Wednesday 31 August 2016

Property hunting, vol. 4

To understand our fascination with this particular place, we have to travel back in time.
36 years back, to be exact.

To December of 1979.
Two things happened that month that are important for this story: A handsome young man boarded an airplane to Vancouver, Canada. He had slept on his friend's couch for the past month after his parents kicked him out for his decision to leave.
600 km away, a baby girl was born, two weeks early but healthy, and, if you believe her mother, "the prettiest baby on the entire ward".

The young man flew to Canada on a grey December day, with few belongings and even less money, but with his head full of dreams: To make it. To find his way in this new world, to make money, friends, live wild and free, and to own a little piece of this magnificent country one day.
He wanted to buy some land, and do what he loved most: Raising animals. The young man loved animals with all his heart.

The baby girl grew and flourished. She was a shy, but happy child, who loved books, her dog, and the fantasy world she lived in most of the time.
What she dreamed of was this: To live in Canada one day, by a lake, with a man who loved her, animals by her side, writing children's books.

The young man (not so young now) and the baby girl (a full-grown woman now) met on a hot August day in 2002.
They fell madly in love. There were many obstacles in their path, but their love persevered, and they were married on a cold, but sunny day in January of 2005.

Fast forward to the summer of 2016.

They had now lived together for over 13 years. The overwhelming majority of these years was very happy.
However, they weren't without their challenges: They had (step-)children to raise. A newly acquired mortgage to pay off. The (formerly baby) girl went back to school for a proper career. Those years were busy, dominated by work, obligations, and money woes.
They were also filled with much love, laughter, great vacations and new additions to their always expanding animal-family.
They were good years.

Then, in the summer of 2016, three things happened that would change their lives.
The property market in their area went absolutely nuts. Houses sold in less than one day, hopeful buyers knocked on unsuspecting people's doors, asking if they might be interested in selling.
They watched in amazement as the places around them went up for unheard sums of money.
They looked at it for a while, until they finally had the same thought: Why not us?
It would solve all their money problems in one fell swoop.
And they could finally realize their long-held dream: To own some tiny (tiny, but bigger than what they had right now) piece of this beautiful country they loved so much, and had made their home.

One of their friends decided to put his place on the market, so they bit the bullet and did something that scared them both: get their very own "For Sale"-sign.
On the day it was put up, they almost changed their minds. It seemed so wrong!
This was their home, their special place, the site of so many happy memories.
But after the initial fear, they got very excited.
They remembered their dreams, and the very real possibility of them becoming a reality in the near future.

They set out property hunting.
At first, they started out small. They owned 5 acres now, so anything above it seemed good. 10-20 acres was the initial goal.
But, after having viewed a few places of that size, they started to dream bigger. After all, 50 or 100 acres more only cost a couple of $100,000 more - and wasn't it worth it?

They looked at a lot of different properties, in a lot of different places.

Nothing was quite right.

Until they met Charlene.*

*name changed

Charlene showed them yet another property they were underwhelmed by: House too big, property too small, it was all wrong. They stood in the massive, way-too-oversized basement, discouraged, when Charlene looked at them quizzically for a moment, and then dropped her bombshell: "I have the perfect place for you: 160 acres. Spectacular view. Close to town, yet remote. More water than you know what to do with. Small(ish) house."

She had covered everything they were looking for. Excitedly, they arranged for a viewing of that magical place.
Sadly, it turned out to be six days away. However, they couldn't help but sneak a peek before, just from the outside.
They went there.
And they went crazy. 

It was love at first sight. The view! The location! Even the (eccentric) neighbours!
It all seemed meant to be.
This was their destiny.

A (long, very long) six days later, they eagerly came back.
The view was as stunning as they remembered. The property was amazing.
The house was - okay, but with some renovations needed.
Then came the price.

And that was the rude awakening.
They had know that it was roughly $300,000 above their limit. They had tried to ignore the deafening warning bells by reassuring themselves that it was "an investment". The neighbour would supply an immediate income by having his herd of cows graze on their land. They might be able to get it for cheaper.
They tried to rationalize it.
But in the end, they had to admit the truth: It was too expensive. Not only did they not need it, they couldn't afford it.

And that's the sad, yet simple truth of the dream place that wasn't meant to be.

They were disappointed, of course. Was their dream destroyed?
After a few days of licking their wounds, they realized that, of course, it wasn't.
Canada was a huge country. There were many more pieces of land available for sale.

One of them would be for them.

The search continues.
And they won't rest until they have found their place.

