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Passive Solar Living





Updated: 2015-09-16T12:58:59.916-04:00

 



HOUSE News!

2008-08-10T21:17:39.139-04:00

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This is for those who don't already know, we are now the proud owners of a new house in Cape Breton. It is about 20 minutes out of Port Hawkesbury, so very doable in terms of travel.
We have to say that we have had to face what seemed to be endless Brick Walls. I (Gemma) did a Tarot reading a couple of months ago, and even a follow-up reading, and they both said that if it was going to happen it would be complicated, seemed to be inferring a lot of paperwork. From that we inferred that the lawyers were going to make a meal of it. We decided to get a myriad house inspections done, which now means we have a new oil tank, and also the house is rewired - so it pays to be careful with an older property. Even down to our last days before completion day there were questions from the lawyers, and I now realise that much from the Tarot reading was related to this. And back to the 'Brick Walls'' ' what is this reference, it is particularly referenced to the Randy Pausch 'Last Lecture', we realised those last days, even the last weeks, working up to buying this house, that Brick Walls "are there not to keep us out, they are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something, because Brick Walls are there to hold the 'Other's ' back" and those are the words of Dr Randy Pausch. We feel that he truly gave us the strength to persevere to achieve our goals.
The other good news this week, is that Jerry got is work permit through, and it is for 3 years, and is an Open Permit, which means if he does not get work in the Carpentry field, he will still have options. Now that we both have our work permits, we can now focus on working towards our Provincial Nomination.
We have a lot of decorating to do before we move there, but will be able to go there with the dogs on weekends to get work done.
Thanks to everyone for their support, you know who you are. We appreciate all that you do.



Some recent News!

2008-07-26T10:11:40.329-04:00

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Since I last updated the blog, prior to today, several things have happened.

The first rather important event of course is that Jerry finished his course, and now has his Honours Diploma in Carpentry. The Convocation was a wonderful evening, and Jerry looked pretty spiffing in his gown.

We also have a new arrival here since March, called Branwen, and she is now 5 months old. She is a Siberian Husky, and everyone pretty much is her friend now. It has been quite a challenge having a puppy in the house again, but we are over the worst of it I think.

I received a Labor Market Opinion through my company, and now have a new 2-year work visa based on that, so there was much celebration over that. The aim once Jerry has his work permit through, is to start working towards provincial nomination, which will help us to fast track to permanent residency.

We have come to some decisions over the winter: we realise that to build a house from the ground up, with the price of lumber here in Canada, would be very expensive. We have been looking for property for Jerry's Mum and stepdad who currently live in Spain, and were looking to buy a property here with some land. As we were in that process of searching, the lights went on for both of us, that this was something we should be doing as well.

That is the current situation, that we are looking to buy a property that is within a sensible driving time out of town, which has some land that can be worked. Since Jerry has finished school, we are no longer so tied to the need to live in town. The plan being that whatever we buy, we will make changes to the property, to make use of passive solar where we can. We have equipment that we have purchased since we arrived, which will work as well in an existing house as a new build.

Will update again, when we have made some progress.



Dr. Randy Pausch Passes Away.

2008-07-26T09:34:06.240-04:00

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Dr. Randy Pausch who gave the now famous 'Last Lecture' lost his battle with terminal pancreatic cancer on Friday morning 25th July, 2008, at the age of 47. He leaves behind a wife Jai and three children, Logan Dylan and Chloe, his sister, and his monther.
His lecture was put on 'youtube' for people who had been unable to attend, but has now been viewed by millions.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji5_MqicxSo The lecture he gave--'Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams'--wasn't about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment. It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living. He said he knew what he was doing the day he wrote the lecture, "Under the ruse of giving an academic lecture, I was trying to put myself in a bottle that would one day wash up on the beach for my children."
Subsequently, the lecture was expanded into a book 'The Last Lecture', In this book, Randy Pausch has combined the humor, inspiration and intelligence that made his lecture such a phenomenon and given it an indelible form. It is a book that will be shared for generations to come.
His enduring line: "You cannot change the cards you are dealt, just how you play the hand."
We are very saddened by his loss, but grateful that we have been allowed to share him for a little while.





New Arrival!

2007-10-21T09:58:50.463-04:00

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This is she! Morley Raye "of sunshine" as her Mother says. Not being a Mother myself, it has been a real honor to meet Morley and get to hold such a new baby. At my ripe old age, I had never had this opportunity before.

So that really has been my number one event of recent weeks, to hold her and be amazed at how perfect she is.

I worked with Mum and Dad in the Call Center in its previous life, and then with Mum Lareina with the new company Minacs. They have become good friends and an honor to know them.



Update from Cape Breton!

