Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Rural Real Estate

I drive from Toronto to Tobermory and back many times in a summer, and I usually take the same route every time.  I enjoy seeing how familiar landmarks change over the season, and from year to year.

I did the drive up and back last Wednesday, and I was surprised to see more houses for sale than usual.  Here are a selection of the ones I saw.
On the road heading south out of Wiarton, there is a long row of beautiful Victorians on the hill, looking out over the sound.  This one is a former B&B with five bedrooms.  376 Berford Street, MLS listing X2405187, asking $299,900.

This beautiful brick Ontario farmhouse is on Highway 10, south of Owen Sound.  It's only $399,900 for 89 acres.  ComFree listing #194849, 777502 #10 Highway.
The house is a little topheavy for my taste, with all those dormers.  The garage is just about as cute as a garage can be, though, and the kitchen has really cool red kitchen cabinets that look as though they've been lacquered.  ComFree listing in the little town of Markdale, for $229,900; a good price for a house in town, walking distance to everything you need.
This 1905 beauty is near Flesherton.  The wraparound porches look out on 72 acres of gardens and outbuildings.  $579,900 on ComFree.

Because statistics make me feel better

469 children aged 1 to 14 died in Canada in 2009.

28 of them were homicides.

However, homicide is only the 5th leading cause of death in those aged 1 to 14.

Five times as many died of accidents; car crashes, falls, burns.

Four times as many died of cancer; mostly leukemia and cancer of the brain or central nervous system.

More than twice as many died of congenital abnormalities.

One more died of influenza or pneumonia.

Almost as many died of heart disease or suicide.

I guess my point is that if you want to protect your children, it's the annoying, every-day things you have to be aware of - like using a car seat correctly, and turning the handles of your pots to the back of the stove.  Because those happen singly, our limited human brains don't calculate the risks effectively.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Khan Academy

I love the website KhanAcademy.org, and I'm continually recommending it to my students.

I'd like to do a matching of their topics to Ontario curriculum.  It's a rather big job, which I'll probably never get around to doing in full.

However, here's one to start.  To review probability and cover the material in permutations and combinations in Grade 12 Data Management (fondly known as MDM4U), start with this link:

Follow the topics on the left-hand side.  Part of what I love about the site?  Notice the "Stuck? Watch a video!" on the right-hand lower corner.  It's on every question!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday's real estate rambling

For once my rambling was on foot, rather than online!

When the baby woke up from his mid-day nap, we put him in the stroller and headed out to see a couple of new listings in our neighbourhood.  The first two are right across from each other, and oddly, share the same numerals in their house numbers.  We stopped at 2108 Gerrard Street East first.
MLS E236719.
As the listing says, it has indeed been "recently gutted and renovated".  It was not very well done, with a lot of the character of the house gone.  The interior doors are new, cheap, and don't fit; the hardwood downstairs is new laminate, and although there are new tiles in the front entry, the downstairs bathroom floor is vinyl and already shows dampness coming through.  Although the listing says the workshop "could be used as a garage", I couldn't see any way to get a car in from the street; no driveway, and no laneway in back.  The kitchen layout is atrocious, with the fridge opening into the stove.  In short, it came across as a cheap flip.  I would never buy it, and certainly not for the $479,800 they're asking.

Across the street at 2081, things were much busier, and with good reason.  Although the listing says 'renovated', it's clearly a well-loved, well-worn family home.  The lot is not as deep, but there's a shared drive with a garage in the back.  Opening up the living/dining rooms has left some odd artifacts in the shape of the walls; you can see where the chimneybreast still is, even though the fireplace is long gone.  For $499,000, less than $20,000 more than the other, I'd expect it to be gone on Tuesday with multiple offers; while 2108 I expect to be seeing on MLS for a time yet. 

Walking west, we stopped in at 110 Hanson, the real reason for the outing.  It was absolutely the gem of the day.  
MLS E2369618
The owner, clearly nearing 90 if not already there, sat on the front porch with her little dog in her lap.  I brought the baby over so he could be appreciated, and appreciated the dog in return.  The house has been owned by her (and her late husband) for 68 years, and on the inside, it shows.  The wallpaper is fantastic; some of the paneling and fixtures are original; his workshop in the basement is right out of the past.  Most of the windows were original, as well as the bathroom.  It was like stepping into your grandparent's house, in all the right ways. 
The kitchen is remarkable, with apple green and white cabinets, an elderly stove, and tons of cabinets and room to eat in.  As we were getting ready to leave we ran into the owner again, this time on the back porch.  She called the baby 'lovely', and I said that her home was also lovely, said that it must be hard having us all come in and look at the house, and that I hoped she found a nice family to sell it to that would appreciate the house as much as they had.  As we walked in I heard her saying to her dog "now wasn't that nice...".  
They've pitched it low, at $399,000, and I expect it will be snapped up by one of the many families we saw touring it.

