The End Of An Era


It’s gone. There isn’t much more to say. The cabin we loved for just shy of a decade is gone. It was lovely. It was where we spent our best time as a family. Babies learned to walk. The kids caught frogs. We saw fireflies, owls, and pelicans. But it couldn’t be saved.

An insurance fight of epic proportions. Being led on that it could be repaired. All to end with a bulldozer.

We put off going up to see the lot as long as we could. We could never have been prepared for the sadness. Seeing parts of our life broken in the dirt. Little toy cars, a mug handle, some spoons.

Our kids tried to play as if they were “at the cabin”, but it was gone. It was strange, we still owned the lot but it was dead. People have said to us “this is an opportunity”, it isn’t, we have lost a huge part of our life and a huge part of our family.







What people don’t realize is you can’t rebuild memories. The cabin wasn’t a building it was a memory maker. None of us have the heart to try to rebuild on the lot. It will never be the same.

We knew our neighbour was interested in the lot, but no official offer had been made. On Friday we went to see what to do with the property. Do we sell, rebuild, camp? We tidied it up as best we could, weeded the flowerbed, trimmed back some saplings, but it was like dressing the dead for a burial.

We pretended it was normal. Took pictures of the trees. It was all wrong.

We did one last picture of the family, like we had done every year since buying the cabin. The kids are bigger, everyone smiled, but the cabin was gone. A family standing in front of nothing.

cabin last family picture_8199

What an ending. We remember what we had and it is so sad to see it gone.


Our little cabin was lovely. It was home. It was family. It felt right. Nothing else will ever be the same.

Pretending all was normal, pretending all was fine, we took one last look at the lake.


On Saturday we received the formal offer. The lot is being sold. It is a very sad end to an era.

A Few Thoughts About Short Fences

blog fenceShort fences.

We’ve spent a lot more time in the city this year and I have been watching the role short fences play.

Our corner lot has a short fence around our ground level deck at the front, and along the length of our backyard. We have discovered our short fence plays the role of being an invitation rather than a barrier.

Since the snow has melted we have had many discussions over the fence. We have met new neighbours and visited with ones we have known for years. We’ve talked about dogs and kids, vacations and music, yoga and knitting. We’ve heard of neighbours moving, summer construction projects, and visits to the Saturday Market.

The short fence creates an opportunity to be neighbourly. It lets neighbours talk. It creates community.

The whole experience has left me thinking a lot about neighbourhood design, building styles, and how they affect the general well being of a community. It is a well known fact that when neighbours know neighbours that it builds strong, healthy communities. People watch out for one another and communities are safer.

We live in a neighbourhood from a different era. Houses range in age from 110 years old to brand new infill housing, but it is still the old fashioned layout of big yards, boulevards and mostly detached garages. The layout of the older properties means that neighbours have the opportunity to interact. We see each other clipping hedge, mowing the lawn, building decks, pulling weeds and shoveling snow. High maintainance yards make for lots of opportunity to see your neighbours out and about.

However the few new infill houses, even though they are in the same neighbourhood, function differently, especially the ones that  have attached garages. These are “new suburban houses” houses built in an old neighbourhood; attached garages, swaths of concrete driveway, a “low maintainance” garden (token shrub and mulch), and the compulsory prison like fences. The car disappears into the garage, with the neighbour never to be seen until the car emerges again. I can’t help but think of how damaging this design model is for a community. These styles of homes don’t allow for neighbourly interaction and fragment a community.

My short fence has left me appreciating how neighbourhoods were built in the past. They were built to create community. They were built so that neighbours would know their neighbours. Perhaps it is time for city planners to rethink how they are building current neighbourhoods. We need to bring back the front porch, bring back the low fence and eliminate the attached garage. It is time to take the streets our houses are built on and turn them back into communities.

My thoughts inspired by my short fence.

Summer Diversion

I must admit my blogs have been scarce recently. It seems there have been lots of diversions. One big diversion is we are fence building. Of course to build this fence we have to remove the current fence that has been in place for 69 years. Digging up posts. Untangling roots. Removing huge rocks . Heritage properties bring challenges. We even unearthed a very old brick; my guess is from the building of the chimney of the house next door 110 years ago. It sounds like a lot of work, but strangely we are enjoying it. We have no doubt that completing the fence could possibly take the whole summer, but there are certainly worse things to be doing than working out in the sunshine.

(By the way, the wonky two by fours above the fence are our neighbour’s handy work….. we take no responsibility for that construction!)

