Archive for the ‘future’ Category

goodbye, old house   no comments

Posted at 11:13 am in future,Nova Scotia,Round Hill house

sunset to the west as seen from the kitchen windows

If you’ve dropped by my blog recently, you may have found that it disappeared for a couple of days. The server that I use had some kind of problem that caused many websites to malfunction. My blogs happened to be among those with difficulties. Almost everything seems to be back to normal, except that comments aren’t showing on the most recent post. It will be interesting to see if anyone will be able to leave a comment to this post. Please feel free to make an attempt.

Having left Nova Scotia on Monday, I am now back in Ontario. The dogs and I spent the night at Fundy National Park, then drove the rest of the way to Ottawa on Tuesday. This week, I’ve been taking care of various tasks and getting repairs and maintenance done on the van. Also, I’ve been making the rounds of stores as I replace some of the gear that has taken a beating over two long seasons of camping.

west wall and old kitchen window lit by the warmth of a sunset – and Sage gazes out at me

It was surprisingly difficult to say goodbye to the old house. I haven’t written about this on my blog, but when I first arrived at the house in late April, I picked up some very odd vibes. Now, I’m not really one to talk about such things, but this house definitely gave off some weird vibrations. The only way I can really define it is that there was something extremely hostile and perhaps even malevolent about the place. I sensed those feelings the first moment I walked through the door. As the house was in quite a state upon my arrival, I slept in my van for the first three or four weeks. By day, the house seemed fairly innocuous, but late in the night, with the moonlight shining upon the stark, weathered siding, and the empty black windows like gaping cavities, there was an undeniable eeriness about the place. Mostly, I just shrugged it off and attributed the hostility as an expression of architectural grumpiness over having been badly neglected for many years. After a few weeks of cleaning, repairs and painting, the house began to seem friendlier and more welcoming. As summer drew to a close and it came time to leave, I felt a little sorry for the old place. Last thing before leaving, I stood in the front hall, looking in toward the heart of the house and spoke loudly, “Goodbye, House. I’m leaving for the winter, but I will return in the spring to continue working on you.”

east wall and a little of the old kitchen – Sage out in the back garden

So, what has been accomplished this year?

I can be a little hard on myself when it comes to achieving goals. In retrospect, I had unrealistic expectations for what could be accomplished in one short summer season. However, it does feel like a lot happened over the summer. Much of the exterior siding has been repaired and painted. Most of the downstairs was painted after a considerable amount of repairs to the plaster. One room had to be gutted and replastered. My furniture was shipped from Ottawa, furniture reassembled, and some belongings unpacked.

Aslan, the lion, moved from our farm, to preside over the beginnings of a new garden

The lawns and gardens of the property were gradually cleaned up and received some new plantings – 3 rhododendrons, and a dozen large perennials acquired from the gardens of Cheryl Stone in Bear River. A few small pathways were cut through the wildness of the property beyond the garden. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this in a previous post, but I found bear scat just a stone’s throw from the back door of the house, and all along the shoreline of the little river that flows along the property. It seems we share our garden, the apples, plums, blackberries and raspberries with many wild creatures. At night, the garden is filled with bats and on several occasions, I’ve found one or two flying in circles in my bedroom as I worked at the computer. They usually leave on their own after a few minutes.

view of front garden from the room that was replastered

It would have been nice to get further along with the interior, but I think it went okay. The worst of the water-damaged walls were removed and repaired over the summer. One downstairs room that was thoroughly unusable before, is now fairly respectable and should be ready to use as a bedroom with a good view of the front garden next summer. I didn’t make much headway with rebuilding windows – some are removed and apart at the moment, so that there are just aluminum storm windows over some openings, but that’s okay too. I’ll get to all of it in good time.

