Sunday, January 5, 2014

Holidays on the Homestead

This has been quite a Christmas and New Year's period here on the homestead.

Just before we were to leave for the sunny south, we realized that not only were the drain lines in the sauna frozen, so too were the water line from the well, as well as the drain line in the cabin.  Not a very thrilling thought as we moved into the holidays.

It was very nice to return to our friends and family in the Waterloo region.  Attending the candlelight service at church, seeing BY! not twice, but three times, congratulating my brother and his fiancee on their recent engagement, and just spending happy times with Kenny's Nana and Papa and Aunt V!, were real highlights.

It also was a bit somber for Donna and I to take the time to go visit my Grandfather's grave, as well as that of RL! who passed away within a day or two of my Grandpa.

Other nice visits were with our neighbours in Kitchener who both looked to be in good health and great spirits.  Same with BY!'s sister and mom who we dropped in on at the same time. And Donna enjoyed a lengthy coffee out with M!, and she and Kenny had a fun lunch out with L! and J!

As stressful as it was to be reminded of my trials here on the homestead, I could sense the caring nature of my parents as they commiserated as best they could with our ongoing water dilemma.  Since we have returned they have forwarded me some valuable links to consult to see if we can lick this problem satisfactorily.

While I don't believe I have spent much time on the blog discussing our approach to Kenny's education, it's also a point of interest and discussion over the holidays with the grandparents and extended family wanting to see how he is shaping up.  You see, we are currently "homeschooling" Kenny - finding that it is a good fit with the lifestyle and situation we are in right now.

Although I do occasionally try to present him with concrete lessons at times, and we work through lesson books and educational materials that we have accumulated over time, we also encourage him to pursue his own interests.  Thank goodness for things like YouTube and the Khan academy.  Kenny seems to really be drawn to math and science, but we are always gently guiding him towards literature and the arts as well.

It is nice to imagine how future Christmases may be spent here on the homestead once the cabin is more finished.  Hopefully some year soon WE can play the hosts to our families to help repay all they have done hosting us throughout the past decades.

Kenny was able to have a full on Christmas when his basic criteria was realized ("Christmas isn't over until I get some Lego" he declared).  I suppose when you are six years old you have come to have basic expectations about the holiday season that must be adhered to.

Our flights on Porter Airlines were uneventful but enjoyable.  It is a real blessing to have grandparents at both ends to deliver us to, and pick us up from, the aeroports.

Returning to the cabin was a treat - Grandpa had put on a fire the day before we were to land, as well as before he and Mummu had left to pick us up.  We were able to come home that night to a warm(ish) home.

In the subsequent days since we have returned, we have been treated to one delicious meal after another thanks to Mummu's dedication to providing food and fellowship throughout the season.  A welcome home meal of KFC, followed by Christmas dinner, followed by New Year's eve, followed by a delayed New Year's eve with AA! and UE!.  And then a breakfast of waffles and sausage, and bags of leftovers to bring home. 

Generously, Grandpa warmed their sauna for us to wash up and take a hot steam.  We have been caught in a real deep freeze, breaking numerous records and preventing us from accomplishing much of what we would have liked to.

Yesterday the temperature climbed to -10, so I put a fire in the sauna, and then ran the generator for much of the day with some heaters attached to try to thaw out the water lines under the sauna. (Details to come in the next post.)

On the plus side, it has been remarkably sunny, and I can see from my charge controller that the batteries have reached the float stage of charging three days in a row.

Sadly, they are cycled down completely by the next morning, even with very minimal usage, so I feel that they are not long for this world.  I may have to contemplate replacing them before winter is over, something I don't relish at all.

Fiscally this past year was far harder on the budget than we expected.  Putting in the road, contracting out the roof and upgrading the solar panels and controller all took their toll.  Hopefully I can drum up more of my computer business this year with some advertising.  I could also try to spruce up www.garstin.ca a bit more with some current links or something.  Trying to have any income off of the blog is good for the occasional laugh.  It's always amusing to check my monthly stats and see the pennies Google is tracking to pay me (I believe they wait until you hit the seemingly insurmountable sum of $100 before they send you a cheque...  After how many years of blogging, I don't believe I've climbed even a meagre fraction of that amount yet...)

While I don't make resolutions at New Year's specifically, this holiday season has had enough bumps in my road to teach me to try to stop and appreciate the things I have accomplished so far and be thankful for my blessings.  I will try to embrace the gifts I have been given and let go of the rest.









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