Archive for January, 2010

You might have noticed I go to Nanaimo a lot these days; it’s to visit nomadic-soul/circus-freak/super-cutie Leona. She grew up in wee little coastal communities, often van travelling with her family, and still enjoys sleeping in the back of her truck with her dog Samson when they’re on the road. She makes beautiful masks, animal hats, scarves, all sorts of things. She juggles and stilt walks and clowns around in front of crowds of strangers. She’s planning to build an earth-bag cottage on Lasqueti Island. Amazing all-around. Here she is, playing with fire on Friday night.


I knew it, I fucking knew it. Moisture is the enemy, I just wasn’t at all expecting where it would find me: under the bed! BLECCCHHH!! Mold, between the mattress and the plywood bed platform.

I’m not one of those sweaty sleepers, I swear! But I guess if even a little bit of moisture gets under the mattress it has no way to get out, and that plus the delicious wood gives mold a lovely place to settle in and bear children. I’ve ripped it all apart and for now I’m just letting it dry: fortunately this coincides with a trip to the island so hopefully when I get back in a week it’ll be done. Although I learned today that mold spores can survive in dry environments, they just can’t propagate. So the next step, when I get back (I just didn’t have time to do it before leaving today), is to blast the little motherfuckers with bleach and a scouring pad, see how they like that. Meantime get a mattress cover with a vapour barrier.


home #49

10th & Semlin. I seem to remember a lot of houses from the eighties that looked like they were made from kid’s building blocks… I don’t love them all, but I think this one’s amazing.

This is right beside the Grandview cut, so I kept hearing the singing ssshhhhh of the millenium line skytrain. It’s actually kind of soothing!

home #48

Parker street, just up from Salisbury. I’ve always wanted to know the story behind this place. All I can find online is a reference in some city files about heritage designation for a house in Mount Pleasant that’s a replica of the house at 1829 Parker. At night you can see lights on, but only in the back. Today when I was taking this photo I saw the note on the door, and my curiousity got the better of me. I climbed the stairs with my heart beating, just like a little kid on a dare to knock on the door of the haunted house. In this case I think fear is justified, as the roof of the porch really could fall down any second. I could smell decay. Anyway, the note politely asks visitors to wait patiently, as it takes the resident a long time to get to the door. I asked the folks at Bump ‘n Grind about the house, and one of them said that its only resident is the man who built it himself. That doesn’t seem possible, but whoever it is in there, I hope he’s okay. If anyone knows any more about this place, please let me know.

Here’s another photo, courtesy of the ‘street view’ feature in Google Maps (totally creepy in its own right):

me n’ rex

So… when I was talking about the pool, I left out something kind of important. Rex, my dad, died ten years ago. This is a photo of me and him thirty years ago, at Britannia pool. I don’t think we ever spent a lot of time there, but that moment got captured in a photo, and now thirty years later I’m back, thinking about him a lot. It’s been really nice.

McSpadden Ave.

Yesterday I was talking about one definition of home as being the separation between your own private space and the rest of the world. Another one that I think a lot of people might have is home as the container that separates their belongings from everybody else’s. Many people have told me the reason they can’t do what I’m doing is that they could never ever give up all their things; home is a place to put your stuff. The irony is, most people buy all that stuff because if they didn’t their home would be a series of empty rooms. They buy stuff to make their big home more comfortable. And of course we all want the biggest home we can afford, right? That’s part of the game as we were taught it: life is a constant struggle to keep claiming more space, and collecting more things. We want the space, and the things, to be ours.

With this definition the idea of my modular home fails, because the bathroom, the kitchen, the study… they’re not mine, they’re shared. With strangers no less! I’m getting all the same needs met, but it’s happening out in the community. Few belongings, no fixed address, and doing most essentials in shared public places… to a lot of people that really does mean homeless.

Hmm. So how come I’m so happy?

Woodland & 11th. The blue reminds me of the bubble-gum ice cream I used to eat when I was a kid.

I was in that neighbourhood to meet a case manager and find out how EI can help with my retraining plans. As it turns out they can’t: they’ve got tons of programs, but my goal is too long-term and ‘academic’ for their criteria. It’s okay, I’m grateful to be on EI at all. Without it I wouldn’t have been able to focus on my school applications.

Those are coming along nicely be the way, My portfolio is the final piece… I’d say it’s about 85% complete and I’m really happy with the way it’s shaping up. Once all that’s submitted I move into phase two of this adventure, which is to get myself involved in any kind of jobs or projects that involve building, especially if they’re on a gulf island somewhere! If anyone out there has a lead on something like that, please let me know, thanks :)

When you live in a house or an apartment the boundaries of your home are pretty obvious: you have a fence or walls that separate your living space from the rest of the world. As I was moving into the van one of my questions was, what are the boundaries of my new home? Can home really be everywhere? It’s been almost two months now, and I have a provisional answer.

The other day I was talking about my ‘modular’ home. There are functions of home that my van can’t fill, most obviously those of bathroom, kitchen, study; luckily there are many, many places all over the city that I can and do fill those needs. But do I feel at home everywhere in the city? No. Out of habit, or familiarity, or convenience, I’ve settled on Commercial Drive. The three B’s, in fact: Britannia Library, Britannia Pool, and Britannia Sushi! I’ve noticed that when I move my bedroom too far away from 3B I feel a little unsettled. I can usually find another ‘room’ nearby, which is an adventure and can be lots of fun of course, but it takes time and can get in the way of things I want to accomplish. I’ll generally just want to go ‘home’, which is where I’m familiar with all the rooms I need.

So that’s my answer, for now. If I can walk from my bedroom to the bathroom and the study and the kitchen, then I’m home. If I have to drive, I’m not. Once I’ve finished with all my applications I hope to add new rooms to my home, expanding throughout the city, but for the time being home is Commercial Drive.

Vernon Drive, between Georgia and Adanac. Part of Strathcona, but literally on the wrong, or at least less fashionable, side of the tracks. This wee little corner store serves frozen pizzas and chicken fingers and burgers… to be honest they look pretty dubious, but I love the community feel the place has, and the family that runs it is adorable.