The Times, They Are A Changing

Seems like a good time for an update, on the landlocked owners of Northern Ranger I… just in case anyone is thinking we are out and about on the big blue wet thing ( reference: Muppet Treasure Island, kids favourite boat movie every summer boating holiday)… anyway – since we returned home life has been turned upside down. 

The decision had been made to sell the house, which we built eight years ago ( time flies when you are.. well, getting older, actually). Although number two son still lives with us, and number one comes home once in a while for a visit and a sleepover, it really just feels like the two of us and of course the animals. It’s a lot of house, with a big yard relative to what other people have who live in the city.. and in the course of the 25 years we have lived here, everything has changed. It certainly is not the town of my childhood!

Anyway the lifestyle that we are dreaming about – cruising on the boat down south in the winter, summers up at the lake fishing and playing – can only happen if we cut out the middle man … our lovely house in between. Which is fine, but when you would rather be out and about on the boat, staying home in the rain  packing and cleaning, downsizing and cleaning, rearranging and cleaning – certainly loses its appeal after about a day. 

But we have reached that exciting stage now, where all the grunt work is done, aside from more cleaning of course, and our agent is starting to organize tours of the house. I’m not sure how that works, as very few prospective buyers are from this part of the world and our agent is a transplanted Torontonian who speaks not a word of Mandarin… but he has a great way with people and actually it was he who sold us this house 25 years ago.

So here we are – standing at the crossroads as it were. Everywhere, we hear stories of buyers coming clutching millions of dollars, fighting for the right to buy a piece of our land. In our neighbourhood, there are the old original houses built around 1960 ( we bought one of those and tore it down ourselves eight years ago to rebuild so we can’t complain when everyone else does it)..and huge monster houses that block the sun and supposedly house at least one other family in an ‘illegal suite’. No confirmation, but everyone knows it’s true. Even with our house, the agent was musing about how a suite could be created out of a corner of the main floor which presently boasts the exercise room, the mud room, and a full bathroom. Also a wok kitchen  could be built into the walk in pantry. We built for us – exercise rooms and art studios and a room full of hockey memorabilia and a huge TV to watch the games… and a fairly extensive garden and a pool/hot tub in the back which has seen a LOT of parties over the years, very few of them mine I might add. When the sold sign goes on this house there will probably will be a lot of 20-somethings come over wearing black and holding a vigil to commemorate the loss of their favourite party house…

But I can assure the prospective buyers that I did consider feng shui when I was building. My favourite barista up at the local Starbucks would pass on advice from her mother, and I would hurry back to the site to comply with the instructions.  Coins were placed at every corner just after the foundation was poured.. I had to buy a brand new broom to sweep the floors…stairs don’t lead out the door.. doors don’t lead you straight through the house and out the back… even the professional decorator  who made suggestions about colours was also a feng shui practitioner and tweaked a few of my decorating decisions. I’m hoping clients notice all this harmony as soon as they walk in the front door! We can only hope!!! Actually my favourite was the practice of carrying only certain things into the house for the first time.. before anything else came in, you took ( as I recall, I may be wrong). sugar.. salt… tea.. something like that.  So I bought packages of everything, and a nice new little basket.  It sat at our rental house, waiting..waiting..waiting.. the only other thing I took across the threshold was the brand new broom which was acceptable.. and when the time came that we could start bringing our things back to the new house… the first through the door was the basket.  It was actually pretty special! Next thing was the champagne and the glasses of course… 

But that’s MY tradition!

And now we are looking in the other direction… sooner or later, everything we own will be going out that door . We would love to rent back until Andrew finishes this last year at art school – but that may not be possible. If we had the boat here we could travel back in time and move onto the boat and REALLY downsize.  In the 36 years we have been married, the inbox of our life has far exceeded the outbox when it comes to personal possessions. We have a LOT of STUFF.  just STUFF. A lot of STUFF left this house over the last month, going into storage, or recycled, or into the big yellow bin that sat outside for a week.. in my perfect world that bin would have been full to the brim and they would have had to bring in another one. But our poor landfills would not be able to  handle the amount I’m talking about. So we will carry this STUFF around for a while longer. 

