And So, It Begins – Part 3

My apologies for the gap between Parts 1 and 2 and Part 3. I’m a teacher and sometimes, especially in the spring, things get crazy. Here is the continuation about the joys of decorating.

I survived that initial meeting and many more. Henning and I have been married for 21 years. I don’t have any horrible in-law stories to tell. Over the years, I’ve grown very close to Eva and Knud, and now we are getting even closer. Eva and Knud are moving into Prairie Spruce too. They spent 30 wonderful years on their farm, but it was getting to be too much work to keep the house, yard, and garden immaculate.
As I continued to struggle with design choices, I was curious to see what Eva would do. The house on the farm was beautifully decorated with walls of yellow, blue, and shades of terracotta. She made it look easy; she could make decisions. True to form, Eva had a plan. She had a sample of the flooring from the farm and was planning to use that as her inspiration. After a good discussion of their floor plans over tea, we all headed off to Lowes for initial reconnaissance.

I think I overestimated my mother-in-law, but I love her more now. She too struggled with the overwhelming variety of finishes, colors, and hardware. Luckily, we were helped by a wonderful salesperson named Jason. He had a lot of good ideas and was funny too. He was extremely patient and showed us how to line up the samples of flooring, countertop, and cabinets to get a good idea of how they would look together.

By the time we left, Eva had discovered the following. She would like white appliances; Knud discovered that he liked white appliances too. Eva doesn’t need the base cabinets lower, but she wants to see if the builders will install the uppers a bit lower for her. Knud thought that was a good idea. We all agreed that it was time to make an appointment to some professional help. Palandri Cabinets, here we come.

So if you are thinking about joining Prairie Spruce Commons, now is the right time. Everyone is beginning the process of selecting the lighting, cabinets, and flooring for their individual units. It is an exciting time, or so my husband Henning, tells me. This is the first time we are designing our own space. It will be our choice in our community. In the words of Lois Armstrong, “What a wonderful world that will be.”

A Room with a View

It’s yours when you join Prairie Spruce Commons, the unique co-housing condominium where the second and third floor terraces overlook Wascana Park. The terraces become part of your home. You’ll have the best seats in town for the July 1st Fireworks,

Fireworks
Fireworks in Regina (Monique Nenson)

the pageant of the changing seasons, or just a quiet outdoor retreat for you and your friends.

But let’s take a step back. Prairie Spruce Commons is unique as a condominium. It incorporates the features desired by the people who will live there and professionally designed by architects who understand the demands of our Saskatchewan climate. Today we will examine some of the special exterior features of the building and grounds. Next time we will have a look at the interior.
One truly unique feature of our condominium will be the garden. The southwest corner of the lot offers ideal sun exposure and garden growing conditions. Here will be our vegetable garden for the farmer at heart. We are already planning the first community dinner with the fresh produce from our own garden just outside the door.

Cherry Tree
Flowering Cherry Tree (Geoff Evans)

There will be fruit trees. Prairie cherries and apple trees, maybe Saskatoons, choke cherries and haskap berries. What about a raspberry patch? One of our members makes prairie cherry juice that will be perfect for sipping on the deck adjacent to the common area. And don’t get me started on the Saskatoon pies or choke cherry syrup on pancakes.
Of course there will be community composting to nourish the soil and minimise our footprint on the earth.
These are a few of the special outside features of our building that I look forward to. Won’t you join me for a glass of homemade prairie berry juice?

Murray

Coffee Party – Monday August 8th – Naked Bean

 

Sir Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation
Sir Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation

“Tea, Earl Grey, hot.” Being both a Star Trek and tea fan, this line has always appealed to me.

I have spent a lifetime, “going for coffee” with friends and family. At first, I would order coffee, just to be polite and to fit in, but I soon realized that I don’t like coffee and it feels the same way about me. I finally know that I can still be a proud Canadian without a “double-double” in my hand.

But I’m still going to a coffee party next week and you should come too. I’d invite you to a tea party but then you would have all sorts of ideas – frilly dresses, big hats and porcelain cups, and pinkies in the air. This is a coffee party – you can dress and hold your cup however you want.

By Kate Greenaway  via Wikimedia Commons
By Kate Greenaway via Wikimedia Commons

You are invited to a coffee party on Monday, August 8th at the Naked Bean Expresso Bar and Cafe (2505 Broad Street) from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. Members of Prairie Spruce Commons will be there to answer any questions you have about the project, show you the plans for the remaining units, and even give you a tour of the site.

