Eventful

Our Mother’s Day get together at the country house. This is me, Grandma, and Imp and Elf, the Grandbabies, twins. Tink, the youngest is busy visiting with her Great Aunts and Great Grandmother. May 10, 2015
2015MayGrandmaImpElf

The weekend came, and the weekend went, and it was eventful.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

On Saturday morning at 7:20 a.m. I left the country house and headed down the road towards the little house in the city. The traffic was light most of the trip.

As I was on the last 20 minute stretch of highway, Highway 401, from out of nowhere, a huge white SUV, which was passing me on the left, veered into my lane, about to hit my vehicle at the back of the driver’s door. I caught the movement just out of the corner of my eye, she snuck up on me from behind. I was forced out of the driving lane onto the side of the road, and barely escaped rolling the car. I fishtailed for a bit, and regained control of the car. The SUV carried on as if nothing had happened, then cut into the passing lane and disappeared into the distance.

She could have killed me, and didn’t even notice!

All’s well that ends well though, and here I am to tell the tale!

Attila arrived at the little house in the city on Saturday evening. One of the items we transported down to the little house was our old television set, a CRT, the VHS player, the DVD player, and the cabinet on which they sit. We set that up and decided to take a break, share a pizza, and watch a movie.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday morning, as early as was acceptable, Attila mowed the lawn. Luckily the new mower has a bag attached, that catches the cuttings. He created a pile of cuttings that was over three feet high, by the time he had finished cutting the lawn. Then we did a bit of shopping. We had a quiet evening, eating leftover pizza, and watching Netflix.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Yesterday, Monday, was a statutory holiday, so Attila stayed the night Sunday night, and spent the better part of the day here before heading back to the country house. It was a gardening extravaganza! Attila transplanted the lungwort, the day lilies, and the sedum from the vegetable garden, to various locations in the front and back of the house. Those plants were moved to the vegetable garden just before we dug up around the basement to waterproof it. He then planted the plants I purchased at the grocery store: lavender, big boy tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, and portulaca.

Then Attila prepared soil for planting seeds, the seeds I purchased through Terra. He planted: swiss chard, borage, nasturtiums, red runner beans, pole beans, zucchini, and basil.

Our compost pile, just a heap, but very effective! The cut grass is beginning to break down and lose its chlorophyl.
2015Maycompost
The newly planted tomatoes, alongside the blooming iris, and the rhubarb.
2015MAYgarden

After downing a cup of coffee, Attila was off on his trip back to the country house. He had a good drive, but a piece of Tank’s trim from around the front windshield blew off on the highway, again Highway 401. That highway!! No damage was done, other than losing the trim. No other vehicles were affected. I guess we will have to look into what happened there, and decide if we should try to replace the piece that blew off. As long as everyone is OK, who really cares!

The day was hot and sunny day, and as evening fell, the air began to cool, just slightly. I kept myself busy, to get through the dreaded “we me” emotions. Thankfully they came and then they went.

Yesterday morning I received a call on my cell phone, from a realtor’s office near the country house. They wanted to show the house this afternoon, which they did. The feedback we got was that they liked the house and the property, but that our location wasn’t for them. That could mean so many different things, that it means nothing. I was really impressed that we received almost immediate feedback from our realtor.

Last night I received another message from our realtor, setting up another showing this afternoon.

I like this realtor more all the time!

Terra is going in for surgery this week, and Lares has taken time off work to be with her. It isn’t anything life threatening, but all surgery involves risk, so I will be glad when she is through it and smiling again!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Well, here it is 5:47 a.m. on Tuesday morning. I am writing at the kitchen table, coffee at my side. It was such a quiet winter, and suddenly it is such a busy spring. Today I will be sorting and purging items here at the little house in the city, making room for another carload of belongings, that I will bring here on the next trip to country house and back. We will be moving from a family size three bedroom house, to a tiny two bedroom house with no closets, and a lot of our belongings won’t make the cut, or the trip south. Even so, room must be made for the belongings that do make the move!

