Wednesday, March 26, 2014

We're the white trash!!!

I'd been holding back the hypervintilation for most of the morning.  I'd stepped over and around things - did the Stanley meeting Livingstone in my bedroom as I finally located a pair of tights, pried open the vanity drawer that didn't have its handle, because it STILL needs another coat of paint before the handle can go on and I can't seem to find the time to paint...

Visual chaos makes me mental.  The day we moved in I ended up lying on the floor, topless and sobbing.  10 days later the house is still rife with visual chaos.   We haven't moved in 8 years.  In the last house, I managed to have things behind doors and curtains, hidden in  drawers.  I had perfected the art of squirrelling things away.  In this house (half the size of our other), we have too much crap to squirrel and no place to squirrel it.

David is dropping me at work.  I get into the car, take one look at the top of the driveway beside our house and muffle a sob.

"What?  What is it?"  David's hand on my knee - he's so concerned.

"We're the White Trash."


"WE ARE THE WHITE TRASH!!  We have old chairs on our lawn and things up against the fence and knocked over things and bags of garbage and random pieces of cardboard..."

"Heather, we just moved in."

"I know that!!  Don't you think I know that?!?  But your average person driving down this street doesn't know that.  'Look there's an old ratty armchair, just sitting there by the back door.  How can they let that happen?'  The only thing we're missing is a CAR UP ON BLOCKS!!!"

By this time I am hyperventilating.  I've closed my eyes to avoid the mess, but even with my eyes closed I know that it's there, so with my eyes still glued shut, I turn my head to face the side of the house.

David doesn't say anything.

I work a bit later than usual, and then have to run a couple of errands.  By the time I get home and walk up the driveway,  there is nothing there.  Nothing.  Not a chair, not a bag of garbage, not a random old bannister... nothing knocked over or piled haphazardly. 

I stick my head around the back of the house.  David has cleaned off the deck area, leaving only our bistro set and BBQ.  All the stuff that still needs to eventually go into the still-to-be-built shed, is stacked neatly against our fence, out of sight from the street.  My heart nearly bursts with joy.

I walk into the house.

"You made me a haven."

"I did."

"You organized everything."

"I did."

"You must really love me."

"I do." 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Automatic Cat Wash

We have an indoor/outdoor basement in our new home.  Built in the mid-to-late 1800s, the cellar sports a gravel and dirt floor, parts of which are in various states of damp depending on how quickly the snow is melting.

The cats are... ecstatic.  As indoor cats, their new proximity to 'outdoors' has them doing their own version of Parkour through the basement.  We hear them bouncing around and letting out heroic "You can't catch me!" yowls through the kitchen's pine floor boards.  Our diminutive, and usually dainty, Lola frequently comes upstairs looking like a victim of Shelob.

"Dude!  Are you aiming for the cobwebs?!"

"Prrrrrrrowl?" she says, before licking her paw and nearly choking on what's she's stepped in.

Litter boxes are in the basement.  Amidst the gravel and dirt.  We've put a tarp down, but they still manage to come up, paws and fur covered in various forms of detritus. Our house will have cat paw prints and cobwebs forever.

My friend Margo came up with the brilliant and cunning plan.  The cat door to the basement can have little brushes on the sides and top so that when the cats come through, they are automagically cleaned.  BEST PLAN EVER!

Except that we have two different sizes of cats.  We have normal to small sized cats and we have Minuit, whose circumference is a tad more rotund.  I just know that Steve and Lola would find a way to avoid the brushy parts.

"Beaded curtains!" yells David.  He's been wanting beaded curtains for the longest time.  He says it to see the whites of my eyes.  "We add  beaded curtains to the cat door so that they are cleaned WHILE entering or exiting!"

I had to agree that it might work.  "Or... or.... you have those things... those cleany-skinny things..."
Everyone is now looking at me like I'm mad.  Damn my post-partum aphasia - 13 years on and I still can't find words.   "You know - they have wires in them?  They can be chenille...?"


