Monday, January 28, 2008

Walks, Walks...and More Walks

On the road to selling a home, one must be absent for periods of time when a Realtor shows people through.

And not only was I to absent myself, I was expected to take Lucky and Nate with me.

This presented a problem. Our two Dogs, Lucky and Nate, were far too strong for me, when leashed. Both pulled in opposite directions, both competed against the other, as to who went first...and should a Cat or a Deer wander into view...well, chaos, a mild word in this case, reigned.

Realtors know everything, at least ours seems to. She directed me to our local pet shop, where she told me she had bought prong collars for her two dogs, both strong Labs.

Sceptically, at first by the looks of those collars, and also, beset by doubt that anything would work on our headstrong Dogs, we bought them, taking them home to immediately try them out.

We endured the usual ruckus created by the sight of the leash, waiting for each to settle down, before attempting to collar them. I managed to close them, but only just...the collars are definitely not made for arthritic fingers.

We tried this out while Graham was still here to help the first time. I expected the usual arm-out-of-the-socket routine, as I'm dragged out of the garden gate...

Lucky and Nate took to these collars as if they had always had them. Walking with alertness, but with entire docility, by my side, there were a few whimpers and growls when Cat walked stiffly across their path. But there was little pulling, even with this extreme provocation.

A friend commented were he to put one of those collars around Graham's neck, Graham would walk quietly, as well.

As funny as the vision was, he had a point. I placed one around my neck, and found it to be not uncomfortable, even when I pulled it tight. It gave a definite warning, however, as to who was the leader of the pack.

There are rules to be followed, in the use of prong collars. And I find a slight correction with my hand holding the leash is all I need, in the training of Lucky and Nate. I would definitely not yank back on the leash; this would be too much strength, and I'm sure would hurt them.

On the other hand, they are not attempting to lunge forward, now, with the prong collars on. It seems both Dogs settle down as soon as they see the collars, becoming completely calm. And willing to sit quietly, while I wrestle with the stainless steel collars, when a Walk is imminent, as it was yesterday.

With Graham now moved to Williams Lake, it falls to me to take them on that Walk.

They waited, eagerly, by the garden gate, each sitting down. Quietly. Previously, after leashes had been placed on them, there would be circular races run around me, and much howling and whining. It would be difficult to put gloves and coat on, in preparation of the Walk, with these two.

I was left to myself. I glanced at Lucky and Nate, perplexed and astounded. Who had trained these two overnight?

I picked up the leashes, steeling myself. The gate has a latch, which when exposed to freezing temperatures, is difficult to open. I struggled with it, this time made even harder with the two leashes in my hands.

I felt as if I were a Duchess, as the three of us walked out of the gate, with no struggling and extreme tension. Before the Collar Event, these two would have already exhausted me, even before we moved up the front steps...

And now, Lucky and Nate moved as if they had been Supremely trained.

As we wandered through the streets, avoiding places where other Dogs and their Owners congregate, both of them moved calmly by my side, enjoying the Walk.

It was very cold; few people were about. The day started with Sun blazing down from cloudless Sky but now...there were huge, dark Clouds obscuring Sun's face. And stinging nettles of icy Rain pelted us, as we continued to stroll, up this street and down the next.

I noticed some gardens were beginning to flourish; most were still sleeping, especially with the vicious Cold and Wind which was now occurring. I couldn't imagine many gardeners wanting to brave frozen soil such as we have right now...and then I remembered to where I was moving...

And I realized here on the Coast, were it not for the frozen soil, I would be turning and mulching, doing the beginning of the Year work in the garden. But up in the Cariboo, an easy foot of Snow still blanketed the area.

And an Arctic Cold Front has swept down over the interior of BC, giving Williams Lake a temperature of -23 C, with the Wind chill. I had better get accustomed to cold temperatures.

As we walked, I mulled over this, becoming lost in thoughts of planting Lilac and other Trees and Shrubs which do well in the North. I recognized the itchy fingers of a Gardener in the very early signs of a new Season.

The Dogs jerked me to awareness of the present, when a fancy, white Lady Poodle strutted down another street, into Lucky and Nate's view. I am here to tell you these Collars do nothing to stop the vocal cords in a Dog.

These two hooligans raised a huge ruckus, with their woo-wooing and urgent calls to the Lady, who ignored them completely, as the impeccably groomed true Lady she was.

But they did not pull.

