Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Because I haven't written for so long, I want to write about everything... just fill you in. BUT... that would be boring. So, I'll just fill you in on yesterday.
We had been up late with the kids, so I let them sleep until they were done sleeping. When they did finally get up (9:30, I think) we had a leisurely breakfast... cinnamon toast and fruit. We discussed the previous weekend's workbee. All the adventures, the slave labour, the growing relationships.
We had the elders coming over for lunch... and I hadn't prepared my menu. I asked the kids to tidy each room on the main floor while I ran to the discount bakery for bread. When I came home, most of the house was finished... and Derek was doing the dishes. (This always scores major points with me. I love a clean house - especially when I'm about to cook!)
My menu came together when I found Cheesy Kaiser Buns at the discount store: Broiled Chicken Sandwiches on Cheesy Buns, sliced veggies and dip, chips... and I cheated on dessert: Butter Tarts. All in all, I think the men enjoyed their lunches.
The kids and I stayed upstairs where I filled in applications and details on transcript requests.
When the elders left, I picked up my keys and headed off to the "Junk Store", otherwise known as the Nanaimo Recycle Center. I found a pile of men's dress shirts that I needed for paint smocks for the kids who will attend our Bible Camp this summer. Score!
While I was there, I received a call: my computer that had been in the shop was ready for pick up. Woo Hoo!
I told Derek I'd pick him up on the way... we had an appointment to see an old house that was for sale.
On my way home, Derek opted out and asked me to pick him up after I picked up the computer... so I went to the computer shop alone. "Eccentric Dave" replaced my laptop's power supply, DVD player, and battery for only $60. I love that man. (Just don't tell my husband.)
As I was pulling out of the shop, a Native kid rolled up on his bike with a big grin... he wanted to talk to me.
"Do you like crab?" he asked.
Apparently he and his brother go crabbing every day... I asked for the address where he'd be selling them... he was quite happy.
But before I drove to his home only a few blocks away, I went home to pick up Derek. (The kid was disappointed to see me drive away.)
Derek and I had made an appointment to see an old house that had a "For Sale" sign in the window. (Earlier in the morning, I called a good friend who is new to the Real Estate business to see what kind of information would be available on the house.)
We pulled up and the owner greeted us.
The old house sits atop a hill overlooking the ocean. It's in a terrible neighbourhood with the Needle Exchange Clinic just across the street. However, many of the old houses all around it are being bought up and restored... with hopes that there will be a revitalization in Old Town Nanaimo. I'd like to be a part of that project.
The house was built in 1902 and had been separated from one Victorian home into a duplex. The man showing us the home was only the second owner. He'd bought the house in 1995 at an estate sale. (For only $105K!)
He told us how the old lady "Mrs. Couture" had been born there in the downstairs bedroom... and died in that same room at the age of 89. Her father had been a Pharmacist, and her mother a Teacher.
The house has most of its original features. None of the cabinets were removed, windows were still there, the old tubs. Everything was in pristine condition. The man and his now ex-wife had been working on it for the last few years... she demanded that all the original woods, floors, everything stay the same. However... she did paint the whole house in some awful rust colours. Different shades of the same rusty, red dirt colours.
The current owner is a carpenter by trade... and apparently enjoys woodwork. The house has touches of his style throughout. (I hate to say it out loud, but his additions look clumsy and out of touch with the period. If I bought the house, much of his work will have to go! Though, I'm certain someone out there will enjoy it!)
He when we entered the front room, and entry area, he told us a story of how during renovations his wife was in the next room... and suddenly he heard a shreek!
"Jim! Oh my God! You have to see this!"
Jim was busy trying out a painting technique in the next room's closet and didn't want to be bothered. He'd been at this home for months and was ready to see it done.
"Jim!" she insisted.
Jim pulled himself out of the closet... "What?" He was mildly annoyed.
"Jim... I just saw a ghost!" she continued. "It was a little girl holding a blanket and crying... she was right here. She looked at me!"