Next we stopped at 420 Rhodes (MLS®: E2364650), which I can't give you a picture of because there isn't one on MLS, the street hasn't been picked up by Google Street View, and I didn't bring my camera out, not thinking we would make it that far.  It's a nondescript semi-detached that really wasn't worth the walk, and there was no open house.  It's offered at $349,000 for "3 bedroom plus", the room sizes aren't listed, and the listing also cryptically says " In Need Of Some Decluttering And Some Tidying".  All bad signs.

Last stop was 144 Hiawatha Road, the cause of much recent consternation when we discovered  the listing picture doesn't at all resemble the actual property.  I emailed the agent, who was surprisingly forthcoming about admitting that they used the picture from the previous time it was sold.
The garbage is gone, and the house is sitting empty.  There is a gaping hole in the eaves of the porch roof, and I didn't particularly feel safe when I walked up the steps.  The rose bushes are still there, however, and lovely pink blooms were coming out.  I didn't feel too guilty about taking one with me.

In fact, the best part of this property was that at the foot of their street, is Guatama, the new location for the former Siddhartha Indian restaurant!  We stopped in for an early dinner at the buffet.  Butter chicken, naan, and tandoori... and it was a lovely warm day for lime soda on the patio.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Facebook sucks!

Since Facebook won't let me post a link to a blogspot.ca URL, CLICK HERE to read the latest on Bad Mommy, No Cookie.

I discuss how to shut up your kids using grade 8 math, and how to divide pizza evenly.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Lies my Real Estate Agent Told me

Not my agent, fortunately.  But someone's agent is lying, and lying badly.

Here's the one picture given for MLS listing E2362526, which popped up this week (May 2012).  The address is 144 Hiawatha Road, Toronto.  The asking price is $459,000.

As long the listing remains live, you can get to it from this link:  http://www.realtor.ca/propertyDetails.aspx?propertyId=11919002

Here's the text from the listing: 
Attn Renovators, Builders And Handyman******Ready To Build. Seller Will Provide All The Drawings To Put Up A Two & Half Storey House******All City Approvals Included. Get In And Start Building. Approx. 1800 Sq Ft Above Ground Plus Basement. No Showings Inside The House. Built Houses Selling For 850K Plus In The Area. Hurry, Won't Last. Seller Can Build Out For You At $110.00/Sqft If Interested. Call Listing Agent 416-844-1357 For Details. **** EXTRAS **** Plans Approved For 4+1 Bedrooms, 5 Washrooms, Finished Basement With Separate Entrance. Immense Potential. No Chattels Included.
But look!  Here's how the Google Maps street view truck took it, April 2009, according to the fine print.  Quite the difference, eh?  Looks like they must have fixed it up quite a bit for the sale (spoiler/hint:  no they didn't).

Now here's the sad part.  In October 2011 someone posted the house for sale for $349,000 (link here).  Here's the picture, which is actually kind of cute, even with the purple/pink paint.  Look at all those gorgeous roses!  By the next month a blog was reporting that the house was only $299,000.

And here is the property today, May 12, 2012, as snapped by Michel Resendes.  Notice that the house next door has been McMansioned.The same pink/purple paint is there, so clearly it has been there since at least 2009.  The nice beige in the first photo?  Pre-dates 2009. 
I would bet a frosty beverage that the real estate agent has used the photo from the time the house was sold by its original owners.  There's no way for me to confirm that personally, but if anyone has agent access to MLS and could look up previous sales, I'd love to see it!

Another final detail; although the listing declares "All City Approvals Included", the Committee of Adjustment only heard the case on May 2, 2012.  The minutes are not published yet.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

I'm not Staging to Sell... I'm Staging to Stay.

During a brief flurry of excitement when my husband and I thought we were going to buy a condo in our neighbourhood and move, I put several books on staging on hold at the library.  That opportunity is over (it turned out to have been sold even before the open house), but the books have come in and I've been reading them, and they're getting me excited about the potential for our house.

Our real estate agent said something that really stuck with me; that we needed to highlight the things in our house that caused us to fall in love with it.  She also said we needed to get rid of 75% of our stuff - I admit to being a packrat!  Reading these books, they say that you want bedrooms to appear to be oases, and bathrooms to appear like spas.  That's where I want to live, too!

