Sunday, October 7, 2018

One Year!

I took this photo not long after moving here.

I moved here one year ago today. 
I saw this house for sale online on the evening of September 4th, 2017. I called my realtor the next day, listed my condo four days after that and it sold in a week. Then I spent three intense weeks packing up all my stuff, getting rid of things I didn’t want to take with me and buying all the furnishings and equipment I needed to get this place —a half-are and three buildings—up and running.
I’m a city “boy.” My lifetime of work was mostly with my head, not my hands. It was a big change of lifestyle moving from a condo in the downtown core of Vancouver to the rural semi-isolation of Gabriola. 
I bought my home from a bank: I received neither information about how to manage any of the equipment that came with the property—the well, cistern, stove and the hot tub. Nor did I receive any advice about how to live here, semi-off grid and where services are provided much differently than they were in the city. I get my water from a well and heat with wood.
My home sat proudly on a huge naked lot: A log home with a huge deck and distant neighbours. This is what I’ve done in one year of residency:
  1. Built a verylong wood fence around the back half of my half-acre lot.
  2. I got myself three pets: One puppy and two unrelated kittens.
  3. Gutted and completely rebuilt the interior of the eight hundred square foot building that became my studio.
  4. Built a large screened porch off my dining room so that cats can be safely outdoors.
  5. Gathered and had removed, two dump trucks full of crap left here by the previous owner—some of which were heavy old engine parts.
  6. Built (and I mean, “built,” because there is no soil here) several flower gardens.
  7. Created a courtyard with paving stones, unifying my home with the shed and my studio.
  8. Laid a rubber floor in my shed wherein I park my car and do wet/dirty work.
  9. Bought and stacked eleven cords of wood! 
  10. Laid eighteen yards of topsoil to create a new front lawn and seeded it.
  11. Built a one thousand square foot fenced raised-bed vegetable garden.
I’ve done many things this year that I’ve never done before. I’m terribly proud that I fixed a toilet, saving hundreds of dollars by replacing a cheap plastic part. I’m truly stoked that I swam in the sea and felt like a kid again.
My triumphant decision was to get Sheba, Fred and Ethel; they are my most intimate and fulfilling relationships. I also enjoy my wild avian menagerie that is attracted to the birdseed I put in my two birdhouses every morning.
My most astute move was hiring handyman Darrell. I initially hired him just to build my fence but his ethics and skills convinced me he was perfect to do all the work listed as my accomplishments above. I could not be prouder of a relationship than I am with ours. 
Sheba, at six weeks old.

There have been absolutely no regrets—not even when, not long after I moved here, the power failures started and I had to learn how to use and live with a gasoline generator (without which there was no water pumped into the house from the well and the toilets could not be flushed).
I live as rich an intellectual and emotional life here as I did in the city. I joined and use the library. (I never did so in the city.) I’ve do a lot of volunteering for the Arts Council and I walk with a dog-walking group four mornings a week. Life’s emotional highs come from the natural beauty of the island and the surrounding sea. I feel proud and lucky to live here.
Gardening thrills me, as does the forest, the eternal silence and the overwhelming and total blackness of the night sky—and the clarity of the air makes starlight and moonlight shine, turning night into a magic landscape. And the sounds! The Ravens, the wind in the trees, waves breaking—all I see, smell and soothes me. 
I take as much joy in every ride in my car as I do in achieving my trip’s purpose. 
I have lived one year in Paradise. 

Now I have a front lawn.

My courtyard and the studio in the background.
Fred and Ethel.

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