Friday, March 21, 2008

moving house -- literally!

Wednesday morning, up early to catch the 7:55 ferry, making sure I had everything packed for a day of teaching and an evening in Vanc'r taking in a concert, I spotted this out the window and moved fast to grab my camera and get outside for a few shots. I'd heard rumours that a reclaimed home was being moved onto the island and suspected that's what I was seeing.
If you look closely you'll see that there are two trucks and a long flatbed and you'll see that this is a big house. Last weekend when out on a run, I'd noticed trees being hacked at all along the boulevards and wondered why. Walking with a concerned neighbour this week, I'd heard that the chopping was to accommodate the house's move to an interior lot on the island. On Wednesday morning, though, it was all I could manage to get these shots and be on my way.

The last few days have been whirlwind: I took my students to a First Nations film symposium being held on campus on Wednesday. One of the films particularly, Finding Dawn (about missing or murdered aboriginal women), was very emotional, and I found myself unable to stop crying afterwards although I managed to be fairly discreet about it. I was so grateful that one of our First Nations program's resident elders spoke afterwards, drummed, sang, prayed, and helped us put our sadness into a manageable frame. The sadness clung through the day, but was considerably soothed by the seaplane flight to Vanc'r. One of those magical days when the West Coast comprises more shades of grey than seems possible -- with the softest complementary yellows and blues topping any of the Spring Collections' sophisticated colour groupings. However clich├ęd it may sound, I did feel as if I were suspended in a Toni Only painting.

On the other side, Paul met me and we walked back to the apartment so he could change, then we grabbed the concert tickets and headed out for a quick bite at the sushi place up the road. We got to St. Andrews Church on Burrard about 6:50 with doors scheduled to open at 7 and there was a long line snaking 'round the building with hundreds already waiting in the rain. And we quickly confirmed our suspicions that we might be the oldest folks in this crowd. Some waiting in the rain, some hustling for seats once inside, and then an hour of sitting and waiting -- a church is not a great venue for that part of the show (and two women's toilets with a crowd of 12-1500!). But for acoustics it was wonderful and well suited to showcasing Corrigan's impressive voice. (Hawksley Workman's real name is Ryan Corrigan; I know, I don't get it either). Some call his music bluesy-roots, but I'd go more for cabaret-pop-rock -- if you know Rufus Wainwright's music, there's some similarity. The church pews, unyielding, restrictive, didn't allow for as physical a response as the music deserved, but the crowd was attentive and appreciative from first song to last (in fact, continuing their applause and pew-thumping to demand--and get--a second encore, arguably challenging Corrigan's vocal health for the next concert!). Many songs were from the new album which I only picked up after the show, so unfamiliar to me, but we were both really glad we'd made the effort to see this guy (and his musicians) live -- so much fuller a sound than the recordings. Seated more than halfway back, as we were, I missed much of the lyrics and most of the between-songs chat, frustrated as my seatmates laughed -- hearing aids are little help in this kind of situation, and at times like this, I realize how much I rely on lipreading.

I flew back to Nanaimo at 8:30 yesterday, taught my 11:30 class, visited the physio, had a yummy bowl of Pho with Paul, and then we finished watching Firefly and Serenity. What a shame this series wasn't allowed more time to develop some of the characters, just hitting their stride by the end of the single season. I'm grateful the movie at least brings the series to a close; I'm still smarting at the abrupt end to Joan of Arcadia.

I've been out today photographing the barged house now that Nickel Brothers Moving have set it down at its new site. Click on the Nickel Brothers link to see photos of the house in its original setting. And then look at where it is now and imagine the work it will take to get it looking as if it belongs here. The big yellow plastic container in front is the septic tank -- we are on city sewer here, but we have holding tanks where solid wastes break down, and we pump the blackwater to the city system. That pile of rock was excavated for the house's basement-to-be (a recent innovation on the island -- very few of us have basements here).
And here, as in the next few shots, you can see how the house is propped up, waiting for its foundation to be built around it.

Over the next few days, I hope to show you some of the shots I took suggesting why my fellow islanders are so dismayed about the way this new home was brought on the island. While the technology is impressive, the wide swath such development leaves in its path dismays many of us, symptomatic as it is of a growing preference for 2400+square feet, where 1700 was once considered huge.


  1. All I can say is "ICK". Was there nothing suitable existing to buy? Who can't make do with 1400sf?

  2. That is amazing that a whole house can be moved like that, but I hear you on the McMansioning of houses. The irony on this situation to me is that presumably they are relocating to your lovely inland because they enjoy or want to be closer to nature (?), and yet, this is how they do it. They surely can't recognize the irony and harm in their actions. They are making "enemies" before they even move in, in a place where everyone knows everyone else. Seems very dense, or arrogant, or both. It will be interesting to see exactly how many people plan to live in all that space.

  3. Gina: I'm trying not to say ICK too loudly, because the folks may very well be lovely people, but I do think we need to think more about the space we're taking up.
    Jillian: Yes, exactly, this is the irony -- I have another post almost ready about the islanders' reaction (a petition has been taken up), the trees that got hacked, etc.

  4. There is nothing finer than live music, in any genre and I am happy to say my daughters love it as well.
    Apropos the house, It seems a shame/criminal that in the 21st century people can still be so cavalier about their neighbours and worse their environment. Sadly the damage is done, maybe they can replant.

  5. Ryan Corrigan? I had no idea. Hawksley's first two albums are works of art, but I haven't been too keen on his recent output. Incidentally, my sister signed her registry to the gentle tones of "Safe and Sound."

  6. Devil's advocate here. Trees can be replanted. Do the rest of you not plant your landscape of choice, irrespective of whether it fits in with the original...or your neighbour's? Think of the waste material if that unwanted white house were razed and sent to landfill. And the new construction waste, fuel use, noise pollution, etc, if they'd built from scratch. Perhaps pre-judging some very well-intentioned neighbours. To them, owning 2 homes might seem wasteful....

  7. Alison: The cross-generational music-sharing is great, isn't it! As for my new neighbours, I'm not sure that they've been cavalier given how many considerations they will already been dealing with in such a complex move. Homes and dreams are so bound up together, I'm sure their view is very different from mine.
    Thomas: I have to be very uncool and admit that I liked Lover/Fighter which probably means I'm completely missing the point of Workman's (Corrigan's) genius. Bet the wedding was lovely, btw.
    Anonymous: I'll be posting more about this and will address some of the issues you fairly raise. I don't think I'm being overly judgemental about neighbours, though, as I am protective of, and dismayed about damage to, my immediate everyday environment. At least one of the trees, btw, is irreplaceable.


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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