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We built our own house, own house
With our hands over our hearts.

Decisions are never easy to make especially when you are prone to deliberation. Buying a house is one of those big ones. It must be right up there on the scale of decision making challenges. It is not only the financial outlay that makes this a tough one, it affects the way  you choose to live and it reflects your personality. Strangely enough, it one decision that we make easily within the budgetary constraints. I either like a house or not. Distance dictated that the Vancouver house was going to be an exercise in online shopping as I was still located in Toronto.

My better half had diligently found over 300 ‘suitable’ houses in the North Vancouver area. He visited many of them and even put in an offer on one. But we lost it due to an over zealous bidder. We were so disappointed! Then one day while I was searching on line, I happened to stumble across a house nestled in its very own mini forest.  The added feature was that it had its very own creek too. I just knew that this was the one!

Our forest along with a treehouse...

Our forest along with a tree house…

The Vancouver market is crazy and houses sell in a matter of days with multiple offers. Therefore a decision had to be made promptly. I poured over photographs and zoomed over the roof of the house courtesy of drone produced aerial footage. This magical little instrument revealed the beauty of the trees that give this property its charm and privacy. Any urban sounds are drowned out by the fast flowing Mission Creek. The decision was made…….it was the easiest online purchase I had ever made.

But in case you think this tale has the makings of a bedtime story, there are challenges to be had. The big one is access to the property. The house is positioned well below the level of the road and the only access is a rather steep and lengthy staircase.

Once the euphoric online acquisition had been made, the inevitable buyer’s remorse set in. How were we going to manoeuvre all our worldly goods down that steep staircase and into the house? I could see myself somersaulting down the staircase with a large sofa hurtling behind me!
Sleepless nights were the order of my day and afterwards I gave a couple of lofty solutions to our problem ….one being to construct a wooden bridge from the garage across to the house. I had idyllic visions of me trotting across with my shopping packets swaying next to my sides. My tree walk would both be a practical solution as well as food for my soul. This did not go down well….

So the engineers and creative brains in our household are working on it. I am keeping my somewhat lofty solutions to myself. There are many ideas being banded about and much discussion has ensued. I trust that they are bound to come up with a  practical plan.

I think I will turn my attention to dreaming about how I am going to make this feel like our home

Wake up to the sun
Clouds always come undone
You give the light I need
Like water to a seed

The twins check on our shower.....

The twins check on our shower…..

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The old tractor chugged along in front of me. It was heading along the windy road between the farms outside Stellenbosch. The wooden slatted trailer was laden with red grapes. They spilled over the edges as it bounced along. The round berries were bursting with juice and the sun picked up their purple hue. They would have a royal reception once they drove up the long driveway to the homestead. The wine maker stood alongside the cellar in anticipation. It was press season and he had his time cut out for him. I noticed all the activity on the farms as I slowly meandered along my favourite route. Farmers drove up and down in their ‘bakkies’ as they checked the harvest for downy mildew. The crop was looking good and it was all systems go! There was much to do and one sensed the flurry and excitement. They had to act swiftly as soon the leaves would change colour and would shrivel and drop. It would then be time for the plants to rest, but first these red jewels had to perform and yield.

The beautiful Stellenbosch Mountains

The beautiful Stellenbosch Mountains

In the distance the craggy Stellenbosch Mountain stood proud as it framed ‘the dorp.’ I thought of the time that I had run up its steep sides as an enthusiastic child. The descent had been a tricky one and I recall how I had eventually wobbled my way down exhausted and dehydrated. But that experience had not marred my fascination for this giant folded mountain. As a teenager I spent many hours wondering around at its foot. I used to enjoy a walk up there through the forest of pine trees to clear my head. (I remember there being much to contemplate in my teenage years!)

My cold- blooded encounter....

My cold- blooded encounter….

 

There I had discovered a wealth of flora and fauna and even had an encounter with a puff adder. It had been an unusually warm winter’s day and the cold blooded reptile had ventured out of hibernation. It basked on the rock and warmed its ectothermic coils. Fortunately his sleepy state had allowed me to get quite close up so that I could admire his shape and skin. My dogs did not hold the same fascinating and went into ‘fight or flight’ mode. Much barking ensued and the graceful creature slid off the rock and down into a pile of earth. They gallantly wagged their tails as they peered up at me. How could I not be grateful? 
The sight of the bright blue backdrop of sky brought me back to the present. As I made my way back to our family home, floods of memories filled my mind and were savoured.   

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Sandy…..the gracious old girl.

She sighed and heaved and she made her way up the stairs and into the house. Her back legs were in curved arthritic mode as she contemplated the distance between each rise. The tail wagged as her glossy coat caught the last few rays of the late afternoon sun. She confidently stepped into her temporary home as the familiar aromas greeted her at the door. Only then did she look up into our faces and give us the doggy grin. Sandy was joining us at Maison de Morkel for a sleepover!

 

Need I say that Josh was delighted and eagerly ran onto the deck to show her the squirrel status. This was important to Josh and he obviously thought that his cousin might need an update. Her old eyes gazed down into the garden but quickly focused her attention on discovering her new environment. There were definitely more important things on her agenda. She spied out the soft couches and rugs and tested the fabric on the cushions. She eventually settled on a Ralph Lauren in natural linen. I might add, that she does prefer a cushion filled with down and not those plebian synthetic ones that frequent so many of our shops. My goodness, this 13 year old lady has taste!

 

Supper was gobbled down without a moment to stop and savour and washed down with a long cool sip from Josh’s water bowl. It was time for a spot of exercise and we ventured out into the cool evening air.  Josh’s furious pace around the block was a bit too much for Sandy but once she was saddled up in her harness, she coped much better. She sniffed out the local Jocks and left ‘her messages’ on just about every pole and patch of green grass. We were determined to tire her out. As we hoped this would alleviate the pacing up and down and howling at the front door. This old lady came with a bit of ‘history’.

 

She settled on her exclusive choice on the couch and Josh kept looking over with a curious stare. He could not work out why he had not been allowed this freedom of choice. But as with us humans, you have to ‘walk the walk’ to qualify. When you have done your time and served others well, you are allowed certain privileges. So Sandy has the run of the house and does much as she pleases. Although she does not curl up with Josh, she is experiencing some Summer Loving amongst her Morkel family.

 

Josh ponders inequality……….

 

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