Luck And Hard Work

Last night I was shredding old documents from the years 2000-2010. I saw my old paystubs, taxes, and mortgages. Looking back, a part of me wishes we had paid off our first mortgage- or at least gotten close by now. Since we have been homeowners for nearly twenty years- it could have been accomplished.

Our current mortgage is six times higher than our first one was. When we needed that first mortgage- we struggled to qualify. We jumped through so many hoops and spent a small fortune to get approved through a house evaluation. My mother was also the guarantor for us. I worked nearly 80 hours every week to keep on top of the finances. All of those things helped tremendously.

The horseshoe we have brought with us.

Once we had that first home secured, we knew life was going to get better. Even with all of our hard work, I was a bit superstitious. A fear that it could all come crashing down was in the back of my mind. So I put up a horseshoe in the basement of our first home for good luck. When we moved to our next house, I brought it with us and had it in our carport. Now it hangs in the garage of our current home, bringing us more good luck.

Luck and hard work have gotten us to where we are today. In a few years, my wife and I may decide to go mortgage free and sell this home to downsize. For now, it is our dream home and we are happy to be where we are.

Peony

I’ve always been appreciative of flowers. I have favorites- like roses and birds if paradise. Some other ones we have owned and planted that are among my favorites are lilies, daffodils and rhododendrons. Whenever they bloom, I know the spring and summer seasons are at hand.

Our new home has a couple of peony plants that were already in the garden. I had never heard of them. Seeing them grow was interesting. Little balls on the end of stalks. Tons of ants crawling around on them. And suddenly- BLOOM!

These things just POP. I am absolutely enthralled with the colour and the size of the blooms. My wife trimmed a couple of them and brought those inside for a vase to set on our countertop.

They look beautiful. I never knew that I’d like these. But then again, I never knew about them before this house.

Lazy Day Interrupted

My day was going to be filled with wearing pajamas and staring at my phone. I was doing pretty good and was about to write my blog about it.

I even took my photo and everything. I went downstairs to make a sandwich so that I could sit and write about how lazy my day off was going to be. I went to the garage to get a log of bread from the freezer when I noticed a spot of water on the ground near where my wife parks her car. Then I looked up.

Effing hell. The ceiling is leaking. Quickly I went into the attic still in my pjs. I found the spot where it was dripping from. Back to my bedroom and get dressed. It was time to go on the roof and find the location.

It was right at the downspout from the gutter as it hits the next roof. In the wisdom of the house being built- the flashing on the wall lines up perfectly underneath where the water spills out. Right onto the nail head, rusting it out. Aesthetically, it was a good idea. But it caused an irritant to me 11 years later. Time for some tar patch as a temporary fix. Which will hopefully last the duration of the roof’s life- until we need to replace it in another 15 years.

Like Red Green used to say- “If the women don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.”

I guess I’m that.

Lazy Day Interrupted

My day was going to be filled with wearing pajamas and staring at my phone. I was doing pretty good and was about to write my blog about it.

I even took my photo and everything. I went downstairs to make a sandwich so that I could sit and write about how lazy my day off was going to be. I went to the garage to get a log of bread from the freezer when I noticed a spot of water on the ground near where my wife parks her car. Then I looked up.

Effing hell. The ceiling is leaking. Quickly I went into the attic still in my pjs. I found the spot where it was dripping from. Back to my bedroom and get dressed. It was time to go on the roof and find the location.

It was right at the downspout from the gutter as it hits the next roof. In the wisdom of the house being built- the flashing on the wall lines up perfectly underneath where the water spills out. Right onto the nail head, rusting it out. Aesthetically, it was a good idea. But it caused an irritant to me 11 years later. Time for some tar patch as a temporary fix. Which will hopefully last the duration of the roof’s life- until we need to replace it in another 15 years.

Like Red Green used to say- “If the women don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy.”

I guess I’m that.

Change In Weather Attitudes

I mentioned previously about wind storms and the havoc it once reigned on our lives. The chaos that the wind would cause. The destruction and mess that it would leave behind for us to clear up. And the fear that a branch or tree would come crashing down.

