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!

Thursday 20 June 2019

Thankful Thursday

No, the house hasn't sold...though I've had a few more showings.  But I am thankful today.

You might be wondering why I'm sharing a photo from the front window - it certainly doesn't look like much. But I'm excited because we're finally getting rain.  Since yesterday afternoon we've had over an inch of rain with more falling as I write.  It has been so dry here, even while other parts of the province have been drenched, the rain has bypassed the city of Regina.   The soil here is a heavy clay and as it dries out, the particles shrink and create cracks in the soil.  It also can affect foundations, driveways, and sidewalks due to pressure that is exerted as the clay shrinks and swells.  I've noticed a lot of noises in the house this spring, and I know it is due to the ground shifting. So far I haven't seen any signs of cracking, with the exception of one that's been here before we moved in, but it is worrisome. But the laminate flooring in the living room and hallway is showing the impact as well as seams have separated and a few pieces are starting to lift.  I'm hoping with the rain that some of these minor issues will resolve themselves.  In any event, I'm happy and thankful to see the rain.

My bird feeder is barely visible through the tree growth but it's there and the birds and the squirrels continue to enjoy the feed.  I went out yesterday morning to refill the bird bath and the feeder and noticed the grackles were making a lot of noise.  I happened to turn towards the fence on the right and there was a little bird face looking at me between two fence boards.  It appeared to me that it may have landed awkwardly on the fence and had slipped between the two boards.  The poor little thing was struggling to lift itself but couldn't do so.  I went and got my garden gloves and a jacket with a hood (in case the adult birds decided to dive bomb me), went into my neighbour's yard, and was able to grab him/her enough that it was able to fly away on its own.  I'm thankful that I went out at the time I did, because I have no idea how long it had been stuck in the fence, nor how long it could have continued to struggle.  

This final photo has nothing to do with my list of things to be thankful for, but it does illustrate how wet things are.  I am so happy to see the rain.  

Yesterday I had the flooring estimate done for the carpet in the basement and my master bedroom.  The price came just a couple hundred dollars less than I had guesstimated so that was good.  But what I was truly thankful for, was a comment from the salesperson.  I mentioned that I'm having difficulty selling the house in part because of the cat odor.  He said (no word of a lie), "I wouldn't have known you have cats had you not told me".  I told him he'd made my day!  I had another showing yesterday afternoon, and spent the morning cleaning the carpet and spraying it with Febreeze.  I know some people are more sensitive than others but I keep doing what I can to make the property presentable and attractive for buyers.  

I do have much to be thankful for, and most especially this little guy. He sure makes me smile! 

I'm off to Melville for a short visit tomorrow as his mom has a dental appointment.  I had planned to go next weekend for Canada Day but have changed my plans as she is suffering from the toothache.  I'm thankful that in retirement I can be flexible in my schedule...especially when it means I get to spend time with Eli.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday 18 June 2019

Mystery solved

This isn't mine, but a photo from the internet.  The plant is a white (or sometimes called snowy) Jacob's ladder.  I had posted it on Facebook and two of my gardening friends identified it. 

Jacob's ladder (Polemonium) was given its common name because the arrangement of its leaves is somewhat ladder-like. However, it's Jacob's ladders' flowers that are the real attraction. Polemonium caeruleum and its cultivars send up clusters of flowers atop long stems in late spring to early summer. The bright blue varieties are among the most popular, blooming in clear tones of blue and bluish-purple, offset by yellow centers.
Jacob's ladder is a hardy perennial plant. It is upright and clump-forming, but it will spread by seed. Most Jacob's ladder plants have bell-shaped flowers in shades of purple and lavender, but there are also white, pink, and yellow varieties available. The compound leaves are composed of rows of narrow, pinnate leaflets. The branches grow from a basal rosette and arch and sway as they grow tall.
I read further that the plant is native to Eastern North American and hardy to Zone 3.  It also prefers a shady area, so it will do well in my flower bed.  It's height ranges from 24-36 inches and I think it's reached the minimum height already.  I went out and took a photo of the flowers this morning.
Aren't they pretty?  They make me smile. 
Have a great day everyone!