What we’ve been up to……..

blog watercolors

Stealing a few minutes from a very busy life to paint a small watercolor.

So I thought I would take a quick moment to do an “update” post as my blogging has been a little sporadic recently. Life has been busy to say the least.

blog _3193Over Easter we went for a longer than usual break out to Pender Island on the west coast of Canada. It was a break we desperately needed as all the major issues we have been dealing with all collided the week before Easter; what a week it was.

blog vanAfter over a month without our vehicle the van replicated the problem with a flashing dashboard while the technician was setting off for another test drive. First, it proved I wasn’t crazy. Second, they finally had something to go off. In the end they decided the remote start was the culprit, they removed it, and the van made it out to the coast and back without issue. The Uconnect still has issues…looks like it’s a case of “suck it up buttercup”….I guess you can’t win them all.

blog snowy cabin_3878That same week we also met over the cabin issue and it was determined that we were right when we first reported that we thought the issue was caused by the hot water tank. However the exploration that the most recent crew did discovered HUGE issues. Structural issues. Potential mold issues. We’ve been told NOT to go in the cabin. We are now waiting to hear more. It is going to be an interesting spring, summer and fall as we won’t be spending our weekends at the cabin. Perhaps we will go back to tenting this year and let our children discover Banff, Yoho and Kootney National Parks. I’m trying to somehow put a positive spin on things.

handmade in canada badgeOur time on the coast was a little bit of fun and a little bit of work. We met with a woodworker and a musician who is joining our Handmade in Canada site. It is exciting to get the project moving along. An author from Alberta is also hopping on board; her profile will be up on the site in a few days.

blog knit items_9716 aOn the coast I also met with the new owner of a resort on Pender Island who has decided to use some of my hand knits in the rooms, cabins and Airstreams at the resort. I’ll share more about this very soon. Needless to say I have been knitting A LOT which explains the rather patchy blogging.

blog boots

How to keep mice out of your boots!!!!!

On top of everything it appears the mice are back…or at least mouse (I saw it). Another story to share at some point. Mice make for a lot of hassle and a lot of work.

instagram-logoAnd last but not least, I have now set up two of my other blogs with Instagram. “Debra Hunter – Photography & Art” shares my paintings, handmade items, and business related photography. “Handmade in Canada” is my new project and will be of interest to anyone interested in Canadian artists, artisans, writers, musicians or growers. The project is in the building stage, so pass it on if you know of someone who is a Canadian creative.

If you are into Instagram you can check out the links here:


(….and follow me!!!!!…..and share too!!!)

leaf red 3x3 square 100dpiIt has been a whirlwind the last few weeks. Hopefully life will start to calm down, my knitting will be completed, the car will continue to run, the cabin will be fixed (or rebuilt), the mice will be evicted, and I will once again have time to blog.

Thanks for reading!!!!



Dodge-less in Red Deer ……

A scooter....better than a 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan....the only reliable wheels we own!

A scooter….better than a 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan….the only reliable wheels we own!

“Sleepless in Seattle” may have been a hit, “Dodge-less in Red Deer”, not so much…..but here is how the story for this week goes.

Friday night. Lovely weather. Stuck at home. Again….or still….you choose. You see it is my THIRD weekend…and two full weeks…. without a vehicle as our new vehicle is again/still/perpetually in the shop. Now I do realize I am doing wonders for the environment by not driving (A.K.A. the new vehicle sitting in the lot of the car dealership as they try to replicate the problem), but the last two plus weeks (plus all the other 6, 7 or 8 times the car has been in for service) are feeling like a cross between house arrest (no, I don’t have personal experience!) and quarantine (yes, the family is all immunized!).

Originally this post was going to  be a painting post but I can’t help myself, this situation of having a new car, with endless problems, and being reduced to walking is….well….preposterous. Yes walking to do errands is just lovely, but a 15 minute return trip by car is a good hour and a half trip on foot. Okay, more like two and a half hours as I have to explain to anyone we meet “why” we aren’t driving our new van, plus go through all the problems the van has, which takes a very, very long time……I should just record the story on my phone and hit “play ” really.  And did you know that carrying groceries for 7 people while walking isn’t feasible; we go through 8 litres of milk alone on some days (that is two hands taken up with milk alone!)…..lets just say the kids are starting to notice food that used to be in the cupboard isn’t. And did you know now I can’t take on location shoots, yep, I can’t work unless it is in the studio, as hauling tripods and lighting and cameras on a two or three hour walk doesn’t quite work…..and using my preschooler’s wagon to carry my gear just crosses the “stupid” line. My four year old is bored, the other day he wanted to go somewhere, I reminded him we didn’t have the car, he huffed and let his head thump down on the table. We…are…stuck.

