Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Weekly wrap-up

I generally try to get this post done by Monday evening, early Tuesday but I made a trip out to visit my daughter D and my absolutely amazing grandson Eli so I'm a little late. (Yes, I'm a little biased and totally smitten with that child...and he knows it!)

Last week I did a little thrift store shopping, first at Salvation Army and then Value Village.  I picked a few pieces of needed clothing, a pair of capris, a pair of shorts, and a t-shirt at my first stop.  For some reason, ever pair of capris I own have developed tears in them.  I guess I should be so surprised as they were used when I bought then in the first place.  So while I'll mend them for everyday use, I don't feel the old ones are good enough for going out to dinner or even shopping.  For the three pieces I paid only $11 plus tax.  

At Value Village, I found a rain coat for $8.50.  The brand name is Alpinetek and while I searched using Google, I couldn't find a similar one in new condition I did locate a used one for $15.  So I think I did well with this price.  It will come in very handy this fall I'm sure, but I was also thinking since it is lightweight, but lined, it will make a great jacket for my British Isles tour in June 2020.

I also picked up a couple of bags, one of Little People for Eli and one of sewing notions for myself.  In my bag I got a couple of measuring tapes, three stitch rippers, three transfer rollers (not sure the technical name for those), several packages of snaps, a few buttons, some thread, sewing machine needles and best of all a container of pins.  All for $3.99 which was the original cost of the container of pins.  So I did pretty well there too!

Thursday I had a couple of appointments, the first at 8:30 a.m. for my annual mammogram. No problems, I didn't expect there would be be, but as both my father and his sister had breast cancer I go every year.  We had a showing at 9 a.m. so I took the cats with me.  I learned that Saku does not like travelling at highway speeds.  OMG, did he howl! It was almost frightening as you'd think he was being tortured.  Thankfully it wasn't too warm at that time of day, so I left the sunroof and the rear windows cracked.  I was in and out fairly quickly and then headed in the direction of home, though I drove through the city rather than around it.  Saku hollered some but not nearly as much as he had.

Later that day I had a nail appointment and when I arrived home I realized I had dropped or misplaced my house and mail keys.  I called the screening center and the mall where I'd had my appointments but no one had turned in any keys that day.  The woman on the phone at the screening center insisted I'd find them between the seats of my car.  So Friday morning, I pulled the car out of the garage and spent a good 45 minutes cleaning the car out, vacuuming and wiping down the inside of the doors, the dash, and the center console.  No keys.

Later that day I had to run out on an errand and when I returned, as I stepped out of the car...I stepped on those missing keys.  The only thing I can think of, is that I'd dropped them on the driveway and when I pulled the car out of the garage to clean it, I parked over top of the keys. 

Friday night was dinner with friends, while Saturday and Sunday were focused on house work and crafts.  I finished crocheting the edging on the blanket that D's friend M made for Eli.  I hadn't noticed until I washed and blocked it (I used my bed for that as I had no other space large enough), that the pattern was so different.  This was made for a single bed, mine is a queen so it's quite big.

Not that Eli is yet sleeping in a single bed, he still prefers to crawl in with his mother from his toddler bed.  Since D did the same thing until she was nearly 6 years old I'm not surprised. Neither I nor she wake up when the kid climbs into the bed.  It took several months of bribery to convince her to sleep all night in her own bed.  I suspect Eli will put her to the test as well.  Isn't that what every mom wants for their adult children, that their offspring will test them, as they had tested their parent themselves?  Or maybe that's just me.

We had another showing on Sunday, so the morning was spent cleaning and tidying.  I did start another knitting project but I'm fighting with it so won't show you until it is complete...sigh, if it ever is.  I did get a pair of shorts cut out from some stash material for Eli, but haven't done any sewing yet.  Monday I was on the road shortly after 8 a.m., stopping on my way out of the city for a cup of coffee and a breakfast sandwich.  The traffic was light all the way out, and the construction was finally complete, so it was only a 90 minute drive.  

