Thursday, 29 July 2010

Out of Synch

Well what a pair we are.  This 'between jobs' lark is all very nice but.....our routine is non existent!  We started off well.   Getting up at 8, lunch at 1, supper 6 ish and so on.  But now? OH MY WORD!  Last night having messed about with chipmunks, laptops and a late supper we got caught up in a movie on TV which finished at 12.45!  This morning I woke as usual at 7 am, was I tired?  Was I heck!  No, totally wired is the only way to describe it.  The brain went into overdrive and simply refused to let me go back to sleep. Lovely Man, despite my clattering around, managed to sleep on until nearly 9!

Hi-light of the day?  Stumpy has decided we really are ok.  Not only does he sit outside the front door to wait for us to emerge, he now scampers up onto our shoulder to be given a nut.  He also lets us stroke him! The feeling I get when this happens is magical.  Having always loved animals it's a real special feeling when an essentially 'wild' animal does this.  Domestic animals, on the whole, allow this contact basically because they are dependent upon us. Unlike when a wild animal, that really doesn't need the food or the company, chooses to trust us and share a little time with us.  I feel quite privileged to have him around.

Last but not least, I created a second blog today.  New Challenges is my new blog where I plan to record  and share my progress in two on-line classes. Please do take a look and leave me some feed back (when I get going).  I am actually quite proud of my new blog because I managed to do it all by myself!

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

The wonders of Skype

I have to say the next best thing since getting the internet back is actually being able to use skype.  Now I have been able to show off our new house to the children and to my friends.  Somehow I think it helps when people can actually see where you are.  I know it has probably seemed that we have been very chilled about the whole moving thing.  Perhaps at times we have given the impression that we aren't missing anyone.  That, of course, is not the case.  Yes we miss our kids, parents, family, friends but we know exactly where they are.  We can picture them safe at home, with other people around them.  They, on the other hand, had no sense of where we are, what our home looked like - their second home too if only for holidays.  But home nevertheless.  Now, hopefully, we will all feel a little more connected.

So what's the update?  Well we now have four chipmunks visiting.  Obviously word is out that there are now a couple of softies living at No. 75 with an endless supply of peanuts and that if you do a few cute tricks they'll give them away!  I have given up waiting for my art supplies to arrive and have enrolled on a Journal challenge with nothing more than an A4 sketch pad and some dreadful lead pencils I got from the cheap shop.

We have painted the bedroom and put the new bed in.  Also painted half the basement and in the process of putting a wood floor down to make a family room.  Next is my workshop - also in the basement.  Hopefully when all our stuff arrives I can actually get on and produce something that will earn me some money!  In the meantime I guess I'll just enjoy the extended holiday!

Monday, 26 July 2010

The Pure Pleasure of Broadband

At last we have broadband at home!  What a welcome relief and pure pleasure.  Now I can talk to and see my guys in the UK.  I especially miss my nephews as one is to young to talk on the phone and the other is often far too busy with magic tricks and lego.  Skype however, is quite a different matter as the novelty of getting on Daddy's laptop AND being able to see and hear me, and himself, beats lego every time!  How dependent we are on technology and how utterly lost we are when we don't have it.

It did occur to both of us today tho, that neither of us miss our mobile phone one little bit!  How strange.  Back in the UK the very thought of being without it bought us out in a cold sweat.  Mobiles, or rather Cell Phones, are expensive to use over here.  Especially when the call isn't local.  And by local I don't just mean in Canada.  No indeed,  Cell Phones have an area code according to where you live.  Should you call someone outside that area code, and believe me we're talking someone in the next town never mind province, it costs you a fortune and get this, the person you're calling gets a bill too!  For this reason we have elected not to have one for day to day calls.  No we have adopted the UK seniors' motto.  Only to be switched on in an emergency!  Go on, you know what I'm talking about.  We ALL know someone over 65 who has a mobile phone which they carry around EVERYWHERE but they only ever switch it on in an emergency!  The number of times I have scolded my mum cos I couldn't get hold of her.  I would say to her "Mum, switch the bloody thing on.  I may be having an emergency even if you're not"

But hey, I eat my words.  Until I win the lotto, or start getting paid for doing something I enjoy, mine is staying switched off!

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Nails, Paint & Mayhem

Lovely Man and I are so similar in so many ways.  Often we come up with the same idea at the same time or know what the other is about to say before they open their mouth.  Spookily we often know what  the other is thinking.  We share the same views and values and generally rub along really well.  Except when it comes to D.I.Y.  Now there is a totally different kettle of fish.  