My first task of the morning is to gear up and water the newly planted gardens. Which leads me to comment on the mosquitoes. There are lots of them! Nothing like the mosquitoes we get at the country house, but lots nevertheless. I have been bitten, and can only hope that the mosquito that got me either didn’t carry West Nile virus, or that I have already been exposed, and am now immune to West Nile Virus. When the mosquitoes are bad it is virtually impossible to avoid being bitten. My mosquito resistant clothing is all at the country house! I have the spray here though, and will treat another set of pants and a long sleeved shirt to keep here, then I will have gear at both locations. Usually I keep the mosquito resistant gear in the vehicle I am driving, but with Attila using both vehicles to accomplish various tasks related to the house sale, my gear got stowed in the mud room at the country house.

Attila and I chatted for a little while this morning, over FaceTime. He looks exhausted, and well he might. When I talked to him last night at 9 p.m., he hadn’t eaten since breakfast, and was just coming in from loading Tank with a full load to take to the dump. He doesn’t eat because he says it makes him want to fall asleep. He will spend his lunch hour taking the garbage to the dump, and when he is done working at his day job, he will be heading over to work at his part-time job, where he will work until dark. Hopefully, there will not be too many more tasks related to the house sale, so that Attila can have some down time when he isn’t working at one of his two jobs.

The day begins!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

17°C
Date: 8:12 PM EDT Monday 18 May 2015
Condition: Mist
Pressure: 101.4 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 3 km
Temperature: 17.0°C
Dewpoint: 16.7°C
Humidity: 98%
Wind: SSW 14 km/h

Quote

“As we grow old…the beauty steals inward.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
1803 – 1882

The Thick Of It

We are in the thick of it now!

The realtor comes tomorrow to assess the house.

The cleaning isn’t done.

Attila stayed up until 2:30 a.m. last night to keep working on the main floor.

The cleaning still isn’t done.

Yikes!

How did the place get this dirty!!

Wood heat requires constant cleaning, which Attila had no time for last winter, here alone, battling the cold, for the duration of the coldest winter since 1934. He got through it, and has the grime to prove it.

I am finished the main living area of the house, the kitchen, dining room, living room, and main bathroom. Now there are two upstairs bedrooms to tackle, the family room, the downstairs bath, the downstairs bedroom, and the downstairs kitchen. I am tired just thinking about it! We must press on!

Thankfully we have garbage pickup once every two weeks, and today is the day. That is why Attila worked into the night, gathering up bags of things we are purging, filling up garbage bags, which are now out at the curb. Recycling is grand, but we do not have the luxury of time. Also, if we sell and move to the little house in the city, we will be moving from an average size bungalow to a very small house, under 680 square feet. We cannot keep all of the things we have accumulated (few items were purchased, we have been master recyclers, aka hoarders in training, who have yet to graduate).

Like Mist, the house is purring with all the loving attention it is receiving.

Choosing a realtor, or choosing not to employ a realtor, is a tricky business where we live. Most of the realtors in the area aim to sell the 1/2 million to 10 million dollar properties that are common here. They don’t really consider selling an ordinary bungalow to be worth their time. Relatively speaking, I can see their point. But that leaves us in an awkward position.

On Tuesday I called two realtors to ask for assessments. One of them, a young woman, was very forceful on the telephone, implying in subtle ways that the house would not measure up to much in comparison to other properties, that there were only so many buyers, so we should “price to sell”, a euphemism for “price it low so I can sell it quick”. She seemed awfully snobby to me, but we did setup an appointment for today. However, the thought of having her in my home didn’t feel quite right. So I wrote her an email message outlining what I was looking for, and mentioning that we were getting several assessments from realtors for the house. Her reaction was to reveal herself. She immediately wrote back to inform me that she “doesn’t compete with other realtors”, because she “doesn’t need to”. She is not coming to assess the house. She wishes us luck. We are relieved to have averted that visit!

When you think that you are paying the realtor $10,000, or much more, to sell a property, you would think they understood they are working for you. Ha!

