To say we are a little overwhelmed these days would be an understatement but it’s an electric energizing kind of feeling. Trying to strike a balance of the ‘want to do’s’ with the ‘have to do’s’ with all of the ‘would rather do’s’ has kept us hopping since moving in.
Fall weather temperatures although still very mild, have been dropping so tending to R.E.D. especially running antifreeze through her veins is essential before the deep cold sets in. And oh the stuff in the galley! At the beginning of the season, if you remember, we were supposed to have been preparing for a three-month cruise of Lake Huron so I, in my usual Galley Kat over kill mode, provisioned for a three month trip. Now I’ve been faced with moving all that stuff back to the house. How many bottles of sauces and mustards can one fit in a tiny kitchen? I’m finding out. It will all get used up eventually but for an instant or three I was longing for all that storage in the Montreal kitchen.
Our Land Galley
So now the main tasks are complete on the boat. Igloo frame and winter coat secured. Lines flushed and food things removed. Poor R.E.D. will need a good cleaning in the spring but at least she’s winter-ready.
Now we are caught with wanting to do some yard work but needing to unpack boxes. The weather has been so great that if we wait for a crappy day nothing will get done inside.
The Fire Pit
So each day there is a little inside…a little outside. The previous owner was a real gardener and we want to make sure that we take care of pruning and cutting and thinning out properly. Identifying what plant is what is a big mystery for now but we’ll learn as we go. I’ve discovered little treasures of lemon thyme and lots of lavender some of which I’ve brought in to dry for the winter months. Can’t wait to see what other edibles emerge in a few months.
Another challenge for us is learning to properly recycle here. There are very specific rules not seen before in Montreal. And then there is caring for the septic system. My city condo garburator has been replaced with a compost bin. No bits of food or coffee grounds or grease down the drain and no chemicals. There are bags for paper waste and bags for plastic and special garbage bags for non-recyclable items and rules about disposing of yard debris and how many bags of each can be left for collection and when collection is scheduled for our area. It makes me sad to think of all the trees that sacrificed themselves for this one move. It’s embarassing all the paper and cardboard needed just for us but at least there is a good system in place to give it all a new life.
In the midst of all of this is what Francois refers to administrative things like changing our car and driver’s registration to make us Nova Scotia legal. We have a grace period of 90 days so there isn’t a great rush but it does have to be taken care of. And with winter approaching those snow tires have to be installed and at the same time why not have the mandatory safety inspection done which we’ll need when registration is changed over?
See what I mean? There’s a lot to do.
I’ve never had a move that’s taken this long to unpack either. Yes, I know, it’s only been a few days but usually I can have the boxes gone within a couple of days. Downing-sizing takes a lot more care. If you remember the previous posts about the car loads of things we got rid of before leaving Montreal, well it wasn’t nearly enough. 24’ x 26’ gives me exactly 624 square feet of fitting in on the main floor. Same for the upstairs rooms.
The Wooden Hill
The basement is another issue because when we can’t find space in the main living areas it all goes down to ‘the cave’ and at the moment it’s a navigational mine field.
Francois had tackled that job really well so at least there is room to manoeuvre and good news, he’s found space for his tools.
We’ve struck a reasonable balance I think. Just enough to make the Kat feel calm in her new home. There have been moments though when I felt like hiding under the bed or curling up fetal-like in my window seat.
Moments when a few boxes were unpacked and contents put away all neat and tidy then we’d turn around and open another few boxes and it was like a moving box explosion… paper and cardboard all over the place again…as if it would never end.
Our guest room is painted and invitation ready. Being such a tiny room we opted for multi-functional. A single bed that transforms to a very generous double and also acts as a sitting area for TV watching. But who has time for TV-watching anyway?
We may have to live out of wardrobe boxes for a while in our bedroom though. Old houses and small closets go hand in hand and gables with all those slanted ceilings are going to make furnishing a challenge but our bed is a lovely solid cozy santuary when our busy days are done.
Living Room with a View
All the boxes are out of the main living area and our art has been hung so we can have moments of pretending we’re finished. Those shelves will be arranged and rearranged over and over until the Kat is satisfied and then rearranged once again for good measure. There is still so much editing to do though. We’re sticking with the concept that if we need more storage for your stuff then we have too much stuff.
Shelves Rearranged a Dozen Times
This may seem like a whole litany of complaining and grumbling but when we think of what could have been we are so very thankful to be here is this wonderful charming little cottage by the sea. We could have found a fixer upper…and we looked at a few. Imagine having to do all this in the midst of renovating when the very worst thing that’s needed here is maybe a fresh coat of paint….maybe.
Because we sold our dining room furniture (didn’t have room for it anyway) we kept our small cocktail table and a couple of bar stools. Not terribly practical but for now it works for the two of us. At the end of each day we sit here and watch the sunset over the ocean and think how very lucky we are to be here.
I asked Francois if he thinks he’ll ever get tired of this.
His answer: Never!
Never is a very very long time.
Here we are, the 31 day of October 2017…our official move in day.
So much has gone on in the past six months. Condo sold. A whole lot of down-sizing, selling and donating. The total of our posessions packed into an 8’x8’x16’ POD container. A car, a boat and minimal furnishings are now in Canada’s east coast all ready for a new life by the sea. It seems as though we’ve been in limbo for far too long and it will be so sweet to finally be settled.
RED by the SEA, our 87 year old home is now ours, fully and legally. We have spent the last three nights cocooned in a sort of camping way with a borrowed blow-up mattress and not a whole lot else. Our four cups, plates and bowls are here, ENA our coffee maker and a few pieces of cutlery are here….and wine…we have lots of wine. The essentials.
