A leaky nightmare

We just got a brand new faucet for our kitchen sink. It is shiny, fancy and has a price tag to match. We had our old one removed, the new one installed and awaited the flow of water with happy, eager faces.

Alas, it was not to be.

When we turned on our brand new, shiny faucet, all we got a was a minuscule, hesitant drip. Our handyman of the day turned himself into a pretzel and worked on the thing for hours managing to encourage a quivering stream out of the faucet. To say the water flow was hesitant isn’t an understatement and, of course, as soon as the handyman left the house, the water stopped flowing completely.

Hoping for some help, we called the makers of the faucet. They blamed the lack of water on microscopic sediments on the water supply and reassured us the solution was easy. When we asked if we should call a plumber, they told us there was no need. It was a matter of cleaning up a filter or two. So simple, a child could do it, they claimed. They would talk us through the entire process.

Innocently unprepared for the nightmare that is working with valves, faucets and turning parts, we peered under the sink, stared at the dark tubes, pipes and knobs. My hubby and I glanced at each other uncertainly. This was like an alien landscape. Nothing looked familiar or like the friendly picture on the assembly handout.

Cheered on by the ever positive representative on the phone, we started moving knobs around. Almost immediately, water appeared. It started in one tab but quickly spread until it was coming from just a bout every pipe, knob or valve. I ran for towels while my hubby tried to close valves.

When I returned, I was faced with a scene from Fantasia. There was water everywhere and it just kept coming. The only thing in the kitchen that wasn’t leaking was our brand new faucet. That thing was as dry as a bone.

Now, many sore muscles later, we have a dry kitchen and a new faucet. Neither have water in it or the possibility of giving us any water. We have turned it off.

We also have an appointment with a plumber.

Conversations with Ocean

We have a lovely, slightly-spoiled doggie named Ocean. She’s an akita, a breed we didn’t know really well before getting her, and pretty independent. We used to have two akitas but, as life would have it, we lost River and now we only have Ocean.

Life as an only dog suits Ocean just fine. She gets twice the kisses, treats and tons of toys. She also gets to participate in a lot of conversations with me. I however, wonder if she wants a brother or sister.

I talked to her about it, but she didn’t seem very open to the idea.

Me: What kind of breed do you think you’d like for a brother?

This again? No brothers. They take my toys

Me: What about a bulldog? They’re super cute.

They’re pretty wrinkled and snore at night. Besides, I’m cuter.

Me: What about a Neapolitan Mastiff?

Are you kidding me? Do you know how much they drool?

Me: Hm…what about a bullmastiff?

This is getting old very fast.

Me: What about an Irish Wolfhound? They’re beautiful.

You may need help

Me: A bloodhound? A Newfoundlander?… You know, if you don’t help me, I’ll end up at the pound and get a rescue.

I am going to ignore you now and go back to looking for squirrels.

Me: Sigh.

Now, let’s talk about our options for dinner

Pigeon Wars

Sometime during this summer, we put feeders out for the birds. Unbeknownst to us, the seeds we chose were delicacies for pigeons. Not too soon after, a little family of the birds made a nest on our roof.

Pigeons Nesting, Mating and Feeding Habits
Not our nest…ours was much more messy

I thought this was lovely news but my lovely hubby was concerned. Turns out, pigeon droppings have toxic chemicals in them that, if ingested, could kill dogs. Hubby didn’t want his baby hurt. When the pigeons stayed after their babies had left the nest, he realized these guys were settling in for the winter and set out to change things. The pigeons, he decided, had to go.

The only issue was that our new feathery visitors were quite happy with their new home. They had chosen a spot between two dormers that is sheltered from the rain and wind. They had constant food below and a beautiful view of lovely old trees to admire. They weren’t going anywhere.

Round 1 consisted of my hubby trying out banging pots and pans near the roof. It made our neighbours come out and stare but the pigeons didn’t even budge.

Having accomplished nothing with the banging but to look ridiculous, Hubby decided to bring out the heavy guns and bought a wind chimer. Apparently, the soothing sounds of wind chimes are incredibly irritating to pigeon ears and they fly away. Delighted with his cunning, Hubby installed the biggest wind chime he could find. Right under their nest.

ChimeOut wind chime silencer - large

The wind came and the chimes rang. And rang, and rang. And nothing happened anywhere in the neighbourhood. Day after day, Hubby peered up into the roof to find our unwanted guests snuggled together, as happy as could be.

Round 3 -Hubby decided to involve technology. He bought a machine that made a sound humans ears cannot detect but apparently scares birds. The contraption was massive, it took him an entire day to hook it up on our balcony and get it going but he did and he turned it on with delight.

Of course, we couldn’t hear anything but Ocean did. She started howling at the moon, the sun and pretty much every celestial object in the sky. I had a headache spring up every time I stepped in the house but, otherwise, nothing else seemed to change. Certainly not the pigeons, who were still snuggled together on our roof.

Round 4 – Hubby bought a plastic ball that lit up when thrown and stretched out his throwing arm. The idea was that he’d throw the ball close enough to the annoying birds that they would leave and never return. The problem with this plan was that my hubby has many talents but accuracy is not one of them. The ball landed on the neighbours’ yards, the street, our deck, our backyard but it didn’t come even close to the pigeons.

Seeing the crazed look in my husband’s eyes, even I took a turn at throwing the ball. I got pretty close. The birds did fly away…and returned as soon as the ball fell back to earth.

Pigeon Watch: Get to Know (and Love) Our Amazing City Birds | Audubon
I like my home

By this point in the war, it was winter. Every morning, on my way to work, I would look up as I left and see the two fluffy pigeons in their nook. Clearly winners of the war, they were not moving. I suggested to my hubby making them another home in our yard, one that would tempt them away from the roof, but my idea wasn’t a winner. If they stayed, so would their droppings and that would still endanger Ocean.

Hubby started asking for help. He discovered that a lot of people have had unwanted feathery guests stay with them for a while and that it is really hard to discourage such guests. Everyone had advice but it went from the shocking to the ridiculous; someone suggested getting a pet eagle, another wanted him to build an electric fence on our roof…the most consistent one was to shoot them. But my hubby is a gentle man and he didn’t want to hurt the birds.

Then, finally someone came up with the idea that he liked.

He was told that if he got an owl, a fake, plastic one, and installed it near the pigeons, it would scare away them away. Owls are natural predators of pigeons, the person explained, they’ll be terrified of the thing.

My hubby went out and found a massive, plastic owl that terrified everyone, even him. Before the day was out, the thing was hanging from the roof right next to the pigeon home. And, sure enough, the pigeons were gone.

He was ecstatic. “He was right,” Hubby grinned. “It terrifies them. They’ll never come back.”

Do Plastic Owls Scare Pigeons?

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.