I turned them and walked the other way, chuckling to myself. The Duchess had fallen, in full view of the inhabitants of this street.

And so it goes, when a home is for sale. Walks, walks and more walks, each begun with the hope that these people will buy.

It is a process, as slow as it seems. All things in their time...

Nate, Lucky and I will just have to walk off our impatience...and be grateful for the fact we can.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Places I Remember

There are places I remember All my life though some have changed Some forever, not for better Some have gone and some remain...The Beatles

There are many places I have lived throughout my life, and I remember them all...the good, the bad and the ugly. There is a balance, on looking's balance.

I was born in Hamburg, and I lived in an apartment block. There are disjointed memories of Germany. I was very young. I treasure those memories...when we emigrated I lost my grandparents. And those youthful recollections were to be the only thing I would have of them. But I remember my Opa's garden...a veritable haven for a young child.

My family moved to Canada, to a home I would live in throughout my youth. This home, a long way in the country from any city, would teach me to love solitude, although I didn't realize it when I was an angst-ridden teenager, one who thought she needed friends and activities much more than time alone.

And yet, I couldn't wait to take the school bus home, so that I could take my dog for a long walk through Fields and Forests, loving the days when Wind blew. I would work out many problems on those solitary walks, with my dog listening and passing no judgement.

By the time I moved to my own home, as opposed to my family's, I had already learned to love gardens and Plants, I spoke to Trees...and I discovered I craved solitude. By this time, I was living amongst my friends, living in a large City where activities were never-ending, and where time alone, with Nature as my only companion, was scarce.

I married and moved to Penticton, a city in the interior of BC. It was lovely first husband and I lived in a house in the middle of an Orchard. For years thereafter, I could not buy fruit in the grocery store. The fruit fresh from the Tree tasted like ambrosia, compared to the cardboard offerings, all glitzy and pristine looking, in the stores.

The solitude was there; I was still very young, however, and even if I remembered in the midst of a crowd how I loved to be alone, I still thought I hankered for friends and activities...I still thought I was missing out. We moved back to the Coast, back to Ocean and misty weather.

But I learned I loved fresh fruits and vegetables; I learned, as well, that gardens take work...they don't just happen.

My first husband and I moved to a series of different, forgettable homes, with the exception of life's events that occurred at each...Heidi, at the age of two, falling from the deck two stories above the ground, narrowly missing a sawed off Tree spike, but coming through unscathed, is a memory that still has the power to grind my Heart to a stop.

My first husband and I were youngsters playing at adulthood. We were both seeking the security we had felt at home with our parents. Our first purchase of a house reflected this; the home on Glenside kept us together for five years longer, as we searched for the ever elusive safety net.

She was an older lady, situated at a Crossroad. I planted a garden there, I placed the roots as deeply as I could. For a long while, I wondered. Could I have planted them deeper...could I have helped the garden flourish just a bit more...?

But the marriage ended there, at the Crossroad. And I learned that houses take work, to keep them together and in good shape.

My second husband and I built a home I thought I would be in forever. I loved it; I knew where each stick of wood had been placed. She became, as she grew into a formidable Tudor style home, a part of my soul, and for a long time, after we left her, that part stayed with her.

I planted Hawthorn Trees along the drive, and a huge Wisteria clambered up to the roof, showering a purple haze down the front of Our Lady. There were huge, old Fir Trees in the backyard, and I made paths throughout our Forest, planting violets and bulbs here and there.

Many memories here with Our is where the children grew into teens. It is where huge crowds of kids congregated, with Our Lady large enough to embrace them all. Where she witnessed many events by teens who push the adult limit... and where she kept their secrets, all to herself.

During the last years of high school for the girls, we moved once again, very unwillingly this time. My ex-husband gave many good reasons for moving; unarguable reasons. We had horses, which were boarded out. He wanted property.

I learned, no matter how much I loved something, nothing is forever...

We bought almost three acres, about 15 minutes from the town centre. This house, I thought, this house would be my home, my base. I would make it into that, even if there were no signs this house could be this way.

And because I could not take the house apart, I covered the beginning rot with cosmetic applications, and when I could do no more...I concentrated on the garden.

This garden would become the epitome of my dreams, I thought then. I would see the Trees grow to fruition, I would know each and every piece of vegetation growing there, very intimately.