2007-10-21T09:51:47.291-04:00

Well you will see that we have had a wood stove installed a few weeks ago, but because it is quite windy by the water here, the smoke does not go out the chimney. We are now waiting for a cowl to be hand made to put at the top of the chimney outside. It has been cooler for quite a few days, and have had to have the heating on, which is not good when you have paid out for the wood stove. We have discovered that wood ready to burn is a bit scarce this year, so we are going to ask a friend to come with chainsaw to the lot and cut down some dead trees that we can use. Jerry has build a wood shelter, and we already have some wood stacked in there, which should be ready by January. On the wood stove front, it was sitting here in the room ready for installing, but needed to be moved a bit, and I said that Jerry's back is not strong, that I would help. I had done this while in France, no problem, but here is the crux, the fire stones were still in this one, and I only lifted it briefly, long enough to strain some muscles in my lower back. I thought I had put it down quick enough, but I have been seeing a chiropractor, who is doing amazing work on it. It is good timing in one way, I have been working over 3 months, and so this is paid for under the company health cover fully. Last Friday Jerry had a treatment as well, as he was still a little out of shape from his last week of work back in September when he strained some muscles in his back. He is now fine, and does not need to go back, but I have at least a few more to have.The other photo is to show that I actually went to the hairdresser a few weeks ago, as I thought my hair deserved a proper cut, rather than my hacking at it. And then Jerry did the honours for me and coloured it for me. And if you are observant, you will note that I have gone darker, but the red is still there just.As to my job I can't believe that over a month has gone by already. My training went well in Moncton, and then I have been back here getting organized. It has been quite a challenge, but a relief to be off the phones. The main reason for that is due to the fact I now work my own hours, so I start around 8:30 through till 5pm. Jerry drops me off on his way to school, and then comes down to pick me up at 5 unless he hears differently from me.I have been preparing local work instructions for our site, and meeting with the various departments to clarify the details. We have the client coming in this week, so they will want to see what we have in place so far. Although they are truly going to be more concerned with what is going on on the floor, to do with calls, and their customers.The big challenge for me was giving the presentation about our Quality Management Systems to the new Agent training classes. A little over 10 years ago I used to teach at the University where I was doing my degree, and would stand up in front of 200. These classes are only 24, but after all this time felt like quite the challenge. I have done three so far, and they are getting easier every time.[...]



Business Trip!

2007-09-16T12:33:39.987-04:00

Well not exactly, I am off to Moncton this afternoon for five days of training with the Quality Specialist there. Feeling nervous but excited about the challenge ahead. When we left the uk, getting this sort of job was not part of the plan, and thought I had left all this behind. But having been out of it for three years before coming to Canada, to be back in a salaried job in a year is not bad going for such a small town. I picked up the hire car yesterday, and have a four hour drive ahead to get to the hotel. Staying at the Ramada Crystal Palace Inn Hotel in Moncton, the irony is that we lived so close to Crystal Palace and the football ground in our London days.

The other news is that we are getting quotes in for installing a woodburning stove in the house, in the hope of saving on heating costs from last winter. With that we are planning on either making or ordering window quilts, to help with the heat loss. We still do not know whether we will keep this house after building our other house, so undecided on the replacement windows we need for the downstairs. Although there is the initial cost with the woodburning stove, we feel that it is worth while doing.



Job Update!

2007-09-09T16:01:21.217-04:00

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Here is a picture of my sister, Mum and I up at the lot the other day. My sister and Mum have just gone back from their visit. We are not entitled to time off during the first three months, but under the circumstances they initially let me have the whole of the second week off. Then there was a turn around and I had to work the Wednesday and Thursday. I had the Friday off which was their last day. Since it was on the Thursday I was offered the position, it was a good move.

So that is the good news is that I finally got offered the position of Quality Coordinator. I was expecting to be interviewed again, but as it turned out I was called in just to be offered the position. The money is not as much as I was expecting, but it is a salaried position, so a step up the ladder. It is a training position which I start by going to Moncton, New Brunswick for a week for training. They are organizing car hire and hotel for that week for me. I have one more week on the phones and then my next challenge begins.

It is my sister's birthday next week, so we had an early birthday celebration and also for my new job last Friday on their last evening here. There will be more celebrations next week in Toronto as well.



Mum & Big Sis are coming to visit!

2007-08-16T10:36:09.363-04:00

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On the house front, we have been pricing up a Yurt, and here is what it might look like. This would be installed above the house site on the ridge which is fairly flat. These sort of structures often don't need a planning permit, so we are looking into the cost. We are thinking in terms of getting a structure built, so that we have somewhere while we are building the main house. I am quite exited about this idea, as I loved living in a tent during our reenactments in the UK. Once the main house is built, we may then connect it to the mains and septic to use as a guest house. Initially we plan to have it as green as possible, with a composting toilet, and a propane fridge. We are waiting for brochures, and pricing for insulation and snow and wind kits, which are necessary where we are located here.

And to the crux of this post, my Mum is coming over to Toronto from Wales, and staying there for a week. Then my sister Brenda is bringing Mum down here via Montreal to visit for two weeks. In May when we went back to Wales, I had not thought the three of us would be together again so soon. I am now working on a tricky bit, as in getting the time off. Officially I am not allowed time off in the first three months, but in the circumstances have applied for days off when they are here, which would be unpaid. They have been pretty fast with their decisions for colleagues, so hoping I will not have to wait long for their decision.

