Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Search Begins

I'm sure I have mentioned several times that PeterC and I look forward to the day when we can own a large parcel of land where we can build a homestead. A place where there is plenty of room for horses, dogs, cats, chickens, goats, sheep, and maybe even a cow. A place where we can build a modest home and still have room for workshops, a proper studio, and a garden big enough to feed us for the year. A place where we can live out our days away from a large traffic route and where we can invest in solar and wind power.

Looking at our minimum requirements we know we need 5 acres of land. That will allow us to create a comfortable home for us and the animals. Five acres would even allow us to let a small portion of the land return to brush to create a home for the many species of wildlife we hope will take up residence.

The search finally began for that homestead. We've always kept our eyes on the various real estate listing but the search began in earnest this past weekend. We spent all day Saturday and Sunday driving around the area, within a 50 km radius of Cornwall, looking at the various listings for residential and vacant land. Some of the places were planned and some were nothing more than side trips when we saw a For Sale sign.

What we have found so far is rather discouraging. All listings that included a house were being sold for $200,000 with little to no land. Any place with a house and enough land to do what we want was hovering around the half million price range. That pretty much means we will never be able to buy a piece of land with a house on site already.

Even the vacant land sales were disappointing. Ninety percent of all the listings and even private sales were for less that 5 acres of land. Most of the listings that were for 1-5 acres of land are being sold at about $10,000 per acre with a few selling for a whopping $35,000 per acre. The few listings and private sales we were able to find that were for a reasonable price were usually under power lines, swampy, or straddled a river that prevented us from doing any of the things we want., nay need.

So the search continues. Hopefully within a few months we will find a farmer with some land he wants to sell because he is getting to old to work it. With luck he will not be asking an arm and a leg, expecting to sell it as a "rural estate", but looking to sell it to someone who wishes to become stewards to the land and live out their lives there. Knock on wood, cross my fingers, and spit into the sea we'll find that place soon.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Jumping In with Two Feet

I tend to be one of those people that everyone watches, from the outside, diving into projects and hobbies with both feet and not looking back. What they do not see is the fact that I live inside my head and carefully weigh all options and possibilities before making that leap.

What got me started on this train of thought was a comment someone recently said about me jumping right into the SCA, showing up at my first event to enter an A&S competition, and having all my garb already finished. They seemed to think I went from 0 to 60 in just under 2 weeks, and were rather impressed by that it seemed.

In all truth and honesty I thought about my options well before entering the SCA at all. I researched the time periods, the costuming, the arts and crafts, and knew what I wanted to be before I had even sent off my cash. But I also hedged my bets to some degree.

Like with my first Arts and Science entry. I entered a carved box. While I had never made a box before, I had been carving on and off for several years now. The result was the appearance of a beginner entering and ranking very highly. But was a I really a beginner?

The same can be said for the costuming. I have been sewing my entire life from patterns. Once I knew what time frame I wanted to play in I looked for existing patterns for the styles of garb I wanted or something very close to what I wanted. Then I purchased the fabric and started sewing. I made plenty of mistakes but the people on the outside don't see those.

I also have plenty of doubts. I doubt my ability to build a lovely box. I doubt my ability to create period appropriate trim, hats, belts, or any other accessory. I doubt my ability to adapt a pattern for my size and shape. I doubt my ability to go out and interact with other people. I doubt my ability to put on armour and put on a good show if not actually win a bout or two. Again, no one on the outside sees those doubts. I apparently hide them very well.

I do persevere. I have to. I could easily become locked in my own head and let the fears and doubts keep me from ever doing anything. It has happened before and it took months to break out of my self imposed prison. And even more months not to lock myself back in at the slightest hit of failure and doubt.

Now, I take those fears and doubts and stomp on them mercilessly, after considering them very carefully and planning for as many contingencies as I can. Planning lets me have some measure of control over my fears of disaster and failure. I consider all my doubts and ask "what is the worst that could happen?" and make plans to deal with the worst things I can imagine.

Sometimes the doubts still interfere with my life but I am getting better at this game. I am figuring out that sometimes it is okay to fail at something. I can't improve unless I fail, and I can't fail unless I try. Perhaps one day I will have no doubts, but I doubt it. :)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Movie Magic...Not So Much

I've led a relatively sheltered life in some ways. I didn't see my first movie in the theatre until I was 18 and on my first date. It was "Return of the Jedi" and needless to say I became hooked. There is something oh so magical about sitting in a dark room with a huge screen and surround sound to really and truly lose yourself, suspend your disbelief as they say, and become part of the story.