We got a lot done while I was there, lots of weeding in the flower beds, along the fence line, her little gardens (she has three pumpkins starting but little else), while Eli ran around and played.  While his mom took the recycling to the depot, I took him in the stroller and walked to the nearby park.  The splash pad was open and he had a blast, running between it and the other playground equipment.  I had no problem reaching 10K steps that day!  Later that afternoon, when we'd got more yardwork done, D and I sat in the shade while Eli played in his pool, on his mini trampoline and his sand box.  He is such a good kid.  Oh, I forgot to mention, when I arrived, he told his mom, "ma-ma came!".  She had been telling him for the last couple of days I was coming to visit.  He was almost as excited to see me as I was to see him.

Here he is playing peek a boo with G'ma.  I had used the sheet on the couch as my bedding last night. 

This morning we spent some time reorganizing her kitchen cabinets before I headed back into the city.  I'm proud of her, she's really come a long way in the nine months she has been living in her own home, both emotionally and financially.  She is taking pride in her home, and especially in her little boy, and making a good life for the two of them.  

This evening we've had quite the thunder storm roll through, even a little hail.  I'm going to go spend some time relaxing in the sun room.  I'm a little weird that way, as nothing makes me feel more at peace than the sound of rain on the roof and the rumble of thunder in the distance. 

Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, 13 July 2019


I blame HGTV with all of it's shows that have the sellers spending thousands of dollars to renovate their homes while buyers point out every fault.  We've reached more than 25 showings (includes the 12 who came for the two open houses) and not a nibble in sight.  

So this afternoon I had a conversation with my agent and I asked him to be brutally honest with me.  He advised that at the price I'm asking, potential buyers are expecting to see new paint with brand new flooring throughout.  I'm not prepared to spend the money - in reality I don't have either the savings or sufficient credit to pour a bunch of money into the house in the hopes that I'll make at least a portion of that back.  So tomorrow we'll do up the paperwork to cancel the first listing and set up a new one at a much reduced price.  

A close friend recently had her home appraised, unfortunately because of an impending divorce, and her home was appraised at the amount I currently have mine listed.  But her home is bigger, has a large yard, and has new windows and doors, in addition to other updates.  That was the eye-opener for me as I had to realize that I won't get out of this house what I've invested in it.  In fact the new asking price will be several thousand less than I paid for it in 2010.  Sadly, because of the glut of properties on the market and that I haven't been able to invest as much as buyers would expect the value simply isn't there.

But when I think back, to the old house I realize I'm still ahead of the game.  I bought the 920 square foot, three bed, 2 bath property in 2000 for around $80,000.  I sold it in 2010 for nearly 3 times that much!  Today similar properties are on the market well under $200,000.

So despite the fact I'll "lose" money on this sale, I am certain I will still recoup the down payment I made on this house, plus a decent portion of the principal payments I've made over the past nine years. (This is the net amount after commissions and legal fees).  

While I could wait for that perfect buyer, there is no guarantee that house values won't drop even further in the next year.  In fact, our local real estate board is forecasting another 4% drop in the next 12 months.  With that in mind, coupled with my desire to move on, I'm prepared to swallow this bitter pill.  It is going down much smoother because I realize unless I go back to work I can't afford to do the changes most buyers would expect.  AND there ain't no way that's happening, I can assure you of that!

I'll be back in a couple of days with an update on the rest of my week.  Have a great rest of the weekend everyone!

Monday, 8 July 2019

Weekly wrap-up

Another week of Fridays (everyday) has flown by.  The weather has been lovely so I've spent a great deal of time outdoors, either on the back deck or the front patio.  Who knows how much longer I'll have those spaces?  Nope, still no offers but we continue to have showing fairly frequently.  Sooner or later, someone is going to be interested enough to make an offer.

Besides being lazy, I've been re-reading a book I read many, many years ago.  Five Smooth Stones was written by Ann Fairbairn, and originally published in 1966.  The story line follows a young black man, orphaned at birth,raised by his paternal grandparents, and mentored by a "Viking" professor in the city of New Orleans. An accident when he was yet a small child leaves him with a limp.  His grandfather and his mentor push him hard to learn and eventually he attends a small university in one of the Northern states before studying law at Harvard.  While in university he meets and falls in love with a white woman and the novel examines the relationship between the two, the impact on their family and friends, as well as the racial tensions that existed at the time  in the United States.  There are marvelous characters in this book, not just David and Sara, but his grandfather Joseph, the professor Bjarn Knudsen, their classmates, and others.  I had forgotten more of the story than I remembered, but it's still a great read.

