Tag Archives: home

The Housing Market Roller Coaster (Episode 2)

When my partner first suggested moving to the country some time ago, it really didn’t stir up any apprehensions on my part.

I grew up in a suburb of Ottawa in the late 1960’s and 1970’s, at a time when it had a small town feel to it. In its infancy, our tiny subdivision offered the best of both worlds: the amenities of city living as well as the space for young families to grow and thrive. At the time, it was small enough to have its own sense of community and identity, separate from the city a short drive away.

Even though my memories of “village” life are from the perspective of a young boy, I have often entertained the idea of returning to that calmer, quieter, gentler pace as I got older and as life got more rushed and complicated.

Today, my forehead is chronically bruised from the number of times I smack my palm to my forehead for the idiotic things city dwellers do, whether on the commute to or from work, to deal with the daily reality that common sense is not so common anymore, or for the need to repeatedly set boundaries with certain neighbours (i.e., “No, your dog poop in my yard is not acceptable!”)

This is not to say that moving to the country will completely eradicate these problems, but with less density in population, I’d like to think that my forehead bruises will get a decent chance to heal.

When we went to look at the house in the country that seemed to check most of the boxes of what my partner and I were looking for, I admit that my heart started to flutter.

Upon noticing that reaction, I did my very best to regain a business-like, Teflon-coating to view this objectively as a property we are evaluating. Falling in love with a house too quickly can be the rose-coloured glasses to miss something glaringly wrong.

Just the same, I felt giggles inside, with visions of becoming the next Erma Bombeck with an updated version of “The Grass is Always Greener over the Septic Tank”. And for some reason, the theme song from the TV show “Green Acres” was the ear worm playing over and over in my head.

After a very thorough look through the house and asking our agent an endless stream of questions, with no showstoppers that we could see, we decided to put in a conditional offer. This would give us the opportunity to bring in some inspectors to check out the aspects of a country home for which these city boys needed expert opinions.

That was when the learning curve began. In preparation for the inspections, we were directed to a series of videos to understand the basics of septic systems, as my Erma Bombeck gleeful giggles started again.

And truly, if they identified a problem with the “baffles” or the “effluent”, wouldn’t it be better that I know what they are talking about and have a point of reference to ask more questions, rather than freaking out inside? After about half an hour of instructional videos, I realized that the septic system isn’t that complicated. I felt much more in tune with knowing what to do for preventative maintenance and for troubleshooting.

And after our inspections, I enthusiastically performed research on sump pumps, wells, electric furnaces and generators just to get a better idea of how they work. My pride of ownership was already kicking in and I was really getting into it!

It was in that moment that I realized how fortunate we were to have all this information at our finger tips through the Internet. And with retirement just around the corner, the time and headspace will be there to get better acquainted with each individual component, in the same way that I gradually learned about the “infrastructure” pieces in my condo townhome over the last twenty years.

By the end of our week to waive the conditions on the property, we were both satisfied that the house was in good shape. There were things we would need to monitor over time, but that would be the case even if we lived in a house in the city.

There will be work to be done, but it’s not like the to-do list will need to be accomplished overnight. Plus, along the way, we had established contacts with trusted, knowledgeable professionals who could provide technical assistance should a situation arise.

With all of the expert opinions on the table, we were confident that there was really nothing scary about the prospect of moving to this country property. Sure, there were things to learn, but I was proud to see that I wasn’t remotely overwhelmed (as I might have been as a first time homeowner). I was wholeheartedly happy with the new journey before us.

When the deal was signed, sealed and delivered and the house was officially ours, my partner and I were thrilled.

But we were only half way there.

The next step in our transition from city life to country life was to buckle up and to quickly prepare our own houses for sale.

Did you enjoy this post? If you haven’t already, please check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.blog. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox.
Also, don’t be shy, feel free to tell a friend or to share the link.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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Filed under 50+, home, Humour

The Housing Market Roller Coaster (Episode 1)

My sincere apologies to my readers for the break between blog posts. It wasn’t exactly planned, but it was one of those unavoidable cases of life getting in the way of writing.

As much as under normal circumstances, my little writing voice always seems to be talking to me, the little writing voice just seemed muffled by the sudden spurt of activity recently.

While I like to think of my writing as a way to feel grounded and a way to feel a sense of balance when things get crazy, there was simply no time nor headspace to work on a blog post, even if just to edit one that was close to finished.

The big event that ended up being the centre of my universe for a few weeks was the process of buying a home, and then selling the one I currently live in.