Have you entered my yoga wheel giveaway yet? 


Yoga with a wheel + a giveaway!

When you do anything by yourself, there's always the danger of getting stuck in a rut. My yoga practice is a prime example: I tend to do the same poses every time I get on my mat, with a heavy focus on arm balances and inversions (headstands, forearmstands and handstands). They are fun to me, and I'm determined to find my balance in these bad boys! So I keep at it. 

One area I neglect often is heart openers. Opening your heart is a vulnerable experience, whether you do it towards people, in a romantic relationship, or physically. 
But for a well-rounded life and true happiness, opening yourself up is essential. 
When YogDev, a Vancouver-based yoga props-company, offered me one of their yoga wheels, I took it as a sign from the universe to introduce backbends and heart openers back into my regular practice.  
I've been playing around with it for a week, and I'm continually amazed at the many different uses for a yoga wheel!


Sunday 28 August 2016

Embrace uncertainty

Uncertainty is difficult. It feels like being constantly in fight-or-flight-mode, and oh my gosh, is it ever exhausting. What I'm learning right now is that in order to not go completely nuts, you have to embrace it. 

In every life there will be times where we are thrown into a situation where the outcome is uncertain. And we can't do anything about it. That's the hard pill to swallow here - that it's out of our hands. Sure, we can work towards our desired outcome by working hard, thinking positive thoughts, and doing everything in our power. Yet, whether it happens in the end or not is not always up to us. 

I'm learning to embrace that. 
(Well, it was either that or crumble in a big heap on the floor and cry. I'm choosing option A.)
These days, more than ever, I try to appreciate the moment. 
The warm breeze that carries the first hint of fall with it.
New booties in the colour "mouse house" (how fun is that name?).
A kind word from one of my patients, who told me that "I admire people like you for doing the job you do" (which is mammography right now).    

I don't know what will happen. I have no idea if we will still be here by Christmas, and if not, where we will be. I also don't know if I will have a job or not. Sometimes, all these thoughts freak me out so much that I can barely breathe. 

But then I remember that I'm not alone. I have my best friend right by my side through it all. It will happen if it's supposed to happen. And in the meantime, I'm grateful for all the special little moments that make up every day, and that life is anything but boring these days. 

Dress: sold out (similar)
Belt: old (similar)
Booties: Old Navy

Happy Sunday!


Thursday 25 August 2016

And then the lights went out

Guys, this week has completely gotten away from me, and nothing has worked out as planned. Part 4 of my property hunting tales was supposed to go up last Tuesday, and it never happened. I'm sorry! Two things caused the delay: disappointment and alcohol.

The anticipated happy ending never happened (more on that soon, for realz). I consequently got very drunk on Tuesday, calling random people bemoaning the hell that house selling and buying is. Or the lack thereof, since we still haven't sold ours yet, and are still looking for our new, I don't-care-anymore-if-it's-perfect-just-give-me-something place. 

But let's not talk about that.
Let's talk about how we got stranded yesterday, shall we?

Yesterday was supposed to be a light day on the house hunting front: Only one place, in a town only two hours away. Easy-peasy. We thought we would nip up there, spend an hour or so, and nip back, in time for dinner.

Oh, the best laid plans ... 

We took off at 2pm, me in a breezy little sundress (I didn't even bring a jacket, so sure was I that it wouldn't take long), Rich in his standard summer outfit: jeans, cowboy boots and a Hawaiian shirt. That boy knows what he likes, and what he likes are plaid shirts for three seasons of the year and Hawaiian shirts for the fourth. You gotta admire his dedication.

We arrived shortly past 4pm, right on schedule. We looked, we wandered, we asked questions. By now we have the routine down, and that part of the afternoon went smoothly. Then there was pink lemonade, a nice and welcome surprise. We sat down and chatted, and before you know it, it was 6pm. Time to head home, isn't it?
Not yet.

We learnt about another place, a log home (two words I find irresistible), "on our way home". Don't we want to stop by for a minute and take a look? Of course we do. We got the address, and off we went. It was now 6:15pm.

Ms. Moneypenny, as I call my usually trusty google maps app, failed us. She mislead us several times, causing us to arrive at the log home after 7:30pm. We spent half an hour looking, wandering, asking questions.

Now it was really time to hit the road, since it was starting to get dark. Since when is it getting dark shortly after 8? Oh yeah, it's almost September. Time, you flighty mistress.

We hopped in the truck, waved goodbye, and drove off. After about 10 minutes on the road, Rich turned on the headlights.

