Sunday, September 26, 2010


We bought a house!

It all began just over a week and a half ago. Well, that's not entirely true. We started looking at houses before we even moved here. But just over a week and a half ago we met with our realtor for the first time. The first house she told us about, on our first meeting, sounded wonderful to all of us. It had just been listed that day and she was excited to show it to us, however, another agent had already put an offer on it! So, not wanting to be disappointed, we didn't go see it. We talked about some other houses we were interested in, and thought we'd start looking at some with the realtor on the following Saturday. She called the following day and said that the realtor had been offered a counter offer, and had not accepted it, so the house was still available. However, the seller would not be showing the house for another three days because she had some family there and was finding it too stressful to deal with at the time. So we decided we would go see the house on the Friday (the night before we had planned to "start" our search with our realtor). Then we heard that they would be presenting offers between 6 and 7 that Friday evening. So we would see the house shortly after 5, and if we were interested, would have to present an offer immediately (no sleeping on it!)

So we went to see the house on Friday. And we both loved it! It's not an open concept, but has a lovely, spacious feel to it! All of the rooms are such a nice size and there are cathedral ceilings! The basement is bright (relatively), and more than half of it is unfinished. The woman had it professional decorated 30-some years ago and it still looks pretty good, apart from years of her smoking leaving stains in the carpet and on the walls. The back yard is quite large, and it's in a really nice neighbourhood. It has a huge laundry room downstairs that I could really see doubling as my "sewing/craft" room, with lots of storage space and bright light. There are three bedrooms upstairs, and two and a half bathrooms in the house.
We decided we liked it enough to put in an offer, even if it meant we had competition. The house was definitly priced right, and we thought (realtor included) a little low for it's condition and location. So we were prepared to pay a little more than they were asking, we felt we could be competitive. We rushed to the realtor's office, wrote up our offer for three thousand dollars more than asking, downed coffees for dinner, and then drove to the retirement residence where the lady was living so our realtor could present the offer herself. Ian and I waited in the car for a nearly agonizing 20 or so minutes. Maybe longer. It felt like a long time.

Our realtor was going to go in there and sell us a newly married young couple who had just relocated to the Falls, and were hoping to settle down and start a family. She told us that she was going to make the lady think that the sun shone out of Ian's butt (which of course it does!) She was also going to offer our services to dispose of anything she couldn't handle, or didn't have time for. We would be more than willing to take any furniture or other items she had no need for, we would even pay for them. She came back and told us that the seller was "as smart as a whip!" and also that all her furniture was taken care of - it was to be auctioned off in Toronto. Our realtor also told the woman that we were outside if she wanted to meet us. She said there was no need for that.
So we waited. In the car. In the parking lot. Of a retirement residence. Shifts changed. We waited. Finally the seller's realtor emerged and rambled about having been unable to locate the van we were in "around the corner".. WELL!? He says "well your's wasn't the highest offer, but for our purposes it's the one we're going to work with." So does that mean... You mean..?! We got it?!?! Wait, there are some changes. The chest freezer is broken. The water tank is owned, not rented. Closing Oct. 29th (not the 15th we'd requested). That's all?! Of course we agreed!

We had seven days then to get our mortgage secured, seek insurance, and have the house inspected.

The following Sunday we went back to the house with Ian's parents. We found evidence of a water leak in the foundation at the front of the house. The house inspector said it may simply have been due to bad grading and eavestroughs draining directly down into the weeping tile (which we can easily fix). Also said many of the outlets aren't grounded. We should have the trees and hedges trimmed away from the house. We should install bathroom fans. That was the worst of it I think. We called a few basement waterproofing companies. One quoted us $1500 to fix the basement. Another quoted $2500.

Insurance people finally called back. We got some quotes. Our mortgage company called and said we'd been approved.
We made an amendment to the deal asking for $1500 off the purchase price, to help us pay for the cost of fixing the foundation wall. She accepted, and apparently said she felt so badly about it that she may be leaving us some furniture after all!
We have a house! We absolutely can not wait to move in, and my mind is constantly racing with ideas for renovating and decorating!!

None of the furnishings in the following pictures are ours at this point. You can pretty much tell what will definitly be auctioned off!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Will you meet me for a coffee?

I could really use a coffee and a friend. Well, actually, it's the friend part I could really use. Not to say that Ian's family isn't great. But I'm missing my friends and family like crazy. Who will come visit me? I may even have a room for you! (More on this point later!)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Things I Like

With all my whining and complaining, you'd think I was really miserable here. I'm not. It's hard, but I'm not miserable. There are moments when I feel very sad, very frustrated, very useless, very displaced... But they're moments, and they pass...

So what do I like about this place?

