July 26, 2012 by lytlejoc
After a long hiatus I have finally found the time and space to get off my butt — or on it, I suppose — and give an update.
I flew to my home coast on the east side of Canada about a month ago with teeny tiny Toby in tow. I have made my big sister’s house “home base” for now and did a bit of couch surfing among my other two sisters and cousin’s places while waiting for my poor husband to complete the long haul from BC. After almost a month due to about 12 days of being broken down in Northern Ontario, he has arrived with our other (four-legged) baby and what belongings we didn’t store or chuck. And so we made it! We are ready to get down to business at our seaside home.
Well… almost. We’ll be living in a camper trailer while we do some upgrades to the 90 year old house before we can comfortably move into it, and before we can even move into the camper, we have to do an awful lot of fandangling to get that to be livable too. It’s filled to the brim with our stuff, since it doubled as a moving trailer, and so we have to take everything out and put it into the storage shed on the property before we can fix it up just right for a family of 3 plus dog. We will also need to have it hooked up somehow to our 90 year old well which will require the assistance of our brand new gas generator as our house is powerless for the time being.
And by powerless I mean, of course, that there is no electricity: the power has been cut from the pole for insurance purposes. It’s uncanny how deadly silent a house is when there is no electricity humming through it.
Another important aspect of our lives to arrange is that Toby, for a very small human, has quite an impressive amount of large things that need room for set up. The camper, though big, is a mite too cozy to house all of those very bulky yet very essential things and so we will be setting up a borrowed screen tent with a big outdoor rug to make an open-air sort of living room. The screen tent, however, has proven to be perplexing. We tried in vain for an hour to set it up the other day. The results, while slapstick, were nil. That task, needless to say, is still on the to-do list.
All fandangling aside, I cannot wait to get myself more permanently onto the property. The house itself is charming, quaint, and deliciously eerie. It’s been standing vacant for about 13 years (the wall calendar in the kitchen was stalled at January 1999) and everything inside would lead you to believe that whoever lived there simply got up one day, packed all her clothes and walked out, carefully locking the door behind her.
And indeed, this is pretty much what happened. The last resident was a lady who had lived there with her family for many years and then retired to a seniors home where she passed away. Her family had extracted all the belongings that they wanted and left everything else as she left it behind, then put the house up for sale.
It felt extremely strange to walk through the silent, dusty rooms and look over the old furniture and random curios, kind of like the house was holding its breath and waiting to see what I would do first. I actually walked around and assured it that we would be as respectful as we could and that we would love it very much. You know… in case anyone was listening. It really did seem the perfect place for a ghost to hang out; a case full of old country 8 tracks and dusty vinyl albums sat nestled by the armchair next to an unfinished embroidery hoop, and a fuzzy blue housecoat hung mutely behind the curtain in the tidily made up bedroom. The dishes were neatly stacked in the kitchen cupboards, ready to serve the next meal. On my second visit, I found a bible and a hymnal sitting on the couch with the previous owner’s name written on the flyleaf and I can’t say for sure but I have a foolish and creepy suspicion that they were not there on my first visit.
So now I’ve sorted through the lot and set aside some things to keep, and Scott has emptied out items that can no longer be used. We’re almost ready to start gutting the place – after we can park our little selves into the camper, of course. But there is still no end of weird and interesting things to pick through, including a barn and basement full of rusty tools and bottles filled with mysterious liquids, bearing labels that warn you to have whiskey on hand as an antidote in case of accidental ingestion. The basement even has a coal room, complete with coal. It’s a huge job. But we’re up for the challenge.
Now that’s out of the way, I feel the need to post something DIY related. Scott transported across the country my “apothecary”, as I like to call it, and so when it arrived, I gleefully pounced on it and began experimenting again. My hands, as I’ve alluded to before, are ravaged by a lovely form of dermatitis called Dishydrotic Eczema, something that dermatologists can’t do much about other than shrug at you in helpless sympathy and write up a scrip for a corticosteriod, and even that only works for a short time. Hand washing aggravates the condition, and because I’ve been touching god-knows-what in the old house and because I have a messy little baby, I’m forced to wash my hands obsessively. This has resulted in dry skin and a painful network of angry cracks on my hands. I found a pin on Pinterest recently detailing how to make a natural kind of petroleum jelly and since Vaseline worked for me before, I thought I’d try the more natural route. And being a compulsive recipe-tweaker, I put my own spin on it to make…
Healing Lavender Hand Salve
Lavender buds – about 1 tablespoon
Olive Oil – 1/2 cup
Beeswax – 1/8 cup. I used pellets but you can grate some if you only have a block.
Pour the olive oil into the top of a double boiler and add the lavender buds. Let this heat slowly until you can smell the lavender and the oil is quite warm. Strain out the lavender buds and add the beeswax, heating again until the pellets (or shavings) are melted. Pour this whole concoction into a sterilized jar and let it cool. Then use it! As often as you want. I try to use it every time I wash my hands. While it’s by no means healed the pompholyx part of this annoying affliction, it’s been miraculous in managing the dryness and cracks that I’ve been fighting with in the last few weeks. The lavender gives it a nice little antibacterial kick to speed the healing. Or I like to think so, anyway. A word to the wise, though: try not to run your hands through your hair right after you’ve applied this stuff. My hair might be getting a bit healthier, but I look a tad greasy.
Now, how about you? If you give this a shot, tell me how it works! Any suggestions for improving it?
Be well, friends. It’s good to be back.