Insurance Matters

I haven’t updated my insurance coverage since I changed my residency to Saskatchewan in 2013. I’ve just been paying for my Aviva Elite full-timer policy that covers the RV with no consideration for my buildings. Now that I’m leaving for a solid ten months (or even longer!) and I had something happen (attempted break-in), I knew it was time to completely revise my insurance coverage.

Here’s what I sent my broker last week (some things redacted):

I switched my policy to your office around August of 2013 after moving from Alberta.

My circumstances have changed dramatically and I need all new coverage.

The motorhome is now parked permanently on my property and is my residence.

My property now has two outbuildings (14”x16” and 18”x16”) for which I also need coverage for them and their contents.

I need to make sure I am insured for fire service (the town suggests $10,000).

I am not going to be onsite for the next ten months or so as I will be traveling. I don’t have any running water, so no risk of damage from frozen pipes, and I have a neighbour who checks in periodically. I want to make sure I have a modicum of coverage during my absence in case of a fire or a tree falling onto my home or my buildings. I am not the kind of person who would make a claim for something small like a window breaking during a hail storm. I’m really looking for catastrophic coverage, if there is such a thing.

The contents to be insured are worth *** (itemized list). There will be nothing of value left in the motorhome during my absence, but I will have a few things stored with a neighbour.

The broker just called and said she spoke to Aviva before calling me and that… nothing changes. I am covered for all that! I just have to let them know when I’ve come home next year.

I knew that I was covered for stuff in outbuildings, but did not realise that I was covered for the outbuildings themselves, a huge surprise!

However, I do not find the coverage for the buildings adequate, so the broker will ask if it can be increased and for how much. She will also see about travel coverage for my electronics and triple check that I’m covered for rural fire service. She thinks I am because I’m in a proper community with a hydrant almost right at my property line but will confirm.

This phone call was quite a surprise. I’m really pleased that my premiums won’t go up, or much if I have to add a little extra coverage. I’m sure you’re all wondering what my policy is costing me. $64 a month. Really.

Next, since my truck will be in “storage” during my absence, I will contact SGI to see if I can suspend my registration/insurance. That will save me $70 a month while I am overseas!

Tuesday Was Memorable

Life at Haven tends to be rather idyllic. But the break-ins over the winter have really changed the atmosphere here, with doors getting locked even when folks are just wandering around the hamlet. My outbuildings are normally unlocked during the day when I’m here, but now I’m getting used to carrying my keys with me. It’s sad.

I awoke to lots of rain on Tuesday, which has turned to sleet today, Wednesday, a perfect day to power through the bit of work on my plate so that I could focus on looking for more today. I was making good inroads when the phone rang just shy of ten. “No number” came up on the display, but I still answered assuming it might be the RCMP calling me back. It was. I spoke to a kind-sounding constable who asked if he could come right down to Haven to take my statement about my attempted break-in. Yes, of course!

About 40 minutes later, the phone rang again. Wow, twice in one day. That has to be a record. It was Scotiabank doing a “courtesy call,” wanting to know how I like my account (a lot), more about my business, and curious about whether I’d consider changing to them as my main bank (not a chance in hell). It was a pleasant conversation and I didn’t mind answering the questions because most of my products are with CIBC right now and it would be good to have a backup. For example, if Scotiabank were to offer me a a credit card, might as well take it. Also, the woman wasn’t trying to sell me anything or convince me to move to Scotiabank. I was about to tell her I had to cut the conversation short as I was expecting a “visitor,” but, thankfully, she kept the call short.

