Thursday, April 14, 2005

gimme shelter

So... I put my business "officially" on hiatus for a little while. With all the house stuff that's going on, I haven't had time to do the things I wanted to do this spring. They will have to wait until summer. I am going to be adding a lot of different products to the business and have been wanting to come up with things that have more of a unified look to the things I sell, so I'll be working on designs and colour schemes. In the meantime, since my craft room is now in the basement, and needs to stay super neat and tidy till the house sells, I'll only be doing a few little things here and there. Oh yes, two sets of my friends are getting married this summer, so I'll be working on their invitations, and some lovely wedding dresses for myself (dresses to wear to the weddings), but the rest will have to wait.

On wedding news, one of my oldest and dearest friends Emily got married on Groundhog Day this year! What a great way to make an over-looked holiday more special! :) She is also expecting a baby girl in June and I couldn't be more happy for her.

When I was busy getting the house ready to go on the market, I didn't have much time to think (a good thing with me!!) but since then I've been thinking about the houses in my recent life. Our first place in Ottawa was a smallish apartment in a 1980s lowrise complex. It was the place where we lived while we settled in here. It was not homey, and felt very much like student living, even though we tried to make it homier. However, I was busy starting my Master's and Arek was busy working on contract work (oh, the days of the computer boom here where contracts just fell into his lap...). I was so busy that year, we didn't take much time for anything else. Once in a while we'd go out, but it took me a full couple of years before we could drive around town without a map. We only knew our way to our friends' places, the university, the job site, and the bars we liked. I don't really miss that place, except for the entertainment we got from the people who lived below us, who spent every evening out on their balcony smoking pot and weezing and coughing and giggling their way through their conversations. Oh yes, it was also the year of the ice storm here. I didn't like Ottawa much in this place, but I also didn't know it very well.

The following year we rented a whole house near the experimental farm. It was great! Two stories, three bedrooms, bright and airy, wood floors, and a great back yard. The garden the first year was my best one yet. Lots of tomatoes, and other vegetables, a HUGE pumpkin that threatened to overtake the house (it took both of us and a wheelbarrow to bring it to the front of the house and decorate it for halloween!), and lots of flowers. Oh yes, and a cute willow arbour I made at a workshop. The garden was my haven - it's where I sat and sipped tea, and gin and tonics, and where I brought my laptop and wrote my entire Master's thesis (all 300 pages!). It's also the place where we had one of the big parties for our wedding, where we got engaged, and where we surprised my parents for their 40th anniversary with all the family. It's where I turned 30 and loved it! It's where I practised my tap dancing for my classes on the hard linoleum floor in the basement, and where we brought little Wally home to (our dog). He'd sit keeping guard at the front door all day long, or lay in the sun in the back and chase butterflies, or nuzzle the little dog next door through the fence. It's also the last house my dad stayed in before he died, and it's the place where I took a year off from everything dealing with some of the grief and anger and craziness of that period. It's also where I got really sick, but then started recovering. I really liked this house, it was a light-filled house and it took care of my body and soul.

We bought our next and current house, because we felt we were wasting too much money on rent, and felt it was time to make an investment. We looked for and bought this house when I was sick, and moved while I was still recovering. As I look around now, I see this house as a cocoon. It was a shelter for me in my recovery, but in a different way than the light and airy house we had before. It's been much more of a hibernation and inward-looking place for me. It's allowed me to get better physically, but it's also let me fall into many an emotional rut. I've become much more of a hermit here, and feel that I've cut myself off from much of my life while I've been here. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it was necessary for me at the time. It's been a place where I've searched deeper inside to find the "real" me, and often came up empty-handed, cuz I was looking too hard, and forgot to just BE me. It's been a place where I started to hate Ottawa, and my place here, and the things I was doing, because I wasn't happy myself. But, it's also been a place where I gently pulled back from that, and allowed myself to be freer and more creative that I have in many many years. It's also the place I realized I was unhappy in my relationship, and took steps to become happier and more alive in that same relationship, to make it something we both wanted to be a part of. It's been tough living here, but good. As I look down the hallway, I realize the parallel all this has with my bedroom placement - we're in a split level, and the bedrooms are on the lower level, half above and half below ground. A good grounding and hibernating spot if I've ever seen one!

So, now, we are moving at the end of June, to a two-storey house again, with a bedroom that has a deck where I can look out at the treetops and up at the sky, and a stone fireplace for grounding and snuggling in front of. The best of two worlds :) It's got places for both our creative outlets, and space for more if we want. I feel more energetic now that I have in a while, and I'm ready to live more fully. It's funny, since this house is a lot farther out of town than we are now, but I have a feeling I'm going to be more social there. I'm excited about having friends and family out for the entire day, walking in the area, and making big meals together. I'm excited about new ideas for my business, and I'm excited to have new spaces to make new memories.

Each place has been perfect for what I needed it to be at that time. I know my next place will be perfect in whatever capacity it needs to be. I'm excited to settle in together.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

i'm gonna wash that junk right out of my hair

So... wow... that was a long break from y'all... just needed some time to get my shit together and get to a point where I was no longer waking up with my jaw clenched from the stress I was feeling over the past few weeks.

We got through the inspection on the new house with flying colours - the inspector said he was really impressed with the really good foundation, and the overall shape the house was in for being 20 years old. So there you go, we've bought it completely now. We did not make it conditional on the sale of this house, as we figure we'll be able to sell no problem in this market. But at the same time, it has me a little anxious about ending up with two mortgages in the summer! I'm sure it will all work out, though, and it will all fall into place.

We got our current house in tip top shape too. That was most of the work recently. We have a lot of STUFF and we had to go through it all and get rid of a lot of it, either by giving it away, or storing it until we have more time to sort.

I was so stunned at how much actual garbage was in the house. The crawl space took me an entire day to go through, and I had 8 contractor bags full of garbage when I finished. Crappy old building materials that were there from the previous owners! Boxes for things we haven't even owned since we moved here! All those "I'll just keep this, cuz you just never know..." things. No more! The house looks so much better now, has more flow, has better energy and has even gained a few rooms!

We took all the band's equipment out of the basement, and moved my craft room down there for now. That left us with a spare room to set up as a sitting room, and suddenly, there is a place for people to stand and talk to us while we make dinner. Or, at least, at place for me to read a magazine while my husband makes dinner :) Shut up! I make our breakfasts and lunches everyday so it all works out :) There was this wierd counter thing sticking out of our kitchen, and we just never really knew what to do with it, except for putting junk on it (cool! A long horizontal space!), and so now we've got with the times, and bought some stools and put them along there, and now we have a breakfast nook as well! I love sitting there and chatting with arek, and eating breakfast there (wow! in the breakfast nook! what a concept!)

So... we are still doing a few things here and there, but the bulk of everything is done, thanks to the help of a lot of our friends and family. Thank you SO much to each and every one of you!! We couldn't have done it without you: Erika, Anton, Magdalena, Kevin, Sara, Jane, Mike, Jen, Ruth, Tina, and Joan, we love you!!!