Monday, May 26, 2014

Spring and Gardening in Prince Edward Island



We are having a late spring this year it seems. After a very long, hard winter and so looking forward to gardening at our new home, it's been disappointing to have so few warm, sunny days. On the positive  side, the cooler, wet days keep me inside unpacking the many boxes that still await me.

We are still not living in our house, thank heavens for good-natured, understanding and caring in-laws. Jim's brother and wife have gone the extra mile for us, letting us live with them these many months. Jim has lived here with them since last September when he was fortunate enough to get a job on the island. I arrived in December, left in March to finish packing up our house and moved here again to stay April 1st. Our farmhouse is just up the road from our in-laws so it's very handy. I can walk there in under 15 minutes.

We are making good progress inside our wee farmhouse, but one job begets another and another. We have ordered our kitchen cupboards and they should arrive within the next two weeks..We have finished painting our back entrance plus Jim built a ceiling height cupboard with shelves for all my laundry detergent etc., as that is where our washer and dryer will go. The poor dining room is a storeroom at present and often used as my hubby's workshop. We cut and paint boards in there and it seems to be the catch-all room. The living room is also a storeroom at present, filled with unpacked boxes and furniture. Some days I feel so overwhelmed when I go up there to work.

As well as the inside work, I've been busy outside when weather permits planting more flowers, especially perennials, many which I brought with us. I purchased two forsythia bushes which I planted, a Japanese maple and a hydrangea. I went to a plant sale in Montague Saturday so purchased a black currant bush, more day lilies, a primrose, lily of the valley plus a few other plants. I'd much rather be outside working in the gardens but the black flies are also here and chewing on me minute by minute. For some reason they like to bite me more than my hubby.

It's been so cool off and on the tulips I planted last year are taking their time to open. This fall I will add some daffodils to my beds. All the hostas I brought from Ontario are doing well, as are my bleeding hearts, my favorite being my white one. Hubby built me a great gardening bed which stands a little over waist height so I don't have to bend over to plant my veggies in it..I'm so pleased with it, I will be putting in an order for several more. I purchased several white plastic gardening beds but one must still bend or stoop over to plant them.

Our fields have been planted with potatoes this year and we were told in three weeks when we see the little green shoots pop up out of the ground, to dig up some tiny little potatoes. We will have potatoes all summer and be able to store some in the fall..The lettuce, onions and peas I planted early are up but with frost warnings last night I'm wondering if I started planting too soon. I did cover my one planter of annuals.

I read many years ago that whatever soil you have in your yard, it can be amended and improved with many different types of gardening soils and fertilizers but ultimately whatever bush, tree etc., that you plant has to make it's way in the soil that came with your yard. I wondered if I was overthinking what I should add to my veggie and flower gardens here as once the roots pass through whatever I've added, they have to survive in this red island soil..So it's an experiment I suppose seeing what will survive by my just adding fertilizer, 3 in 1 Mix with some seafood compost added in. The test will be the end results but what I planted one and two years ago seems to be surviving.

Another big test for me is to not dig up too many flower beds and end up with more than I can comfortably look after. Hubby is hoping I'll have the lawn cut before he gets home from work in the evening with our "new to us" second hand riding lawn mower. My very first vehicle!

I'm trying hard to keep my spirits up what with the discouraging cool weather, the rain and the house not finished yet. Our first guest arrives in mid-June, one of my brother's is coming out this way on his motorcycle so won't mind roughing it inside the house..My hubby's daughter wants to set a date to come out with our granddaughter, so the push will be on to get settled once and for all. The washer and dryer arrive this week and phone hook-up goes in, so I expect we are looking at moving into our "unfinished" house sometime in June. I imagine one of my most exciting blogs will be when I'm able to write "we are in, it's all finished" but is one ever finished in a house, new or otherwise? There always seems to be something to do. Right now I'm off for my morning coffee, then I'll make plans to see what boxes I can unpack today. It's supposed to rain later, so gardening is on hold once again.

