House built on Sand

I had no idea this entire hill on which my house is built, is sand.  The company came on Thursday morning to begin the process of hooking the well to pipes which would then connect to the house.  When I saw the size of the excavator I grabbed both dogs and got into my car and drove to Osoyoos for the night.

This was Frieda’s first trip to Osoyoos as I couldn’t trust her prior to now, however it was an emergency because I couldn’t leave the dogs to Nicky given the mayhem going on in the yard.  She sat on my lap, trembling and panting the entire way, and Louie slept in his dog bed on the passenger seat, a seasoned veteran.

When we arrived Louie leapt out with joy as he hasn’t been since I got Frieda last year in April, and he was even more overjoyed to find both Luke and Jan living there.  Frieda did some of her usual stunts such as pretending she had no idea how to come up the steps from the yard but by Friday she was using the stairs like a pro.

On Friday I gave myself a good pep talk when we got onto Hall Road as I said to myself you know you wanted this, it will be bad but don’t freak out, maybe it won’t even be that bad, maybe I shouldn’t go home.  Oh dear God was basically what I said out loud as I rounded the top of the driveway and hit the thick sand.

You’d think you were on a beach in Hawaii.  I parked the car and looked open-mouthed at what remains of my driveway.  The red bricks outside the basement kitchen window were removed.  One irrigation pipe got torn in half and there’s a hole the size of a Volkswagen beetle in my lower yard.  Giant boulders are strewn throughout the sandy hill and all Oregon grape’s been scraped off.

But ya know, just like the first time you see someone with a burned face it’s scary, then the second time, not so bad, and pretty soon you look at that person and forget all about the scars.  And I have to say I’m watering away, ignoring the driveway, dragging the hose around acting like all’s normal, and it kind of is.

It’s not the first time I’ve ordered a project and then wondered what in the name of God in Heaven I’ve done.  But I have a vision for Hall Road and it involves having my own water and as Luke said when you want to make an omelette you have to break a few eggs.  Indeed it seems I did that.

Other hilarity, though much smaller, has ensued.  About a month ago I got a new stove delivered from Home Depot, and the other day I decided to bake some cookies.  I opened the drawer of my new stove, and it was empty, and then I went oh right, your cookie sheets were all in the drawer of the old stove.  They were excellent quality heavy-duty sheets, so I was totally bummed out at myself.

To cheer myself up Elsa and I went out on a shopping spree but I said to her you know we have so many treasures from thrift, perhaps we can browse the Greenery for some plants.  I said I’d like to get a hosta.

They were nearly sold out of everything but had tons of succulents, and as Elsa explained, I needed them.  So I still didn’t get out of shopping and buying despite the new destination.

Rodents Galore

This morning I was awakened to the sound of Frieda vomiting onto the bed, so I got up and was pleased to see it was easy to pick it up as it was shaped exactly like a dog turd.  Nothing wet so that was lucky.

Then I went downstairs to feed the cats and saw the most enormous internal organ from a rat lying among a smear of blood.  It was quite sad as there were rat footprints in the blood as the poor animal fought for its life.  Fortunately, it’s a tile floor so I could pick up the organ with a paper towel and then throw a wet rag on the blood and use my foot to wipe, then throw everything into the garbage.

And so the day began.  I went to Home Hardware for a rake and hose, and stopped at Rick’s Garden World where I found some beautiful container-sized dahlias.  I came home and felt the urge to garden so headed out with the dogs.  I decided to start with the barberry bush that Kathy bought me as it needed something behind it, and that’s when I saw the large dead rat decaying in the garden bed.

I guess at times the cats eat the rats, but other times maybe they just beat them up, kill them, and leave them as some type of sign for the other rats.  I had to get a shovel and plastic bag and heave the carcass into that and then into the rodent-filled garbage can. I wonder where all of those damned rats live.

As you know Luke and Jan now live with mom in Osoyoos, so for Mother’s Day Jan made a delicious Thai soup and I made the main course of buffalo chicken wing lasagne and salad.  I made a four-layer chocolate cake for dessert.  All of it was eaten with a great deal of glee.

They seem to be settling in because it’s understandable it takes time for everyone to get used to each other’s peccadilloes.  I would be a poor candidate for any of that as witnessed by the cute little signs I bought for mom and myself, and which say My Way or The Highway with arrows pointing in opposite directions.

