Sunday, January 8, 2012

This Old House

#20, June 2011
 At various times over the last year, Michael and I have contemplated downsizing house. This was so we could enjoy more the fruits of our cash flow - less on bricks, more on experiences. We could get a serious pile of cash for our house in this the Toronto market. It is really too big for four people. You could fit a small African country into it, with room for a despotic leader's palace in the basement, or a Mosque, as the case may be. More on that in a second.

We bought #20 in 2007, shortly after our marriage. After we bought it, friends of mine, Sanne and Jeff, told me they had looked at it in another lifetime, when it was essentially the dump of the neighbourhood, and was fit only for a serious gut job, and rife with all manner of critter. My neighbours still tell me of the cockroaches which migrated when the renos began.

But now it is my palace, my perch, my sunny spot. It has walls that lean inward, and floors that tilt upward, but it is full, and I mean full of sunshine. It is south facing, high on a hill, and I have no curtains - there is no need - no one looks into my house but the birds in the cedars next door, and the garden gnomes in the back yard. And Katie and Don at #22, but they are the very souls of discretion.

Bubbles on the front porch with Granddad, October 2010
If it is sunny out, then it is sunny in. And I love it. This house has become my old friend, and it has kept me warm and sheltered through this entire horror show of cancer. I have a spot, by the front window on the tiny white couch where I sit (as now) and type, read, lie, rest, cry, visit, eat.....whatever I am doing. It looks out onto the front porch, the other essential part of the house for me and Mike - where we often sit in the summer and have an evening cocktail and watch the sun set and review the day.  Naomi and I often also sit at the table and play cards, and it is sort of like a cottage in the city. Ok, but bigger. Also, a lovely spot to blow bubbles.

I have lived in a LOT of houses. I mean a lot. By high school, I had lived in several different countries and  different houses. But this one, my forever home, has had a veritable life of its own, and I feel its nascent quality. Before we bought, it had been a rooming house, complete with mosque in the basement, and so the story goes, 27 Turks (not sure where exactly that detail comes from) lived here  in squalor, with a LOT of cats. Apparently, it was flipped a few times, and then the owner before us took possession. Well, he turned out to be Mike Holmes' nemesis, not for us, thankfully, but for a long line of others who eventually came to our door and told us their tales of woe, including several collection agencies and bailiffs, but that is another story. So, the photo below is the old house, but nobody's home. Beaten up, in need of TLC, and living in a cancerous state.

20 Corley Ave. in 2006, with separate mosque entrance, and old tree.
Nice garden. Not. Sanne took this pic. 
I may not have liked the previous owner -cad and gadabout that he was (a lien was attempted on the property the day after we bought it!) - but his workers took care of my baby, and it is a regal and dignified place now. It is cared for, and loved, and lived in. Like a good life. This old house seems to breathe now, with sun shining through. It has children's art, and messy beds, and a lovingly tended garden. It is home. My last home, maybe. It is a grande dame of a house. Billowy, somewhat frowzy, and lovely. We would never move from here. Nothing would compare.

In his book Enjoy Every Sandwich, Lee Lipsenthal talks about his back yard as his place to meditate, with its palms and pool, and sunny Californian weather and such. His home is his castle, and where he does his heavy lifting thought wise. Mine is here, and I cannot think of a better place for it.

La Grande Dame in 1921, in the mid-distance. City of Toronto Archives.


Anonymous said...

Lovely - made me cry :-) Vx

simona said...

have you ever read edward hoagland? he writes a lot about one's connection to a small place and the multitudes of meaning it can contain - more than or as much as - any journey. i will find the essay i am thinking of ...simona

Auntie Cake's Shop said...

S, nope. will look him up. and let's book that coffee. xo, K