Thanks for all your positive comments for those who leave them and I wish everyone a wonderful summer when it arrives! Our new life here is quite the journey and we certainly can't say we are bored..but just once it might be nice to say..'I have nothing to do!"

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Winter Move




We are now a permanent resident of Prince Edward Island. We moved the end of March solely because my husband started a new job last September and felt business would be slow enough in March that he could take a week off to move. Now March can be a time when you feel spring in the air or winter is going out like a lion and giving us one last blast after another...you guessed it, this year on the island, Mother Nature had a few storms left over..

Last Monday when we left Ontario, it was sunny, mild and a gorgeous ten degrees. We enjoyed nice weather all through Ontario, Quebec and even New Brunswick. It did start turning colder in New Brunswick and the wind picked up but it was about an hour from the Confederation Bridge that the weather really started to turn. We were driving in a truck, pulling a 12 ft. U-Haul trailer as the moving truck we had hired couldn't hold all our belongings..as it was we left many things behind. A neighbour and my brother-in-law kindly offered to store some of our belongings until such time as they come out to visit us..

The weather was such that we didn't feel the island was welcoming us with open arms, it was very windy driving over the bridge and once across, blowing snow was drifting across the road, making the driving harder. Several days before we left, the island was bombarded by a blizzard, followed by freezing rain and more snow..the closer we got to our destination, the worse the roads became, many just a glare of ice. We traveled slowly and carefully, arriving safely and also adding more time to the long, two day trip. But what a relief to arrive with only one mishap, getting stuck with the truck and trailer in our in-laws laneway..

We finally just unhitched the truck from the trailer and left it at the end of the laneway overnight. Wednesday we unloaded the truck and trailer at our new residence which we purchased four years ago. I'd love to be able to say all the renovations are done inside the house but that wouldn't be the case. Although 3 rooms upstairs are completely finished, the upstairs bathroom and hallway are only partially done.

The living-room is now painted but the dining room isn't. Nor is the downstairs bathroom completed. We purchased a new refrigerator and stove but we have yet to order our kitchen cupboards. I think it's safe to say we will be living in a mess of mass confusion for awhile. To add to this scenario is a couple of days of mild weather, melting snow and a wet, muddy yard. Spring is a time of year when unpaved laneways are a quagmire of soft, red island mud where many a vehicle can get stuck and needs pulling out..thankfully my hubby's brother owns a tractor and  we may need use of it!

Today is Friday and the moving truck is coming today with three or four men to unload it. I will be standing somewhere in the house, hopefully guiding all the boxes and furniture to the designated rooms. I woke up at 4 a.m., trying to visualize all our furniture and boxes so I could be prepared for the ten a.m. arrival of our belongings. I couldn't get back to sleep, so decided to write this blog.

Hubby is sleeping well thankfully, he goes to bed each night exhausted with many aches and pains. We both do. But each morning we wake up, eat a hearty breakfast and do it all over again. This move would be so much nicer if it was summer and we could just sit boxes and furniture out on the lawn and organize things at a slower pace. But with a wet, snowy and muddy yard, that is not an option.

Life will be crazy for the next little while, something I wish I could wake up from and say: "thank heavens, it was only a dream!"..but this is our reality for many months to come, as we work to finish the renovations and sort out as everyone likes to tell me "too much stuff!" Even the movers were heard to say: "you have a lot of stuff"..I guess a big part of setting up our new household will be parting with as many things as possible..I hear they have a 70 mile long yard sale here every fall, so instead of going from house to house looking, I'll be selling..or just giving things away..

In order to keep some sanity I'm trying to visualize spring approaching, albeit at a much slower pace than I desire. I'm thinking of the 30 tulip bulbs I planted last fall and the blossoms opening on our apple trees. I'm anticipating shopping for more plants at the garden centres and taking breaks under our dear willow tree, that was much damaged in this past ice storm. We had many white birch snapped off also. There will be a lot to spring clean-up this year but as in the past four years, we don't have to leave for Ontario after hubby's 3 weeks holidays. We are now in our forever home, caretakers of 35 acres of land and trees.