I am still a bit shell shocked over this, but really excited about their visit.

We are planning some drives out, and take a picnic, and lots of relaxing with some nice vino.

I went to to see my doctor two days ago, and went to have a full set of blood tests done yesterday. However the Dr is away next week, so unable to see him until the 27th to see what is going on. I felt with my Mum coming that I really needed to knock this on the head, but they arrive on 27th, so all I can do is relax and eat well in the mean time.

I have already warned them that there will be no nervous breakdown going on here over cleaning the house. Any problems they will be shown where the duster is... of course I say that now, but whether I do that in reality is another matter.

Actually the other news is that another job as a Trainer has been advertised for our site here in Port Hawkesbury. Since I lectured for two years while at University, thought it was worth considering. I liked the way our training class was run, and feel I would be more than capable.
I took the opportunity to email the recruiter about the Quality position that is still not signed off, for which I have effectively been interviewed three times, and been told I would be perfect, but no guarantees. My reasoning for following up is that I didn't want to miss out on other opportunities I am qualified for, while waiting for this other position to be signed off. So we will see what is going to happen now about that.



Proud of my Baby!

2007-08-12T11:04:40.776-04:00

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My baby Oliver has finally got the hang of swimming, and he now adores the water. I take him down to the beach for an hour every day before going to work, so he has plenty of time to chase the little birds, and get some swimming in.

I am settling into my new job fine. The shifts are gradually going to get better. I do not have weekends off this week, but from next week I will. The hours are not great, but from September the site is going 24/7 which should mean much better shift times. This week I have 1:30 till 10pm with Tuesday and Wednesday off, and after that, 12:30 till 9pm for two weeks, with weekends off. Going from not having weekends off to having them off, means that on two weekends I actually only have one of the days off.

I am still waiting to hear the status of the ISO for this site, as the job I was put forward for will not be signed off until that happens.

The annoying part of working the weekends is not seeing Jerry from one week to the next. I saw him last Sunday, and then didn't talk to him until yesterday morning, which is why not having weekend off does not work for me. Also the Granville Green season is coming to an end, and the band that is on tonight is originally from Creignish which is near where we have our lot, and I will have to miss it, which is a shame. Next weekend is the last concert of the season, and it is Blue Grass music, and I will be able to go see that which is nice. This is a two month season of free music on the Green, sponsored by local companies, during the summer, and they invite a lot of bands that have their roots in either Nova Scotia or Cape Breton.

Jerry finishes his summer job on August 24th, so he will have time to get ready to go back to school in September.

Last Saturday I went back to the hospital, and it was confirmed that my sinus was still leaking, hence why my chest was still tight, and one quarter of a lung was still gurgling. So was on a nasal spray with steroids for five days. I am still exhausted, and am likely going to have to go see my own doctor this week, to see what is the next plan of action.



Job News!

2007-07-29T08:33:10.641-04:00

Wednesday of last week I as called out of class to meet with the Quality boss lady down from Toronto, as two people had interviewed me recently, and felt I was the right person for a Quality person they would be looking for at our site. So although I had to wait 45 minutes to see her, because it turned out she was still on Eastern time, the meeting went well, and she now also feels I am the right person for the position. But she has now passed the ball back to the guys, so nothing cast in stone, so may well have to be interviewed again when the position is actually signed off. Since this will initially be a small site, they will need a Quality Coordinator, rather than a Quality Specialist, but then she said I would easily move into that role as the site grows. So lots of positive things said, but nothing cast in stone yet.

My current situation is that my training finished last Thursday, and on Friday we had a mock call with a Quality person listening in on the call , to certify us as good enough to start the job on Monday. Well I got through that fine.

But this past week I have been tired, and had a sore throat, and coughing, and someone said 'be careful remember the pneumonia', so on Saturday Jerry took me up to the hospital, as my own Doctor is away on holiday.. and I have a sinus that has been dripping, which has caused the sore throat, and the constant dripping means the infection went down to my lungs. He did not x-ray for confirmation, but the medication with clear the sinus infection, and deal with the pneumonia infection if it has in fact happened. The Doctor said that being in a the training room, which was cool, and then going out to the heat in breaks would have been the likely reason for the sinus infection. My chest is tight, and coughing well, so lots of rest this weekend, as I can't have time off when I am due to go on the phones on Monday.

Now that we have decided to wait to build the house until next year when Jerry finishes school, the phone is ringing off the hook, when we are out, with people wanting to give us quotes finally. So it has been phone tag, and not connecting up with anyone. But next week I can at least call them in the morning to let them know of the situation. In my book it would be nice to have the quote anyway, so that we can decide next year, who we get to re quote for us.



Update!