On Thursday, C and I went to the theatre to see Yesterday, the movie about a young man who, after being involved in a bicycle meets bus accident...brought on by a world wide power outage, finds that no one else seems to remember the Beatles or various other more current items.  He is a struggling musician who finds fame and fortune using the songs of the Beatles though he's never entirely comfortable with doing so.  It is part love story, part fantasy (who could forget the Beatles?), with the music wound throughout.  While a bit fluffy it was a far better movie than Rocketman, IMO.  I quite enjoyed it!

Friday was dinner with C at Denny's, and Saturday she and I, along with friend C, K, and T met to drive out to Moose Jaw for the Saskatchewan Air show.  It is held at the former military base, now flight training center and home of the Snowbirds the Canadian air demonstration squadron.  The last show was held 14 years ago, and was cancelled due in part to the significant costs of insurance.  The organizers obviously found a way to overcome those challenges and plan to hold the event every second year.  I've never been to one previously and was enthralled.

I don't have many photos as I did not take my camera with me. (There is a reason for that which I won't share at this time). So all of the photos I took were with my cellphone.  

There were a number of different aircraft, a bi-plane, two Harvards, a Spitfire, a P-40 Warhawk, a CF-18 Hornet, an F-16 Fighting Falcon (from the U.S.), an odd looking plane from Switzerland and several more that I've already forgotten.

One of my favorites was the Spitfire.  Watching it and the Warhawk fly through the sky was amazing.  These are the aircraft that were used in World War II.  There aren't many left and to see one that was in such pristine condition was incredible.

My other favorites (of which there are no photos) were the CF-18, the F-16 and of course the Snowbirds.  I think I spent much of my time looking up at the sky in amazement at the agility and precision of these aircraft.  Each of the flights was narrated and at times, we were able to hear the pilots over the radio.  They certainly enjoy their time in the air!

Harvard aerial show - the pilots were two brothers from Edmonton, AB.
It was a hot afternoon, with temperatures near 29C (84F), but there was enough of a breeze to keep relatively cool, while keeping hydrated with lots of water, and sunburn free with SPF 60.  There were clouds too, but no rain though just 75 km. away in Regina, there was a downpour.  Good, because I didn't have to water my containers yesterday.  

We stopped at Applebee's on the way into Regina for dinner before heading home.  That evening the Saskatchewan Roughriders played the Calgary Stampeders.  The game was not great for us, as we lost 37-10 but it was a relaxing way to end the day as I curled up in bed with the cats to watch the last two quarters.

While we were on our way to Moose Jaw, my agent contacted me to ask for a showing.  I called my son, woke him up, and asked him to ensure the cats were out of the house by 1:30 p.m.  I was concerned as the house wasn't as tidy as I like it to be prior to a showing, but when I came home I noted my son had taken care of the worst of it.  He really is a good guy!  He parked down the street and said the group was in the house for nearly 30 minutes.  But no offer has come of it.  

Yesterday was a quiet day, I did do a bit of housecleaning, more reading and hanging out on the deck, and simply enjoying my Sunday.  I did talk to my brother while he was driving back from Alberta where he participated in the Sinister 7, a 160 km. (100 mi.) Ultra marathon which can be run by solos (are they nuts?) or groups up to 7 individuals.  R ran legs 3 and 4, which totalled 54 km (34 mi) up and down the mountains.  As he ran down from the top of leg 3, a storm hit the top with rain, hail, thunder and lightning. I'm glad he was already on his way down!  He enjoyed himself immensely though I'm certain he was pretty sore.  He told me next year, he'll likely run an early and then a late leg as running the two were pretty wearing on him.  The race started at 7 a.m. on Saturday and their team finished about 7:30 a.m. on Sunday.  There is a limit of 30 hours for teams or individuals to finish the race so they did pretty well.

