Archive for July, 2007

New House – the butterfly emerges from her cocoon

July 11, 2007

mr-house-6-small.jpgI looked through my posts to see when I told you about moving to a new house.

Looks like I’m remiss! I didn’t tell you.

Twelve years ago when I came to live with Mother, I realized that if I didn’t do something about it then, I would find myself without a place to stay when Mother died. So I bought a lovely place to land in, an apartment in the Fraser Valley Delta, two bedroom, filled with a soft diffuse light, surrounded by a park of rustling trees.

Here I am, twelve years later, with two thousand paintings and drawings, about five hundred of them that are framed, mostly mine, some done by others and collected by me or inherited, that have no possibility of fitting into a two bedroom apartment.

Mrs. Stepford, my lovely friend of twenty years now, heard that the house next door was coming up for sale. It’s a wee character house with a full (and dry) basement which can house my creative children (my paintings), and on the main floor, serve as gallery/show room. There are two lovely bedrooms on the upper floor, tucked in under the roof.

There is a beautifully established garden which I will need to cut back, it’s so overgrown and hides the house. I am looking forward to many pleasant hours out in the garden, digging in the dirt, transplanting, watering, painting pictures thereof, et cetera, et cetera.

One of the previous owners was a passionate gardener and planted flowering bushes like karia, forsythia, magnolia, camelia, ornamental cherry, rhododendrons, and some I don’t know the names of yet.The place is beautiful !

I’m moving to my new house over the whole month of July. I am very grateful that I can do this. My brother in law came with Heather and his big pick-up truck and has assisted me in putting up shelving and in carrying four packed truckloads of paintings and household goods. What a great brother in law!

They left on Tuesday morning. Here it is Wednesday and I have a free lance photography job, recording a conference, in Vancouver. It lasts from today to next Monday.

In between times, I have been packing, preparing my apartment for resale, trying to get it painted by a painter whom Franc found for me, in this difficult labour market. He did a fabulous job, but we had several contretemps over timing. I worked with him to get it done faster.

Monday I met with the Realtor and signed the contract for sale. There was some additional cleaning to be done, and some small final repairs. Tuesday I met with the carpet cleaner and now that is done also.

As a result, I’ve not been writing. That will have to wait. So please bear with me. There are more stories to come.

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In the Greenhouse (or in the dog house)

July 1, 2007

In the Greenhouse

It’s Canada Day today. Everyone is supposed to be out partying and having a good time in celebration of the 140th birthday of our nation’s ratification of our confederation. I was up and out early to go meet with my tenant who is leaving the apartment I rent, to get the keys, the garage door opener, the pool and gym key fobs and to check that the apartment was clean.

When the young man, a construction worker in his mid twenties, arrived at the apartment I had already had a half hour to view the apartment and see what still needed to be done. Guys don’t often clean in the same spirit that women do and this was the case with Reggie. He reviewed my list and was doing a quick juggle in his mind to see whether he would get it over with now or come back later. He hadn’t had much sleep having cleaned on the previous night until 11:30 at night. It must have been an unpleasant surprise for him to know that all that work he had done earlier was insufficient.

I was doing a similar juggle in my mind. I’m not re renting this place again. I’m selling it so that I can bring down the awesome mortgage I have on my new place. I need to get it cleaned up and made pretty for selling in a quick-fast manner so that I can get it on the market and sold by the end of July. Everything is lined up, even a painter to refresh the walls. That’s slated for tomorrow.

So I offered to Reggie that I would help him tackle the list. What I didn’t say was that I didn’t know where to go this morning besides this apartment since I quarreled with Franc last night. I didn’t sleep well, conjuring up things perhaps worse than they are. But I don’t know.

It’s me that’s in the dog house. At least, Franc has the quarrel and I’m the focus of it. I thought we were getting along quite well and had only an inkling that there was a storm brewing in that brave heart of his. He spilled his discontent and then gave me an ultimatum. I have forty eight hours to decide and then if it’s not the single outcome he envisions, then it’s his way or the highway, he says.

We tend to have these head butting arguments from time but this time there is a threat to leave for good and the intensity of that was quite surprising to me. Trouble is, I can’t bend on this issue, so if he holds true to his ultimatum, that’s a thirty year plus relationship once again rocking in a hurricane.

So I said to Reggie that I would help him with the rest of his apartment cleaning. That way I would have the cleaning done my way, under my supervision, and it would be ready for the Realtor who is all set to run with it once the painting is done. I could keep my mind busy on other things.

The oven was pretty clean. I suspect they never used it. The tenants were two friends, Reggie in construction, an electrician, and Kyle is a life guard at the Sports Centre pool. This was the first time Kyle had been away from the family he grew up in. I hadn’t connected with him much; I always conducted my business concerning the apartment with Reggie. Then, both of them were studying, Reggie to get a journeyman’s ticket, and Kyle doing first year courses at a post secondary college. Busy guys!