Regular readers might recall that there have been a number of posts in the last year about my (mis)adventures in home renovations: “Fixing the Eyesore Door”, “Don’t Touch the Walls!”, “Why Watching Paint Dry Can Be Fun”, among others. Those posts were no accident. For the last year, I have hit the fast forward button on home renovations in preparation for this very moment.

Even though I knew it was coming eventually, the moment my partner sent me the link to a house for sale out in the country in an email saying simply “OH!”, something started to percolate in the pit of my stomach. Something told me that this was the one and it was time to pull the trigger on the process.

The housing market is pretty tight these days. To see a charming Hallmark-movie style home out in the country that checked most of the boxes on the list of what we were looking for meant jumping into action. Continue reading

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Filed under 50+, home, Humour, mental health

A Dose of Guilt from the Medicine Cabinet

As I was starting this year’s installment of spring cleaning, I found myself in the medicine cabinet again checking expiry dates
Even though I could have sworn I had just done this last year, the evidence seemed to tell another story, as I pulled out bottle after bottle that expired in 2014, 2015 or 2016. How did that happen?

My surprise yielded to delight when I read between the lines that I must be doing something right from a health and wellness perspective if these bottles and tubes have been sitting here, unused and some, unopened.

But my healthy delight gave way to good old-fashioned Catholic guilt, instilled by my elders of the “waste not, want not” generation. How silly of me to not have used up all of this valuable product.

True enough, despite my occasional klutzy ways and resulting need for bandages, gauze, ointment and the once-in-a-blue-moon pain pill, I seem to have a very well-stocked medicine cabinet for someone who rarely needs its contents.

I started rummaging through and asked myself why I have been buying these enormous bottles and then discarding so many unused pills when they expire. Similarly, why do I buy large size tubes of ointment when a little one would probably do?

And should I ever see the bottom of one of the smaller packages, how hard is it to go get more, especially there’s a pharmacy right across the street, and at least 22 other branches of pharmacies on my way to and from work.

Even though I was never actually a boy scout, you’d think that I was, given that “be prepared” was the family motto for as long as I can remember. I am living for the day I discover our family coat of arms and find “be prepared” or something along those lines written on the bottom. It would be perfectly fitting for a family of planners.

Little domestic accidents can happen so quickly. On those rare occasions when I might have blood gushing out of an appendage, that’s not the ideal time to walk, run or drive to the nearest pharmacy, especially if light-headedness and dizziness could result.

Just knowing that I can open a cabinet and have 3 sizes of gauze pads, assorted rolls of surgical tape and 10 sizes of bandages seems to satisfy my yearning for emergency preparedness. It may be excessive, but it brings piece of mind to know that I have on hand the perfect bandage for any wound and the ability to make it look like a perfectly wrapped gift package! I call it “first aid with style”!

Also, raised by the waste-not-want-not generation, how can I resist a bargain? When a larger size is on sale and only a dollar more than the smaller size, why wouldn’t I go for the larger one?… until the expiry date passes and I realize that I didn’t use 99% of the product.

But I think with that goes a sense of not knowing what the future may hold. Sometimes, an injury that needs daily attention for a few days or a few weeks could have a patient running through the supply in no time. And if the patient is not in a position to make multiple trips to the pharmacy, having a little more on hand is a good thing, until the patient is feeling better.

So while having larger economy sizes does have merit, I still feel guilt for returning stacks of unused expired meds to the pharmacy for safe disposal.

The lesson learned from this year’s spring cleaning is a resolution to stick to smaller packages. Unless my medical needs suddenly change, I’ll try to ignore the sale prices for larger economy-sized packages especially when I never seem to see the bottom of those containers.

Buying a size that is more in line with my actual needs will be less wasteful, I’ll save a few dollars in the long run, and it will keep away the healthy dose of guilt caused by my medicine cabinet.

Did you enjoy this post? If you haven’t already, please check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.blog. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox. Also, don’t be shy, feel free to tell a friend or to share the link.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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Filed under 50+, Health and Wellness, home, Humour

Don’t Touch the Walls!

After the completion of numerous home improvement projects over the years, it was time to redirect my attention to the walls.

When I first moved in, the paint was in good shape, and therefore wasn’t a huge priority. But as the years rolled by, I may have painted a room here and there, to freshen things up. If it wasn’t specifically with the intent to redecorate, it was usually the room that got on my nerves the worst from scuffs that would no longer scrub out.

Also, I don’t understand how previous owners could screw up patch jobs by putting matte paint over a wall finished in glossy, and vice versa. Funny enough, they took the time to match the colour perfectly (which, to me, would have been the greater challenge), but missed completely on selecting the right paint finish. Thankfully, I had enough artwork to distract the eye away from those shabby spots until I could have those rooms painted and consistently covered in the same finish.

