Last weekend was my first not spent at the Manse in Queensborough since Raymond and I officially took up residence there (with Sieste the cat) in mid-October. As I reported here (while still, as I was writing it, feeling somewhat stunned about the contrast between traffic in Montreal and in Hastings County), we were back at our not-yet-up-for-sale Montreal place, primarily because we had tickets for the Opéra de Montréal on Saturday night. What an odd thing it was to walk into the place that had been our home for so many years, and that no longer is! I’m sure some of you will have had a similar two-homes experience somewhere in your past, and will know what I’m talking about.
The first thing I could not help but notice was how comfortable the Montreal house (actually a condo) is. It’s a building that’s about a century old, so not that much newer than our 1888 Manse, but it’s been updated through the years with insulation and modern finishes and so on. So it is not, for instance, drafty, which the Manse can most certainly be. In addition, it has nice newish versions of all the useful appliances one could want – washer, dryer, dishwasher, microwave, self-cleaning convection oven, PVR (which comes with cable and a million channels) – which the Manse most certainly does not.
I was a little overwhelmed.
While Raymond and I have made the Manse a perfectly reasonable and comfortable place in which to live and work and cook and relax, it is all in all a pretty bare-bones residence, and will be until we get some major renovations done. But I really only realized how bare-bones it is when I returned to our Montreal domicile.
(My brother John, after reading the aforementioned post about driving into Montreal and not liking the traffic, called me a couple of days later and asked me a question: When I woke up in my Montreal bed on Saturday morning, did I wonder what kind of crazy dream I’d had about having moved to Queensborough?)
Anyway, one amusing part of the weekend in Montreal came when I needed a potato peeler. And it was amusing because something that kept happening on our early visits to the Manse was that one or the other of us would reach for something – a certain kitchen knife or saucepan, or a book, or a tool of some sort – that we always have to hand, only to realize that it was inconveniently located 250 miles away in Montreal. To remedy that, we have gradually been moving more things to the Manse – to the point that an utterly useful implement, the potato peeler, was inconveniently located 250 miles away in Queensborough when I needed it in Montreal.
But these are classic first-world problems. A person can always peel potatoes with a paring knife, and fortunately one of the paring knives was still in Montreal.
Anyway, after a couple of days in Montreal the strange feeling more or less wore off. Which made me all the more relieved to find myself feeling genuinely happy – as opposed to discouraged – upon returning to the bare-bones Manse.
To quote Ron Weasley (as he brings his best friend Happy Potter for a visit to The Burrow, the Weasley family’s slightly cockamamie residence): “It’s not much – but it’s home.”
And what does Harry reply?
“I think it’s brilliant.”
You and me both, Harry.