At least, he attempted to. He turned the switch - nothing. No lights inside, none outside. We stopped the truck and I jumped out, checking if the lights in the back worked - nope.

There we were, with rapidly fading daylight, in a black truck that had no lights in the back and only the running lights in the front.

We were stuck in between two towns, with no hotels, rest spots or motels on the way. So we did the only thing we could think off: Put on the hazard lights, and make it as fast as we could into the next town.
The drive was nerve-wrecking, but we made it. We pulled into the first motel parking lot we could find, and turned off the engine with two huge sighs of relief. Then we had some dinner, and at 9:45pm we fell into bed exhausted, face unwashed and teeth unbrushed (I had no toiletries with me).

This morning I got up at 5:30am for a shower, and at the first light (which is 6am these days, in case you are not acquainted with such an early hour) we made the one-hour journey home. I ran into the house, brushed my teeth, got changed, and made it on time for my 7:45am-shift. What a day!

Our summer has been anything but boring this year.

Did you ever get stranded on the road? Do tell!

Image found on Pixabay, an awesome source for free (!) stock photos!


Sunday 21 August 2016

Trust the process

Do you trust yourself?

It's not a question we ask ourselves on a regular basis. At least I don't. I should, though. It involves many different aspects: Trusting our inner voice, our gut instinct, our common sense, our knowledge, our bodies. 
I was challenged the other day to trust my body. 

The above pose is one that has always scared the shit out of me. The first problem is that it makes you believe that you may fall over at any moment;  the other problem is that once you are against the wall, you literally feel glued to it. How to get away? What you have to do is take a leap of faith, trusting in the strength of your arms, because you will have to lift one up and start moving yourself away from the wall. 
This little act of strength - lifting one hand a few centimetres off the floor - is much more an act of courage than strength. 


Friday 19 August 2016

Back to my roots

This month marks 14 years when I first met Richard. We can't remember the exact day, so I arbitrarily chose August 15 as our anniversary date. 
The summer we met I was searching for everything: My purpose, a place in the world, happiness. I was 22 years old, desperately unhappy with my career choice, my lack of a love life, my family, my life. 
Going to Canada was an escape, and meeting Richard was my salvation. He was my knight in shining armour, literally riding up on a white horse (the handsome guy you see in the above photo). 
Back then, I wanted nothing more than to live on a ranch in the Wild West with this cowboy who had stolen my heart, riding into the sunset together.   

Many years and distractions later, that's still all I want. And we are doing everything in our power to make it happen. We are chasing our happily-ever-after, being on this amazing adventure together. It might work out, or it might not; as long as we are together, we will always be happy.*

*I still really hope that it will work out. Fingers crossed!

Hat: old (similar)
Tee: SheIn
Shorts: old (similar)
Sandals: sold out (similar)

Happy weekend!

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Thursday 18 August 2016

Property hunting, vol. 3

It's late. I'm lying in bed, ready to turn the light off in a minute, but I just want to scroll through the listings one more time. The real estate agent has set up a personalized website service that updates automatically every time a new listing matching our criteria pops up. It's convenient, but also addictive - I check them at least 10 times a day. 

Gosh, I'm tired. I can barely keep my eyes open. Maybe I should look at it tomorrow ... suddenly, something catches my eye. It's this photo: 

I sit up a bit straighter, a surge of excitement shooting through me, tiredness forgotten. This is my dream house! I read the description, and get more excited with each word: 22 acres. Within walking distance to two lakes. Halfway up the mountains towards a ski resort. The inside looks like this:

I'm in love. This is the perfect house! I immediately picture cozy evenings spent in front of the fire, sipping hot chocolate. I don't even like hot chocolate, but in this new life, I will! 
Rich and I will start playing chess, or read together in companionable silence. Rich doesn't read, but in this new life, he will!
I will cook hearty stews every night, bake my own bread, and stop eating sweets. Anything is possible in this new life!

Not only is the house perfect and beautiful and everything-I-ever-wanted (I want to marry it and have its babies!), but it's also affordable. Not only within our budget, but below it. By quite a bit, actually. I should wonder why, but I don't. Why spoil all my beautiful fantasies?

I jump out of bed and run into the living room where Rich is watching TV. Scratch that, he fell asleep. Hrumph. I'm just about to wake him up and show him our future home, but reason takes over and I somehow manage to restrain myself. He's exhausted, and needs his rest. I can show him tomorrow. 
Instead, I tell Lily all about our future adventures up in the mountains. 
She isn't impressed. 