So for the record…stuck at home…….running out of groceries……can’t work……….new van still in the shop…………..

…..and of course they still haven’t been able to replicate the problem on the vehicle. It is kind of like buying a new house, the roof leaks once, but they have to wait until it rains again, destroying all your interior and belongings, in the aim to replicate the problem before they will look to fix it. Unfortunately in the case of an unsafe vehicle it isn’t carpet getting wet, it is people getting killed if the issue “replicates” at an inopportune time.

To make matters worse, in an act of desperation, last night I started to search the internet to see if there were any indications of others facing the same vehicle problem. I thought “well if the technicians can’t figure it out at least I am going to give it a shot!”.  I suspect the outcome was the same as when people Google diseases. Let’s see, well one thing I did find was in the U.S. a group of 2014 Grand Caravan’s had a recall for the tire pressure light going on or off….yep, ours has done that…..we were told that can happen due to weather…..I guess either the U.S. doesn’t have that type of “weather” or they have stricter safety requirements. Hmmmmmmm. The other thing I discovered was endless “can not replicate the problem” situations and then the issue of course replicates itself in dangerous circumstances like on a highway or in busy traffic…one person wrote something to the effect as to “how many people are going to have to be killed before they try to rectify these problems?” It’s a good question.

And so I “try” to be patient……and what will my patience achieve? It is probably going to achieve the first ever Dodge Grand Caravan running out of warranty while sitting in the parking lot of the service department. And then guess what is going to happen, either one day or one kilometer after the warranty is up they’ll find the problem miraculously and charge us for the repair.

It’s going to be a long two years and seven months before that happens.

The joy of 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan problems.

To be continued………….

(for further reading check out this and this!)


References which may be connected to the van issues:

U.S.A. recall – NHTSA Campaign #14V632000 – issued October 8, 2014 – 2014 Dodge Grand Caravan Tires: Pressure Monitoring and Regulating Systems

U.S.A. defect investigation – NHTSA Defect Investigation #DP14004 – date opened September 25, 2014 (currently pending) – Electrical System

To view ongoing Dodge issues please check out or

I guess I just don’t believe that it is only the U.S.A. vans having the issues; I can’t help but feel it is relevant.


March 14, 2015 update (15 straight days without the vehicle and 10 working days at the service department):

U-Connect Cutting Out– One more thought…… the “interference” that makes the streaming with the U-connect not work properly being actually created by the vehicle heating up? Is it the electrical system creating the interference? The hotter the vehicle gets the less the U-connect works properly. Is something in the vehicle creating interference, perhaps a computer defect? A valid thought that would also make sense with the burning rubber smell. No one is listening to us when we repeatedly tell them the pattern of when the U-connect is having huge problems in working properly.

Low Tire Pressure Indicator Going On And Off – our service department blames “weather” and says it is “normal”, however in the U.S. it is actually a RECALL. How can we have any faith in Dodge/Chrysler Canada being concerned about safety? This is how they avoid recalls, the service departments try to make the customer out to be “over reacting” or “picky” or “crazy” so that they can avoid expensive recalls. If the service departments brush you off there is no evidence of an issue. They are avoiding recalls at the front desk or on the phone. These issues will never reach Transport Canada as Dodge/Chrysler have found a tactic around the situation. It is all about PROFIT with few concerns as to SAFETY.

Burning Rubber SmellNo one is listening to us. No one has addressed the burning rubber smell. Wouldn’t it make sense to start by looking for wires where the insulation is burned off. It is not right for a vehicle to emit a burning rubber smell. Wouldn’t that be an indicator of potential fire? Shouldn’t Dodge be concerned?

Car Losing Power – it seems the only step forward is to drive around waiting for the problem to “replicate”. I can’t help but feel they are looking in the wrong place as the van’s computer doesn’t register that an error light came on. That is the starting point. We’ve told Dodge and the service department that that is the starting point, but they are still driving the vehicle around trying to replicate the problem. Why won’t they start with the obvious problem?

Van’s Computer Not Registering Error – we are getting shoulder shrugs. No one is taking this seriously. If the system is supposed to register an error, as in when the MIL light came on and the van lost power,  and the system doesn’t, this is actually a DEFECT. This is yet another huge problem. Even though I am not a technician, common sense tells me we either have an electrical problem or a computer problem. This would make sense when you look at the never ending issues this vehicle has had (including the repaired heating defect and U-Connect mic issue).

