Thanksgiving at the Cottage

My brother, Tony, bought a cottage up north recently. I’m very excited for he and his wife, Val: I think they’ve always dreamed of having one and now it’s reality! Tony looked to save money by picking a fixer-upper. The cottage is actually quite lovely – the bigger projects seem to be a new roof, steps/access to the water, and the addition of a dock.

View of the lake from the roof

View of the lake from the roof
Living room

Living room

Roofing crew

The roof was in pretty bad shape, but with the help of some family members, he was able to get a lot of it done. Reid, the boys and I were invited up for the Thanksgiving weekend. Unfortunately, both Reid and Michael became sick, and couldn’t go. I really wanted to see the cottage, so on Sunday morning, I headed up on my own. The plan was to come back home early Tuesday morning.

Tony, my nephew Eric, Eric’s friend and Val’s brother were hard at work when I got there. The shingles were all off, some underlay material was up on one side and the shingling had started. Everyone broke for a mid-day Turkey meal. Eric and his friend needed to be back in the city on Sunday, so they headed home. That left lots of room for me up on the roof, so I headed up to help with the shingling. I had helped Tony shingle his roof when he first bought his house back in the 80’s. I remember that shingling wasn’t all that hard.

As the day progressed, it didn’t seem we were getting very far. Much like painting, there’s tons of finicky prep work that was taking most of our time. By end of day Sunday, only a few rows of shingles were up. By Monday, Val’s brother and his wife had to head back home and I’d say we had less than 1/4 of the roof shingled. I was pretty worried about leaving the next morning – I didn’t think Tony could get most of the shingling done before Wednesday, when rain was forecast. So I stayed an extra day.

Whew! Did we work hard (although Tony always works hard!) By sun down on Tuesday, we had shingled all we could except for the very top edge, where Tony needed to do some extra ventilation work.

Roof Tuesday morning

Roof on Tuesday morning
Roof by Wednesday morning

Roof by Wednesday morning, it’s raining!

When I went woke up to go home Wednesday morning, it was raining quite hard. Boy, it felt good to have the majority of the roof done!

What an amazing Thanksgiving weekend it was. We couldn’t have asked for better weather. We saw kids swimming in the lake (in October!!) and someone water skiing. It’s a pretty quiet lake. There’s no marina, and therefore we expect there aren’t going to be very many boats. It’s a perfect cottage setting, with stunning views of the lake! I’m so happy for them!


Site of the future dock
View along the road, on the way home

View along the road, on the way home


A few weeks ago, a relative of mine from Brazil contacted and visited my parents. My mother called me during his visit and put him on the phone: Rafael Perrella, is the grandson of my dad’s cousin in Brazil. (Actually, his grandmother is my dad’s cousin, but his grandfather is a Perrella too. His grandfather is a little more distantly related).


Rafael is an electrical engineer, and came to Canada for about 4 months to learn English. He spent his first few months in Vancouver, and came to Toronto for the last month or so. I’m so very glad he contacted my parents, although I wish he had done it sooner! He was scheduled to go back to Brazil in a couple of weeks.

Spending time with him was a pleasure. His English is amazingly good, considering he’s only been speaking for a few months. He understands a little Italian, but had to converse with my parents in English. It was a little odd, because it’s obvious he’s he’s latin, so using english, especially with my parents, felt strange.

Rafael with my parents

Rafael with my parents
Rafael with Aunt Mary

Rafael with Aunt Mary

All of us really enjoyed his sense of humour and for some reason, despite living so far away from us, he felt like family. He told us all about his family, and then explained that visiting my parents felt like home to him. They reminded him very much of his grandmother, who died more than 10 years ago. My parents actually went to Brazil in the 80’s, and he was very surprised to see their pictures of his family – some of which included him! He was young when they visited, and didn’t remember them at all.

I loved hearing all about Brazil. He finds Canadian drivers far too “polite” and I think it drives him a little crazy. I get the sense that drivers in Sao Paolo are much like the drivers in Rome. It would be too crazy for me, but I think Reid would feel right at home.

I just love the fact that I can connect with Perrellas in Australian, and now Brazil. Yay!

