Furry Critters

Leaving our acre last year, I thought we would be seeing less wildlife as we hit the Suburbs. I was wrong. But at least we haven’t encountered any rats or raccoons.

The furry creatures are really tiny and almost seem lost. We had a baby hare hanging out under our deck. It wasn’t scared of me at all as I approached it to get a picture. In fact, it seemed as intrigued by me as I was of it.

The other little fellow that appeared the next day was a field mouse. It decided to cool off in our pool. I caught it swimming and then jumping onto our solar pool rings. Getting him out of the pool wasn’t too tough. I used our net and then released it back into the field behind our property. Maybe in the heatwave, it will return for a quick dip.

Of course our dog is often watching for wildlife as well. Generally she keeps the little creatures away, including cats. If she sees a coyote in the back field, she lets them know to stay away with incessant barking. Sometimes she does it from inside our home; other times she is in the backyard doing a proud stance on one of our rocks as she howls.

The wildlife is different in the ‘Burbs. Aside from the couple cute furry critters, it’s usually birds out and about. Most of the time I see hawks, owls, hummingbirds and a large assortment of other birds.

I have a feeling I will become a bird watcher pretty quick and start to get books and binoculars to view them.

First Day Of Summer

It sure hasn’t been feeling like summer has wanted to start this year. All the rain and grey skies have made it feel as though we were in a second January. A “June-uary” as I have heard it called.

But today is the first day of summer! The Summer solstice is upon us. The longest amount of daylight to be had for the year. With it brings the hopeful warm weather.

The second half of this week it will finally feel as though we are hitting the temperatures we are meant to enjoy. I look forward to hanging out with friends in the backyard and cooling off in the pool with an ice cold beverage. Afternoon siestas are also a favorite of mine. Especially done outdoors with the warmth of the day blowing in as I fall asleep in the shade.

Are you looking forward to summer finally arriving? Remember to Wear Sunscreen.

One Year…

What a difference a year can make. For us, we have lived in our current home for one year now.

Castle Havelka

It was difficult to leave our other home. We had created some many memories while living there. We also did numerous changes on a regular basis to the house and yard. Yet somehow, it never felt as if it would end. Moving was the only way we could start with a clean slate and figure out what we really want in a home.

Kingdom Havelka

I never thought owning a pool would be high up on the list of what we wanted in a home. Yet now I can’t think to live somewhere without a pool. Trading the trees for open views has greatly helped with feeling better and happy thoughts. We are taking in more sunshine than ever before. My wife even commented on my glow the other day. I feel rejuvenated on a regular basis.

As summer approaches tomorrow, I continue to look forward to spending time outside. Relaxing by the pool. Watching sunsets. Sharing quality time with friends. Food and drink beside the pool…

I loved our previous home for the memories we created, but I love the one we are in because of the memories to come. In one year a lot has happened already. If we do another 15-20 years here, who knows what else this home will have in store.

Blue Once More

After a week and a half of frustration- our pool is back to normal. Loads of chemicals, scrubbing and vacuuming made our pool usable once more.

The algae is finally gone! At one point our pool was vibrantly green and it felt as though it would never change. Today I did a quick scrub and a vacuum to get the remaining algae off the sides and corners. A little bit of careful elbow grease and patience went a long way. I really don’t want to deal with algae again.

With the weather showing us some sun this evening- it was a great opportunity to jump in the pool and relax. I could do that aspect anytime!

Now I’m ready for summer to commence!

Glass Glowing

I love glasswork. Finding special pieces that we can display is always fun. But now that we have the sun setting in our backyard everyday- those glass pieces just light up.

We have a couple of items that hang outdoors. My favorite being an orange glass ball that is made to mimic a hot air balloon. Fun fact: my wife and I flew in a hot air balloon nearly 15 years ago and went straight past the house we are in now. The ball is technically candle holder, but the natural sunlight looks fantastic passing through.

We also have a few glass pieces that are on a couple of upper window ledges in our living room. They add a nice colour to the room as the sun sets. We do have a few more pieces in our kitchen above the cabinets. But those are mostly glasses and a couple bottles- they don’t get much sunlight.

A part of me would love to have a stained glass window, but I know that is we did- we’d be missing out on the beautiful sunsets. And we can’t have that. The views are the biggest reason we bought this home. So in the end, a few small knickknacks placed strategically are just as pretty.

Enjoy It

This weekend has been the one we have been waiting for. The sun is shining, the grass is green, and the pool is ready.