2007-07-22T09:22:38.258-04:00

Well this next week is the last week of training, and on Friday we have to pass a certification - which will be a test on taking a call, to see whether you handle a call the way they would like you to. I have been allocated a 3:30 to midnight shift for the first two weeks, and then we bid for our next shift. The bidding is done using the last four digits of your Social Insurance Number, and the only fair way, so I can't grumble truly. The first shift only starts at midday, so not a huge difference. As we take more calls away from the organisation that are doing them now, we will go 24/7, so there will be earlier shifts. Then I can get back to having some life. I will only see Jerry at the weekends for these first two weeks, which will not be fun.

We have discussed the house build again, and quotes are slow coming in, which has given us more time to truly talk about the when, and how of it all. And have come to the conclusion that this will have to wait until Jerry finished at school. If we start now, we will be back down to one lot of money coming in, and we don't want to end up struggling the payments for the build. We had the issue of needing a second vehicle for getting back and forth to the lot, and realized that it would also put pressure on the pocket. Sadly that will have to wait.

We have treated ourselves to a metal gazebo that has a mesh screen around it, which we can put up at the lot, to keep the bugs away from us. It is so lovely up there, very peaceful, but the bugs are very friendly, so we needed to protect ourselves. We had looked at Screen Houses which were more like a tent, and then saw this, and decided it was a much better idea.

What I am going to need to do for this current house, is to make some insulated blinds for the windows, that can be put up just in the winter. We may well have to look at getting the windows replaced before the winter, but again we have to look at that cost, but we need to reduce the fuel cost from what it was last winter.

On a slightly amusing note, I have been dreaming the job, the training has been quite intense, very thorough, which we can only be pleased about, but I wake up every day on a call - it is a comfort knowing this is normal, and not the only one it is happening to.



Life goes on!

2007-07-14T15:06:44.091-04:00

I have just completed my third week of training at the new call center. We have 10 days left, then we are on the phones.

Yesterday I had an interview for another job, which would have been listening to calls and marking them for quality. The interview went really well, but I answered so well that they asked me would I be interested in this other position that will be coming along. They told me about it, the same job I was told about at the original interview, and I said yes, that is the ultimate goal. Told them also that I had been advised to take this particular opportunity first, but he said that he needs the people he chooses to stay in that role. He said that he would put my name forward, and tell the person responsible that he had found the right person. So it was a catch-22 situation, and I shot myself in the foot. However I now have one more person saying I am the right person for this other job.

On the house front we received some quotes for the foundation, one with digging the foundation out ready for the footings and frost wall, and one without. The one without is using a better method of insulation, so we are now waiting for a quote on the digging out, to finalise who we choose.

About two weeks ago we went up to the lot and have marked out the Saltbox plan, so we know where we want it to be positioned. The only thing we did not mark was the Bay Window, which we may do tomorrow. This has given us a much better idea of the floor size, to get a feel for how much room we will have.

Jerry has been working on a new house build about the same footprint size as ours will be, so hope to go take a look so we have a better idea.



New Job!

2007-06-21T09:00:00.564-04:00

I start work on Monday, back at the old call centre. Minacs has come in to take over the building, and want to be up and running by the beginning of August. It is going to be supporting escalations from an American Credit Card.

My interview went very well, and the fact I had trained as a Quality Auditor was spotted, and it was suggested that I could be the Quality Specialist, which would be a salaried position. Well then I got a call yesterday to say that the building has to be ISO Certified before that position will be filled, and that could be a month or two down the line. What they have said is that I will be top of the list for the position once they are ready. So I start there as an agent taking calls initially, but then everyone has to do this training on the floor whatever job they do afterwards.

So although I am pleased to be back at work, I do feel I missed the carrot, but trying to feel confident that I will be taken on for the other job in due course.



Job News!

2007-06-14T10:54:27.730-04:00

Received an email yesterday from the Chamber of Commerce. The background to that is that they were involved in trying to recruit a company to come in and take over the building. Some time back they requested everyone who might be interested to send in their resume, so they had a database of people to put to any company that might need some proof of the level of interest. There is to be an announcement tomorrow at the Call Center, and the Premier will be there, to the effect that a new company is coming in to the building shortly. There is to be a Career Open House on Friday and Saturday for people to go in with their resume and speak to the human resources there. Hopefully we will find out more what company or companies they hope to be supporting here.

They plan to have 350 working there, and hope to be up and running by the end of June. I think this is very fast track in any body's book, so we will see what happens.



Update after the Weekend!