Truth be told, once the nice weather arrives, you won't catch me inside unpacking the next twenty or thirty boxes, I'll be outside gardening or relaxing under our willow. I may have to unpack my granddaughters toys though as I expect her parents to visit this summer. A great excuse for a day at the beach, maybe many days at the beach, maybe the whole summer at the beach!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Count Down to Our Move



As moving day gets closer and closer I find my stress level going up. Isn't there a saying about divorce and moving being at the top of the stress list? We are trying to work every weekend on our home renovations and even some evenings. Some days I feel like we are standing still on improvements to the house. Even though I can't always see the progress we are making, I know we are going forward.

My husband is arranging for a moving truck. He is even making arrangements for a large container to be placed in our yard to store many of our belongings for a month or two until the house is finished. I'm still a believer in the dream that the house WILL BE FINISHED one day..As I sit in my braiding class on Thursdays, I hear other women talking of their move here and all they are doing to improve their homes too..One lady who moved from Uxbridge, Ontario is hoping to put gravel down on their basement floor this year, an upgrade from the dirt floor they have now. Another woman told me they have worked on their house for ten years, much has been done but it's still not finished and that was said to encourage me!

Amongst all this upheaval is the Winter Olympics. Thankfully whenever I have some spare time, I'm watching our dear Canadians do so well and it takes my mind off the renovations for a few hours. I was hoping to relax and enjoy our finished house this summer and fall but hubby wants to start right into the bedroom addition. Just thinking of that is exhausting me. Alas, what he said is true, we aren't getting any younger! He really likes the color we have painted our bedroom upstairs in the farmhouse so I say: "live in it for awhile and enjoy it!" I know it's important to have a downstairs bedroom as we age, but can't it wait for a year? I also know putting that off, means it might never get done. What a quandary..

I've decided to fly back to Ontario in March and try to pack up the rest of our belongings..the ones inside our house at least. The area where we live and much of Ontario this year has been deluged with so much snow that we will have a lot of work ahead of us digging out our lawn furniture..it's probably under 3 or 4 feet of snow. Especially since we paid someone to shovel off our roof in December. It just kept on snowing after we had this done and any pictures people sent us of our home looked like it had never been done. If we don't have a thaw, I might never find some possessions outside..

I am looking forward to connecting with friends back home for a couple of weeks and playing with our granddaughter again. I miss her terribly. I send her a letter or card every other week and she is loving getting real mail. One of my friends has me booked for a lunch out together and another friend has volunteered to pick me up at the airport. My daughter wants to help us move so we can say our good-byes until she gets out to the island to see our new home. It will be more bittersweet than usual leaving this time, as we aren't coming here for a holiday, we will be living here for good.

In some ways I've adjusted to island living very well, there are numerous courses to take, the ladies are all so friendly and kind. I've found stores I enjoy shopping in, although I find the price of food somewhat shocking at times. It's grand to eat more fish and lobster, in fact we do a lot of eating on the island and the tea pot is always full..

There is lots to look forward to, I anticipate many visitors the first few years here, walking on the beaches together, touring the area, even just walking through our woods with those wishing to come out for a visit. The new refrigerator will be well stocked with food and the tea pot will be at the ready. Chairs will be set under our lovely willow tree and laughter will fill the air.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Renovation Saga Continues



It seems longer than just last weekend that we had a fresh new snowfall that was so beautiful I took 30 or 40 pictures..I walked down the road in front of our house and all around the yard, everything was so white and silvery. I sent many pictures off to family and friends...a brother who is an artist said he would like to paint at least five of the pictures I emailed to him.

Today we had rain, snow and sunshine. One minute it was clear, the next a real blizzard. This is a winter that people will be talking about all across Canada I think, with temperatures being so frigid and the amounts of snow many provinces are getting...Ontario, where we come from has been blasted with so much snow that it's hard to see many houses from the road. Snow is piled so high that our neighbour's grandchildren call these snow piles "mountains". Lots of fun for the kids this year playing outside.