What am I having at the coffee party?

Tea, Earl Grey, hot.

RSVP by emailing and we’ll even buy your coffee

Our email address is PrairieSpruceCommons@gmail.com

 

Ask and Ye shall receive

I married into a Danish family. My in-laws and husband were all born in Denmark. Despite living in Canada for 40 years, they still maintain many Danish traditions. Most of my favorites involve food.  I have been introduced to smørrebrød – open faced sandwiches that must be eaten with a knife and fork. I have come to love herring and the occasional shot of aquavit. There is always risalamande (rice pudding with almonds) at Christmas.

Saskatchewan Cherries
Saskatchewan Cherries

It is usually topped with cherry pie filling, but last year it was topped with homemade cherry preserves. It was amazing. Tart cherry goodness mixed with creamy rice sweetness, this was something that I had to learn how to make.

Making cherry preserves is not that easy. It takes a lot of work to pick and pit the cherries. So I asked the other members of Prairie Spruce to give us a hand. Not only did we get Prairie Spruce members out, we even got some friends of cohousing out to pick. There were seven of us picking cherries.

Ann, friend of Prairie Spruce
Ann, friend of Prairie Spruce

Ann told us about picking cherries at boarding school in England. She said they were let into the fenced in an orchard and not allowed out until all the cherries were picked.

 

Henning looking for bugs
Henning inspecting his pickings

Henning was a bit slower than Ann as his pail didn’t have a handle.  I don’t think he had quite as much experience picking berries either.

It didn’t take long for the cherry trees to be stripped bare.  Then we moved onto the other berries that needed to be picked. Murray and James picked a gallon or two of saskatoons and Knud picked raspberries.

Knud, Murray, and James
Knud, Murray, and James

The afternoon ended with tea and ice cream with fresh raspberries for all. Murray took home the saskatoons, hopefully, to make one of his famous fruit crisps. Eva had two huge bowls of cherries, ready to be pitted. I helped pit, but she was so much faster with her hairpin.

Ready to pit
Ready to pit

Sharing is one of the core values of Prairie Spruce Commons.

We share the workload.

We share what we grow, create, build and brew.

We share the fun.

 

 

 

Prairie Spruce as a Community – Part 2 of 2

Here is part two of a two-part series on community by Ann.

Community in the Future

The members of Prairie Spruce Commons are eagerly looking forward to moving into the condominium-style building on Badham Boulevard.

North east view
North-east view

After years of preparation, having personal and private space within a shared facility will finally be a reality.  The excellent location will mean that downtown appointments, a bus to the university, or a stroll through Wascana Park are all within easy walking distance.

Erik
Erik, help, the WiFi is down.

Morning coffee with a neighbour can be shared in the lounge or at a nearby coffeehouse, and an evening cribbage game is just down the hall.  Guests will be welcome to use one of two guest rooms.  Resources will be shared.  Need a wheelbarrow?  Look in the garden shed. Need help with a computer glitch?  Consult a neighbour who has computer expertise.

Have a yen for perogies?  Ask some friends to meet you in the common kitchen for a cooking bee.  Prairie Spruce residents will be secure in the knowledge that someone will check in when they are sick and pet-sit their dog when they are away for the weekend.

Mannie
Mannie is a dream to pet-sit.

 

Cohousing and community are a perfect fit.

Ann

 

Prairie Spruce as a Community – Part 1 of 2

Here is part one of a two-part series on community by Ann.

Community Defined

Community is a popular word in society today.  Many of the meanings attributed to the term apply to Prairie Spruce Commons Cohousing and its interpretation of community.

Sharing Cherries
Community

The Prairie Spruce community describes a group of people with shared goals, attitudes, and interests.  A self-organized network, this group has a common agenda and is committed to working collaboratively.  Diverse individual characteristics contribute to the strength of the group and enrich the attachment among the members.

Upon completion of the structure on Badham Boulevard in 2017, the community will live together – a neighbourhood within a building, a part of the larger community of Canterbury Park.

Prairie Spruce Commons
The building is only a small part of Prairie Spruce Commons

 

Community Now

After working together for the past five years, the members of Prairie Spruce Commons have already formed a strong sense of community.  The shared purpose of coming together to design and build the property on Badham Boulevard is an obvious starting point.   Sharing the workload among standing and ad hoc committees is essential.

Consensus
Consensus at work.

Collaborative decision-making ensures that each member of every household has an opportunity to express an opinion, to voice a concern, or to contribute a suggestion.   Lively discussion leads to informed choices and strong commitments.  Formed by an awareness of each personality and an appreciation of the individual, enduring friendships are made.