When we sold our house in the big city before moving to the country, we had an outstanding realtor; she was amazing! She got us a good price for the house in a difficult market, and always stayed positive, towards us, and towards the house. We were spoiled, and we know that a good realtor can make the process a lot less painful!

The other realtor I called yestereday was very friendly, a young man, who answered his cell phone while driving. It was noisy, he apologized, exiting the road and parking to speak with me. I had a good feeling about him, but the proof will be how he reacts to the house, and us, after he has seen the house. On the telephone he had no way of knowing that we are not selling a multi-million dollar home, so I would have been exposed to his best foot forward, treating every potential customer like an appreciated customer. We shall see if the other shoe drops.

For a lot of business people in this area, the only appreciated customers are rich customers. So that pleasant demeanour, that the realtor presented, may not last. We have experienced this phenomena over, and over, and over again, living in the shadow of the rich. Many of the business people here are very friendly until they discover that you are not rich, then you are suddenly invisible, not worthy of their time or notice. So we shall see what this young man is made of when he comes to assess the house. At least he is smart enough not to make assumptions, and can interact with a female without any underlying hostility; those points are in his favour.

I was exhausted yesterday after cleaning all day, and dealing with the issues around realtors in this area.

My advice to unassuming persons, it is ill-considered to live anywhere where the entire economy is based on service to the affluent, it isn’t pretty, a lot like “The Truman Show”. The backdrop looks idyllic, beautiful, peaceful, but it is virtually empty of economic diversity or balance. As one Elder of a local Reserve (Aboriginal) said in an interview, serving the rich is not an economy. So succinct, intelligent, and right on the mark.

We did take a short break from our cleaning frenzy to make a brief visit to our camp on Sunday afternoon. All is well there. The building next to us, which is over 100 years old, and has a distinct lean to it, has a demolition order stapled to the siding. I am relieved, it was a scary building, and a variety of wildlife had moved in. The building will be gone by the end of the summer.

The highlight of our visit was the wildflowers, which were blooming all over the camp site. The Trout Lilies are in full bloom, as are the Mayflowers. The Trilliums were about to bloom. The Hepaticas are not blooming yet either. We will try to make another trip over there soon, I want to visit the wildflowers!

While we were there Attila loaded some of the firewood we had stacked last fall, after clearing the lot. If we need another fire for heat, now we can have one!

And as a final note in this entry, the NDP Party has formed a Provincial Government in Alberta, Canada. This is the party, at the federal level under Tommy Douglas, that brought universal health care to Canada. They are not perfect, but I for one wish them many years of success in improving the lot of the majority of Albertans.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

7°C
Date: 7:00 AM EDT Wednesday 6 May 2015
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 102.7 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 6.9°C
Dewpoint: 4.4°C
Humidity: 84%
Wind: N 2 km/h

Quote

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do.”
551 BC – 479 BC

Common Sense

I find it challenging to time my meals around medications that must be taken with a meal. Unfortunately, the first dose of the antibiotic given to me in the hospital was taken after midnight. I am usually sleeping at that time of the night. It is a minor inconvenience, but I notice it because I usually eat when I am hungry, not by the clock. There I was this morning, tummy rumbling, waiting for another hour to eat my breakfast, so that I could take the medication with food.

Yes, I could eat more often, but it is far to easy for me to adopt a habit of eating when I am not hungry, so I do not go there.

I am enjoying the firings in the masonry heater/fireplace. My chair has been turned to face the fireplace, and the flames give comfort, if not warmth, as the kindling crackles and snaps during the burn. We use dry pine for the curing, it burns reliably and quickly.

Grey skies and colour, the view out the kitchen window this morning.
Yellowmaples
Chipmunk, in our front yard at the country house, enjoying the great outdoors, which is where he/she belongs. I don’t feed wild animals, they do not share my values, and have their own way of looking at things.
Chippy

The leaves around our country house are in full colour. I love the autumn, it is my favourite time of year, it makes me feel grateful, that I am warm and well fed. I think it might be a miserable time for the homeless.