We are plugging away at our renovations, often getting help from Jim's brother. Yesterday the drywall went up on the kitchen ceiling and today all the walls were done. Now that tedious mudding job will start again. Our new fridge and stove arrived several weeks ago, all gleaming and shiny, just waiting to be put in their proper place. Our kitchen will be very small once all the cupboards are in so on the bright side, we won't have to order much flooring! I also look at it, the smaller the house, the less cleaning I'll have to do.

I'm an outdoor person for the most part (not so much in the winter) so will be wonderful to get the house cleaning done quickly and get outside for the more enjoyable gardening chores. I'm so looking forward to buying some asparagus plants this year, would like about a dozen. Right now I only have 4 plants that Jim's son bought me, but they did survive their first winter here.

We are making strides inside the house although it still seems to move along slowly at times. Ceiling lights have been hooked up, our bedroom is painted and nearly all the trim is done, closet doors are hung and a door put on between our room and bathroom. We have two rooms left to put drywall up in so we certainly are coming along. There are so many days this all seems like a dream, I wake up thinking all this can't be real, that we are renovating our farmhouse and are living in Prince Edward Island. I might have to pinch myself sometimes.

Another aspect of the renovations that happened this week is our heat pump is getting installed. We will soon have a heat source in every room. It's the smallest unit the supplier has ever installed but my husband sees it taking up more space in the basement than he expected, so our storage down there is shrinking. I think we are going to have to do a "lot" of thinking about what we keep and what goes...although building a new two storey garage would solve a lot..

Several weeks ago on a Wednesday it was so mild, sunny and beautiful my sister-in-law and I went beach combing. Yes, we did wear our winter coats and boots, but had a grand day at the beach finding sea shells and beach glass. With all I've collected over the years I need to be sure and find something I can do with all of it. Just not leave it in glass jars to be looked at and admired.

We are very happy to hear weekly Friday night dances are starting next week at the Hall just 5 mins. down the road from where we live. We love to dance, they will help pass the winter months and perhaps in the summer with the doors and windows open at the Hall we can enjoy the music just sitting in our yard under our beautiful willow tree. Or we might even have a front porch built by then....I'm also enjoying my art class and my rug braiding class. It's been a great way for me to meet new people.

As I look out the window we are in the blizzard stage again and hubby has fallen asleep already after a busy day lifting drywall. Any extra rest he gets, he really deserves. He works so hard on our place but he enjoys it for the most part. A person needs to really live in a place before one can make all the decisions, so I just hope between the two of us when we get our heads together, we think along the same lines. So far, so good...

Monday, January 6, 2014

Winter On The Island

 


This is the first full winter in Prince Edward Island for my husband and I, although we did spend a month here in February 2013. Now that hubby has a permanent job here, we will not be leaving until March for our home back in Muskoka. That trip will be bitter-sweet as we pack up all our belongings and wave good-bye to our family and friends.

I was under the misconception that winters here were not as harsh as they were back home. In Muskoka we often had to shovel off our roof as the snow load was so heavy and deep. In fact we emailed a friend back home this past December. She contacted her brother to shovel our roof just before Christmas. I see by the news that Muskoka is getting bombed over and over with 15 to 20 cm. of snow often twice a week, so we are wondering if this is a winter when the roof might have to be shoveled twice...that would be a record.

Another misconception I had was that the temperatures wouldn't be as cold here as they are back home. Wrong again, it's been just as cold here many days as back home. I will soon have to stop calling Muskoka "back home" as the island is our new "permanent" home, it just that old habits die hard. I lived in Muskoka for over 16 years and hubby has lived there for over thirty years. We have been renovating our farmhouse purchased in 2010 for nearly four full years.

Some of the jobs at the farmhouse are enjoyable, the priming of walls and painting help finish off a room and we feel a great sense of accomplishment once the windows are framed and new floors are set down. But the mudding of walls, the constant sanding, sweeping up dust and looking like a pair of ghosts when we are done, dare I say, is not one of our favorite tasks. But it must be done before the paint goes on.