"YES!  Wait!  Wait!  We get the metallic ones!  Drill holes in the frame of the cat door and then insert them.  THEN we can change their colour according to seasons or special events..."

"Like black and orange for Halloween!" Margo chimes in.  We're so sympatico.

 We shall patent this.   This is how we will make our millions.

Monday, March 24, 2014

And that's when he told me the cat was paralyzed.

In the middle of moving day.  I was at the new house, already unpacking.  David was back at the old house to help lead the movers in a second rendition of Should it stay or should it go.



He had a tone.  "What's wrong?!?"

"Well, Minuit seems to be..."

"What?  Seems to be what?"

"Well, I think that she somehow injured herself.  She's, uh, moving a little odd."

"Like how odd?  How injured?"

"Like she is having trouble moving her back end.  I think I need to take her to the vet."

"What are you NOT telling me? How much trouble is she having?!?"



"She's kind of... dragging her back end..."

"VET!  Take her to the vet!!"

Of course this would happen on moving day.  Of course this would happen to Minuit.  This is the absolute best time for this.


"The vet's not sure.  Could be a blood clot or it could be a slipped or pinched disc.  Nothing's broken, nothing showed up on the x-rays - except for a slightly enlarged heart."  (Minuit is the fattest of our cats.)

"So what are we doing?"

"We're going to wait and see.  They said to keep her contained in a small space and see how it goes.  We've got an appointment for tomorrow."

So we spend the rest of the night - in between toing and froing from the old house (we don't technically close the deal on the old house for a few days)  - checking in on Minuit, now sequestered on the floor of the 1/2 bath in the old house.  She's not eating food.  She's not drinking.  Every time the humans share a glance, we have that resigned, lost another cat, look.

Next day, Rissa and I have her in with the vet.  We're prepped emotionally.  David's already said his goodbyes.  The odds of us being able to give full time care to a paralyzed cat are slim to none.  I work, David works, Rissa's in school.  There is no way that a cat in a rolly-wheel device is going to be able to navigate a litter box.

The vet checks her out.  "She's looking better than she did yesterday."

I think: Really?!?  This is better?!?  Paralyzed from the waist down is better, how?!?  But I say,  "Oh?"

"She's reacting to pain in her feet, (squeeze - MEOW!  squeeze - MEOW!) Brighter eyed.  She's definitely improved."

"She has?"  A sliver of hope opens within my chest.

"Definitely.  I think you should keep an eye on her over the weekend and then check in on Monday with us."

I scritch Minuit's ears.  "You hear that beast?  You have a reprieve."  I decide to use scare tactics.  "But I'm telling you babe, you gotta start moving your back end soon or it's 'coitans' for you, 'coitans', I tell you."

We're in the waiting room.  I'm prepping to pay.  The cat cage is open on the floor, Rissa's hand is inside, scratching under Minuit's chin.  I'm wincing at the counter, as today's total of vet fees gets tallied.


I turn around.  Minuit is now out of the cage by at least 2 feet.  She looks at me - gives me a pointed, "Don't give up on me" look, and stumps the two feet back into her cage and settles down once more.

"See?" I said to the vet.  "Nothing like a good threat of euthanasia to get a cat motivated to heal."

Friday, March 21, 2014

Obsessing about ONE box...

WARNING: there is too much information in this post.

We moved a week ago.  Downsizing by half means we have spectacular box stackage in the new house.  Boxes, as far as the eye can see.  Boxes, piled 4 - 6 feet high.  The master bedroom, at present nearly impenetrable, because there is an entire room of craft/sewing supplies waiting to be stacked in the back of the soon-to-be designed closet under the eaves. 

For the past week, I've been searching for the box into which I deposited the contents of my bedside table.  I have a stack of books + my e-reader in that box.  That e-reader has become my Holy Grail.  I've got the latest Kim Harrison book on it - fantasy escapism is in that e-reader - plus a crapload of erotica.  And right now - I am in great need of fantasy escapism.  The visual chaos surrounding me is making me batshit crazy.  My wild-eyed panic usually hits at the end of the day - when I'd like to decompress with a good, or at the very least, satisfying book.