I will normally look at a problem, size it up visually and come up with a solution in minutes.  I will then forge ahead at full steam confident of achieving a satisfactory result.  Lovely Man, in contrast, will sit crossed legged like a little Budha staring at the problem in hand.  He will sit there in this almost meditative state for what seems like an eternity weighing up the situation.  And therein the problem arises. I become impatient and restless having found, what I consider to be, the easiest and most efficient solution.  Eager to start I start to fiddle with tools and generally irritate the hell out of him.  At this point a discussion in raised tones usually begins resulting in a compromise.  He gives me a menial task to divert my attention and pacify me leaving him to return to his contemplations. And that is just what happened yesterday. 

The wood panels in the basement needed to be taken down and replaced with appropriate spacing between each one so that they would lie flat against the wall instead of protruding in the center as if they were about to give birth.  I was assigned the task - remember the point of compromise - of banging the nails back through the board in order to remove them so that we could use them again.  Now - we have no bench or workmate so I utilised four tins of paint to support said panel.  Enthusiastically I hammered each nail back through and with a flourish turned the panel face up in order to remove them.  At this point it became evident that I had inadvertently nailed the panel to one of the tins of paint.  Just to add insult to injury I then rolled around the basement floor, howling with mirth unable to speak.

Needless to say 'The Foreman' was not impressed at all.  However, I did find it even more amusing when he related his plan of action to me.  It was exactly the same as mine!  He maybe just put it a little differently, but no it was definitely the same as mine!

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Unexpected, but welcome, visitor

Meet Stumpy!

It seems that our little furry creatures are far more observant than we may have given them credit for.  Chippie has been a regular daily visitor to our garden.  Stumpy is another little chipmunk who lives in a garden across the street.  Whilst having a drink with our neighbor earlier today Stumpy arrived and casually sat at my feet looking up expectantly.  I dug around in my pocket and found a peanut which I offered to him.  Sadly, yes I have taken to carrying peanuts in my pocket just in case.  He took the nut, licked it and tucked it in the side of his mouth, as is customary for chipmunks, and scurried away.  I can only assume that it is considered the height of rudeness in chipmunk etiquette to eat it immediately in view of the donor.  Thinking no more of it we drank our drinks and left.

Later this evening we were sitting out enjoying the warm sun after supper, reading quietly.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw a movement and then felt a familiar bustling about my feet.  Looking down I expected to see Chippie.  But no, Stumpy had obviously decided we were worth investigating and far from scurrying off earlier must have hung around to see where these new people had their nest.  No doubt he thought we must be a soft touch carrying peanuts around in our pockets and possibly he wondered if there would be more waiting for him if he was to make a little journey across the street!

Between the two of them they are providing endless entertainment.  Chippie believes very much in conservation.  Of energy that is, especially his own.  His approach is still quite cautious, but once he has reassured himself that we are kindly souls happy to provide food he now refuses to leave until we have given him three nuts.  All of these he manages to tuck in his cheeks, does some final investigations, you never know we may have a fourth one hidden away, before making off for home.  This means he gets more nuts for less work.
Chippie goes for a hat trick!

Stumpy on the other hand is more bold.  He wastes no time weighing us up, he simply bounds in and sits at our feet like a begging dog.  It seems not to occur to him that we'd do anything other than offer him food! Like an impetuous teenager he took the first nut and headed for the steps.  He did this a couple of times.  On the the third visit he got to the steps and stopped.   The penny had dropped.  He came back for a second nut which he licked and successfully tucked in his cheeks along with the first one.  Looking VERY pleased with himself he took off in a different direction and decided to go through the fence.  It was the funniest thing to see him, cheeks bulging, trying to get through a gap too small.  He turned his head this way and that determined to fit through, but then conceded defeat and decided to take the stairs.

Today I hung up a hummingbird feeder in the hope that we'll get some more visitors to entertain us.  I also saw the most enormous mosquito.  It wasn't just wearing a coat, it had jack boots on too.  Needless to say I made a hasty retreat indoors.  I spray myself from head to foot EVERYDAY but I wasn't taking any chances with this one, a not so welcome visitor.  Trouble is DEET isn't exactly Dior is it?! PHEW!

Friday, 16 July 2010

Thoughts for today

Looking back over the last three years I remember times when we felt like giving up our dream.  The 'cowboy' builders, the endless list of renovation work.  The vast quantities of forms and the sometimes contradictory 'help notes' that accompanied them.  The moments of panic.  Those 'what if' moments when contemplating leaving behind good jobs, pensions, financial safety.  Thoughts of leaving family and friends, even though day to day living allowed so little time to spend with them.  Yes, there were times when it would have been easy to give up and stay put.

