Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A spring morning in Halifax

It started to snow here last night, and we woke up to find everything covered in another blanket of white. No winter isn't done here yet. So we spent the morning shovelling the drive and walkway. I cleared the snow, while Nate shovelled it right back to where I had just cleared it from. Nice to have a helping hand eh? After the work, some play. I had to convince him to make this snowman. He kept knocking it down as we were building it, but it eventually got done. And now, he's fast asleep. Nothing like a bit of snow to tire out a kid!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The scarey house

View from backyard Kitchen Bedroom

office Master bedroom Bedroom

Rec room in the basement Living room Living room

When I first saw this house on MLS, I told Patty that this house scared me. It was big and ominous looking and just didn't look like the house I wanted to live in. We went to see it without much hope of actually finding anything worth our while.

It's a little oddly laid out. The front door opens up directly into a living room. Up three steps to the right and down a hallway is the other living room with working fireplace. Adjacent is the dining room and kitchen. There is a large master bedroom with en suite and deck, and three more good sized bedrooms with another bath upstairs. Finally there is a finished rec room in the basement.

The house is situated in a nice family oriented neighbourhood, with lots of walkways and parks. The school Nate would go to is a short walk away. It's very close to groceries and the mall, as well and the bus exchange.

It's practically a no-brainer. It's not quite the neighbourhood we were thinking of, but in many respects it is so much better than what we had in mind. We'd still need to do some work on it, and who knows if it would even pass inspection, but it's looking promising.

We've ruled out the house on Connaught, it's just a little out of the way for us. So for now the two contenders are the house on Almon and the scarey house on Edward Arab Avenue.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

One year ago

Jesse at work, originally uploaded by J J Justinsen.

Earth hour 2008. Working the closing shift at JJ Bean on Main Street in Vancouver. We killed all the store lights for an hour and worked by candlelight. I was surprised at the number of customers who asked why we were doing it. That several people complained was no surprise. I know it was mostly symbolic, but it didn't look like anyone else in our neighbourhood participated.

I worked that shift with Jesse and Katie. Katie has moved to Toronto and I'm now in Halifax. Jesse is still working at JJ. I wonder if he is closing by candlelight tonight.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A house in the North end

This is a house on Albert Street, in the North end of the Halifax peninsula. You can see our friends Kevin and Karen's place from this house. They have 2 boys and a girl, which would be nice for Nate.
From the outside, a pretty uninteresting house. A rectangular block of brick and siding. Some nice touches inside though. I like the little teardrop windows in the door, and it's got a wood-burning insert in the fireplace. Good size kitchen and a dining room that looks out onto the backyard. There are four bedrooms upstairs, with attic access through one of the closets. There's also a one bedroom apartment in the basement, although we didn't get to see it.

For some reason it all felt a little cramped to me, I'm not sure why. Maybe it was just the incredibly small bathroom. Whatever it was, I'm not sure it's the house for us. It isn't close to any groceries and maybe I just had my heart set on an old Halifax house. Still I haven't ruled it out altogether. I'm trying to keep an open mind and keep our options open.

So this is how it's gonna be

Nate (calling loudly):

Nana! Nana! Where are you Nan?

Me (to Nate):

What do you need Nate?

Nate (loudly to me):


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Stalking houses

I'm afraid the bulk of the postings for the next little while will be more of the same. It's probably not everyone's cup of tea, but if you're even a little nosey like me, you'll probably get some mileage from them. I mean I've even asked to go see houses I know will not work for us, just because every once in awhile, one of them will look like this. Sadly that property was already under offer and we didn't get to see it.

The picture below are of a victorian house on Willow Street. It didn't look all that interesting from outside, but it all changed very quickly once we stepped inside

These photos don't do it justice, then again neither did the photos on MLS. It was a beautiful house. Large kitchen, one and a half baths, 3 bedrooms, good location, large yard and deck. Unfortunately, it was short a den or office space. I think our realtor saw us trying to make it work for us, and put a stop to it. She was right. Maybe we'd talk ourselves into it now, but we would be miserable a year later.

So when do you know you've found the right house? How do you know something even better isn't going to come on the market the very next week? Do you keep waiting for that absolutely perfect place to come along, or do you settle for the one that sorta fits the bill cause it's the closest thing out there and you don't want to lose it? So many questions. No answers. Maybe it wouldn't matter so much if I wasn't planning on dying in this house.

