Saturday, 9 December 2017

A busy week

Our first week in Duncan has been a busy one. When you move to a new home, after 20 years, a lot of things require up-dating. Address changes on driver's licenses, passports and the Canada Revenue Agency all had to be made. Luckily the Governments on both the Federal and Provincial levels are well represented in town. We made quick work of the changes, but we did learn that they close mid-day for one hour to have lunch! This is Island time!

On Saturday at the market we came upon a vendor selling fresh organic sprouts, we tasted some and went home with a couple of his wraps and Asian dipping sauce. Lunch was sussed.

The Mexican food truck will get a workout soon.

Then we had to buy a set of kitchen appliances. We did some comparing on line and came to the conclusion the the Home Depot would be the best store to place our order. We chose the Frigidaire Professional line and ordered a fridge, gas range, dishwasher and hood fan capable of removing 600 cfm of air. At least 400 cfm is required for a gas range, so we're good. Then we chose LG for a washer and dryer combo. Both units have a steam feature good for reducing allergens and other nasty things. It was a good day for the Home Depot!

Just south of town on Highway 1 we found a grocery store called "Old Farm Market". We have shopped there twice now and the produce is beautiful, local and affordable. They also have a well stocked deli and bakery. We will be regulars there. Next door is a butcher that we will check out once we have moved into our new home. In town there is also a fish monger that we will check out. It would be nice to shop at the big stores just for non perishables and keep our shopping with the local merchants as much as possible.

Saturdays is market day and we will go to the market to sniff out some home made deals like sausages, meat balls and bread. In the summer the market is very well stocked with home grown organic veggies. Speaking of organic, we stumbled upon a store next door to the Brick Furniture store that sells 100% organic products. From soup to nuts, they have it all, even bamboo underwear. Outside they display an array of "Inglorious" veggies at $1.00 per pound! If you plan on making a large pot or chilli or spaghetti sauce, these organic miss-fits will be perfect!

As you can see, we're moving right in! Today we're out for a walk, followed by a visit to the market. The sun is shining and life could not be better! At the market we found a beautiful olive bread loaf, pork and apple sausages with sage, steak and mushroom meat pies, Korean meat balls and some freshly made shrimp and asparagus ravioli. We also stopped at the big grocery store for some rice and olive oil. We're set for the week, our next shop will be to stock-up our new kitchen.

Oh and here's number one son, Liam saying hi to the Governer General in Yellowknife.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Wrapping things up

The home we just sold has two beautiful maple trees, but this part will not be missed.

We had three garage sales and cleared around $700.00! A perfect little stash to fund the ferry travel and moving expences. Our dining room set did not sell so it will stay with us a while longer. Maybe we'll try to sell it on the Island, there may be more interest here in country style furniture.

I love my Toro blower/vac. It mulches too.

We had rented a container from a company located in Scarborough, Ontario called Cube-It. The cube measures 8x8x16 ft. It is supposed to be able to contain the furnishings of a typical one bedroom appartment. Now our house has three bedrooms, but we had wittled the contents down to just one bedroom, so I figured the size of this container would be fine... When the contaier was delivered it did look rather small, but once inside it felt quite a bit bigger, we were up for a challenge. The full three dimensions would have to be put to good use. And we packed this thing, with the help of our good friend Stuart and number two son Chris, all the way to the rafters. Everything minus some garden decorations made it into the box, the garden decor was happily taken by our neighbours who promisced to distribute them with other interested parties.

On the Cubi-It website they list the load limit of the container at 7500 lbs. and we were trying to figure out just what exactly resembles 7500lbs. Neither of us really had a clue, but 7500 lbs. is a lot of weight, about 3.5 metric tonnes. So we packed it up without a problem. We stuffed the last 10% of the cube with bits and bobs. I will have to open the doors very slowly in two weeks because anything may come flying out of there. Hard hats may be required!

Quite a tight load!