There are moments still when we waiver.  Moments when we miss everyone so much.  Moments of panic, wanting to pack our suitcase and jump on the next flight back.

But there are also times when we count our blessings.  Like when we walk down the hill into town, the sun shining down on us, the air is clean and the views of the mountains, forest and lakes spread out before us.  Or when we sit quietly watching the sun go down behind the trees each evening.  Or when Chippie scampers about our feet waiting patiently for peanuts.

These are the times when I reflect and feel grateful.  Grateful for the courage and strength we were given to carry on when it would have been so much easier to give up.  For family and friends who, putting aside their own feelings, encouraged and supported us when it would have been easier to ask us to stay.  For the opportunity to experience a different life, one which for many exists only in dreams.  To see bears in the back yard.  To have snow in the winter some six feet deep.  To be surrounded by nature and, for a while at least, the luxury of time to enjoy it all.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Firm friends

Over the past few days I have sat on the decking with half a dozen peanuts waiting patiently for Chippie.  Everyday he has visited and gladly whisked away the peanuts to his secret store in readiness for winter.  Occasionally he will stay and eat one, but mostly he stuffs them in his cheeks and scampers off.  I put the nuts closer and closer each time and remained quite still but always spoke to him whenever he arrived. Last night, finally, he decided I was kinda OK and decided to take the nuts from my hand.  He also hung around longer and sat at my feet looking expectantly up at me!  I think I have a friend now!

Chippie has a friend called Stumpy on account of his lack of a tail!  Lovely Man decided that if I had a friend in Chippie then perhaps Stumpy might be his friend.  Unfortunately Stumpy is quite young and impatient.  He scurried around Lovely Man's feet and when no nut appeared as quickly as he might have like he bit his toe!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Introducing Chippie...

the magician!  This is Chippie.  He's a real cutie!  He's been coming around most everyday from time to time.  Now he's found we have an endless supply of peanuts his visits are even more frequent.  This morning he decided to pose for a couple of photos.

He's still quite unsure of us and so, just to be safe, he's adopted a 'take 'em by surprise' tactic.  He approaches quietly underneath the decking and pops up through the left hand side railing.  Once he's got what he came for he runs behind the right hand divider rail.  Knowing that we are waiting for him to pop back round said rail he dives, unseen, back under the decking and creeps up behind us from the left again!  He then performs a little magic trick.  Now you see the nut.  Now you don't!!

Friday, 9 July 2010

The Birthday Gift

It seemed a little odd this year, my birthday appeared and went quite quietly being so far away from everyone.  That is not to say, however, that I missed out on anything!  My mum, who is never one to be caught out, made sure I had a card and gift in my suitcase before I left the UK!  Thanks mum!  I have my first all singing all dancing sewing machine!  Lovely Man bought the perfect gift.  He knew I was getting a little ticked off at there being no bears in the back yard so he bought me my very own bear and cub from the local gift shop!  Thank you also to all my friends and family who sent cards and birthday wishes via email!  To round off the day we found a local cafe on the outskirts of town with free Wi-Fi AND CAKE!  What more could I ask for?!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

It's still light!

Day eight.  Still no bears in the back yard, much to my disappointment!  However it is almost 10.30 at night and I just took this picture from my front porch!  Most nights we've been going to bed about 11.30 and it's still not dark!  I just thought this was the prettiest sky.  Most of the houses on this side of the street, and the cars, are glowing pink in the sunset.

Today we started sorting the basement, making lists of what we need and drawing plans.  We found some hidden treasures.  Two huge mirrors.  One very art deco style which will lend itself perfectly to some glass painting, and one in a lovely wood frame with beautiful carving at the bottom.  In fact we spent most of the day in the basement as it was the only place to cool off in the 30 degree heat!  

Tomorrow will bring more treasures in the form of a man from Bell who is going to bring forth some 200 TV chanels.  I don't think Lovely Man will sleep much tonight he's so excited!  Just as well really as I need him out of bed early so I can strip the sheets off the bed!  Just getting into the swing of Canadian life where the washing machine has to go on AND finish before 7 a.m. unless you want to pay peak rate hydro!  Oh and the bear proof garbage bin needs to be put out before 8 a.m. along with all our paper waste neatly tied in a bundle!  Just for good measure I think pancakes and maple syrup for breakfast could be up for grabs!

And to make life just perfect please may I have an email from the shipping company to say my things are ready to be collected from Toronto!  

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

A case of mistaken identity!

When we moved into the house in Manitouwadge just over a week ago I got just a teensy bit excited.  When we arrived you may recall we had no water and sought the help of our next door neighbour.  It was he who told us that we should always check out the bedroom window for bears in our back yard before leaving the house.  Since then most people we have met have, on hearing where we live, have said "I suppose you've been told about the bears in your back yard" and "oh you'll see bears alright!"