I wonder how long this will continue but I still don’t have the well hooked to my house. I suppose one day you’ll be reading hey guess what, I have well water.  But for now, stay tuned on the well project.

Awhile ago I was browsing the Hall Road Facebook page and noticed someone needed a job done, and another resident answered, you need to contact Carl Whitler.  I went hey, I need to contact him as I have a long list of things I need done around here.  I sent him a message and he came over and I said to him, so what can you do, and he replied, “everything.”

Imagine the joy!  We started with re-roofing my little shed, went to the installation of a range hood, and then onto the installation of blinds in my bedroom.  He’s currently working on replacing my rotten deck with some type of vinyl decking which I told him can only be done in small increments given the enormous cost of that product.

And so the joys and horrors of pet and home ownership continue on Hall Road, pretty much unchanged.

Well, well, well

As you’ll recall I had a well dug last November, and have been waiting for pipes to be connected to the house and irrigation ever since.  Finally I found a very nice company called Okanagan Well and Pump and a man came to look at the project last week.  As usual on my property, he did one of those tradesperson’s slow air exhalations through pursed lips.

He walked here and there.  I pointed at things.  He scratched his head.  Thought a bit.  Finally declared it wasn’t possible to hook up to the house, only the irrigation, and I said fine, I’ll take it.  But then we walked around a bit, and a bolt of inspiration hit him when he realized how he could hook the pipes to both the irrigation and the house.  I replied, “you’re a genius!”

I’ve given him the go-ahead and so soon there should be heavy equipment tearing up my property.  And I’m the person who tries to save every sprig of grass so you can imagine how trying this’ll be for my Buddhist self. 

And speaking of that, I have nice Gilles the landscaper tearing out the junipers from the front of my house.  I said to him, oh, um, the raccoons live there, and he replied they’d find another place to live, and added “I’ve taken your fire hazard rating from Extreme to Moderate.”  So what could I do?  Buh bye raccoons.

Then there’s Nicky and his incessant ant poisoning.  He runs around the property with a large can of Terro Diatomaceous Earth spreading a thick layer around the base of Ponderosa Pines.  It seems to be some kind of obsession, and so I just have to look the other way as it’s easy to go nuts around here.

While on the subject of mental illness, Luke and Jan have moved into mom’s house and I get calls and e mails from all of them now.  Mom wants the place tidy, and they have dumpsters full of possessions so she’s having a fit over that.  Luke wants to tear out the built-in cupboards in the basement bedroom to make more room for his computers and mom doesn’t want the house denuded.

Oh well.  I’m here in Kelowna a hundred miles away so I guess the three of them will settle into some type of a nice routine that doesn’t involve guns, ropes, knives or poison.  It’s just been three days so there’s going to be an adjustment period.

But for myself I have to say it’s wonderful to know mom’ll have someone there to help her as her vision really is the pits.  She said Luke likes to have dinner together every night so that’s a good thing for them to do as mom’s been quite sad with the lack of visitors due to the covid situation.

It’s been incredibly dry this spring and I’ve hooked up hoses and have been watering here and there, however today the irrigation company comes to turn on the water and troubleshoot any pipes that got clogged last season or burst over the winter.  Then imagine the joy this summer as I have well water for myself and the plants.  No more chlorine on them or inside us.

Which is so funny considering the pollution I cause to the bod from the booze.

Fifteen Years of Blogging

I’ve had the great pleasure of reconnecting with my old pal Bobbi who I haven’t talked to in around 40 years.  We’ve e mailed back and forth and it’s been wonderful catching up, however she said she’s been reading my blog and could see there was an awful lot to read.  I said yes, as it’s been going on for fifteen years this April. 

I wonder why I keep going and think maybe it’s my grasp at immortality.  You know as I plan to be cremated, my skull can never be fossilized and discovered thousands of years from now, and I certainly haven’t created anything that’ll hang around, however maybe in cyber space my little existence on Earth will go on and on somewhere in the great Cosmos.

Not that I plan on heading out that way any time soon, though the other day I did contemplate killing the fridge delivery people as once again a giant bough was torn from one of my Ponderosa pines on the driveway.  Once they’d parked I pointed out the Christmas tree sized branch on their cab and said perhaps on the way out they could minimize the damage.

