Flash back to the other day when we were still in our ‘honeymoon’ home buying phase, all priorities checked off our wish list. Add to that an excellent home inspector’s report…then a not so excellent septic report….then the sound of the other shoe dropping. Water report: unacceptable. More than good reason to terminate our contract. We felt comfortable to walk away and start our search anew. Moderately disappointing but who wants to take on a hornet’s nest of other’s problems?
Fast forward to present time. The seller is willing to replace the septic system at their expense which means it will have to be done by today’s standards, engineer designed and Nova Scotia Environment certified which means also the correct distance from the well.
What shall we do?!?!
We went back to our original thoughts, our original list, our original impressions. We added extra criteria. Do we see ourselves here in ten years, twenty years or longer? Do I see myself here if anything should happen to Francois? Then a bigger question that gave Francois reason to stop and think. Would he be happy here if anything should happen to me? Good question, he said. After he thought for a while he said that yes, he could see himself living here without me but it would feel empty. Now I said, remove me from the equation. Pretend I’m not here (I know it’s hard to do, haha). Would you accept the new offer? I would, he said.
This septic and water issue had put a cloud over the whole deal not too dissimilar to when we first bought R.E.D., brought her home, splashed her, spent the first night onboard to awaken to 3″ of water in the cabin. More than one person advised us to return her. You can get so much more boat for that price they said. There were tears, sleepless nights and so much doubt. We lost faith in her integrity. But once the problems were remedied she regained our trust. With each issue encountered – and there were many – we fixed it, seeing it as a way to get to know our boat more intimately. We look back now and think we wouldn’t have changed a thing. We stuck with R.E.D. and she has given us five years of unforgettable adventures…and there will be more.
There is no perfect…ever. The idea of utopia keeps us all looking forward, seeking the sometimes unattainable. There will always be something better. Always a sweeter deal around the next corner. We are trying hard not to get caught up in chasing the ‘more’, the ‘better’, the ‘bigger’, the endless ‘what if’s’. But we don’t want to settle either. This little RED by the SEA is certainly not perfect. She comes with her own flaws, however charming. She’s old. She has stairs we will need to climb and should we become disabled this could present an issue. The view of the sea will diminish with time as the trees grow taller.
We sat here this morning with our first coffee revisitng the discussion of what to do. We tried really hard to come up with more than just two concerns. Then we sat in silence for a while, thinking. A question my daughter asked yesterday brought the discussion to a close. ‘Is this your dream home?’ Francois’ immediate answer, we’ll make it our dream home!
The clarity of hindsight will eventually show us the wisdom of our decision, a decision we are looking forward to living with, whatever may come.
Here we are in our little 2×4 cabin on a rainy, then foggy, then oh, it looks like the sun might break through, then no, there’s the fog and here’s the rain again day. Francois can only stand up straight in the companionway and frequently bangs his handsome head on something or other and we constantly do our boat dance, shimmingly past each other trying not to disturb what the other is trying accomplish, pick up or put away without getting pissy. And we look at each other and think we are in heaven. Is this normal, I think?
And the thought of being (land) homeless doesn’t even seen to come into play. Afterall, we’ve just been to the local farmers’ market bringing back some yummy things to keep us sustained for the next couple of days including a very good looking Polish sausage that’s hanging from a hook infusing it’s scents throughout the cabin. Is this what Poland smells like? If so, yum! Mix with that the aromas of freshly ground coffee all ready for tomorrow’s first, then second cup and oh, that crusty bread. My Frenchman does love his bread. That fresh slab of salmon that provided meals for 2 days. Feeling really good knowing we have supported four different local businesses and we haven’t even hit the butcher down the road or the lobster pound a few miles away.
And did I mentioned we’re homeless? Of course I did because I keep repeating it to myself each day. Homeless. I had to write all of this down because I can’t for the life of me figure why this isn’t more upsetting. Is there another shoe that’s going to drop? Are we going to wake up tomorrow and wonder what the hell were we thinking?
We’ve put an offer in on a property nearby after a second visit. That one that had all the points on our wish list checked off. Offer received. So what’s happening on the other end? Have they gone to bed to sleep on it while I stay awake wondering what the outcome will be? Are they just as uncertain as we are. If they turn our offer down will we walk away? The dance of uncertainty continues. But the love affair with this property is ongoing..
