Moving Day…..maybe.

Eight years ago this week, we moved into our lovely house. Today Larry and a friend are on scaffolding and ladders with electric sanders prepping the outside of the house for its long-overdue paint job. House jobs are really never finished.
We love the sense of history of our 150ish year old house and are glad to caretake it so that it lasts for another century or two.
This is an eight year old blog about moving in.
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July 13, 2009
I’ve been wondering lately what life would be like for visitors without hot water. After my last frantic post, we got an amazing email from the couple whose river house we stayed in during our first 6 months in Bear River. They offered to let us stay in their wonderful house on the river while our company is here! As much as I had hoped that our house would be ready, the thought of moving back to our original Bear River home seemed kind of fitting and too tempting an offer to turn down!

Under the willow tree life is easy.

I mentioned before that sanding floors was the hardest job that Larry faced with our house, but maybe I spoke too soon. Actually, the award for ‘trickiest job’ might go to ‘installing a kitchen’. Those of you who do this for a living are smiling right now because you know that it takes lots of higher math and algebra skills, combined with carpentry and various substrates knowledge. Also, the plumber and the electrician have to coordinate their parts in the drama so that  the kitchen winds up combining a great deal of technological know-how. It is not only the heart of the home, but also the brain. One of the snags we hit was a counter that doesn’t quite pass that higher-math test and is cut at a different equation than the cupboards on which it sits.
Fitting the counter.

Larry and Peter have had to squeeze into awkward positions putting together the kitchen.

Also, we can’t actually put anything into the cupboards because in our zeal to cut costs and to give the kitchen our special touch, we ordered it with just raw wood. We need to coat it with a coloured stain that we’ll be mixing up one of these days, but we’ve been too busy!
So in other words, the kitchen isn’t ready yet.

Bathroom

I love how the bathroom is shaping up….especially the shadows on the wall, but it still needs a door.

My father's rocking chair is 60 years old.
My father’s rocking chair is 60 years old.

A chair in the living room helps me to imagine that we are almost there!

Chaos at both ends.
Chaos at both ends.

I’d forgotten that when you move, there is chaos at the place you are leaving and chaos at the place you are landing and that it takes time to unpack and to find places for everything.

The mess in the hallway
The wood planer creates sawdust and shapes the wood around the door frames.

In terms of moving today, our friends Don and George made several trips with Larry back and forth to the house with boxes and furniture and paintings and dishes. We have a couple of carloads here still and tomorrow we’ll take one to the house, and one to our river retreat for a nice, welcome break from the higher math stuff!Waiting for the marshmallows.We are ready for an evening of reading the coals. It gets chilly in the evening so we may be able to have a little fire one of these evenings.

Tree shadows

Meanwhile, our seats await us under the patient willow tree who whispers “almost there”.

Give Me One Reason to Stay Here…and I’ll turn right back around

I wrote this post 5 years ago. We’re very happy with our place in the universe – Bear River. – Flora
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Bear River at low tide.

I’m sitting on the couch beside one of our kitties, with one eye on the coals in the fireplace and another on the live stream of CBC reporting from the NDP (Canada’s social democratic party) leadership convention in Toronto.

Larry has made us some melted cheese on home-made bread along with a cup of tea and we are waiting for the fourth-round election results. I’ve enjoyed the interviews with the eliminated candidates because outside of the formality of the debate, they are better able to show their humanity.

The defeated contenders are all asked who they will ask their followers to vote for. They all decline to say because “all the candidates are good people.” and “I want people to feel free to make their own decision.” and “I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.”

I really get it because I often feel the same way when people write to me to ask about moving to Bear River.  They are looking for an endorsation and in a way they are seeking affirmation that they should take this bold step.

And I know this so well, because I also had mixed and confusing feelings about whether leaving Toronto to move to an unknown tiny village was the right step for us. I too connected with some of the artists via email before we came here. My idea was that “if I like this person and they love their life in Bear River, then I will probably like it too.”

Unfortunately,  it’s much more complicated than that. We are all such complex individuals, not 2 of us among 7 billion the same, that it is impossible for anyone to know the answer to that question of: “Should I ditch my job, and my city life and move to a tiny village in Nova Scotia?”

In the 4 1/2 years since we’ve moved here to this village of 800 we’ve seen people move here from other parts of Canada and some from the UK and at least 50% have left within this same period.

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It’s all here. Or is it?

I don’t know why they all came or why they all left, but I do know why we stayed.

So, over the next week or two, I’m going to tell you what our reasons are; what we like and maybe what we don’t like. It’s a good exercise for me because it’s about gratitude. And hopefully, it will help me to post more often too! And maybe it will help to answer some of the questions you’ve had.

Spoiler: It’s not only about landscape, environment, solitude and community.

Warm Red Cabbage, Red Onion and Apple Slaw

I can’t resist picking up a purple cabbage at the grocery store. Oh the colour is so rich and the slicing reveals the most intricate patterns. I noticed that the line from the middle spiral outwards. Is everything in creation a series of spirals?cabbage3

I came across this totally easy and VERY TASTY recipe called Warm Red Cabbage, Red Onion and Apple Slaw. Even the title is visually appealing.