More from the hunt

The house on Connaught Street. We've always referred to this property as the purple house, because that's what it looks like on MLS. It didn't look anything like purple when we pulled up to it, and we're realizing that most colours on MLS bear no resemblance to the real thing. White balance people! Check your white balance!

Three bedrooms(carpeted) and a den upstairs. There's a living room, dining room, half bath, office and kitchen downstairs. We quite like this house. It was listed as a three bedroom, so we were pleasantly surprised by the office and den spaces. Access to two bedrooms are through the den, but it would make a nice sitting room/library/play space. The only real drawback is it faces onto 4 lanes of traffic, and the back yard is not exactly spacious. Nevertheless, at 334,900 it's pretty appealing.

The wish list

In no particular order:
  • a character house that isn't falling apart
  • at least 4 bedrooms, or 3 bedrooms plus a den.
  • a working fireplace, bonus points if it's already got a wood burning insert
  • a kitchen that's not a country kitchen, and has room for the Wega
  • at least one and half baths
  • a good size yard
  • a living room and a family room
  • cast iron radiators as opposed to hot water baseboards
  • easy walking distance to groceries and services

So far the only properties that even comes close to fulfilling the wish list are the houses on Almon and Connaught Streets.

We were hoping for new listings today, but it's still just the same old properties out there. I keep telling myself that's it's only been a week, but the lack of anything new coming onto the market is pretty discouraging.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The jigsaw house

This was a little place on North Street. I say little, but really everything we've seen is bigger than our old condo in Vancouver. Even the ones that are too small. North Street is one of the busier streets in Halifax. Only two lanes of traffic, but a steady flow of traffic to and from the bridge to Dartmouth. It was a cute house, screaming out for some love and attention. Too much love and attention for us.

The fireplace above belongs to a house on Oxford Street. It wasn't a bad house, but it wasn't great either. Some work had been done but the finishes were nothing special. It's as if they just wanted to finish it up as quick as possible with the least amount of expense. And I suppose if I was going to sell a house I might think that way too. Why waste money when someone else is going to come along and rip it all up again? It's appeal mostly lies in the fact that it has a one bedroom apartment with it's own entrance on the main floor, perfect for visiting friends or relatives. That and we really like that fireplace.

The house above is also situated on North Street. Stepping inside was like travelling through time. Knob and tube wiring all through the house, original woodwork, period furniture, giant cast iron radiators. A nice house, but not for us. Far too much work would be required to get this house in shape. There wouldn't be any shortage of room, but there probably wouldn't be any shortage of projects to keep me busy for the rest of life either. A massive undertaking for someone with more dollars to throw around. Asking $329,900.

I'm starting to wish we could take the bits we like out of these houses, and assemble the house we want from all those bits. I suppose that's why people choose to build their own houses. I don't think I'll be going that route any time soon. On the drive home from the airport the night we arrived in Halifax, I told Patty's brother Peter how stressful the last few days had been. He laughed and replied 'Try building a house.'

Hunting houses in Halifax

The first house we saw in Halifax, situated on Almond Street. A huge place, with a living room, dining room, and a family room off the kitchen on the main floor with french doors to the back deck and yard. Four bedrooms up and lots of room in the basement with the possibility for a rec room. The space was almost embarassing, over 2000 sq. ft. And Yes, that is a hot tub you see in the master bedroom, right next to the television. Shocking!

All this for $389,000. This puts it just a little out of our reach, although our realtor tells us it's way over-priced for what it is. The kitchen could probably use some work, but there is room for the Wega so it passes. it's all carpet upstairs for some odd reason, so those will have to go. Pretty handy to downtown, and groceries. It's been on the market since December with no bites, so we're hoping to see the asking price go down.

Friday, March 20, 2009

West gone East

Monday 16 March 2009. Our last morning in Vancouver was a blur. Shelley came to pick us up and take us to the airport. Between wrangling dog, boy, bags, and sorting out who went with Shelley and who went in the cab, I don't think I even said goodbye to Marcia. Not the exit I was expecting, but such is life.

The flight was mostly good. Nate's TV screen was working this time, so he was mostly distracted by Treehouse and Discovery Kids. We didn't lose any bags this time and Snoopy was reunited with us before the first bags started coming out.

Tuesday morning we brought the 21st century into the Ginn homestead. The internet got connected together with out new phone line.