Today was another windstorm. And as it continues, I am glad to have moved from our previous house. My wife is also getting over those bouts of weather induced anxiety. She was even able to joke about it earlier.

I’m glad she was able to find humor finally after decades of calamity and fear. It also seems that this windstorm is doing its best to get rid of the cold weather we have had these past few weeks and months.

As of late, I have been wanting warmer weather to approach. This weekend, I may get my wish to come true. We are expecting some sun and higher temperatures that we have yet to feel this season. I look forward to lounging in the backyard and having fun doing so.

As a man, I want to get everything done so I can have nothing left to do. I just want to do nothing in the sun. Just experience it. The warmth on my face, the red hue behind my closed eyelids, and the sensation of the world being at rest and comforting.

Is It Pool Time Yet?

The sun has been teasing us lately. But when you go outside, under the shade is frigid. The wind is still whistling past the clouds and pushing them onward. Looking towards the next few days and it seems like rain is in the forecast.

Today I took advantage of the nice weather. Our winter pool cover came off. I vacuumed up the debris and added a bunch of chemicals to the pool to balance it out. The pool is sitting at 15°C (59°F). Still far too cold to attempt to swim. I’m also waiting a couple of more weeks before heating it to ensure the chemicals create a safe swimming environment. Getting the pool ready is important to me.

But since it’s going to rain for the next ten days, there was no point in setting up the patio and deck furniture just to take it and store away again. I did sit outside first thing in the morning to eat breakfast. I can’t wait to be eating more meals outdoors. That has always been a favorite of mine.

Some day soon and life will be blissful. I will be able to swim and float around in the sun. For now, I get to enjoy the sunsets and views.

Costly Instant Waiting

As the world continues on the slow return, I am finding that I do not like the way you purchase big ticket items anymore. Furniture and cars are the biggest pain to buy right now. I’m not looking for a car, but have heard about the inconvenience.

We waited for about six months for a Bookcase. Which was fine, it wasn’t a necessity so we could wait. But we have reached a dilemma when buying dining room chairs. We could buy super cheap ($100-$200 is cheap???) or we can order chairs that can cost between $300-1000 and hope to get them by June.

The other dilemma is buying outdoor furniture. Right now it’s very early in the season, so not a lot is out there yet. But last year, things were gone off the shelves quickly and we were unsure of what we wanted. Again, I can order some nice furniture for 5-6x what the cost of a set at Home Depot or Costco may cost. Speaking with the salesperson, it sounded like the furniture would arrive by August. Pretty much missing this season entirely.

I do miss the ability to buy quality furniture right off the showroom or in their warehouse. Maybe one day we will get back to those days. For now, I should do my best to appreciate what we have and look at saving for the quality furniture next time instead of the instant gratification of walking out of the store.

How does someone justify $1000 for a dining room chair??? It’s not even gold plated. Inflation is ridiculous at the moment.

Adding Storage Options

With Christmas behind us, we realized that we like the house to be less cluttered. Because we had moved in at the start of summer, most of our time was spent enjoying the outdoors. Now that our mild winter is upon us, it was time to re-evaluate our home. That meant figuring out storage solutions.

First I started in the garage. We had a few boxes that we hadn’t opened yet, and an empty wall. An old bookcase becomes a place to store shoes while some shelves went up on the wall to store lightbulbs, candles, sunscreen, etc… We had some clear bins and fabric ones which worked well to organize and add some uniformity.

Next was the laundry room. Originally there was just a single shelf and a lot of wasted space above. I had taken out some wire shelves from my closet (in order to fit a dresser) so I reused them in this space. Again, we used fabric bins and put old towels and rags in them. The very top shelf will have overstock of cleaning supplies in clear shoebox size containers.

The last thing I did this week was add a more decorative cabinet in our kitchen. It fit nicely under our coffee bar. It also matched the red coffee maker and kettle. Now our teas and coffee have a better place to stay. Originally we had put a temporary wire rack underneath with all those cloth bins I mentioned.