My agent also called to ask for a showing today at 6:40 p.m.  So today has been a heavy duty cleaning day.  Thus far, I've done my laundry, vacuumed the upstairs, washed the living room floor, cleaned the toilets/sinks in both bathrooms, cleaned the mirrors throughout the house, and Febreezed the furniture in the sun room and living room.  Next up I have to vacuum the basement, clean the toilet and sink in C's bathroom, clean cat litter (which will be the first task), sweep up the pine cones on the driveway, dead head and water my containers, and take out the garbage.  I'm sure there will be other tasks that I'll find as I'm doing the rest of the list.  Serves me right for being lazy last week.  :)

Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, 4 July 2019

A not-so quick update

Things are looking much better in the back yard now!  

First the before:

After the repairs:
Looking much better already, right?  The contractor (not a Sask Energy employee as I initially thought) recommended that we end the sidewalk at the end of the house, then fill in the rest of the area with more base and crusher dust.  As a result they had to pour a small patch of concrete at the meter.

I suspect eventually the patch will lighten and won't be as noticeable, but regardless it makes more sense now.

While I was running errands yesterday I stopped in at both Home Depot and Rona to see what my alternatives for the pathway might be.  I discovered, very quickly that the round concrete blocks I had thought I would use were far too heavy for me to lift (and that was important because I'd be doing that work myself), and fairly expensive.  I found at Home Depot there were plastic alternatives but Rona didn't carry them.  That was a bit disappointing as I still have a gift card (from the paint debacle earlier this year) but I'm sure I'll find something to spend that on later. Back to Home Depot I picked up 36 square Stomp Stones. These are made from recycled tires and were quite inexpensive.  Best of all the placement is very easy.  Simply place the stone on the ground and literally stomp on it!

The almost finished project:

I say almost finished because I wasn't happy with how crooked the path was so went out later with a yardstick and lined them up a little better.  I had used the ruler to measure the space between each block but that didn't keep them straight.

I haven't made up my mind if I will change out the last nine blocks to the same pattern as the rest.  I had placed them in three because the path widens at that spot but I'm still not certain about the placement.  I'll leave it be for awhile and either I'll decide it needs to be changed or I'll just get used to it!

In the backyard there was this unsightly spot, before:
After all the rain we had recently the crusher dust had settled down several inches.  I picked up a few bags of black soil and filled it in before spreading and raking in some grass seed.  It will take awhile to fill in with grass but that's okay, it still looks better than it did.  As you can see there is still a patch by the end of the path that is full of crusher dust the grass didn't grow well there anyway.

The after:
I did have to pay for the removal of the rest of the sidewalk (and the blocks), but Sask Energy picked up the cost of the rest of the work that was done.  This made sense, in that they didn't need to remove all of the sidewalk to move the line thus it would have been my responsibility anyway.  But finding someone to do the work was proving difficult as every landscaper I contacted was busy until September.  That Sask Energy did the right thing and sent out one of their contractors was a pleasant surprise.

Happy Fourth of July to my readers in the United States!  Have a great day everyone.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Weekly wrap-up

Wow, that was a fast week even though there wasn't much happening.  We had lots of warm/hot weather so I spent a fair amount of time outdoors reading and relaxing.  It was great!

S was back in Regina on Thursday so I met her at Timmie's for a quick bite to eat as she headed back north.  I'd finished the research for Fairmont Hot Springs and gave her a copy of the spreadsheets.  We discussed a slight change of plans as she and her husband will spend Thanksgiving (Canadian) with family in Manitoba the weekend of October 12 so instead I'll be flying to Edmonton on the 14th.  We agreed on the room we wanted at Fairmont and when I got home I made the booking.  She's stuck with me now!  There is a so-called seat sale for both Air Canada and WestJet but the prices were actually lower before the sale so I'm waiting until tomorrow to see what happens to the prices. I still have the option of using AirMiles and I can't imagine the prices will change more the $50 so not too worried.

