Job One

It’s been almost two weeks now since we got home from our first house-sitting gig and already I’m looking forward to our next adventure. For those of you who don’t know about house-sitting, let me quickly explain. People who are going away and need someone to be present in their home (usually because of pets) connect with sitters like us who are willing and able to come and stay in their home. Time frames vary widely depending on the job – anything from a couple of days to months and in some cases close to a year! As a sitter, you can travel just about anywhere in the world for just the cost of your air fare and perhaps a car rental. There are many web sites that facilitate home owners to connect with house sitters but the most important thing of course is safety and reliability. On the better sites, a house sitter is required to go through a vetting process to establish you’re credibility. The more references and testimonials you have, the more likely someone is going to hire you to come and sit. Home owners as well are rated by other sitters as a way of judging whether or not you would be interested in applying for the sitting position. Because we have no previous experience, the first couple of jobs can be a bit harder to get. We were very lucky to have a lot of interest right away and we chose to go to Calgary for our first experience.
Calgary seemed like a good choice because it is in Canada so we had no worries about health care, money exchange rates etc. We had no idea how house sitting would really go so we opted for a safer assignment to start. The house sitting adventure looked good on paper but until we knew for sure this was going to work for us, we didn’t want to venture too far from home.
We learned a few things about what works for us during our 2 weeks away. Initially it felt surreal meeting and staying the first night with virtual strangers as guests in their home. Turns out they were friendly, open and generous hosts. We found immediately we got along great and we had a lot in common. After they left, Scott and I were able to settle in to our own routine and before long we were relaxed and enjoying our time. Scott has family in Calgary so he was able to visit with them several times which was something we would not have been able to afford any other way.

The dog we looked after was a sweetheart, so gentle and obedient and loving. It was a real treat for me to have a dog to fuss over again. I must admit it was a little sad leaving him. I imagine a longer pet sit would be that much harder to leave. I think it will be easier to look after cats rather than dogs…easier to say goodbye to and they don’t tie you down as much if you want to get out and explore the area. After all, that’s really the purpose of doing this…free accommodation and time to explore.
We’re glad to be home again and now that the nicer weather is slowly arriving, we look forward to being here for the summer. We have one more assignment coming up later this month – cat sitting in North Carolina; one last adventure before enjoying our yard, our area and camping with our trailer this summer.
Next fall and winter, our hope is to find some assignments in warmer climes as a break from the cold and snow of Nova Scotia. For now, we’ll continue to get experience and discover more about what we need to make our house sitting adventures work for us.

Philly Express

We’re back from our first little mini-vacation since that ill-fated trip to London when Buddy became ill and passed away. It’s nice to have the freedom to travel but still a bit strange. I thought of him the entire time we were gone; thinking that I didn’t have to worry about him and feeling just a little guilty that I was able to step out and enjoy. Pretty mixed up wouldn’t you say?
It was a short trip, just long enough to get there, see a hockey game and get home. We spent way too much time in airports and on planes and not enough time relaxing but it really was a fun time for those few hours we were able to explore and enjoy Philadelphia. It’s really a pretty cool place. So much history! It really was the birthplace of America in many ways and although I’m not American, I still appreciate and am interested in its history. That’s one of the joys of travel – to learn and understand firsthand about the world around us.
The people we met were all super friendly and helped us get around on the bus system with friendly advice and help with streets and fares etc. We stopped in to a beautiful bar across from Washington Square and the hostess and bartender both spent a lot of time chatting and sharing about their lives and families. It was really nice.

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Dinner the first night was at a local corner pub – super dark and grunge-like but the server was so friendly and helpful and the food was delicious! We had their vegan version of the famous Philly cheese steak sandwich. Yum!

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Yes every place we went had a lot of vegan options on their menu which is always nice when we travel and we had breakfast at a local vegan cafe just a block or so from our apartment. We rented a cool apartment on VRBO and we were super happy with the location and the clean modern decor.

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We took the bus and spent the afternoon in the downtown area checking out the original settlement, Washington Square where the tomb of the Unknown Soldier has a perpetual flame in memory of all the men of Washington’s army that lost their lives there. I got to see the Liberty Bell which is such a piece of history. The security was like going through the airport screening! But then you were able to be up close and personal with that famous piece of American history!

The hockey game was fun. We arrived very early to get the lay’o the land…we wanted to watch the warm-up. There was a very cool blimp which was radio controlled, flying all around inside the arena. I thought it was pretty fun! There were a number of brave Toronto Maple Leaf fans who wore their jerseys but we did not. I did however wear my blue sweater so there was no mistaking which team I was rooting for. Sadly, Philly fans are not always the nicest. They were a bit unruly and aggressive at times and they don’t have the best reputation for tolerance for fans of the visiting team however at least this night, they weren’t too bad. It got pretty heated towards the end of the game but the Flyers won in the shoot-out so it all turned out okay. We had a big salty pretzel (my favourite thing at a hockey game!) but no beer to wash it down with. Can you believe they were asking $13 for a can of beer?? It was a larger can but still…with our exchange rate a beer each would have cost us $35!! Mind you, we did sample some local beers in other establishments at other times during our 3 day express vacation.


