Saturday, November 28, 2009

Wee Postcard from the Cardboard Jungle

We're in.  All of our worldly possessions are here, under one roof, with us. All that's left to do now is unpack, set up, clean, plug in, dust, fold, sort, assemble, attach felt feet to, arrange, and make sense of it all.  We are exhausted, and excited, and sore in places we didn't know we had.  But we're in.

I will, I'm sure, have more profound things to say about all of this at some point. But for now, I can only think in lists, the events of the past two weeks having apparently temporarily fused my cerebral wiring this way.

Please understand: I am grateful to be where I am.  I love where I am, and who I am with, and pretty much my entire life right now.  My tongue is planted firmly in cheek.  With that caveat, I give you the lists that are currently top of mind:

Sentences I never want to hear again:

1.  Hey Jenn, which box is the ___________ in?

2.  OW!!!!  (Induced by stubbed toes, falling assorted debris, incorrect-and-therefore-over-heated-lightbulb burn, skinned knuckles and deceptively-light looking boxes that turn out not to be)

3. Where the #$&@! is the damn tape gun?

4. That will be $X. (where X = approximate GDP of small nation + 12%)

5.  "Yes, ma'am, please be there waiting: that delivery and/or installation will be promptly at Y o'clock." (where Y = an apparently "reasonable" window of time ranging anywhere from 4 hours - 3 days)

Sentences I never want to utter again:

1.  Hey Kev, where's the box with the ________ in it?

2.  OW!!!! (Induced by stubbed toes, falling assorted debris, head-cracking on shelves whose existence had not yet been fully appreciated, skinned knuckles, and deceptively-light looking boxes that turn out not to be)

3. Where the *assorted unlady-like descriptors* did I put the *more assorted unladylike adjectives* tape gun? It was RIGHT HERE.

4. $X?  Yes, certainly, let me me get my chequebook.

5.  "Yes hi, we were expecting a delivery/installation at Y o'clock?"

Places I'd rather be:

1. Absolutely nowhere.  

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Preparing for Launch

It's Saturday morning.  Not just any Saturday morning, but the Saturday before moving day.  I am sitting amid piles of boxes, files of bills, and lists of lists of Things To Do Before Moving Day.  The love of my life is at Home Depot in an early morning bid to accomplish items 67 through 82 of Supplies That Need to Be Bought For the House list, and I'm here alone, drinking coffee, and thinking about the neighborhood I am preparing to leave.

Osborne Village is a neighborhood with a personality that has changed with the times, yet managed to retain a modicum of its hippy-dippy roots.  I wasn't raised here - the two-block main drag of the Village was exclusively lined with record stores and head shops when I was a kid - but I did grow up here, in ways that have become apparent to me as I prepare to leave it once again.

I used to come here in early high school with "the girls"  - usually when someone's heart had been broken - to eat cheesecake at Baked Expectations and watch the firefighters across the street play volleyball on their parking lot.

In the summer before we went away to university (music for me, political science for her), my best friend and I used to dress up in our subversive best and come here to hang out as conspicuously as possible in the coffee shops, talking for hours aboud politics and philosophy and our grand plans to change the world through art and activism.

It wasn't until after college that I officially moved into the Village for the first time.  At 21, I lived in a tiny apartment that once housed the serving staff in a converted mansion.  I bought a piano with a co-sign from my Dad, I walked to work during the week and to the Village shops on weekends, looking at books and clothing I couldn't afford on my princely $19,000 first salary.

When I got married at 24, we moved deeper into the Village.  We were there when one of the heritage building that had been a cornerstone of the Village shopping district burned down, to be eventually replaced by a bank and a tanning salon.  I watched the community garden across the street be ripped out to make way for high-priced condos that wouldn't be built until years later.  The independent bookstore became a chain coffee shop, the second-last head shop became a high-end boutique, the independent record store became a crappy sandwich joint, and the gentle dope-smokers that once were a fixture on the corner were slowly replaced by increasingly violent drunks. After 8 years in the neighborhood, we bought a house in the French Quarter.

Three years later, my marriage ended.  Thinking back on it now, I never even momentarily considered anywhere else.  Despite the changes, the Village was a safe haven, a retreat, my home.  I came back.

The tiny apartment I am about to leave was a godsend during the two-and-a-half most transformative years of my life.  Here, I recovered from the circumstances around the end of my marriage and grew into a love I never dared to dream existed.  With that essential support, I fought the brutal, but ultimately final, battle against my anorexia.  The band that has become such an important part of my life filled this place with music, and LoML and I spent two wonderful Christmas mornings here, Christmases that were easily the most magical and beautiful ones I have ever had. 

On Friday morning, the movers will arrive, and they will carry my piano and my books and my yarn and my things to our new house, a substantial drive away from this neighborhood that has become the launching pad for new chapters of my life.  This last chapter has been a doozy, but I can't wait to turn the page, because I have a feeling that this next one is going to be the longest and most wonderful one yet.

Back that truck up, boys.  It's time to go.