In spite of our spartan existance we have been able to function quite nicely. Galley Kat always rises to the occasion at meal time although I realized I hadn’t packed either a decent knife or scissors and no pots or pans. But our R.E.D. is well equipped with enough galley gear so we brought her to her new home all nicely parked and ready to be wrapped in her winter coat.
My daughter treated us to pizza and salad our first night which we gobbled up sitting on our deck steps. I pulled off a rather tasty stew our second night after foraging in the boat for supplies (recipe link here if you are interested). Still no chairs or table but when you’re this much in house love it doesn’t really matter.
As of the writing of this post, one bedroom – the guest room – has been painted because it’s the one room that will be fully furnished. The rest will come as time allows.
We’re getting to know our neighbours gradually. Fred from up the road stopped by to welcome us to the area. He called us ‘white walkers’…a sort of reference to white haired retirees…I think. Or maybe he really does think we’re zombies. He says Gabe a few houses away has a couple of little kids so he’s going to let him know they can come here for Halloween treats. Marcus dropped off a large bag of his apples…MacIntosh he says…and he also smokes mackeral which he sells…and wood which he sells…and why is your place so empty he asks? He’s visited us twice in just 2 days so I expect he’ll be back again to make sure we eventually have a place to sit down.
This is country life for sure. The curious are circling but it’s a comforting feeling having local eyes, ears and so much information close by.
So today is THE move in day when all the planning and waiting will be over and is it ever going to be a jam packed crazy busy day! Four deliveries are scheduled and all we know is that somewhere between 10:00 and 6:00 it will all come together. We’re kind of getting used to effortless and seemless so why would today be any different? Our closing was just ‘sign here, here’s your keys’. Agent, lawyer, banker and insurance broker did all the work splendidly. Post office, same thing. ‘Here’s your new key and Frank your delivery guy will leave an extra key in the box for you tomorrow…your place is the one with the driveway to the shore road?…my mother lives just two doors down…welcome to Hubbards!’ Smiles and friendly folks at every turn.
Far too excited for my own good, I was wide awake at dawn. Too much noise going on in my head to sleep. ‘Chop chop’ Francois! Rise and shine! We have a large day ahead of us. Two coffees to jump start the synapses. We are ready! To add some muscle to the big event we’ve enlisted the help of our son-in-law because we all know most of my strength is on the inside. I’ll be ready with an abundance of opinions though to keep things moving along and enough pizza and beer to fuel the heavy lifters.
Our POD container: 10:30 arrival and unloaded in 1-1/2 hours.
Our mattress: delivered at 1:00
Our water system: arived at 2:00 and was finished in 2 hours
…and finally the bed delivered at 3:00..piece by piece
….and it’s Halloween so I left a little note for the trick and treaters to help themselves as we would be very busy unpacking. What a day! Feeling moderately overwhelmed but we can see it all coming together.
Flash back to the other day when we were still in our ‘honeymoon’ home buying phase, all priorities checked off our wish list. Add to that an excellent home inspector’s report…then a not so excellent septic report….then the sound of the other shoe dropping. Water report: unacceptable. More than good reason to terminate our contract. We felt comfortable to walk away and start our search anew. Moderately disappointing but who wants to take on a hornet’s nest of other’s problems?
Fast forward to present time. The seller is willing to replace the septic system at their expense which means it will have to be done by today’s standards, engineer designed and Nova Scotia Environment certified which means also the correct distance from the well.
What shall we do?!?!
We went back to our original thoughts, our original list, our original impressions. We added extra criteria. Do we see ourselves here in ten years, twenty years or longer? Do I see myself here if anything should happen to Francois? Then a bigger question that gave Francois reason to stop and think. Would he be happy here if anything should happen to me? Good question, he said. After he thought for a while he said that yes, he could see himself living here without me but it would feel empty. Now I said, remove me from the equation. Pretend I’m not here (I know it’s hard to do, haha). Would you accept the new offer? I would, he said.
This septic and water issue had put a cloud over the whole deal not too dissimilar to when we first bought R.E.D., brought her home, splashed her, spent the first night onboard to awaken to 3″ of water in the cabin. More than one person advised us to return her. You can get so much more boat for that price they said. There were tears, sleepless nights and so much doubt. We lost faith in her integrity. But once the problems were remedied she regained our trust. With each issue encountered – and there were many – we fixed it, seeing it as a way to get to know our boat more intimately. We look back now and think we wouldn’t have changed a thing. We stuck with R.E.D. and she has given us five years of unforgettable adventures…and there will be more.
There is no perfect…ever. The idea of utopia keeps us all looking forward, seeking the sometimes unattainable. There will always be something better. Always a sweeter deal around the next corner. We are trying hard not to get caught up in chasing the ‘more’, the ‘better’, the ‘bigger’, the endless ‘what if’s’. But we don’t want to settle either. This little RED by the SEA is certainly not perfect. She comes with her own flaws, however charming. She’s old. She has stairs we will need to climb and should we become disabled this could present an issue. The view of the sea will diminish with time as the trees grow taller.
We sat here this morning with our first coffee revisitng the discussion of what to do. We tried really hard to come up with more than just two concerns. Then we sat in silence for a while, thinking. A question my daughter asked yesterday brought the discussion to a close. ‘Is this your dream home?’ Francois’ immediate answer, we’ll make it our dream home!
The clarity of hindsight will eventually show us the wisdom of our decision, a decision we are looking forward to living with, whatever may come.