Graduations and weddings and births and deaths were to be experienced here. Recovery from alcohol was due, in large part, to the Secret Forest and the strength I gathered there, from the old Fir and Hemlock and Cedar Trees. This old house we made into a very pretty home and the property she stood on witnessed so many tears, fears...and joys, as well...over the twenty years I lived there.

The most stable...and unstable...twenty years of my life. Where was the elusive security I so desperately hankered for? And what was it?

That security wasn't here, in this old home, I learned. Separations and the subsequent Divorce had me living alone, nurtured by the caring arms of the Trees and garden for three years.

And the garden taught me where that security I searched for really was.

It became obvious to all but me that I could not keep up a sagging Lady and three acres of Land, on my own. It took three years before I worked off the many emotions and tides of anger that constantly threatened to flood me, to overwhelm any seeds of mental well-being which might be taking root.

Three years of solitude, gardening and upkeep...I learned reality is much different for a woman living alone...but I did it! And when it became routine and mundane, when the adrenaline slowed and a glimpse of peace was dawning...I met Graham.

Again, I moved...a more mature and balanced woman, yet one just beginning her journey, had I but known it.

I built a garden here, to show off our Gracious Lady. And I planted these roots very deeply, adding mulch, watching for signs of distress. Then dealing with any problems the minute they arise.

We have lived here five and one-half years, and during that time the garden has much so, a neighbour called it a "mature" garden. With the exception of Grandfather Tree, my mentor, it is a young garden showing off its bones...if I look hard enough, I can see the maturity happening, right before my eyes.

And now, it is enough to know I have created it. I have added beauty and Trees where there were none. I have shown what is inside myself, with this garden.

Again, I will leave it. The serenity of this Gracious Lady, who is situated on a Crossroad, has instilled in me a peaceful, loving acceptance of life and where it leads.

A new place to remember is waiting just over the horizon.

I wonder...what will I learn in this new garden?

" All these places have their moments With lovers and friends I still can recall Some are dead and some are living In my life I've loved them all"...The Beatles

Monday, January 14, 2008

Ready, Set...

Synchronicity seems to figure largely in this whole adventure of moving to the Northern Cariboo. There were improvements to the house we wanted to generate; we were told tradespeople would be difficult to come by. Qualicum Beach is an area where building and renovations go on constantly, with very little letup.

We wanted the bedroom, still painted the same colour it was when we moved in, to be renewed with more serene paint. The en suite bathroom required fresh paint, as well. We wanted new kitchen counters, a job we had put off as one of the last improvements to be done. The back fence still required replacing. Quotes had to be obtained from the moving companies.

Closet doors had to be installed. A sturdy front door would give safety and security to this grand Lady of a home. The side fence would also receive a new, sturdy gate. These are items we did not worry much about...but then we have two big dogs who are ferocious when it comes to strangers trying doors and gates. The owners-to-be might not have dogs such as ours.

But Graham was due to leave on January 25th, or thereabouts. He is a journeyman carpenter, along with his business acumen, and he was the one that worked on the previous improvements we made over the years. There was not enough time for him to do all the work required to place our home on the market.

We had to find tradespeople. With some trepidation, phone calls were made. We were surprised and delighted to find that each and every person we called...painters, kitchen counter people, and carpenters...all made themselves available to do the work required. Special ordered closet doors appeared, surprising even the seller. And the counter top...when we first queried, we were told it would be eight weeks before it could be made.

But when the installer appeared to measure, it seemed he had a change of heart, and told us he could have it done by the end of the month.

It is mud season, here on the Island. Snow one day, pelting rain the next, and two dogs rampaging after Raccoon...our back garden looked as if a herd of elephants had gone through. And the fence guy worked hard throughout a snowy, watery day to move the old boards, further mashing the lawn into a muddy Swamp.

Graham and I have both suffered with the flu, since before Christmas, carrying on with travel and work despite feeling, at times, as if we should be in bed. There was no time for sickness, in the accelerated conditions where we found ourselves.

And so, on a wet but sunny day, I decided to leave the paint fumes and attempt to clean the stems and stalks that still stood, rather drunkenly, in the garden. We were selling, and even in Winter, I wanted the garden to stand out.

One full day...a soft harbinger of Spring kind of day...had the garden looking as shipshape as it could, in the middle of January.

