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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A House with a View.

We've had some pretty glorious weather around here.  Sure, today is grey and drippy (a la Vancouver) but we've had lots of sun shiney days which sets off our little environment quite nicely.  I thought I load up views from our windows, so without further ado, here they are!


Guest room (south)


From the office (north)







Side kitchen window (east)

Bonus Room (north)




Living room (west)

I'm sitting in the kitchen drinking a cup of Earl Grey (I can hear all my sister say "Ewww!", but we can't all have good taste) and enjoying living in such a serene place.  The picture from the office shows a clump of trees in the distance - that's our neasest neighbour.  The living room window shot just barely shows a peak of the "across the field" neighbour.  (We haven't met her yet, but she seems a bit hermit-ish.)  The rest is all fields, trees and rolling hills, as you can well see.

I wonder what Mom would have thought about all of this.  It was her birthday on October 23...weird that I still think of her then, even though she's gone.  The living room is progressing (pictures to come) and still no word on the job front.  (If none of the recent job interviews pan out, I'll take a bit of a break and try again later.  (Thanks for the career advice Magic 8 Ball!)

We think of you all, often and wish you all well.

Friday, October 22, 2010

What's All This About Geothermal Heating???

Here's the deal with geothermal heat...you use the ambient temperature of the earth - not the surface temperature, but deeper down where the temp remains constant and pull that heat in to a heat pump to warm your home and your water.  (Apparently water at zero degrees celsius still has heat energy...sounds a bit dodgey to me, but that's science for you.)
Shows the cooling phase - turn arrows for heating

(Ours is drawn from well water.)  The logic behind this idea is that it takes less energy to warm something that already has heat energy, than to just burn a fuel that doesn't have existing heat energy.  Clear like mud?  Let's get practical then...we figure it's saving us probably $200 a month on our heating bill.  The extra nifty thing about it is that you can reverse the flow and use the system to cool the house in the summer!  (Yes, we MAY need it, even here in PEI - don't think I can't read your minds, even from here.)

Here's the furnace itself (yes, it's whopping big, you could hide a body in the main vent - not, of course, that I would ever consider such a thing):
The black pipes in the first picture are the incoming & outgoing pipes from the well system.  In the second picture you can see the two (yes...count 'em) 60 gallon hot water tanks that both give us the obvious (hot water) and heat for our house.  Previously the house had been heated with an oil/wood burning furnace that was probably 50 years old plus some and resembled the gates to hell.  We're well rid of it.


Small selection of previous wall papers
Naked walls

On another note, I'm happy to announce that the wall paper in the living room (plus about 4 other layers) has been removed.  Nothing has been put up in it's place yet, as we have some serious wall prep to do, but I think it still looks better than what was there before.
Due to the condition of the walls and strange and unidentifiable surfaces used (presumably) to cover some failing plaster, we will have to also wallpaper.  We've selected a bold damask pattern in a paintable wall paper, which we are painting a nice sedate "Tea Room", don't ask me - I don't make up the names of these colours.  The sofa we picked out for the "bonus" room wouldn't fit up the stairs, so we went to plan B and put the two apartment sized sofas upstairs and the large red sofa and club chair downstairs.  (Red sofa means no red walls, at least in the living room.)
I have to get back to my walls, I've learned to tape dry wall & I have more joints to seal.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Bathroom Phase One

We decided to try to minimize the cheap flooring and shoddy work in the upstairs bath.  We chose a benign paint colour that would hopefully blend away most of the - let's call them foibles of the room.  The paint colour in and of itself wasn't atrocious...but it certainly made all the ugliness stick out.  Here are some side by side comparisons of before and after:

(Keep in mind that this is just the first phase of attack...more will be done when funds allow. Oh, and it also looks much more improved in real life...the pictures don't quite translate the difference.)

Before
After

 We will be replacing the toilet seat sooner than later...assuming we can get the oxidized bolts out...worst case scenario...sand and paint.  That strip on the floor is going to be painted out until we can find another solution, as well.







After

Before

The tub area doesn't look all that bad in the before, but Ron had already installed 1/4 round to cover up the staples used to secure the linoleum...yes you read right...staples!






Before

After

Remember...this is just phase one.  Phase two will entail the removal of that dreadful mirror, the staining of the cabinet (or painting) new hardware and a new counter top (that may be in phase 3).  Note how little the "privacy walls" around the toilet stand out in the after picture -you can see them in the mirror.  Ron cleaned the floor up nicely with lots of elbow grease and a bit of soap and bleach...had to be done I'm afraid, regular environmentally friendly cleaner just didn't do the trick.


We tested the tub to make sure the jets worked and I had a wonderful jacuzzi bath after the painting was completed.  Next we have to spruce up the trim and launch phase two.  Phase 3 will hopefully see a tiled shower in place, new flooring and a tile surround for the tub. 

Pictures of the guestroom soon to come plus pictures of the views from our windows, just to give you an idea of our setting...try not to get too excited! (Yes, that is sarcasm!)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Quiet Moments of Settling In...