the room that decided it wanted to be a kitchen

Upon arrival in April, it soon became apparent that the established kitchen of the house wasn’t really much good. The smaller, older part of the house is in really tough condition. The floor is sagging down to a ridiculous degree and probably in danger of eventually falling in. This wasn’t actually a surprise as I knew the score on that part of the house. Before long, it seemed that another room of the house wanted to be a kitchen – a large room with 4 doors going out from it, and two large west-facing windows looking out upon the neighbours’ meadow. Although still rustic, it makes a nice workspace. Hopefully, once the plumbing of the house is repaired, it will be an efficient and inspiring place in which to cook.

pink light of sunset reflecting on the now-repaired west wall of the house

Over the course of the summer, I have come to know and understand this old house. It is a unique place – filled with ever-moving light as the sun traces an arc, casting its rays through the many windows and doors. It’s the kind of house that has so many doors that there is barely a place in the downstairs where you cannot walk into a room through one door and leave through another. The sight lines through the downstairs are fascinating and at night. you can wander around the outside of the place looking right through – in one window and out through another. In the late afternoon, the sun setting over the Bay of Fundy often gives off a warm pink light that is reflected on the siding of the large west wall. The same warmth fills all of the rooms for a few minutes each evening.

Sage waiting by the van as we prepare to depart for the season

Yes, the old house has plenty of problems and short-comings. Most were known to me before the dogs and I set foot on the property in the spring. However, all in all, I’ve grown to like the place very much. I get the feeling that it has grown to like having us there too. Hopefully, all will go okay this winter – for the house and for us – and we’ll return to carry on with the repairs that will eventually make the place into a comfortable living space, if even just as a summer residence, which is really all I had ever hoped for.

And what about us? How did we manage at the house over the summer? I think it was good for all of us. Sage grew up a little over the summer. Sabrina did well and seems to have benefited from the laser therapy treatments which she received at the Port Royal Animal Clinic in Annapolis Royal. She’s got a new spring in her step these days. I seem to have done alright over the summer. It was a quiet time spent with the dogs and with very little contact with anyone other than a couple of neighbours whom the dogs and I got to know through frequent visits. For those who might be hoping that I will get all better, no, that hasn’t happened. I still continue to miss Don and feel quite sad, but at least I have been able to spend time in a peaceful place where I could work on a project that interests me. That’s about all that I expected from the old place – that it would give us a quiet haven where we could spend time working and creating. For this, I would like to thank the old house. Goodbye old place. With any luck we will see you again in the spring.

NOTE: Thanks to those of you who tried to leave a comment, but were unable to do so. I’m hoping that function will return sometime soon. This did happen once before and I didn’t have to do anything to fix it. It wasn’t working for awhile, and then things were back to normal a day or so later. Fingers crossed.

the house as seen from the front gates as I shut then for the last time as we departed

Written by bev on October 3rd, 2010

the old and the new   26 comments

Sage in the back yard

Work continues at the house here in Nova Scotia. Repairs and painting of the exterior seems to have reached a tipping point. In spite of frequent interruptions by heavy rains, I do believe the job will be wrapped up by the time I’m ready to bug out of here sometime in mid to late September. Part of me continues to contemplate the day to day stuff, trying to figure out how to solve each problem as it arises. However, another part of me — maybe 45 percent (?) — is already thinking ahead to life on the road this autumn, and of the coming winter in Arizona. Which route will I take this year? What will I do differently? How can the van be made more comfortable or efficient for this year’s trip? How can I cut costs further by finding free or cheap places to boondock during my travels? What will I do once in Arizona? Will I see about doing volunteer work this winter? What about next year? Should I think more about starting a business? In case it isn’t apparent – yes, I do always have a lot on my mind even as I quietly work on this old house each day.