2007-06-11T11:56:25.274-04:00

Jerry's Mum and step dad came through Port Hawkesbury this past weekend. And our house in town here and the lot got a big thumbs up all round.It seems we have wild strawberries growing in abundance, possibly some Elder, and possibly some wild rasperries. And seemly growing everywhere are tiny purple violets, and also some white ones. And we already knew that we will have more bull rushes than we will know what to do with, and the new green growth is already starting to come through.Jerry's Mum and step dad are taking a mega trip across Canada, probably a trip listed by everyone as a must do one day.. and that is a train trip from Halifax to Toronto, and then the train across to Vancouver. From Vancouver a cruise to Alaska. Then a flight back to Halifax, and they come back to us for a weekend. Of course the latter past is not included in everyone's list.We are still waiting on the quote for the foundation. But are thinking more and more that getting Jerry's colleagues to work on it on their week off in July would be a perfect way of getting it done a lot lot cheaper.We were sad to hear that Matt and AJ our friends from downshiftme are not going to be podcasting every week as they have been doing. What Jerry and I have always said is that it was not something we could do, we would feel under too much pressure to have something terribly interesting to say each week, or feel that things have to be done in order to be able to talk about them for the podcast. So sad as we are we do understand the reasoning. It has been part of our weekend since coming to Nova Scotia, (we didn't have broadband in France so had not been listening to their progress), and we will miss listening to them. We found we enjoyed it very much even when nothing extraordinary had happened that week, or if they were just exhausted. The reason being is that that is what life is about - most people's lives are filled with more less interesting days and weeks than ones with exiting events. With our decision to start this Blog, we decided from the start it would cover most things in our lives, not just to do with the house build. Having said that, the decision that may lead to the house not being built till next Summer has made us feel that there will be less to say about the house on this Blog than there would have been. However, at this point we do plan to continue, and update when we can, with whatever is happening in our lives.An update on our house decorating plans for our house in town, is that paintwork we can do without a problem. Regarding replacing the old windows - which are mostly downstairs, we need to cost that out, windows and labour. Also at that time check out how well insulated the walls are, and cost that out if it is necessary. Our heating bill for fuel this past winter was $3000 at least, and a decision as to whether we have all this work done will depend on whether we plan to rent out the house once our house is built, or to sell it. The way I see it is that if we just have to fund one winter of fuel and then sell the house next year sometime after we move to the new house, it would not make financial sense to replace the windows now. But if we intend renting the house, then people may not stay in the house for long if they find the fuel costs too much for them, so we may well have to do that for our long term benefit. So something we have to think about as to what our future plans are before doing any major work.[...]



Back home in Cape Breton!

2007-06-03T17:53:12.288-04:00

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I have now been home almost a week, and finally over the jet lag or maybe over the excitement of being home in Wales with Mum and my sister for our Mother's 83rd birthday. The photo is of us helping Mum cut her cake. Suffice to say it was wonderful to be back in Wales, for me it was 7 years since I was there, so shame on me. Mum is coming out to Canada in August, so that is something to look forward to.

Since getting home Jerry has had good news - he has received the Student Leadership award for this year, and we go to the school on Wednesday night for the presentation.

We are also in the process of making some decisions on the house front, based on the fact that I have still not found another job, and that Jerry will be back at school and not earning until this time next year. We plan to wait and see what his boss's quote will be for the foundation... then another company that specialises in concrete and foundation jobs is apparently offering a very good price just now, we plan to get a price from them to compare. Then we have to decide are we going to get that done this summer, so that if the school want to give the class experience and help get the framework up, then we are in a position to let that go ahead. We have been working on the plans and decided on the layout, so there is no more dithering to be done on that front.

We have accepted that we will not be finished in the house by winter, so we plan to decorate our little house in town, and hopefully replace the windows before winter, as we spent a small fortune on fuel this past winter. I hope to change the look of the house a little too with paint, as it had been redecorated in very neutral colors for selling, and I plan to give it some life with color.

Yesterday we bought four window boxes to put on the verandah rail, and bought some flowers and herbs. Two of them have flowers, which I hope will fill out and hang down to cover the boxes themselves.. and the herbs are in the boxes as a temporary solution. We plan to build a raised bed for herbs, and then move them from the window boxes, and then plant flowers in those two boxes.

Today we took Oliver up to the lot, and some chairs and a picnic, and had a nice sit down in the sun. It is so quiet up there, truly a perfect spot. Took some bottles of Nova Scotia Cider as well which was really refreshing.

We will update when we have made some progress.



No Job!

2007-05-15T11:06:40.885-04:00

Sorry for the delay in updating, but I have been trying to get used to being home again, and trying to stay focused on finding a job.

I finally got an email from the company which I had an interview with the morning of a job fair in town. Basically saying they did not get the funding for the job, and it took them weeks to let me know, which annoyed me somewhat. Went to the job fair and they were there recruiting, although they said that they still do not have the funding now until July when they renew the current contract. When I got home from the job fair I went to a job site that I found out about at the fair, and the very job they do not have funding for was on the site, and this time with no mention of needing approval for funding, so unclear as to whether I was told the whole truth. I am someone who would rather be told that I was not suitable for the post, than to be given some hope that I may get the position later.

On the house front, Jerry has asked his current employer for a quote for the foundation for the Solar Saltbox house both with a foundation and without. Although we have pretty much decided to go with the without the foundation idea. The plans for the Solar Saltbox arrived, and we purchased software in order to be able to make the necessary changes to the plans to suit our needs.

