This and that

So, now that the robins have gone we have to find something else to entertain us. I’m all for squirrel soaking. Alan has been as good as always but the new kids are getting a little out of hand. I found one in the bird feeder the other day and he made a heck of a mess.

I waited patiently and sure enough a few days later he showed up. I tried to discourage him but he was too stubborn. He did give me some entertainment though. When I chased him, he tried to jump into the veggie garden. He obviously didn’t see the plastic mesh that I had put up to keep critters out, as he hit it full bore and it had the effect of hitting a vertical trampoline. He did a not-so-graceful backflip and took off cursing me. Boy was he ticked off.

A few days later I caught him in the bird feeder again and this time I had the garden hose handy. I gave him a good squirt and he ran away a few feet and looked at me menacingly. I squirted him again and this time he got the message and left. I’m sure he’ll be back though.

Our garden is coming along okay. I have pickled the garlic. The onions were going rotten so I pulled what was left. They were only small but just right for pickling also. They are drying at the moment and I can’t wait to try them out.

The condo hasn’t sold yet but we have more showing today (Wednesday.) If we don’t get an offer by Friday we are going to try a different real estate company just to shake thing up a bit.

People keep asking us what we do up here all day. Well, mostly we spend our time in Nanaimo going to doctors appointments and beer days. I have to get my hand surgery next week so had to get a check-up for that.

In the evenings, and some times earlier if the weather is not so good, we head for the Gazebo. We light the fire, turn on the TV and watch Netflix, Prime Video or sometimes the local news. All this accompanied by a glass of wine of course. It’s nice all cozied up listening to the rainfall. It gets so intense sometimes that we have to turn the TV volume up.

I’ve been practicing my guitar for when we head back south. I’m doing okay but the hand surgery will put a stop to that for a while. Too bad really as My fingers were just getting nice and toughened up. Rosalie has been doing some of her painting and is planning on getting back to her scroll saw.

Yes, we are still having fun and enjoying the lifestyle. Only another nine weeks and we go back to Melaque. We have an appointment to try for our temporary visa which allows us to stay longer and join the medical system there. We wanted our permanent visa but we don’t qualify until the condo sells. Hopefully, that will happen this week sometime.

 

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50 years???

Just where did the time go.

In 1956 I was eleven, my oldest brother Kit and wife Bridget came to Canada.  on their honeymoon and decided to stay. They would send home Canadian scenic calendars and after seeing them I wanted to be here.

We arrived in Montreal 2nd July 1969 and haven’t looked back. My former wife, my oldest daughter Lisa, who was 18 months old at the time, and I came by ship. We were probably one of the last immigrants to come this way.

My first sight of Canada was Bell Island peeking out through the fog in the mouth of the St Lawrance river. Shortly after I saw my first sign of Canadian life; a cop car driving up a hill with it’s blue and reds going. Two sights that I will never forget.

My other brother, Joe, and his wife Jean picked us up from the dock and drove us to Toronto. My first impressions are a bit vague after all this time but I couldn’t get over how far we went without seeing civilization. In England, we’re used to driving a couple of miles and running into another town or village.

Our first weekend was spent camping on an island on one of Ontario’s many lakes. We fished, water skied, swam and I thought this was paradise; and of course, it is.

The adjustment was huge, not only the language but customs as well. We knew about Halloween but trick or treating was a mystery to us. Also, what was Thanksgiving all about? And what the heck were weiners and beans? The cars at that time were huge and we loved them. In England, we call an eraser a rubber which cased a few giggles in the pharmacy.

My favourite stores which we didn’t have in England at the time were K.F.C, Dairy Queen and K Mart. I loved wandering around K Marts huge (to Me) store and just looking at all the stuff.

We settled in and eventually bought a house. As soon as we were able, we got our citizenship.

We spent four years in Ajax and Pickering  Ontario but then decided to move west. That’s when we bought our school bus and headed out. We eventually got to BC  via Wawa, and stayed eleven years before the work ran out. On a visit back to Ontario to see family, I was offered a job with Chubb Security. I accepted and ended up as the Installation Manager.

Eventually, Chubb and I parted ways, which is a whole other story. Anyway, by this time we had three kids. The whole family missed the West Coast so after four years we went back again.

After a few more years my wife and I decided to split. I eventually met Rosalie and have lived on Vancouver Island ever since.

I’m Canadian through and through but sometimes I get hit with something so English I can’t explain it. I  sometimes come out with words or expressions from way back and even I’m not sure what they mean.

I came to Canada mainly to make a living but the main benefit has been for my kids. I think they are smart enough to have done well for themselves in England, but they have had a better chance here.

When I go back to England these days I feel out of place. I suppose fifty years away will do that. For instance, I find it odd being in pubs and not knowing what to order any more. Over there I’m told I speak like a Yank which is very annoying. As you all know I speak just like a Canadian.