Minutes after I rang off with her, there came a knock at my door. I checked that it was the constable and let him in. I’ve transcribed I don’t know how many statements over the years, so I knew the drill and he noticed that. He offered me victim counseling services (I’m not traumatised, so let’s leave the stretched thin resources to folks who need them) and to provide a victim impact statement. I accepted that because I knew that absolutely nothing was going to happen regarding my own break-in so I wanted something in her file about how she has destroyed the fabric of our community. The constable discovered he didn’t have the form on him but said he would “pick up” my neighbour and when he came back in a few hours to drop her off, he’d bring a form for me. I could then fill out the form and bring it into the detachment next time I was in town. Well, I hadn’t planned to be in town for a bit, so I’ll be doing a special trip for that as soon as the weather clears. Since I’m going through propane for heating, I’ll pretend it’s a propane filling trip not a “my neighbour sucks and is making me waste gas” trip. 🙂

He was back mid-afternoon and said that she denied everything, including stealing a pallet from my property, for which there was an eye witness. Unfortunately, rain destroyed any chance we might have had for fingerprints, which were a long shot anyway since the way the door is damaged makes it look like it was only touched with a tool. There’s no witness. The constable said that he knows she’s lying and that she did it, but he can’t do anything. He seemed incredibly relieved to be dealing with someone who knows the system and wasn’t expecting a miracle. I said to him that what I wanted to accomplish was done — she knows I won’t take her bullshit lying down. Apparently, she broke into some other neighbours’ places and they forgave her since she’s “sick.” Maybe she thought that would happen with me. Not a chance. The constable did say she is willing to take a polygraph, to his immense surprise. That’s not admissible in court, but sometimes the truth can come out in other ways that are admissible. He was surprised that I knew all of that. What can I say, I’ve transcribed the odd polygraph interview too.

I thanked him for his time and then came in to keep working since an unexpected job for Wednesday came in from a client I normally only work on weekends for.

And then, another email came in that really brightened my day.

There is a transcription firm I’ve wanted to work for since I started doing this five years ago. I had a chance to interview for them around that time and was deemed to need more experience. Just before I left Mexico, they emailed to give me a chance to interview again. Just like that, out of the blue. I did the test and then didn’t hear anything back… until yesterday. Soon as I get through my current workload, I’ll start with this new company on a probationary period. Too soon for exclamation marks, but I’m rather chuffed. They are another firm like an existing client of mine who would have as much work for me as I want as long as I meet their standards. I’ve had a run of bad luck with clients this year and I hope the tide is turning. We’ll see how the month goes with them. I’ll feel more comfortable leaving for Bulgaria if I feel I’m solidly in place with them.

The only progress I’ve made on Bulgaria is I’ve set up a price alert for airfare. Soon as I get something around 800CAD all-in (which I saw come up periodically over the winter) at the end of June or sometime in July, I’m buying a ticket. I haven’t decided yet where I want to settle in Bulgaria, but I’m narrowing it down based on the best places in the country to hike. I’ve been reading a lot about hiking in Bulgaria and am getting really excited about getting there!

So that was my Tuesday at Haven. Wednesday is starting off cold and snowy. Pretty strange after landing in summer weather! But things should start clearing up this afternoon and we’ll be back into the 20s by the weekend.

It’s still good to be home. 😀

Knocking Out Projects

The printer is rather a pain in the arse item to drag along with me to Mexico, but it’s necessary for work that I do for one of my clients. Last year, I determined that it had to travel in the cab with me because dust and water gets into the truck bed, even with the canopy. Soon as I got it in the truck, I realised that it was taking a lot of precious cab space because I couldn’t really store anything on top of it, not even a bag of bedding. I thought that it might be nice to have a shelf over it, but was not in a position to build anything.

Even if my tools and materials hadn’t been scattered to the winds last year, I didn’t have a workshop or tools with which to easily knock out a project like this. Today, it took just 30 minutes, including the design and cleanup phases, to build this:


So now, the printer can sit behind the passenger seat and I can put a tote or my suitcase over it. I can store two totes on the driver’s side and in the middle, too, if I run out of space in the back. But I’m not bringing the cot for this trip, so I suspect that cab space won’t be as precious as it was last year. It’ll still be nice to know that I can toss things behind me and not risk damaging the printer!

I have to say that my once disgusting shed is quickly turning into my most favourite part of my property. I just love how bright it is in there and how fresh it smells, never mind that it is so full of potential!