This Friday morning the truck retuned to pick up the container. He positioned the truck expertly and had the forks in place five minutes later. Shelagh went off to vacuum something while I watched to see if the thing had become too heavy. The box lifted up as if it was empty! Seriously, I carried most of the boxes, all very heavy, into that thing. It blew me away that it seemed to be no effort at all for this rig. Talking to the driver, after he had his load secured, I asked him about the 7500 lb. limit and he smiled, "Actually the limit is 10000 lbs. but we want people to be careful when loading these things". The pick up was done in less than ten minutes, and now our focus was on the car...

There are some items that we did not want in the container, original paintings, some stereo equipment, our flat sceen television sets and rented electronics from our internet service provider. Also copious amounts of wine, clothing and personal treasures. Our car is small, a KIA Soul, but it has inner bigness, it is tall and boxy, some people call it ugly but I see a neatly designed car, very cool. With the back seats dropped down the interior becomes cavernous, and even Shelagh was amazed that everything made its way into the space behind our seats. I must admit that Shelagh's feet were slightly elevated by some items but that actually ended up adding to her comfort once properly distributed.

Our car fully stuffed, container picked up, final deep cleaning completed. We recieved a call from our notary, with the news that the money of the sale of our home had cleared, and that we could come over anytime to pick up the residue of funds that make up the difference between the sale of our old house and the purchase of our new house. (How's that for a sentence?) We locked up the house for the last time after one more walk through. We have lived here for 20 years, but we were both ready to move on, this house had served us well, and we hope the new owners will be very happy there.

From this...

To this... (Notice also the difference between a professional camera and a point and shoot!)

The paperwork went on for quite a while, lots of signatures were required, all to do with the new home purchase. Finally all that was done and we headed to the bank to deposit our cheque. Straight into the new investment account where our financial guru will do his magic, minus some $$$ for making the new house a home. Now we were totally free, and homeless. We headed for the Tsawwassen ferry terminal for our 15:15 sailing to Nanaimo. We had a two hour wait for our ship, so we went to the little mall in the parking lot and ate a lovely Mexican lunch from one of the stalls in the food court. This mall is worth a visit! Cool shops full of touristy things and great food too. After lunch we went back to the car and hooked up Shelagh's iPad to the car's sound system and watched a rather bizarre movie called "the Circle" starring Tom Hanks. Time goes by quickly like that and soon we had to pause the movie and get boarded. Once comfy in our seats we finished the movie sharing earbuds.

Just boarded and ready for the two hour crossing.

The crossing was blustery in places with plenty of rain and wind but we arrived at Duke Point without any problems. Then the 45 minute drive to the air B&B in driving rain on a very puddly highway was a bit treacherous, but going a little slower made it better. The air B&B is cozy and comfy. We caught up on e-mails and messages and enjoyed a glass of wine with lasagna delivered to our door. Sleep came easy...

Sunday, 29 October 2017

One more trip to the Island before the final move...

We had to cross the straight one more time to choose the quartz countertops for the kitchen. We happily obliged and booked the ferry to Duke Point for 10:15 last Friday. The crossing went smoothly untill we neared Duke Point. The ship encountered a large fleet of gillnetters fishing at the approach to the ferry terminal. Our captain stopped the ship, giving the fishermen time to corral their nets 'till there was a safe passage for the ferry to make landfall. We dissemberked a few minutes late and that's okay, everybody needs to make a living... We drove south to our new house to meet with Reena, our contact and go to person at the building site. We arrived slightly late at 13:15 and we were greeted by Reena and Kevan the painter, who had already finished painting the exterior of the house and was now doing prep work on the interior.

The exterior all painted.

A little mishap, a new window is on order.

The exterior colours look great! And the house is coming along nicely. The inside space looks even better than the first time we saw it. The great room with the living room, dining room and kitchen is going to be a fantastic gathering place. I am now doing research on kitchen appliances and where to get them and have them delivered and installed on time. Food preparation is a big thing in our house. Once we have moved in Shelagh will start the transformation process, turning this place from a house into a home. Over the winter months we will design and build the garden. We don't want any grass, so it will become a low maintenance California style landscape that needs little watering. Our climate is changing and less watering is a good thing.

