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My Canadian Experience
May/June 2007

May wasn't too good a month weather wise but June has been much better.  I took some pictures of my house as it looks like I'll need to get my trees pruned back and perhaps even take a couple of them down. 

My next door neighbour has left and the owner of the building came round to see me.  Seems he thinks I should rebuild my fence and garage so that they are 2 feet into my property line.  I've been told that the fence has been in that position for some 50 years which means I don't need to do that but will be interesting to see if anything comes of this.  Anyway... the owner said he'd be interested in going 50:50 on removing the tree between our two properties and that is of interest as I do plan on extending my garage and also making it into a proper garage rather than a partly enclosed car port.  Hadn't intended to do that until I had the property paid up but will consider the tree removal.

First picture is a view from my front porch

You can see how the trees are wrapping themselves around the house.

The plan is to replace the steps up to the house and have them painted the same blue as the other woodwork. Also plan to get the lattice upgraded and painted plus get some gardening done around the house and perhaps get some flowers planted.

Neighbours houses on my side of the street

You'll note that I have a birch tree at the front of the house.

You can see how the tree is now planting itself onto my roof.  This is the one I'm also looking at removing so I can extend my garage but it is also growing over my neighbours house as well so likely best it is removed sooner than later. Having said that I really don't like to remove trees so will give it some thought before I make a final decision.

Continuing my eye tests I got another test from the Optician which showed I have a problem with my right eye...

As you can see I seem to have a kind of blockage.  Will be following up on this later in the month.

In May I attended various meetings of the Knight Templars, the AGM of the Scottish Studies Foundation and the Scottish Studies Society and also watched Nola getting her divinity degree and she's now been accepted as a postulant which means she's on her way to getting confirmed as a  Minister... and so well done Nola! :-)

I got a visit from James Shields an artist and author who emigrated from Scotland to Canada in the 1990's. He presented me with a copy of his mighty book on the World's Civil Aircraft.

It's a worldwide review of aircraft types currently flying in civil markings. Includes Helicopters, Homebuilts, Ultralights and Production aircraft. More than 2900 types and variants of civil aircraft currently airworthy are illustrated with 3357 photographs including 387 in colour and 563 pages in all.

James, being an artist, has also worked with many of the leading artists in Scotland over many years and as a result has agreed to do some profiles of those artists for the web site.

This period has also seen me working with Beth Gay, the former editor of the Odom Library Family Tree newspaper.  I am now hosting her "Beth's Newfangled Family Tree" which is being done monthly as a .pdf file which makes it easy for folk to print this out if they wish.

I am also looking into the possibility of bringing back the newspaper as the "Scottish Studies Foundation Family Tree". Beth and I are gathering together the facts and projections for this and I will present this to the Foundation to see if it makes sense for us to get involved.

I also got in touch with the Scottish Heritage Center in North Carolina to see if we couldn't do something together that might be of interest.  Talked to Bill the Director and we're going to get together in August to see what might be possible.  He's just heading off for his holidays and then he's doing a summer school for piping and hence August before he'll be free to look at this.

Right now the loonie... Canadian dollar... is getting near to parity with the US dollar.  That is making it harder for Canadian exporters to compete. While unemployment is around 4% ordinary manufacturing jobs are getting hard to find although the service sector is doing well. There is also the problem with US security.  The US are really getting a bit paranoid about security and they are now insisting on everyone wanting to enter the US have passports.  This means that many more Americans are now reluctant to travel as many of them don't have passports so if they exit the country they will need one to get back in.

Also, from a Canadian perspective, whereas Canadians didn't need a passport to travel to the US they now need one. This is currently putting a strain on both countries passport services and on the border agencies.

I'm also finding that I am not looking at the news from Scotland as often as I did.  When I first got to Canada I would look at the Scotsman news at least once a week but now find some months have gone by and I haven't logged in to read any Scottish news.  I did however take the BBC Scotland feed to watch the Scottish elections.  I was quite interested in seeing how they went and was glad to hear that the SNP had got elected.  It's really more that I think Scotland needed a fresh face in politics after all the labour party had been ruling Scotland for the past 50 years and really needed a change.  It will be interesting to see how the SNP get on in a minority parliament.