Sabrina walking along the shore of the river just below the garden

The past couple of weeks, I’ve made more than my usual number of trips to Annapolis Royal. In July, I made an appointment to take both dogs for their vaccinations. The veterinarian suggested that Sabrina might benefit from laser therapy for her arthritis, so I decided to give that a try. Why not? We scheduled six half-hour appointments spaced over the past two weeks. This morning was the final treatment. Although it’s difficult to be sure, I think Sabrina is getting around better and probably feels less pain. She’s been playing with Sage a lot more this week – their canine form of sumo wrestling where they push each other around the garden. She has managed to climb up on the bed in the back of the van unassisted – something she has not done in months. One thing I do know after spending the spring and summer here in Nova Scotia is that the higher humidity is playing havoc with our arthritis (mine and Sabrina’s). I can tell you that I’ll be very glad to go from the moist air of the Atlantic coast, to the arid environment of southeast Arizona. It’s been wonderful to be here by the ocean, but will be equally wonderful to be back in the desert this winter.

bend in the river just below the house and back yard – near the tiny sandbar that I’ve nicknamed “The Beach”

Yesterday, I took a break from working on the house, and spent the morning hacking a new trail down to the river. This one descends closer to the house. It’s steeper, but emerges on a section of shore with granite cobbles and a bit of coarse sand. I’ve already nicknamed the tiny sandbar, The Beach, and will walk down to it with the dogs at least once or twice a day. The uphill grade will be good for Sabrina, helping to strengthen her hind leg muscles in preparation for the walks I hope we’ll take during our travels. These weeks of hot, humid weather have sent both dogs fleeing for the shade. It’s hard to get them interested in walking anywhere, but both of them seem willing to scrape up the energy to visit the river.

couchsurfer-visitor, Antoine, working on a new base for the bed in my van

But for a few conversations with neighbours, and with staff at the veterinary clinic, I’ve spent much of this summer in absolute solitude. Occasionally, I speak with people in the hardware and grocery stores, but otherwise, most days are spent silently sanding or scraping wood, or brushing on paint. However, for four days in late July, I did share my place with an unexpected visitor. About three weeks ago, I realized that my profile on couchsurfing.org was outdated and still showing me as living at my farm in Osgoode. Although I don’t have a place for anyone to stay, I thought I’d better update things a bit. Much to my surprise, a few days later, I was emailed by a young man from France who is traveling around Canada on a one year work visa. He asked if it might be okay to pitch a tent in my garden for a few days. I emailed back to say that would be fine so long as he understood that things were rather primitive at the moment. He replied to say that was okay with him and that he’d arrive in a couple of days.

Sage, Sabrina, and their new friend, Antoine, relaxing after a day of work and play

As it turned out, the visit was quite fun and interesting for all concerned. Antoine was a very willing worker and a great help around the place. One morning, while on the way to the local lumber yard to buy kiln-dried pine, I asked Antoine if he had any experience building furniture. He said not much – just assembling flat-pack furniture from Ikea. When we arrived home, I asked if he’d like to try his hand at building a new bed frame for the back of my van. He was keen to give it a go, so I described the changes I would like to see. He listened intently, then went to work, creating a frame that is a little different but much nicer than what I’d had in mind. At the end of the day, we were both quite pleased with his handiwork.

Of course, it wasn’t all work. On one very hot day, I suggested that we take a break and drive down to Mavillette Beach on the south shore. We loaded both dogs into the van and took off for the entire day. The breeze off the ocean was cool and refreshing after the heat and humidity of the past week. Antoine took Sage running far down the beach, disappearing into the mist. As I watched, I could not help but think of my last trip to the beaches of the south shore in August 2007. Don and I had decided to make a trip to Nova Scotia to get away from the heat and pollen at the farm. He had been bothered by a persistent cough all summer long. We thought the ocean air would be a good change, and in fact, it did seem to help. Of course, the problem was far more serious than anything we could have imagined, but we weren’t to learn that for another three months. For us, it was one of the last truly happy times together.

Waiting for Antoine and Sage to reappear from the mist, I thought of how strange it was to be sitting on the beach with Sabrina resting beside me, watching a new dog running with a visitor, instead of Don running with Sabrina. In less than a month, it will have been two years that I’ve been alone with my dogs, and three years since I walked the beaches of the south shore with Don.

Enjoy these little memories of Don and Sabrina together in August 2007:
Sabrina hopping away from the waves
Don and Sabrina at sunset on Crescent Beach

Sage and Antoine running out of the mist at Mavillette Beach

Written by bev on August 10th, 2010