Over the past couple of days, we have enjoyed the swimming pool. Today is going to be no exception. We are planning on hanging out with our downstairs tenants and sipping on some beverages. Taking advantage of the weather whenever we can is the goal.

Being neighborly is important as well. We enjoy having company over and plan on visitors coming by throughout the summer. Getting along with those around us is paramount. We are past the stage of loud parties, but I still enjoy my music playing.

Reach out and we will have you over this summer on a Friday or Saturday. Just remember to bring the sunscreen and a snack to share!

First Dip In The Pool

The sun peaked out this afternoon long enough for us to enjoy it. It was sent hot, but in the sun it was warm! A couple of weeks ago we had taken the cover Off OurPool in hopes to jumpstart the summer. No such luck.

Yesterday, the weather report was not looking promising for the near future. But I was hopeful. So today, when my wife finished work, we jumped into the pool. We both agreed that we were going in- rain or shine.

Lee-Anne went in first. The sun was out and the atmosphere was pleasantly warm. I had turned on the heater for the pool yesterday- and it was a comfortable 24°C already.

We had kind of forgotten to let the kids know that we were going into the pool. So when our middle came home from school- they ended up hanging out in the yard while my wife and I swam. I felt like Darwin was the adult in the situation- making sure that two doofuses didn’t drink too much and get hurt.

I’m definitely looking forward to enjoyment of the pool throughout the summer. I’m already feeling the energy burn from splashing around. Swimming has always been a good workout that leads to a great sleep. Hopefully we can have friends over soon to enjoy the fun and relaxation poolside. It would be nice if the entire weather forecast could change for the better!

When Is Summer Arriving?

The sun appears briefly and I want the warm weather to be here. Sure, there was a Wind Storm the other day, but come on- spring is here… yet I want summer weather!

Our patio is slowly getting set up for visitors and entertaining. We removed the dining sets and loungers from winter storage. Now we are in the process of deciding the best layout, while keeping it looking spacious.

The Gazebo went up three weeks ago and has proven to be sturdy as well as keeping the furniture dry. That is a great feeling. I have been out on the patio set now at least two to three times a week. Even on an overcast day like today. I am imagining what it will be like in a month once we open the pool!

Gardening has also commenced. The front is looking spectacular (patting myself on the back). That curb appeal is really something now. Periodic mowing, watering and weeding is all that’s needed now.

Soon I’ll share about the vegetable and herb gardening. That’s more my wife’s project. But I am totally going to benefit from the fruits of her labor!

Are you as impatient about summer arriving as I am?

Backyard Bird Watching

As the weather gets nicer, I find myself becoming more and more of a bird watcher. From our backyard we get to watch loads of birds flutter about. My two favorites are the birds of prey and hummingbirds.

I recently moved the hummingbird feeder outside of our bedroom into a position that I can see much better. From our bed, we can lounge and watch as these fast flapping fowls feed on sugar water. It’s a calming fun to just stare at them.

When I’m out on the deck, I enjoy watching the hawks as they circle for food in the field behind us. The other day we were treated to an owl doing the same thing. It was only a few feet away from our back deck and I was able to capture a short video clip. View it on My Instagram if you choose. It was really neat to see. This was the first time we witnessed an owl doing it’s hunting and I was in awe of its silence as it did so.

We have also seen numerous other birds such as cranes and robins, ducks and geese. When we moved from a location that was dense with trees to this open view, I love the change in wildlife that we get to observe.

Do you find watching birds to be calming as well? Any favorites? Or perhaps some tips on how to get some good photos? Let me know in the comments.

Yard Pride From Front To Back

As the weather gets nicer, people are out working on their yards. My wife and I have spent a lot of time, elbow grease, and money on creating beautiful curb appeal. There is still more to come, but for the most part I’d say it’s looking great.

As I said, we aren’t the only ones working on their yards. I have seen the neighbors out on a regular basis tending to their lawns and gardens. My wife and I chose to keep up with the similarities of our neighborhood yards, not just because it looks good, but it also showed us which plants thrive in this general location. I also took the time to discuss with neighbors about their yards and experiences as the seasons change.

As for our backyard, since it is mostly a lounging location for us, the garden aspect is limited. Most of the edge gardens is established and we just need to trim back on occasion. My wife has been working on vegetables to be grown in a few planters around the backyard. So currently inside our home, the seedlings are beginning to sprout. Within a few weeks, they will be replanted outside as we await tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers to begin growing.

