The Quarter To One House
1245 Adderley Street, North Vancouver, BC, Canada aka the quarter to one house, was my first home in Canada. And oh how I loved, totally loved, that house. Hidden from the street by a high hedge of cedar and built on a steep slope so the back of the basement had rooms with no windows, pushed right into the earth as it were, the house appealed to my introvert nature. My sewing room was in one of those cosy rooms at the back. And on evenings that were often lonely, I danced alone the full width of the basement to all my records from England and my latest Canadian purchases, missing my school friends from Britain, trying to fit into Capilano College and make new friends and dreaming at the twinkling lights on the Second Narrows Bridge and downtown Vancouver reflected in Burrard Inlet. In daytime, mountains (the Lions?) towered at the end of our block on the dead end street and the sumac tree shimmered with colour in the front yard while apple and cherry blossoms bloomed out back.
Somewhere I have photos of what the house looked like while we lived there--only a few years before moving to Mountain Highway. But at Adderley Street, I remember the sundeck, a storey high with a black wrought iron rail around it. I remember our Siamese cat, Suki, falling from the railing to the paving stones beneath and no one wanting to go and see how she was. Of course she had nine lives. Only her pride was damaged. I also remember Dad blacking out while at the top of a tall ladder at the side of the house and falling. He was also okay, somehow.
I remember lugging groceries in paper bags up two sets of steep steps from the carport at the bottom of the yard. That was one of the things i disliked about the house. It also took me a while to get used to having the bedrooms on the main floor. But I remember how lovely and welcoming Mam and Dad made my bedroom. They decorated it with a pretty brown floral wallpaper on one wall and painted the remaining wall the same pale yellow as the centre of the flowers. They were amazed that they could take the wallpaper to a paint store and have them match the paint to the paper. They also bought me a snazzy rattan lamp which I still have, right next to my computer as I'm typing this. My bedroom looked out over the very private front garden with the gorgeous sumac tree.
I came to Canada to permanently live in 1977 at the age of 16 and left Andy, my high school sweetheart, behind. A Canadian song at the time, "Timeless Love" by Burton Cummings, encapsulated my feelings and echoed my loneliness at the time. Although it was a hard song to really boogie to, I often played it on a nighttime in the basement which Dad had rigged up with speakers on the wall for my stereo. Long before email and skype, Andy and I sent each other thick airmail letters and cassettes. We both knew that I would be leaving for Canada when we got together but that didn't stop us falling into a deep teenage love.
But I also recall lots of happy times in the basement with college friends. We drank wine and listened to my records, chatted and dreamed and admired the view. One time I played a great new record that I'd bought, "I Don't Like Mondays" by Boomtown Rats. This led to a discussion of the incident that had inspired the song, an elementary school shooting in Cleveland, USA in 1979. I didn't know that the song was based on the incident and was shocked, saying I'd never play it again. But my friends encouraged me, telling me that in a way the song needed to be heard and the incident needed to be remembered, not forgotten and swept away. Such wise friends. My years at 1245 Adderley Street were learning years.
So what prompted this trip down memory lane? I received an email from Andy the other day saying that he had scheduled a conference in Vancouver and he usually did a run around the places he visited to get a feel for the place and he had thought of running to 1245 Adderley Street, being vaguely interested in seeing the place where all his letters had gone to. I reminded him that we had carved a wooden number plate together in woodworking class as Mam and Dad had already bought the quarter to one house at that time. When I immigrated, Dad nailed the number plate to the front gate and I took great comfort in glimpsing Andy's writing and my writing on the back of the wooden sign when I left the house for college. When we moved to Mountain Highway I wanted to take the number plate with us but Dad, ever practical, said we couldn't.
So I asked Andy to take a picture of the number if it was still there and if he made it to the house. He replied with "Lol. That number!" and that he would be amazed if it was still there 42 years later.
Forty two years? I thought it was just yesterday.
After tai chi at the gym this morning, I walked across the parking lot feeling extremely overdressed: winter coat, red scarf, winter boots. The sun shone warm and rivulets of water streamed into drains from piles of dirty snow and melting ice. It's a rare sound, that gurgle, through winter. When I got home, I took Rogue for a walk. We hadn't been out for a walk for months. He has been terrified of the back steps, often refusing to go down them at all into the yard. And the front steps, more and slatted, frighten him more. But he was wonderful and brave and walked down the steps well. Coming back up, he splayed out on them a few times but we still made it. We only went around the block but he encountered lots of interesting smells and he climbed on soft snowbanks and splashed through puddles. On our amble, the following haiku came to me:
Because I heard drain water gurgling,
a crinkled brown leaf skittering
became a butterfly skimming .
It feels good to walk on clear pavement again and feel the sun's warmth and the slack of a long black lead in my bare hand.
I am taking an art course (two really) with Effy Wild and am simply in love with her "Year of Rumi" which includes a quote by Rumi that Effy chooses each month and a painting illustrating or inspired by this quote. Following is my March offering which I finished late last night.
In my concentration on getting the writing legible, I misquoted. It should read:
"The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don't go back to sleep." ~ Rumi
Also, because it was my birthday last week and I'm hungry right now and want to go and catch up on my Survivor before heading out to the NOWW readings tonight (3 10x10 runners-up), I'm leaving you with a beautiful image of some of the flowers that Rob gave me...instead of a bunch of flowers he gave me some living (until I possibly kill it) bamboo, a lily plant, a red cyclamen and these gerbera daisies which are the most beautiful shade of salmon pink ever.
Enjoy and have yourself a lovely day.
Welcome! I'm Sue Blott: a writer of all things, a poet at heart, mom, wife, daughter, step-mom, grandma, tea drinker, tai chi-er, mystic, artist, dreamer...and now a blogger! This is my world.