The kitchen.

Reena lent us two sample books with quartz pieces to peruse. We had brought our paint chips, carpet sample and other bits and bobs to place against the stone squares. The choices are endless, but after some checking with tile suppliers and kitchen cupboard manufacturers we came to a decision. We e-mailed Reena our choice for the kitchen counters and that was our job done for the day. All this running around the Cowichan Valley made us hungry and after our visit with the kitchen cupboard people we stopped for lunch in Cobble Hill for a delicious pizza and a locally crafted beer at Pizza Prima Strada. A truly Neapolitan style pizza experience. They also have two restaurants in Victoria...

Mighty fine pizza.

After lunch we headed for our motel room at the Thunderbird Motor Inn. This motel is great! Clean rooms at an affordable rate, and since we are now repeat customers we got a discount! Wonderful, and Rita the receptionist was lovely as always. We got checked in and nestelled into our room with a glass of Pino Grigio. Earlier in the week we had booked an airbnb in Duncan for the first two weeks of December. The sale of our house in Langley completes on December 2nd and the purchase of our house in Duncan completes on December 15th. We will be homeless for two weeks, so we booked this suite in town to bridge the gap. I invited the landlady of the airbnb to our motel room for a meet and great and a glass of vino. She showed up at 17:00 for a chat, but had no time for a glass of wine. Her mother is in hospital and she was rushed off her feet. A very nice woman, the kind that makes you feel right at home. I'm sure we will have a happy two weeks at her home while we wait for ours to be completed.

We were peckish by now so we figured fish and chips from Salty's was in order. Shelagh phoned in the order and I went to pick it up. Salty's is a franchise fish and chip restaurant and there is one in Cloverdale near our home that we have never tried. We are really impressed with the one in Duncan. The staff is friendly and professional, they move like a well lubed machine and the food is great. We especially like the haddock. Shelagh ordered a two piece fish and chips to share (plenty of food for the both of us) a small coleslaw and their home made tartar sauce. Ten minutes later I went out to pick it up. They have autographed portraits of various "Coronation Street" actors on the wall, a British soap opera we have been watching for decades. Bellies full, minds racing, sleep came well for me but a little slower for Shelagh, who tends to worry excessively...

The next morning we slept in 'til 08:00 and after coffee and a shower we were ready to go back to the building site to return the quartz samples. The house had been unlocked by the tradesmen working across the street so we could leave the samples in our house for Reena to retrieve. Our return ferry was booked for 15:15 so we had some time to kill. We thought it would be a good idea to go to the Saturday Market in town where local farmers and artisans sell their wares. We had some great chats with the vendors as they welcomed us to the area after they learned that we had bought a house in their hood. Some are at the market 50 weeks per year, and some take the cold months off, usually the farmers, naturally. But some sausage and piemakers are there all the time. I saw a wood working artist who had awesome chopping boards and I have my eye on a rather large piece...

These pictures of the market were taken last month.

After the market we decided to go back to Cowichan River Park to see the fall foliage on the trees. The park has mostly evergreens so there was not much colour, but the river was running beautifully. I had hoped to see some salmon running, but there were none to be seen, we were prabably a few weeks late... The park will be one of our favourite places to go to for a picnic in most seasons, even on the warmish winter days. Leaving the park we went on the slow road to Duke Point. First to Maple Bay where we will spend many days taking in the views with a picnic, then on to Chemainus for a light lunch at the local Burrito stand. All along highway 1A up along the coast to the town of Ladysmith for a one hour marvel at the views, sat on a park bench enjoying some wine... Goodness me, how lucky we are to be retired and to live in such an incredibly beautiful place on this earth...

Maple Bay.


Transfer Beach Park in Ladysmith.

