The Beauty of September in Cottage Country

September 2nd, 2017

It's no secret that September is one of the best months to enjoy cottage country. With most of the kids back to school and bug season out of the way, it's somehow quieter... more peaceful. September is generally studio tour time... when artists throw open their doors, inviting the public to browse, schmooze and hopefully purchase some of the work.

Early in the month, local farmers markets are still bustling and with it being slightly slower than peak season, the vendors have time to chat. From mid-late September, the evenings are cooler and the days are still warm... often the leaves begin to change. Many towns and villages host fall fairs in September... with activities from demolition derbies to pumpkin competitions, recipe contests to pie eating challenges... there is always something happening.

As the days begin to shorten, the night skies have some extraordinary offerings. If you watch the sky for the entire night, they say you will actually get a look at most of the constellations that appear in summer, autumn and winter. Of course, on the 22nd of September there will be an equal amount of night and day.

When Wild Weather Hits Cottage Country

August 21st, 2017

Okay, we've had some fabulous storms this summer and endured too many downed trees blocking roads and cutting off our electricity... it happens, to a degree, every year. This year, we've also had extraordinarily high levels of rain and most of us are feeling more than a little water-logged.

In Canada, every year, about 10 people die from lightning hits... and about 100-150 others are injured. While nothing is fool proof, there are some things you can do to help protect yourself during bouts of bad weather, at the cottage.

1. Keep an eye or ear on weather forecasts... and if a storm is in the offing, you might want to postpone any hikes, long distance swims or boat rides.
2. If you see lightning and then hear the thunder less than a half a minute later, get yourself indoors and stay there until at least a half hour after the last thunder clap!
3. Don't take a shower, or bath. Don't wash dishes or your hair. Lightning can actually travel through cottage plumbing, so stay clear of anything to do with water.
4. Lightning can also travel through electronics, land phone lines, lawn mowers... anything with metal... so before the storm hits, unplug your tv, the radio and any other appliances you can easily access.
5. Gather up anything that can be torn loose or blow away- remember things like garbage cans and lawn chairs can become deadly projectiles during a severe storm. This is why it's a good plan to keep trees trimmed and take down dead trees.
6. Shelter your pets, ensuring they have food and water.
7. Stay away from windows, fireplaces and doors.

A Sustainable Household

August 11th, 2017

With the growing cost of utilities, it's important to consider sustainable options when you are looking for a home. Not only will you help to conserve valuable resources, you can reduce your expenses for heat, water and electricity.

Sellers have always been quick to point out the higher quality and efficient features of their homes, likely because they've enjoyed the burden of making the changes and spending on the upgrades- while Buyers paid less attention to those factors. Certainly, the location and layout are still high on Buyers' lists... but the rising costs of carrying a home have made them a lot more savvy about the benefits of sustainability.

These days, Buyers are looking at the advancements in technology, trying to go beyond LED lights and programmable thermostats, they are now taking notice of energy-efficient appliances with timers and other programming. It is not unusual for today's Buyer to ask the Seller for the past year's energy and electric consumption.

Solar power used to be considered cutting edge but it isn't that unusual now to have Buyers remark about a homes orientation- especially when it is making use of passive solar warming. South-facing windows are seen as a positive feature. Solar panels and solar water heating are no longer looked upon unusual and are, in fact, considered to be a bonus to today's Buyers. In fact, micro-fit installations that don't feed back to the house are frequently questioned.

Energy savings are important when it comes to heating a home. High-efficiency furnaces and high value insulation, along with heat recovery ventilation top the list. Windows are also one of the most important factors, insulating not only from the cold, but from noise levels.

Newer double pane or triple pane, argon-filled, low E... are all becoming part of the jargon, along with geo-thermal and xeriscaping. Now that's a mouthful. Xeriscaping refers to the conservation of water through landscaping. It's becoming a buzzword in the Real Estate world and it sounds really intense but actually it's more about learning which types of plants require less water and hold more water in the soil. Xeriscaping is about grouping plants together in a manner that will help to manage rain surface water in order to optimize the garden. Of course, other sustainable water conserving features include low-flow sinks, toilets, showers and sprinklers.

59

July 20th, 2017

I am writing today on what would have been my cousin Shari's 59th birthday. I say would have been but I suppose it still is... it is the anniversary of her birth. Unfortunately, we lost her in '75. Way, way too soon. A strange automobile accident at mile marker 424 on the Alaskan Highway.

I often wonder what she might have accomplished, had she not left us- at just 16. It's hard to believe that she was middle-aged at 8... but she was.

I've come to understand what people mean when they say age is just a number. One person's 8 is a drop in the bucket, another person's 8 is half-time. At just 3 months older than Shari, I can tell you that at 16, we thought 59 was ancient. I remember working out that we would be 42 at the turn of the century and thinking 42 was old. Nowadays, there are people trying to convince you that 40 is the new 20... as if it's some kind of new phenomenon.

Really, as I recall, Jack Benny was 39 for the whole time he was part of my world. He celebrated his 39th birthday over forty times.

Interest Rate Hike

July 12th, 2017

As anticipated, the Bank of Canada has raised it's benchmark interest rate from .50% to .75%, this is the first increase in seven years. Mortgage rates and home equity lines of credit are bound to climb.

The Bank of Canada's Governor Stephen Poloz justified the hike, stating he's convinced that the Canadian economy has "turned the corner" after a few false starts, such as oil price plunges in 2014 and 2015.

Borrowers will notice an increase in their rates as Canada's largest banks respond to the central bank's move by raising their prime rates . Rates are expected to increase by a quarter-percentage-point to 2.95 per cent. Prime rates influence the cost of borrowing on floating-rate loans, including variable-rate mortgages, credit lines and student loans.

“The very strong growth of the first quarter is expected to moderate over the balance of the year, but remain above potential,” a bank's spokesman said in a statement.