The next day I have to get up early and go to work. It's late afternoon when I finally show Rich the houses I have selected for possible viewings. 
I show him two other ones that I initially liked, but now can't be bothered with. Then, I click on the dream house, holding my breath with anticipation. "Wow, this is incredible!", he exclaims. "I know, right?", I say, hopping up and down excitedly. 

I email the agent with our choices, stressing the importance of this place. We agree to come up in three days. Three days! The wait seems interminable. 

Finally, the day of the viewing dawns. We get up bright and early, and manage to be on the road shortly after 7am. I didn't even take the time to check my messages this morning, but I do so now. 
To my dismay, there is one from the agent, informing us that she has been unable to get in touch with the listing agent of our place. "But don't worry, I keep trying", she writes. "As soon as I know anything, I will contact you." 

Halfway through the drive, we switch and I take over the driver's seat. Rich wants to take a nap. We are both chronically tired these days, with not sleeping too well at night, constantly working on our place or going out to look for new ones, and experiencing such intense emotions on the regular. 
He naps, I drive, full of anticipation what the day may bring. 
My phone pings, and I glance at it. Let's pretend that I pulled over, shut off the engine and read the message while not simultaneously driving. 

What I read makes my heart sink and tears well up in my eyes: The place is gone. Sold. It's a done deal. Also, the sellers don't want us viewing. 
I'm so disappointed, I have no words for it. I wake up Rich and tell him the devastating news. 

Rich is annoyingly reasonable, explaining to me that there is nothing we can do. I hate it. I hate everything. How can that be? This was supposed to be our place! "Call her and see if it's really done!", I urge him. "Maybe the buyers will change their minds?"
He humours me and makes the call. Nope, the sale is firm. We're too late. 

I can't speak. All my fantasies about the new life have been snatched away from me. What about the chess playing? What about the hot chocolate?
I know that I'm ridiculous, but right now I want to wallow. So I wallow for the rest of the drive. 

"I want to see it", I tell Richard. "It's probably not as great as it looks in the photos. I need to see."
He tries to dissuade me, and we have a nice little fight about it. But in the end, I win.
"It may make the pain even worse", Rich warns, but I don't care. I need to see this magical place that wasn't meant to be. 

I type in the address in my phone, and off we go. We head towards the ski resort and climb steadily higher. The scenery is beyond pretty: Fireweed is growing in abundance, painting the landscape purple. We pass lakes, trees, and cute houses, many of them log homes. We both look silently around, taking in the scenery. It's lovely.

After a while the GPS indicates to turn left, off the paved road onto a dirt one. We are heading into the woods. 
Now there are only trees on both sides. We leave a huge dust cloud behind us, covering everything in dust, including the car. 

We drive on. 
And on. 

"How much farther?", Rich asks, and I peer at my phone. "It says 10 more minutes", I inform him. 
So we keep driving. 
The road reminds me vividly of my days as a forest ranger trainee, bumping around on the uneven, pot-holed forest roads. It's fun in the summer (even though it's hell for the vehicle), but in the winter it's another story. 
I want to check my GPS again, but I lost the signal. So we just keep going. 

After what feels like an eternity, we unexpectedly arrive at what appears to be a little colony in the middle of the woods. We pass by several houses and a campground. Why here? It seems like the most random place ever. After the next bend, we know why: There is a gorgeous lake, surrounded by mountains. A little row boat is close to the water's edge, with a couple sitting inside, their faces turned up towards the sun. 
A swimmer is diving under the water next to us. The road is so close to the lake, I could reach it in two steps. 

Speaking of the road: It just went from acceptable to terrible. Deep grooves make the ride extremely bumpy, and it appears as if the road is below lake level. I wonder if it floods sometimes.

And suddenly, we are there. I recognize the outbuildings from the pictures. The property is fenced in, and the house is invisible from the road, but there is the wood shed, the little cabin, and the cover with the camper underneath. 
We look at it for a moment, and then at each other. 
"Now I know why it's so cheap", I finally state. "It's so far away from everything!"
"And the road is awful", Rich says. 

A feeling of peace and relief washes over me. If it was still available and as nice as the photos suggest, I would have been very tempted to put an offer in. Once you're there, it's lovely! Getting there is the issue. 
On the way out we time how long it takes. 15 minutes until you hit paved road (which might double in the winter), and from there another good half hour into Kamloops. It would make a perfect vacation home, but for everyday it's not practical.  

