Chinatown

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Happy Anniversary

I just realized that today is my One Year Anniversary of home ownership – the joys and the sorrows!

And you know how I spent it? By augering out my toilet, whee! But it works now, so that’s another cause for celebration.

Last night I was lying in bed, all cosy with the cats because it was drizzling outside but so warm under the dyvet, reading The New Yorker and sipping a cup of sake. Ten minutes later I’m with my neighbour and her partner behind Usine C (a theatre), with a cat carrier, blanket, and bag of carrots, trying to catch a white bunny with black spots.

The boyfriend keeps muttering that there is no way in hell we are going to catch the rabbit. We have the critter cornered in the garden of Usine C. I have my coat off and am trying to channel Oliver Kahn, German soccer goaltender. The bunny shall not pass, I vow. As I become soaked to the skin, the bunny lunges for me and I hear “Aaaa!” in stereo from my friends as the bunny does a spectacular leap over the coat and high-tails it down the street.

Ten minutes later I’m peeling off my soaking clothes, getting back into bed, and the cats are looking at me like I have no sense atall.


The last rent cheque

dsc_0031I had a flutter of joy today as I put the last rent cheque I shall ever write in my landlady’s mailbox. In just under four weeks, I’ll be moving into my own home, and as anxious as I am, there’s an overriding sweetness and awe in this life goal.

I’ve had good landlords and bad landlords, but this last one was a dilly. She’s stewing in so much anger, powerlessness and victimhood that she makes herself and other people unhappy over and over. I think the term for this is “boundary issues”, but my landlady has never been respectful in the way she treats me. And that’s a bit nutty, as I pay a mint to live where I do, and am quiet and tidy and do stuff like shovel my neighbours’ entryway as I’m doing mine.

I was surprised shortly after I moved in, to get a bill for the rental of a hot water tank. I called the company, and they told me that my landlady had put my name on the bill. It was kind of like getting a bill for the rental of a stove or a bathtub…I’d never agreed to pay for this, and hadn’t even known that the thing was rented. It took me nine months, and finally a registered letter, to get my name off the bill.

Next, my landlady moved her daughter and beefy boyfriend in underneath me. They started doing what turned out to be five months of renovations. They’d also have screaming, door-slamming fights at 3 AM during the week. I remember them slamming the door so loudly it sounded like a gun firing. I have to wonder how much the people downstairs from them were enjoying this, as it must’ve been 10x louder for them.

The big issue my landlady had with me is that I had that most terrible of objects, a birdfeeder. She would put “anonymous” letters in my mailbox, all in French, with words and phrases highlighted. I just kept on feeding the birds. I don’t suffer bullies gladly.

So when my landlady received my registered letter on Tuesday, telling her that I’m assigning the lease to a PhD arriving from London, my landlady had her normal temper tantrum and sent me a message, all in French as she does when she’s having a conniption. As the laws her go, she can’t refuse the lease assignment except for a serious reason, and there are none. The future tenant is formidable – I made sure of that – and won’t put up with any crap or merde from her.

So I had a little frisson of joy today as I dropped that final rent cheque in her mailbox, and noticed that she had a handful of junk mail sticking out of her mailbox, and a bag of garbage with holes chewed in it outside her door. Classy to the last.

I went down the street, 2 inches taller, to the marche on the corner, smiled at all the stockboys, got some tinned peaches down from a high shelf for an elderly couple, and let a lady go first down the crowded aisle I was trying to exit. “C’est gentil“, she smiled at me. Yeah, well that’s because I am nice. And when they started playing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujiah” on the PA, I was singing along.

Slugfest

SlugfestDear Elizabeth,

Thank you so much for the wonderful treat in the mail! I lightly sauteed the snails and Gus said they were delicious! I’m starting to think that Gus is short for Gusto. For him and me. He has made me feel like being engaged with life again. I’m starting xylophone lessons next week! You know, I should, just to punish my downstairs neighbours for their endless fighting and renovating. Whenever they start yelling, I should play “Flight of the Bumblebee” on the xylo.

But seriously, I have (again) bought a home. I started looking, in a not-so-serious way, and found a gem of a place. It’s a lot like the place I was going to buy, but significantly cheaper. My mortgage will be less than what I am paying for rent.

Slugfest 2

If you want to hear a bit about it, I’ll give you a bit of a description. If not, feel free to skip this paragraph. It is the top two floors of a 3-storey building, set back from the street. It has a great kitchen. The building was built in 1900 and although it was renovated quite a bit, they’ve kept a few of the charming old details, such as a door that’s set on trestles along the ceiling for the kitchen. Tons of counter space and shelves, a built-in island, double sink, and all appliances. It doesn’t have a gas stove, but a cooktop and wall oven. There is one big room downstairs, that’s a diningroom/livingroom. The living room has a fireplace – yay! The kitchen has a grey slate tile floor and the main room has a very new oak floor. There’s a deck off the living room, and a pretty big laundry room with lots of storage and a sink and toilet. There’s spiral stairs to the upstairs (I’ll be replacing these with a straight oak staircase, as the spiral stairs are a deathtrap.) Upstairs, it’s one big room, loft-style. It used to be 2 bedrooms, but they tore down the dividing wall, but left a built-in bookcase that runs halfway down. Off the bedroom, there’s a lovely, secluded deck with built-in flower boxes and a pergola. The bathroom was surprising; I wasn’t expecting anything this good. It was recently renovated with a plafform tub, and a skylight. It has a separate shower enclosure, and is a big room.