I do prefer the clear plastic storage containers and the cloth bins over the cardboard boxes we had from moving. Even though those boxes were labeled, truly knowing what was inside was difficult. After going through some of them, we were able to gather up more donations and even discovered some items that we had no idea where they had gone.

With so much more stuff to go through, we are slowly decluttering our home. Some stuff that we brought along in the move just isn’t “us” anymore. My wife and I are trying to pass along items that we either don’t use, doesn’t bring us joy, or we simply had no idea why we still have it.

How are your storage solutions? Do you purge items regularly or do you wait for spring cleaning?

The Sky’s The Limit

I have shared so many photos of the sky that we can see from our home over the past few months. Many of you can see the sky from your own homes. You probably also have some amazing views. I’ve been sharing because I’m excited to see the sky for the first time in years on a regular basis.

The transitions and changes over the last few seasons leave me awestruck. Every night and day showcases something new to admire. We have also been lucky enough to see tons of fireworks off in the distance as folks celebrate various events. From out the windows and off the decks- we just love our home for what it has to offer.

Occasionally I do miss the trees and the greenery from our last home. Unfortunately all of those trees kept us shaded from the wonders of the sky. We never saw the clouds, the moon or the sun. We would get sneak peeks of them periodically, but never enough to truly enjoy.

I do like that we did not compromise on privacy when we moved. The neighbors may be closer, but it’s still peaceful and tranquil like our last home was.

As I have mentioned before- I don’t think I will ever tire of the views our home has to offer us.

Gut Wrenching Gutter Repair

Today our neighbor was getting their gutters cleaned. No, that sentence wasn’t meant inappropriately. They had a company cleaning their roof and debris from the gutters.

I had wandered outside taking out some garbage as one of the workers approached me. He asked if it was okay to use our deck to lean towards the neighbors roof. I said sure and we got to talking about the cost of doing my home. He quoted me around $300, but he already took a look when he was next door and said my gutters were fine.

I appreciated his honesty. He could’ve easily told me a price and I’d have not known any better. But since he was there, I asked if I could give him some cash to fix my one downspout. He agreed, and fifteen minutes later, my gutter was fixed.

Watching him climb the ladder that was leaning towards my house made me queasy. It was money well spent having someone else do it. Now the next set of rainfall which happens has a place to drain to.

I’m not afraid of heights, I’m afraid of falling.

More Google Controls

I cannot stop automating our home. About a month ago I thought I was done. Our Google Home is feeling futuristic and connected. Today I added what may be the final item… for now.

The Nest was our latest item added. Basically an overpriced thermostat. But it has so many features that my wife really wants to utilize. Mostly watching the usage- that’s the sort of thing which has become a pastime for her. She is also starting to come around to how to use the automation of our home.

For me, it’s another Google app that will make life easier. Having access to everything in the palm of my hand is exactly what I always wanted. Controlling lights, television, music and temperature creates comfort. I love all of it.

I love the fact that I can control nearly everything now from my phone. The accuracy and instantaneous of it all astounds me. I have used some of the other apps and controlled devices while away from home. Pretty cool and dorky. Now I can be warm or cold- whatever I want.

Keeping our Nest controlled by Nest.

Covered

Today was the final opportunity for us to see the blue of our pool. The final objective we needed to deal with in our backyard to prepare for the winter, was to throw a cover on the pool. All of our furniture is stored away, and the other day we Wrapped The Palm Trees for winter.

It was a sad moment having to say goodbye to the pool for the season. But we haven’t gone swimming in it for about a month now. What’s great about the cover is that it attaches right to the concrete all around. There are sunken pegs that come up and hold the straps in place keeping the cover taught.

Each spring will be filled with a glorious moment as we view the pool once more. The joy will extend through the summer. For now, we will protect the pool from the winter elements with the cover. Until next spring…

Rooms Less Viewed

Since autumn is slowly encroaching on our lives, we will be spending more time indoors than we did over the summer. Of course I have mentioned some of our more used rooms in previous blogs. But there is also a couple of spaces that we use but just don’t have the pizazz or views that I have shared.

