Just About Home

It’s been another huge day, but I made so many breakthroughs!

It was yet another not so great night of sleep, but I managed to not open my eyes until just shy of seven, an hour later than all week. I read a bit and then I took it super easy. By eight, I was already in my Poang chair with my feet up sipping on my second cup of coffee while reading the magazine about beer that I got the other day. The guy for the water heater was coming at 10 and I wasn’t doing anything until then!

He showed up on schedule and determined that my gas tank was empty. That would explain my problem lighting the water heater… His visit wasn’t for nothing since he looked at my buzzing bedroom fan control and was able to determine that it was not an electrical issue. He tightened a nut, which greatly improved the noise and I think I’ll be able to tolerate it now…

Once he left, I looked up the gas companies he told me about, took a deep breath, and called the first one on the list. I got off the phone absolutely vibrating, it went so well. I asked to order gas, gave my address, and determined that my landlord is in their system. We changed the account name and phone number to mine, established that I have a fixed roof tank, that I want delivery on Monday (did not want to have to sit around waiting for them today), and that I will be paying cash. I only had to ask the lady to repeat herself once and she understood everything I said. I really am starting to believe that I’m trilingual. It’s such an incredible feeling to be able to do this stuff on my own and not be overwhelmed by it because of a language barrier!

That done, I took some measurements and headed to Parisina! I took more time to look around on this visit and was awed and almost overwhelmed by how much crafting material they have, even ModgePodge, which I doubted I could get here. The store was busy, but running smoothly and I didn’t have too long of a wait. I was also able to find suitable glue. My purchases came in at just under $400 — about 25CAD, very reasonable.

As I was about a block from my house, my phone rang, but my hands were too full to answer. When I saw a yellow car come around the corner, I knew the caller was my landlady! She pulled over to say she had dropped off my rent receipt for November (she’s been out of town) and to ask if I wanted her to order gas. She was suitably impressed that I’d taken care of that. She asked how I’m settling in and I said that I’d be in heaven if it wasn’t for the rooster.

“What rooster?!” she asked. “You need to talk to the owners!” Then, “No! My husband needs to do it. It will mean more coming from the owner. He’ll tell them that he just rented for two years to someone who was promised a quiet neighbourhood and regardless, this is unacceptable in the city!” Hope he follows through and that it brings results because I am about to lose my mind! 🙁

I had lunch and then got to work. Several hours later, my desk had a new covering and was in place. WHEW.

This is cloth backed vinyl, similar to what I have in Miranda, except I went with a lower quality because I know I’m not going to have this desk for many more years (it really is falling apart!). The only material that works in this climate is cloth so if I find myself sticking to parts of the desk, I’ll add cloth placemats. But this is so much more resistant to scratches and water and adds a nicer surface to write on. This is the exact colour I originally wanted to paint the desk! I like the contrast of the fake wood (chipped as it is) with the rich purple and with so many of my accessories being bright, the darker tone looks good.

No, I’m not done, but I was unable to locate a big stapler. The top is well glued and soon as I get a stapler, I’ll finish the job by pulling the material taut around the edges and securing it. In the meantime, it might not look great, but it functions as needed.

Once the vinyl was in place and secure-ish (ie. the glue had just about dried), it was time to decide where the desk was going to go. With my feeling nervous about how secure the top part is, the obvious answer was against a wall and for that, there was only one option. I very carefully, an inch at a time, moved each piece over against the far wall, but not quite against the wall where the window is since I had to get in there with a screwdriver. Then, I wrestled all the pieces together and even more slowly, a hair at a time, coaxed the whole thing into the corner.

Setting it up was similar to what I did in Chelem, so that went quickly, and then I quickly sorted through the rest of my boxes!

I rather just shoved things into drawers and cupboards, so I’m nowhere near done-done, but at least the room is usable now! I am now keeping my eye out for rugs, something that I’m surprised by, but the echo in the house is terrible. Thick rugs would help a lot and also dampen some of the outside noise.

Now, I’d like to take you through a bit of a nostalgic tour of the house and show off some of the treasures I’ve accumulated over the years. I’ll never be someone who goes to IKEA or Pier One and buys something that hundreds of other people have. I like for just about everything in my home to be beautiful, unique, and have meaning.

First off are my brass candle holders. I picked up the larger ones while antiquing my way across Wisconsin in the fall of 2005 on my trip around the Great Lakes (plan B after Hurricane Katrina hit and I couldn’t go to New Orleans!). The smaller ones come a shop in Ogunquit, Maine, where I went for a long weekend getaway with a friend of mine (only time I’ve ever done such a thing — it was a blast!).

Below is an Egyptian papyrus that I bought at the Luxor casino in Las Vegas in 2007. This was the trip I took right after my dad died. I flew in and out of San Francisco, staying with my ex-boyfriend, and road tripped to Las Vegas, LA, and even crossed over into Mexico for the first time, visiting Tijuana!

My former best friend (FBF) and our social group used to do a wishlist thing at the holiday season. I forget exactly how it worked, but you could ask for 10 anythings, however unrealistic or impossible, and someone might come along and get you something from the list. I asked for a picture of a raven (my spirit animal) and my FBF bought me this gorgeous print, that I later had framed.

Here’s the only painting of mine that has survived. I think you can see some of Van Gogh’s influence!

This is my dad, circa 1959 when he would have been about 10:

Here’s a little bottle (missing a cork) that I won while on my walking tour of Belgrade, Serbia.