Friday, November 20, 2009

An Echo Full of Instruments, Pt. I

Last weekend, the band and I went to Thunder Bay, Ontario to headline an event called Celtic Bash 12.  Put on by The Pipes and Drums of Thunder Bay, it's a fundraiser for the pipe band and a celebration of all things Celtic, with highland dancers, three different pipe bands, a more traditional Celtic group, lots of beer, and us.

Thunder Bay is an eight-hour drive east of home, but with the show on a Saturday and people willing to pay for two nights' hotel for us, we had the rare luxury of a whole day just to travel. We packed up the vehicles on Friday morning and hit the road an entirely civilized hour.

We are five people in the band, and we travel in two vehicles: Kevin (a.k.a. LoML) and I and our instruments in my car, Mike, Kyle and Nic and all of their instruments in a borrowed SUV.  Sounds like Kevin and I would have more room, right?  Anyone who has ever packed a drum kit knows the answer.  Getting a drum kit into a car is a challenge at the best of times. Getting Kevin's drum kit into my car is a Jenga-like feat of epic proportions.

For this is my car, a wee 2000 Toyota Echo:

And this is an Echo with one drum kit, one sampler, one accordion, two knitting projects, one suitcase, two pedal cases, and one wireless rig in it (two musicians to come):

Pretty impressive, non?

On Saturday morning, we had breakfast then headed to the venue, to find the stage looking like this:

i.e.: not quite ready for us.  However, the sound tech gave us the happy news that the local music store was having a 50% off EVERYTHING sale.

Now the rest of the band, regularly having to buy strings, rosin, drum heads and the like, gets very excited about this sort of news.  I don't mind music stores, but quite frankly they don't usually cater to musicians of my ilk (i.e. non-male, non-guitar-playing, non-string-buying).  I go along but usually - due mostly to my choice of instrument - don't have the bordering-on-religious experience I've witnessed in my bandmates when they discover a beautiful-sounding thing on sale.  That was about to change.

Two minutes into the outing, I spied this:

Excelsior Accordiana, 120-bass, "women's model" (i.e. smaller and lighter but every bit as beer-swillingly-powerful as her larger polka-king cousin) thing of utter gorgeousness.  I played one chord, and the rest of the band appeared out of the woodwork, like moths to a flame.  (I believe Mike's exact words were "What the $@%# was THAT?") The sound was huge.  HUGE.  Monster.  In that moment, I, for the first time, understood why people turn their amps up to 11, why the guys get that look on their faces when they plug a beautiful instrument into a beautiful system and make a big, beautiful, badass noise.  For the first time, I understood, in a visceral sort of way, why they're called "power chords".

The price tag said $300. That's $150 on sale.  Online, I have seen these babies for $995 and up.  It wasn't even a conversation.

We would make room in the Echo for one more case.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Things I CAN Share...

It's officially full on pre-Christmas knitting season, which rules in that I have a ton of stuff on the needles and a ton of ideas for more things to put on the needles (and a quickly dwindling supply of empty needles), but sucks in that I can't tell you about any of it in any sort of detail.

However, I am getting a bit of relief from all of this surprise keeping, due to the fact that my wonderful brother Michael had the consideration to be born in November, 34 years ago today.  (Happy birthday Mike, I love you tons and I'm glad you're my brother.)

And so, we'll kick off a list of things I can tell you about with:

1. I knit Michael some birthday socks, and he wore them today in a rainforest in Tofino, B.C.

Skyp Socks, in Blue Moon Fiber Arts River Rocked (Rockin' Sock Club September shipment)

STR Mediumweight may be my favourite sock yarn ever.  (Though, in fairness, the Wollmeise is still in its skein...)

2.  We bought a house.  I know I told you that already, but I'm just a tad excited about it.

3. I had a small falling down at the Blue Moon online store.  (I had a discount code that was going to expire.  It would have gone to waste.  That's my story, I'm sticking to it.)  It came today.

4. My friend Miss K and I picked out, queued, and cast on the exact same project on the exact same day.  I cannot stop knitting it.  Seriously.  I'd love to tell you more, but that will have to wait until after Christmas. Suffice to say that I briefly considered calling in sick so I could finish another chart repeat.

5.  My new house (which is not a new house, by any stretch, but is new to me... or I guess I'm new to it...) has 97 year old oak that has never been painted, and it's every-freaking-where.  I get a little jello-in-the-knees just thinking about it.

6.  I have discovered something about my knitting self: I hate working with laceweight.  I like lace, I like laceweight yarn, I do not like making lace out of laceweight yarn.  I am happy about this because it means that I can stop knitting a project I was not enjoying, and because I got my 4.5mm circular back, at least temporarily.  Temporarily being the operative word.

7.  Coloured washers and dryers are about $150 more each than white ones. 

8.  At my Safeway, there is, right now, at the SAME TIME, Halloween candy in the aisle and Egg Nog in the dairy case.  (Don't even get me started on the fact that they've got the freakin' mincemeat and candied cherries and fruitcake out on a special display.)  I have very, very strong feelings about this. They are not good feelings.  Some things do not belong in the same store at the same time.  I have spoken.

9.  We take possession November 16.  Got any boxes?