I was quite surprised at the large amount of stuff inside a fridge as I unloaded the old one in preparation.  I’ve never had a freezer on the bottom and I quite like it and feel glad I got it.  Just a plain old Whirlpool but who knows, maybe this one will actually last for a long time. 

Seedlings are popping out in little trays on my windowsill and soon I can put them into the greenhouse.  The nights have been a tad cold so I have to wait as I don’t want to kill them.  Gilles the nice landscaper/ yard work person came by last week and built a fabulous arbour for my kiwi.  I bought it about ten years ago and it’s lain in snarl of twigs for all of that time, but now it’s finally got a place to go.

I was at mom’s the other day and emptied her linen closet and we went through every item.  Mom’s so adorable as I’d hold up a tablecloth and she’d say oh that’s a good one, keep that one, to the point I finally said well mom you’ve got fifteen of them saved so far.  But she was willing to let a lot go so I filled two black garbage bags with stuff for thrift.

She wants to get rid of useless stuff because Jan and Luke are moving in in two weeks and the rooms they’re staying in are already piled with boxes as they’ve been bringing their belongings down from Kelowna to Osoyoos.  I’ll be so happy to know they’ll be with mom because she’s going to feel so much more secure having them there with her.

The adorable part of the arrangement is that Luke’s gramma’s favourite grandchild so the two of them will enjoy their time together.  She keeps saying I hope he’ll get a job, and I keep saying he won’t. He wants to contract to companies doing Java script programming, so we’ll see.

A lot’s happened since April 2006 when I began this blog.  My fruitcake business ended, I retired, three dogs, two cats, Liz, mom’s partner Gerry, and Freddie died.  I have a grandchild, I’ve taken a bunch of nice trips, I got divorced, I discovered Reiki and yoga.  I’ve managed to hang onto old friends and make new ones, and for that and everything else I’m very grateful.

Not Getting the War Analogy

For the past year we’ve been told we’re all making huge sacrifices and are in a similar situation as those at war.  I was raised by people who lived through the second world war and I have to say, I’m not understanding that analogy at all.  When my grandparents talked about bombs falling on them, the race to the bomb shelter and the lack of food, none of that reminds me of the past year here in Kelowna.

Because I love hanging around at home I’ve barely noticed anything different going on, so if this is war, I’ll take it.  It’s politically incorrect to point out the odds of catching Covid are extremely low, so I would just say our chances of staying alive compared to those in a country at war are pretty good.

And when we hear about “all the sacrifices we’ve made” I beg people to question if that’s true.  We know healthcare workers, grocery store clerks, bus drivers and many others have made sacrifices given their exposure to the virus, however the rest of us have gone on living pretty trouble-free lives.

Pity the poor woman stuck at home with an imbecile who beats her up, kids who only eat if schools are open, or who can’t get home schooled due to lack of Internet access.  Think of the retail store or restaurant owners who put their entire life savings into the business only to see it closed and then fail entirely.

I’m just suggesting a bit of gratitude would go a long way at this point in time.  So while we’re told there’s pent-up demand for buying stuff, why not give that money to charities who can do something good with it?  As you may have guessed, I’m a monthly contributor to the SPCA and whenever there’s a huge dog seizure and they need extra money for the poor animals, I send it.

Here’s what can put a person off giving.  I was putting my cart away at Superstore when a young man around 20 years of age approached me and I said to him, “Do you want money?”  He looked terrible, and so I asked if he had a place to live and he said he did.

I opened my wallet and unzipped the coin compartment and grabbed all the change in there, which was maybe three toonies, a couple of loonies and some other change, so maybe around $8.00 to $10.00 in total.  Unfortunately the bill compartment was visible to the kid, who said “Can you give me a twenty?”

I said “no, I can’t, sorry.”  I thought wow, that’s a true millennial for ya, eh?  I don’t want to disparage them, however I have two of my very own so I’m familiar with their modus operandi.  It usually involves some type of an attack on Boomers and all the mess we’ve made of everything, including the price of houses.  It ends when I shrug and walk away.

I did spend money on a new fridge as the one I have requires a bowl to catch the water that drips out of the freezer, so I feel it’s okay to get a new one.  Meat tastes a bit funky given I don’t think it’s ever solidly frozen, so it’ll be a treat not to risk salmonella at every meal.