Under the grapes

Rafael, Eric, Michael, Tony, Ma and Papa – under the grape vines in Thorold
At Aunt Mary's

Tony, Nick, Eric, Aunt Mary, Rafael

Projects done

Finished my projects (a few weeks ago, actually). Didn’t post because we didn’t have pictures! I finished the mirror and hung it. My brother looked at it and said something about stripping the paint to see the wood, which made my day, because it’s all paint. I just tried to make it look like wood. Yay, I can do a faux wood effect! Isn’t it nice?

Window mirror

Painting the siding was hell, but well worth it. To clarify: I only did the back side of the house. The other 3 sides are in better shape. All 4 sides of the house would have been too much for me. I rented a power washer to get most of the flaking paint off, hoping I wouldn’t have to sand afterwards. But I had to sand afterwards anyway. I did all that when Reid was away.


Siding before

Siding after

Thank goodness I waited for Reid to come home before I painted. I had to rent scaffolding, and I needed his and Michael’s strength to put it up and take it down for me. I only used the scaffolding to paint near the pool area. I used the deck roof and a ladder to paint the rest. We got into a routine: I’d start with the scaffolding 10 feet high in the morning so I could paint the upper section. Then I’d get them to take it apart so it was 5 feet high at lunch time, and I would paint the lower section. Then I’d ask them to make it 10 feet high again so it was ready for the next morning. It took 3 days: one coat of primer, and 2 of paint.

Look out below!

Thank goodness that’s done. I’ve been agonizing over it for a few years now.

Gee, with my projects done and the kids back in school, I guess I have to get a job now. (No, wait!! Surely I can find other projects… let’s see. I know! I’ll refinish the basement…)

Water Leak: Mystery Solved

Went up into the attic yesterday. Did I mention I HATE going into the attic? I discovered that the guys who insulated for us last year did a really nice job. Which I partially ruined. They even caulked the attic access door shut, which I had to cut open. I poked my head up through the hole and with the help of a flashlight, could see some dark stains on the roof, where I suspected the leak was at. Then I went on top of the roof and rigged up a hose to point at the suspected leak site, hoping I could see drips from the attic access so I could confirm the leak. Well, I couldn’t. Which meant I actually had to go in and inspect it.

Did I mention I HATE going into the attic? Really should have taken Peter up on his offer of a respirator mask – I used one of my thick paper ones left over from some project or other. Grabbed some big flat boards to lie on (so the blown insulation could take my weight). Also, got lots of help from Michael.

I made my way over to the toilet exhaust pipe where very dark water marks were — to find it completely dry with absolutely no evidence whatsoever of wet insulation. The dark marks must have been from an old leak. I asked Michael to turn on the hose and we left it running for a bit. Everything stayed completely dry. I was very pleased for a few moments. Until I realized where I was (did I mention I HATE going up to the attic?) and that the water leak was now a mystery and therefore the stuff of nightmares.

As I exited, I could see the huge depressed area in the insulation where I had worked my way over to the corner. (Imagine a few feet of fresh snow which has had a sled go through it – I tried fluffing it back up but it looked about as good as it would if I tried it with snow.) I had a hard time rigging the access panel closed – they had done such a nice job, dang it all. Once I got back out, Michael spent a lot of time vacuuming the insulation off me. Looking around, it seemed like a ton of the stuff had fallen into my office. Now you know why I HATE going into the attic.

I headed outside to poke my head into the overhang to look for any sign of dampness. Michael had said that when he went outside, he saw some water dripping from it. It was damp but not dripping. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. I told Michael to turn the hose on for me – maybe the water was getting down there in some other way – perhaps behind the siding. He did so, and then went back into the house. I had my head right up there looking for drops, when I heard Michael flush the upstairs toilet — and a waterfall of water splashed onto my face!! He came right out, saw my face and started laughing. He said he figured that perhaps it was the toilet.

Mystery solved. Thank goodness for Michael! Should have figured it out, really, but I convinced myself that it was worse right after a rain. Time to call a plumber.

(For anyone interested in attics: I was completely amazed when I first poked my head into the attic. On a sunny day, about 1:30 in the afternoon – about 25-28 celcius out – and it was very cool in the attic!! Perhaps 3 to 5 degrees cooler up there. We had no air conditioning on, so it’s not as though it was somehow getting up there. Goes to show how well the attic was insulated. By the time I got up there, completely covered in clothing from head to foot for protection, it was boiling! It was never that way before we had the extra insulation. The guys also sealed absolutely all the holes, like the light fixtures. We used GreenSaver to assess our home, and then hired them to improve the insulation. Got money back from the government, too!)