Discussion
Discussion
Discussion
Discussion

While achieving results in this enormous project has been hard work, the work has been filled with humour and fun.  In anticipation of the meals that will be prepared and eaten in the common house after move-in, the group has been eating a meal together once a month since the early days of the project.  The need to downsize has resulted in joint garage sales – more shared work, more shared fun – with the proceeds going towards the purchase of equipment for the common kitchen.  Birthdays, graduations, retirements, sickness among community members or the loss of a family member have been reasons to celebrate or commiserate as a group.  The Prairie Spruce community has been established.

The Loft: A Bird’s Eye View

In the final re-design of Prairie Spruce Commons Cohousing, a unique loft suite (779 sq ft) has been added above the common house in the northwest corner of the building.  This suite is suitable for a single person or a couple.  Let’s tour the suite.  Take the elevator in the lobby or the front staircase to the second floor and meet in the corridor.

Welcome to Suite 208.  This unit has ready access from both the elevator and the stairs.  The door on the left in the alcove just outside the threshold opens to the heat recovery ventilator (HRV) for this unit.  Ahead is the living room (12’-8” x 11’-6”), with three dormer windows facing west on the outside wall.  A closet with an overhead shelf and rod is located just inside the entry door, and the stairs to the loft are beside the closet.

 

As you turn to your right, the living room opens into the dining room (16’-9” x 8’-9”).  There are two windows facing north on the outside wall.  To take advantage of the space under the eaves on the west wall, a storage space (12’-9” x 2’-5”) has been created.  A storage closet (5’-7” x 2’-10”) is also tucked under the stairs.

Another right turn from the dining room leads into the kitchen (10’-4” x 12’-6”) and the adjacent bathroom (5’-0” x 9’6”).  The kitchen counter wraps around the north and east walls.  There are two windows facing north on the outside wall, with the sink located under the windows.  The stove and refrigerator are on the east wall.  Cupboard space is provided above and below the counter, and there is a pull-out pantry beside the refrigerator.  The bathroom has a vanity sink, toilet, and tub with shower.   Washroom walls are blocked for grab bars that can be added in the future.

The stairs to the loft are centrally located in the suite, just off the living room.  At the top of the stairs on the left, a mezzanine railing follows the line from the stairs to the north wall and opens to the living and dining room below.   The bedroom (11’-4’ x 9’-8”) fills the space above the kitchen.  Two windows face north on the outside wall.  The bedroom also includes a generous walk-in closet (4’0” x 9’4”).

With its corner location, this suite has an element of privacy but is also handy to the shared common kitchen, laundry room, and guest room on the main floor.  Additional storage space is available on the parking level, and both parking and storage have convenient elevator access.

If you are looking for a character condominium suite, a building that is designed for sustainability, and neighbours who are dedicated to environmental awareness and community living, Suite 208 might be the place for you.

Who is Involved and who is Committed?

Look at your breakfast, and you will see that the chicken is involved, but the pig is committed.

My inlaws are committed, and I’m on my way to becoming a pig too.

Pig and Chicken Cartoon

Eva and Knud were the last family to join Prairie Spruce Commons, but the first family to sell their house. They sold the farm early this year and had a farm auction last week.

Auction at Mortensens
Farm Auction for Knud and Eva

Prairie Spruce members were there in person, and also provided a lot of support – both emotional and calorie-wise. Brenda, Ruth, and Rebekah  sent some amazing chocolate truffles and Laurie brought lemon cheesecake squares. There were lots of messages of support from members too.

Prairie Spruce Support Team - Vickie, Claire, Laurie, and Murray
Prairie Spruce Support Team – Vickie, Claire, Laurie, and Murray

Knud and Eva will be moving into Regina this summer, as they wait for the building to be finished. It will be a big change for them, but I plan to keep them busy helping me get our house ready for sale.

I wonder if I will  be disinherited (again) for this post.

Joanne

Farm Rainbow
The Mortensen Farm

 

Annual Canada Day Party at Prairie Spruce Commons

TED The very first TED conference was held in 1984 as a single event to show off compact discs, e-books, and 3D graphics.  It lost money. Now there are 17 TED page views on the internet every second. If you have never heard of TED talks, where have you been? They are amazing 15 to 20-minute videos on just about anything to do with technology, entertainment,  and design. There is even one on cohousing.