And so for the last seven days I have checked the back yard.  Sometimes I have checked three or four times a day even if I didn't need to leave the house!  I have my camera right next to the window at the ready.  In fact it's the first thing I do every morning as I get out of bed.  I lift the blind and peer out.  It feels like when I was a kid and I would strain my eyes looking into the night sky in the hope that I would see Santa in his sleigh on christmas eve.  After the first couple of days Lovely Man gave up asking and simply pulled the covers over his head.

This morning I got up and lifted the blind.  Lovely Man groaned as the bright sunlight leapt in and slapped him across his eyelids.  "AWW  BABE,  QUICK!"  He almost fell out of bed as I reached for my camera.  I stopped and squinted to focus properly.  Hugely disappointed I realised that this partcular bear had rather a long tail!  It was in fact the black German Shepherd from across the street who had slipped his lead and decided to take an early morning stroll without his owner!

Oh well!  I guess I need to buy a night stand so that I can keep my camera AND my glasses nearby!

Sunday, 4 July 2010

The First Few Days

When we arrived it seemed the water had been turned off.  Our next door neighbour sprang to the rescue with a bucket of water to flush the toilet, a case of bottled water to drink and a lift into town to show us where we could get food.  Later he remembered where the stop cock might be located and came back round to turn it on for us!  On day two we figured we should mow the lawn as it was over a foot high.  Our neighbour the other side came along to welcome us and offered to lend us some shears and a rake.  Shortly after that another person appeared with a "whippersnipper' or strimmer to you and me.  He promptly took over the cutting of the long stuff which just left us to trim up and rake up.

In town people were so friendly inviting us over for a drink, offering to fetch things from Marathon for us next time they went in.  We had a visit from the local Bye Law Enforcement Officer, Cherie,  who welcomed us, offered advice on how to keep the bears out of the yard and told me there was a job at the Township if I was interested!

Despite all that however, nothing we'd read or been told prepared us for the waves of panic, isolation and homesickness that ensued over the first few days.  I have to confess that despite all our best efforts to take things in our stride there have been times when out of the blue one or the other of us has suddenly just burst into tears because we miss everyone.  Even to the point that,on some occasions, we have wanted to just turn around and go back to the safety of everything and everyone we know and trust.  And yet everything is just as we expected and wanted.  We both know that to turn tail and run would be as bad as not coming at all,  for later in life we would still wonder whether we could have made it and what it would have been like.  These feelings, I hope, are something common to most immigrants and something that will lessen as we settle in.  In the meantime I guess I just need to keep the tissues handy and get on the phone or Skype!

The Last Leg...

On Sunday 28th June we set off 'Beverly Hill Billy' style with all our belongings crammed inside the car and piled high on a trailer.  The only difference to the TV show was that I travelled inside the car rather than sitting in a rocking chair on top of everything!  Over the two days it took us to drive from Kitchener to Manitouwadge we went through just about every weather condition other than snow!  It was an eventful trip.  The tarpaulin flapped, ripped and at times threatened to give up completely.  At one point we were stopping every half hour or so to try to secure it.  In the end we got so fed up with it we just stopped looking in the rear view mirror!  

The further North we got however, the more beautiful the scenery.  On the last leg of the trip, driving along highway 17, we had to slow down to 50km for road works.  Just as David commented that he was seriously fed up driving so slow, grumbling "at this rate we'll never get there" a Moose lolloped across the road!  Despite all the signs we'd seen and the knowledge that indeed we were 'in the wild' we just gawped at it.  Suddenly though, the message got from Lovely Man's brain to his right foot and the brake was applied quite sharply, equally as sharply as the suitcase that slid forward and belted me on the back of the head!  And No, I didn't get the camera out quick enough!

As we pulled onto the 614 an OPP car joined us and followed us all the way into town.  We didn't know whether it was a welcoming party or whether we looked a little suspicious so we stuck doggedly to the speed limit even though we were desperate to get to our new home at last.

The house was everything we'd expected and a little more.  The back yard it turned out had a huge decked area which is something I'd always wanted.  And whilst we fully expected bears to be somewhere in the forest we hadn't quite bargained for having to check out the bedroom window first everytime we wanted to leave the house!  I guess that's something we'll get used to.  That and leaving the front door unlocked so that if there is a bear in said back yard when you arrive home you can nip in the front door quick!  We also have a resident under the decking.  His name is Chippy and he is the cutest little chipmunk.  He comes out most every day and sits on the decking.