On Friday I met my friend K for lunch and we had a good long chat.  We went to Mr. Greek, a franchise restaurant that opened up in Regina a few years ago.  We've been there before and quite enjoy the food. We both had gyros with french fries and a drink.  Yummy!  She and her partner J are just back from Virginia with a side trip to the Outer Banks visiting friends.  Both areas sound like places I'd like to visit someday.  A bit of a gossip and conversation about our next adventures was in order.  

Friday evening was our regular dinner though we've moved on from the restaurant to a nearby Denny's.  I met C there with friends M and C joining us.  We had a great visit as always.  I like Denny's as it has a senior's menu - helps me save a few dollars as I seem to be eating out more frequently now that I'm retired.

Saturday was a quiet day, and Sunday evening K and I drove out to my brother's farm to feed Hollywood (the cat).  R and his family were in Edmonton for the weekend for a basketball tournament.  Hollywood is about 16 years old, the last surviving member of Puddy's litter from which I got Silas and Shady.  She is blind and not in good shape but still hanging in there.    

Yesterday, of course was Canada Day.  I generally stay home but this year C convinced me to join her in the park.  Our other friend C also came as he goes every year.  We arrived around noon, assuming we'd be there for the 21 gun salute but this year that part of the events was cancelled.  We walked over the main stage for the speeches, then wandered the grounds of the park for awhile.  Then it was over to the pedestrian crossing to watch the Plywood cup races.  Teams enter the competition by collecting pledges.  Each team is then given a few pieces of plywood, a few nails, some duct tape, and tools.  They build a craft of sorts out of the supplies and then it's time to hit the water.  All of the "boats" are put in the water at the same time and they float or not.  This year there were 17 teams and only 11 made it beyond the starting point.

The first paddler was out in a hurry and moving quickly.  The paddle they built (and yes they have to do that too) was something like a kayak paddle.  He was halfway across the lake before the rest of the paddlers had figured out how to move their crafts.

Most of the boats had one paddler but there were a few that had two.  The latter probably wasn't the brightest idea because the extra weight simply made it harder to keep the boat afloat and slowed the progress down.

It was fun to watch...though I'm not sure if we were cheering them on to finish the race or sink!  There was a couple of individuals who obviously did sink so they swam across the lake instead.  The lake isn't that clean - it's manmade - so it's not really recommended but they obviously had fun.

From there we headed over to the beer gardens where we could sit and watch the bands play.  The music wasn't that great so off to Houston Pizza (another tradition) for a late lunch/early dinner.  I was home in time to watch the Roughrider's football.  The game was late in the late in the second quarter when it was stopped for a weather delay.

We had a wicked thunderstorm that lasted nearly 90 minutes!  The lightening was coming fast and furious and it sounded like a freight train was rumbling by.  I called my daughter at one point and could barely hear her over the noise of the storm.  My son and I sat out in the sun room and watched it pass by.  Those are the fireworks I enjoy best!  

Finally, some good news!  No, the house hasn't sold but this morning a crew from Sask Energy showed up to check the back yard.  They've agreed to do some repairs to the work that was done.  They will cut the pavement off at the point where the house and sun room meet and pour a patch of concrete to fill that area.  I've agreed to pay to have them remove the rest of the concrete, they'll fill the area with a mixture of crusher dust and base.  I'll pick up 6 or 8 round paving stones and that will finish the area off.  I've already filled in the hole with black dirt and added grass seed. Hopefully in a month or two one won't be able to tell anything was done.  The crew will be back later to do the work, hooray!

Time to get busy about the house, that darn vacuum isn't moving on it's own.  Have a great week everyone!  Hope you all had a wonderful Canada Day.

Monday, 1 July 2019

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Weekend wrap up

Not a whole lot to share since my last post, or at least I didn't think so, until I started writing! Then this post kept getting longer and longer. 

Eli - checking for rain, look at this dirty little feet. 
Last Friday morning I drove out to Melville to visit my daughter and grandson.  D had been experiencing a toothache for a week or so and had reached her limit.  She was able to get an appointment with the local dentist for Friday afternoon.  I arrived about 10 a.m. and after a trip to the local Canadian Tire for play sand, she headed to bed for a nap while Eli and I played outside.  I had brought the sand box with me, and he was quite excited when I opened the bags of sand and filled the box.  The sand had been sitting outside the store, so was quite wet but that didn't bother him in the least.  When we were ready to go indoors, I took the hose and cleaned his hands and feet a bit.  (He's much like his grandmother that way, he'd rather be barefoot!)  

