Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Places I remember living

Cultis Lake

We start at kindergarten, or so. I have hazy memories of previous places, but here is the first place I actually remember well enough that I found that same house decades later. I'm not sure it's there now. Cultis Lake has turned into jet boat heaven. The biggest thing I ever put in the lake was some wind up pontoon airplanes. During my childhood we sometimes went out to a beach at the lake when visiting grandparents. My cousin and I once spent part of an afternoon diving off a dock into the very deep water, trying to find the bottom. Not.

East Mall

The plane flight from BC to Toronto was lovely. My brother and I thought it was an amusement ride arranged for us. One side of the plane had sunshine, and the other was pitch black. Lots of people barfed. Airports have sure changed. This flight ended at Terminal 1, which is no longer there. You got off the plane (it was a DC-8, high tech then) walked down the stairs to the tarmac, outside, and there was a bin for umbrellas.

The apartment at East Mall is still there, though the surrounding area has changed a bit. There used to be a creek at the bottom of a big ditch One day there was a small bridge over it and I ran down the hill to jump on the bridge as I had done many times before. Except that someone turned it upside down, and there were a bunch of nails poking up. Ouch. This is the first medical issue I recall, though getting my front teeth removed at the dentist happened about the same time. I somehow ripped much of my thumbnail off once, and the doctor had to finish the job. He dipped my thumb into something that hurt even more than the original incident.

The house that burned down

This was out in the country about an hour's drive north, south and a bit west of Orangeville. This was a small old farmhouse. I loved exploring the barn, and it's a wonder we didn't kill ourselves. We had 75 acres of land which included a small bush, a pond, and lots of fields. I first drove a tractor there, and that's how we found out I was terribly short sighted with one eye so lazy it was essentially not used. At least it was a tricycle destroyed, and not a car or the house.

Getting glasses was a blinding flash of illumination to me, and I mean that literally. Now I could read, and I loved it. There was a Grade 3 reader with a yellow cover, filled with science fiction, fantasy, and real life stories. There was an Arthur C Clarke, and one about the real nuclear submarine the Nautilis. I became a voracious reader. I learned who the Jetson's were.

The major medical adventure here was stepping on a wasp's nest, and getting stung half to death. There was a fast trip into town and getting hustled into the doctor's office.

I was going into grade 5, on vacation at our Grandparent's when we were told about the house burning down. I saw it later before it was bulldozed. Nothing but a hole in the ground with the chimney my dad built left standing.

Grandma and Grandad's

We spent part of that school year in Chilliwack. My cousin Ron in 6th grade, me in 5th, and my brother in 4th. We walked to school together, but for some reason I don't remember any of my other cousins with us. Ron's two sisters would have been grade 7 and grade 3. Maybe they went to a different school. We tormented the soccer coach because he referred to people by their last name, and there were 3 of us Cartmell's.

That house is still there, though another of my cousin's owns it now. At one time my family owned 4 houses in a row along there. There is now an extra one that didn't use to be there. Back in the day it was active dairy farm, when milk was put into large metal jugs, and left on a wooden stand by the road, to be collected by truck. My uncle owns the original house, looking much upgraded on Google earth. It used to be that plaster with the glass chips blasted into it.

I loved living in BC, the stint in grade 5 and summer vacations. I helped with hay and tried not to get in the way of farm machinery. As long as we showed up for lunch and supper, we could do what we wanted. Once, much later, I was ferrying my granny around Chilliwack for a variety of errands on the occasion of my Grandpas death. We were going into a bank for her to shuffle money around, and I introduced myself to the bank official as her grandson. Her attention was arrested. "What is your name again? Are you related to the local Cartmell's?" I told her, and it turns out her and my dad had dated in high school. Granny did a slow burn as she reminisced.

The house with the pool

We moved back to Ontario as dad built the house on the hill. It wasn't complete yet, but either our grandparents were sick of us, or they wanted us back in our regular school. Our neighbour across the road lent us (rented? I don't know) their house for a while. He had a big family, and there were lots of bedrooms. For some reason my brother and I shared. Technically, we were still going to the wrong school, as it was across the county line. My first ever crush was a girl from this family, we shared the exact same birthday. I have often wondered where life has taken her.

The house on the hill

This house is still here. It was recently sold, and my mom and brother toured it. They said it seemed a lot smaller than they remembered. It was a big house to me, with stunning views. I had seen the plans for it, though they didn't mean much to me. I liked the elevation drawings. I instantly realized this was a representation of the house, and how it would look. Turns out they built a wall wrong, and my bedroom ended up a fraction smaller than planned. This was just enough that my bed prevented the door closing. That room is a laundry room now, I'm told.

There was another really small room too, the kitchen. Unworkably small, taking the term galley kitchen to new depths. I watched the first moon landing in that house. We had huge Christmas trees because there was a place for a circular stairway that never got installed. I once saw a cat more than 10 feet off the floor in the tree.