Monday 17 June 2019

What can it be?

Just a really quick question to see if someone knows the answer....

What is this tall plant with white flowers?  I'm certain it is a perennial (and not a weed) that I planted last year.  Normally I'd write it down in my garden journal but for some reason, I didn't think to do so.

It has a really unique leaf structure, almost fern-like, and the flowers are sort of bell shaped.  I've googled and look at images of unknown numbers of plants and have yet to find it.  Anyone know?

Friday 14 June 2019

One step forward, two steps back

These days I'm often reminded of Robert Burns' "The best laid schemes of o'mice an' men/Gang aft a-gley".  Or in more current lingo, the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.  The plans I've made over the past number of years are tantalizingly close but oh so far away.  

Obviously the house hasn't sold yet.  All of my plans are predicate on that happening.  On Thursday my hopes were high.  Actually, let me back up a bit.  On Monday there was a showing, and while that was happening, I had a call from my agent with two more requests for showings on Tuesday; one at 3 p.m. and one at 3:45 p.m.  Of course, I agreed to both.

So on Tuesday the cats and I went for a drive, and about the time I thought the second showing would be done, I drove past the house.  The agent and his clients were still there so I parked down the block until they left.  Later my agent contacted me to say that group hadn't been able to get into the house.  The prior agent had locked both the deadbolts and the door knobs/handles.  They still wanted to see the house and asked for a showing on Thursdays.

I've never used anything but the deadbolt and wasn't even provided with the keys by the previous owner.  So, now there is tape covering those locks to ensure it never happens again.

In any event, the showing on Thursday seemed to go well.  This time, I only parked down the block and read a book.  They arrived shortly before 3 p.m. and were in the house/yard for at least 35 minutes.  I even drove by at one point because I thought I'd missed them leaving.  I sent an e-mail to my agent to let him know that I'd like feedback and to confirm that I'm prepared to look at any offers that come in.

Then today happened.  Today was the day that the gas line move was scheduled.  The workers from Sask Energy started arriving about 8 or 8:30 this morning and continued to do so throughout the morning.  At one point I think there eight guys out there, each for a different purpose.  One guy was the paper work dude or at least he wandered around with a clipboard and kept checking a list of some sort and making notes.  There was one guy breaking up the sidewalk and couple with wheelbarrows moving out the concrete, and one handling the water hose.  There was a Hydrovac truck out front blocking the driveway, and later another truck showed up with some other piece of equipment.  It was full house, that's for sure. 

(I didn't feel I could take many photos as the process unfolded, because I'm sure the guys wouldn't have appreciated being in the shots.  So I waited until they all were standing around having coffee to grab a couple shots.) 

This is the hole they dug to get to the original gas line.  It's the yellow line to the bottom left.  The other line is the one Sask Tel dug in a week or so ago for the InfiNet.  What Sask Energy was doing was diverting the line to the right and then running it about a foot out from the sun room, which puts the new line where the side walk runs.  I was told that it isn't a problem to re-pour the sidewalk.  

When they finished up just after noon, I went outside to take a look and talk to the guy who seemed to be in charge.  I asked when they would be repairing the side walk and replacing the sod they'd removed in the back.  I was told they would not, he said they'd put down crusher dust and it wouldn't settle (really?) and that was all they obligated to do.  Not happy with that I went out and took some additional photos and called into their head office.

It turns out their office is closed between noon and 1 p.m. so I left a message.  The individual who called me back was the same guy I spoke with this morning so after a few minutes of listening to his nonsense (a safety issue, not required to do anything more, blah, blah, blah), I asked to be called back by someone higher up on the food chain.  