As I worked in the garden, I had the oddest if my Plants, Trees and I were all in this together, were all intent on putting our best foot forward. I had a long conversation with Grandfather Tree, in which I asked him to find the buyers, to find someone who would care for him and the other Trees and Plants, as well as I tried to.

I was extremely grateful, on this one day, that the flu receded a bit, allowing me to work hard amongst my Plants. I could not have done it without intervention by the Powers-That-Be.

Grandfather Tree took our conversation to heart. Two days later, he sent a Forester/Furniture Maker and a Reflexologist to fall in love with our Home. And there have been others who are attracted, all of them interesting people...people who are slightly different from the norm. It seems our tiny sign in the window and Grandfather Tree are doing their job. And it is only a matter of time before ownership of our beloved Home falls to another.

I realized that all of the work required in order to sell, had fitted in smoothly and seamlessly. There were literally no hurdles to overcome, as yet. It seemed as if the Universe, in giving us this opportunity, was going to facilitate the work required in order for us to take advantage of it.

Our decision to concentrate on selling our home first, without the added convolutions of buying a new one at the same time, seems to be right. It is difficult for me...without having another home in mind to go to from here leaves my imagination in a far-off left field. There is nothing and nowhere to concentrate on, no future home I can furnish in my mind.

And yet, there is also great calm. It is as if I am opening myself, opening my heart, to receive great energy, hugely peaceful in nature, from the Universe. The more I open, the more I receive. It is a wondrous feeling, one difficult to describe in its entirety. But I will tell you this, even in the midst of a maelstrom of emotions, I am left feeling this whole thing has already been orchestrated. The details have already been hashed over, somewhere or some other time.

This time, this Piscean Fish only has to move with the flow.

The future is left in Creator's hands. We are dealing with the present for now.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Moving and Letting Go

In the rush of our lives at the moment, sometimes I take time out, just to reflect and walk around our home and remember the plans we had for it. There are still many restorations I wanted to do that will be up to someone else now.

At first, when this all started, I wanted to finish all our plans before we sold it...I felt the house should have those little touches we didn't, all of a sudden, have time to do at our leisure. But I soon discovered that people who want this house are itching to do those things...their way. I had to learn to listen to these ideas, without leaping in and telling them my way.

People listen politely, to be sure, just as I would if a homeowner loved his home and wanted still to be part of its ongoing life. And I would use what I could, and leave the rest. Just as the new owners will do with my ideas.

I walk through the garden, the scene of so many traumatic and joyful tales that have happened since I moved here five years ago. I remember a fenced in area that had a few Rosebushes against the fence and Grandfather Tree, when we moved in. And that was all.

It was a blank slate. I brought many Plants and Trees from my former garden, and the first year I was here, they were left in their pots for the summer, as I readied the inside of the house. I looked forward to the following Spring, when what I considered I would have the time to do true gardening.

With great gusto, I transformed the empty space into a well-Treed, perennial planted area. All the beds are edged with Rock and Stone, giving a sense of grounded parameters. The garden still requires structure, trellises and completed pathways. And anyone who buys this property will want to is an inescapable part of the energy surrounding this home.

Grandfather Tree will give me an offspring, to take with me into the Cariboo. I will find a sheltered spot for his youngster, who, many years hence, will astound those around him, by his awesome size and the wise energy he will emit. And they will did he get here?

Just as I did, when I first saw Grandfather.

This old home, built in the early 1940's, with parts older than that, has a firm, solid touch...I have always felt whatever Storms come my way, I could weather fairly easily, living with her.

We've replaced doors, added a hot tub, added a workshop done in board and batten, to follow the design of the house. We found a closet. We've replaced plumbing and hot water heaters, window panes with a low-e rating, and electrical. We've added a brand new Cedar shake roof, and replaced siding. Her kitchen is upgraded and she is painted inside and out.

Even in the dark of Winter, she glows.

I thought we had time here...I thought I was here for good and all. Next year, I would promise myself, I will have time to move that young Tree over by the other fence. Next spring, I will decide what to do with the area in front of the Shop...and what will I do with the Strawberry bed?

And next year was when I wanted to restore the old Fir floor, his beauty hidden under layers of linoleum. This is one project the new homeowners will have to decide on...and one I will miss out on. I wanted to see the image captured of it in my mind's eye, in reality.

This home will choose her new owners, just as she did with me. All I have to do is stand by and watch and do the mundane items required, with selling a home.

Stand and watch and be grateful for the time I had with her.

And then let go...