As I was madly searching for the missing box last night - I had a horrifying realization.  Other contents of my bedside table are in that box.  Other adult contents of my bedside table.  My Hitachi Magic Wand is in that box!!!  I've lost my royal sceptre!  Plus other things are now missing... other 'help you have good sex' things.  Things that made me tell Rissa years ago, "Do NOT go into my bedside table."  "Why?"  "There are sex things there."  "EEEEEEEEEEEWWWW Mummy."  "Yes, and if you root around in there all you'll be able to think of is Daddy and me having sex with them."  "MUMMY!"  "Told you."

There are 15 years of marriage props in that box.  The best of the best is in that box.  Over 15 years of marriage you try and discard a lot of stuff.  Like say, the honey dust, which although it tastes good, having the dedicated time to dust or be dusted by your partner is almost non-existent and then when the dust gets even slightly wet - you just end up sticky.  And even though you're supposed to lick it off - come on - who has the time or the energy to do a full-body lick.  And then the sheets are all sticky...  And that means that you have to do even more laundry after your adult play date... 

But there are other things in that box.  Tried and true things - just the right size, just the right fit, the right amount of... shall we say... glide...  Things that were purchased at the Sex Shop equivalent of a Whole Foods store.  Pricey, organic things.

Which means that now I need to go shopping.  And you know what's going to happen, right?  I'll re-source my bedside table contents and then of course the box will show up and I'll have two of everything.  I'm having a flashback to  Double Mint commercials.   Double your pleasure, double your fun.   Even just the thought of that scenario is going to keep me smiling all day.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Deer in the headlights...

A buck, a doe and a fawn stand in the headlights of an oncoming Mack truck.  Our family took possession of the new house on March 4th.  By the next day, we had broken it.  8:00 p.m. Wednesday, after spending 12 hours demolishing things, I stood at the entrance to the common bathroom and started to hyperventilate. Hours before, there had been working fixtures in the room: a shower, a bath, a sink, a toilet... walls.  At 8:00 p.m.?  NOTHING.  We'd had the house for 18 hours.

"I... I... I have to leave now," I said to David.  (He and our friend Jamie had now moved on to ripping up the old floors.)

"I... I..." A wave of nausea hit.  "I can't... I... I need to go..."

I staggered back to our old house (we had two weeks of overlap before our house deal closed), dropped my dusty paint clothes and ran a bath - in my working bathroom.  I threw in multiple couple of cups of Epsom Salts and immersed myself in the cast iron tub. I was in desperate need of a Calgon moment.

So we're just a wee bit behind where we thought we'd be.  Not a problem.  The door to the basement hasn't happened.  At present there is an egress door - which means we can totally pretend there's a twister and run down to the basement with our pets.  Right now, we're leaving that door open and can see into our 150 year old cellar - how many people really get the chance to see gravel and dirt and lopsided jack posts?  That's Canadian history right there folks!  And really?  The living room from which you access the basement is pretty much a fortress of boxes, so seeing the basement isn't really even an option yet.  It's like a surprise part of the house."Wait, don't look yet,  not yet... and now... open your eyes!"

I can walk between unfinished studs from our bedroom to the now plumbed bathroom - we had a killer plumber who did the job in half the time expected and left us with ALL our fixtures working!  I got to have my hair shampooed and conditioned in the kitchen sink - scalp massage courtesy of David - as the caulking for the shower sets.   I don't know (insert random nouns here) are, but that just means it's like a scavenger hunt - every day.   Last night I found pants!

We had Professional Tetris movers.  Swear to God.  They managed to get a 2 tonne, 4 foot wide wardrobe up a 30 inch set of stairs and over a knee wall without damaging walls or killing anyone.  Christmas decorations are now packed into the secret eaves hidey hole which will afford us quite the adventure come December this year.  And that computer program we used to figure out where all our shit was going to go?  Mostly worked and after the move we only had to give away two more major pieces of furniture - which, when you are downsizing from 3000 to 1500 sq feet - is pretty freaking remarkable.