My new plan is to "stage to stay".  It's going to be a combination of purging, organizing, spring cleaning, and decorating.  I'm going to splurge on all the things I would if we were selling, but I'm going to do it now, so I can enjoy them.  I will never be someone who says "I wish we'd done all this to the house before we decided to sell it!"

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Paper Sorting

I've been reading Julie Morgenstern's When Organizing Isn't Enough; SHED Your Stuff, Change your Life.  She doesn't deal with paper clutter much in the book, but as I lay awake last night I thought about applying her "10-20%" rule to my piles of paper.

An hour ago I took a 5" pile of paper at random from a box sitting beside my desk, and sorted it into what turned into five piles:
  1. Treasures.  This was the key pile, that was supposed to be a pile of things that made me think "oh, there that is!" when I saw them, but it did get overrun a bit with things I *thought* should be treasures.  More practice is needed!
  2. Financial papers that are straightforward to file, that I can ask my husband to deal with.
  3. Papers I thought I *should* want - that would normally go into a "to file" pile that would get shuffled somewhere else to collect dust for another year or two - but that didn't excite me.
  4. Stuff to go elsewhere; empty file folders and oddly, a book that was in the pile.
  5. Recycling.
So, how did my percentages stack up?
  1. The Treasures pile clocks in at 1 3/4", or 35%.  That's well over the 10-20% I was looking for.  This was heavily affected by a file folder from our 2006 Yukon trip, which I couldn't bring myself to disassemble, and a file of calendars that I have a soft spot for.
  2. I was surprised, but pleased, that the financial papers only accounted for 1/2", or 10%.  I guess I've been fairly good about diverting those and filing them.
  3. The "should" pile was exactly the same size as the treasures file, oddly.  I was surprised that there is a lot of teaching, coaching, and Weight Watchers material in it.  I will sleep on it, but am planning to just toss it all in the recycling in the morning.
  4. An easy 15%.
  5. Another 15%, not so easy to sort, but easy to toss.
I'll call that a successful trial run... now it's time to consider how I'm going to make 1.75" of room in the filing cabinet for those treasures!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

One person's bad handwriting, 100 years later

One of my great-grand-aunts and uncles lived in Aurora from about 1875 to at least 1911.  They had six children before that, when they lived in Dundas, and three children in Aurora.

All three children's births were written down by the same clerk, and that clerk had atrocious handwriting.  Often when my husband sees me looking at original records, he shakes his head over what looks like bad handwriting to him, but is really just old.  I've gotten used to old handwriting, though, and this particular person's handwriting was not just sloppy, but his attention to detail was sadly lacking and his approximations of names are totally off the wall.  I'll give you the three examples, and how they were transcribed by volunteers.  You can guess what the names were actually supposed to be.  (Answers are below the pictures.)

I salute the volunteers who transcribe these records without knowing the families.  I know what the names are supposed to be because I see them in other records, such as censuses.  They don't have that context to help them.
 Transcribed as "Dennl Wellington Nelson", father "Dennel Henry Nelson", mother "Jane Hughey".  For extra credit, notice that Wellington is noted as Female.  Also, the clerk got two cracks at the father's name for the first two records, because the father reported the birth (the last row).  The informant's address is the last piece of info there - does that scrawl look like "Aurora" to you?
 Transcribed as "Josephine Snour Nelson", father "Dennel Heny Nelson", mother "Jane Hughey".
Transcribed as "Sarah Jam Holedydelan Nelson", father "Daml H Nelson", mother "Jenni Nelson".  Notice that he abbreviates December to "Dembr".

Answers: The three children's names are Daniel Wellington Nelson, Josephine Lavina Nelson, and Sarah Jane Holladay Nelson.  In all three cases the father's name should be Daniel Henry Nelson and the mother's should be Jane Hughey.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Eating Locally

I know I'm at least five years behind the times, but over the last couple of days I've been enthusiastic about the idea of an island-only diet for some period of time, ideally a year.  I'd start in the spring when the community-supported agriculture garden shares start, and I'd get at least two shares so I could be freezing and preserving two-thirds of the fruit and veggies for the winter.  Extra potatoes, turnips, cabbages and carrots can be gotten from the farmer's market just before it closes in the fall.

As I eat my lunch today - a spinach and cheese concoction that started out as an omelet, but ended up more like scrambled eggs - I can't help but think about how it would be modified.  The eggs are no problem, because many people on the island sell home-raised eggs.  Spinach will come from my garden, of course.  There's no longer a dairy on the island, unfortunately, but I'm not supposed to eat cow's milk anyway. I've heard a rumour about goat shares, so I might be able to make my own goat cheese.