My home town of Rochester has seen a lot of changes but it’s still nice to see the old haunts again. Even though I’m only there a short time I miss being home in Canada.

 

Suicidal robins and other stuff

A few years back we were awakened at daybreak by a pounding on our bedroom window. I was a robin supposedly attacking his own reflection.

This didn’t happen again for a while but this year they have been relentless. They have been attacking our windows in pairs and I noticed that they also have a go at the neighbour’s windows too.

The last time it happened we put up a picture of a hawk and that ended the problem. This time, however, they are way more persistent. maybe it’s one of those seven-year cycle things. Who knows!

One of them, who has been attacking the back of the trailer, not the window, the trailer, is completely nuts. I left my step ladder leaning on the trailer and the darn thing built a nest on top. I just hope I don’t need to use it for a few weeks.

I promised a friend in Mexico that I would practice my guitar more and have been doing so. I went at it with a different attitude this time and am trying to keep it more simple. It seems to be working so far and I’m improving slowly. I still won’t risk singing though. But perhaps that is what I need to do to keep the robins away. I have to do it now as I have to go for more hand surgery in August and will be out of commission for a while.

Our veggie garden is coming along slowly. It’s the first time though that I have failed to grow radishes. The stupid things went to flower with no bulb on the root. Oh well! there’s always next year. The garlic is looking good! A critter, probably a cat, dug up part of it and seeds got redistributed so now I have stuff coming up all over the place. So now I have surrounded the garden with mesh.

Two o’clock is down tools and wine time when we light the fire in the chiminea and relax. Two o’clock, however, sometimes starts much earlier. Soon though, we won’t be able to light up anymore as the season is getting dryer., so campfires won’t be allowed.

I managed to watch all the hockey playoff games (without the Leafs. Sob!) with our super duper antenna. I even managed to catch the last game of the NBA series. Go Raptors! Even though I don’t follow basketball.

I was happy to see that the NBA commissioner gave credit to Canada for the invention of the game and that finally, it had come full circle. I wish he was the Commissioner of the NHL to give credit to Canada for inventing that game instead of trying to make it an all American game. Okay, Rant over! Go Leafs!

 

Living in a 5X10

Now that we have made the lifestyle changing decision to sell the condo, we had to consider what to do with all the stuff we have in storage. We have had a 10 x 10 storage space for the last year but decided that now we are down-sizing further, we don’t really need it.

We have decided to sell most of our stuff.  A lot has been sent to be sold on consignment and we sold some privately but there are still more personal bits and pieces that have to stay.

Getting rid of stuff can be traumatic but the other side is, that our plan includes an escape clause that says we have enough resources to be able to buy new stuff if we have to. That can be a lot of fun. And besides, it’s only stuff.

Surprisingly, for both of us, this hasn’t been a very difficult experience. Rosalie has always been something of a pack rat and I’m proud to say that she has parted with a lot of stuff I thought we’d be stuck with forever.

The process of moving from a 10 x 10 to  5 x 10 was the hardest part for me. The obvious question of course is, will what we have left, fit in the new location? The only way to check this out is to actually go ahead and do it. We have never been ones to shirk for stepping off the edge so we just went ahead with it.

We wanted our new storage unit to be a little closer to home so we rented a place in Parksville just twenty minutes from the campground. It was cheaper and the whole place is energy self-sufficient. There are solar panels and windmills everywhere.

Our car, actually we call it our little truck, has been amazing both when we moved from the condo to the trailer and now into the smaller storage unit.

We went to the old storage and I, with a look of despair on my face started to sort things out. This for consignment, this for Sally Ann, this for garbage and this to be moved. I, of course, had Rosalie to support me and keep me going; I just wish she wouldn’t kick me so hard.

We opened a lot of the boxes and wondered why we were keeping this stuff in the first place. We took three large carloads to the Sally Ann including a chest of drawers that we should have parted with years ago.

I had built storage shelves from 2 x 2’s, that had to be dismantled and reinstalled in the new unit so we had to empty it before moving it. We moved carloads of stuff and eventually we found that we had moved it all.

Surprisingly, when we had finished we were left with room in the new unit for yet more stuff. I just hope that Rosalie doesn’t see this as she will find ways to fill it to the top.

Gardening

This is not the best location for gardening but I thought I would give it a try. I started out cautiously and only made a 5 X 5 raised bed. If it’s successful (yea right.) I will expand it next year.

We got a bunch of mixed topsoil and mulch last year and I shoveled it into the box. We supplemented this when we went with Peter and Suzie to the beach to get a load of seaweed. I washed it off and dumped it on top of the dirt and left it for the winter.  We have some flowers that somehow survived the previous year even though we did our best to kill them off; we are not the best gardeners.

I planted garlic in October just before we left for Mexico and was Inspired by the fact that it was a foot high when we got home in spite of the great storm of 2018.  The tree fell close but missed the garden.

We were told that the best time to plant garlic was on the  October full moon at midnight naked. I stayed warm but poor old Rosalie froze her butt off.