The “Flex Area”

Upstairs in the main section that leads to the bedrooms- we have a squared off “Flex Area”. Our couch fit in the spot under the window perfectly. Our dog loves this location as well. I also put our old plasma television with the PlayStation 4 across from it. The kids can disappear for a bit to watch tv or play games, but still be within yelling distance of the staircase.

It’s also a great area for the VR headset. Our son will put a couple of our Yogibos at the top of the stairs as an added safety when playing. (Although the virtual parameters are set well inside of this and will warn the player if they are crossing the border.)

The “Dining Room”

We have never really used a “Dining Room” as intended. Our last house had such an open concept that we would constantly move our dining table and piano around. In our new house, we opted to put our parlor grand piano and a glass door bookcase in the dining room. This section of the room is hardly used. Except for the dog bed. How come our dog gets two rooms?

A small section of the dining room is devoted to my wife’s work station at this time. She is enjoying facing the back windows and staring at the views whenever she looks up from her monitor. Next summer all of this will move into our front office (which is currently our eldest’s bedroom). For now, it’s a great use of a space we don’t use very often.

Do you use rooms for unintended purposes? Is your dining room a craft room perhaps? Or is a spare bedroom a darkroom for photography? Let me know how you use spaces in your home.

A Windstorm? Hardly Noticed.

Early this morning we had a windstorm roll through the neighborhood. It was a little gusty still as I headed out this morning. However, I didn’t even notice until I opened the door.

We had a few things blow over, but the 60km/h winds didn’t shake us up like they had in the past. In our previous home we would have been awake all night listening to the trees sway and crack. Not to mention the fear of the damage that would be inflicted on our house and yard.

Trees falling and power out for days on end are a thing of the past. Windy days in our old house are now someone else’s concerns. My wife and I slept peacefully and our home didn’t make a peep. Such a nice change of pace compared to the last 15 years.

Pillars Of Excellence

We have had a couple of wooden pillars in our possession since my days of working at the Home Depot. I bought them for $5 for the pair- which was a great deal considering they were a custom order at $200/each but got cancelled and just sat in the store. The pillars just stayed unpainted and in the way in our last two homes. I never knew what I wanted to do with them.

My wife came up with an idea to finally put them to good use. So I painted them with a couple coats of flat black yesterday. I was glad to see that even after two moves and nearly 20 years- there was no damage done to them.

Now that the columns are painted, I put a piece of tile on the top of each of them and set them up at our front door. We bought a couple of small trees to put on the top. Next week we are planning to buy bigger (and nicer) pots for them.

In the end, I’m happy that the pillars got put to use. I like the idea of using them as a plant stand. They look great outside our front door.

Sky Reflections

Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day. As the evening entered- the clouds also rolled in. This created a wonderful scene in the sky. Yesterday I did mention that it was The Last Day Of Good Weather.

As I was as getting out of the hammock to head inside and make dinner, I noticed our house. The glass on the railing and the windows were creating a mirror like quality of the skyline. The back of our house was facing the darker sky while above our home was fluffy clouds and blue sky peering through.

Looking at the windows, it just didn’t look real. Yet there it was, a mirror like quality showing the world what the house could see. Both skies were happening at the same time. Truly a spectacle to behold.

I have enjoyed seeing the sky on a regular basis these past few months. I don’t think I will ever lose the wonderment it brings.

The Pathway To Curb Appeal

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been working hard at creating “curb appeal” for our home. Most of the summer was too hot to do manual labor in the front yard. During that time, we enjoyed our backyard immensely, and who wouldn’t?

But it finally came time to start with landscaping the front. I would be lying if I didn’t say I had “Yard Envy” of our neighbors. They all had a decade to creat beautiful landscapes. The home we bought- the previous owners put the time and money into the backyard. The gave my wife and I pretty much a blank canvas to do what we want in the front.