My Dad took two for the team.  He came to help with construction and it was only on day 2 that he required two staples in his head from whacking it on the angled ceiling of our story and a half house.  And then the silly bugger CAME BACK and continued to build.  What do you give a guy who does that for you??  David's Mom painted and cleaned and packed and kept me moving when everything in me wanted to sit down and bawl like a baby.  AND she stocked our freezer with enough meals to ensure that we didn't have to cook during the 10 days of renovations and we can still now defrost something and not worry about dinner.  David's step-sister brought lunch, made us treats and housed us for three nights until we could find our bed linens.

That is not to say that last Sunday, when we were really IN the house for the first time, David and Rissa didn't witness my collapse on the floor of our impenetrable bedroom and my subsequent flailing as I tried to locate a paper bag into which I could breathe.  But... even in my wee cottage of a new home, covered in boxes with many rooms remaining unfinished, I have this space...

Not quite a Great Room - doesn't have the sq footage to be dubbed thus.  We're calling it our petit grand room.  And do you see that- in the midst of my kitchen area? It's a turquoise fridge.  A cheap-ass fridge-only unit that I took to the autobody shop and, in spite of looking at me like I was insane, they painted for me.  I have a turquoise fridge.  It's all going to be okay.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Complex math at 5:45 a.m.

If you have to paint 20 kitchen cupboard doors with space to dry only 8 flat at a time, and each door needs to be primed with super-adherent primer that must have 2-4 hours drying time before covering the cupboards (back and front) with at least two coats of furniture paint, and if the furniture paint requires 10-12 hours drying time before re-coating, what is the minimum amount of time that it will take you paint all 20 cupboards and still have between 6-8 hours sleep?  The front of the doors are already primed.

Annnnnnnnnnnnnnd.... GO!

My thought process at 5:45 a.m. folks.  Shoot me now.   'Cause this painting of kitchen cupboard doors has to happen  at the same time that actual qualified painters are painting walls and ceilings on our main floor, electricians and plumbers are electrifying and plumbing and my husband and father are making sawdust while framing bathrooms and new doors to bedrooms and the basement - one of which areas is located directly adjacent to the only room that has enough floor space to dry the cupboard doors.  I thought I had it all figured out - the fronts of the doors are all primed, I just have to prime the backs and then start with the good paint.  To save on floorspace, I could just mount the doors on the cabinets and paint them while they're upright - even though the painting rules advise one NOT to paint kitchen cupboards this way.

RULES!  I am a rule follower!  I'd be breaking the RULES!!!

But what if I did really, really thin coats of paint?  All I really have to do is finish the fronts of the doors before Friday.  The backs of them can wait until the freaking summer when we'll notice that they're not painted.


We have some sawhorse/work benches in the garage!!! We could take them over and throw some spare 2 x 4s on them and then we'd have an additional flat surface to rest drying cupboard doors on!!!  All 20 doors might be able to dry flat!!!    IT. COULD. WORK!

Monday, March 10, 2014


In honour of our new house purchase and attending renovations, I'm sharing an earlier bit from my show How To Leave Adolescence at 30 - written and performed in 1999, shortly after we bought our very first home in Toronto.

