Volunteering…

I’m volunteering. It’s true. They were asking for people at work and I just couldn’t say no. It was for such a good cause…

The cause is a really good cause and we’re doing great work and making a huge difference. That’s all fantastic news and really really good. The problem is that volunteering takes about 2.5 to 3 hours after work and it is every blessed day.

Every. Day.

But it’s for a really, really good cause.

My hubby barely sees me during the week now, though he tries to be supportive of this cause. But, this is why I have been less prolific with my little blog lately.

The good news is that our goal is coming up soon and this volunteering should end.

The bad news is that my hubby tried to cook to help me…

These were once asparagus…

He was much more successful at purchasing Ocean a little gift…

Ocean is thinking about forgiving me from all the time I’ve been away. This new cushion also helped ease the tension…

Though her Fluffiness did only use it once…Apparently, it wasn’t the exact colour she liked…

Finally, to tempt me to stay home, my hubby has been sending me pictures of cute akita puppies…the idea being if we have two dogs, I’ll stay home more…

Ocean’s lesson

We lost River about a month and a bit ago. I didn’t post about it because, at first, it was simply too painful. Then, I didn’t want to post because this blog is about positive things. Now, finally, I think I have turned a corner.

And it’s all thanks to Ocean.

I came home from the vets that day, wrung out and still crying. Saying goodbye to River was awful, just god-awful. It tore my heart into pieces and I cried inconsolably for hours at the vets. I couldn’t see past my pain.

I opened the back door to let Ocean in mentally preparing myself for her reaction to the loss.

Ocean bounced into the house like a spring lamb. She bounced as if she had springs on her feet. She pounced on her toy and proceeded to throw it in the air, bouncing around the furniture with sheer joy.

I couldn’t believe it. Didn’t she miss her brother? Where was her sadness at this terrible situation? Didn’t she care?

Ocean cares. There is no doubt in her soft eyes or her gentle acts towards us that she loves us completely and unconditionally. She adores us and she loved River. But she also lives in the present, not the past. And that was something I had to learn from her.

3 things to consider before you move to the country

So, you want the peace and tranquility, the privacy that comes with living in the country, do you? Before you put up the For Sale sign, check this out. Here are three things I wish someone had told us before we sold and moved out to the boonies.

1. A Well.

If you’re out in the country, you will need a well and not all wells are the same. They can be dug or drilled and, though there are tons of reasons for one or the other, the bottom line is that you want a drilled well. Otherwise, you’ll get soup instead of water.

But that’s not all you’ll need. Unfortunately, having a well doesn’t guarantee having potable water. You might get amazing, clear, bacteria-free water, but odds are you’ll need to do something to your water before you can drink it. It all depends on what’s under the ground where you dig and, though some people go around with sticks to find water, it’s basically random luck.

We had a well and got basically mud instead of water. So, along with the well, we had to have a sediment remover, an iron-blaster (to take out the iron from the water or it will ruin your clothes and pipes) and a UV light to remove all bacteria. The entire system cost about 5K Canadian. For the first year, we tried all sorts of other cost-efficient methods and only ended up with yellow-stained clothes and dirty water. If I had known what I know now, I would have installed the system at the very beginning and saved myself the aggravation.

2. A generator

You need a generator in the country. First of all, a generator is a machine that gives your house electricity when the power is out (Before we moved to the country, I didn’t know what they were…city girl!). There are different types, of course, but you want the one that runs on gas so that it’s guaranteed to work and won’t stop.

There are different strengths in generators. Some are so puny they can only power a bird house and others power hospitals. How much power you’ll need is up to you and what your needs are in your home but the bare minimum is one that keeps the following running: The heater – in winter, that’s a must in Canada or the pipes will freeze and destroy your house; the fridge and freezer in the summer – or you’ll be out of food and the sub pump – or your basement will get flooded faster than you can say gah!. You might also want one to keep the pump running that sucks water from your well or you’ll have no water while the power is out. And, finally, you might want want your kitchen to work so you can cook.

The reason why it’s a must is because when the power goes out, Hydro workers will always start fixing the power for the major cities first, then move to the smaller towns, then to the tiny towns and finally to those living in remote locations. Being last on that list means that you have to wait not hours but days every time the power goes out. Since climate change is making that a reality in both summer and winter, you need to have a back up plan or you’ll end up living at your local Tim Hortons Cafe.

3. A septic tank

Again, I had no idea what a septic tank was before we moved to the country. And, once we got one, I had no idea how to take care of one or what we could or could not throw down the drain. Adjusting to it was a steep learning curve for a city slicker like myself. It involved a lot of online searching and asking those who had lived with one for years.

A septic tank is a tank that is situated in the ground near your country home and will act as a sewer by containing all the things you throw down the drain. It does a little more than just contain things because it lets water seep out and has bacteria to deal with the biodegradable material that ends up there. This being said, septic tanks still need to be emptied every 5 years or so–depending on the type, size and number of people in the house.