All summer we talked and planned. We drew ideas, hit some nurseries, and finally started in the purchasing of plants and such. A few bushes, trees, dirt, cement slabs, and stones have arrived. It has been back breaking work, quite literally. I pushed myself too hard last week and felt it.

After that, my wife put our two youngest to work helping out. I utilized our middle for quite a bit of the work. So naturally I paid her afterwards- much to her surprise. Today, my wife also took a few minutes to assist me. (Do I need to pay her also?)

Here are some of the before pictures of what we have done thus far. We decided to add a stone path along the driveway that leads past the front garden and towards our back gate. I did this all the right way, so I won’t have to try and fix it later on. We dug up the grass, leveled it off, lay down landscape fabric, put in a border, spread some sand, put down the slabs and shoveled the tiny stones all around.

Last week we planted a few of the bushes where we want them to be the centerpieces once we finish pulling up the lawn and adding some garden islands. In fact, we are hoping to remove the entire lawn to create a beautiful, low maintenance garden. That will likely happen next spring.

Today was a delivery of the stones and it only took about two hours to spread it out. The final look of the pathway is amazing. I’m really satisfied with how it turned out. I always love a sense of accomplishment when finishing a project. Now on to the next one!

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?

Garage Success

About a month ago I mentioned about Making Space In The Garage. We have been able to park my wife’s car on her side since then. We also rearranged some of the storage last week to make it more accessible and easier to manage. This afternoon- we tackled my side. And won!

With a few things still needing better placement, I’m happy with the progress. We have some donations to send out and some recycling to toss that will help with the space. But all in all, I now have a spot to park my car.

We now have two cars parked in a two car garage! This makes me tremendously happy. Much to their chagrin- I had to have to kids out there to enjoy my moment of triumph! This was a total “Dad Flex” to unbury the garage and park our cars.

Go Joe! Next is to organize the shed…

Fog and Sun

I still can’t get over the fact that we have a view to enjoy from our new home. Usually I’m sharing photos of the backyard and stories of sunshine. Yesterday was the last day of my staycation. This morning I had to head into work in order to pay for this lifestyle.

Before leaving my oasis, I enjoyed a cup of coffee as I looked at the fog leading off into the horizon. The sun wasn’t out yet, so the colours of the world were subdued and cool. If there wasn’t the occasional tree and a hill in the far distance, I would’ve thought we were in the clouds.

Everyday I become more appreciative of what we have. It has been a long road leading to this. This home is now my sanctuary. Or if you wish- My Happy Place.

Organized Chaos

Even though we “Purged” before we moved, we still have a bunch of stuff that needed to find a place in and around our home. As fun as it is to fill the ,Garage, I like being able to park at least one of our cars inside. The other side will have to wait until the summer is ending in order for me to want to hit the attics again.

I took advantage of the nice weather today to hang up our kayaks and ladder on our back fence. At least it keeps them off the ground and away from moisture and dirt.

Last week I worked diligently on organizing the garage and utilizing all the available space. I went old school with a pegboard for my tools- which my son organized and put up. I also built a makeshift 4×8 suspended shelf for my wife’s fabric. I throw a couple hooks up for bikes and the car topper. It made for a ton of more floor space and easier to navigate around the garage.

While we still have a few boxes in our home to unpack, this is a great start to our new life. Unfortunately with things the way they are, we are waiting for bookcases and a hutch to become available in order for us to complete the house. For the time being, those items are off to the side and out of our main living area.

How organized is your home? Do you feel like you have too much stuff like we do?

Let me know in the comments.

Making Space In The Garage

It’s been over 14 years since we had a garage. And the last time we did, only one car could fit. Prior to our move on Saturday- we labeled a bunch of boxes as “Garage” thinking we’d have loads of space. Boy were we wrong.

Today, we dug out about half of the garage. Christmas boxes went in the attic, boxes of tools were moved to the proper location, other boxes were emptied and put away. I was also able to set up a shelving unit to store our Rubbermaid bins.

