Alice was a clever thing.
In the practise of believing three impossible things before breakfast, one prepares oneself for the occasional and exceptional moments when impossible things actually do take place.
I am, of course, a Skeptic and a Cynic, had done no such preparation, and was greeted by the Impossible and Exceptional with hair askew, boots unpolished, and tea barely steeping.
I think i have recovered somewhat. Tea now at the ready, a quiet moment at hand, I will chronicle at least a few of the more unlikely events of the last couple of months, if only for the merit of other cynics who quite possibly have allowed the milk to sour, their hair to demobilize, and their composure to ruffle in the face of what seems like the eternal relentlessness of the everyday.
I made the aquaintance of a letter carrier at the beginning of this year, a dapper and lovely gentleman fresh back from a year studying abroad. He had been (most fortuitously for me) reestablished on a letter route along the edge of the park most enticingly near to my humble abode. A ponderous sort, with much on his mind after the end of a profound sojourn with a long-time love in exotic lands, it took some months for me to get up the gumption to insist on tea, but take tea we did, and onwards we have (ahem) plundered. He is the founding member of the Upper Canada Chaps Society, rife with chivalry and wit, a Skilled writer and deliveryman of the Queen's Mail, and, dear reader(s), he took me to the CIRCUS for my birthday. THE CIRCUS.
And though i promise not to overrun this bloggy chronicle with excessive panegyric on the man or the matter (in fact, I will make every attempt to do the opposite, as he is a man of privacy in matters of cyberspace), i am, i Must Confess, Truly Smitten.
If not (after an exceedingly long and, ahem, dry era) quite overrun with disbelief.
Preface: Approximately 11 months ago I was permitted to sign a lease on an apartment in a building I have been wanting to live in for eight years. Populated by artists (of course), not the least of which is an art-school colleague/dear friend of nine years running, i was THRILLED.
A few weeks later, when the previous tenant had finally vacated, I walked into my new home and realized that said previous tenant had spent the last 14 years settling himself nicely into a veritable dung heap.
(some of the less offensive photos of the dung heap in question, the last two being walls we didn't rebuild.)
An exceedingly clever friend of mine (named Ishmael in prior blog references) conferred with me, and we decided there was nothing for it but to rebuild. And this, basically, is what we did. Four walls, to be exact. I then repainted floors, ceilings, walls, pulled up horrific plastic tiling to expose the hard-wood floor beneath, etc etc.
(I'll have you know i installed this light switch. Don't ask me if it stays in the wall though.)
It took a month of working by day, rebuilding by night, as I stayed in my previous abode up the street and became acquainted with the perpetual chafing of drywall dust and paint residue on most articles of clothing i own.
Below are photos of the result, although not necessarily parallel to those crannies recorded above, perhaps they will give some idea of the transformation.
Never to ignore the ever-presence of time and immortality, we left a small token of our travailles behind one of the walls of my apartment, for those who may make the unwise decision to destroy this glorious old building.
At the end of August, this building was sold.
To an upstanding gentleman who handed out eviction notices four days later, raised rent for three tenants by 40%, and forced two antique shop owners into retirement. So far.
Panic reigned, until a few of us began to realize that the stories/plans for the structure were being described to each tenant differently, the eviction notices weren't signed, and tenants were being backed into corners with such pseudo-sympathetic entreaties as "I can't afford this building on the rent you are paying now; what can you afford to pay me?"
A two hour visit with a lawyer at Parkdale Legal (we LOVE LOVE LOVE THEM), afforded us proof of more than a few laws that were being broken at our (literal) expense. We formed a tenants association, wrote a collective letter, and sent in our rent cheques via registered post.
The new owner has now very kindly shifted his plans, acknowledging that "[he has] an obligation to the street and the community". It seems he is a self-professed "art lover" as well, how fortuitous for us.
Preface: Sometime last year, Coco and I decided to send each other telegrams, if only to know that we had been accorded the honor of such an antiquated form of communication before it altogether disappeared.
Except, erm, it had already disappeared.
Not a day or so before we googled it, Western Union had officially discontinued their telegram service.
We were crushed.
Two mornings after the alas-less-than-exemplary Nuit Blanche, I received a telegram from Paris.
A TELEGRAM. FROM PARIS. (click on image to read in detail)
Delivered by one Martin de la Rue, Facteur Exemplaire, (NOT to be confused with the "facteur" mentioned above...) who will be making an appearance in the next beloved issue of Brick Literary Journal.
My dear reader(s), it has been a Remarkable Year.
And now it is Autumn, and I must to work. My next booklet beckons.