Over the years I have had the pleasure of seeing some really great movies in the theatre. "Dragonheart", "Fifth Element", and the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy being the ones that stand out in my mind. Unfortunately, I have had to displeasure of paying large sums of money to sit through a movie that was just sad. Even with all the help of the environment I just wasn't able to truly get into the movie. But I kept going back time and time again to give Hollywood another chance.

With age, and fewer really good movie ideas coming out, I found the allure of the theatre dimming. Prices for the tickets kept creeping higher, and higher, while the stories became weaker and less interesting. Occasionally a Sci-Fi or Fantasy would tempt me back to the dark, cool, loud, and large room but most of the time we just decided to wait to rent the movie.

New technology, or old technology re-imagined, was introduced to make movies more attractive to an ever more cynical viewing audience, and in the early days I guess it worked. 3-D movies were very popular with the audiences for a while but as with all things Hollywood, they overdid it. Every movie that has been released over the last year has been 3-D. It did nothing for me and I never bothered to see one. Until last night.

Having come from the above mentioned "sheltered life" I knew who "Conan the Barbarian" was but I had never had the pleasure of seeing the movie all the way through. Last night we decided to see the new "Conan the Barbarian" movie. We arrived at the theatre only to find that the movie was being shown in 3-D and we had to pay extra for that "privilege".

We already pay $10.00 to see a movie but now we had to pay an extra $4.00 for a style of filming that we could not choose yea or nay to. So we ponied up our cash, the price of which already putting a damper on our attempts to go into the theatre with open minds, received our $.30 glasses, and took our seats. We settled in, hoped for a good movie, and watched.

To be honest the movie wasn't bad. It wasn't great but I admit I have paid to see far worse movies in the theatre. The acting was okay and the story was actually kind of interesting. The 3-D effect was a waste. It tended to distract me from the actual movie. It wasn't used sparingly and in places where it would be a great addition to the movie. NO, the entire movie was filmed in 3-D and it was just annoying.

We both came out of the theatre with the firm opinion that we will not be going to the Cinema again anytime soon. We will wait for the movies to be released for rental and if it even suggests that it is filmed in 3-D we will avoid seeing it at all. It is truly a shame that Hollywood can't come up with original stories but it is even worse when they "effects them up" in an attempt to make them more interesting and ruin them instead.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Blessed Rain

After weeks and weeks of hot dry weather we finally got some rain. Not just a sprinkle or two either. An honest to goodness downpour that last for several hours. There was even some thunder off in the distance, too.

It came to late to help my peas, the hot weather taking care of them weeks ago. But the beans celebrated by putting out so many flowers the entire bed looked like a flock of seagulls had passed over several times over night. If that is any indication of the upcoming crop then I'll be freezing and canning to my hearts content later this month.

Saturday, August 06, 2011


When we first moved here we were told by the Real Estate agent that this was a century home. The building inspector said it was at least 1890's, and my own limited knowledge of building methods suggested late 1800's.

Like good little citizens we contact the local Heritage Society to verify whether our house was listed and what portions of the house were protected. Unlike most Heritage Societies that I am aware of, the local society only protects certain aspects of a home not the entire home. In some homes it is the staircase, others the fireplace moulding but not the fireplace, in others it is the layout, etc.

We were told our home was built in 1920 which just didn't fit with the building methods used to build her. Log floor joists on 4 foot centres, stone foundation, post and pin roof framing, posts with bark still on them for the upstairs wall studs, and thick ( 1.25 inch or more) flooring in the unfinished rooms upstairs. But the Society said she didn't fit the bill and therefore was not protected in any way, which may explain some of the renovations done over the years.

Imagine my surprise when PeterC came home from work with a link to an area map from 1856 showing the exact outline of our home on the map. Turns out one of his co-workers is really big on genealogy and family history and while doing a search for some of his relatives came across this map in the archives, and kindly passed the link on to us.

This map does not prove that the current house was built earlier than 1856 but it sure does lend some credence to the idea that it is older than 1920. The map does show a home with the exact same dimensions and location as our home, including it being right on the then existing county road line. The map also shows a carriage house and barn in exactly the same location as we have found the remains of a stone foundation, and a drive way in exactly the right place to be lined on either side by our really old double row of trees.

The only way to prove it is the same house is if we could find a newspaper with a picture of our house in it, from the period. If it includes a series of family names to link it too, that could then be searched in the county records would be even better. But, in the end it doesn't really matter if we can prove it to the Historical Society.

It is good enough to know that our home is indeed most likely as old as we thought. Now if we could find some pictures of the inside of the house, that would be perfect. Then PeterC and I could spend our money and time returning this lovely lady back to her original state, creating a beautiful home and a work of art.