Considerably cheered up, we meet the agent. With that place gone and another one ruled out (it's right by the highway), we only have one left to look at. 
It's not our first choice, because the house is humongous. Over 4,000 square feet, it's more than twice as big as what we would like. However, the property looks great in the pictures, so we decided to take a look. 

This one is also halfway up the mountains, in another direction. We love the scenery, and the little town we pass through is charming. 
As we pull into the long, winding driveway leading up to the house, I'm optimistic again. This looks pretty good!
Then we arrive at the house. And it's massive. Why do people build these huge mansions? 
Before we go inside, we want to check out the outside. The owners don't have animals, so the grass is high and looks lush. "Irrigated", the agent says knowingly. "Nothing around here is this green in the middle of August without irrigation." 
Halfway down the field, the ground changes from firm and dry to wet and squishy. What the ...?
"It's marsh", Rich states. We discover that at least 3 of the 9 acres are marsh land, impossible for horses to step on. I can't help but laugh: Wouldn't it be too ironic to move from rainy and muddy Langley to a semi-desert area, and end up with land that's swampier than what we left behind?

Another whammy is when we learn that the well is shallow, and sits in the middle of the swamp. The water quality is so poor that the owners installed a high-end, expensive water filtration system to make it drinkable. We know that this one is a no. We go into the house anyway, which is beautiful, but way, way too big for the two of us.

Standing in the enormous basement, we tell the agent exactly what we are looking for: Lots of room for our animals. Grassland, not just desert. Outbuildings if possible, but not a must. Enough water. A decent house, not too big. Within half an hour of town for my work. 
She looks at us thoughtfully for a moment, and then she says: "You know what would be perfect for you guys? My parent's house."
As she elaborates, Rich's eyes light up. It's a farmboy's dream property: 160 acres, plenty of grassland, used for cattle until a year ago. It has all the barns and stalls we need, and is completely fenced in. It is also for sale. 

Rich is thrilled. I am not. Secretly I have been hoping for something not that huge. Isn't it too much work? I'm worried that he is being blinded by his desire to own a large acreage, and not being reasonable.
We go for a late lunch, and almost have a second fight. I'm strangely reluctant to even consider this new place. There were too many disappointments today, and I'm drained. 

In the end, we decide that it can't hurt to look at it from the outside. At least we will know if it's even worth considering.
Once again, we wind our way up into the mountains. Once again, the scenery is stunning. Who knew that there are such gorgeous valleys right by Kamloops? We certainly didn't. It looks like Switzerland. 
There are cows on the side of the road, and a rumbunctious calf runs alongside our car for a bit. 

 Two pigs are rooting around in the grass. 

And then we arrive at the property. And we know instantly: Life as we know it is over. 

We have found our place.

Stay tuned for part 4!

Vol. 1 | Vol. 2 | The house that wasn't meant to be | Vol. 4 | Vol. 5

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Sunday 14 August 2016

What I'm thinking about when doing yoga*

* sweary version

I love yoga. It's given me confidence, strength, more flexibility, and a new level of appreciation for my body. One thing I'm still waiting for: Calmness of mind. Except for a few rare moments of blissful zen, my thoughts are usually going a mile a minute. And not all of them are very polite, I'm afraid.
Today I thought it would be fun to share some of the thoughts that are going through my mind when I'm kicking it yogi style.
Warning: Contains profane language. (My mind has a potty mouth.) 

Camel pose | Ustrasana

"I can't breathe. I CAN'T BREATHE!"
"Calm down, of course you can. Breathe in, breathe out. That's better."
"My back hurts. Are back bends really good for you?"
"Camel pose. Weird name. I wonder if it's called camel pose because your breasts are sticking up?  Two breasts =  two humps? Gotta google it."*
* I did. Couldn't find the origin of the name. 


Saturday 13 August 2016

Guest posting at BeYoutiful Beauty

Hi friends! I'm working on several posts right now, but it's slow going. The old brain is more distracted than ever these days.

Luckily, I did an interview with the inspiring Jessica from BeYoutiful Beauty a while ago when my brain was still working. It's about self love, something most of us could use more of.
For some reason it feels almost scandalous to admit to loving yourself. Will people think you are vain? Will they think you are full of yourself?

Well, you should be full of yourself. We all should! Full of confidence, compassion, and kindness towards ourselves. No more negative self talk. If you'd know how I used to talk to myself, you would be shocked. I called myself every self-derogatory word under the sun: fat, lazy, ugly, selfish, stupid, revolting. I had so little respect for myself, I thought it would be impossible for anyone to ever love me. If I didn't love myself, how could anyone else?