Nate is all about his nana. and Patty and I might as well disappear. Nana has become his default go-to person when he needs something or when he doesn't get his way.

We've been to see 11 houses now, of which maybe a couple have possibilities. One of them is especially nice, but I'm not so sure about it's location yet. Our realtor tells us there will be lots more houses on the market come the end of March break. Hurry up and end already March break!

Thursday and Patty's office is all set up and ready to go. We've got a wireless network in the house now. Suddenly the back room is tech central and the house has gone from zero computers to three.

Friday now and I'm starting to realize that we are not here on vacation this time. For the most part it still feels like we're on vacation, but then I'll get an email or Facebook message from someone in Vancouver and it doesn't feel so much like a vacation. The enormity of what we've done is slowly starting to seep into my conscience, but it will take some time to process. I do miss my friends though, even if they don't feel that far away on the internet. I have always thought my friends were amazing people, but the emails and messages I've gotten since moving have really reinforced this. Sometimes the smallest things make all the difference, and it's nice to know that my friends feel the same way and have taken the time to let me know.

And finally, a short word on old Halifax houses. There are lots of them. Some of them are alright, some of them are very fine, and then there are those that are just crying out for love and attention. Stepping into one of those houses always makes me wonder how they got to such a state. It's a little sad. It can also be dangerous because I want to be that person who showers it with love and attention. I know I can't afford it, but it never stops me or Patty from seeing the potential and imagining what it would be like if it just got a chance.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

all done

So the movers have come and gone, we are almost all packed up and tomorrow we get on a plane to Halifax.

Oddly enough, it is snowing today in Vancouver...an ominous sign of things to come perhaps?

I was hoping to say more on this last post from Vancouver,but my brain is all but shot after days of packing. I am exhausted, physically and emotionally and I haven't even had time to really say goodbye to anyone.

I hate goodbyes, so it is probably just as well.

I'll be offline for a bit...but hope to start posting again soon.

I am probably wrong, but this is going to be the last move I ever make. I have famously told Patty that she better like the house she buys in Halifax, because it is the house I am going to die in.

Thanks for the last 10 years Vancouver, I hope to come visit again.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sure you can make plans...

...just don't expect them all to work out.

We had all sorts of plans for our last few months in Vancouver. We were going to do some touristy things, see some places we haven't been to, and revisit some old favourites we haven't had much time for in the last few years. Patty and I were going to go eat at some of the restaurants we knew we were going to miss, and while we did get out for a date one evening, the rest of our plans have mostly been just that. Plans.

Other things happened. We got sick. Nate got sick. We lost a week of daycare because Kristi's little girl got sick. There is a lot of sick going around here right now.

And of course we're also packing. Packing and also throwing birthday parties and going away parties. At this very moment the kitchen is full of cupcakes, and there are still more in the oven.

We've been busy, so this blog hasn't been seeing much action. Neither has my flickr photostream. I'm now three months behind in my pictures, and I fear that number will just keep getting bigger. Well, at least for the next few months anyway.

Some of the stuff that's happened in the last few weeks:

  • Patty and I went out for a dinner date one Friday evening. Our friend Jack very kindly offered to sit for us, and we took ourselves off to Salt tasting Room for a very enjoyable evening.
  • Nate turned three. He went to daycare that day and had a great time at Kidzone then work up from his nap not so happy. It got a lot worse before it got better, but by late Friday morning he decided he had had enough and pronounced himself well. I didn't quite believe him, but he was true to his word. Quite a neat trick.
  • We threw an almost kid-free birthday party for Nate on the evening of the 28th. Really it was mostly for us to say goodbye to friends and give aways bottles of alcohol. But Nate didn't seem to mind, he got presents and he got to eat cake.
  • And on Sunday Nate will get to go eat more cake when he gets his kid-friendly birthday party at the Roundhouse.
  • In other news, by brother is halfway through his tour in Afghanistan. It seems like it's gone by fairly fast, but I'm sure that mostly because we've been busy with other things here.
  • We thought we found the house for us, but it's already under offer and we're waiting to see how that goes. There will be other houses, and the whole process will be much easier once we are in Halifax.

So we are down to our last 12 days in Vancouver. I'm sure I won't get to do everything I had planned to do before we leave, but it's not really that important. I have had a great time here in Vancouver, and those touristy things, they'll keep for when we come visit.