Overall we enjoyed ourselves but there was way too much time spent traveling and waiting in airports – 2 full days of travel to 1 day of fun. Remind me not to do that again!
Next up: house sitting in Calgary. We leave next week and will be gone for 14 days. I’m looking forward to getting a nice fix of doggy love as we will be sitting for a sweet little rescue dog named Chivo! We’ll keep you posted.

Off We Go

It has taken me a while to get back to writing anything at all and in particular writing on my blog. Life over the past 5 or 6 months hasn’t always felt like an “excellent” adventure. Of course the cold miserable winter hasn’t helped. Yikes. It’s been so cold that lots of our neighbours including ourselves have had our wells freeze! Now that was a new experience for me. I’ve lived in the country with a well before but it was an artesian well in the basement. It was always full and never frozen. I guess I was spoiled although once we did have a mouse fall in and drown and we didn’t find it until it had rotted and tainted the water supply, but that’s a story for another time.

Anyway, we had a plumber come by and he thawed it out in about 5 minutes – no problem; nothing new for him. He suggested hanging a light in the well which we did and it provided enough heat to keep things moving on those cold, cold -14 degree nights. Being the optimists that we are we took the light out of the well a week ago and I hung up my spring wreath on the front of the house so I guess it’s our way of telling the universe that we won’t accept anything but spring weather from here on out! Take note Mother Nature. The Andersons have spoken!

One great thing about this warmer (if you can call 5 degrees warm!) weather is the animals and birds are starting to come out and hang about. We’ve had our resident Ring Necked Pheasant eating seeds off the ground under the bird feeder and a group of deer grazing almost every day now. There are 8 beautiful deer in the group and I am watching to see if there will be more fawns later this spring. We heard the raccoons fighting the other night so apparently they’re out and about and hungry as well.

It seems like for all species including the human kind, the time for hibernation is almost over. As the warmer weather slowly envelopes us, we will be enjoying more and more adventures starting with a 3 day trip to Philadelphia on Tuesday. Not exactly on our bucket list but it should be fun just the same. For Scott’s birthday I bought tickets for us to see the Toronto Maple Leafs play the Flyers on Wednesday and as any Leaf fan knows, just about the only way to see them play any  more is to buy out-of-town tickets! I was able to pay for the flight with saved Aeroplan points and rented a cute apartment on VRBO.com, my favourite rental site. It turns out there are several vegan restaurants within a couple of blocks and the subway is just 5 minutes away making it easy to get to and from the Wells Fargo Arena for the game. We’ve pre-booked a limo service to take us to and from the airport so all we have to do now is pack and go. Oh, and enjoy!

This will be our first trip together where we do not have Buddy to worry about. It’s a relief in some ways but deeply emotional as well. I am gradually beginning to accept and appreciate the freedom that not having a pet brings and it would be silly not to take full advantage of that freedom while we can. I’ll keep you posted when we return and let you know how our mini vacation goes. After many months of change, disappointment and grief, this just might be the start of new and better excellent adventures for Scott and I. You’ll have to stay tuned to see…

Dear Buddy

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here. It just didn’t feel like these past few months were even close to being an excellent adventure. As most of you know, 4 months ago to the day, we lost our sweet dog Buddy. It has been a difficult time for us and I am still missing him deeply. You see, we got him as a little sausage (our endearing name for him as a pup) only when I knew I would have the time to stay home with him and give him the love and attention he deserved. He suffered with so many allergies right from the beginning but his gentle nature and sweet face stole my heart and made the extra effort and cost worthwhile. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABecause of that, it turned out we were together almost 24/7 for most of the past eleven and a half years. It was a beautiful, fun and busy time. I can’t believe how many of our excellent adventures we shared with him! He traveled so many places: in a car, a ferry, a trailer. He stayed in hotels, motels, B&Bs. He even lived in 4 different homes. He was a real “dog about town”!

It’s amazing to me now, how deeply embedded in our lives he really was; how much of my time was actually taken up by thoughts of, or caring for, my sweet dog. He was my little shadow. We grew so close that we were almost thinking each other’s thoughts. img_7643I was his human and he was my fur baby.

Life moves on and so must we all. I can’t move forward though without one final tribute to my sweet boy. Buddy’s life had meaning and value. He added so much to the fabric of my life. His memory will stay with me for all of my days. So if you will indulge me this one time, here is my final letter to the best dog ever.