As wonderful as all of this sounds, there is a bit more chaos going on in our next door neighbors’s places. Both the house next to us and the one next to that are digging up their backyards. Next to us they are planning on adding a swim spa and the house next to that is wanting a pond. The crew that was hired is doing both at the same time and work began months ago. Now that the weather is nicer- they are working on it more frequently. I am looking forward to when the work is completed, not just because the noise will be over, but I want to admire the final results. I think the three of us will have outstanding backyards that we will enjoy for years to come.

Do you have big plans for your yard this year? Let me know in the comments and feel free to share previous work you are proud of!

Spring Break Staycation

As my last day comes to an end, I think I had a relatively great staycation. A quick look back at the last ten days showed how busy it was. As well as how productive it ended up being.

We did a bunch of gardening, went to a speed skating meet last weekend, had a night on the town for my birthday, and built a gazebo as a family. We built some Lego, and our oldest came to visit and we all had a delightful time. There really isn’t much more I could ask for.

All in all it was a great birthday week. I’m glad I spent it with my family.

Gazebo A-Go

Back in the middle of February I ordered a gazebo from Costco. It was on sale and was out of stock every day I was trying to buy it. Until the last day of the sale. I snagged one and had it delivered about ten days later.

We were replacing a pergola that was on our back deck. The pergola was still in great shape, and we had picked up a new fabric top last summer. However, we also realized that we needed a better cover for the upcoming summer season. Our new gazebo arrived in three very heavy boxes on a pallet. It sat in my side of the garage for a little over a week.

I had taken down the old pergola last week. When my wife and I returned home from my birthday night away- we took the time to move the parts downstairs to the back deck. The family helped, and we built the four posts and the frame that afternoon. The next day, my son and I worked hard in the rain to build each roof panel. We placed them into position and called it quits. The rain was not easing up.

Today we had good weather. So in the afternoon when my wife finished work, we headed outside once more and worked as a family to finish the build. After a bit of figuring out the layout and how it would work- we had the roof up and the gazebo was completed within a couple of hours.

As I finished some of the last screws, the family brought down the patio set and got it in place. I’m so happy that the family came together as we built the outdoor structure. I truly appreciate their help and if you could believe it, there was minimal cursing and no bloodshed!

We are almost ready for the summer season. Just some lights, a heat lamp, and some friends are all that is needed for some great evenings.

Weekend Woes

As summer comes to a close, enjoying a weekend in the sun is a luxury. After a few days of rain, it was nice that our Saturday was filled sunshine.

As the summer comes to a close, my wife and I started to plan our gardens. Sales at the garden centers are starting to come up. Today we planted some late summer/ autumn plants by the pool. They will add a splash of red and yellow the the back yard.

We also moved our tomato plants into a small green house in order to protect them from blight. They are so close to being edible that it would be a shame to lose them this far into the season.

Finally, we are gathering up junipers and cedars for our front garden. These will be planted over the next few weeks as we try and figure out a layout that won’t involve lawn.

Hopefully the sun peaks it’s head out on my days off. That’ll make it so much easier to plant.

How is the end of your summer coming along?

Showing Where I See From

I show a lot of photos of the skyline lately. I hope you are enjoying them as much as I do. As pretty as the sky is, it needs to be enjoyed from a great location that is comfortable as well. My favorite outdoor spot is on our balcony outside the kitchen.

I set up a couple of Muskoka chairs facing west. I love their location because of the fact that I can sit with my wife or one of the children and just stare off at the clouds or watch the sunset. This summer has had a few good convos on these chairs.

My inside favorite spot is laying in my bed. Sometimes I’ll just stare off into the horizon and daydream instead of sleep. Both are extremely relaxing.

These are my personal favorite spots around our home. The pool feels like a separate entity all together. That is our chillaxin’ fun times place. Well deserving of its own stories.

Where do you like to hang out in the summer evenings? Let me know in the comments. Or better yet- share a photo!

When The Weather Report Is Wrong

Earlier this week the local weather was showing rain for days. Days. My weekend was looking unfavorable to say the least. I was going to need to spend my time packing some more. Instead, I had dry weather so I got a few chores outside done. Even though it was slightly overcast, I was enjoying the fresh air.

Luckily this afternoon, the clouds dispersed and the sun showed up. Driving out to skating for our son had me feeling the heat inside my wife’s car. An illusion of summer was once again upon us. It was looking like a perfect night to eat dinner outside.