Those In Need

Only one politician running for municipal office, in the three municipalities where we are entitled to vote, mentioned the issue of housing for lower income people; that one individual is a housing developer, who wants to build low-income housing (for a profit to himself), and so has a personal profit motive for his interest. None of the politicians acknowledged access to healthy food as an issue. What disturbs me most is that this silence is accepted as normal.

The affluent realtor, who has our country house listed, does have a social conscience. She regularly stocks up on items like hats, coats, food, diapers, all kinds of items that she donates to low-income families, at her own expense. And I know this because we chat, not because she makes a huge public display of her largess. No one knows she is doing it, unless they talk to her in person, or are receiving assistance from her. There is no financial or political gain for her, no tax write offs, no interest in procuring contracts for her business. Her daughter is likewise socially minded, and runs a food bank and other programs to assist those in need. Our realtor is the ONLY person in the area around our country house, who I have met, that is genuinely concerned about others, without any concern for publicity and/or profit. There may be more like her, whom I have not met; but honestly, I have met a lot of people here (population: residential 600, seasonal 6000), a lot of people, and our realtor is unique in my experience.

Our realtor is observant, without being judgemental. She has taken us through some very raunchy properties for sale. When we ran across disgusting things, in kitchens for instance, she would always point it out, and she would always observe something else in the kitchen upon which she could base a positive comment about the person living there, always. In one sentence she brought the energies of kindness, respect, and compassion to that person’s home.

If our country house sells, it makes it easier to pay the high realty commission, more than double my annual income, knowing that she uses some of her income to address the needs of others.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

17°C
Date: 9:44 AM EDT Wednesday 15 October 2014
Condition: Mist
Pressure: 101.0 kPa
Visibility: 8 km
Temperature: 17.1°C
Dewpoint: 17.1°C
Humidity: 100%
Wind: S 22 km/h

Quote

“Judge thyself with the judgment of sincerity, and thou will judge others with the judgment of charity.”
John Mitchell Mason

I am not alone in my feelings about the “community” surrounding our country house, this was how one person described it in a letter to the editor of a local paper:

“[our town] is marketing itself as an environment that is unwelcoming, fractious, non-collegial, uncompromising, litigious, inhospitable, irritable, peevish, antagonistic, hostile, unfriendly, inflexible, obdurate, and otherwise, a place where people do not play well together in the sandbox.”

I hear you fella! I think that this affects our chances of finding a happy buyer for our house, although I remain optimistic that someone will overlook the town, and find this country retreat a welcome retreat! I am hoping that this election brings some sane leadership to the area, it wouldn’t take much in the way of common sense and decency, to turn it all around.

The First Step

Well we did it, our house went on the market today, the first step has been taken toward change. After humming and hawing over whether to list it myself, through a site like comfree, or to list with a realtor, I decided to go with a realtor. There were pros and cons on both sides of the equation, but in the end, that inner energy source guided my hand to pick up the telephone, call the realtor, and setup a meeting. I signed on the dotted line this morning and now we are off and running.

The realtor I chose is accustomed to selling properties like ours, and is not solely focused on multi-million dollar cottages.

We may or may not sell the country house at this time. While it is listed with a real estate broker we will be on our guard, as business people are only in it to make money, and that would be at our expense. So we must keep our chops up, and carefully watch how we are being played during this process. The realtor gave a lot of clues as to where she was coming from and what she thought of our house and us, in what information she chose to share, and the questions she asked me. I am pretty sure what kind of client she has in mind for this house, and what kind of emotional appeal, for a low selling price, she is going to present to me when the time comes. I did not give her any concrete clues as to how I was going to respond, I really don’t know myself. What a game the whole thing is! We have to play it, one way or another, if we want make a change. It is sort of like swimming in shark infested waters.