After a full morning of rearranging and storing, we successfully were able to park my wife’s car in half of the garage! That’s quite the accomplishment if I do say so myself.

Too bad we still have to unbury the rest of the garage. And kitchen. And dining room. And living room. And bedrooms. And… you get the idea. But one goal at a time.

Goodbye

So long, goodbye
I'll see you when I see you
You can pick the street
I'll meet you on the other side
So long, goodbye
Do I really have to finish?
Do returns always diminish?
Did I say that right?

Time to bid farewell to a home that my wife’s father built 49 years ago. It’s been our family home for the last 14 years. During which time I renovated, repaired, revived, and even at times resented. These past four months have been a difficult time as we prepared ourselves to leave. There was no chance that we were going to leave on a negative note, so we continued to enjoy the house and yard right to the last possible moment.

2008.

But today is the last day. A chaotic good change is occurring. Our home is filled with boxes and people moving those boxes for us. I really don’t have much more to say on the subject that I haven’t previously. So I’ll keep it short and sweet.

So long brick house. Goodbye parenting memories. Farewell country living. Our castle gave us a roof over head and natural beauty on the doorstep. Everything this home could offer us, it successfully accomplished.

Thank you Castle Havelka.

We love you.

6

Six days to go. This countdown thing is getting tough. Not just because I’m tying to think of topics related to the number of the day, but also because there is an end date approaching. With the end drawing nearer, let’s dive into 6.

Six Feet Under. A tv series from a few years back that followed the stories of a family working at a funeral parlor. It is probably one of my favorite dramas of all time. However, I only watched the series through once. Some shows are so good they don’t need a second viewing.

I’m mentioning this show for two reasons. One- I have always wanted to own a Hearse. That would be a fun car to drive. And two, this house we are moving into will be the last house that I think we will ever buy. Maybe one day we will buy a condo or townhouse; but I’d be okay with the idea that I die in this house.

Let’s go a bit more joyous to end today’s blog. The number 6 is in the address of our Future Home twice on the house and once on the street we are moving to. 666 The sign of the beast! Or whatever.

Our future house is a beast in size compared to what we have lived in so far. I’m looking forward to taming it and calming into my zen.

9

This countdown is harder than I thought it would be. Besides having a final goal, trying to figure out what to write for each number is also a challenge. I am enjoying the distraction of doing this since this move is stressful at the best of times. Today’s “9” topic is movie based because I love movies.

Plan 9 From Outer Space” from 1957 is THE B MOVIE to watch if you love that genre. It is a difficult film to describe (and watch) as it is bad. So bad in fact that it circles back around to being good. Tim Burton did a sort of documentary on that original film maker back in 1994 titled “Ed Wood”. Which is probably a bit easier to watch especially if you enjoy Johnny Depp.

Of course this leads me into more Tim Burton-esque films. “9” was created by Tim Burton’s production company and was originally going to be a stop motion film- very similar to “Nightmare Before Christmas” but ended up being CGI. It’s a good movie, but does lack a bit of heart because of the choice to change film styles. I love Stop Motion movies because of the hours, days, weeks, and months of dedication to create simple movements that come to life. If people are willing to put that kind of effort into a film on a daily basis, I must watch it.

Which brings me to my final film. “9 To 5” from 1980.

Working 9 to 5 has never been my lifestyle of choice. Ever since I was young I have had an unusual work life of shift work. I do not live by a Circadian rhythm. Never have. Hitting my mid forties, this is natural for me now. As for the movie, it is highly enjoyable as it is far catches and silly. Seeing Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda remain friends for decades is great to see. The show “Grace and Frankie” is this generations “Golden Girls”. Dolly Parton’s theme song from the film is one of my favorite Country Songs. That song list is so short that I don’t even think I have a top 5. (Not a country music fan, sorry).

I have missed our media room over the past three months as we pack up for this move. With 9 days remaining until we move, I can’t wait to set up our home theater system and start to watch movies once more.