Alas, the temperatures said otherwise. Our backyard is shaded by trees, so it was even cooler than expected. Our dinner was quick with minimal talking and we headed back in for the night. We can still hear the birds and view the skies as night falls.

I’m glad it didn’t rain much on my days off. We were able to get more downsizing of some possessions completed as a family. Boxes packed, stacked and ready to go. Only seven weeks remaining… but who’s counting?

Too Much Yard

People have asked me why we sold our property. The main reason is we have too much yard.

I’m getting older and want simplicity. A small lawn to mow, perhaps a few plants and bushes. Taking care of the old growth trees is too much these days.

Even though we move out in 50 days, I have pride for our home. We are still looking after it, but the yardwork is intense. This weekend will be busy trying to clear out dead branches and utilize a burning permit.

Today was a write off for me as well. I’m still feeling the after effects of getting my vaccine the other day. My energy levels are extremely low. Likely, my wife and I will do the majority of the work and our teens will run and hide every chance they get.

That’s the other hard part. Getting assistance. I was a teenager once. I know what it’s like to want to have a life not devoted to chores. I remember my father tricking me into allowing a friend stay over for a couple of nights one summer- in order for us to lay down sod.

I’m getting older. I can’t push as hard as I once did. It’s almost time for my midlife crisis. Maybe that’s why we bought a new house with a pool…

Prepare For The Apocalypse

The sun was shining once more today. I took a lazy day of nothingness. I woke up late and even procured a nap. Afterwards I decided to get active. Last year I set up an Axe Throwing pitch. It was time to get chucking once more.

My first throw of the year wasn’t too bad. Heck, I even dressed the part of a lumberjack with my beard and plaid jacket. I must’ve thrown for about thirty minutes as I listened to some Beastie Boys on my iPhone.

Afterwards, my daughter joined me, as did my son. They took turns throwing axes at the target. It took them a bit to get the technique down once more. But they started hitting the target more often than not.

We are getting some good exercise in on a beautiful day. Plus it’ll prepare us in the event of an apocalypse!

More At Home Time

Today was another day spent at home. I will say though, I’m really enjoying the fact that our house is feeling like a home once more. The family has pulled together and been a great help over the past few weeks.

We’ve done tons of cleaning inside already. The weather was beautiful today, so it was spent gardening. The kids helped tremendously today. I’m really satisfied with the results.

As we were working, my favorite brewery delivered some beers to our home. Within an hour of my order, they were at my door with a much desired beer for the weekend. Big thanks to Trading Post for the backyard beers!

For a break afterwards, the kids had some free time to do what they wanted. What they wanted to do was surprising to me. Our son played trumpet outside on the tree deck. Our oldest daughter did some painting on her canvases and our youngest read a book. Afterwards the four of us worked together and baked an apple pie. So amazing!

What a great life to live. Even in solitude.

All That Hard Work Will Make Our Home

Today the sun was shining and the weather was warm. It was the perfect day to clean the yard and the outside of our home.

Our son took on the task of adding some paint to their old playhouse. We use it as a garden shed now, but it can easily be converted back for play should young kids ever live here again.

Our middle child pulled out the lawnmower and gave the first mow of the season to the backyard. We have about half of our acre that needed a mow. The rest is mostly trees and bushes.

Our oldest enjoys pressure washing. With all the trees and dampness in our area- a lot of green shows up on cement and such. A deep cleaning at the start of the season will make for a good spring and summer.

At the end of the day, it feels like we’re only part way through. We’ll get there soon enough. And then we can relax enjoying nature and our home.

Stay Home- Early Start To Spring Cleaning

Next week, I have a week of vacation. We won’t be going anywhere due to the things going on in the world. So I’m going to get a jump start on Spring Cleaning! Or rather- I’ll make lists and get the kids to do most of it!

Except for today. Today I took advantage of a couple of hours of decent weather and filled six yard waste cans. No kids, no hassles, just me and the front yard. The wintertime always make the yard look bleak.

But when spring hits- Hoo boy. Our yard gets green and full of life. Which is good because the growth helps to hide the weeds and fallen branches that we neglect to pick up. Rarely do we need to buy any plants as it all comes back each year. Super awesome!

The fresh air and a bit of solitude will do the family some good. We’ve been busy with speed skating and graduation planning that this Spring Break is needed. No big plans, but some quality time outside (weather permitting of course) or we dust and wash the windows and floors inside.

Something to pass the time instead of just saying that we are avoiding the world.