We drove north to Duke Point and we waited in line to board our ship back to Tsawwassen. Ahead of us a rented Ford Transit van, one of three, packed with men from Nanaimo who were on their way to Seattle to watch a football game. The Seattle Seahawks against the Houston Texans. They were having a lot of fun, there were foot balls flying through the parking lot and some Tequila was being shared. All good fun. Each venicle had a designated driver and all was well in the world. We hope they made it through customs allright... The trip home was uneventful and we got home to a simple dinner of soup and rotisserie chichen sandwiches on cheesy buns. Sleep came early and well deserved.

The view from Duke Point Terminal.

Arriving at Tsawwassen Terminal.

Now the time has come to really get packing and sorting. This move has to be seamless and as stress free as possible. If that is even possible... There will be some wine involved!

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Trimmimg the Fat

Well, with the old house sold and the new house bought there is only one thing to do. Sell all that stuff you don't want to move! We got organized and had the first of three garage sales. Saturday was a hum dinger and we sold a lot of our bits and bobs that we just no longer need. A lot of cook books and travel books, some novels and Christmas decorations. Then as the day progressed we started adding more stuff.

Shelagh, aka Miss Moneybags...

We told people to come back tomorrow for more new stuff. Our nine year old patio furniture set fetched $250.00! And the lady who bought it came back on Sunday to pick it up, then she saw some of the new stuff we added and bought a bunch more! We met a lot of interesting people, a couple who have lived many years on Vancouver Island chatted for quite a while about the beauty of the place. We have much exploring to do. And a guy who has travelled all over North America as a musician playing gigs from Mexico to Yellowknife. He gave us a CD that has his own creations on it and left with a scented oil burner, complete with about a dozen scents, for which he paid four US dollars! As he walked off I realized that we should have traded the CD for the oil burner but he did not seem the type. But our largest clientele were our own neighbours. They shopped our garage down like experts. The next Saturday without rain in the forecast will be our third, and final, garage sale. Whatever is left after that will go to the local hospice society outlet.

It was nice to have a visit from our friends Hans, and Stuart & Cindy. Hans walked off with my old iMac and some tiki torches. And Stuart offered us his utility trailer with a car equipped with a trailer hitch. That will come in handy for the run to the dump with old stuff that just can't be put to another use. We will miss our friends here, but we're not going far. Plus the new house has four bedrooms and three bathrooms! Some good visits will happen.

I posted our dining room suite for sale on Craigslist and got some interest the next day, a lady in poor health and hospitalized wanted to buy it for her grandson. A Christmas present. After some back and forth and some exchange of information it became clear that I was being phished! I won't go into details about how I was being conned, but rest assured, I completely lost it! But this is when Shelagh becomes the calm and collected one and she spent many hours on the phone dealing with officials and getting our accounts protected against sheisters like this. I guess we'll keep our diningroom suite unless someone shows up with cash in hand, even then, there's a lot of counterfeit out there, especially American money... Be like Fox Mulder, the guy from the X Files, and trust no one... That is not my nature though, so I will have to leave matters like this to Shelagh, who has spent many years working with the RCMP and knows when to become suspicious.

I'm looking forward now to getting our last garage sale done and then the packing will begin. Fun days ahead...

Friday, 13 October 2017

The deed is done!

Up earlier than normal. Got showered and packed up the car. Ate some fruit and drove the two blocks over to the Remax office to meet up with David. We decided to follow him in our own car because we needed to get to Duke Point for the ferry at 11.45, one hour before the sailing.

The house we were to see is number 25 and the door was open for us... Upon entering the house, there is a den to the right perfect for my solo time with music. Then onto the master bedroom with ensuite on the left, then a full bathroom followed by a spacious great room with a vaulted ceiling, we always wanted a vaulted ceiling...

Then downstairs a full basement with three bedrooms, a bathroom and a large media room. Also a utility room perfect for my winemaking hobby. "I thought we were downsizing?" Said Shelagh. "Four bedrooms is easier for resale!" Said I. So we came to the conclusion that this was the place, our final home before the crispy kennel. A small front yard and a small back yard which we will landscape with zero grass! Flagstone patio with perennial shrubs and river rocks. We'll do that over the winter months. Possession is December 15th so we will be homeless for only two weeks... Now the challenge of moving and two weeks storage begins...