Mind you I did note that if I sent an email to the former First Minister I did get an acknowledgement email but I didn't get the same service when emailing the current First Minister.  We'll see how things develop in the coming months :-)

On 13th June I had my appointment with the eye specialist who took some more detailed pictures of my eyes...

He's decided that I need some laser treatment and so $140 lighter I'm due to get this on 19th July at the local Chatham hospital.

In June Nola and Harold came down to their Port Crewe home from Toronto for a wee break and I treated them to a Scottish High Tea along with Pat, their next door neighbour at Port Crewe.  Pat works at the  local Chatham hospital so was able to also provide a wee snack for her break at the hospital from the left overs :-)

My laundry drier packed up at long last. You might remember that the washer and dryer were left by the previous home owners and so I've had a good two years free use of them.  As the dryer went I decided to get myself a new washer and dryer and for this I went to Sears in Chatham.

It was the wrinkle-prevention that sold me along with the price. I'm pretty much a one wash person and do my laundry every two or three weeks and so this should last me forever! :-)  As I don't in fact own an iron the wrinkle prevention looked to be a good bet!  I did include a 5 year on-site warranty with the purchase. They will deliver, install and remove the old units and they did so on 27th June...

Work on my steps got under way at last...

The above four pictures show Frank building the steps on the front of the house. When they stripped the old steps they found that there were bricks missing so the steps weren't being supported properly. They've now fixed that and the steps are now up and painted. The hand rails are away being sand blasted and hope to get them back and painted by the end of the week.

Here is Claud coming to give a hand.

And the steps on the other side of the house

Couple of things have come up during this construction process.  They noted that the path from the sidewalk to my side steps goes up and down and that the path to the side gate is breaking up.  They offered to fix this and as I've already tripped several times decided to go ahead. So... they are also going to get 10 bags of concrete to fix all that.  They are also replacing the lattice work and will get that painted as well and then a wee bit of gardening to make the front look good. Claud is also going to trim back the trees that are growing around the house and especially that branch on my roof. The final job is to power wash around the front and back of the house.

Lattice being painted

On the left you see the new lattice going up and on the right my new cleaning lady stops for a chat

And here is a close up of Angie who is not good at getting her photo taken :-)

This is the path that needs leveling both to my side door and also to the garden gate

Most homes have a front and back door whereas I have a front door, side door, and this is the back door and also to the right the door leading into the basement. And so I have four doors into the house :-)

While inspecting the house I found another issue beside the front steps so another thing to get fixed.

I know I'm within a couple of years of having to get my roof done so have asked them to give me an estimate for doing that job.  Frank mentioned that you can now get long life asphalt shingles which will last 40 years which would see me out so have asked him to get me a quote for this.  I have apparently got only a single layer of shingles so that means I can lay another layer over the top.  All that means is that this is likely to be a cost effective option. Mind you there will be other costs as when the roof is being done my intention is to complete my attic and turn it into a games room :-)

Also got bit by a spider it seems as my left hand swelled up...

I wasn't able to make a fist so went on the web to see if I could figure out what the problem was and found...

Medical Questions
To speak to a nurse about a medical or health-related issue, call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000. If your situation is a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or 911.

So I phoned and it seemed that I may have had a brown spider bite which is giving me the swelling. I headed down to the Pharmacist and they recommended a histamine and if that didn't fix it after 24 hours I should see a doctor.  Well it wasn't any worse the next day so I elected to give it another day and it was better and so currently the swelling has almost gone.

Had a great Canada Day holiday and as Nola and Harold were down again I ended up having three meals down at their house and also with their neighbours Pat and Al. One highlight was locally caught perch and fried potatoes.

So.. that's it for this two monthly report.  Likely more reports on my house next issue :-)

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