Thursday, November 24, 2016

Five Things Friday, Anticipating Home . . .

Did you get a chuckle out of that little story I shared yesterday? Can you imagine the equivalent in a neighbourhood near you? One man teasing another that the flowers he's just bought might be for the other's wife? Or does that seem very French to you, as it did to my husband at the time? I mean, cuckoldry (with, yes, all its sexist implications) isn't generally a joking matter for friendly exchanges at the corner florist. . . The incident made Paul chuckle, but also, I think, made him recognise a certain integration into life here, something we'll look back on fondly, wistfully. Can't be in two places at once however. . .

One last week before we fly home -- we take the train today to another city for an overnight visit, and then back here for a few days, Paris for a few more, and then we're outta here. I'll have been away for ten weeks, and those ten weeks followed the turmoil of moving from our island home of over twenty years into a small temporary home and finally, just two weeks before I left, into our new city condo. Now, as I imagine returning to that new space, I inevitably feel differently about going home than I have from previous travels.

Coming back from other trips to a home that I knew so well, that I'd feathered into a very cosy nest, I always looked forward to sitting in my big leather armchair again, my feet on the big leather hassock that had room for a tray with my tea (and maybe a cookie or two). I looked forward to the constancy of "my" view, of the sea in her many moods. After fussing with European showers, I looked forward to one whose temperature and water pressure always suited me, whose height and angle of flow had been adjusted to perfection. After borrowing other kitchens for weeks, I looked back to cupboards and drawers that magically yielded just the right spice or cup or rolling pin from exactly the spot Pater or I had planned for it. 

None of that applies to our new home, although we did get most of the boxes (save the books, oh, mon Dieu, the books--we need to buy bookshelves, and soon!) unpacked and the goods in the correct rooms, even into drawers and cupboards in those rooms. But which drawers? And which cupboards? And why? That will take months, at least, to settle, to allow patterns to be established that will show us what should be where. . . and to remember that "where."

Meanwhile, though. . . . I've been trying to think of what Five Things I will be really happy to get back to, even as there has been so much disruption of my sense of Home over the last year. For now, this is what I've come up with:

1. Four Grandchildren and their Parents, the three families I haven't seen since September. One-year-olds change dramatically in that much time, and according to the videos we've been seeing, certain toddlers are now speaking in sentences and pooping in potties and performing all manner of astonishing tricks we need to catch up on. We have an eight-year-old in the family and soon a newly-minted Four, and those are both spectacular ages. And all their parents' news as well -- one family is now living in a house; one dad's career has some exciting new energy; one daughter just received a prestigious award for work in her field; lots of catching-up to do for us; I can't wait!

2. My new neighbourhood. Despite the rain that has apparently been pouring or sprinkling or drizzling or showering down constantly since we left Vancouver and will no doubt continue to fill grey skies after we're home, I'm looking forward to wandering along one of the 15 "coolest" streets in North America. I'm already planning my matching "cool" outfits from the closet I'm keen to be getting back to (okay, kidding about planning the cool outfits, but not about being keen to see my closet again -- that's a sneak sixth thing I'm looking forward to etc., etc. )

3. Organising my new kitchen. Well, honestly, I'm both looking forward to and dreading this. The kitchen we left behind in June could have used a spice drawer revamp, but otherwise came very close to perfect (as a modest kitchen, that is, only one oven, electric range, but we're a family of pretty decent cooks and we managed very well). The new one, touted as a "chef's kitchen" in the real estate copy (no gas range?), is far from that, although we know the physical layout (a large island with a sink, as in the kitchen we loved) will work well. The storage is baffling, abysmal, according to my attempts to use it in the two weeks before I left, and shelf depths need to be adjusted, some hardware bought, some discarded, and some imagination brought to bear. I'm hoping my daughters and their partners will have some good suggestions and perhaps by the New Year we'll have a kitchen we can work with.

4. So Number 4 of things I'm looking forward to is the Privilege of once again having an appointed space of my own, to organise and decorate and move in. While traveling, we've also been very privileged in the spaces we've occupied, yes, but if you live long enough in any space, you're likely to begin wanting to modify it for individual comfort. Not being able to do this has made us both even more aware of what a privilege we enjoy at home -- especially because we're so aware here of how many would be happy simply to have a shelter. We, on the other hand, can paint and add wall hooks here, hang paintings there, change lighting fixtures that don't work, add a shower curtain whose colour or print or texture will make us smile a bit every single morning. Let the tweaking begin!

5. And Number 5? I sold my leather armchair back in May, and the matching leather hassock. I sold that view as well, I suppose, as part of the package. But we moved our leather love seats into a great little spot in front of a magnificent, if busy, often noisy, view of the city. And I saved one of the leather hassocks -- it might be a bit too big for the space, but until I'm sure, it's going to be there playing dual roles, coffee table and footstool both. I'm looking forward to drinking my tea there in the morning, before Paul wakes up. Not just a cup of tea. Tea in my favourite fine bone china mug, the one that holds at least ten ounces, and keeps those ounces really hot because of the china's thermal-preserving qualities, the one whose lip flares into just the right thinness to meet mine. I've had good tea from pretty mugs throughout these travels, but I'm looking forward to a simply perfect cuppa, all by myself in the morning, watching the light creep back into the city. My feet will be up on that hassock and I'll be reading a book. I expect I'll catch myself, in my contentment, occasionally thinking back to what we've been up to these last two months. I expect I'll even find myself thinking of Five Things I'll Miss Now That I'm Back Home. But that's for another post.