So maybe I am at war, only with the junk that I own.

Fab Winter for Walking

The best thing about covid has been the people I walk with, and thanks to the mild winter the amount of walking has been great.  Today it’s sunny and warm and gives one the feeling spring truly is about to arrive like a tuxedo cat after a low-flying bird.

Justin turned one and is just taking his first few steps.  Actually the very first steps on his own were this past weekend as they went to visit his great grandmother.  Mom has the ability to coax excellent performances out of anyone.  Even a baby.

People I’ve kept up with thanks to walking include Marie, Kathy, Margaret, Patricia and Sharon.  Shopping at thrift has given me the opportunity to spend time with dear Elsa.  So I pretty much haven’t noticed any mental illness from covid isolation.  Some mental illness, yes, but not from that.

Another fab thing I’ve done is reconnect with people I lost track of over the years, such as Helen Jmaeff who used to live beside my grandparents’ house.  We both loved the Beatles and I remember going over there and hanging out while we listened to 45’s.  Look it up, young people.

I continue to clean out mom’s house every two weeks when I go with her food, and last weekend Luke and Jan went and loaded up the back of his truck with garbage from the garage.  The only sad part of that is Luke’s take on it, to him anything old is garbage.  He proudly said he’d thrown out a bunch of tools.

But we’re soldiering on as mom has an awful lot of stuff in her house.  She says she’s lived in the house for 76 years and has never thrown anything out, and she’s right.  I took out an enormous pile of knitting and crocheting magazines from the 1960’s and ‘70’s.  Now I’m a hoarder as they’re pristine and it seems a shame to give them to thrift as they could well throw them out.

Luke wants the hide-a-bed out of the basement so mom said go ahead, fill your boots.  He’ll need a chain saw to cut it in half and then somehow get it up the basement stairs as the door it came through 40 years ago has been permanently shut.  The stairs are hilariously steep and very narrow as they were built before people gave a damn about broken necks.

I’ve got a few seedlings growing in trays on the windowsill, and they’ll go into the greenhouse next month when nighttime temperatures warrant it.  Last fall I planted a whole bed full of garlic so I’m hoping I get a good crop this year.  I’ve enjoyed having the frozen tomatoes because last year’s crop was particularly tasty which is now a rarity among tomatoes.

Iris is minding her own business on a kitchen chair as I type and now George has come onto the table and slapped down at her until she had to disturb her afternoon nap.  My cats have always regarded a table just as though it was a bed, couch or chair, which is disconcerting to some people.  My reply?  Don’t come to my house if you don’t like cats on a table.

Another benefit of covid – people don’t come over to see how eccentrically I live.

Unusual Things People Do

I’m still without a cell phone which causes many people to raise their eyebrows in alarm as it’s so unusual.  But I continue to monitor those around me and find their behaviour turns me off the devices.  One friend has the phone beside her at all times and though she tries to act like we’re interacting she’s not able to pry her eyes off it as I catch her in sideways glances.

Another friend cannot stop photographing each and every step we take, every bite we eat, every drink, and these are immediately sent out to whoever.  Then another friend likes to talk on the phone so even if we’re shopping and it rings, she answers it and speaks at length.

Here’s more unusual behaviour.  Denis has sold his house two blocks from the lake in Kelowna, and has bought a small old dump of a house in the town of Midway, population five hundred.  He’s going to move about a hundred miles from here at the end of April ha, and has a one-year-old grandson, so who does that?

And you may recall Luke and Jan are residing in his grotty basement, so they’re moving, and guess where?  If you said Hall Road, you’d be close, as they’ve decided to move in with my mom in Osoyoos.  It seems both children cannot live on their own and must bunk down with a parent or grandparent.

Mom’s pretty much over the moon with joy and excitement about Luke’s plans as she’s turning 96 in two weeks so she’s looking forward to the security of having people there.  I think it’ll be a wonderful experiment to see who drives who nuts first.  Both Jan and mom have been known to have a stubborn streak.

Another unusual choice was the white couch I bought for the living room, and which immediately got paw prints on it when Frieda decided to jump up with muddy feet.  As my luck with thrift stores would have it, I found the perfect light brown sofa cover and now I can enjoy the couch plus the four pets.

