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Tuesday 26 December 2017

Our first Island Christmas

December 23rd dawned bright, sunny and cold at -7°C. It is Saturday so we went to the market to get some more snacks and things for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Chris will be here tonight and we want to be ready. We bought a Dutch almond cake, but struck out on the other things on our list. This can happen at the Saturday Market where the same products are not always available. So we went on to the Old Farmers Market on the Trans Canada Highway for some veggies and to the super market for some more snack food.

Then Shelagh helped me find her a Christmas present. I tend to buy her things that don't work out, so she gets to pick, then I buy and wrap, then on Christmas morning she opens her presents and acts surprised! Everybody wins...

The new kitchen, ready for its first workout...

We got home and settled in to a couple of episodes of "Suits" on Netflix. A great series that we started watching a couple of weeks ago at our air B&B. We had just finished the second show when the phone rang. It was Chris, he was in Duncan quite a bit earlier than expected. He managed to re-schedule his ferry reservation. He was at the local Jysk store where he bought an air mattress, as ordered, and wanted an escort to the house from the store because his "smart" phone would not boot up google maps! All too happy to oblige we headed out to the store to learn that his car would not start! As it turned out the car ran out of gas just as he turned off the ignition... At 35 years old one would expect a person not to run out of gas... But as I recall I married ex wife number two at that age, so no harm done!!! We went to the local gas station and got a jerry can full, juiced up his car and the whole thing became history pretty quickly. We had a wonderful evening with Chilli con Carne for dinner and some wine and beer. Chris was tired from a heavy Christmas dinner party with the Seaforth Highlanders Armoury the night before, so after dinner and a beer he called it a night and became our first house guest. On Sunday we took him on a tour of the surrounding area.

Sunday dawned overcast but not snowing. Shelagh prepared a delicious breakfast of ham and eggs baked in a muffin tin with some cheese, parsley and Hollandaise sauce. For someone who hates to cook, she did great. After some coffee and tea we headed out the door to show Chris the coastline of the Cowichan Valley. Starting in Mill Bay then northbound through Cowichan Bay, Maple Bay, Crofton, Chemainus and Ladysmith. He understood right away why we chose this valley as our new home. It being Christmas eve day most of the towns were quiet and most shops closed, but it was still wonderful to see the towns. We came home and I made some ham and cheese buns for lunch, the rest of the day we spent relaxing before the mayhem of Christmas day was upon us.

These were delicious!

Even on a cold grey day Maple Bay is amazing.

Christmas morning came lazily, we slept in 'till 08:00 and we waited with coffee for Chris to get his butt out of bed, he came upstairs at about 09:30 saying that he had been up for ages playing his online game "Destiny 2". Well, bacon and eggs were made, showers were taken and we got into the business of Christmas morning. We relaxed and chatted the morning away. Nobody seemed interested in opening presents, that did not happen 'til the afternoon. After a lunch of snacks and junk food we got into the spirit and ripped the wrapping. We were all properly spoiled.

For Chris five Vimy Ridge commemorative coins and a camping stove, for Shelagh new slippers and for me a solid maple carving board.

Then I got onto the business of cooking dinner. It's not easy for me to cook turkey, I don't like turkey, I find it totally tasteless and boring, but it got done in our new oven which has a probe system to make sure the bird is cooked properly. The instructions for the oven said to insert the probe in the thickest part of the breast, but reality suggests that the thigh would be a better place for temperature monitoring. This is the problem with turkey, when the white meat is perfect the dark meat is under cooked. Next time, if there is one, I will cut the turkey into parts and cook the dark meat longer than the white. Still, dinner was great and there were lots of leftovers.

Boxing day, who came up with that name? We were all a bit done with extravagant breakfasts so Shelagh just cut up some apples and bananas for us to munch on. I got the turkey all cut up for sandwiches and the dark meat went back into the oven to cook some more. Then all the bones went into a large pot to make stock. Eventually that will become a hearty pea soup. We spent the day being lazy. I made turkey sandwiches for lunch. And, then just like that, it was time for Chris to go home. He had a good time here, next time he'll find the house more done up, with pictures on the walls. A job that we will now start in earnest. We had left over turkey dinner, and I must admit that we're both quite turkeyed out. There is still more but it will go into the freezer for another day...

Chris texted at 21:30 "Home now", good boy!

That wrapped up Christmas, not our best or prettiest, but despite the moving chaos it turned out not bad at all. We hope yours was awesome!

Thursday 21 December 2017

A week without internet

This post is a bit of a tome so pour yourself a glass of wine...

On Tuesday December 12th we met at the house with our builder and our realtor for a final inspection and to create a list of deficiencies. It was so nice to see the house all finished, even bug screens had been installed. Mr. Parhar, the land developer and builder, gave us an organized tour of the house pointing out all the features included in the construction. The house looks wonderful, and only a couple of things needed some adjustment. After we walked through we were told that over time we will find that certain things can do with some tweaking and we were to let him know right away so things would be to our complete satisfaction. Everybody at the Parhar Group has been very helpful with our questions and concerns over the last two months finalizing this construction.

The Somenos Marsh is a great place to take some time out and look at the wild life...

We went back to our B&B feeling completely content in the knowledge that this would be our best home ever! Our notary public informed us that all the paperwork was in place and there was no need to do any more checking around and the final monies could be paid out to the builder. We gave the go ahead and the next day we were informed by David, our realtor, that possession had been granted a day early. We went to the house and were given the keys. This came as a great surprise, and it was so much appreciated because we had quite a few balls to juggle. We took over a car load of artwork from the B&B and started shifting things over bit by bit. We bought a vacuum cleaner and started a deep clean of the carpets and floors, also the walls and window frames were given a good going over. There is always a lot of dust with new construction, this will continue for a while and is to be expected. Besides, the house isn't clean until Shelagh says it is!