About 3 p.m. I had a call from another person who gave me basically the same spiel.  I explained to him that the lawn was trashed, the sod that was removed where the hole was dug was not replaced (as SaskTel did last week), and the cut line was poorly done and had I know they weren't going to replace the pavement I would have insisted it all be removed.  He asked me to send photos, which I did.  He later replied saying:
- yes the grass is trampled, I would expect with a little time and some water it will bounce back.
- please understand, Sasktel needs a lot less space to do their work then we do. Yes, maybe they could have put the sod back on top.
- they certainly could have cut the cement straighter. I've sent the picture to our Construction Dept and asked them to comment back to me.

I'm so angry....perhaps the lawn that was merely disturbed will but how on earth is grass that isn't there is going to come back AND there was no offer to replace the sod that was removed.  I'm waiting to see what the response will be regarding the cut line.  Depending on that response I will likely contact the provincial ministry in charge of Sask Energy by e-mail and post something to their Facebook page.  Sometimes a bit of noise, squeaky wheel and all that, might get some attention.  In the meantime I've contacted the landscaper that did the work out front for me to get a quote regarding the costs associated with replacing the sidewalk and the sod.  It's a small job so he may not be interested in doing it but I'll deal with that later.

Around dinner time my agent got back to me with feedback from the Thursday showing.  It was mixed, they've seen 5 houses so far and liked mine the best, but wanted to see more before making a decision.  On the negative side, they could smell the cats and noted the carpet in the basement and bedroom needs replacing.  I agree with them, the carpet needs replacing, and is likely the source of some of the cat odor, so I'm not replacing it since the cats will be living here until we sell.  I responded to my agent advising that I am prepared to get a quote as to the cost of replacing the carpet with a similar quality product but I won't cover the cost of installation.  It is an offer I'd make to any potential buyer, to provide a check for that amount upon completion of the sale so that they can decide whether to put in carpet or some other flooring.  I won't cover the cost of installation because I won't get the benefit and it may be they can find someone to do the work for less.  I think that's a fair offer.

In the meantime I've decided to get the rugs professionally cleaned as I suspect my carpet cleaner isn't up the task.  Plus I'll buy some Kilz paint that blocks and seals odors and paint the drywall in the area where the cat litter boxes live.  More work for me but if it means getting a sale or not, I'm more than willing to do it.  

And so the saga continues!  Tomorrow I'm taking a break from all of this and going to see Rocketman at the theater with friends.  Now that's a plan I can go along with.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday 12 June 2019

Monday 10 June 2019

Bits and pieces

It's currently Sunday morning, a beautiful sunny day here in Saskatchewan though we did have a frost advisory overnight.  Seriously!  I've checked my tender plants, potato vine and impatience and all are looking good.  I think I can safely assume the micro climate in the yard is warmer, likely because of the urban setting.  Those who live an the edge or outside the city may not have fared as well.  

I've been out for a short walk this morning, over to the local Walmart to pick up evaporated milk, gelatin and almond milk.  The first two ingredients were needed to make up a mango pudding.  I've had the mango in my freezer for sometime, I think at least a couple of months.  If/when the house sells I plan to leave it behind so I've been busily trying to clean it out and get accustomed to using just the refrigerator freezer.  I'm down to a few loaves of bread, a couple of frozen pizzas (which don't fit in the fridge freezer), a few packages of perogies, and a bit of meat.  On the other hand the fridge freezer is packed because I picked up more chicken and pork chops at Costco this week....I have to quit doing that!  But the price was right and we both enjoy these BBQ'd.

To use up a bit more of the mango I bought the almond milk to make smoothies.  I added 1/2 cup of strawberries and a half a banana to 3/4 cup of mango, and about the same amount of almond milk (I was limited by the size of my glass) and used the hand immersion blender.  I'm quite enjoying the taste, it's not too sweet, and the mix of fruits goes well together.  I occasionally find a strawberry seed or a bit of mango pulp but I'm guessing that's good fiber. :)

