The Story So Far

Happy Spring! We are at the beginning of the fourth season in our new home and time seems to be flying by. We’ve come a long way in the nine months since we first arrived and I have a true sense of accomplishment from improvements to the property and the challenges we have met head on.


We first arrived at the end of July to find the property in an absolute mess. The previous owners had not finished cleaning up three decades’ worth of garbage, the roof on the house clearly could not handle another winter, and the collapsed deck in the back was an accident waiting to happen. Also, the inside of the house was…well…let’s just say I didn’t post any interior shots to Facebook because I didn’t want to send friends and family into a panic about our well-being.

Daunting, yes, but I knew there would be challenges when I decided to go ahead with the move. So, I rolled up my sleeves and tackled the issues one by one.

The first handyman I hired did not work out. It didn’t take a genius to realize that I was nothing but a cash cow to him. In a couple of months, the only job he actually completed was replacing a couple of rotten boards on the porch. Whenever I asked him to do something, his response was to “mansplain” why it wasn’t a good idea. He was also great at finding new jobs to start that I hadn’t asked for and wouldn’t shut up about religion.

I didn’t fire him right away because I still needed him to winterize my water (he never did). The final straw came when my roofer, Rob, quietly asked me one day what I was paying that guy for. Apparently, when Rob and I negotiated the price for the roof, my handyman sidled up to him afterwards to ask, “Did you get anything for me?”

Hmm. Taking advantage of a widow with a small boy doesn’t seem very Christian to me.

We got off to a bit of a shaky start, but I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished in the first nine months. With a new, metal roof and a wood delivery, we were ready for winter by mid-November.


The deck got cleaned up and the scrap wood sorted for future projects (tree house!). I leaned on the previous owner until he took away most of the garbage. The interior renovations are about halfway complete, with the second round starting as I write this. I experienced some issues with my water over the winter months and can say that I understand my water system much better now – a summer project will be fixing the idiosyncrasies that led to the problems in the first place.

I also learned how to drive a snowmobile. So much fun.

2016-04-19 12.37.19

And then, there’s this guy.

snow day

A lot of work still needs to be done, and I don’t expect that to change with a large property. But, we’ve settled into a nice rhythm and I’m excited about the future and new projects. First order of business, a garden!





Journey from The Junction to The Land of Lackadoo

My husband and I lived in Toronto for 20 years; the last 16 in a recently gentrified, hip and happening neighbourhood called The Junction. We were happy for most of those years, secure in our little house with our small son, a beautiful wee garden and lots of wonderful friends and neighbours.

I’m not entirely sure what happened, but for the past five years or so, our family was not thriving in the city. Perhaps it started with the crazy neighbours who liked to slash tires, or our increasingly hectic lifestyle: work/life balance seemed as elusive as a red dot.


Or, it may have been the two years I lost to debilitating back pain. Despite a determination to get up every day and keep moving forward, the constant noise and crowds of the city were wearing on us. It felt like we were digging a hole.

And then, a year and half ago, an old friend invited us to join her family at a rented cabin in a part of Ontario I had never before visited: the Magnetawan River. It was love at first sight. We visited every chance we could get away from the city, making new friends in the process. Our reluctance to return to Toronto grew stronger with every visit and, eventually, my husband started shopping for real estate.

mag river

Overlooking the Magnetawan River, Maple Island, Ontario

Of course, I was trepidatious. Could we afford it? What about all our friends in the city? What about work? Would we be able to handle the northern lifestyle? And…winter.

The thing is, since I was a kid, I’ve nurtured a dream of having a cabin in the woods where I could write in solitude. And my husband was always an avid outdoors man. Given our level of stress and my battles with back pain, the real question became how could we not?

We decided to take the leap into a new, simpler, and healthier lifestyle, and bought a large acreage about 20 minutes outside of town.

Then tragedy struck.

In June, 3 weeks away from starting our new life, my husband suffered a traumatic brain injury and collapsed. He died 10 days later in hospital, practically on the eve of realizing the dream.

Unfair doesn’t begin to describe it.

Reeling and heartbroken, I was embraced with love and support from family, friends and neighbours, who came out in droves to help with packing up and cleaning the city house and moving to our new home in the country.

So, here we are – a fresh widow and a small boy – knocking around in the bush, picking up the pieces and moving forward.

I invite you to follow our adventures as we find our way In the Land of Lackadoo.