The Flashing Dashboard/Control Panel – After we started up the vehicle the second time after the power loss, every single light on the dashboard started flashing including indicators making the audible noise. I turned the key off, removed the key. Tried to start the vehicle a minute or so later and it started normally. Dashboards/Control Panels should not flash like that. It is another sign of a defect. Again common sense points to electrical or computer.

So here we sit.
It seems that Dodge/Chrysler’s protocol is to just drive around trying to “replicate the problem” but they refuse to look at ALL the problems.
We are pretty sure they just want to “appear” to be trying to solve the situation, which is what all the “driving around to replicate the problem” is. It is a facade.
We are pretty sure they are just trying to drag out the situation until we are so frustrated with having no vehicle that we take back the DEATH TRAP and drive it risking our family and others’ lives.
It’s a tactic……and when we are forced to put this very unsafe vehicle back on the road, and it ends in a fatality, the official statement will be “Dodge only produced .5% (or some other random percentage) of their vehicles with a defect.”……….which means the lives and safety of .5% of their customers are worthless.

If a company is going to produce vehicles, EVERY SINGLE VEHICLE ON THE ROAD NEEDS TO BE SAFE, there should never be ANY margin for error. A margin for error results in deaths.

 PS. We will be emailing Dodge/Chrysler on Monday and requesting a detailed, day by day account of what they have actually done with the vehicle. We have also asked previously about them looking into the origin of the vehicle (it has always driven like a “used” vehicle), but we have yet to receive any information; this request was made at the dealership level. Brush off and ignore seems to be company policy.







oh yeah, the ads on this site belong to WordPress.

Some Humor and Some Good News

blog bax artAs today’s post is a bit more “happy”, I decided to put my art department (A.K.A. three youngest children) to work to provide the graphics for this post. Their brief was to draw a happy colorful person. They all did quite well and each piece of artwork has its own special charm.

blog sox artSo we will start with the good news, we received back the testing for asbestos for the tile in our cabin, and the news is good, no asbestos in the original floor. That is a huge relief. We watched my husband’s mum die of lung cancer so the thought of having been in contact with asbestos was terrifying. Excellent result and the first thing to go right. I am posting the report below (names blurred out), just so I have an easy way of finding the report if needed. Blogs are an interesting way of documenting your life.

blog asbestos reportIt is funny how as this palaver of the cabin insurance situation continues we are finding a slightly warped sense of humor is forming. Today my eldest son was in a mood when we cut off screen time; our kids turn into weird little zombies when they have too much tech time (see they should take up proper amusements like spinning wool!). Upon “technology cutoff”  he responded “You’re treating me like I’m an insurance company.” Hmmmmm.

blog bex art

Once we recovered from a rather lengthy bout of laughter I said to my husband  (in hushed tones), “I have a confession to make.”. He leaned in with a serious look on his face to listen as I continued with my thought. “Every time I deal with someone at Wawanesa Insurance I can’t help but imagine them as a Bond villain.” With a smile and a flash of the iPad he responded with “Like this?!” information and photo credit found here.)

At least one good thing comes from my imagining this, that Wawanesa is a “pet friendly” organization (and a huge purchaser of lint rollers!)

 Now of course the discussion didn’t stop there, we imagined Wawanesa as a health insurance provider…………and anyone with a Pythonesque view of the world knows exactly what came next…………any serious injury would be “it’s only a flesh wound”. At least we are keeping our sense of humor!

This evening my husband and I also had a walk down memory lane discussing past insurance experiences. My husband actually wrote them down, perhaps in anticipation of serial blog posts. I am thinking he is correct, a series on our experiences would be of great value to the general public. We’ve also heard a few interesting insurance stories “on the playground” which are sure to amuse or infuriate you. So stay tuned for those upcoming posts, they’ll pop up from time to time.

I’ll leave you with a LINK to a list of Bond Villains.……… you can hear the theme music in your head……I can, its my ring tone!






The ads on this page belong to “WordPress”…..the Monty Python references are purely my fault!

Saturday, Saga, Site, Shock, Snow, and Shopping

blog snow_3889 aToday’s blog post is brought to you by the LETTER S.

