Saturday, November 19, 2011

the road that Jimmy built!

i have mentioned our friends Jimmy and Barb a few times on this blog. they are the great people who took care of the Manor for us while we were still living back in the city - and they did a ton of work for us! one of the best selling points about the Manor was it came with alm0st 10 acres and 200ft of riverfront - we always knew that when we left the city we had to be on waterfront.

when i first contacted the real estate agent, she let me know right off the top that no human being had ever seen our "waterfront". at some point in mankind's history, someone had cleared about 20 ft just at the back of the house; however that was many moons ago and it had all grown over again. with wild raspberry bushes. it's not called Framboise for nothing. anyway - the rest of the 1000ft hike to the "waterfront" was pure, virgin, overgrown forest.

that threw us for a bit of a loop and we re-considered. but because the acreage came with a house, telephone, electricity, well, septic system, etc., and because it was located in the exact rural area that we wanted to be in...we bit the bullet and decided that we would have to budget for a road to be built down to the river at some point in the future.

after we bought the place, sight-unseen, we took a vacation to the Manor to finally see our property. we were so excited! running around the cottage and the yard like giggling fools. and then decided to go and check out our "waterfront". here is a pic of what we encountered at the beginning of our hike.

it sure doesn't look as bad as it was. we spent almost an hour tripping, falling, squeezing between trees, getting scratches everywhere, falling down some more and crying. it was only 1000ft. and we have both hiked and whatnot but this was densely-packed forest. however, once we saw the river we knew that we had made the right decision. our only problem was - who on earth could build us such a long road. and how much was it going to cost?!?!?!?!?

enter A and C, stage left. C is Jimmy and Barb's daughter, A is her boyfriend. because the hike to the river was so gawd-awful, we decided to go to the beautiful private beach nearby. A and C were set up in a camper trailer down at the beach. as soon as we pulled up, their gorgeous pit-bull jumped right into my unrolled window and proceeded to lick my whole face. then jumped in the backseat. then chased his tail. then jumped in the front seat and licked jambaloney's whole face. then back into the back seat. this proceeded for many minutes with both A and C, embarrassed, leaning in the car, trying to get that rambunctious little/big guy out of there - it was funny to say the least! and that poor little dog recently got hit by a car and had one of his front paws removed right up to the shoulder!!! but that hasn't stopped him. C told me he was dragging her up the road at lightening speed on his 3rd day out of the hospital. and for anyone concerned - he has really adjusted. and still jumps in strangers' cars i am sure.

continuing on, we went a ways up the beach and set up our towels then ran into the water. we were splashing around in the freezing ocean for about an hour - laughing and laughing! we are water babies. once we got out and were properly dried-off, A walked down and asked us if we would like to join them for a beer. so we went up to where they had parked their trailer and sat and chatted. they are really nice kids in their early 20's. they told us that C's mom and dad, Jimmy and Barb, had just gone off to get some firewood and would be back shortly. we enjoyed chatting with them and playing with the dog.

enter big, black, beaten up Chevy Silverado, stage right. loaded to the gills with firewood. and when i say firewood - i mean entire trees! and when i say entire trees - i mean entire trees, about a foot and a half in diameter, that he had pulled out of the ground - no chainsaw, no hatchet - no anything. just pulled them out of the ground - bahahahaha! oh he's a character is our Jimmy! imagine a 6'2, 220lb Cape Breton guy who claims he got his Grade 12 - cuz he repeated Grade 6 before quitting school! he is friendly, always smiling and is glad to help anyone out with anything that he can.

Barb's quite the character herself and the exact opposite of Jimmy - in some ways. she is tiny like a faery, complete with a faery-smile and has a huge heart of gold (i wish she had a "pot" of gold!). but don't get her started or you are in for it - she could easily take on 3 or 4 guys Jimmy's size and she would be the ONLY one walking away.

anyway - there we are having one of the best afternoons of our life - yakking with our new-found friends and swimming. i'll never forget the way Jimmy kept saying, "welcome home, buddy. welcome home". he was making me teary-eyed!

we probably stayed at the beach until about 10:30 that night and left after much hugging and promises to return the following morning for breakfast. we came back to the cottage and spent the night on a mouldy, old mattress but slept like kings! we woke up late and went back to the beach where Jimmy, Barb, A and C had already had breakfast and had passed A and C on the road as they were heading home - about an hour and a half away. when we got down to the beach there was more hugs and welcomes and then more chatting.

at some point we explained our situation with not being able to get down to the river. and that's when Jimmy told us he's a certified heavy equipment operator. one year he laid fibre-optic cable 6,000km from British Columbia to Halifax, Nova Scotia. THAT is the entire distance across our country! he built airports in Nunavut AND the Northwest Territories. and he was an ice-road truck driver for years! there is not a piece of heavy equipment that he is not trained to use. he spent this past summer dredging Sydney harbour (a fair-sized harbour) to make it deeper. the man has been everywhere and done everything!