He told the story with wide eyes. Then he directed us to the closet he had been working on.
He said "When I returned to the closet, you will not believe what I saw."
"Take a look for yourself!" He opened the doors and let me in.
I walked in and looked to my left. The whole closet had been painted a deep earthy rust colour, but one patch was left white with a painting technique - rag rolling.
"What do you see?"
It was dark in the closet... I couldn't make anything out.
"Look at the bottom. Do you see her?"
He gestured to the patch of splattered paint. "See the eyes, the nose, the sad mouth, the hair?" I did!
He continued "When I got back to the closet, that's what I saw too! It gave me goosebumps!"
I was tickled to see an older man tell and believe ghost stories.
Zion's eyes were wide as saucers. In his mind we'd already bought the house... and he'd moved into this room. "Forget it, someone else can have it!"
Too bad, though. Jim had made the top of the built in closet into a loft for a boy!
We enjoyed the tour and the history. The kids admired every old lock, secret doors to the basement, window latches and stories. Jim had even found old glass prescription bottles in the garden out back.
It's a beautiful home that has my mind going... BED AND BREAKFAST!
We shook Jim's hand and took a business card.
We piled into our van and headed out.
"I LOVE that house!" Chante' gushed excitedly.
No big surprise there... Chante' is Victorian at heart.
We started to return home... chatting about the house and it's potential. What we liked, loved and hated. (Number one on the hate list was this awful black tile in the upstairs bathroom with rust and green and yellow splotches... looks like each tile had been assaulted with reject paint.)
Half way home I remembered the crab! I turned around and proceeded to tell Derek about the boy we'd met.
We pulled into the housing area the boy had told us about. No one was standing around. But, this part of town was Indian Reserve, and I knew if we got out...we'd be met with curiosity and could find the boy selling crabs.
Sure enough... the boy stuck his head out from the far apartment. He was still grinning and raised his hand timidly. I waved back.
He greeted us and directed us to his milk crates that held 15 crabs hostage. It was the end of the day... and this was all he had left.
He asked if I'd like them cooked or live. I chose live... but I needed some direction for cooking.
An older gentleman came out of the apartment... we chatted about how to cook the crab and how to retrieve the meat from the shells. I think he was concerned we'd waste the crab so he offered to cook them for us and shell them... "for just a few dollars more". I smiled and assured him that this was an adventure for us... and we'd like to cook our own.
One by one family members trickled out of the house. All timid. All smiling.
We paid the boy his $10 for three Dungeness Crabs. He immediately split the money with his brother. The boots were still hanging off the table. I asked about crabbing and he told me how he and his brother go out every morning.
"When the tide goes out, it's really easy! You just pick them up like this..." He grabbed the two hind legs and hung the crab upside down, rendering the fighting fellow useless. "He can't get you like this." The boy was grinning even wider.
We shook hands with everyone there. Chatted a bit. After a while the grinning boy says to me...
"We're having a birthday party tonight... and we'll eat these. But, we have crab almost every night. You guys should stop by one of these nights and eat dinner with us."
Immediately I felt at home. I was back on the reserve. And the thought of sitting around a table too small for the family there... picking apart crab... laughing and learning ... just sounded like heaven.
I promised we would.
We started to leave... and the littlest one... a chubby boy who looked about two years old wished us farewell...
"Bye guys!... Bye!" He waved.
"Bye guys!... Bye!"
"Good bye, little buddy!" I waved back.
"Bye guys!... Bye!" I don't think he was going to stop.
He continued from the porch as we hopped in the car with our cardboard box full of crab.
"Bye guys!"
We headed home to cook our crab.
It had been an adventurous day. Old houses, ghost stories and crabs.
A half hour after returning home, dinner was on. And big, bright red crabs sat on our delicate plates.
We thanked God for our blessings, and asked for wisdom...
And we feasted... snapping one leg at a time.