We get most of our work done on the weekends as Jim works five and a half days a week at his full-time job. I decided to give hubby a break from sanding Sunday, so we traded jobs, he painted upstairs while I sanded. Up and down the ladder I went, taking a break when my neck got sore by sweeping up the dust, sending clouds of it everywhere..I imagine we will be vacuuming up drywall dust for a year after we move in.

I have had some fun too, looking for new furniture, planning the new kitchen cupboards with the help of a professional, ordering our new refrigerator and stove etc. I was able to chose paint colors easily until I came to the living-room. The dining room should be the same color, also the hallway to the upper level which can be seen from the living-room..that is a lot of walls to be painted the "same" color or at least in the same color family. I've become really bogged down, I can eliminate many colors, but zoning in on "perfect" one seems to be escaping me. We may move in with just the primer done at this rate.

This will be our first "new" home built within the confines of an old farmhouse. We replaced the roof, all the windows, new heating system, kitchen, added a downstairs bathroom..There are so many decisions to make, so much to buy, things I didn't even realize. I was thrilled this past weekend to find curtain rods on sale to finish all the windows. If I'd gone looking for specific rods I might not have chosen the ones I just purchased but the price was right..

As we finished our work day yesterday, hubby and I talked of our priorities and what we needed to work towards once the bedroom and living-room are finished. Always good to have a focus as it's easy to get off track when faced with a million jobs at once. How daunting it can all seem at times.

It will be wonderful one day to wake up in our own bedroom in our own home, cook in our own kitchen, relax in our own living-room. Right now we are residing just down the road at our in-laws  home. Spring can't come fast enough although I do somewhat dread the "big move", knowing it's a real stressor..but even tho the house might be a real mess with work staring me in the face in every direction I will talk hubby into going for a walk. Across the fields once all the snow is gone, into the woods to look for wild flowers.  As long as we are in the woods, we can't see the work, out of sight, out of mind at least for a short while. Dreamer that I am...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Reunited and Happy in P.E.I.



It happened at last! After nearly 3 months separation from my husband Jim we are together again in Prince Edward Island. The above picture was taken in Victoria, B.C. during the week hubby's son got married, another very beautiful spot in this large country of Canada.

Jim's brother and wife arrived in Muskoka last week, spent two nights with me, then packed up their truck with a few of my boxes, suitcases and off we went at 6 a.m. to head out East. We stopped one night in Quebec to rest up for the last leg of the journey, about ten more hours driving, landing on the island about 7:30 p.m. It was so wonderful to see Jim again, he had been pacing up and down, wondering when we would arrive. We only unpacked our suitcases and left the rest for the next day.

I should have known Jim would get up early before anyone else and unpack the whole truck. His work ethic is amazing. He will work all day at his day job, beginning before 8 a.m., work until 6 p.m. or later, then have his supper. Once supper is over he drives up to our farmhouse and works on renovations for another 2 hours or more. His boss at work was so nice to give hubby Saturday off as I was arriving. So we had two full days to work on our Renos. It was wonderful to see the two fully finished rooms that Jim had worked so hard on to complete. I was thrilled with the paint colors having picked them out while living in Muskoka and not knowing if my choices were good.

I like to hold paint chips up against the walls to be painted in different light settings. I was especially pleased with the color I'd picked for my office, also in awe at how professional the windows looked all trimmed out. Jim is not a carpenter but his skills are improving all the time so that our house will look splendid when finished. It started out as an old farmhouse needing a complete renovation inside and when we get a bit discouraged with all the work facing us, I name off all the jobs we've already accomplished. That cheers us up.

On arrival here there was no snow to speak of, the grass was green. But today we woke up to a winter white landscape. Jim and I are living with his brother and wife. Life is made up of many changes so I find myself having to wrap my  head around the many differences one finds not living in ones own home. Some "wifely" duties do not change wherever you live, doing laundry, making lunches, cleaning our room and I want to do my share of other housework. My sister-in-law mentioned today that next week we'd have a day of Christmas cookie making. She is an amazing cook so I will have to watch my waist-line and get out for a walk everyday....once I get myself motivated and outside, it will become a habit I won't want to break.