So from small beginnings, great things can happen. Prairie Spruce Commons held their first Canada Day Party on July 1.  It was small, very last minute, and involved a lot of hey.

Hey, Henning, we should go watch the fireworks tonight.

Hey, Henning, we should watch it from Badham Ave, just to see what it is like.

Hey, Henning, we should invite Murray and Lois.

Hey, Henning, we should put this on Wiggio and invite everyone.

Hey, everybody, I have a very patient husband.

Joanne and Henning at fireworks
Waiting with Henning for the fireworks.

So Murray, Lois, Henning and I went to our soon-to-be home, set up lawn chairs beside College Park II, and waited, and waited, and waited. I wasn’t sure about how much traffic there might be, so we met at 9 pm.

Lois and Murray waiting for fireworks
Lois and Murray waiting for fireworks.

While we waited, we discussed the next Canada Day celebration.  There needs to be food, perhaps a BBQ. There should be music, maybe even a live band. We could have a house concert –  once we have a house. There should be more people, more Prairie Spruce members and maybe some neighbours too.

The fireworks were awesome, (but someone forgot how to set her camera to shoot fireworks so the pictures were not awesome.) We were joined by some workers from College Park II.  We could see everything and imagined how much more fun it will be when we are all watching the fireworks from one of our three terraces or even from Lois’s third-floor apartment.

See you next year at the Second Annual Prairie Spruce Commons Canada Day Celebration!

Joanne

Garage Sale Success – Community in Action

Yesterday we had our first garage sale for Prairie Spruce. It was a resounding success. We all downsized and had a huge amount of fun doing it.

Garage sale
All sorts of things to see and buy.
Community members at the garage sale
Visiting in the shade

It was a very sunny day, so we set up a canopy, pulled out the awning on the camper and got down to some serious socializing. If you look carefully, Lois is not really visiting, but eyeing the pink and blue skirt she was about to purchase for the princely (princessly?)  sum of 25 cents. (If you know Lois, ask her what she bought at the sale.)

Erik
Erik, customer service specialist

Erik, my son, acted as the cashier for most of the day. He made some spectacular deals – usually on purpose.  He has great customer service skills. He was smiling and polite to everyone which is pretty impressive for an 18-year-old who was woken up at 6:30 a.m., by his mom,  to work at a garage sale. At one point, he delivered a large box of sealers to a lady across the street, brought back some money, and then went back across the street to give her the change. Dave and Knud did their share of deliveries too.

Many customers found just what they were looking for. We sold some antlers to a man who was collecting them for a carver who lives in northern Saskatchewan. What an awesome way to upcycle! There was a very happy lady who bought some multicolored Melmac plates. She said that she used to fight with her siblings over who got the red plate. She was planning to take them to a family reunion this summer. She was grinning from ear to ear. I wonder who will get the red plate? My friend’s mom found a tiny shelf that will be perfect for her granddaughter’s Scandinavian doll house.

Toys
Cowboy memories

When the customers were not keeping us busy, we entertained ourselves. It was fun seeing what for sale. This, for example, was a box of my brother-in-law’s cowboy and GI Joe toys from the seventies. Someone got some pretty neat toys.

I started laughing when my son asked his grandmother, “So what was this when it was at home?” He was referring to a rather fancy silver plate with a large hole in the middle of it. She really couldn’t explain what it was; I think that is why it ended up on the garage sale

Joanne
Me, warming up for the big duet with Dave.

At one point Dave and I broke into a resounding rendition of “Ride of the Valkyries” while wearing  Viking helmets, or at least we think that’s what it was. We laughed as we both admitted we were just singing based on what we knew from Bugs Bunny

There was lots of support from community members that were unable to help with the actual sale. The Gagnons showed up at noon with a wonderful lunch for all the workers – sandwiches, cakes, watermelon and cold drinks. Just as we were almost… sort of… maybe… getting peckish in the afternoon, Lil showed up with fresh coffee and banana bread. Ruth delivered a rhubarb cake the day before and JoAnne dropped off a giant watermelon. Amazing cooks are just one of the many benefits of cohousing. We will eat like royalty.

Cohousing is all about community. Everyone helped in whatever way they could. Together, we had a ton of fun doing something that  wouldn’t have been any fun to do alone. We even raised a bit of money. The current plan is that it will go towards a commercial dishwasher in the common kitchen.

The dishwasher will be my inspiration for the next garage sale – do I really need this vase, bowl, book, or would I rather be done supper dishes in 5 minutes.

I think I have to go downsize some more and get ready for the next garage sale.

Joanne