A Workshop and Gardening Shed

I made a classic decluttering/organizing mistake as I started to work on my shed: shopping for organizational products before actually knowing what I needed. I know better than that! Thankfully, I didn’t actually buy anything beyond the workbench materials, which I did need.

This morning’s project was to make sense of the gardening/yard side of the shed, empty out the RV basement compartment full of ‘stuff’ that could be stored in the shed, and continue to organize the workshop side. Now that I had a large stable worktop, I could start arranging things by categories and figure out how best to containerize or otherwise make them accessible.

So here was the gardening/yard side when I started this morning, a jumble of tools and materials. Things that I need to be able to take out easily, like the mower, ladder, and wheelbarrow were stored at the back.


It didn’t make long to build a simple support for my gardening implements at the back of the shed and then move the ladder, wheelbarrow, and mower to the front.



Then, using what I had for containers, I sorted through my things and arranged them neatly either on the workbench or under it. I put my wrenches and pliers into old coffee canisters I’d saved and added screws to hold things like a hand broom, bag of tie wraps, levels, and squares. I hung my hammers from the same backer board as my screw drivers and clamps (and boy do I have a lot of clamps!). Does it look as pretty as a pegboard on Pinterest? No. But it’s just as practical and, best of all, it didn’t cost me anything. One my favourite bits is that I hung my tool belt from a hook and then clipped my tape measure to it because I’m always looking for it!

I macro organized hardware, with one tub for miscellaneous screws and another for everything from washers to eye hooks. At some point, I’ll find cubbies or some other organizational product that will let me sort these bits at the micro level. One thing I don’t have that surprised me were any nails! It would have been nice to have some big nails to use as hooks, but I have so many deck screws that it didn’t hurt to use a few of those instead.


Now, check out the other corner!


Wow, I didn’t expect to be left with so much room! I’d rather not fill it up since it gives me room to really spread out a project and to use my table saw. One of my next projects will be to come up with a platform on casters so I can roll it around. I also want to build a ramp to more easily take heavy wheeled things outside.

Well, I had a productive long weekend and managed to get away from my computer. Back to work tomorrow! And I may be off to Montana again on Wednesday afternoon, which would be a fun way to break up the week. That will allow me to finish up the booster project so I can post about it! The post is written, but needs some final photographs.

I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do next with myself. Work on my Mexico packing list, I guess! 😀

Building a Workbench

Since expanding my home outside of the RV, I’ve been a bit scattered as far as tools and other renovations bits and bobs go. I’ve had my shed ‘done’ for months now, but just haven’t been able to prioritize the tool organization project. I have kept it in mind, looking for storage solutions, like a tool chest or even a dresser, but haven’t found anything.

One of the things I did decide on very early in my thought process was to build a workbench. I found a plan for a workbench that looked very easy to make and which would afford me not just a work surface, but also some storage. After I bought my table and circular saws, I just needed a nice free day to do the project. Well, it took almost two months, but today was the day!

I bought my materials in town on Friday. The workbench plans claim that it can be built for 50USD, but this being Canada, the project cost me 101CAD all in, including two carpenter pencils and some wood glue. I didn’t have to buy any screws, so that saved me some money. Lumber was 15 2x4s and one sheet of plywood. The workbench plan is really clever as it uses almost the entire materials and has very little waste.

Buying the lumber was very disheartening since it was all crap. Even the ‘best’ 2x4s were warped and chipped and the edges of the plywood were delaminated. I understand now why Charles gets all his lumber in Glasgow, MT. He says it’s not just in Assiniboia at the different home stores that he sees bad lumber, but that he had the same problem in Manitoba. Just another case of Canadians getting shafted, with our good lumber going to the States, we having to pay a premium on the garbage the Americans won’t take, and then having to pay taxes and duty to reimport our own wood.

I had the lumber yard do all but one of the cuts on my plywood so that it would be easier to bring home and so I wouldn’t have to wrangle a huge sheet on my own and try to make straight cuts. They weren’t too keen on doing that for me, even at $2 a cut ($4 total since the first cut was free), but they eventually agreed to.