By Tuesday we have to submit our choices for exterior and interior paint colours, that will be Sunday's homework, after that we need to choose a stone kitchen counter top. Thank goodness Shelagh has a great eye for interior design...

We drove the slow road to Duke Point while David prepared the documents for our offer. That's all done electronically these days. By the time we got home the documents were in our e-mail. We signed them digitally and fired them back to him. We beat out another offer because we could come in with a no subject offer, it always pays off to sell first, then buy...

The coastal drive is so nice along highway 1A through all the little towns that soon will become our playground...

Now we're getting ready for our first moving sale Saturday from 09:00 'till 14:00. If you live near us, please stop by and buy some of our stuff!

This is what these neighbourhoods typically end up looking like...

Monday, 9 October 2017

Off farther north

Just to be sure we decided to have a look farther up Island to see what could be had within our budget. So we packed the dog in his crate and drove the two hour treck from Duncan to Courtenay and Comox. Downtown Courtenay is wonderful, the high street peppered with high end shops selling anything from beautiful furniture to fashion and designer boutiques with prices for the rich and famous. Many delicious eateries offering a miriad of tastes from all over the globe. A little Mecca. But as we drove around the neighbouring areas, including Comox, we found our budget sadly lacking. Typically free standing homes start at around the $650000.00 mark and going up weekly. Add that to the fact that this area is an hour and a half drive north of Nanaimo, the nearest link to the lower mainland.

Casey had a ball, so many new smells to sniff and so many new people to get acquainted with. He is a very grown up dog, even when a young poodle type thing wanted him for lunch, he just stood there and looked at him as if to say, "You are some special kind of stupid eh?" We found a few beautiful areas in this part of Vancouver Island, but they are way beyond what we want to spend on our final home.

We drove the fast route up there along highway 19, and decided to drive the slow route back to Duncan along highway 19A, the original Island Highway. So nice along the coast through all the quaint little towns. Vancouver Island is a gem to be enjoyed whenever you can... Once we got back to our house-sit I took Casey for a walk and then we settled into the house, had some dinner and relaxed, while we waited for David, our realtor, to get back to us with news about the two properties we were hoping to deal on.

Property number four...

The annoying part of this is that while their properties were listed for sale, they were not ready to build on because they had not yet filed their plans with the land title people in Victoria. How can you possibly put a building plot up for sale when you can't build on it yet! Frustrating to say the least... David had put in a request for more info on the properties we were interested in, but that was slow going. To get a property through the land title office could take up to four weeks. Our house is sold, we need action soon. The next day we were still none the wiser so I dicided that we needed a distraction and planned a visit to Cowichan River Provincial Park.

The Cowichan River

Taken from the old railway bridge.

Cowichan River Provincial Park is located west of Duncan. It has a few picnic areas and a campground. The scenery is amazing and there are some wonderful hiking trails. We wiled away a few hours here strolling through the greenery. Shelagh's arthritic knees are getting worse every day so a long walk was out of the question, but we are sure that we'll be back here many times for a picnic by the river's edge. One of our favoutite pasttimes in all seasons except winter.

On the way back to our house-sit we stopped by Keystone drive for another look. We both like this street, but if they can't start building for another month we'll not be able to make the dates work, frustrating... We decided to drive by yet another complex in the works on Gibbins road. It's slightly farther out of town and surprisingly way more quiet. The wheels in my brain began to churn... Quiet, backing onto a green belt with a walking trail, and by the state of construction I figured completion could happen end November to early December. We went home and I took the dog for his walk and, when home, talked about this third possibility.

Could this be the one?

On Monday morning we packed up our stuff, did laundry and house cleaning, changed the bed and made everything ready for Sharon's return from Victoria. We left the house at about 14:00 and checked into our hotel. The Thunderbird Motor Inn is the place for us. We got a wonderful room at a wonderful price and had a glass of wine. Then we decided to fire off an e-mail to David to set up a viewing on Tuesday morning, he was right on it. We were ready to meet him Tuesday at 09:30 to take a look...