(teeth together, smile, make the snake sound……too many kids in speech therapy)

I thought I would put a Sesame Street spin on today’s blog post with the hope of adding some whimsy, as life in general isn’t feeling so whimsical.

blog snowy cabin_3878

Saga – we are still dealing with the ongoing saga of our cabin and its damages. The way the whole situation has been dealt with has left me seething and quite honestly spiteful. Perhaps I am unreasonable in thinking people should be dealt with in a decent and professional manner. Now I am not one to sit around feeling sorry for themselves, sometimes it is just better to channel your energy into a solution, so last night I decided to create a site (website) which will help others to publicly out all the problems they are having dealing with the insurance industry. It is amazing what can be accomplished with four hours of time, five cups of tea and a lot of frustration from dealing with the insurance industry. The site is ready to go live, has interactive elements, plus I have worked out a way to make an income off it as well. One more unprofessional move by our insurance company is all it will take to set me off and then it will hit the good old world wide web. I feel happy having this in my arsenal….plus it has the potential to be a nice little business….funny how a bad insurance dealing can inspire you to create a business opportunity.

blog sites_3975Shock – continuing with the cabin theme, today we had a shock….or potential shock. Remember my post from November ? Well the insurance company is looking at the cabin again. Different adjuster. Different contractors. They really looked this time at the situation which is a step forward. Today’s experience was professional. Now if you read my post from November you will remember me mentioning that we had to do our own exploration for insurance purposes, and an incident with tiles. Old tiles. I felt uncomfortable about the tiles in November, but now we are plain shocked. The tiles are being sent for asbestos testing. You don’t get a good feeling when people in masks are bagging a piece of tile for asbestos testing when just a few months ago you were picking the tiles up with your hands, not wearing masks and your children are sitting feet away from shattering tiles. This was part of the exploration we were told to do by the insurance industry. They’ve also told us to not do anything else in the cabin for now. So now on top of worry about the damage to the cabin, we get to worry about damage to our health; mine, my husband’s and our 5 children’s health. This is the nightmare that never ends.

blog snow 1

Snow – the one bonus today was we had the opportunity to view some lovely rural scenery that was crisply coated with snow. It is still deepish in spots, but not the insane amount of snow we had last year. Taking some snowy landscapes was one positive thing that happened today.

blog shiverShivering – yep, this morning en route to the cabin I checked the weather, -19C with windchill. I checked it a little later in the day and it read -21C with windchill. Thank goodness the sun was out or it would have been brutal. The sun made all the difference. I will say the trip to the local outhouse was “crisp”.

blog shopping 2Shopping – our kids were hankering Ikea for supper so we detoured into Edmonton for a quick shop and supper. Everyone stopped in their tracks at the sight of the above picture of “Oat pastry with coconut”. Perhaps something was lost in translation, but there is nothing that makes me want to try an “oat pastry”. The picture didn’t sell its tastiness either. I am thinking there is a reason it is on sale!

blog shopping 1We did pick up a couple of items at Ikea and one of them was in the self-serve area. Now if you aren’t familiar with Ikea, they have these little cards and pencils so that you can write down the aisle that the product you need is in. Our seven year old was carrying the card and pencil and my husband told her the aisle number and asked her to write it down on the card. This was another event where something was lost in translation as she decided to DRAW the item. Looks just like Ikea’s instructions don’t you think?!

Supper – we had Harvey’s burgers……………we just couldn’t get past the concept of “Oat pastry with coconut”.

Thank you for reading my blog post brought to you by the LETTER S!

(I’ve clearly watched too much kid T.V.!)

Too too pink?

blog tutu1My youngest daughter has been wanting “a pouffy skirt like a ballerina” for quite a while. She doesn’t want it as a dress up costume, she wants it as a normal piece of clothing, a skirt to wear to school. Today was another catch up day of “to dos” (2 hours fixing my husband’s coat, the boys needed haircuts, etc.) so I figured I might as well spend the evening making the skirt. I was guessing a bit at her vision, but knowing that her plans as a future career is to become a “princess” (she is mentally making lists of countries that have royalty…seriously!), I knew understated was probably not what she was thinking.

blog tutu2So here we have the vision in pink. A quick iPhone picture in bad lighting, but it gives a sense of the amount of fluff and pinkness. We woke her up to show her the finished item and she loves it. She also picked out a pink top and pink tights to wear with it tomorrow. That is going to be a whole lot of pink! It should be quite the sight seeing her play dodge ball in gym class, and I’m not sure how she is going to wear her snow pants with the skirt. It is definitely a “go big or go home” clothing item. One thing is for sure, no one will be wearing the same outfit in school tomorrow.