Dear Buddy,
It’s been 16 weeks since you’ve been gone and I still miss you so much. There isn’t a moment when I don’t remember how you filled my life with love and acceptance. I miss seeing your sweet face and your big, expressive eyes. I miss your funny lips sometimes getting caught up and showing your front teeth. You were never fearful or nervous. You were funny, cute, fun, full of joy, lively (just ask anyone who came into the house!) and inquisitive. You were so smart! You never barked, you never chewed anything or touched anything that wasn’t yours. You loved life, people, and the world…never angry, never mean. What a smart, kind, loving and snuggly little boy you were.
We are enormously grateful to have had you in our lives for eleven and a half amazing years. You will never be forgotten. You were so much more than ‘just a dog’ – you were my heart.

I am blessed to have had you in my life yet broken to have lost you.
Rest peacefully my sweet Buddy.

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And Away We Go

Well, it’s finally here. Later today we are off to London England for 9 days of fun with the Queen! Okay, so the Queen isn’t actually in London just yet but expected back any day. Scott and I are lucky to have gotten a ticket to tour Buckingham Palace on the last day it is open to the public. It is only open for 10 weeks of the year and Sunday is the last day. So after watching the Changing of the Guards and the cavalry , we will be escorted inside to check out the throne room, the banquet hall, the famous Grand Staircase. Should be a great start to a wonderful week. Look out London, the Andersons are coming!

Pub Crawl, Retirement Style

It’s official. Scott is retired and ready for fun! He only worked a half day but before he punched out for the last time, everyone gathered for cake and presented him with a card and little present. What a wonderful send-off ! I was ready here at home for a little party of our own with  cards, a few little presents and a nice cold bottle of champagne!

After our little celebration, we headed out to Halifax to check out a few pubs and have a beer or two. Since we are going to London England in a week, we thought we could use a little practice. Besides, nothing says retirement like a pub crawl!

We started out at the Old Triangle Irish Alehouse where we enjoyed our first beers of the evening and a tower of onion rings. Yes, it was a tower but we polished them off, no problem.

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Of course this was to be my only beer since I was the designated driver but that was okay. The evening was all about Scott having fun and really getting to enjoy the ending of this momentous day!

The Old Triangle Alehouse was really cool with lots of wood and fun tin signs and leaded glass panels. Although the place was built in 2000, it has the look of an older establishment and having a beer there felt pretty comfortable.

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Next stop was just a couple of blocks away and it was a lovely day for walking. Durty Nelly’s Irish Pub was awesome and had live music, which the other places did not. Sadly their non-alcoholic beer was disgusting! It was a wheat beer (which I don’t like at the best of times but no alcohol – why bother?!) and it tasted like vomit…or was that what it made me want to do? That didn’t matter because Scott had a Guinness and a smile so we had a great time just the same!

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Next we headed to the oldest pub in Nova Scotia called the Split Crow Pub. You’ll have to check out its history here. It is pretty rough and not a place I would necessarily go to again but we enjoyed our short visit and we’re glad we went. We had more beverages (I had another gross non-alcoholic beer) and we shared a wrap and some cauliflower ‘wings’ with hot sauce.

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Scott looked so happy. He had such a great day and it was so nice to see him smiling and enjoying himself. This was, however, to be our last stop. After beer and food, Scott decided he had had enough and was ready to head home.

Three bars and we were done. Now that’s a pub crawl, retirement style! We were home by 7:30 and in bed by 9 just like good little seniors should be. Although in our defense, we were up at 5 a.m. and he did go to work so maybe tonight we’ll try for a later bedtime. Perhaps 9:30?? Can we do it?

 

Six Hours

Retirement1 (1)In six hours Scott will be officially retired. That’s right…just six hours. We thought it would never come and yet here it is. I only have six more hours to myself, to get up in a quiet house, make my tea or toast my bagel or sleep in . Only six hours left for me to do whatever I want in the quiet house I have all to myself.

And yet, I don’t care about those things right now. I am so excited to have Scott here, to share my days with someone, to share the fun things that can happen in a day or the annoying things or the upsetting things. Having someone, well not just someone but the right someone, makes life that much better in every way.

I got up to see him off on his last trip to work. It reminded me of seeing my children off to school – emotional for so many reasons. And yes, I find myself getting very emotional this morning. I didn’t expect to feel anything out of the ordinary. After all, everyone who reaches a certain age, retires. But for me, this means the beginning of everything I have worked for my entire life – a life lived without the stress of jobs or raising children or being and striving and doing. It is the beginning of ‘me’ time or perhaps it is better if I say “us” time. After all the ups and downs of life, the struggle, the work, the schedules and responsibilities, at last we get to sit back and watch the rest of the world spin. It’s time to really embrace the joy of living for as many days as we get.