Thursday, 18 June 2009

Around the corner from The Small Street, at the end of the next block is a little makeshift shrine in honor of the young man who died there in the wee hours of Monday morning. Two ridiculously young men, one 25 and the other 22 riddled the street with bullets trying to take each other out. The 25 year old died from a shot to the head while the 22 year old is in hospital with leg wounds. 

As I drove by the shrine on my way back from dropping off the kids at school, I couldn't help wondering how they felt when they pulled the trigger. Where they shaking? Where they scared? Two men barely out of childhood blindly peppering the street and surrounding cars with bullets. Was it the fear that spurred them on? Did they even for a moment wish that they were safe at home in their beds listening to the soft breath of loved ones near by? Or did they fancy themselves the heroes of a John Singleton movie? Worst of all, when that final bullet hit home did they realize, too late, that this was indeed real life and that they had just made the most monumental of monumental mistakes? 

And in those last seconds did either of those boys think of their mother's screams of anguish or of their father's tears? Did they wish to take it all back so that they could feel their girlfriend's kiss one last time? Did they think of the emptiness that death would create in their best friend's heart? And what if they had children? How many nights would those little ones cry themselves to sleep before realizing that their daddy wasn't ever, ever coming back?   

And as I thought of all this, I stopped the car. For I too, a complete stranger, was crying.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

There won't be much growing in the backyard of The Tall House, save for the mounds of debris, for the next few years. But just a few minutes walk away from The Small Street, at The Market, amongst the displays of over priced vegetables and hot-house grown plants, a rather shy, very academic looking gentleman tends the most magical of stalls.  Appearing for our enjoyment only on weekends, his simple cafeteria style table is always filled with the most beautiful, seasonal blooms with nothing more than a handwritten piece of paper scotch-taped to the side of buckets to indicate the price. Right now, $4 can buy you a beautiful bouquet of lilly-of-the-valley,  $7 a large bunch of peonies or if you really want to splash out $25 will buy you the whole bucket. So while we ply away at the first floor, the upper stories can rejoice in the wondrous smells of those freshly cut flowers, making the ever permeating plaster dust just a little easier to take.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Demolition is dirty, disgusting, back-breaking, not to mention painful work. And we loved every minute of it. Maybe its because we are used to days with comparatively little physical activity or maybe because it went far better than either of us had ever thought to hope, but we were positively floating with pride that whole week. Oh, we were in pain, and there were some nights that our arms were so heavy that we couldn't even muster the strength to lift them. Not to mention the black goop that would come dripping out of our noses and that had certainly invaded our lungs. But we were doing it! We were finally (WE! US!) working on the house. Amazingly the majority of the work was done in the first two days. Within that time we had managed to knock down all the walls save for the bathroom as well as uncover the ceiling in the front room. The part that we weren't so sure about was how to get all the debris out of the house and into the large waste container that was parked in the yard. Manu rented some scaffolding so that we could build a bridge from the window to the container. But to move the more than two feet worth of debris would take the two of us days.

Then on the 3rd day the cavalry arrived, quite literally through our back window, in the shape of our most colorful of colorful neighbors, a loud-mouthed, gold-hearted, old school mannered legend on the street if there ever was one named Maradona. Now be it either out of pity for Manu "You're working with
YOUR WIFE???!!", as a marketing ploy (Maradona is in construction), or simply out of the kindness of his heart, Maradona volunteered not only his services but also those of two of his hangers on. Within four hours they had cleared all the debris out of the house and into the soon brimming 40 yard bin out back. After a few slices of pizza and a beer on our front stoop off they went onto the next job reentering our house again in order to leave as they had arrived, super-hero style, through back window.

The other angel of note that day was no less a personage than The Don himself. The Don's legendary status spreads much wider than The Small Street, The Don being a person of renown among the famous, the not so famous as well as the infamous of The Big City. The Don is also Manu's second cousin and our Little Superhero's godfather. A prince among men capable of endearing himself to even the most cold hearted of beings, The Don loves the good life and everything that goes with it. He is the only person we know who will bring a homemade picnic lunch to friends "on the inside" one weekend and be off to the Hamptons the next. He is also the last person you would expect to see on a construction site. He arrived that 3rd morning in his "work attire" designer jeans (Zegna Sport!), a lime green polo (Lacoste!) and a black baseball cap (Mercedes!). But despite appearances The Don worked his designer clad ass off beside Manu as they stripped the remaining two ceilings and started in on the bathroom.
Day 4 and 5 were perhaps the most difficult as the compounded movements had our muscles begging for mercy. But we kept at it, albeit at a much slower pace. And eventually, as the last walls came down we started to see that The Tall House was living up to its promise, that it would indeed be as beautiful as we had hoped. Funnily enough though, when the end drew near that Friday afternoon and we turned our newly purchased ShopVac off for the final time, we found ourselves searching those bare walls for pieces that we had forgotten in the strange hope of somehow prolonging the experience. But then we realized that this was just the beginning.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Well, Christmas actually came a little bit early: on the 31 of May to be exact. We had spent the day at a dear friend's son's 1st birthday party where the children, fueled by cupcakes, had spent hours running (more like flying, there were a LOT of cupcakes!) around a parc. Fearfull of the impending meltdown that the inevitable crash from the sugar high would bring, we decided to try and convince the kids to leave and have a nap.

Mummy: Okay, shall we go home for naps?

Little Superhero: But Mummmmmmmy, I don't want to go!

Mummy (feeling guilty about the bribe, but doing it nonetheless): We could go and see the other half of The Tall House, the Tennant said she would leave the keys in the mail-box.

Little Superhero: Okay Mummy lets go! HURRY UP!! Aaaach, you guys are taking FOREVER!!!

And so, our first visit as a family was exactly as we had hoped. The children, although exhausted, did indeed chase each other around those beautiful, beat-up empty rooms and their laughter filled the house as Mummy and Papa started to realise, just a little, the immensity of the task that they were about to undertake.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Looking down the front hall onto The Small Street.

What will soon be an open space.

The view from the front door.

The living room. This wall is coming down.

The front living room window.

The future dining room. The window will be french doors.

The future kitchen. This window will also become french doors.

The back wall looking out onto the yard.

Pages - Menu