and very casually told us that he would come take a look and let us know if it would be a problem to build us a road! VERY CASUALLY?!?!?!?!?

they came up - Jimmy walked around, said he could clear all around our house, could build the road to the river and it would not be a problem - WHAT?!?!?! oh and he would also re-grade our driveway?!?!?!

they stayed with us a few more hours. we exchanged all of our details. gave them the keys to the Manor. they had to leave to go home. lots of hugging and kissing! we had to leave the next day to come back to the city. we called them when we arrived back in the city. Jimmy told us he would have all of the work at the Manor done by November as he first had to finish another contract. November?!?!?!!? we couldn't believe our incredible luck! and we weren't even planning on moving to the Manor for another several years. but with Jimmy getting that work on the driveway, yard and road done for us - it meant that we could visit the Manor and be able to enjoy our waterfront - can you even believe this story?!?!?!

as it turns out, Barb and Jimmy took care of the Manor for us for a year and a half. Barb painted the entire Manor, and both Jimmy and Barb, their kids, and friends also helped put the Manor together for us. i have previously mentioned putting in a beautiful new window in the living room, a new one in the bathroom, gutting the entire bathroom and re-building it from scratch, putting in a new water heater, new sump-pump, building us a deck - i can't even remember all that they did for us!

anyway - back to the road that Jimmy built. have a look-see for is a pic of the Manor before:

pretty overgrown, eh? and here is a pic of the front yard before:

here's what Jimmy did - amazing isn't it?

remember the gawd-awful driveway?

here's what Jimmy did:

here is a pic of the full driveway:

remember how the back of the house used to look?

here's what Jimmy did. notice that he saved the trees!

and i know. this post is about the road that Jimmy built. here ya go, have at 'er:

you can actually see the river now! and he cleared an area for us down at the river!

he did all of this work for us and charged us only the rental for the equipment. he charged us nothing for labour. and he was at the Manor working his butt off and it was slow-moving because of the horrible weather! and he charged us not a dime for his labour.

on top of that - he happened to stumble across some old farming equipment that a farmer was throwing out. asked if he could have it. farmer said sure. so he dragged that stuff up to the Manor and then painted it red. how did he know of my love of red? i don't know the answer to that question.

here is a pic of our friend, Jimmy. we love him! more than he will ever know.

i look out my kitchen window everyday and see that hand-painted, red,old farm equipment. and Jimmy is always smiling and waving, with his beer in hand in my mind.

from both of us, Jimmy, to you and Barb - thank you!


  1. You have some amazing friends :) The place looks beautiful. What a difference!!!

  2. Hey you guys,

    WOW !! I love this story ! Jimmy and his wife are truly very special people... it's not often, if ever, that we have the good fortune to meet such selfless, honorable real folks like you did. I can't imagine all the time and work it took him to complete such a marvelous transformation. You guys must have nearly fell over when you saw your new land !

    Everything looks sooo good now ! The pics are great Kymber ... more beauty to look at when stressed. I'm still looking online at waterfront properties in Nova Scotia, and see that prices are still good, but rising in parts of the province. But not like here in British Columbia ... oh my god you can't even buy an outhouse on the water for under a million !

    Hope you're feeling better now Kymber, and have a great week-end guys ! Enjoy that hot-tub ... we're at -10 today .... BRRR ! Cheers... Helga

  3. If I met someone that nice to me and generous, I am quite sure I would pass out. They were truly helpful friends. He sounds very experienced and knowledgeable. But, maybe I won't cross Barb.

  4. Truly your guardian angel's. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Tango - i think our elf-friend Barb really does have a pot of gold (she's just hiding it! and i am hoping she shares it with us - bahahahaha!) Jimmy (and her) has told us that he chased her since she was 14 - and finally won her - not an easy thing to do! REALLY! but there is definitely something very amazing about the 2 of them. and they did so much for us. and we have no idea how to pay them back! but we will find a way!

    Helga - i knew that you would understand how much they much they did for us. imagine giving people the keys to your house and leaving it for a year and a half - when you will be 1,600kms away for the next several years - bahahahah! we knew we had struck gold with them! they never let us down and worked so hard on our Manor when they could have been working on their own house or something? but no - they selflessly gave of their time. and we are enriched because of their true and dear friendship.

    Helga, my friend, BC is waaay too pricey, you need to find land in Cape Breton. and near us please. we like our friends to be like Jimmy and Barb. and you sure seem to be their way!

    PracticalP - we almost both did near pass out. but ya know - all of the people around here are like Jimmy and Barb. not as special, of course - Jimmy and Barb are one of a kind. but the other people are as nice! and that is a wonderful thing!

    PracticalP - he is knowledgeable in just about everything. and my only advice is to befriend Barb and stay on her good side. you know what i mean! you always want Barb on your good side. i haven't talked to her in a while and it is weighing heavy on my heart. i miss my girlfriend very much!