Beauty-Fall

The weather over the next few days, and leading into November, is supposed to be beautiful. Maybe not with the warmth of a summer day; but rather a mid-day sunshine while wearing your favorite sweater and sunglasses kind of day. Plenty of opportunities to enjoy the changing colours of nature to be had if one so chooses.

I plan on taking it easy during my free time. I’ll probably chill out a bit more on my deck and stare out into the yard, admiring the tranquility that we are surrounded by. The brisk air keeps many people quieter as they begin to warm themselves more frequently indoors. The woodland animals are slowly preparing to migrate and hibernate. Slowly the sounds outside quieten to a faint whisper.

Autumn is a beautiful and peaceful season.

All The Leaves Are Brown

There was a burst of a wind storm the other day. Which caused a lot of debris to fall in our yard. On Friday I spent two hours clearing our roof and driveway of pine needles. I do not like that aspect of having old growth trees in our yard.

Leaves make the yard look messy, but are generally easier to clean up than pine needles. The sunshine and gentle breeze made for a perfect autumn day.

On Saturday, I had two of my children help with cleaning up the fallen leaves on the rest of our acre. We had a ton of fun making a huge pile. And we all know what kids want to do with a pile of leaves…

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Some Assembly Required

I finally bought us some classic style wooden chairs for our yard. The kind that suits our country living lifestyle. My wife always Adirondack chairs. However, I convinced her that we should by Muskoka chairs instead.

What’s the difference between the two styles you may ask. (If you didn’t ask, I’m going to tell you anyway.) Adirondack chairs are both 2 inches higher from the ground and 2 inches wider between the arm rests. Also, the Adirondack chair is built with a flat back for the seat. The Muskoka chair is built with curved back.

That’s it. The two styles are very similar in every other aspect. When we were purchasing the chairs we wanted natural wood, not plastic. Oh, and the Muskoka chair was cheaper by $20 And came with a foot rest.

I took the chairs home and needed to assemble them. Before I did that, I lay out every piece and gave a light cherry stain to seal the wood. I figure if they’re going to weather outside in our rain forest of a yard, it’d be best to try and get a few years out of them. After a couple of hours of preparing the wood and staining it, I had to leave the first chair over night to dry before assembling it.

This morning I woke up and put the first Muskoka chair and ottoman together. I’m really happy with how it looks. Just a hint of red on the wood from the stain. I’m also happy with the comfort level of the chair. The curve of the yoke feels more inviting than the flat back of an Adirondack chair. Chances are we’ll be spending hours relaxing in our yard on these chairs.

I can’t wait for summer to kick in.

From Yard Work to Axe-ercise

My son and I have been hard at work the past couple days clearing out an overgrown part of the yard. We needed to dig out a rotten shed and take back some of our yard.

Yesterday we cleared away quite a bit. Today, my oldest came out to help as well. She knew that I was going to be making a large target for archery and axe throwing. She wanted to be there when we began throwing.

We had ripped up an old deck, and I kept some of the wood. I placed them together and traced out a target. My kids helped me hang the target and excitedly began to decimate it.

Numerous throws and hardly any hits. But the hits that stayed- felt great. I have a feeling this summer we will be working hard in our aim. Seems like everyone wants to come out and try as well.

Pondering

After getting our septic tank pumped yesterday, I decided not to fill in the rock garden again. I figured that we may need to pump it out one day sometime in the nearer future… not twenty years later like this time. So we came up with a new plan.

Let’s build a pond.

Now, when we first moved in there was a pond in this location. But since our youngest was a year old at the time, we decided to fill it in to be safe. We just never bothered to dig it out until this summer.

Today my oldest helped me design the pond. She drove us to Home Depot and we picked up a pond liner, a fountain and some accent lights. We laid out the liner and began to fill the pond with water. As it filled up, we straightened out the liner and turned on the fountain. She’s really happy about the fountain feature- it looks neat.

As the afternoon went on, my two other kids decided they wanted to help out. We washed the rocks off from the previous rock garden that was here. My daughters set them up around the outskirts of the pond. Throughout the process, we all enjoyed wading around in the cool water. We set up a spitting fish fountain (that was from the original pond) and put our old gargoyle bird bath on the corner.

I did pick up a new piece that reminded me of our trip to Tokyo last Spring Break. As the evening settled in, we played with the lighting. We each have a favorite color, but it seems the pink is winning out at the moment.

Now to enjoy the zen like moments of the pond as we tinker and play with it over the next few years. Next spring we will put some plants out along the edges.

Maybe I could expand the pond to become a moat, after all we do live in Castle Havelka.