Jerry is very busy at work, and is getting home later and later these days. The days are getting longer and they make use of them, and they are working to many deadlines on many houses, which means that will not improve. But after next week he should be getting paid for his work, as that is the last week of the placement. The fact that they are so busy will mean that the quote for the foundation will be later than expected too.

On the personal front, I am pretty much ready for my trip to Wales, I leave Cape Breton on Thursday of this week, and arrive home on our anniversary the 27th May. Both my sister and I are getting real excited about traveling together for the first time as adults, and going home to Mum together the first time in many years. This whole trip is also hard in some ways, as Jerry and I are pretty much joined at the hip apart from going to work, and this will be the first time away from him in many many years now.

When I get back, my focus will be back on searching for work, and also chasing up the quote for the foundation, as we do hope to be able to have the shell ready to move into before winter, so important to get this started soon.



The Weather!

2007-05-01T19:49:09.949-04:00

Yes it is the 1st May and it is Snowing! Yes this is no lie. It started out as sleet, and got heavier, and now it is snow and it wants to stay, the ground is turning white as I write.

And my Mother who lives in Wales is telling me it has been warm, and they need rain for the garden.

Does anyone see something wrong in that statement, it always ( at least used to) rains in Wales.

Well the rain came, and the snow is gone, so it no longer look like Christmas.

The other news today, is that I got my results from my last blood test a few weeks ago today, when I visited my doctor. My vitamin B12 levels are back to almost normal, and my iron levels are now only double what they should be instead of six times the level as they were when I was diagnosed. So the general view is that the iron will reduce to normal by itself, maybe less red meat in the short term. So this is excellent news for me, I feel like I have turned a corner now.

I am just getting impatient with knowing if I have got this other job in town or not. I am hoping I will hear one way or another this week. I don't feel happy about being on unemployment, and also not sure how much they would pay me, but if it comes to it, it is better than getting no money which is what I expected it to be.



Officially Unemployed!

2007-04-30T15:08:32.232-04:00

I went to work today just to hand in my security pass, and that took 2 and a half hours. Then went to lunch with a friend from work, and her friend.. a lunchtime special, and very good it was too. Then after coming home here, went to the employment office, with regards to registering as unemployed. I wanted to know if I was entitled to claim, before going ahead with it.

On the way home I got diverted via the realtors office, and got copies of all the land plans for the lot, as we had given them all in to the planning office, and ended up with no copied of our own. The good news is that the telephone is connected there, and this I had been unsure of.

When I got home there was a message from Service Canada the employment office, asking me to call them back, which I did, and I am entitled to claim. So I have an appointment for Thursday to file my claim, so a little weight has been taken off my shoulders for now, with not knowing if I got that job yet.

It is looking like Jerry will not be being paid for these first five weeks, for the placement, no mention has been made of it, so we assume not, and they have no obligation to either. So the fact I am entitled to claim will be a relief all round.



Interesting and Varied news!

2007-04-28T10:49:34.199-04:00

Yesterday was the last day working for EDS, that have closed the call center and is now located offshore in India. However, rumor has it that already a costly mistake was made, which has wiped out any savings the Bank of America thought it would make by moving the call center off shore. It is a case of when they will move it back on shore not if. The last days were mostly people taking photos, as some have worked together for 4 years or more, unlike myself who only joined last August when we moved here. Have made friends though, who already have plans on what to do during the coming summer. It is a little different for me, in the fact that I am unlikely to be able to claim for unemployment, since I am not a citizen, whereas most people will be claiming and having the summer off anyway, and do not have to worry financially.Suffice to say, that no update since last week was due to the fact that I have not heard from the company about the job that I was interviewed for. The girl I used to work with that was interviewed just before me, actually emailed them at the beginning of the week to ask for an update, but until yesterday had not received a response. I have gone over in my mind what was said about the timing of their decision, and it seems that the week before last was going to be meetings at the school in Florida to get the funding for one maybe two positions, and that we would here from them around the 23rd or just after. One can only assume that either they did not get the funding, and are still working on it, as an explanation for the delay. However, I do remember it being said that if there was a delay, they would let me know. For this job you do need to have the form from the Police to show your record is clean, and I am still waiting to hear form them, as they also said they would call this week to let me know that it was there for collecting. So a visit to the RCMP is in order today I think, to check whether they simply forgot to call me.Today is our 12th Wedding Anniversary, and we have come such a long way from our very humble beginnings together. Jerry surprised me with a wonderful celtic necklace from a wonderful store in St Peters. Jerry has the unfair advantage, of the fact that he meets up with the team in St Peters, and then leaves the truck there while they all go in one vehicle to the various houses they are working on. My excuse for almost not remembering the anniversary, is that this was our legal anniversary, and a month later we had the wedding that we normally celebrate, for which we wrote our own vows, and was not legal in any way, hence this wedding happened a month before the planned wedding. And I arrive home from Toronto after the visit to Wales for Mum's 83rd birthday, on the day of our 12th wedding anniversary, which is a Sunday, so at least Jerry will not be working and we will have some time together.The other news is that we are looking at a different style of home for the lot!!! Yes we realise that the sheer size of the foundation we had planned may be too costly, and the fact that the house itself is built out of blocks, would mean paying someone to do that for us. The design we are now looking at has a smaller footprint, and is two floors, and we may even go with a full basement, as Jerry's colleagues are saying a full basement does not cost much more. We had originally gone with the idea that two floors would inhibit the heating to the upstairs, but it appears that this is not the case. It is all to do with correct glazing for both areas. Also the design i[...]



