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Pickle Me This

April 11, 2008

A room of one's own

The New House tour continues, and now I take you to my garret. For yes, it is true– I have a garret. Actually the tail end of a very long strange half-gable off our bedroom, through a secret door in the wall. (What quirks have old houses with dubious renovations of yore!)

We use this long strange room as our closet, which contains two dressers, a long rack of hanging clothes, and a whole mess of things like Christmas lights and suitcases, things you’d expect to find in an attic. And in late February when we saw the apartment for ten minutes and decided to make our home here, I didn’t realize how big this room was. Didn’t consider that it could possibly accommodate my desk and a bookshelf, but it does.

My husband was a wee bit disconcerted at the idea of me setting up shop in the back of the closet, but this is not just any closet, and it has a window. And there wouldn’t have been room downstairs for the bookshelves and both our desks (for he requires a desk too, of course, being a brilliant graphic designer). It’s not much to look at, I know, but it’s mine, and really I’m just fond of saying “my garret.” I think I’ve wanted one forever without even knowing it.

(And if anyone’s asking, I’m now reading A Week of This by Nathan Whitlock, and The Myth of the Simple Machines by Laurel Snyder.)

April 6, 2008

Have a seat

Welcome to our new living room. I apologize for not offering the sofa, but I had to sit on it to take this picture, as I wanted a shot of the fireplace, and our huge windows (there are three, which have blinds now! How exciting). We are officially unpacked, and have been entertaining friends all weekend– friends who’ve dropped by with flowers, baked goods, cupcakes, a strawberry slicer, and cheese. Clearly we are very lucky people. Real life has also returned, which is splendid. As has spring– unbelievable. People in this city don’t miss a beat with that spring thing– today people were out riding bikes, drinking on patios, smiling, walking, looking startled and pleased by their good fortune. We did our part tonight by having the first barbeque of the season, christening our new deck and paving the way for a marvelous summer ahead.

April 4, 2008

Welcome!

Welcome to my kitchen and the entrance to our new home. After perhaps a total of nine hours scrubbing and unpacking, this is the first room to be wholly presentable. It was also the room that made me fall in love with the apartment, which I still love even though now I know about the leaky sink. It is beginning to feel like home here, though the move has left me exhausted and disconnected from my entire life. And I’m not sure why, the move having been easy as pie, our movers lovely, friendly, helpful and strong, and the new house being an ten minute drive from the old one. This place was filthy though, which might be part of it. Previously inhabited by dirt moreso than people, but it’s clean now. We’re home now. Clothes must be unpacked still, wall hangings mounted, odds and ends purchased, but we’re nearly there.

Our new neighbourhood is technically called Sussex-Ulster, though you could also locate it as south of the Annex. And it’s been made clear to me how defined are Toronto’s neighbourhoods: I’ve lived in a walkable distance to here for a lot of the past decade, know the neighbourhood well, my old neighbourhood still so close by, but I feel as though I’ve moved to a whole other world ripe for discovery. Though of course living somewhere is always a wholly different experience than just passing through, but it’s strange to be somewhere you’ve passed through so many times and have it feel like new. To have it almost feel like home.

I like my new house because it doesn’t shake in the wind, because the cat next door comes to visit, because we’ve received post every day we’ve been here, because there are so many book shelves that Stuart said in all seriousness that we needed to get more to fill them, because our downstairs neighbours appear to be human, because it’s so big, because I get to sleep in an attic, because the washing machine operates coin free, because the sun comes in and the breeze comes in, and because here it has always been spring.

March 30, 2008

Moving begins

Our packing is nearly done, and the moving begins tomorrow evening. This means I’ll be off-line (and off-phone!) until Thursday or Friday. If anyone needs to get a hold of me, send carrier pigeon. I’ll begin writing my Poetic April poems as scheduled however, and this just means I get three extra days before I have to expose myself.

I’ll also be reading Unaccustomed Earth, a new book of stories by Jhumpa Lahiri, which might just mean no unpacking gets done. I love Lahiri, who wrote my all-time favourite short story “The Third and Final Continent”. In addition, I love how I found Lahiri, the day I was at the Victoria College Book Sale with my friend Kim who picked The Interpreter of Maladies out of the pile and said, “You have to read this.” On the back of the book, a blurb by Amy Tan: Jhumpa Lahiri is the kind of writer who makes you want to grab the next person you see and say ‘Read This'”. Of course. Anyway, I am excited, about a variety of things.

March 25, 2008

Coming Home

I am now reading Salvage by Jane F. Kotapish, and I am totally hooked. Her language is mesmerizing, and the story is edge after edge.

And now living amongst gargantuan chaos, as perhaps two thirds of our apartment is packed up, and only a narrow path is cleared to walk from room to room. I keep thinking of new reasons to break into the boxes I sealed two weeks ago, and of new boxes to fill with things I’d forgotten we owned. I keep thinking of new things to own, and other things to shed. Of the light in my new kitchen, which I’ve only ever seen in February, and how they’ll get the sofa out the door.

I think about losing our big storage closet, and where will we store our baseball gloves now? The exposed brick and the fireplace, and the roof beams in our new bedroom. The ugly carpets, for which we’ve traded our hardwood, but then the Mexican tiles in the kitchen, the cupboards in the bathroom, the two decks, and the premise of laundry without coins or going out of doors. The “spare room” and “library” and that they’ll be one and the same doesn’t make me swoon about it any less.

And to be settled down again. This is how I function best, how I write best, and for the past month, we’ve been positively in-between. My brain moved out the day we gave notice, and I hope it’s packed somewhere too, in a box I’ve just forgotten to label. I’m looking forward to being home again, to the day the apartment stops smelling like someone else’s, to the familiar sound of rain on that roof, to the lazy easy light of Sunday morning. And not only to being home, but I’m looking forward to coming home, day after day. Counting the stairs, my key in the lock, somebody’s already put the kettle on to make a cup of tea.

March 19, 2008

Library in Cartons

Here it is, our library in cartons. We packed the books up Sunday, which took up more time and boxes than we had supposed. And now we’re very grateful that we can afford to hire other people to carry that weight, as otherwise we’d be tempted to pull a Robin Pacific. Do note though that the thought of these boxes is the only reason I was able to leave the Balfour Books Half-Price Sale empty-handed on Sunday (but absolutely no reason why you should– the sale is on for the rest of the week). My prudence then negated today when I picked up my own Harriet the Spy.

Anyway the books will be unboxed in two weeks in the new house where they’ll have their own room.

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