Buy a House
Upon returning from our honeymoon, David and I realize that for the first time in almost a year, we don’t have a project.  We flail about very briefly in panic like a couple of large bass on a catch and release fishing show before we come up with a new plan.  
We start looking at those Resale Homes magazines that you can get for free at the Shoppers Drug Mart.  It’s this nice little game we have.  It’s called “Let’s Pretend.”  Let’s pretend we are responsible adults.  Let’s pretend that we have enough money for a down payment and can carry a mortgage.  
We pore over magazines and think about where we would like to own OUR home.  Do we want a house?  Do we want a condo?  A LOFT.  Wouldn’t owning a loft be great?  We could be like Laura Holt on Remington Steele with that great loft apartment with exposed brick and beautiful wooden beams.  We could live in an old factory.  It would be so romantic.  And affordable.  Because everyone knows that lofts are an affordable alternative to owning a house. 
We enter the Candy Factory lofts showroom – filled with large windows and exposed brick and beams as far as the eye can see. We smile at one another knowing that we’ve come home.  Then we look at the price sheet.  For approximately 750 square feet of living space you have to part with approximately 400,000 dollars. Check out the security cameras from the Candy Factory Lofts right after David and I see the price sheet. You know that cartoon wolf whose eyes bug right out of his head when he sees the she wolf and he makes that noise that sounds something like AOOOOOOOOGA?  That’s exactly what David and I look like before we run screaming from the building.
We go back to looking at the Resale Homes magazine and make a call to Betty, the agent.  Two weeks later, after having seen 9 houses in total - thereby becoming true housing connoisseurs - we buy house number 4. 
Why don’t you tell them what they’ve won Bob?  
“Heather and David you have just spent the most money of your entire life on a two bedroom fixer upper with 'potential.'  This home features small cramped rooms, sloping, gouged hardwood floors, a delightfully claustrophobic staircase to an uneven second story and a bathroom so small that only a toddler could find comfort in it!” 
We take possession and spend the entire month renovating.  We’re not just talking painting and wallpapering here.  We’re talking major demolition.  We open staircases replace bath fixtures, move walls. We get WAY dirtier than Bob Villa has ever been.  The kind of dirty where you’re afraid to blow your nose at the end of the day.
We lay our own IKEA laminate flooring in the living and dining rooms.  We take a weekend to do it.  You have to pour some glue into each groove and then whack it into place with a hammer and this special groove shaped thingie that IKEA provides you with.  First day, an hour into our operation, I whack my ring finger.  Really hard.  I don’t just whack it, I rip skin off it.  Mindful of the fact that my Mother-in-law is there helping out I manage to say “Wow, that really hurts.”  
I jump up and down a little bit and get a bandage and that’s that.  It hurts, but I am above giving into the pain and a better person for it.  The next day?  Just as we are on our second to last row?  I hit my middle finger, same hand.  All the poise and grace that I had demonstrated the day before leaves me as I collapse into a heap on the floor, wailing and screaming and weeping screaming phrases like “JUST KILL ME!”  David tries to help me up and I wriggle through his arms like a toddler still screaming, "I WANT TO DIE, OH GOD, PLEASE LET ME DIE!!!!"

It takes 4 months for my fingernails to lose their blackened ends.  But you know what?  It’s worth it.  I look around our house and I know that pretty much everything, we did ourselves.  We are creating our home.  And we’re doing it from the inside out.  And every time a person comes in and says “Wow, nice floor,”   I have to smile and say “Yeah, it is.”  

Friday, March 7, 2014

I will not give up these pants!

My ass felt colder than usual when I got out of the car.  When I made it inside and took off my coat - I reached around to feel the seat of my pants.  The seat of my pants was gone.  My entire right cheek was exposed.  My shoulders slumped.  My pants were giving up the ghost.     Over a decade old - castoffs khakis from David that he had probably sourced from Value Village - my painting pants give a visual history of every paint project I have participated in.

The stark white trim from our 1st house in town.  The 1/2 tint Standish White at the 2nd house - with Mayonnaise accents.  The light Lilac from Rissa's room.  The chartreuse and orange from the Cabaret set.  Espresso brown from the front and back stairs to the basement.  Prussian Blue in the bathroom.  Stains and spackle and putty adorn these pants.  They already have a red and white polka-dotted patch from when  left half of the ass went.  I have to keep them up with a belt - they're so baggy - but  I feel like Katharine Hepburn in them, ready to tackle the world with moxy.

These pants are the perfect blend of softness and abrasion.  The fabric so aged - if you look at it too hard it'll tear on its own, and yet there's oil based paint that roughens my hands every time I wipe paint-covered digits on my legs.  I'm a colourful clown in these pants - paired with the striped painting t-shirts I do impromptu soft shoe numbers in between paint strokes.  David looks at me in this get-up and adores me - I will not give up these pants!