Work Term update

2007-04-24T21:58:38.181-04:00

(image)


(image) Hi, the elusive Jerry here. Had my first two days of my work term, and they've been interesting.

I include photo's of what I've been up to. One shows a wall in a holiday home the company has been building. Started off this morning as a blank wall, and finished of as a mock log wall. Nice enough, but I don't think it's something I want in our home, but good experience anyway. The other photo shows what was accomplished Monday. It's the porch for the front (or back, depending on the view) of the house we're working on currently. Monday morning there was no porch. My first task on my first day, was to build the floor frame, the beam, and nail on the deck planks. Thankfully it was all stuff I had some knowledge of, so not too difficult.

Mind you, I shouldn't have left my rubber mallet on my tool belt, as that got a lot of ridicule, as did my 'cats claw' which is considerably larger than anyone else's, but doesn't lend itself to staying in my tool belt.

All in all a good couple of days, I've learnt things and seem to be getting on ok with the guys on the team. Bit annoying that today was cut short due to lack of materials, but then you have to live with that. Hopefully they'll be there tomorrow. Won't know what the plan is until I get there.

On a secondary note, I've just added to the useful in a worst case scenario items. Just ordered a "Berkey" water filter and a couple of kerosene lanterns. Once the filter arrives, we shouldn't need to worry about drinking water again. We have a stream at the bottom of the plot, which should give us plenty of water if necessary.


That's it for now, more as I proceed through the 5 weeks.



New Website Soon!

2007-04-21T10:44:51.113-04:00

Just to let you know that we have purchased a new domain name - www.passivesolarliving.com. We will get it set up and then incorporate this blog into it. It will be some time before it is active, but at least have now bitten the bullet and got passed stage one. We did want to have it has '.ca', but you need to be a Canadian Citizen to be allowed to have a '.ca' so we searched again. We had purchased a domain name while in France, in readiness for our business, but did not renew it as we felt that it was no longer relevant, and that our lives had moved on from that.

I (Gemma) have been very busy again at work, we are back up to taking 30% of the incoming calls, as the offshore team in India are not coping, and have lost 10 staff recently, both voluntary and involuntary. They have the task of learning English and all aspects of support at the same time, and I imagine Bank of America associates are not going to tolerate the continuance of these changes. Having lived and worked in London, I find it difficult to understand them, and they find it difficult to understand us, and bank associates do not want to call in, and end up having to use instant messaging to be understood.

The outcome of this change is that we are coming to the end of our time in this job, and we have seen the company letting people go up to a week early (on full pay), and we are now taking more calls will far less staff, and everyone is less than happy. We have gone from a happy lot, having a jolly time, making use of time between calls, as in up to an hour, to now when we have no time between calls at all, and no sign of us being let go early, in fact more likely to be on calls up to the last minute next Friday.

I am however hoping to hear the result of my interview next week with a company in town, and hope I can start there soon, or at least when I get back from the Wales trip.

Today is sunny but quite windy, so our planned picnic at the lot is canceled, we shall be going there to do some more planning.

Jerry has been calling and leaving messages for two contractors we had names and numbers for, in regard to a quote for the foundations, but with no response at all. He does start his 5-week placement with a company next week, and he plans to ask the boss if he will give him a quote, and if we go with it, if he could work on it too. We both feel that we want to be in on the action from the bottom up, so we can feel a part of this house.

Something I had missed off my last post was the fact that our purchase of cast iron cookware from Canadian Tire included 3 skillets in the box. What has subsequently arrived in the post are some additional pieces that Jerry had ordered through Ebay, were two smaller Dutch Ovens, and a cast iron kettle, all in preparation for cooking outside on our fire pit, or on the woodstove in the new house.



Jumping to Conclusions!