Yesterday Ian and I went on an excellent hike on the Bruce Trail, near Queenston Heights. The sun was shining through the trees, lighting up the leaves a bright green. The wind on the branches sounded like a rushing river. We were walking along the top of the escarpment, with views through the tree branches, over the fields towards Niagara-on-the-Lake. There were wild flowers. Some satellite thing left from the Cold War. Limestone kilns that look like wells. An old quarry. Very nice walk.

I like getting to know Ian's family better. We've obviously spent a lot more time together recently, particularly Ian's mom and I. Spending all this extra time with someone really allows you to understand them better, and I've enjoyed that. Ian's mom is even teaching me some tole painting things. Maybe next I can get her to help me with my watercolour. I'm looking forward to spending more time with his sister, and getting to know her even better.

I like tomatoes fresh from the garden. Ian's mom has lots of tomatoes and there's nothing better than picking your dinner from the garden right before you eat it. We've had BLTs at least once a week since we've been here, and I love BLTs! We'll be having BLTs again tomorrow. I can't wait!

I like the Outlet mall. It's got good stores, and it's not even in the States! I've only been there twice this trip though. That's probably a good thing.

I like our proximity to the US. Good shopping. Not that I have money for shopping. But we could even just go over for dinner if we wanted. That's neat. Buffalo wings, coming up! Looking forward to cheaper hockey games in Buffalo, too!

I like that we're buying a house. Based only on Ian's income, we've been approved for a mortgage. The mortgage is big enough to buy a house, with a yard. In Vancouver, even with both of us working, we would never have been able to afford a house. Maybe in the suburbs.

I like that Ian's happy to be here. That's the most important thing.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Finding my place

Still no job. Nothing even good posted on Job Bank. Blah.

House hunting. Nothing good yet. Lots of options, but nothing's really felt right yet. Hopefully there will be some great new postings to choose from soon!

Trying to find little things I like here. Like a radio station. Have yet to find a radio station I really enjoy. I'm not sure how among all these huge cities around us I can't find anything on the radio that I really like! Seem to be a lot of stations that play top 40, top 20, you know, the same old songs every time you change the dial. Maybe it's time for Sirius or some other satellite radio... I miss my old stations! I miss the Peak from Vancouver and the End from Seattle... Those were my favourite stations. I guess I can still get them here on the internet.. but that's not the same when I'm in the car. That's when I listened to the radio the most. It's funny, I even miss the traffic station. You know, the one that plays all traffic reports all the time?? It's funny because I haven't even been driving here, nor have I been stuck in traffic. It's just that it's familiar I guess. I miss the familiar.

I miss my coffee shops. I miss my malls. I miss my lunch places. I miss my beaches, my walks, my bridges. I miss the light reflecting off all the windows downtown. I even miss my stuffy little 100 year old apartment. Mostly, I miss my friends. I miss my family. I miss feeling like I belonged somewhere. My aunt-in-law said that she remembers feeling very displaced. That's a good description. I feel displaced. I'm not sure where or how I fit here yet.

I know this will pass and I will look back on it and it will all be worthwhile, but sometimes you feel very stranded in the moments...

Friday, September 3, 2010


The hardest part about coming here has been having to share my husband. He's been all mine for 5 years. He went to work during the day (so did I), played badminton maybe two nights a week, and occasionally met up with friends... Otherwise, I had him all to myself, apart from the numerous trips here over the years. I had to share him a bit then. I've liked having him all to myself. When we came home from work we'd chat, cook dinner together, watch TV, fiddle on our computers, chat some more... Just across the room from each other. I could roll my eyes, gasp at the TV, growl and wave my fists when something was frustrating me, and he was there to notice. Sometimes we'd go for dinner with friends, or have people over for waffles, or have family stay from out of town. But mostly, it was just the two of us. We got to spend a lot of quality time together. Given that, maybe it's surprising we're still together. We've lived each other for 5 years. And I miss it.

It's sort of making me reconsider if I ever want children. I'm selfish that way. I've liked having him all to myself. It's been difficult getting use to sharing him. Now, when he gets home from work I barely get a hello. Today was better, today I got a hello kiss. But other days I'm just part of the crowd. On his first day at work we all sat around when he got home so he could tell us all about it together, and wouldn't have to repeat it. He sometimes sits downstairs, sometimes in the living room upstairs. I usually sit in the bedroom we're sleeping in so that my computer can be plugged in... or I read... It's not really my home here... I feel a bit like I'm hiding away... But I'm trying to stay out of the way. And I like my alone time. But for 5 years my alone time has included my husband. Suddenly my alone time is either really alone, or with 3 other people. He's been like a part of me. I miss him. It's funny how you can feel lonelier surrounded by people than you can when you're really on your own.

I know it's good to share, but do I have to??