The cats are going to love it. I’m going to be returning to work soon, teeth clenched, but with a counsellor who is helping me navigate the snakepit.

A bit of Gus

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Gus

Here’s Gus, after Augustus Caesar. He’s about 3 months old and came to live with us on November 1.

He’s a tiny puff of fun and purrs as loud as a lawnmower.  It’s hard to believe that so much noise is coming from something this tiny, but that’s okay, Gus. Purr as loud as you want.

I got him from a pet store that has live animals – I hate that – as they’re likely from puppy/kitty mills. But that also compelled me to get him, as there was a sign saying he was a “special deal” as he was older. I realized that this meant he was considered to be after his “best before” date, so I knew he was the one coming home with me.

Gus

Who knows what his previous life was like. He was frightened at first, but by the end of the first night, he got under the covers with me and purred and trembled.  Today he is so much happier. All you have to do is touch him and he bursts into purrs.

He’s an old soul. He is friendly but not overly fawning to the older cats, and because he’s cool and gives them space, they’re coming to accept him. It’s been only one day. So far, so good.


Apartment showing angst

SilverHi Richard,

Here’s the usual photos of cats, squirrels and brightly-coloured objects on Montreal streets. Since it was moving day recently, there was lots of discarded furniture, so the whole city was a photo op.

It’s Jazz Festival time here, and I haven’t been to anything. I went to Place des Arts on Canada Day, but didn’t feel like being in huge crushing crowds of people. Fantasia will be starting shortly, though, and I’ll definitely go see some freaky films.

I’ve been a bit stressed because my landlady is completely not of this earth, and loves causing lots of drama, so she’s been a total pill about showing this apartment. I suggested at the get-go that she let me place the ad and show the place and she could interview people, making it more covenient for us all, but she didn’t go for that, saying she wants to choose the people. I reiterated that that is exactly what I’m suggesting, but she likely had another agenda of simply wanting to snoop around in my place. Legally she’s supposed to give me notice when she wants to show the apartment, and although she’s done so twice and it went smoothly, most recently she said the day before “I might bring somebody tomorrow”, and I said fine, just let me know what time, if you are going to show it. Then, with no notice she showed up with people and I wouldn’t let them in. I did that because she’s the sort of person who would then start doing that all the time, unless I maintain firm boundaries. She had a freak out. I started lining up people to be here when she comes, so now I think she’s intimidated because with the last visit she didn’t come in, but waited outside on the street. I think I’m going to enjoy having my own home just that much more because of this.

So anyway, that has short-term sucked a bit of the joy out of my normal mood, but this too shall pass. I’m still blissed about being in Montreal. I live here. It’s awesome.

A new chapter

Ducklings

Hi Linda,

I’ve been meaning to write you for the longest time, and the thought blips through my brain like a firefly and is gone… That’s pretty much my attention span recently. I think it’s a combination of fear/joy of having bought a home, and dread that my loathsome landlady will be coming by with people to show this flat to. I have my fingers crossed that she’ll rent it out immediately as I can’t bear having her in my space.

In the meantime, it’s gorgeously beautiful full-blown summer here. It was St-Jean Baptiste Day yesterday, and my neighbours had a rooftop party that went on until nearly dawn. I’ll know to have my own next year…

I see you’re reading Again Dangerous Visions, Vol. 2. I think I lent out my copy and never got it back, but I recall reading some of the stories in it with my boyfriend who I was pretty serious about at the time, and him raising an eyebrow at me, like maybe I wasn’t quite as innocent as he’d thought. Well, it’s good to keep them wondering.

I’ve had three really good friends visit recently, with their spouses, and it’s made me really wistful, as I’m still newly-back in terms of making friends. I didn’t realize I missed them so much, but I nearly died with gratitude for the feeling of continuity of being known while they were here. I treated them to decadent meals and loaded them up with goodies of cheese, chocolate, and fleur de sel so that they’ll come back to visit again soon.

I loved the pictures of your geode lamps. When I was in Germany the last time, I bought a salt lamp. The light for it has burnt out and it’s a European one, impossible to find here. So I’m looking for a North American light and plug to stick in it. Everybody has salt lamps in Northern Germany, and the pink glow is one of my happiest memories of being there.

Take care Linda, and keep writing