I stayed the night as D was still in a fair amount of pain, though it was lessened once the tooth was removed as it was abscessed.  The next morning I left around 9 as I'd forgotten my phone charger and had plans to meet a friend who was driving in from the Saskatoon area.  She wouldn't be able to get in touch if the phone wasn't charged.  Good thing I did as I was home and the phone in the charger for only a few minutes when she called.  She was leaving for Regina and let me know she'd be in town in a couple of hours.  We agreed to meet at a nearby Perkins.  This was convenient for both of us, as she was heading out to Manitoba after lunch.

We realized we haven't seen each other in 2 years!  We have, however, talked on the phone many times.  After catching up we got down to the business of planning a our girl's trip.  She and I have been talking about getting away together for awhile and this October we'll make it happen.  We've picked our dates but haven't yet settled on a particular destination except that we know we're going to B.C. to one of the mineral spas.  Yesterday I had a call from her and I shared some research I've done thus far, and it was decided our first choice might not be the best option.  So back to the internet for more research.  I've created a spreadsheet outlining options for accommodations, including pricing, distance from the pools, and amenities, as well as nearby restaurants and shopping.  I'll refine the spreadsheet adding alternative destinations and when she's in the city on Thursday we'll meet again to make some decisions.  I'll be flying to Edmonton to meet her, but will wait for another seat sale to book.  Or I might use my AirMiles points though no decision needs to be made just yet.

Sunday we had another showing that was a little more promising than any other, though no offer came of it...yet.  This was a young couple with two small children under 3  They live in a rented townhouse and this would be their very first home.  This is also the very first and only house they've looked at, so no preconceived notions coming in.  Plus anything else they look at, if they do, will be measured against mine.  They both really liked the house due to the proximity to the school and the little girls loved the little playhouse out back and the toys I have here for Eli.  They were in the house for well over a half hour so the kids had time to play! Best of all, neither they nor Curtis could smell the cats.  Go Febreeze! 

They haven't yet been to the bank to pre-qualify for a mortgage though so I'm not certain they aren't looking a little beyond their means.  My agent seems to think they'd qualify and indicated he'd be working with them on that.  

Look at this cutie.  He and his brother were dumped on the side of a highway outside of the city.  My nephew and his girlfriend were on their way to the camp they will be working at this summer and spotted them.  Of course, they brought them to the farm.  The first little guy, now named Rider, has found his home with them.  The second, now named Whistler, is likely going to live with a friend of theirs.  Lucky pups, because it could have been a much different story!

I told my brother I hope the losers who dumped the puppies have something awful happen to them.  Best guess we assume they are about 8 weeks old.  

Later this week, my friends K and J will be returning from the States where they have been visiting friends and doing some sightseeing in Virginia.  K and I have plans to meet for lunch on Friday and catch up.  In retirement, my social calendar is a heck lot busier than when I was working.  I guess, in large part, that is due to not being around people all day.

One final photo and I'll sign off.  I finished sewing Eli's shirt and took it to him last Friday.   The little stinker wouldn't let his mother put it on him so I'll have to get a photo of him in it another time.  It is large, as I made a size 4, he's currently in a size 3 so he should get some use out of it.

I tried using the button-holer on my sewing machine and could not figure out what I was doing wrong despite reading the manual and watching various You-tube videos.  So I gave up and hand sewed the buttonholes.  They aren't perfect, but as my dad would have said, "A blind man riding by on horseback wouldn't notice the difference."  

I've more (different) material to make shorts for him but haven't cut anything out as yet.  Instead I'm working on crocheting a border for a blanket that one of D's friends knitted for Eli.  It will fit a single bed and is multi-colored, red, yellow, blue, and green.  That will keep me busy for few days yet!  I did finish a pot holder using some scrap cotton yarn, nothing special, just something to keep my hands busy.

Have a great rest of the week everyone!