As you may recall I got Frieda last year and she was finally spayed two days ago.  My vet is so nice and such a competent person the dog came home in great shape, however she said don’t let the dog jump onto furniture or go up or down stairs for four days.  Unfortunately, it being Frieda, by Day Two she was on everything, refusing to listen to my commands to get and stay down.

To kill time the other day I thought why not go through the bathroom drawers and cull things I don’t use.  I was amazed by the amount of products I own, and how I really don’t need to buy another lotion, toner, cleanser or moisturizer for years.  As with gifts, it’s always best for me to shop in my own home whenever I think I need anything.

And of course, cleaning out is the theme at mom’s as she prepares for Luke and Jan’s arrival.  Every time I go we clean out another bunch of drawers and I take masses of things to thrift, and of course some has to go to the dump.  Mom’s so hilarious in that she says everything should go to thrift, at which point I explain a stained table cloth or a moth-eaten sweater aren’t going to sell well when new items are dirt cheap.  It’s a learning curve for all.

Dry Anything Doesn’t Work For Me

I admire friends and family members who do Dry November, and now Dry January, but for me it simply doesn’t work.  My great worry is that life might end some day, and I’ll have wasted my time on temperance when I could’ve had a much more pleasant time.  With this stupid Covid stuff as well as the normal boredom of a Canadian winter, alcohol is pretty much de rigueur.

In a normal year, Margaret and I would be ga ga over our impending trip to the Yucatan, but this year we’re left with riots, impeachments and pandemics to placate us.  It’s better than nothing, and I thank God we live in the age of the Internet for instant news.

Last week I went to the hairdresser and told her to cut the hair short, which she did.  I now have hair about four inches in length.  It’s a lot better regarding the curl, but I do that funny double take every time I catch sight of my mannish head whenever I pass a mirror.  Boredom leads to strange things.

Won’t you be surprised when I finally announce I have well water?  I have the well, but now I need the pipes to connect it to the house and to my irrigation box.  Thinking about it gives me the Willies because my place is covered in ghastly asphalt (done decades ago before people knew it was an environmental blight) and I imagine the trenching that’s going to occur.

However one interesting way I’ve found to deal with thoughts like that, besides the cocktails, is watching You Tube documentaries about us all being in a computer simulation.  Actually these programs work best in conjunction: cocktail plus You Tube = some minding-blowing stuff that you forget by the next morning.

Did you love Lady Gaga at Biden’s Inauguration?  I was absolutely crazy for her performance because I love that kind of drama when she sang ‘and the flag was still there’ pointing to the American flag.  It makes a Canadian sniffle from that old fashioned US sentimentality.

Like much of the world I yearn for that old US sentimentality, but it seems to be a fight for them to keep their democracy at this point.  Say what you will, I believe our system works best because we don’t have a two-party system.  Remember when the Conservatives were reduced to two seats?  That’d never happen in the US which is a pity.

I ordered a fridge from Rona in August and was told it’d come in November due to delays from, guess what, Covid.  Then they called in November and said it’d be here in February.  I phoned today and they said oopsies, that fridge has been discontinued.  I said why on Earth didn’t someone let me know?  Needless to say, I cancelled the order and will shop elsewhere.

I e mail mom every morning and she then phones to say she’s alive.  Then I phone around 4:00 to see how she is, and these calls can go on.  If I didn’t have a Caesar in my hand for these calls, I simply wouldn’t be able to handle them.  And because they go on November, January or whenever, you can clearly see how my life and the dry life just aren’t a good match.

Thank God for U.S. Politics

If you’re interested in politics, I bet like me, you thought oh no, once Biden’s elected that’s it for anything of note to occur in the U.S.  Aren’t we all laughing at ourselves now?  I’ve become one of those news-consuming zombies roving from You Tube clip to You Tube clip, searching for the juiciest piece of meat I can find. 

And thank God for that as there’s not an awful lot to do.  Yesterday I raked pine needles blown down from a windstorm and thought, wow, that was a busy day.  Even though there’s not a hint of winter here, I mostly stay inside pretending because it’s January, that’s fine.

I got a nice colouring book and set of felt pens for Christmas so have been spending hours a day at it, choosing colour combos and trying hard to stay within the lines.  The life of the retired person, during a pandemic, in winter is a toughie to embellish.

