Monday, November 16, 2015

Full Circle

I'm back.
Back in my old home.

It's been quite a journey.

After my dear hubby passed away in 2010, I waited the requisite year and sold our home.  It was just too much for me to look after on my own. As well,  I wanted to live closer to my children, so thought a move would be a good plan.

It was not.  Oh I learned a lot - good things and bad.

The good was I learned to stand strong on my own two feet; to weather life's storms.  Not always easy, but you quickly figure out it's either sink or swim.  Packing up 3 houses (well 1 condo and 2 houses) to move is not for the faint of heart, but I learned to keep going - to sort, to pack, to clean and keep looking forward.

I learned a lot about renovations.  Not my idea of fun, but totally necessary if you choose to be a homeowner. "My choice", I kept reminding myself as I went from one home to another.  I did not want to fall down that slippery slope of depression or get caught in a trap of feeling sorry for myself.

The bad was that I felt in a constant state of upheaval. I had to "let go" of a lot of possessions. House stuff did not fit condo stuff.  Condo stuff did not fit house stuff.
Initially, I thought that by changing furniture, homes, etc. my grief would mysteriously disappear.
Well guess what?  It doesn't work that way (gee, ya think?).
I thought a fresh start would do me good. But all I longed for was my old home.

I was not happy living in the condo.

The good was that my living room window faced the lake - a rich and beautiful spot! Early mornings I'd sit with my coffee and watch as kayakers skimmed the waves, arms weaving figure-eights with each strong stroke.  The gentle presence of geese gliding over the water or ducks bobbing and paddling soothed my soul.  

Herons became fascinating subjects as I learned to capture their long legs, their stillness, (and if I was lucky) a fish spearing moment - all with my video camera.  I watched in awe as a huge flock of ducks swirled around and around before coming in for a landing on the lake's surface.  Never had I seen that before.  

Nor had I seen a beaver up close - they really do have huge rather frightening-looking front teeth. Or a fox slinking along the riverbank as if hugging the shore for protection. Funny, I thought foxes only lived in the woods. 

The bad was not liking condo living - at all.

So when my lease was up, I moved.  Into a house, closer to my old one.  I was not happy in that house either.  The neighbourhood was very different.  Oh there were good things and bad.

The good - I was back in the country.  I took many pictures of ducks and geese on the pond near my house. There were farms close by and I took the opportunity of snapping lots of horses and a big fat pig. I walked miles and miles and miles.

The bad - I was still missing my old house.  I missed the bay window in my sunny south-facing kitchen, where David and I would watch chickadees in the hedge or hummingbirds at the feeder. I missed the space - lots of space to turn around, to breathe, to wander from room to room and just absorb the good feelings in our home.

I missed the neighbours - people I had known for years.  People who smiled and waved and shared coffee and stories and garden tools. My next door neighbour had caulked my shower stall and done minor repairs to make my house presentable before I put it on the market.  I had locked myself out one afternoon, and Mr. Neighbour obligingly hoisted a ladder to an upstairs window, where he could clamber up into my house and unlock the front door.  Was my face red! But it didn't really matter. Neighbours help each other out. I left a basket of freshly baked butter tarts on their front porch the next day, as a thank-you.

This new house did not feel right - at all. I felt like I didn't belong here. The former owners were very neglectful of their home - and it became more and more evident as I tackled each renovation (and spent a lot more money that I had planned). 

So after 2 years in that house I decided to do something about it.  I still was not happy - it did not feel right and I didn't think it ever would.

My old home had been on the market for the past year or more.  Could I?  Could I move back?  But wouldn't that be moving backwards in life?  Rather than moving ahead? And how much more money would I lose by buying, renovating and selling?  Land transfer taxes and notary fees? Moving costs and selling agent's fees? Was I crazy?

I argued, I flip-flopped. Go back to something safe and cozy?  Or forge ahead into something else?

Finally, I knew I had to stop vacillating. I had to at least have a look at my old home before coming to a decision. What if it was so different that I hated it?  What if it felt weird? Smelled weird? Had bad vibes or something?  Or maybe I'd fall in love with it once again.

I called a real estate agent to book a visit.

At first I was hesitant.  The "new owners" had made changes I didn't like.  Well, it was their house - they could do what they wanted. Walls were painted blah colours, light fixtures were changed.  My beloved rose and green tiffany lamp (overhead in the kitchen) was gone!  My lovely sage curtains in the family room, sheers in the dining room, and forest green panels in the living room were all gone - replaced by boring wooden blinds.  Yuk!  If they didn't want them, then why didn't they tell me?  I'd have taken them with me.  

But Life has other ideas and we move on.

I stepped out into the back yard.  Where was the cedar hedge? The one surrounding our deck that chickadees used as their playground? They'd taken it down - completely!  Yikes!  Then I looked up into the branches of  Grandfather Oak - way up.  What happened to his branches? They were trimmed beyond repair.  Quickly I turned to look for Lady.  They wouldn't erase her elegant branches, would they?  Yup. She didn't even look the same.  Those graceful leafy fingers that kept us cool by stirring the breezes on hot summer days were mere stumps. Slashed down to the trunk.

I was crushed. How could I even consider moving back here? Everything was so different. Well, not everything.