The house in Orangeville

I don't know what prompted the move here. My brother and I shared a big bedroom throughout part of grade 8 and all high school for me. We got cars, and in the winter I struggled with a cantankerous snowblower. It's a wonder I didn't lose any body parts in it, and if I'd been wearing a ring I would have lost a finger to a snowmobile clutch. I got into my first fight, though it was more of a scuffle. The other boy was pissed at me for something, but he was much smaller, and I didn't want to pound on him.

Not much later, when I started drinking in the local bar, (way underage) my size was a good thing. Just standing up ended some truculent discussions, even though I was a skinny drink of water. High school was not a fun time for me. I'd never liked school at the best of times, and much of this was a brutal experience. Drafting and English were about the only classes I liked. Somewhere I have the litany of shame that passes for a high school transcript. I was incredulous when I was nearly 30, and the University I wanted to go to as an adult student, wanted to see it.

The apartment in Streetsville

I wasn't there long. I lived in apartment 508, and drove a Pontiac LeMans license NOP 632. I parked on the top level of the parkade, and it made my year when I terrified my dad driving into it one day. I knew exactly where that pillar was, and he didn't.

Vic and I met working nearby on a light manufacturing assembly line. I suppose it's the first real job I had, and it sandwiched flunking out of Air Traffic Control school. From there I learned I have a trick memory. I swotted up airport names, mnemonics, numbered routes, and it stood me in good stead when I memorized the Nova Gas Transmission lines in no time flat. Pity I didn't grasp meteorology, but then maybe I'd have ended up a burned out drunk stress case.

I met some of my cousins that lived nearby. One of them started at the plant I worked in, and she made a big impact on the guys there. I was really popular for a while, once people realized I was her cousin, and could introduce them.

Living in Streetsville was fun. It was the first time I'd lived on my own, and could keep my own hours. I played hockey with work buddies, went for a beer after work sometimes. Back then it was still a nice little town, but now it's been absorbed into Mississauga. I discovered Pink FLoyd. I saw Supertramp in concert. I got half way through Being There before I realized it was funny and nearly peed myself laughing. Me and one other person got it, and nobody else. I learned I had to trim the mustache regularly or it was very difficult to eat a big sandwich. Don't ask.

The shared apartment in Calgary

Vic moved to Calgary, and convinced me to go halves on a two bedroom place, and I got a job at the same place he worked. The job was fixing forklift and truck tires. To this day there is a patch of bald skin on my right wrist where it got shaved daily by tire beads. I came THAT close to getting killed by an exploding tire. I have always regretted that they decided at the last minute I couldn't go along as a swamper on a big convoy to Tuktoyaktuk.

I drove out with the car full of everything I owned, and totally completely loved the trip. LOVED IT! Ontario was boring, but I loved the prairies. The wide open sky was calling me home. I sang along to cheesy music on scratchy cassette tapes and drove forever. I discovered Pense, Saskatchewan.

The apartment was 806, quite new. I met up with the SCA and science fiction fandom. One of the guys I first met lived in apartment 608, and I thought the computer generated list was wrong. This was back when a computer generated name and address list was hot stuff. I met my first really serious girlfriend in that building. Her family didn't like me and we broke it off about the time we were thinking of renting a house together.

Since then the building has gone condo at exorbitant prices. I was really involved with the SCA for a long time, and science fiction for less time. It was a surprise to run into some of those same people again at the When Words Collide writer's conference.

The basement dungeon

The less said the better. It was an illegal basement suite at a time when the vacancy rate was a negative number. I learned you can't fill a water bed with cold water and sleep on it that night. Or the next one. I had the best nightmares ever there, when I had all 4 of my wisdom teeth removed. Good drugs.

The flooded apartment

Once I could get a real place I settled in, until the heating system broke and soaked the rugs. I lost some furniture and a few books. It had smelled musty before, and was worse after. About then I started working shiftwork for the city. To get my bedroom dark I carefully taped tinfoil to the windows. Later, I heard they had to replace the windows because the stick from duct tape doesn't come out of glass very easily after it's been baked in the sun.

Linda was horrified at the state of my fridge and cupboards. I think that's why she took pity on me and decided I was a lifetime project. I had no say in the matter. She executed a classic BDD maneuver.

The townhouse

Linda wouldn't stay at the flooded apartment, barely even to visit, so I started spending more time at her place. She had a really nice apartment, but there wasn't room for the two of us. We somehow ended up in a townhouse just down the street, and stayed there a year or so. Sebastian the best cat ever came into our lives, along with a succession of other cats who are just as much the best cat ever. Moving is fun when you can't get the car into third gear.

The current house

During our relationship we were looking at all the wealthy (looking) people in Calgary. They were buying big houses, big cars, boats, RV's, all the toys. Then the market crashed in the wake of the NEP, and we found out all those people had been borrowing the money. Houses got cheap. We discovered we could afford (just barely) to have one built. We did. For a while we had no money at all after paying the bills, but that gradually changed.

The house is more than 30 years old now, looking better than ever. We still look good too, or so we think. I periodically muse about moving around a lot as a kid, then spending most of my life in one place. I never would have guessed that would happen.

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