We're talking about these questions and more in today's post: Just click here to read it!

Happy Saturday!

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Wednesday 10 August 2016

The house that wasn't meant to be

Last time I asked you the question: "Heart over head?" You gave me wonderful advice, I loved reading all your comments. Sorry if I'm even slower than usual in replying, it's been a whirlwind of activity here. I'll get to it, I promise! I appreciate your support tremendously. 

Let's continue our tale of trying to find a new home. 

It's Monday morning, and we are giddy: Today we're looking at "our" place again! If we still like it as much as we did when we first saw it, we will make an offer. Gah, it's so awesome! I'm super-stoked. 

Riding the wave of positive vibes, I call the manager of the Vernon hospital to inquire about possible job opportunities. This is very unlike me - I usually avoid speaking on the phone. But today I'm pumped, and wouldn't you know it - the conversation goes extremely well. He not only agrees to see me the next day, but promises that he will hire me as a casual tech. Booyah!

One hour into our drive, our agent (the one in charge of selling our house) calls. "The people who saw it last week want to come back today and take another look", she states in her matter-of-fact fashion. "Can they come this afternoon?" We explain that unfortunately, they can't, since we are out of town, and agree on two days later. "It's looking good!", she says, and am I mistaken, or is that a hint of excitement in her level voice? "They are really keen." And with these tantalizing words, she hangs up.
This day just keeps getting better and better!

For the rest of the drive I think aloud how I will decorate our new home, ignoring Rich's cautioning words that "we haven't bought it yet". Surely it's only a formality at this point?

A few hours later, we arrive.
The owners are present, because the agent figured we would like to ask them some questions. We do. I made a long list, including everything from how good the Internet is (if I can't stream videos, I'm out) to the quality and volume of the water (having animals requires a lot of water).

We meet the pleasant couple, and hit it off right away. They are such nice people! Five minutes into the conversation, Rich realizes that he knows the woman - she used to be married to one of his chicken club buddies. We all laugh and comment on the smallness of the world. The conversation continues effortlessly for a while. Under different circumstances, we might become friends.

Rich and I decided beforehand that we would walk along the entire perimeter of the property, checking the fences and taking a closer look at the soil and the grass. The first time around we didn't do that.
Hiking down the hill, we are once again taken by the prettiness of the place. It's lovely.
However, we now see that the grass is much sparser than it looked from afar. Well, it doesn't matter, right? There's 22 acres of that stuff!

Arriving at the bottom of the hill, we see that there actually is a neighbour. You couldn't see him from the road or from the house, but now you can. That's okay though. Maybe it's better that way, you never know when you might need help.

The fence looks good. Sturdy and well built. However, it's a barb wire fence, which keeps cattle and horses in, but is of no use for sheep and dogs. We will need to install pagewire on top of it.
Rich is quiet, taking it all in and thinking. I chat with the agent, who is (not-so-gently) pushing us to buy. "It's perfect for you two!", she has said numerous times already.

Once we are back at the house, I start with my list of questions. The owners answer them patiently, and all is well, until - "Did the well ever dry up?" I ask, pen poised to check off this question with a reassuring NO on my list.
"Actually, it did, once", she admits, adding hastily, "that was many years ago". I look up alarmed.
"We had 56 cows at the time, and we didn't realize how much water they drink. They drained the well."
She says that they drilled a second, deeper well right next to it, and that they haven't had a problem since. However, they also sold 50 of the cows and only kept six. Rich and I exchange a worried look.

After another tour of the house, we say our goodbyes. We arranged to meet the agent in town for coffee to discuss everything.
On the 10-minute drive into town, we are both quiet. "Do you still want it?", Rich asks me at some point. "Sure", I say, not quite meeting his eyes. "You?"
He hesitates for a split second. "Yes", he says eventually.

In the restaurant she pulls up a history on the house. "It has been on the market for over a year", she begins. "They also tried to sell it three years ago, but took it off the market again because it didn't sell."
A house that doesn't sell. It doesn't bode well.
But no matter, right? We live in the present, not the future, and who cares about 20-30 years down the road?
The agent really wants us to sign the contract today, but Rich has this rule of always sleeping on important decisions. "Tomorrow morning", he says firmly, and she concurs.  We agree to meet her in her office the next day, and then we drive to our motel for the night. There is a pub next door, and we go in "to celebrate".