The thing about septic tanks is that they can act up and that is really, really bad news. You can end up dealing with everything from foul smells to a back up of sewage. To avoid those ghastly situations, you want to keep your septic tank happy and working well. That means you have to watch what you throw down the drain and you have to add good bacteria to your tank from time to time.

It also means you have to watch the chemicals you use; like bleach. In the country, you simply can’t use bleach. It not only keeps your whites white, it also kills all the good bacteria in your septic tank. So, no matter how yellow those sheets get, keep the bleach at the store.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you cannot throw anything down the drain that is not biodegradable. That includes everything from feminine products to left over paint from your adventure as an artist. Even left overs have to be composted and not thrown down the drain.

Finally, you can’t use too much water or your septic tank will have a fit. That means, if you are running laundry, you can’t turn on the dishwasher or have a shower. You have to watch how many showers you have and emptying or filling a bathtub is something that has to be planned ahead of time.

That’s it, those are the top three big things I never knew and I wish I had known before we moved out to the country. I know they might sound dire but all the require is a little adjustment. After a couple of months, working with them becomes automatic and there are amazing bonuses to living in the country that you just can’t have in a city. The peace and quiet, the animals you see, the serenity and the beautiful trees, there are things in the country that make all the hassles with wells, septics and generators worth it.

So make a cup of tea, sit on your porch knowing there isn’t a soul around and just watch the clouds go by. Life in the country has no parallel.

Me? Oh, yeah, we live in the city now.

Is it a house or a home?

They say it takes a year for a house to become a home. I had never heard that before we moved to our present house but it certainly didn’t feel like home when we walked in. As time passed and I walked around the place expecting the old owners to come in and kick us out, I wondered just how true that saying was.

Our previous house was a tiny, cozy thing, just right for two people. By contrast, this house is big and poky, with doors, hallways and stairs everywhere. When I first saw it, I thought it’d be the perfect house for witches to live in–if they used a gas fireplace and needed air conditioning.

It’s been a year and things have changed. This is where Ocean got really sick and we almost lost her. It’s where the fence failed and our dogs got to run freely down the neighbourhood. It’s where my hubby built a dog castle.

We’ve made some memories here.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s starting to feel like home.

Akitas on the run

I was working from home when something flashed by and I glanced out the window and there was River, outside the fence, striding among the flowers, having a wonderful time.

We’d like to think we’re responsible dog owners. When we moved in, we installed a six-foot fence along the perimeter of half the back of our house. We also put metal bars at the bottoms and tops of the fence and tied the fence to the bars with zip ties so that they could not dig their way out or bend the fence.

Six feet. With bars.

Well, they found a way.

I ran out with leashes in hand and found River pretty quickly. He had probably started to wonder where his next meal was going to come from and was heading home. Ocean was a blur in the distance. I called her, she wagged her tail happily and took off.

Cursing that it was me and not my husband who had found the dogs, I put River inside the house and ran back out towards Ocean. She wasn’t thinking about her next meal, Ocean loves nothing more than to run and she was doing just that.

I shudder to think what out poor neighbours must think as they see these two escape artists legging it around. Big fence but pretty useless. Don’t those people check on their dogs? We should call the pound, the dogs don’t even come when she calls them.

I have managed to get both hounds back. They are delighted with this morning’s activities and don’t show an ounce of shame between the pair of them. They can’t wait to see what’s in store for this afternoon. I, on the other hand, am exhausted.

Best time ever!

My new toy

We got a Bissell. For those of you who, like me, had no idea what that is, it is a carpet cleaner. Now, I was pretty resistant to the new device at first. It’s bulky, weighs a ton and has more compartments than a submarine. But wow…it works so well.

Living with two doggies makes an impression and nothing is more impressionable than a rug. Check out the before and after pics.

This is before
This is when I had just done one strip.
This is the final product.

I love our Bissell.

Covid races

Our neighbour told us. If we hurried, if we really hurried, we could get our vaccines. They were giving them out at the local market just over there. And we didn’t need an appointment.

We ran.

But the speed of a car, even one driven like a maniac, can’t beat that of gossip. By the time we got there, the word was out and the line up was massive.

We never even slowed down. We ran up to the last spot and breathlessly took our place in line…And then we waited…and waited…and waited some more.

Waiting isn’t exactly an absorbing occupation. Half an hour later, we had learned all we could about the vegetables on the stands and we turned to the people around us. How did you hear about this? Have you registered anywhere yet?

This was where it started to get weird. One person was certain that we could register online and get an appointment in a certain Walmart because she knew the owner. Another knew a guy who would give anyone vaccines that were off-market but still could beat the virus. Someone else claimed they could get an appointment for anyone using a fake address in Toronto. One even claimed she could make a vaccine out of some common household items and she guaranteed it worked. It seemed everyone knew someone who had gotten a vaccine in under 10 minutes using a trick or a gimmick.

I was about to try a strange website that someone was vowing was fail-proof to get us vaccinated when the market manager appeared and told us they had run out of vaccines.

On the other hand, if anyone is interested in a homemade vaccine, I know a recipe that’s guaranteed to work…