Saturday was way too damp and drizzly to work on this project, but it was bright and sunny, albeit cold (8C/46F) at 8:00 this morning. The forecast called for the day to get increasingly cold, overcast, and windy, so I headed right out to cut all my lumber… and make some space in the workshop. This is what I was starting with:



I used both my circular and table saw, depending on the length of the piece I was cutting, and found the process much more laborious than I would have with a miter saw. I’ll definitely get one again once I start building in earnest. Both my table saw and circular saw worked great and I felt safe using them.


Now, here are some examples of the crap I had to buy.

I only agreed to buy this sheet of plywood knowing that I could plan the cuts for the worst of that water damage to be the waste bit.


This 2×4 was one of the best they had:


I labeled all my pieces as I cut them. It was rather like DIY IKEA!


I stacked all my pieces neatly so that I could find them all:


I later discovered that I had an F too many and was short a G because I forget to double check my cut sheet. I could have turn an F into a G, but it wasn’t worth pulling out the saws again and I just used an extra F and did without a G since they were supports and there were plenty of those to start with.

Then, it was time to start assembling! This is the frame for the worktop:


And here is the bottom shelf:


Notice that it is recessed so that you can sit at the workbench and have room for your legs. For such a simple design that makes such efficient use of materials, this workbench is really well thought out!

Legs on, height is perfect!


At this point, it was frighteningly wobbly, but the reinforcement was about the begin.

As suggested in the instructions, I used paint cans to hold the bottom shelf in place so I could screw it to the worktop. But I decided to screw the plywood to the bottom shelf before installing it, rather than after. Not sure why the instructions say to do it after as it was much easier to do it before.

I then built the frame for the top shelf and added the plywood to it. The easy bit was done and my project was starting to look like a workbench:


The next bit was tricky and where I ended up breaking for lunch near 1:00 p.m. I had to screw the top support legs and then get the thing up in the air and screwed to the workbench. I had to rearrange more stuff in the shed to get me room to manoeuver and the whole thing was very heavy, awkward, and fragile, but I got it done.

If you look at the plan, the legs for the top shelf don’t touch the floor, but mine do. The reason was going to be that I was working alone and didn’t have anyone to help me hold it up, but then I realised that the slope of the roof meant that this was as far up as I should be putting the shelf anyway.

Once the top shelf was secure, I added the backer boards. They are for added support, but also to keep things from falling off the back of the workbench and bottom shelf.

So here it is, and moved into its final position!


I didn’t hesitate to start using it for storage!


I was going to get pegboard, but I don’t think I need any. I’ll figure out an alternative way to store the tools that I have left to deal with (wrenches, pliers, hammers, and a few other odds and ends).

My favourite bit is my tape holder. I thought, “Hmm, a dowel would be useful for this and, oh, look, I have one handy. What are the odds?!” I just drilled a hole into the worktop and fit the dowel in it. It could also be a paper towel holder. Time will tell… 🙂


I was done for the day, but not done by far. Here’s what my makeshift table (plywood on sawhorses) still looks like. 🙂


And here’s a view of the whole workbench from the door:


The top shelf so far has my ‘sharp implements’ and ‘drilling’ containers I’ve had for years in office overhead cabinets, then my (empty) tool box that I’ll be able to fill and take to Mexico this winter, then my dad’s chisels with my socket wrench set over top, then my giant bucket of screws. Underneath, you can see my gas cans, tub of painting/drywall implements, oil for the truck, and then you’ll have to trust me that in the corner are my two drills and my circular saw.

So now the workbench part of the shed is done to a point. I still have to organize more containers for screws, nails, and odd bits, as well as sort out the last of the tools, but it’s a very good start.

If the weather is still good tomorrow, I will sort out the yard/garden corner of the shed to make it easy to take out my wheelbarrow, lawnmower, and ladder.

If you want to take on a project like this, check out Zac’s considerations for building a work bench.

I’m beat and wish I could get pizza or Chinese delivered! But since I can’t, I’m off to scrounge something yummy for dinner!