Speaking of food, I met my friends C, K & T last evening for dinner at a nearby Fatburger.  I've never been because, frankly, the name turned me off.  According to the wall board the name came about because of the juiciness of the homemade burgers.  Was it juicy?  Yes and very much like some homemade burgers as it tended to fall apart.  I had a regular Fatburger with all the toppings, lettuce, tomato, mayo, onion, mustard, ketchup along with my choice of Swiss cheese.  I don't think I'd do that again as the burger was incredibly messy and I probably dropped half the toppings onto my plate...and some on my shirt too.  I also ordered the fries but only ate about 1/3 of them.  C and T hadn't ordered any so I shared with them and K finished then off.  Would I return, probably but not for awhile.  My "mom" burgers are just as good in my mind and a heck of lot cheaper.  Mind you, the meal wasn't as much about the food as it was having a visit with the other three. Even though it is pretty much a fast food joint, we were there for a good 90 minutes eating and chatting.  I walked to and from the restaurant as it is only a 10 minute walk from the house.  Can't say I walked any of my dinner off!

It's later in the day now; I've spent most of the afternoon in the sun room with the cats.  Between the birds, my book and crocheting, it's been a very relaxing afternoon.  I did take a half hour or so and work on the sewing project, a shirt for Eli.  The front and back are together, the front facings are in and the collar is pinned and ready to be sewn on.  But I'm bit stymied at this point because it just doesn't look right to my eye. I'm sure the pattern is correct and I'm probably reading the instructions incorrectly. In any event, I'm taking a break before I baste it on, then will decide.  

I tried the mango pudding this evening and tossed the entire thing out.  The recipe called for mango pulp but it should have been pureed and strained before I put it in.  And the gelatin didn't set the way I thought it ought to.  Perhaps my water wasn't hot enough or I didn't stir it enough?  No idea but between the texture and the runniness (speaking of looking odd I checked the spelling and Google says this is correct), I just couldn't bring myself to eat any more of it.  I had planned to take some to a good friend who is going through a difficult time as I know she likes mango pudding...but I'm not putting her through that.  Yuck!

I didn't get around to finishing this post last night, so will continue blathering about my mundane Monday.  We've another showing this evening at 6:30 this evening so much of the morning has been spent cleaning and tidying.  I've washed, dried, and put away the breakfast dishes, tidied my bedroom, cleared the wastebaskets and taken out the trash, wiped down the bathroom counters, started laundry, and swept both the kitchen and living room floors.  Outside the containers have been watered, and the bird bath and feeder filled.  Next up is to vacuum the entire house, finish the laundry, wash the kitchen and bathroom floors, and straighten up the sun room.  Perhaps I ought not to have relaxed as much as I did yesterday afternoon!

However, at this rate, I should be able to get everything done by mid-afternoon.  Then I'll have time to continue reading and crocheting, while enjoying the sunshine.  

We had a couple of cooler days, but this week should bring more seasonal temperatures. Perhaps even a bit of rain, which we certainly need.  I watered both the back lawn and the front flower bed on Saturday with the hope the rain would follow.  It didn't.  I guess I should wash my car...that would probably do it.  

Off to start the vacuuming.  Have a great week everyone!


Tuesday 4 June 2019


I should get off my duff and head down to the nearby pond to get a couple of photos but it's cool and threatening to rain and I'm feeling too lazy to do so.  So instead you get a photo from two years ago.  I'm sure it looks pretty much the same today with lots of ducks and geese on the pond.

At the moment I'm sitting out in my sun-less sun room listening and watching the birds at the feeder and in the trees and on the fence.  There are a couple of fledgling grackles who haven't quite figured out flying but have left the nest.  The parents are quite aggressive with any other birds that get near them.  Yesterday I watched two of them attacking a robin and went out to intervene. Today there are fewer smaller birds at the feeder.  I hope these fledglings figure out what they need to do as I'm not really fond of the grackles.  I'd far rather see the sparrows and finches.