Which meant that last night, after my sewing machine refused to comprehend the geometry of the required patching, I sat, pantless, in the family room, in front of old Veronica Mars episodes and I hand-sewed patches to the right ass of my pants.  I'm unwilling to give up their history.  In time, they may well become held together by only the applied patches, but that too will give me joy.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Oh Body - why have you forsaken me?

Yesterday, we began renovations on our new home.  Today, my neck, back and achilles tendons no longer work.  Eight years ago, when we started the same process on our present home, I don't remember feeling like this.

I remember holding the mini-jack hammer and cackling with joy as I exposed the brick in our kitchen.   I remember swinging the mini sledge with ease.  I do NOT remember having to pause every two steps as I moved a bathroom fixture out into the hall.  Sure, a 70 inch whirlpool tub with the motor still attached is heavy, but I used to be able to heft with the best of them.

The majority of my time yesterday was spent applying a rough plaster finish over top of painted wallpaper.  Until yesterday, we hadn't realized that the walls had been wallpapered, nor that many spots on those walls were peeling.  Not a problem!  We'd had a similar issue in a couple of rooms in the old house.  I purchased a 20 lb container of spackle (felt my back twinge as I carried it to the car), brandished my spackling blades and went to work.  It was spectacular spackling!  Problem solved!  I didn't realize there'd been an issue until we'd stopped for dinner at Tim Horton's and I made the mistake of turning my head.

A couple of months back, I rolled over in bed and put my neck out - this time around it wasn't as terrifying - probably because I wasn't half asleep when it happened and I could actually move my head 15 degrees in either direction.  Plus, the "OH GOD, WHAT HAVE I DONE?!?" question was way easier to answer this time around.  I had just spent 2.5 hours moving my right shoulder up and down and up and down and side to side and side to side.  DING!  DING!  DING!!!  That clarified the shit out of this pinched nerve.

My face turned white as I tried to tilt my head back to receive David's kiss in the kitchen this morning - it immediately became apparent that this body of mine needs a tune up.  I'd been putting it off becasue I'd been in the midst of a show and I didn't want to deal with tension then, because I was afraid that if I had a massage, that my immune system would think that it was okay to give up and I'd get sick.  I was WRONG.  I should have had that massage.  'Cause now?  I don't have any spare time and I kind of need to be able to move my neck and back and Achilles tendons.

Bright side?  I did get to spend my first full day in the new house.  And even if it is now covered in shards of drywall and the upstairs bathroom no longer exists and our bedroom only has sub-floor - it's our wee cottage of a home and it WILL be amazing!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

When the past comes back to bite you in the ass...

I should have been prepared. It's not like I'm new to this.  I've done shows before - I've suffered from Post-Show Depression.   But this time around - there's a 6 piece set + carry-on of emotional baggage that I hadn't counted on.

As an actor - for concentrated amounts of time - your cast and crew become your family. Generally from tech week through to closing, they're the people you see the most;  the ones you tease, the ones you cuddle, the ones you laugh at/with, the ones you tell to shut the hell up when they're making too much noise backstage.

Five years ago I did another show.  We were a tribe.  We got naked - both emotionally and physically and the fallout PSD from that show was spectacular.  Weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth - fallout. Those forged friendships then, bonded some of us together on a cellular level.  We were a mess.  5 years ago, right after HAIR closed, one of my best friends died.  The last conversation I had with Shannon was my coping with the loss of my onstage tribe.

On Sunday night, I closed Jesus Christ Superstar.   Half the cast had also been in HAIR.  Same people. Same bonds.  Same teasing, cuddling and laughing.  I thought that I'd be too busy to fall into PSD.  We're moving - take possession of the house this week - my days and nights are full.  I am too busy for fallout.   Thing is? This time 5 years ago, when I was coping with PSD, I could talk to Shannon.  Shannon, The Queen of Commiseration.  Shannon, the  holder of hands and reminder to breathe.  Shannon,  the depository of secrets and the safe haven to get through the bad.