This little soapstone mule comes from my friend Donna. I can’t remember if she gave it after or before CBSA decided that I must be running drugs between Mexico and Canada, but it delights me to think it might have been after.

Next to it is a paperweight, which I’m holding here to show you all the detail:

Can you see how it is meant to be coral under water? This was a gift from a colleague at my first government job that I never particularly liked, so I was suitably shocked by such a thoughtful and beautiful gift. Looking at it reminds me that people can always surprise you and to be kinder to folks with even worse social skills that I have.

On my desk is this simple wooden box. I bought it at a craft fair when I lived in Lindsay, Ontario, between 2000 and 2002. This was probably my only discretionary purchase in all that time because my budget was so tight. But I recognised an heirloom-quality purchase!

The guest bathroom had two screws above the toilet, which were the perfect place to hang my print of a pastel landscape of Alcatraz. This was purchased on my first day in San Francisco. It reflects the island as I was to discover it — foreboding, but also very beautiful.

Upstairs in my bathroom, I have two carved wooden boxes with ivory inlay. These were purchased either in Wisconsin or Maine. I’m going to store my jewelry in them.

In my bedroom is a painting my sister made for me, decided she didn’t like, and which I rescued from the trash!


My bedroom has several places to hang a hammock, which I’m using for now to hang decorative objects. Here’s the pretty bag I bought in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (looking a lot worse for wear, but how many miles did we cover?!):

On the opposite wall is the fouta (Turkish bath towel) I received from my parents for my birthday this year. It is almost too pretty to use and I’m saving it to use as a wrap for those chilly nights that I know are coming!

The kitchen is where I have the most treasures. I won’t share everything, but here are some highlights.

This is the food processor and tortilla press my friend and neighbour from Haven, Carolina, gifted me with. I use the food processor almost daily and have made hundreds of tortillas with the press!

These canisters came from a girl friend of my dad’s. He had even more girl friends than he had girlfriends, if you can catch the difference. I’ve had these forever and they hold different things depending on what my containerising needs are.

Here’s the very expensive mug I really wanted in Las Vegas and won at Circus, Circus!

The blue and white Pyrex bowl comes for my dad and probably from my grandma before that. I’ve been using that bowl for 30-plus years now and best remember it holding mashed potatoes or turnips.

These little Pyrex dishes were in my hope chest when I moved out and are one of the most useful and versatile items in my kitchen. Can you see that they have a handle? They are great for baking a piece of fish or meat and browning cheesy pasta, plus they are microwavable so I can reheat leftovers in them.

The mortar and pestle have too long of a story to share here. What’s of interest is the glass citrus juicer, one of the very first things I bought for my own home. I left with a very complete hope chest, but was missing little things like that.

Ah, my pots and pans — the three in the front row and the big one at the back right, received as my Christmas present in ’97 before I moved out the following August. I started cooking tofu in these and finally graduated to meat! They are Meyer brand and evidence that if you take good care of your cookware, it will last a lifetime. Meyer doesn’t have a lifetime warranty, but when the handle on the medium-size pot (front centre) got really loose a few years ago and tightening the screw wasn’t doing anything anymore, I contacted Meyer since, to my surprise, I was only a couple of years out of warranty. They sent me a new handle, free of charge.

Back left is what I call my stepmother’s soup pot. She has no recollection of how many Sunday lunches she served out of that thing. It’s funny the things that are insignificant to one person and so memorable to another. I rescued it from a garage sale box and currently have pasta sauce simmering away in it! There isn’t much story yet to my cast iron Dutch oven, purchased as a holiday present to myself my last winter in Maz. It’s gotten quite a bit of use considering how long I was away!

The same Christmas I got my pots and pans, my dad bought me a toaster and this metal mixing bowl (which I picked out myself). He was rather distraught that these were the sorts of gifts his baby now wanted. It’s a great bowl — I use it for everything from mixing dough to creating giant salads.

Even my utensil crock (from my dad, of course — it used to have a cork top and hold cookies!) contents have a story. I’ve been serving meals for 30 years with this spoon and am so glad I rescued it. They just don’t make ’em like they used to.

The china cabinet holds my Japanese teapot, which I bought at the same time as the juicer. Next to it are two Lipton collectible teacups that were always a feature of my kitchen at my dad’s (it was always my kitchen!).

Here’s dad’s serving platter. The last time I remember seeing it come out was for one of my dad’s famous pork roasts.

Moving to the living room, where I now have an IKEA Lack table next to my Poang chair (no idea how such a thing ended up in a house in Mexico!), is a hot pad thing my sister made for me eons ago. Now that I have countertops where I can just rest a pot, I move it around as needed as a place to put a cup or glass to keep the surface from getting wet or damaged. I really love the colours and it’s held up beautifully over the years. My sister is very creative.

Finally, here’s my literal coffee mug that I bought at the Dawson City thrift store in either 2009 or 2010. I always end up going back to it!

I’ve moved a lot over the last twenty years and having some constants has made it possible to make myself at home where I was. I have other special pieces — clothing, jewelry, books — but those are the more private things. I love that people can walk through my home and get a sense of where I’ve come from.

Well, it’s been another very full day and the kitchen is a spaghetti sauce preparation disaster zone, so I better go clean that up!

Tomorrow, I have a bit of work to do in the morning and then I might go have some fun in Centro. Or collapse — I haven’t been this footsore and exhausted since I spent four jetlagged days walking all over London. 🙂