As you have no doubt noticed, I have been quiet for a while. That’s because life has been quite busy and complicated here lately. We have known for quite a while that we might be in for a bit of a rocky ride, but let me start at the beginning:
I bought my home about three years ago, as I have mentioned before. It is a beautiful, rambling old upper duplex in NDG and as with most of these properties, it is an undivided co-property, meaning that when you buy one of these places, you are essentially entering into an unofficial marriage with the folks living either above or below you. You therefore would do well to figure out who the nosy neighbor in the area is and get all the information you can about the people you are going to be sharing your duplex with before you decide to buy, because if you end up in this type of ownership with the wrong sort of people, you are in for a very bumpy ride. The lady who lived below me when I bought was everybody’s dream in this type of situation. She was a very kind, deaf, elderly lady. She never caused me a moment’s worry (well, except for that one time when she set her oven on fire…), handed over a year’s worth of post-dated cheques for her half of the monthly insurance premiums and was delighted when I offered to take over the care of our front garden and bring it back to life by planting things in it. Unfortunately, her health got a bit iffy in the Winter of 2014-15 and she and her family decided that it would be best to move her into assisted living. My Darling and I were devastated and concerned about who would end up living downstairs, especially when it took months for the unit to sell, a phenomenon that is pretty much unheard of in our area. The longer the home was on the market, the more nervous my darling and I became because we knew our nightmare scenario was getting closer to becoming reality: people who were waiting for a bargain price before snapping the place up in order to tear it apart and put us through months of renovation Hell and then move in and not want to spend another penny on the building for years. Or worse still, these same people trying to flip the house and not know what they were getting into, running out of money and then abandoning it or try to sell it half renovated.We ended up with scenario number one. A couple our age had been watching the unit’s price drop for months and bought it so they could customize the heck out of it. Since our new downstairs neighbors have started their renovations, all Hell has broken lose. First off, we are dealing with the usual inconvenience of work going on downstairs: infernal racket from 8:00 A.M. to anywhere between 4:00 P.M. and 6:00 P.M. (although on Good Friday it was really bad and we had a plumber in and out of our place and theirs cutting pipes etc. from 10:00 A.M. to 10:00 P.M. who was unable to get his job done due to complications and left us without heat for 32 hours), dust, noisy workers, debris piling up in front of the neighbors garage and as often happens when the ceilings are torn down, a few minor issues have been found with our place which meant some unplanned spending. Plus, with the ceilings down and all the soundproofing gone, we feel like we have unwanted guests in our house who just keep coming back day after day. When these guys are talking and drilling and hammering away, it feels as though they are working in our own house and not downstairs. In the first three weeks of work, I had three separate meltdowns over the fact that I felt like my home was no longer my own.
The last meltdown was on Good Friday when I had spent all day cleaning a ton of dust that had come up from downstairs through undetected and therefore unprotected gaps between our unit and the lower one to make our home presentable for my in-laws who were coming over for Easter-even lunch the next day only to be informed at 10:00 P.M. that my guests would be eating in a cold, unheated house to the sound of plumbing work being done downstairs. My poor Darling scooped me up and comforted me as best he could before counselling me to spend more time outside the house and away from all the racket, which I have been doing. It has helped, as has the fact that we have been having one of my father’s good friends put the finishing touches on our house so that it finally feels like it is all ours. We had 85% of the house painted last year, so this year all that needed doing was the living room and our main staircase. My dad’s friend is an extremely talented painter and has worked in a lot of homes in our neighborhood restoring them to their former glory. Ours has a lot of its original features, but its beautiful oak beams had been painted over twice in the home’s 89 year history including once in, God help me, red, and again in beige. See?
So my dad’s friend stripped them for us and painted our living room in two different shades of my favorite color, purple! We chose purple because it compliments the red we have in the office next door and the paler of the two shades fits in very well with the pale, buttery yellow we have in our main hallway and kitchen. The oak beams though, my goodness! Who in the heck would ever want to paint over such beautiful beams?
So, finally having our house the way we want it has perked me up quite a bit, as did a seriously healthy dose of fresh air and sunshine last week, part of it taken in during a vigorous 10km run. I also spent quite a bit of time cuddling our cats in the evening once all the noise was over for the day. As you can see, Quinn and Magique have not been nearly as bothered by all the noise as I am. All they need is the couch and some sunshine and they’re all set.
Before we had the painting done, I also cheered myself up by putting some cheerful Spring flowers in the living room.
Also, we enjoyed a lovely Easter Vigil at the Oratory, like we do every year. If you are ever in Montreal over the Easter weekend, I cannot recommend this service highly enough. It is filled with candle light, music and hope. Plus, nothing beats the view of the Oratory lit up at night.
I also got seriously excited when I saw that the buds on our Maple tree were opening up. This, if memory serves me, is happening much earlier than last year which wouldn’t be surprising since our Winter this year has been a lot milder. I’ll have a better idea of the time frame later in the season though, because I know that our Maple didn’t have full-sized leaves when we left for Vegas and the Grand Canyon last year and that was in early May.
So there you have it, my life lately has not been very conducive to creativity, but I think I’m back on track, especially since I took the initiative of purchasing a keyboard for my iPad. I will now be able to write posts away from home and since the neighbors plan to be renovating until at least June 30th, I will be spending a lot of times in Montreal’s many cafes and will therefore more than likely have a lot of time to write and read and take pictures. I will not hide the fact that I would much rather be spending time in my beautiful purple living room though.