We are still quiet. This is completely different from what I expected. I thought we would be ecstatic with happiness! Instead, we are both incredibly drained and exhausted. After one drink (half for me, I can't even finish my beer), we head to our room.
"I need to lay down for a while", Rich says, and I understand. I need a walk. We brought Lily along, so I snap a leash on her and take off to explore the town.

It's Monday evening, 6pm, and Lumby is dead. There is barely anybody around. I discover that several of the stores are borded up. The town that looked so charming a week ago in the morning sunshine now appears deserted and sinister. Or is it just my mood? I'm being overly dramatic. 
Two drivers in passing cars wave at me. That's nice! I try to snap out of my funk, only partially successful. 

Half an hour later I'm back at the motel. Rich is awake, and we settle down in the chairs outside under the awning, sipping cider and talking. After a while it begins to rain, and we watch the fat drops coming down hard. Soon, we go to bed.

I wake up in the middle of the night. Lily is restless, and I let her out. Afterwards I can't fall back asleep. I stare up at the dark ceiling, willing my thoughts to stop. I try to meditate, but give up after a few minutes. "Are you awake?", I whisper into the darkness.
"Yup", Rich answers, sounding wide awake.
"I can't sleep ", I tell him. 
"Me, neither ", he replies. 
After a moment he adds: "I don't think we should take it. I'm worried about the water."
My first reaction is relief. 

All afternoon and evening, I have tried to convince myself that what I'm experiencing is simply a case of cold feet. That's gotta be normal before making a big decision, right? 
"I didn't get cold feet when I married you", Rich says sweetly when I share this thought. Hmm, me neither. I also didn't when I packed all my things and came to Canada. 

This is different. There are too many little things that bug us, amounting to an overwhelming feeling that this house, this pretty place, isn't for us. 
"Are you sad?", he asks me.
I can honestly say that I'm not. 

The next morning we treat ourselves to a hearty breakfast, after having called the agent with our decision.
We narrow down our criteria, increase the budget, and she's off searching again.

The hunt continues!


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Sunday 7 August 2016

Property hunting, vol. 2

Day 1 was a bust, but with a hopeful ending: We had a new real estate agent, in a new location, and 5 places lined up to see the next day. 
I woke up early on day 2, impatient to get started. A wild mix of emotions bubbled inside me, jostling for attention: Apprehension, hope, restlessness, excitement, fear of disappointment.
But the sun was shining, my eternal optimist won my internal battle, and I was ready for round 2. Bring it on! 

Our first property is located close to a small town called Lumby. Until yesterday I have never heard of that place, but Rich has: He knows several chicken guys who live there. We decide to have breakfast there while waiting for our agent. 
Driving in, I'm pleasantly surprised: This town is so cute! Beautiful flower baskets are hanging from the street lamps, alternating with colourful flags proudly displaying everything the town has to offer. Everything is neat and clean. There are several coffee shops, little mom and pop restaurants, and stores lining the main street. We choose one coffee shop, and after ordering, watch the locals: They all seem to know each other, stopping in the street for a chat, greeting every person they meet. It's nice. Kinda Stars Hollow-esque.

After breakfast, we head to the Visitor Centre where we are to meet the agent. Wouldn't you know it, there's a feed store right next door! Wherever we are moving to, a feed store is essential for us. While Rich is checking their inventory, I'm taking a seat next to Lumby Jack and soak it all in. There's a warm, happy glow in my belly, and after a moment I recognize the sensation washing over me: Possibility. This could work. 

Property #1, The Money Pit
We are driving down a dirt road, and pull into a long, winding driveway. Two dogs are running towards us, a chocolate lab and a - "Is this a Great Pyrenees?" That's my first question upon meeting the owners, who are both at home. Yes, it is. A Bear-dog, one year old. Right away I like the place. 
We enter the house, and I'm pleased: The living area is gorgeous. Hardwood floors, vaulted ceiling, a tall fireplace. A few steps lead down to the dining area, which is also beautifully remodeled. "The kitchen is not done yet, it's a mess", the owner warns us, and I have to agree. It's dark, old, and awful. We learn that the current owners bought this place only 15 months ago, and that it needed a lot of work. Then the wife suffered two strokes in quick succession several months ago, and this place is too much work for them now. That's why they are selling.

What they have renovated so far is stunning - we share similar tastes, so I love what they have done. But the work is far from completed, and the bones of the house aren't great: Rich discovers a soft spot in the floor in one of the bathrooms, meaning the wood is rotten; the kitchen is a disaster; and the foundation is wood, not concrete. 