Of course, we have been here before, when the house was listed years ago. Things may move forward, and then again, they may not. I am a tough negotiator, and although I lose sleep, I do not lose my nerve. My smiling and friendly demeanor often lulls enterprising entrepreneurs into thinking I am an easy mark. It isn’t true, and I never claimed it was.

The realtor left me with a short list of things that need doing tonight, just in case someone wants to view the house in the next few days. Luckily they are not too time consuming, so Attila and I will have no problem getting it all accomplished. Also, she is coming to photograph the house tomorrow, so it is time to find a box and start packing up personal items, for visual decluttering.

This is a very busy week! Tomorrow I have a doctor’s appointment, then the photograph session, the next day my annual Mammogram at the hospital, and then a visit to sign the papers to close the deal for the camp property. Then on Friday I am working, and after work I am off to the township office for an access permit for the new driveway at the camp property. I suspect Friday night we will be at our new camp, felling trees and communiing with mother nature, and the black flies.

If we throw a house sale and a move into this mix, we are going to be very busy indeed!

Mist is tolerating visitors for the moment. She let the realtor know that the Queen of the Universe was present and due reverence. We have added a note on the listing that the cat is not to be let out, and that she is very old.

I am also trying to sell a few items that we do not want to move. I have them listed on kijiji, and have had some responses. Just another thing to think about!

Right now it is warm and sunny and beautiful. A few hours ago the sky opened up and dumped rain, buckets of it!

This afternoon I am cleaning the family room downstairs, and start on the downstairs windows. The house will be marvelously clean for the summer!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

21°C
Date: 2:24 PM EDT Tuesday 13 May 2014
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.6 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 20.8°C
Dewpoint: 15.0°C
Humidity: 69%
Wind: SE 22 gust 32 km/h
Humidex: 25

Quote

“Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts.”
Rita Mae Brown

Planning to Sell

A joint decision has been made, our country house is going up for sale, soon but not yet. We have to do the usual spring clean up before we allow anyone in to see it. Right now we are waiting for the snow to melt, and the heating season to be over, so we can tuck in and get the job done. The list is short, but since Attila will be attending to most of it, and he is short of time, the short list will get short shrift.

I am going to attend a seminar meant for people who sell their own properties, without a realtor. The last time we put this house up for sale through a realtor it wasn’t marketed properly, so that the only people who viewed it wanted waterfront property, which it is not. So no offers and no sale and a lot of intrusion was suffered to no practical end. The real estate people in this area are more focused on the half to multi-million dollar properties, and who can blame them when you think about those commissions. However, it leaves us little people to fend for ourselves. The task will fall to me, to do all the leg work in the selling process. It will be three to four weeks before we get the house onto the market.

Wish us luck!

We will not be moving to the little house in the city though, because Attila has a good job here in the country. We have not yet decided what we will do about a place to live near Attila’s place of work, not yet. In my mind there are factors to consider; thermostat heating, ploughed parking, accessible grocery store, to name a few. First we have to sell the country house, then we worry about what to do next. If the country house does not sell, there will be nothing to decide!

The snow is melting fast now, but will not be gone until well into May. There is some flooding in the bay, I watch with interest as the ice goes out, glad that our property is high and dry. Already Attila has noticed black flies. That means that this year the biting bugs are starting before the snow melts. What a “spring”!

Terra sent me pictures of their new siding, it looks wonderful! They have completed two sides of the house now, and will tackle the remaining sides over the next few weeks. The original siding is in wonderful condition, but would take a lot of work to restore. Still, there is always the possibility of restoration at a future date, as the new siding will protect the original from the weather and deterioration.

I am sitting in front of a flickering fire, listening to rain dripping from the roof, sipping my coffee, contemplating the nature of change; the risks, the joys, the inevitability.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

1°C
Date: 7:17 AM EDT Saturday 26 April 2014
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 100.8 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 1.4°C
Dewpoint: 1.3°C
Humidity: 99%
Wind: NW 4 km/h

Quote

“Duct tape is like the force. It has a light side, a dark side, and it holds the universe together.”
Carl Zwanzig