, I got a call saying that the roofing crew would be able to start on my house if that was okay with me. I was more than happy to welcome them to begin work. It took about a week in total, but now the house has a great new roof. I’m very pleased. They did a really nice job of the tower — which is actually a rather scary thing to work on — and they even got the whale back in place after.

Of course, while all of the above was going on, I was busy with house projects too. One of my first projects for this year was to scrape and paint the floor of the downstairs guest bedroom. The hardwood is old and ripply, but I decided it was good enough to leave down, so I got it cleaned up and put down a couple of coats of paint. Above is how it looks. The perennial garden is just beyond the window.

Another big project for this year was to paint the floor in the front entrance hall. It’s actually a fairly large room. I painted the floor with an blue background and then began adding figures similar to those found on old mariner’s maps — mainly fanciful sea creatures. Above and below are a couple of the paintings. There are already several more and I have more to add before I’m finished.

In addition to all of the painting, I added more perennials to the flower gardens and also put in a pretty large vegetable garden. Then there has been all the weed whacking to do to keep the trails cleared around the property — of which there are many up and down to the river.

My other big project was to put down a 25 square foot tiled area in the front entrance hall (photo below) — I chose tiles appropriately named “Sand Dunes” to represent a beach on the edge of the mariner’s map floor. I’m pleased with how it turned out. It’s a great improvement over the punky, rotten, sagging floor that used to be there!

There are more projects remaining for this year. I have to repair a badly damaged plaster ceiling– the result of water coming in through the damaged roof. I’m also currently at work plastering the walls and ceiling of the last unfinished room of the house. It should be nice once completely done. There are more projects as well, but I’m not sure if I’ll manage to get every one of them finished, but my track record is pretty good.

Written by bev wigney on August 9th, 2014

music and memories   7 comments

Posted at 7:00 pm in Uncategorized

My dad as a young man, working on a generator at a microwave tower in northern Quebec.

It’s been a long while – a very long while – since I posted anything here. No real explanation for my absence other than that I seem to have been preoccupied by a good many things and not in the mood for writing. However, tonight happens to be the 15th anniversary of my dad’s death so I wanted to put something down in words. As some of you may know, I was his caregiver during the final couple of months of his life. He died in the arms of myself and my husband Don, who is also now gone. It’s sometimes difficult to think of a way to remember someone – a suitable ritual. I’ve been playing a lot of music with my friends down here — a group of musicians who enjoy playing celtic music together a couple of times a week. Tonight, we’ll be playing music together, and that seems like it might be one of the best ways to remember my dad.

Music brings a lot to my life these days. It’s nice to get together with a bunch of good friends to play tunes for a couple of hours. We do it not just for the music, but for the camaraderie, I think. Music has always meant a lot to me – I began playing guitar at a young age, inspired by my parents who also played instruments. I first picked up the guitar after listening to my mom singing and playing folk songs during the 1960s. Both my parents loved to sing and I have many good memories of our musical household. I will dedicate this evening’s music making in memory of my father.

Written by bev wigney on March 17th, 2014