It was only in recent years, when chasing Ivy the Wonder Cat around with the camera and taking pictures for her Instagram account, that in seeing things at her eye level, I started noticing scuffs more.

For one picture in particular, I spent a solid hour in Microsoft Paint replacing pixels to cover up a truly excellent picture of Ivy but a horrible one of a baseboard in a high traffic area.
With the help of a fantastic professional painting crew over three visits, not only did I catch up quickly but it also inspired me to finish some walls myself. It really is true how a coat of paint can quickly freshen up a place. Continue reading

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Filed under home, Humour

Fixing the Eyesore Door

When I first visited this house 18 years ago, I remember saying to my real estate agent that “this thing has got to go”. I was referring to the ugly interior door that separated the entry hall from the rest of the house. And yet, it’s still here and referred to as the “Eyesore Door”.

The thing is that over the years, life got in the way. Between the time and energy required to build a career, to enjoy a social life, and to tend to other priorities like cooking, cleaning, laundry, running, writing this blog and raising a cat, the years escaped on me.

Plus, there was a priority list of other home renovations that needed to get done, because of fixtures running their course or other corners of the house that got on my nerves worse than the door.

Despite being a relentless eyesore, it faded from my radar. But this was the year to finally do something about it.

While the door was probably cute when it made its first appearance, it was made of a soft, honey-coloured wood which was prone to scuffs and scratches. Located in the most high traffic area of the house, it picked up scars from anything and everything that brushed by. The door was also my clear evidence that pets lived here before Ivy and I moved in.

What I couldn’t figure out was how and why this particular door was here, when it didn’t match any other fixture or finish in the house.

Either way, a light sanding would never have sufficed to correct the imperfections covering pretty much every square inch of its surface. Continue reading

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Filed under home, Humour

What Lurks Below the Shower Drain?

In the never ending saga of household mysteries like “What does that light switch control?”, “Why is there no outlet on that wall?” and “Why do I have better cell service in my closet?” I would like to add one more: “What lurks below the shower drain?”

There seems to be some cosmic inequity in my home.

How is it that the drain below my kitchen sink is the busiest in the house, yet it never blocks (though I bet I have just jinked it.)

True enough, I have been very conscientious about not pouring oils down the drain. I’ve strained out the solids from the stew-like remains of dishes that didn’t quite make the cut. And there is still the occasional leaf, bean, seed or gluten-free something or other that escapes on me, but yet that drain never clogs.

The shower drain doesn’t get nearly the same amount of activity. So then why do I find myself in almost-shin-deep water when I shower? My bathtub drain seems to be having issues.

The drain hasn’t really been able to keep up with the output of my low-flow shower head. After finishing a shower, I would have time to towel off, apply my moisturizer and anti-perspirant, get dressed, have a leisurely breakfast and say goodbye to the cat by the time the water had completely evacuated and begun its trajectory to the water purification plant.

When I put the question of possible causes to my panel of friends and family, one member of my inner circle was very quick to point out “It can’t be your hair!”… maybe too quick.

As the proud recipient of the male pattern baldness gene, that was indeed the first factor I eliminated from my detective’s assumption list. Continue reading

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Filed under Cats, Humour

Why Watching Paint Dry Can Be Fun

Much like most people, over the years, I have indeed used the expression “it’s like watching paint dry” to describe an event that might be considered boring. But based upon my recent experience, I might reconsider my use of the phrase. I just don’t agree with its accuracy anymore.

In this year’s round of spring cleaning and home projects, I decided to get some painting done.

As much as I love the whole ceremony of painting, in recent years, time and energy have been in short supply.

Plus, my body just doesn’t seem to respond well to weekend paint jobs without complaining in the days that follow. Between working muscles that don’t usually get used in that way and with arthritis starting to drop in unexpectedly, it was time for me to (reluctantly) look into hiring a painting company.

Upon finding a highly recommended team of painters, I decided to put their professional expertise to the best possible use. The first project was one set of walls I haven’t done since I moved in: the walls around the staircase.

I don’t know what the actual height of that area is but I do recall that the few times I tried to dust the lighting fixture or to try to grab the cobwebs in the corners, I felt like the Roadrunner’s archenemy, Wile E Coyote, trying device after device to extend my reach to get the job done.

When I was finally successful in completing the task, it was usually followed by a visit to the medicine cabinet for some internal and/or external approaches to pain relief.

I decided that for this paint job, the extent of my involvement would be to tidy up before, to remove my personal effects from the painting area, to set up the cat in another part of the house with food, water, litter and favourite toys, and then for me to sit and relax. Continue reading

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Filed under 50+, Humour, Misc blogs