One month later, I moved back Home - where I belong.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Making the most of an oil change

My car was at the dealership for an oil change and tire rotation. Not wanting to waste a beautiful day by waiting inside the grungy old garage, I set out to walk the old section of Lachine.  I crossed over a rickety wooden bridge spanning the Canal, traipsed through a bike path, and on to a grassy area lined with trees. 

Making my way over to a park bench, I plonked down and took my time to savour the warm spring sunshine. After a while, I became attuned to my surroundings and began to notice details. Right in front of me stood a gnarled, ancient tree, leaves just beginning to unfurl.  Too bad I didn't bring a camera - I wanted to capture this tree's personality,  but who brings a camera to the garage? Wait a minute - my iPhone! (thought processes a little slow here, I was caught up in the essence of the tree, calm water and peaceful surroundings). 

After snapping a few pics, I turned my gaze upwards to catch branches from "my tree" reaching out to another tree as if holding hands across the sky - fingertips to fingertips!

Across the Lachine Canal, I spotted one of the domes of College Sainte-Anne, a private school founded in 1861 (yes I looked it up) by the Sisters of St. Anne.

I needed to move, so said "good-by" to My Tree, got up off the bench and continued on my way.  What a strange looking building.  Almost like a ship!   

I crept closer for a better look.  Curious, I circled the house-that-looks-like-a-ship, thinking it might be a restaurant. Once I got to the back, however and peeked brazenly into the windows (from afar of course) and saw someone's car parked in the lane, I realized that indeed it was a private home and I'd better snap this pic quickly before someone came out and suggested I leave (or threatened to call the police!) 

Continued down the road ( now what street am I on anyway?) Well, this is a blast from the past.  How long has it been since Iroquois roamed here?  Hundreds of years I think, but this is a very old part of the city.  In fact, Lachine gets its name from the early French explorers who set sail for China somewhere in the late 1600's.  They landed here (south/west part of Montreal island) and thought they had found China - hence the name La-Chine. 

Nice architecture.  Wonder who lives here.

And here - looks like a castle with its stone walls, tall windows and turrent!

Time to go back and check on the car.  Some people had been watching me as I snapped pics of the houses on their street, but no one said anything or even asked what I was doing, so it felt all right  but now it was time to leave.  But there was time for one last pic - a flower; could not leave without a flower (or flowering shrub).  This forsythia looked lovely snuggled into this sunny corner, basking in the sun. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Winter Escape

Good Morning, Florida!

There's nothing like warm sand between fingers and toes. 

Or having a pit full of baby alligators to feed.

Cute little critters - glad there's a bridge to stand upon.

Rare opportunity to hold a 2-year old alligator.
Can't do that where we come from!
Not sure if you can see, but they've taped the mouth shut. 

And on to the tortoise.
He was very gentle and allowed the children to pet him.

Pool time at the Resort.
January in Florida is relatively quiet.

Ahhh - Evening.
One last wade-in-the-ocean before heading back to the hotel.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

A New Year begins...

Good Morning!

Nice and sunny today!

Welcome - please come in


Trees sparkling with light

Children sparkling with joy

Flowers bursting with life

New beginnings

Sunday, December 21, 2014

'Tis the Solstice

Find yourself walking along a path…..

Is it winter?

Or summer?


Or night?

Do you see flowers?

Or birds….

Or faerie sparkles in the trees..

'Tis a time for reflection….

..on our journey, as we leave the darkness behind and welcome the light.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Summer morphs into fall

Summer rains bring a welcome relief from the heat.  Think this little butterfly got more than just a drink!

Oh those hibs are sweet!  Gotta drink up before the cold weather comes.

Sleepy bee - I could almost pet him.  Fall must be approaching

Fall flowers come into their own

Kids back at school: we're all in our places with bright shiny faces!

Now what does this have to do with anything?

It was Sunday morning and I'd just finished a tai chi class held in this park by the water.  I often sit on a bench afterwards, sip my water and rest.  As I was sitting there admiring the view...

An elderly man and young Chinese lady walked by my bench, down some stone steps and on to another bench closer to the water (the one you see in the pic).
I wondered what their relationship was.
Relatives? Unlikely.
Elderly gent and his caretaker? Probably. But there seemed to be such a difference in age.  Maybe she was a great-granddaughter and one of her parents was Oriental.

I watched their body language for a bit and saw that they were quite comfortable with each other.  As unobtrusively as possible, I snapped this photo. Unfortunately her head whipped around at the sound of my camera, and I immediately shifted position to snap the one you see above of the boats. That's why it's not very good, but I was trying to pretend I had no interest in her or her companion and was randomly taking pics on a beautiful sunny morning.

After a while, they rose to go. I wondered if she would glare at me as they passed my bench.  Or come right out and ask if I'd taken their pic.  I deliberated and then figured that if it was a big deal, I'd just delete the pics.

Really - sometimes my imagination gets the best of me.

They both smiled as they approached my bench and we had a good chat.
Elderly gent and sweet young caretaker.  Out walking and taking in the unusually warm autumn day.  I hope we have more of these lovely days before the cold sets in.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Froggie Fun

I did NOT say you were fat!

You rang, Suh?
Just hanging around

Whatever floats your boat

Frog sandwich
"My dear, you smell lovely tonight!"

You go first!