I suspect some of their meals were liquid. The vitamin B you get from beer is legendary, so they say. I noticed earlier that various sized beer containers were the mantle piece decoration on one inspection visit.

The rest of the meals must have been stove top, because that was encrusted – one of those glass top stoves with no element pans under the coils. In fact, no coils to be seen, since they were underneath the glass top. Reggie cleaned that a second time under my half-watchful eye. His idea was to run a cloth over it and say “It’s clean!” But I came afterwards with a gratuitous box of baking soda that had been working at the odors in the refrigerator and had been left behind. I dabbed my wet cloth in the baking soda powder and scrubbed on the right front element. Immediately the towel was caked with brown that spread into the white wet terry toweling. I couldn’t get the encrustation off, so I asked if he had a pocket knife. After a negative on that question, he produced a key and he then set about scraping where circles of burnt on stuff witnessed to meals gone past.

I wiped out kitchen cupboards that may not have had anything in them for the nine months they lived there. I had run my fingers over it and was rewarded with a fine, thick dust that had settled on the cupboard liners the previous (woman) tenant had put in. Reggie wiped around the sliding patio door windows; when I went to ensure they were done, I followed on with cleaning the track the window slides in. With humidity and condensation, the dust had taken on another life of its own, but it wasn’t staying. It had to go.

In the bathroom, the soap holder in the bathtub was green with a copper oxide deposit from the water pipes. I sat on the bathtub edge, feet in the bathtub itself, and scrubbed with more of that universally useful baking soda powder. This green was hard to remove and it took me a good ten minutes.

The washer and dryer in the closet, as they had left it. were the last place I would have wanted to do laundry. The lint catcher had not been cleaned out for sometime and a blue black felt-like patch of lint was growing past the edges of the filter frame. More lint had become matted and gucky on top surfaces. There was something like mice droppings or wet coffee grounds on the convenience shelf just above the two appliances. The floor wasn’t clean. If the laundry place isn’t clean, do you get clean clothes out at the end of the cycle, or or do they become similarly spotted and greyed by virtue of the company they keep?

“What on earth is this, Reggie?” I asked. He was quite pleased that I had offered to help and he was being very cooperative.

“Its rubber pellets that they use on the soccer field so that the players knees are not entirely wrecked in their jumping movements. The rubber pellets provide a bit of give. Just imagine, it would be entirely different if they were playing on cement. No one could tolerate that. It gets stuck in the tread and cleats of the soccer shoes.”

That reassured me that I wasn’t going to run into some Hanta virus infestation, but I wondered at keeping one’s soccer boots above the washing machine. I would have done differently.

At the end of an hour and a half, I declared that all was good enough, though I would be back tomorrow with some supplies to spruce up the place. It was time to go enjoy Canada Day. We went our separate ways. Reggie asked me if I would be a reference for him for his next landlord.

“Y’know, I paid regularly every month, and we may not have been tidy, but we were pretty clean for guys. And you could tell him that I finished all the cleaning you said I still had to do.” It was a question by inflection.

I had to admit that the place looked pretty good despite my September misgivings at renting to two young lads; I said I would be glad to do so.

Afterwards, my heartsick, worry wart self did not want to go back home. Franc and I had planned to spend some time together on this holiday, but yesterday after he had had his say, he went out to the porch while I did the supper dishes. When I finished, a mere five minutes later, he was looking green and had the air of someone who had been steam-rollered over. He got up and said that there was no point in staying until I made my mind up and he left without another word.

So after I left Reggie, I went out to a nursery that Franc and I used to visit together, to pick up a few flowers to cheer me up. I wanted some seed geraniums but it was far too late in the nursery season. There were none to be had; there were only grown ones that were far too expensive. This is the first year that I haven’t had any geraniums growing in the garden.

I chose instead a flat of dark blue lobelia and that is all I got. The flowers and plants were far too depressing because they were so cheery and bright. They didn’t match my mood. I came in with my camera but only took a few pictures where usually I take many. It was no fun with out Franc, to say “OH! Look at this one!” when either one of us found a special beauty. I only came away with this lovely picture of the green house which I’ve attached. I was particularly drawn to the rhythms of the underlying aluminum tube structure and the translucence of the plexi covering.

I headed back to an empty home and a lonely lunch.

I’m not used to being in the dog house and unfortunately, ultimatum or no, I can’t change my position on this issue. It’s so sad. Just when I am freeing up to be able to spend more time with him, now that I no longer have Mom to look after, now that I’m finally going to be able to have my own home, my own way of doing things, we are at this impasse.

I’d rather be in the greenhouse than the dog house.