Last week when I visited mom she asked me to go downstairs to check and see if everything was okay.  I went down and noticed the root cellar door was open and there was the sound of water running.  I turned on the light and saw a tap that was left in the on position, dumping water down the dirt wall causing a minor mudslide.

This disgusting and grotty room has freaked me out since childhood, and I really wish mom would find a way of getting rid of it.  She likes to patiently explain that seventy years ago she had no fridge, so that’s why it was there.  And I usually reply but now that we actually have a fridge, must we also have this dirt sided room in the house?

And it being Osoyoos and all, for some reason the exterior irrigation system’s pipes are turned off inside this room.  How someone deemed this to be a sensible idea I do not know, but we’re kind of stuck with it, probably for another seventy years.

Last fall I ordered some giant dahlias from Ferncliff Gardens in Mission so that’s something positive upon which to focus.  As well the people who’ll do the piping from my well to the house are coming tomorrow to measure and figure it all out, so that’ll be exciting as the new season begins.

Today I had some fun in that I watched baby Justin while his mom went out and his dad was busy with work.  He’s now 11 months old and so adorable and funny.  But my God that’s an easy baby compared to my own two.  I’d given him a few pieces of orange in his high chair and was making myself some toast when I turned to see he’d fallen asleep.

I carried him downstairs and put him into his crib and he didn’t move a muscle.  People often say skipping straight to grandparenthood would probably be best, but it just doesn’t work.

You may recall I was hoping to get a standard dachshund puppy, but they’re now $2800 so I decided if I love the breed so much I should give back and adopt an adult that’s been rejected.  God knows I’ve had difficult dogs who I raised from puppyhood, so how much worse could it be?

Hoping for a Better Year Ahead

A lot of interesting things happened to me in 2020, aside from the usual pandemic.  As you may recall I was hit by a flying truck tire, many things such as the washing machine and built-in vacuum broke, and I got Frieda the menacing dachshund.  My only sibling died and I became a grandmother for the first time.  It’ll be a while before we forget 2020.

But that’s last year, and so I want to focus on what wonderful things may occur in this new one.  Because of how traumatizing each month of last year was, I haven’t bothered with a single resolution because life has a way of slapping those out of our hands.

Sadly I ate like a horse over the holidays and so that’s one area that needs correcting.  Right now I’m staring at a half-eaten bag of chips and recalling last night’s entire box of After Eight mints.  And all this after watching a program about the dangers of sugar to the old liver.

One area of tremendous joy has been a sewing project.  I bought two curtain panels for $4.00 each at Value Village the other month but they were about six inches too short.  Recently I found a complimentary fabric and decided to lengthen the panels by sewing a border onto the bottom.

To make everything look all bespoke-ish and not like I lengthened too short curtains, I covered some throw pillows and the seat of a bamboo chair with the same fabric and it looks ritzy and nice.  The joy of accomplishment.

On Monday Denis is coming to take down the outside Christmas lights and I’ll get rid of the tree.  On Thursday Leon’s Furniture is delivering a couch I ordered a couple of months ago.  It was adorable as they kept phoning and wondering when I’d like to take possession of it.

In a call about a month ago, the poor woman asked in a plaintive voice, “Is it because of Christmas you don’t want it delivered?” and I said yes plainly it was.  In fact I recall telling the woman receiving the couch at this time would push me right over the edge.  It being the Year of Covid, she didn’t flinch and said fine, no problem.

However a few days ago when they called they did the old “Your couch is sitting in our warehouse” IE implying it’s in their way, so I said fine, deliver it.  Once the tree’s out, that’s exactly where the couch will go, right under the large windows.  I’m quite excited about it now.

It’s kind of an off-white which is a bit dangerous with the animals, so I figure when I’m here alone (99% of the time) I can covered it with a blanket.  But I also want to get throw pillows to tie into the existing rattan couch, so that’ll be an excellent project as I scour the thrift stores for either the pillows ready made, or a fabric to cover them with.

And that folks is how tiny my life is after the shocks of 2020.  I think it might be best to think small, and if nothing bad happens, hey, it’s an excellent year.  Margaret and I are heartbroken not to be off to the Yucatan as we love to do, but that’s okay.  Once we’re all released from this we’ll enjoy it all the more, just as I will do when the couch arrives.