|Pink Lake, Gatineau Park, acrylic, 16" x 20"|
With only about a month until our wedding, I was getting more and more excited about the reunion with my parents and sister. I was glad that the nice weather made it possible to continue to explore the capital region. That certainly was a good distraction. On many days, temperatures rose again to the mid-twenties. I was glad because on rainy days I felt really cooped in. While Ingo started to hang out with his colleagues for the occasional dinner at a pub or playing volleyball on Wednesday evenings, my only contact remained to Ingo.
We took advantage of the nice weather by visiting Gatineau Park. Our first hike was on the Hickery Trail where we were informed about the development of the current forest. Next, we walked around Pink Lake, a lake that despite of its name looks rather green in the sunshine. The name comes from the Pink family, a family of Irish settlers. The lake is quite special because its layers do not mix because of its shape. Therefore, the water in the depth of the lake does not contain oxygen. The pink photosynthetic bacterium that can be found in this layer uses sulphur instead of oxygen when it transforms sunlight into energy.
Ingo tried his best to help me with the transition. My birthday fell on a Saturday. The evening before, Ingo prepared a table with all my gifts and letters so we could start celebrating at midnight. In the morning, he bought fresh rolls and croissants and set the table with flowers. After another house hunting trip, we went to Parliament Hill. We were eager to see the Cat Sanctuary, where an older gentleman cared for stray cats. The cats even had shelters from the cold and wetness. While it was prohibited to feed the doves, people did not abide to the rule. As a result, we had to witness the killing of a dove. The greedy dove was lured closer and closer to a cat that had seemed not to be interested at all in the bird until it suddenly jumped and attacked. While I was terrified, the people just continued throwing bread crumbs.
After finding the stairs to the locks, we continued our way along the canal towards Byward Market. It was a beautiful sunny day, and there was a buzz of activity. We were looking for a German style cafe where we could eat a nice butter cream torte but we did not find anything. I was disappointed to find out that a Canadian cafe is more like a bistro. At the end we settled for apple strudel with ice cream. It was delicious – just not what I had been looking for.
Ingo prepared a broccoli pie for dinner. After dinner, we watched the movie “Father of the Bride”. Very funny, but I have to admit that it gave me a slightly queasy feeling when I thought about our upcoming wedding. Last but not least, we wanted to go dancing, but only found clubs with young teenagers in jeans. We were definitely overdressed. After almost two hours we gave up looking. At least we knew what we did not like.
I was also able to get to know Ingo's new boss and some of his colleagues when we were invited to a wine tasting at his house. Everyone was very welcoming and I was glad to meet some of the people Ingo spent most of his days with.
We also registered for an investment workshop. Considering that we were about to buy a house and starting out in a new country that was definitely a worthwhile training. Unfortunately, we had to find out the same day that the house we had our eyes on had sold before we made the offer. Our second choice had also just sold. We were very disappointed. Luckily, there was a mirror image of our favourite house also for sale, just on the other side of the road. However, while the first house was sold through a contractor and would have been painted in neutral colours and fit with a carpet according to our wishes, this house had a very personal touch with different wallpapers and wall colours that clashed with our taste.
By then, finding a house was getting a pressing issue as we had to clear the basement of my apartment in Germany by the end of October and had to make a decision with regard to our belongings.
The apartment also started to get too small. The one room got filled with my increased number of teddy bears and handmade Christmas gifts. As I would not be able to spend Christmas with my family and had basically two empty suitcases to take to Germany, I had made all kinds of Christmas gifts. While we still enjoyed temperatures around 20 degrees, I started to write Christmas cards. A strange feeling!
We made an offer for the colourful house the next day. Disappointingly, the sellers made a counteroffer that was still far higher then we were willing to pay. We made another counteroffer the next morning. What followed was almost a thriller. The seller countered again, still staying close to his original price. We kept the negotiation open with one more counteroffer, letting them know that we did not like their decor and would need to spend a lot of effort into making the house ours. Our agent had also found out that a similar house had just sold recently for a price that was even below our last offer. The sellers wanted to settle the negotiation by that evening. To agree to the lower price they wanted to keep the appliances and change the closing date. We were willing to be flexible with the closing date, but not with regard to the appliances. Due to the different electrical outlets and even more important the difference in standard household voltage, we had to sell our German appliances. The standard household electrical outlet in Germany has an output of 220-240 volts, twice the standard household voltage in North America.
Finally at 0:50 am in the morning, Ingo signed the conditional offer. When the sellers' agent came to our apartment with the contract, she told us we were such tough negotiators that she would prefer not to have to negotiate with us in the future. All these hours we had spent trying to find a home throughout the previous weeks, and with our fantastic agent's guidance, we had learned a lot. After a successful house inspection the following week, we could plan our move for December 1, 1995. Finally, we would have our own place to call home again.
After this blog I will take a break from my path down memory lane. At the time of publication, I will be away with a couple of my painting buddies to our yearly trip to Kamouraska. I am sure I will have lots to talk about after my return. Another painting trip follows, as the Plein Air Ensemble will meet again at Opeongo Mountain Resort in Eganville at the end of September. It is time to write about current adventures. I will continue my blogs about my first year in Canada (and especially the wedding) at the end of October. I hope to finish my view into the past by the end of December because I have lots of new topics planned for 2017.
Thank you for your loyalty and support.