So today is the first day of spring. That seems an auspicious time of the year, although it is raining ( we have had three days of glorious sun, so I’m a bit miffed). Spring – new beginnings – putting things behind us. Everyone asks where we are going from here, what are our plans? I refer to a door – right now I am dealing with getting ready for the sale, preparing the house and making it the best it can be. The future is a series of doors in front of me, and although I eventually have to open one of them, right now they are closed. We can see them, we can talk about them, we can imagine what lies behind them. Renting back for a year – door number one. We don’t actually have the power to make that one happen, we can only suggest. Door number two – rent something between here and Vancouver, somewhere Lawrence can still hop on the skytrain and get to work ( yes, he still works… for now) and Andrew can get to both his job, which is in Richmond, and his school which is in downtown Vancouver. Some doors are way in the future, and friends want to know if we are going to join them at their retirement dream location… an hour out of town but a little piece of heaven on the ocean up Howe Sound, where getting home after work is like going to your own personal resort every single day. Other friends and family  live on Vancouver Island, personally one of my own special places  and somewhere I could move to in a heartbeat.. too many towns to choose from, I could never decide on  one town to live in so having a boat meant we could move around and live anywhere we wanted to! However, said boat is in Mexico so that isn’t an option. 

We do have another home – five and a half hours away, on a beautiful lake, surrounded by wonderful neighbours, where I can ice fish in the winter ( yes, I’m weird. I love the cold.. the colder the better) and fish from my kayak in the summer. So that door is always open, and our tentative skeleton of a plan is winter on the boat down south and summer at the lake up north. Bare bones plan. 

But first – we have to sell this house! Yesterday Andrew took Kona for a long walk, his girlfriend took Clarisse, cat number two, for a visit to her house, and Lawrence and I took Philadelphia, cat number one, out for a road trip to Chilliwack to look at campers ( that’s another door.. truck and camper so we can pull the Grady White down to Mexico and have a fun road trip on the way).. ( reference the comments about STUFF.) Philly was remarkably calm, enjoyed gazing out the window ( she’s an indoor cat so it would have been entirely novel). Maybe we can turn her into a boat cat! 

Not sure where we will take the animals today, but the open houses are only for an hour and half so it’s not too onerous. ( Yesterday there were 9 groups that went through in the hour and a half. Not bad.) Offers are to be accepted on Thursday, giving everyone a chance to work themselves into  a frenzy of want and need for our house … we can only hope.

Otherwise, we have to continue to keep the house clean and next weekend we will be taking all three animals up to the lake so the agent can spend Easter Weekend entertaining more guests with deep pockets and try to entice a few of them to make an offer. 

So Northern Ranger languishes in La Paz, waiting for us to make up our minds about when we will come back down. I had hoped April, as there are a few weeks between Easter and the end of the month when we are going to be up at the lake for a celebration of life for our best friend up there. Unfortunately there is a chance work will keep Lawrence close to home, so we may not go down until May, and only for a few weeks. Once summer comes to the Baja, we will not be travelling south because it’s way too “sunny with a chance of hurricanes” . Next visit won’t be until the fall, when it cools down and calms down. I’m fantasizing about selling the house, getting ourselves resettled wherever that may be, and maybe going down for a few weeks on my own just to hang out. Maybe even look into the spanish language schools I have read about and start talking the talk, as it were. 

UPDATE! Thursday night saw five offers come to our table. We accepted one only to have it crumble around us because the prospective buyer saw rats in the neighbourhood.  well, duh… this IS Richmond. Rats, Racoons, Skunks, Squirrels, Coyote, Eagles, Possums…. the list is endless. We have vermin. That’s what makes us unique!

So back to the drawing board with the other offers, and on Good Friday, after hearing from three prospective hopeful owners – we chose one, signed on lots of dotted lines, and loaded up the truck for our Easter weekend at the lake. 

So that is that. Now we have to move forward and find a place to live for a year here in Vancouver that takes two cats and a dog. Not so easy. Northern Ranger 1 waits for us down in La Paz and I am keeping my fingers crossed that we can head down in May, as we have to be out of the house by June 1st. We have ordered a camper and a truck so we can travel down to Mexico with our “dinghy” in tow – and hopefully drive to Alaska in the next few years as we don’t have a boat here to do the trip. 

The door to the past closes behind me, and I really can’t say I am sad! It’s odd, but true – the doors ahead of me are starting to open and I am hugely excited to see what’s in store for us!