Room with a View
As I’m writing this we have received a firm acceptance of our offer. Papers signed. Both sides satisfied. Now comes all the other stuff. Lawyers, notaries, inspectors, insurance, interprovincial challenges,so many tests to be done within a short period of time. But the bottom line of all this is we will no longer be homeless once the snow flies. Our little Red by the Sea with all its charm, all its imperfections, the blank canvas waiting for us to imprint our own mark will soon be ours.
Our Garden Awaits
In the meantime we can now get on with enjoying the rest of our summer. Exploring our new sailing ground. Discovering corners of our new universe. We will become Aspotogans or Aspotoganites. Not really sure what residents of Nova Scotia’s Aspotogan Peninsula are called but we’ll be there absorbing everything the region has to offer.
“As much as you want to plan your life, it has a way of surprising you with unexpected things that will make you happier than you originally planned.”
Now that our R.E.D. has a home we can place more attention on finding an off-season home for the crew.
To keep things focused we made a list of priorities in the search for our land home, a sort of wish list.
- The most obvious, affordable. We’re retired and one of the main points of this exercise was to be mortgage free. If a small mortgage were needed then we have to be able to pay it off in a very short period of time.
- Property on the sea or at the very least a view of the sea. Can’t call it ‘Red by the Sea’ if it’s not by the sea can we?
- Southern or south-east exposure for capturing heat from the sun especially during the winter months.
- The perfect size for the two of us. In ‘Goldy Locks’ terms, not too big, not too small, just right. But it has to have room for family and friends to visit. Got that? We EXPECT visitors!
- Two bathrooms. The key to a harmonious relationship.
- A place for R.E.D. Lots of cost saving if we don’t have to store her for the winter months and it would be great to have her close to be able to make modifications in the off season.
- A garage or at the very least a space to build a garage in the future.
- A place for Francois’ workshop. Maybe that should have been higher up the list.
- Charm. For me it needed to feel like home. You notice I put this priority below Francois’ workshop but we all know it easily could have been #3 on my list but we’re a team. Life’s a balance.
- Minimal work to be done.
- Not too far from a marina so during sailing season we don’t have to drive forever to be out on the water.
- Other minor things came up in our discussions. Very minor but Francois said he would like to have wild roses and lupins in the garden and I have always wanted a window seat, my Kat perch, at which to read and write and dream.
I think that’s it. Now that I’ve written it down, it’s a longer list than I realized. We fully expected some properties would have features we loved but never would have thought we’d find one with all boxes checked. It was just a guidline. The main points we put at the top as priorities. The rest we knew could be added with time. We also thought that it might be best to rent for a year to get to know the area better although we have both fallen in love with the south shore of Nova Scotia in particular St. Margarets Bay area so that became our focal point real estate wise.
St. Margaret’s Bay
A couple of casual outings with our agent and several drives along the coast checking out communities, marinas, boat clubs and making note of places for sale.
Down to the Sea
And there she was, our RED by the SEA. With lupins and roses in the garden. And a window seat. All of the above stated priorities checked off. All! We never expected this! A ten point landing.
Charming with a View
We sat back and thought ‘whoa‘! Then a touch of fear set in. Are we really ready for this? Maybe it’s too soon. Maybe we should wait. Always best to sleep on big decisions and never good to make it emotional. I remembered Francois’ words when we first visited our condo in Montreal, top floor with the phenomenal view. ‘Poker face, Kathy. We’re negotiating’ Sorry, buddy but that ship has sailed on this one. I gushed to the super nice owner just how utterly charming her place was to which she responded that she immediately saw it in my face and told us she hoped we would return when we have time to enjoy a glass of juice with her. Yep! That ship has sailed so far away it’s out of sight.
So we slept on it or rather we went to bed but neither of us slept much. Each mulling over our own thoughts. Francois the sane practical one thought finances while I was placing furniture and in full on nest phase. We did however secure a second visit with our agent,you know,just in case. We went to discuss finances at a local bank branch, you know, just in case. We secured contacts for a property lawyer, inspectors etc. You know, just in case.
There is still so much to happen before we can truly say we are no longer homeless…so very much! And when I can channel a more rational me, I know it may not be this place that becomes Red by the Sea. It’ll be disappointing for sure but as a good friend said, if not this one, there will be others. More to come as the adventure unfolds but for now we get to dream a bit and mentally arrange some furniture and virtually tend to those wild roses and lupins just down the lane.
Down the Lane