Jim and I enjoyed a walk last Saturday across our fields and out into our woods, walking one trail we made together, then walking a trail Jim made while I wasn't here. It's so quiet in the woods in winter, such a pleasant place to explore. We found our creek running with clear, cold water that often dries up in the hot summer months. I can hardly wait to hang up all the bird houses we will be bringing out in March. Our house back in Muskoka sold quickly so we are moving here to the island with a large moving truck, the end of March. For the last three years our farmhouse here has seemed like our "summer place" which we visited, working nearly every waking hour to restore.

When we pack up all our household belongings in March, hoping they will all fit into the moving truck we will be saying good-bye to many family members and friends from many good years living in Muskoka. We will be waving good-bye to our 3 year old granddaughter, her mother and father, my sister and too many friends to mention. Yes, we are moving 3 provinces away, very large, long provinces that seem to go on forever when I'm tired. A two day drive which in New Brunswick includes a view for many, many miles of the Appalachian mountains. It seems like we are a long way from our loved ones but just imagine the anticipation of driving back along those same seemingly endless roads to see our dear ones at the other end. They will visit us and we will visit them.  I must keep this in my heart and mind, knowing our door will always be open to those who wish to visit us, to share in the joy of our beautiful property as we do in all weathers. Well, maybe not so much during black fly season!!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Rolling Down the Highway Again....

 

I'm counting down the days now until I roll down that highway to be reunited with my husband. It will be 13 weeks since he left Muskoka to start a new job in Prince Edward Island. I know the time has passed much quicker for him than me. He works 8 to 9 hours a day, half a day Saturdays and then spends a few hours each evening plus all day Sunday working on our farmhouse renovations.

I on the other hand have been packing boxes wishing I could jump into the biggest one and ship myself out East! Jim's brother and wife are heading my way via Ottawa where they will spend 3 or 4 days with their son and family. Once in Ottawa they are only about 4 hours away from me. After spending a couple of days here, we will load up their truck with my winter clothes plus any of my boxes they have room for. I am getting very excited to leave here although my friends and family have been fantastic.

Hubby's daughter has carried too many packed boxes to count out to the back shed for storing until March. My son has carried a lot of furniture back to the same shed which is now bulging at the seams. Friends have had me over for meals and taken me on errands. In fact I've eaten out so much I need to get on a treadmill! Thankfully my brother-in-law has one in his heated garage. I'll be using it daily.

I'm nearly finished writing up my Christmas cards..it's easier to think of doing them now that the yard is covered with snow. We don't have enough to shovel yet, unlike my daughter and siblings further south. They got bombarded by snow squalls today. But by the sounds of the weather here this week I won't be getting off scot free either. The temperatures here have been very chilling so I'm glad I'm not putting outside lights up this year. I do miss decorating outside and inside but no one will be here to see it. I couldn't resist  putting a few decorations around inside as my neighbours water my plants and my granddaughter is visiting me right up until I leave..I will miss our play times.

I bought all my husband's gifts but will do the rest of my Christmas shopping on the island. Love doing some last minute gift buying. We purchased our flooring this week for our bedroom there as it can't be sanded and saved like the other two upstairs rooms. My hubby did a fantastic job of  refinishing them. I'm excited to see these same two rooms painted with all the trim work done. He tells me he needs someone for clean up after him and I'll be glad to do it. I've missed him a lot.

This will be our very first Christmas on the island but not our first winter months. We were also out there in February and March of this year so know how hard the wind blows and pushes the snow up against the house in high drifts. I have experienced going out with snowshoes on a bright sunny day, stomping across the fields. Not only has the countdown started for my reunion with my hubby but our final move is just months away in March. This spring I will get to see all the tulip bulbs show off their party dresses that I planted in the fall. We will witness the first birds of spring.  As the birds find a spot to build a nest, I will be hopefully unpacking and feathering our new nest. Unpacking all our boxes, hauling in the furniture, the renovating finally done after close to four years. Newly painted walls, new shiny floors ready for  placing our furniture on and once my favorite chair is in place, I'm sitting down!