Anyway, this wasn't meant to be the blog post today.  As I was enjoying my breakfast and coffee this morning, I was thinking about my retirement.  I jokingly tell everyone who asks that I recommend it and even though it is my attempt at humour retirement has been very good for me.  I've been out of the office for over 6 months now - I don't miss it one bit.  Not the work which at one time I loved, and I certainly don't miss the office politics and petty grievances.  There are some co-workers I keep in contact with, but in general most of those individuals had retired before me.  Occasionally I get a text from someone still at the office, usually asking for a reference but that's about it.  Of course, my son works there too so I do hear of things happening in the office every once in a while.  

One thing I think every retiree (or maybe just most) learn is that it's not difficult to fill the hours in the day.  There were so many things around the house that I did rarely, that now I have time to do frequently.  Of course, having the house up for sale makes for more frequent vacuuming, dusting, and scrubbing than I might do otherwise but even so I'm more attentive to the details. Yesterday, for example, I went out and washed down the deck.  With all the birds attracted to the feeder and bird bath there seems to more poop on the deck.  Where I might have let the rain wash it away, I spent 35 minutes (according to Fitbit) sweeping and mopping it down.  Then we got rain last evening.  

A shirt for Eli - someday
I also have more time for activities I enjoy including gardening, knitting and crocheting and sewing. Too, I've the time (and inclination) to blog more which may or may not be a good thing.  I'm definitely reading more, blogs, books, news articles, and a perennial favorite, court cases.  I know, I'm weird!
A doily - does anyone even use these anymore? 

Yet, with more time I'm finding I'm actually watching less television.  This is partially due to a reduction in the number of channels I subscribe to in order to save costs, but also because I'm busy doing other things.  I think, too, when I was working flopping in front of the television in the evening was just easier after a work day.  I usually didn't feel like putting in any more effort.  So I didn't and thus my weekends were crammed with catching up.  

I know it's still early in my retirement but I can truly say, I'm not bored. (That was something I felt all too often in my final year in the office.)  While I recognize this may be the place I'm at in the moment, I cannot see myself ever thinking that way.  There is still so much I want to do, including volunteering,  taking a class or two, or spending more time on my physical fitness.  Sadly my weight loss has stalled so I know I need to kick it up a notch or two.  In any event, I have a number of goals to achieve yet - continuing to work on my physical health, challenging my mind, and giving back to my community.  

Another lesson I'm learning is about finances.  I'm a spreadsheet person - it's part of my background as an accountant and I haven't given it up in retirement.  I'd created a budget setting up my expected budget, to track my income and expenses/spending and to identify where variances might exist.  When I planned my retirement budget I had two scenarios in mind, one which took into account living in this house, and another where I reduced my costs significantly by selling the house.  The latter provided more opportunity for travel and other enjoyable activities, while the former has much less flexibility.  After tracking for four months I've learned that these days what I have to do is coming well before what I want to do.  Some days I find this a bit of harder lesson than others as I have been presented with a number of opportunities and I must pick and choose, or even perhaps pass up on some of these.  I can't complain though, as I know I'm truly fortunate to be able to retire and even more so, to be able to afford a comfortable lifestyle.  

Just a quick update on the open house.  We had three couples through, two of whom were quite interested but currently have houses of their own up for sale. The third couple are into house flipping so I'm sure they'd find lots of projects in this house.  My agent worked with them several months ago, showing them a number of houses, while they had their current home up for sale.  It has since been sold and now they are looking for a new project.  Everyone liked the layout of the house and none had children so the yard was not an issue.  Unfortunately one of the men has allergies and had to leave the house because of the cats and his wife has a heat sensitivity.  Sunday's temp was in the 30C+ range so the sun room was likely unbearable for her.  And so it continues.

The cats and I spent the time at my friend C's house.  They were in their carriers in the shade outside the gazebo where the two of us were relaxing.  Much nicer than sitting in the car for over two hours!  Her yard is spectacular and the gazebo is set up in the back of the yard so the view is wonderful.  We had a good visit and while Sasha and Saku talked a fair amount I think they enjoyed the fresh air.  

Time to get back to the household chores.  Enjoy your week everyone!