I use apple cider vinegar instead of balsamic, but I’m sure both are delicious. I also add a handful of walnuts. AND, I keep it on the stove until the cabbage is soft. That means putting a lid on it at the end.

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The book Vegetarian by Joanne Weir is out of print, but here’s a link to it.

It’s snowing outside, the washing machine is washing,  and the kitchen is filled with a sweet and sour fragrance. The cat is curled up by the fire. Larry is upstairs creating an ad for this season’s Bear River Artworks Gallery.
Reminder to self:  the studio calls.

cabbage2

cabbage1

Snow Storm Latte, Art, Tides and Bear River Hills

Bear River snow.

Snow storms are very OK if you don’t have to drive anywhere. But even better is having a walking destination that leads to:

  • a delicious Sissiboo Coffee latte that I could never emulate at home
  • a place with wonderful art
  • somewhere with just the right music
  • friendly folks

So Larry and I bundle up and slip and slide down the hill.

Bear River snow.
Sliding down the hill to the village.

Then over the little bridge from the Digby County to Annapolis County side.

Then into Sissiboo Coffee Bar and Gallery for a treat and to enjoy the art.

See more of Penny’s stitching, dyeing and fibre story-telling at her blog 

I’ve left out the conversations about the recent local Herring Deaths, the Trump stories, the agony of aging parents, the state of the world, heating systems, fostering creativity, music concerts and lost cats.

I’ve left out the Bob Dylan, John Prine and similar sounds in the cafe.

I’ve left out the stop at the post office.

Envelope
An advantage of living in a small town

And finally, the walk home……

And then a peek into the studio at my newest creation. A need to add some colour to this beautiful, monochromatic world.

And finally for you, dear reader, a little puzzle.

crows
Can you spot and count the crows at the compost?

 

Garden, Painting and Summer in Full Swing Flashback

This post from Aug 9, 2013 is about a lush, rain filled summer. This 2016 summer is not. Drought and heat sum it up. What is the same is the insect explosion. 😉

—————————-What crazy weather this summer. We had record breaking rainfall in June and July and hot, hot, sticky days alternating with cold. These conditions have  played havoc with the garden and the insect populations have exploded. This is good news for black flies, earwigs, cucumber beetles, potato bugs and snails. Sigh. It is also good news for birds and their numbers seem up.

I’ve painted more flowers than ever before and haven’t even scratched the surface of what I would like to achieve in that theme.

Lily
Lily
Flowers to paint
Flowers to paint

This week the weather has shifted.  The nights are suddenly chilly and the warm daytime sun has allowed full outdoor activity again. Suddenly the vegetable garden is looking lush and strong. I see my favorite pumpkins starting to form – winter luxury pumpkins  that taste out of this world as pies or as vegetables.

The vegetable garden at the beginning of August
The vegetable garden at the beginning of August

The green beans are flowering and the tomatoes are green and growing.  Larry staked them this afternoon as you can see from the photo in the header. The potato plants are like bushes, in spite of those striped potato bugs that I flick into soapy water when I remember to!
The weather is still always the wild card and teaches both flexibility and acceptance to this gardener.

The rain has accelerated the growth and height of all the perennial flowers. Those tiny plants I put in 4 years ago are crowded now and exploded into bloom.

This is an exciting time for me to paint.

Green Willow Studio
Works in progress at Green Willow Studio
The Newest Painting
A hot July painting in the studio.

The summer has been filled with other important cultural details 😉 such as:

Visiting Susan Geddes' studio in Annapolis Royal.
Visiting painter Susan Geddes’ studio in Annapolis Royal.
Listening to Caleb Miles after hours in Bear River.
Listening to Caleb Miles after hours in Bear River.
Swimming in Bear River.
Swimming in Bear River.
Watching fireworks at Cherry Carnival.
Watching fireworks at Cherry Carnival.
Harvesting a year's worth of garlic to eat and to plant for next year.
Harvesting a year’s worth of garlic to eat and to plant for next year.

This summer I’ve worked hard at painting and I’ve been blogging that experience. My writing energy is there now…I guess because I am so involved with the act of painting. If you paint too or are interested in the process, please join me at http://floradoehler.ca

And thanks for reading!

The Secret Garden and the Willow Trees

There is a very special place that I go to when I need to be in nature, or when I need a quiet moment. Behind the vegetable garden we have about 1/2 an acre that we let grow wild and that contains our pond.

pond10

This piece of land has a few intentional plants like lilies, iris and about 7 willow trees. But the rest of it is a chaotic riot of tangled wild flowers (weeds really) that grow about 4 feet high.pond09 pond08

We have a couple of paths cut through it and walking them is like being a child again in my grandmother’s garden. Hidden from view and right in the middle of the natural world. Frogs croak, seagulls and crows soar above. Bees buzz all over the flowers.

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pond01

The pond itself has 8 large goldfish that wintered over. Animals wander through and drink from the pond. There are dragonflies, butterflies, birds and a host of insects.  It’s a nice place to decompress and to marvel at the complex beauty of the natural world.

pondfish1

pond12I planted the willows 4 years ago and they are already taller than me. In a few more years there will be a willow grove at the end of the pond providing magic for us and no doubt for the next caretakers of this land.

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