There's a farm on the island growing Red Fife wheat and oats and milling it themselves, so I will become an expert at baking with that heritage wheat, no doubt.  So I expect my toast will be hearty and delicious.  Hm.... butter from goat milk, anyone?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

More fun of the chase (less frustration today)

Here's an example of a family tree puzzle I've been trying to figure out for about a week.
 A family including son Samuel Errett, age 17, in 1861.
 Samuel Errett, on his marriage record in 1869.
 Samuel Erriott and family in 1871.
 Samuel Ernett and family in 1881.
 Samuel Escott and family in 1891.
 Samuel Errett and family in 1901.
 Samuel Gowrette and family in 1911.
Death of Samuel Errett in 1923.

Okay, so perhaps when I lay it out like this, it's obvious that it's the same man from 1861 to 1923.  But do you have any idea how difficult it was to find Ernett, Elliott, Escott, and to top it off, GOWRETTE as alternate spellings?  I had to resort to looking for any Samuel married to a Catherine in Ontario in the various census listings, then scroll through for anything that looked it might possible be transcribed wrong.

However, all is forgiven now that I can close the book on this case!

Monday, January 2, 2012

The thrill - and frustration - of the chase

I've been doing a bunch of family history research over the holidays, since I have time, and one of my gifts to myself was a month of paid subscription on Ancestry.ca.

I should have written about my triumph yesterday on finally finding a missing Mitchell family, which turned out to have been transcribed as "Matchett" in a census.  However, that's done and gone, and I'll tell you instead about my current sticking point.  (Perhaps in doing so I will find the answer.)

My great-grand-aunt Margaret Ann Mitchell married a John Clark.  All I know about him is the birthdate he stated on the 1911 census - November 1869 - and the information from their marriage certificate, which says he was born in Tecumseh, Ontario to Timothy and Elizabeth Clark.  John and Margaret were married in 1894 in Muskoka, so I have them married and located in the 1901 and 1911 census, which was no problem.  (Well, other than their last name being spelled "Clarke", and the AutomatedGenealogy.com site doesn't handle spelling variations gracefully).

It's finding John before their marriage that's difficult.  His father's name, Timothy, is an unusual name for that time period.  I don't think I've seen another Timothy at all in my tree before 1950.  That should make it easier to pin them down, wouldn't you think?  And, in 1891 just three years before John's marriage, when he was 22, there is just one Timothy Clark enumerated in Ontario.  He's even married to an Elizabeth.  There are two big immediate problems here, though; they have no son John living with them, and they were married two years after his birth.  That's not impossible, of course, but when I look closer there are other problems; Elizabeth would have to have been 16 when John was born, and both Timothy and Elizabeth both give their "racial origin" as English, where John quite definitely states his as "Irish" in 1901 and 1911.  If I back up ten years to 1881, the trail goes completely cold; there is no Timothy Clark anywhere in Ontario, but there are 558 John Clark(e)s - too many to sort through by hand.

Finding John Clark's death certificate would be helpful, because they are supposed to show the deceased person's parents names.  Although I can find Margaret's in 1933 in Englehart, so far I am stumped there too for John!

Ah well, I enjoy the hunt.  Sometimes I wake up days later and have an inspiration that leads to a new clue, and I'm off and running again.  In the meantime I will declare this case closed and move on to Margaret's younger brother Daniel...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Knitting for the Armed Forces, circa 1940s

I was recently given a stack of knitting magazines, including some great vintage patterns.  I thought I would share a few.  They start with a vest and pullover, with the caption "Both the above garments are suitable for Men and Women".  Don't you love their jaunty helmets and tin cups, and the cartoon pictures of tanks?  (Click on each of the four images for a bigger version that you should be able to print to a normal page size.)

These two patterns knit up at a gauge of 13 stitches to 2 inches and 9 rows to 1 inch; the modern equivalent of 26 stitches and 36 rows to 10cm.  They recommend needle sizes 10 and 12 (for the ribbing), which is US size 2 and 3, or metric 2.75mm and 3.25mm.  A fingering-weight yarn should be about right, but of course, check the ball band.  Knitting at this tension should make a very fine, thin fabric that isn't too bulky under a coat, but still provides a nice warm layer.

Two sizes are given for each; size 36, which is 36" around at the underarm, and size 40, which is 40" around at the underarm.