2007-04-15T14:34:32.372-04:00

It turns out that the person I thought was a Supervisor, is not even a Team Lead, the only advantage over me is the time she has worked with the company, no seniority at all. Shows how you can jump to conclusions about someone. Just have to wait to 1) if I got the job and 2) if they got the funding for the position. Although money was not discussed, I realise the fact that they are very keen that you can work from home for most of the shifts, and in case of bad weather, that seemed more important than anything. For me this has now made the job even more suitable. Their last question was the fact we are going to move out of town, whether I would have broadband, and I had in fact called the company that afternoon and found that it might never happen, so I explained that we had friends that have installed Satellite, and that it has proven to work very well. The response to this was that one of the interviewers and another member of staff also work at home over satellite, so it proves to be good enough to do the job, which is great.Today we have been up the Lot again, and given Oliver a good run up there. Oliver found a red squirrel to play with, but the squirrel got the better of him, was really telling him what for. Although there is no snow on the ground in town, there is quite a bit of snow on the lot from the last few days, even the remnants of freezing rain on the trees.. and guess what didn't take the camera. Isn't that always the way. It is lovely and sunny though today, and it was nice walking around on our land.Jerry showed me the BBQ pit he dug a few weeks back. It is in the perfect spot, and will be ideal for all our bbq's this year. Jerry also showed me the marshy area he had found the other day, which has dried bull rushes there. Did I forget to say that my sister in Toronto loves Bull rushes, so no doubt she will find a way to take some back with her after her next visit.My job is ending on the April 30th, but it had originally been the 17th, but last week they asked the employees that had said the 17th if they wanted to leave early on full pay until the 17th, and of course they said yes. Then there was an issue with the phones, and we were up to our necks in calls, in queue like a Monday when servers tend to be down. My question is, will they now offer the employees who said the 30th, if they want to leave early on full pay rather than sit there doing nothing.And finally, some months ago, I had a little whinge to my boss, like THE BOSS, that I disapproved of their Quality system, where they drew names out of a hat for prizes, and then gave honorable mentions to other people. The honorable mention seemed to depend on your social life, and how friendly you were with the right people.. but I didn't say that of course. Well next think my Supervisor and a team lead called me in the office, and I expected a slap on the wrist for being outspoken like that in front of other staff directly to the boss... whereas what did happen was that he said I should have a $50 gift certificate, so they handed me a Canadian Tire gift card for the use of. And I did my best to look all guilty about being outspoken, but they made a point of saying that this was in recognition of my continued efforts etc. This was between us, and there was no email with my name on it saying I had received a gift certificate, but chose not to tell anyone. The people who asked why I was called in, were told by me that I had a rap on the wrists for wh[...]



Interview update!

2007-04-12T18:31:11.106-04:00

This is to update all you interested fans, that I got through my first interview on the phone. I had a call to ask me to come in for the second interview this afternoon. The position is support for an online school in Florida. So students that either cannot go to a normal school, or did not get through at a normal school and choose to resit this way. This is tech support for any issues they have viewing any of the course material.

I came home to change into a neat little grey boucle suit, that now fits me perfectly. When Jerry dropped me off, I said I was going to check if it was the right building, and Jerry told me that I had said it was that building. This is when he tells me that he assumed it was in the professional center because I had said so.. well I guessed it was there, so Jerry assumed that was gospel. Well thankfully it was there, so I went to find their office.

When I arrived, a supervisor from my current job was finishing up, also applying for the job. So you can imagine, my hands were shaking, and I thought I can say goodbye to this job now. The interview atmosphere was lovely, but I am not convinced I did that well. I got on real well with them, and I hope it was enough. They did say that when the contract for the support is renewed in July, they hope to add yet another person, and they do keep the resume's on file - so there is hope for me yet.

I am trying and failing not to go over the questions in my head, and realising how much better I could have answered in places. So now I am having a beer to calm my nerves.

Oh and by the way it was sunny when I came out, and I walked aways while waiting for Jerry to come pick me up. Having said another snow storm coming tomorrow and Saturday. I also realised that this place is really only a ten minute walk from our house, and will be walkable in the winter. The wonderful thing is that apart from the main day shift, they want people to work from home on the other shifts, so that is great, and ideal, couldn't wish for better.

Oh and finally a wonderful link if you love Chickens - It is a HEN CAM - so if you miss the calmness and company of chickens this is the place, you can see them both inside and outside the hen house and in the nest, a sight you don' t often have the chance to see. Enjoy!



Just catching up

2007-04-08T11:38:27.953-04:00

Jerry Here,

Not sure if I've mentioned this, but I've been slowly buying up useful things from ebay and Lehmans So far have bought a couple of Dutch Ovens and a cast iron kettle from ebay, plus several books on dutch oven cooking and cooking on a woodburning stove. Also ordered a cast iron door for a bread oven plus a book on how to build the oven.

I want to be able to cook without needing to import energy as much as possible, although the current plan is to have a propane stove as backup. Just need to fit everything in the kitchen!

Have already dug a fire pit, and have marked out an area for a shelter/ sitting area. I'm hoping to use wood from the lot to build the shelter, which will be interesting.

Contemplating buying a chainsaw as well, as there's a lot of fallen trees that need processing and seasoning before they rot completely. Also thinking semi-seriously of getting some sort of portable saw-mill, but we'll see.

Really need to get something sorted out about the foundations. Need to get another quote or two and then decide. I'm sure we can get the price down to something more reasonable.