I dreamt all night of my tribe... Upon waking, my first thought was "I need to talk to Shannon."  My second thought was, "I can't, she's dead."   Hiccuping sobs, near to vomiting, as David smoothed my back and told me it would all be okay.   He doesn't understand though, that the perfect emotional storm has been set into motion. Tamped-down memories from 5 years ago, compounded with new-felt anguish from the loss of this cast and crew to which was added the remembrance of Shannon's death.   My stomach pitched and roiled - I didn't have my sea legs under me until half way through the day.

Stoicism is not amongst my character traits.  I immediately reached out to my friends, old and new, who support and 'get' me - those who suffer along with me as we regain our footing and remember that life goes on - even without those you love within arms' reach at your side. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Chivalry is not dead.

I parked the car.  It was the first in the lot.  When I opened the door, three inches of freshly fallen powdery snow were at my feet.  The snow around my parking spot and all the way to the loading dock door was pristine.  It was too good to pass up.  I put on my hat, dropped my bag and sat my ass down in the snow.  I lay back, arms and legs outspread and revelled in snow angel creation.

I had risen and was dusting myself off when the loading dock door opened.  It was Riley, one of the dancers from the show.  He's about 16.

"Are you okay?!?"  True concern on his face.  "I saw you on your back in the snow..."

A few days previously, Riley had seen me in the midst of a sugar crash in the green room.  He probably thought I'd passed out.  He'd come to check on me.

I let out a bark of laughter.  I was still brushing snow off my jeans.  "No... Nope.  Just making a snow angel...  But it gives me such joy to discover that chivalry is not dead.  Thanks for checking up on me."

Monday, March 3, 2014

My heart broke at Value Village

The shoes were stunning.  Beautiful burgundy brogues, glowing in the flourescent lights of Value Village.  I spotted them from the end of the women's jackets aisle.    I'm always on the look out for a great pair of mens' shoes for David.  They have to be big shoes, David has massive feet.  Wide, wide, WIDE, flipper feet.  He usually buys an 11.5 or even a 12 to fit his toes into them.

So when I saw these spectacular shoes on the wall, my heart leapt.  They were pristine.  Beatifully polished - I looked at the soles, hardly any wear to them.  The tag said 14+ on them.  They were at least a size 14.  Such a shame - they were actually too large for David.  They'd be like clown shoes on him.  But they were stunning.  Probably from the 50s - I wanted to photograph them and make an encaustic print of them to hang upon my wall, they were so lovely.

Then I spotted another pair of shoes - same size - equally beautiful.  And another... and another.  6 in total.  All beautifully polished, all size 14+.

My heart sank.  These shoes, like everything else in Value Village, had belonged to someone.  They had belonged to someone who cared for them, who polished them, who took pride in wearing them.  These shoes had been donated in bulk.  Not because they were unfashionable or worn out, but because their owner had died.  A man, with size 14+ feet had died.  A snappy dresser of a man who shoed himself in the 50s - was now dead.  I imagined him very tall and thin - like a young Jimmy Stewart, with pleated trousers - possibly suspenders, a quick smile.

My heart sank again.  Who had donated the shoes?  His wife?  His life partner?  Had his surviving loved ones been responsible for the impeccably polished leather?  Had they spent an afternoon polishing these shoes before carefully placing them inside a box?  Before stuffing that box with paper and then taping it shut to go to Value Village?  Had their hands trembled while holding the packing tape?  Had they wept?  I was near to weeping imagining it all.

I started when Rissa placed her hand on my arm.

"What's wrong?"

"These shoes belonged to someone," I said.

She looked confused.  "Didn't they ALL belong to someone?"

"Yes baby, they did.  But this someone is now dead."

"How do you know?"

"I just do."

She didn't ask any more questions.  She held my hand and squeezed it.  We stayed quiet for a few moments more before we turned away, still holding hands and walked to the jeans aisle.