We check out the rest of the place. It's 18 acres, mostly grass, with a steep hill and a nice plateau on top. Not bad. The outbuildings are tear-downs, which means we would have to build every single stall, chicken coop, bird aviary and a barn.  

While it's tons better than anything we have seen the previous day, it's just too much work and would get too expensive. It's a no. 

Property #2, The Barn That Never Ends
This place is right next door, which is the reason why we don't actually go there. We see it from property #1, and find out what the advertised "one of the most unique horse properties you will ever come across" looks like: A giant barn. They built the barn right onto the house, boasting that you don't have to step outside in order to feed your animals. There is a door leading from the house directly into the barn. Practical? Maybe. Aesthetically pleasing? Absolutely not. Besides, it's too close to the neighbour, the property is on the small side (8 acres), and the listing mentions a camera security system that makes me think this place may be a grow-up. Moving on. 

Property #3, You Had Me From Hello        
We are driving out of town, along a winding road that leads us past meadows, little farms, and wooded hills on both sides. Gorgeous. 
Eventually we turn off the paved road onto a dirt one that leads into the forest. 
A minute passes. 
Another one. 
I'm just thinking to myself, "Hmm, that's quite deep in the woods", when I see the 'For Sale'-sign ahead of us. 
We pull into the driveway, and my heart stops.

Wow. This is breathtaking!

We have pulled up in front of a pretty house with a huge deck, bathed in glorious sunshine. The house is sitting on the top of a grassy sloping hill, interspersed with little groups of trees. In the distance we see pine dotted hillsides rising above the valley. 
I'm mesmerized.  A gentle breeze is ruffling my hair, and I see an eagle soaring high in the sky. 
It's so peaceful. 
Looking around, I can't see a single house. Nobody would complain about the dogs barking or the peacocks calling!

Stepping inside the house, I'm delighted. I'm standing in a bright dining room area, with the kitchen straight ahead and the living room behind it. It's an open-concept living space, which I love. It's also in excellent shape, with barely any renovations needed. Going downstairs, I discover another 3 bedrooms, a bathroom, and a separate exit. 
"Perfect for guests", I think to myself.

I go outside again to explore the other side of the house. What I discover makes my heart leap: A willow tree. 

Willow trees have a special significance for me. We have one in our place that's my favourite spot in the world. I go there to read, think, and do yoga. Rich and I have the best conversations there. We have solved problems, made plans, and had major and minor epiphanies under our willow tree. Last year we celebrated Rich's birthday there. 
Willow trees are special.  

I can't help but regard the willow tree as a sign from the universe - is this place meant to be our new home?

Rich has been exploring on his own, and we meet up at the fire pit. 
(Did I mention that it has the most perfect campfire spot ever? Did I?? Because it does. Who loves campfires? This girl.)

He looks at me, and says fervently: "I love this place."
"You do?", I squeal excitedly, jumping up and down. "Me, too! I was so hoping you would say that! I love it, too!" We hug each other tightly for a moment. 

We end up staying for a good hour, walking around, soaking it all in, already planning where we would build the barn, where the dogs would sleep, if the sheep would like it here. 

Properties #4 and #5, Forget It. 
We do look at the other 2 places, but we are fairly sure that we won't like them. #4 is quite horrible: A single-wide trailer, with neighbours all around, within smelling distance of a huge cattle ranch. We can smell the manure already, and they are in the process of expanding; once they fill up the new barns with cows, the stench will be overpowering. No thanks. 
#5 isn't bad, except for the fact that it's close to a busy road, with the sound of cars driving past being a constant background noise. Again, no thanks. 

We saw "our" place last Tuesday, and have been thinking about it constantly. There are several cons: It's 13 km away from the next town. Is that too far?
There are no visible neighbours. While we love that fact, would it feel lonely after a while?
The majority of the 22 acres is on a sloping hill. How much would we be able to use it?
We haven't even investigated about possible employment opportunities yet. Would I find a job?

But there is no denying our strong initial reaction. We both, individually, fell in love. Not unlike when we first met each other. That meeting was also highly unlikely to lead to anything lasting, given our circumstances. And look at us now! 14 years later, and stronger than ever. 

We have to see it again. Next week we will head back to Lumby, and look at it again. Stay a night in town, to explore some more. Try to decide with our heads, not our guts. 
Or should we let our gut-feeling decide? We did it before, and it didn't lead us astray. 


What do you think? Heart over head? Or vice versa? 

Vol. 1 | Not meant to be | Vol. 3 | Vol. 4 Vol. 5

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