Well, crew, we've been here just over two weeks now.  Most of the boxes are unpacked, the artwork is hung (no...not by the chimney with care), we have hot water, heat (geothermal, baby!), electricity, Internet and TV.  It's just like a real home.

We've painted our first room (2nd coat is going on today) in anticipation of the guest bed arriving on Tuesday.  We've also planned to attack the upstairs bath, at least with some paint and trim, so we can stop squinting at the sea foam green walls that make all that nasty 70's cabinetry etc stand out like sore thumbs.  (Isn't that the oddest cliche?)  We haven't gotten crazy with paint colours so far...the guest room is a nice friendly camel colour and the bathroom is going to be a rich cream.  (Trust me...it's a strategic colour choice to try and minimize the things we don't like until we can change them...for those of you who don't know, bathroom remodels are darned expensive.)  We're toying with the idea of painting the living room a nice claret colour...to the men out there, that means red.

Ron, as always, is up bright and early and managed to catch the glory of a PEI morning the other day. 











The post in the second picture is where Heathcliffe frequently likes to sit and yell at the blue jays that eat at the bird feeder on the tree.  (He thinks it's his personal seed stash, I think.)  Ron's worried that he might have moved in to one of the walls, but we haven't been able to prove it yet.

On Thanksgiving we went up Island a bit and wandered around one of the provincial parks (Cabot Beach Provincial Park).  It was a blustery day filled with cloud and intermittent sun.  There are plenty of seemingly remote places, where you can really feel the pulse of the earth.


The bottom picture is of a little island that I believe is called Hog Island.  I'm not sure where the good folk of PEI got the names for some of these places, but much like Anne of Green Gables, I don't find them very romantic...immensely practical (in most cases at least - not sure about the island above), but for the most part people here obviously don't seem to be taken with wanton flights of imagination.  (Unlike certain people writing this blog...who will remain nameless.)

Another oddity of the east coast is how they describe non-east coasters.  Ron and I are frequently asked if we are "from away".  It's a quirky way to describe out-of-towners, that is mostly charming and sometimes exclusionary depending on the intonation. 

We've hit a pretty big milestone in that we both have our PEI drivers' licenses and our car is sporting PEI "Canada's Green Province" plates.  The irony is that the image on the plate is that of a large red cliff...I think they're referring to their environmental strides...again ironic as 90% of the Island heats with oil.  The province and big business are trying hard to change over to geothermal heat and they have a pretty good recycling program.

I had my first job interview yesterday, at a local credit union, we'll see how that goes.  They gave me a test, which rather threw me off.  I think it was more a subjective than anything, except for a couple of math questions.  Updates to come, but things are slowing down so there is less to say (despite the fact that this is the most I've probably written on the blog.)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Peek Inside

Nothing too much to add to our adventure today...it's a sleepy Sunday during a long weekend.  I did bake banana bread and it's cooling as I type.  Here are some more pictures of the inside of our house.  There's a heavy 70's vibe going on in the bathroom and you're only seeing half of the bonus room, as we're waiting on a sofa.  Guest room photos will come as well, once we get the mattress delivered along with said sofa.
Bonus Room

Bonus Room

Bonus Room

Upstairs Bath

Upstairs Bath

Master Bedroom


Office

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Ron's BIG Day

Thanks to all of you who took the time to weigh in on our survey.  As noted before, the ride on lawn mower won by a wheel.  But what, you might ask, has become of our well thought out votes?  Here is the story of Ron and the mower.

It became patently clear early on that no Canadian Tire special would do for our purchase.  The motto on the Island is "Go Green, or Go Home".  We'd perused the classifieds, checked out good old CT and kept eyes peeled for "Moving Sales", but the grass just kept getting higher.  Our lovely realtor had the lawn mown before we arrived ($120, if you please!) which she kindly split with us as a welcome home present.  Taking our new acquaintances advice, we hied off to the local John Deere (yes, the emerald green logo with the deer cavorting happily across the centre) dealer and perused the stock.  We met a lovely man named Francis who gave us the low down on all we could ever want to know about ride-on mowers.   We picked out a very serviceable used LA165\48.  (Yeah, you city folk, get your minds around that!)

The dealership offered free next day delivery.  (GO-O-O-O customer service!)  As we had a few home appointments, we hung around waiting for the blessed event.

We didn't have to wait long, a well seasoned John Deere employee named Whitney, came to deliver the baby.  He has been  mowing lawns since he was 5 years old and he's the same age as me and has been mowing lawns for as long as Ron has worked for the Bay.  He gave us the rundown on our new machine and even gave us a bit of a lesson on how to mow the lawn properly.

I know, you all just want to see the pictures, so fill your boots!




One happy Ron


One quarter of the yard
Even I can't resist a try.

Into the sunset...

Friday, October 8, 2010

And Then They Feasted! - caution animals were hurt in the making of this blog

The whole purpose for coming out here was cheap lobster.  (Well, okay, perhaps not the WHOLE purpose.)  Last Saturday, we headed down to the one of the local seafood shops on the dock in Summerside and purchased Sid and Nancy, two 1.5 lb lobsters.  (I have gotten in to the habit of naming any live crustaceans I cook. ) Behold the dearly departed:

Yes, that's real champagne, brought lovingly from BC for this exact purpose.  (Before we were on a fixed income.)  I made garlic butter and lemon butter for dipping and we also had a lovely Acadian style multi-grain baguette.  The lobster was delicious and I reserved the shells to make stock the next day.  Waste not, want not.

