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We were there to help finish with the house construction chores, so there was not a lot of time in the evenings to drive the half-hour or so required for restaurant meals in the nearby communities. As a result, we limited ourselves to cooking meals at home from whatever we happened to have on hand when we finished work in the evenings.
Favorite Dish: As habitation of the house was nearing, we had our first inside meal in the new dining room on Dec. 23rd when I prepared BBQ cheeseburgers outside the house. By the next day, Christmas Eve, we had the kitchen appliances working so I prepared my rice with meatballs 'special', cooked in a mixture of chopped onions, ketchup, brown sugar, lemon juice and soya sauce. Sue had scratched together a Caesar Salad to accompany the meal. Ryan, Carolyn and Sue are ready to dig into the feast as seen here!
On Christmas Day, Sue and Carolyn slaved away in the kitchen preparing our turkey & stuffing dinner, including the side dishes of roasted potatoes, carrots, broccoli, squash and gravey while Ryan and I continued to work away on the downstairs interior walls. It was really special to have these first meals in the new house coincide with Christmas celebrations!
Updated Jan 12, 2008
Alberta seems to be swarming with wildlife, and the Markerville area was no exception! This presents a problem when night driving is required - these wild animals are totally unpredictable as to what they will do next or which way they will bolt if they decide to run.
One evening after we had finished work well past dusk, we headed off in our vehicles into the dark of night (Sue and I in my old car and Carolyn and Ryan in their big 4WD Ford F-350 pickup truck). The stretch of road near their house is unpaved, so we were only travelling at about 70-80 kph as we approached a small bridge over the Medicine River, with its steel guardrails visible in the photo. Sue and I made it safely across but, only a few seconds later, a deer that had been browsing in the tall grass beside the bridge suddenly bounded over the guardrail directly into the path of the truck. Death was instantaneous - Ryan stopped to pull the animal off the road and back into the grassy area. It was still there several days later, maybe too well hidden and frozen to be detected by scavengers. The second photo shows Ryan's truck with a small ding at the left corner of the bumper. If it had been our much lower to the ground car involved in the collision, the deer likely would have struck the windshield.
On my later drive home, between Cold Lake, Alberta and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan I saw 7 deer and 1 coyote road-kill beside the highway, with most of the carcasses in the process of being partially or mostly eaten by small groups of large Ravens.
Updated Jan 6, 2008
I am no home handyman, but Ryan certainly is! Since September, he and Carolyn have been building the house themselves with just whatever help they can get from available friends. By the time I arrived in Regina, most of the heavy duty stuff was completed but there was still plenty of work to do both inside and out.
These photos show what the house looked like one month before the Christmas visit - taken in mid-November when I took advantage of a 3-day weekend to make the 8-hour one-way drive from Regina to lend a hand. Most of the interior work at that time involved getting the itchy fibreglass insulation batts installed in the walls and ceilings between the wooden joists. In order to reach some of the high spots above the stairwell, we nailed a couple of planks above it to provide a scaffold of sorts. The first three photos show Carolyn, her Collie Kira and I hard at work!
I had more fun outside running their miniature 4WD 'front-end loader' (4th photo). This thing was really nimble and could spin around on a dime! Left hand controlled both left wheels, Right hand controlled both right wheels, left foot controlled the up/down motion of the bucket supports and the right foot controlled the tilt of the bucket to dump or pickup material. In the photo, I am pushing piles of dirt to re-cover the sewage septic system pipes after the material had been dug up by a backhoe to fix a problem.
Christmas chores included laying the floors, installing trim around doors, windows and cabinets as well as the heavy two-man job of cutting and installing interior drywall sheets on the ceilings and walls of the lower level rooms.
Updated Jan 13, 2008