We're going to take in a yoga class this morning before heading to the train station. Our instructor coaxed me into another headstand on Wednesday, and I actually extended my legs into the air this time. Pretty exciting, I have to tell you, especially because I've got some anxieties around height and balance and being made fun of by a gym teacher. Plus isn't it cool to be learning new tricks at 63? Old dog, ha!

I missed saying Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends yesterday -- honestly, I came very close to missing one of my grands' birthdays this week as well -- I'd sent a card earlier, by mail, but the actual date almost got lost in our nine hours' difference, one of us sleeping or at school while the other was awake. I hope that you had a Peaceful, Happy Day to reflect on whatever you have to be grateful for in your life. And I hope you have lots of leftovers to see you through a restful weekend. Or, if busy and celebratory is your thing, may you have that all weekend as well. Personally, I'd give the whole Black Friday thing a miss if I were you, but if you're strong and determined and don't need a break from the onslaught of commercialism, etc., etc., go for it! In other words, Belated Happy Thanksgiving -- and a big Thanks to all of you for reading and commenting here all year.


  1. It is a "French thing". I miss the "amorous grocer", who always told me how he loved Canadians and was rather free with his kisses. My local Safeway man, I've seen for 25 years would never...There is a kind of flirtatious humour about the French. Sexist but fun. I love living in other people's homes, reading their books,
    and becoming a"local for a while" but showers baffle me Each European one is different and in Oaxaca, the water shortage means serious adjustment to bathing rituals. I'm sure that you will enjoy having some time to organize your new home.
    No shopping for me! I don't know how Canada ever got involved with "Black Friday
    marketing". Another overnight trip, I wonder where!

    1. Just back from Bayonne, the secret of our o/n visit. Totally agree with you about the French flirtation. And yes! Showers! Especially because I enter them without my glasses, so I'm trying to sort the controls nearly blind...

  2. Hi Frances, you definitely have a lot to look forward to. Enjoy your last week in Europe ... and Five Things about Europe sounds like a very good idea for a post!

    1. Of course, I'll never squeeze the things I miss into Five Things. Nor could you, I imagine...

  3. Sounds like your last week will be a full one! Coming home will definitely be a transition. Starting with that funny shock of arriving in an airport where so many people speak English (Not so much the passengers but the folks in Tim Horton's (!!)etc.)...makes me laugh, every time...oh yeah, right! Canada!

    1. Ah, Tim Horton's, yes.... And we used to have the 90-minute ferry ride home to our island, which made for such a very big shift in cultures...

  4. Coming home (for Christmas....) has always soothing and comforting dimension for me,the contrast to the excitement of travel. My kitchen! My bed! My books!
    There are a lot of new and interesting,but still known,loved and comforting things waiting for you back home. Enjoy the best of the two worlds-and seize the day
    It's interesting,not only to follow your travels but also your musings

  5. Lovely post, as always. When we had two homes there were inevitably things I loved in each that couldn't be replicated in the other so I understand the pleasure of this and all your trips but also the longing for personalized comforts and routines. As someone once noted, our habits and routines make life easier for us to tackle other new and exciting exploring that new neighborhood. can't wait to read more about that when you return.

  6. Even coming home from short trips to our long time home makes me feel "nesty" - cooking, organizing, fluffing after 10 weeks away and a new house: I predict a real period of enjoying and perfecting the new place! Plus the excitement of seeing family again.

    As always thanks for sharing your adventures.


  7. Have been following your travels carefully. We also return home next week. Also have been in France week in Germany and day in Spain visiting the Salvatore Dali museum. We have been gone eight weeks to your ten. I used two suitcases....we had a car the whole time. All the back roads beckon us so not a lot of train travel.

    We might cross paths at YVR next week....

    Love all your reflection and photos.


  8. What a wonderful trip! Your concerns about the kitchen remind me of my parents who had to move back to the US from Mexico quickly due to health problems as well as consolidate two homes into one. Again due to health issues, I don't think their kitchen ever got organized or at least it seemed so to me. Kitchens take some planning so you can reach what you need without thought. I wonder why kitchens are so much more difficult than the rest of the house??

  9. What will you be seeing from your seat in your new home? Can you see the sun come up?
    As for kitchens: I think that some ideas about how to organize your kitchen are inherited, or rather learned from the last generation. I find that my kitchen resembles the one I grew up in, arranged by my mother. And my sister's kitchen is quite similar, I can find almost everything there without even asking her. So can she in mine. We also ahare a kitchen in our holiday cottage, and after renovating it a few years ago and putting everything back in, it was simply obvious where it all had to go, not a minute of discussion.

  10. Having been away from your new home, you will be fired up to get things sorted. At least everything is now in one place and as you say it just making the space work for you. Part of the fun I think. I look forward to your five best things while away post. Safe travelling home. B x


I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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