On Sunday, we took our first day to just relax and enjoy our new area.  We went for a wander around our new neighbourhood and met a couple of the other residents.  Everyone is quite friendly and welcoming; strangers wave to you as they pass in their cars. 

As it was an extra lovely day, we went to picnic by the shore and came across a very beautiful area with a lighthouse, unromantically called Seacow Head.  (Sounds rather gruesome, doesn't it?)  We sat on the bluff, in our car as the wind was quite strong and ate lunch overlooking Northumberland Straight and the red cliffs of our new home.  (Do I hear teeth grinding with jealousy?)




It's a pretty big day today, but I'll leave that for another blog.  (I've put in my first resume at a credit union, as I hear they may have an opening...I'll let you know what happens.) 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Nesting Humans and Rogue Squirrels

It's been almost a week since we moved in and we're starting to feel more settled.  Most of the rooms are tolerable at the least, only the living room is completely unacceptable.  Here's why:

Ick!!!  It wreaks havoc on our art work.   To truly appreciate the hideousness, you have to click on the right picture and load it up to it's full size, then try to imagine it everywhere in your living room.  We'll post more living room photos when we've removed the "wall paper".

Besides that, things are coming along, here's our dining room:


I'll get photos of the rest of the house shortly.  We have a new neighbour, a little red American squirrel, who I've named Heathcliffe.  They're quite small only slightly larger than a chipmunk, and like all small things, he comes with a large attitude.  Here's a picture of him, front paws resting on an apple stolen from one of our apple trees, I was about a metre away from him, there also one of him pretending to be all cute and innocent:
We have yet to find a name for our home...it's on a big enough lot to merit one.  Suggestions are more than welcome and will be taken under advisement. (No Anne of Green Gables references please (nor Dan of Green Gables, thank you very much!)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Strange House and Yet, I Call it Home.

A few of you have asked me what it was like seeing my new home for the first time, considering I hadn't walked through it before.

I started feeling the anticipation when we crossed Confederation Bridge, it's 14 kms long, so there's a lot of time to let the expectation build...would PEI still be as beautiful, now that it was home?  Here is the video of us leaving the bridge and landing in the province we now call ours:

video
You may or may not hear the sound file attached, as the mike doesn't function very well.  If you can, yes that's me singing along with the radio and Ron talking in the background.

We weren't actually sure whether we would make it to the house in day light and we had to stop to get out the map to try and get home on time.  We only made one wrong turn and then we turned up our street.  I was looking for the house on the wrong side of the road, but suddenly as we went around a bend I could see the house in the distance:

It looks much friendlier from a little ways down the road, sitting in the middle of all the fields, but the first time I saw it the sun was shining, low on the horizon, and it made the whole thing very homey.  (It's not as far away from the road as it seems, by the way.)

The outside trim and that is a bit more dilapidated than I thought, but nothing some elbow grease and fresh paint won't take care of.  The inside is an interesting muddle of rooms with wood floors and crooks and crannies like you would expect from a house that's 102 years old.  There are some things that we need to take care of right away...like the wasps making a home in our attic and the absolutely atrocious wall paper in the living room...imagine (if you can) huge turquoise and dusty pink cabbage roses highlighted with gold foil and pearlescent frosting.   (BLICK!)  The carpet in the living room has to go too, but that might have to wait, we'll have to see.

It's a wendy old house with a servant's staircase (I know what you're thinking...affluently retired...I just wish!) that leads up to a huge bonus room attached to the upstairs bathroom.  The bath itself has two entrances, the second leads to the bedrooms (of which there are three), but one can only really qualify as an office.  The main stair (going up to the bedrooms) starts just left of the front door as you come in the house, on the right is the living room and down the hall is the dining room, which sits between the downstairs bath (which is GIGANTIC) and the kitchen, also immense - I had to take a moments pause when I put away all of my pots pans etc and there were still empty cupboards.  None of my things are stacked up as they were in the condos we lived in.  The small appliances all have homes of their own...I just can't explain how cool that actually is!

The house is big enough that when we're looking for eachother we can miss one another as we go to various areas of the house, each using a different staircase.

So in answer to your question about how I felt...I was certainly glad to be home, it's been a long road to get here.  I think it's a bit like meeting an unknown sibling; its someone you feel you should know, but you don't so you're overcome with excitement, fear & just generally overwhelmed. 

It's funny how something doesn't feel like yours until you get to know it a little.  Once I've used both showers and put my stamp on the rooms this is very definitely going to be home.  Every day makes it a little more so...I can feel the charm of the country creep in to my bones and once the unpacking is done my heart will be filled with this beautiful place, quirks and all.  Interior pictures to come, but for now I bid you good day and sweet dreams.
Sunset from our front porch.