After carefully choosing which veggies we are going to destroy this year I proceeded to plant and sow. Rosalie refused to have anything to do with it as we have been disappointed many times before. Probably a smart move. I noticed that she insisted on planting peas though as she likes to eat them off the vine. However, she had better save some for me.

I installed a timed sprinkler system a few years ago for the flowers but had to dismantle it when we built the sunroom. So now I have to find all the pieces and install it again just in case we have to go away for any length of time.

Perhaps we should invest in some marijuana plants now that it’s legal, (not that that would stop us.) With all the shortages we could make a fortune. I won’t though as it would be unfair to see all the local deer who get at the garden stoned out of their minds. To say nothing of Rosalie and the neighbours sneaking some.

I’m also going to try some of the upsidedown hanging tomato plants again this year as we were partially successful last year. I like them as it feels like you are torturing them without actually hurting anything. (I think I need help.)

If, in the Fall, you find me pestering you to take excess veggies then you know we were successful; but don’t count on it.

BGE vs Instant Pot

The battle has begun! Since I bought the Big Green Egg I have been the master of specialty cooking at our house. However, last year a usurper showed up in the form of an Instant Pot.

At first, I was happy with the arrangement. But then things started to change. As Rosalie got more proficient she wanted to cook things that should only be done on a BBQ; Like spare ribs. We duked it out and eventually, I gave in knowing that there was no way she could cook them as well as I can.

She did her thing and pulled them out of the pot all white and looking pathetic. (The ribs not her.) I made fun of them, especially when she begged me to brown them up on The Egg.

I did this with a smug look on my face knowing they would be terrible….I was wrong! They were delicious. Now the smug look had jumped from me to her. I think it was the browning on The Egg that did it but she doesn’t buy that and still insists it was the pot.

She has done a number of delicious foods in The Pot but is going to get a fight from me if she finds out that she can cook steaks or hamburgers in it.

While in Mexico we found a recipe for making Instant Pot wine. I can’t wait to try that, also, it’s more like what it should be used for. That and cooking beans or other veggies but not BBQ food.

Rosalie wants to take one to Mexico later this year as we can’t seem to buy one down there. We’ll have to take it as checked baggage and pay the extra. I can see security when they find it’s a pressure cooker stuffed with some of my undies and T-shirts.

I found this on Chive the other day and I was very reminiscent of what I’m going through.

Since we got rid of our old deep fat fryer (not healthy) I had to have some way to fry French fries so I wanted an air frier (more healthy.) We picked one up at Canadian Tire for a good price and Rosalie is very happy with it. Notice I said, Rosalie. I haven’t used it once yet. She has started to cook pizza in it, something I was looking forward to doing on the BGE. I’m pretty sure she can brown the ribs with it also.

OMG I think I created a monster and now I’m hearing about slow cookers. But the real challenge is…can she cook a whole turkey? I think not!

 

To sell, or not to sell, that is the question

While in Mexico we decided to sell our condo in Nanaimo and enjoy the fruits of our labours. You know: a new car, a big boat, down to the casino on the weekend, that world cruise. Aaah, but no! Maybe a river cruise sometime but other than that, no!

A lot, but not all, of the people we told this to said the same thing “You have to stay in the market.” The question I have is, how long do you stay in the market and when do you sell your biggest asset and start to enjoy the product of the fifty or more years that you have worked to earn it?

Of course, you can work all that time and leave it to the kids. But we think that we have given our kids the tools to sustain themselves and shouldn’t need our help. If they were in real need we would be there to help if we could but not to make payments on their BMW. If they were that strapped, they can sell the car and get a job at Mc Donalds.

Most people we know have a second or third pension income to sustain them and can only see things from that point of view. But we went through a bankruptcy several years ago and we only have our government pensions to live on. But don’t think we’re poor. We made some smart moves along the way and can now live the kind of lifestyle that we want…but we find ourselves, at times, a little short of cash.

We are minimalists. We don’t crave the big house or the big SUV. We are more than happy to live in our trailer for six months of the year. We’ve never been about keeping up with the Joneses; we enjoy our life the way it is.

So what does it mean when we do sell the condo? First, we pay off the small debts that we still have and then invest the rest. But where to invest? Cannabis stocks seem to be all the rage but until that market stabilizes we are not going there. I’ve heard of some swamp land in Florida but someone beat us to it, too bad, apparently, we could have made a killing.

Without going into personal details, we do have a plan. I mostly have worked on it for the last several months with Rosalie being the editor, mediator and giving me a swift kick when I get over-ambitious. I have built a spreadsheet so that we can change any factor and get an idea of what direction we are going. We have followed a similar plan for the last three years and so far it’s worked fine.

For us, this is a great plan and we’re looking forward to implementing it. For all the friends who have concerns; thank you for caring, but don’t worry, we know what we’re doing; at least I hope so or else Rosalie is going to kill me.