Our Cube-It was delivered on time and we found it in perfect condition.

With the help of Sherri, the customer service representative at the Parhar group, we were able to hire a plumber and a gas fitter to hook up our kitchen. We were also provided with a phone number to a company that supplies labourers by the hour. We needed somebody to help us unload our container. Trevor came over on Saturday at 10:00 for four hours to help us unload and disperse our belongings throughout the house as we saw fit. He has worked as a professional mover for 13 years and can maneuver a piece of furniture through the house with great precision. His help was paramount in getting our furniture moved in efficiently. Within two hours the cube was empty and we were ready to shuffle some stuff into place. After that he helped me with the assembly of some of my IKEA Sten shelving in the garage so that I could get this space organized. By 13:15 I said so long to Trevor and we gave him a generous tip for his efforts. I could now concentrate on getting the garage in shape so the car can be out of the elements.

Meanwhile Shelagh went off to the Saturday market and stocked up on some of the things we have become quite fond of, sausages and meat pies etc. She also got our cell phone topped up. Once that was accomplished she got busy emptying boxes of kitchen stuff and got the cupboards and drawers organized. The kitchen will go through a few changes over time while she fine tunes the location of everything. So far it all looks very good with all my cooking stuff in places that make perfect sense. Bedtime was upon us and sleep came easy...

Sunday morning dawned with a slight nasal congestion and the fear of a cold setting in... Too much stress, we must take more breaks and slow down a bit, we are not young puppies anymore. After coffee and breakfast we got started unpacking some boxes. Soon I felt that Shelagh was more in control of this part, so I went to the basement to get the wine room sorted. I built the IKEA "Sten" shelves (bought these some 25 years ago) and got the room organized. The new wine room, or the cave as I like to call it, is much bigger than the previous one and I now have room for a large work surface to do my thing. Sadly I do not have a sink, or the possibility of installing one, so that will take a little getting used to. The downstairs bathroom will suffice. In the afternoon I got three wines started without any problem. So life is good. We went to the market and stocked up on veggies, then put our feet up and relaxed...

On Monday the unpacking continued. At times it became a bit overwhelming, so much stuff! We had sold off and donated a lot of things, but still the knick knacks and travel souvenirs kept coming. We have a very large closet in the basement where some of these things will have to be stored for the time being. Then, after six months or so, we will take a look at what has not yet found a new home and get rid of that. Late morning the Cube-it truck showed up and loaded the empty container and drove off. There was nothing to sign or do...

We made a trip to the municipal hall of North Cowichan to get some answers to questions like garbage and recycling pick up dates, property tax payment options and the like. A very helpful lady gave us printed copies of all the info we needed. We can now get rid of a pile of styrofoam packaging that surrounded our appliances. And a lot of cardboard, newsprint and plastic.

On Tuesday morning Shelagh was out of bed first, went to the window and said, "Oh my goodness! Peter take a look at this!" I got up and looked out to see five inches of snow on the ground and more coming down. We'll have a "Snow Day" and stay at home. Lots to do here... At about noon the snow turned to rain it became a typical west coast slush fest. When the rain became serious we went out to run some errands, the fridge was empty and that's not good. We also stopped at the Thunderbird Motel to check our e-mails etc. Our iPads still know their wifi password so that worked out well. This is when we noticed that our old Telus ISP was still billing us for service to the old house, so off we went to the local Telus store to have that problem solved. Nothing but excitement. Shelagh has been on the phone at length with Telus, mostly on hold, to close the old account, they are incredibly unorganized, the left hand knows not what the right hand is doing... Then to the store for a small grocery shop, some chicken, broccoli and mayo... (A life lived without mayo is a life half lived). And to the liquor store to buy some wine. I made a nice chicken curry with broccoli and rice and we have left overs for another dinner.

Wednesday started at 07:15. We had to be ready for a carpenter to install the mirror for the downstairs bathroom, two weeks earlier he had broken the original one. He was done in no time and as he was preparing to leave I asked him if he knew an electrician. He did, and he called his friend who would be able to hook up our dishwasher late afternoon the same day, we now have a dishwasher before Christmas! We will have him come back some day to install some dimmer switches etc.

We had a day of running errands and got some bills paid, then out for a nice lunch at our favourite pizza place, "Pizza Prima Strada" in Cobble Hill. We had some meatballs from the antipasti menu and ordered a spicy pizza, delicious, Shelagh has left overs… When we got back home I got busy downstairs to assemble our home theatre system. We bought new speaker cables, a slightly heavier gauge, to carry the sound better. Our old speakers still pack a punch! Shelagh got her closet reorganized with some new portable storage units. Slowly but surely the place is taking shape... 

Thursday up at the unChristian hour of 06:15 to be ready for Adrian, the Telus wifi installer. We showed him where I had set-up the televisions and after some chin scratching he went to work. We heard some sawing noises and goings on, but left him alone to do his thing. Not even two hours later he was done and ready to show us the set-up. Everything was in place. He set us up with new components and we are now on the latest and greatest fibre optic system available. The internet connection is blazing fast. We are happy campers. I made a simple lunch of tomato soup and crackers with cheese, and now we're off to do a major grocery shop.

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!