    Rob - thanks buddy! imagine sharing the keys to your house with people you only met the day before?!?!?!?!? and then leaving to go 1,600km away! and leaving the keys with people you only knew for 2 days. none of that bothered us as we knew we could trust Jimmy and Barb. they were awesome care-takers. and did soooo much work on the Manor - it brings tears to my eyes when i see all of the work that they did. it's one thing being in the city, 1,600 kms away, and then to come here and see how much work they did - oh - i get teary-eyed buddy, and need to stop trying to type through the tears.

    thank you all for stopping by and honouring our friends. they are the most wonderful people. and i am so glad to have you honour them!

    your friend,

  6. Looks like some nice work there. You need a smurf statue under the red rake however :)

  7. Love all the views both before and after!! Maybe you need the garden gnome from Travelocity-

    Your place is incredible and I am so happy for you both!

  8. PioneerP and Humble Wife - too funny! but what is funnier is that Jimmy put a white plastic bunny beside the red rake - bahahahaha! he thought of everything! and that bunny has lived there ever since!

    mmasse - they still make friends like that around here - there are a lot of really lovely and wonderful people in our community. but Jimmy and Barb are the best!

    thanks for stopping by everyone!

  9. That is awesome! What incredible people! Your place looks great. You're very lucky to have made such great friends!

  10. Now there are some friends ya hold on to for dear life. Amazing folks!

  11. That does look different, you have some wonderful friends!

    Will it all grow back again though? How will you keep it clear?

  12. Wendy - they are incredible people and incredible friends! our place is shaping is a work in progress. and yes - we are very lucky and very grateful to have found such friends!

    Craig - thanks for stopping in buddy. i thought i had you listed in our blogroll - i always just go to my bookmarks to read you. turns out you aren't listed??? i will fix that pronto. i am glad that you stopped in. and yes - friends for life!!!

    Joey - yep - they are wonderful! the front yard has grown back in - lots of weeds and daisies and clover. i have saved clover seeds all summer and next spring will spread them all over the front yard. i want the front yard to be covered in clover. jambaloney keeps the back yard, side yard and road cleared with a Husqvarna brushcutter - it does a really good job but is a lot of work. over this past year, the back and side yards have remained cleared from his work and the road is getting nice and packed.

    anyway - everyone - thanks for stopping in and appreciating our wonderful friends. we don't know what we would have done without them. they were a godsend!

  13. hey everyone!

    yeah you are all bang on - jimmy and barb are amazing friends! so are barney and sockie - they all kept a close eye on us when we first got here and plowed our driveway before i got the ATV in february. they used their coyote tractor do do it and came with the tractor to tow me out of a snowbank when i got the truck stuck (did kymber mention i had 40 hours of driving experience before we got here ??)

    all in all, we are indebted to them like you can't believe - and they did it all with a true heart - they wanted to make sure we were ok!

    but that's cape breton for you - salt of the earth, must be the ocean air!

  14. Hey guys,

    Go read this:

    I think there are some lessons there that are directly relevant. A person simply cannot have enough friends. And I love how you appreciate them.


  15. That's a really neat story. Good friends are hard to find sometimes. I think Jimmy is a good friend. Thanks for sharing.

  16. You just can't be having 'neighbors' like that!

  17. That is wonderful! We too,have been blessed with good neighbors,who have charged us nothing for jobs that would've cost over a thousand dollars. The amount of money that he saved you is incredible! What a wonderful person :)

  18. Friends, just can't beat 'em, can you. Nice road.

  19. Winston - thanks for sharing that! i love Patrice and she has a way with words the same way that you do. we felt truly comfortable knowing that while we were 1,000miles away, our friends were taking care of the Manor for us. it gave us great peace of mind.

    Patrice's post summed up very nicely that we all need to use our gifts. and i think that is a beautiful concept especially in regards to friendship. Jimmy and Barb gave freely of their time to get this place into half-decent shape. and asked nothing in return. just friendship.

    Duke - you would love Jimmy. he is your type of guy. and an awesome friend!

    Richard - Happy Thanksgiving to you too! we will be celebrating with our American friends as we missed Canadian Thanksgiving.

    Ed - you really can't beat neighbours/friends like that!

    Stephen - ya it sure is a nice road. nice driveway too. and then all the clearing he did around the house - oh man he saved us a ton of work and a ton of money!

    Kathi - it was a lot of work. and he just put on his Jimmy grin and did it. Barb, too. she hurt her shoulder really bad last year, and even though we told her over the phone to stop worrying about getting this place painted - she wouldn't let up. and i think that she hurt her shoulder even more in doing so.

    anyway - thanks to all of you for stopping by and appreciating our friends. it means the world to us.

  20. ..wowie zowie that is shocking..really. what a Jimmy available for rent? If so what size box would he fit in and how much would shipping be? hehe

    great story and it sure must be nice having people around who want to help their neighbors!

  21. egb - it is a real difference. and yes - Jimmy is available for rent but because of his size - he is a big boy afterall - i think the shipping would cost more than the rental of the equipment - bahahahahah!

    and you know it. it is very nice to have people that want to be friends and neighbours. thanks for stopping by!