Very very tiny…

tiny, but cute!Caterina talks about the Microflats for sale in London for something like $200,000 CDN each. All this for a tiny (344 sq.ft.), yet very slick urban living space for young professionals. I have to admit that like Caterina, I love small spaces. This may seem ironic given the 1000 sq.ft. minimum requirement I imposed when I went condo hunting a month ago, but that was for practical reasons–it needs to be big enough for me, Spiff, and all my stuff, of which I seem to have acquired quite a bit in the almost 20 years since I left home. However, being the Gemini that I am, I have no problem with the idea of being attracted to both big open places and small intimate ones.

not to scaleMy first non-shared apartment would certainly qualify as tiny and intimate. It had only two rooms–a kitchen with just enough room for a small table, and a bed-sitting room with enough space for an armchair, a single bed, a desk, and a small bookshelf. It was on the second floor of a large woodframe Victorian house on College Street in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. The limited floorspace was hemmed-in even more by the small headspace. I didn’t have a gable–the apartment was the gable. The highest point was along the wall that bisected the apartment, with the ceiling sloping down on either side. Where my bed was tucked into the corner the ceiling began about four-and-a-half feet up from the floor. If I sat bolt upright in bed my head would hit the ceiling on a glancing blow and hurl me out of bed and onto the floor. Fortunately this was just a theoretical possibility as it never actually happened.

God, how I loved that place!

You can see the front of the building in this scan from my university yearbook (pardon the crease in the middle). See the large gable in the midde with two small square windows? The same gable occured on the back of the house, and that was the apartment.

pardon the creaseWhen I first saw the place it was a disgusting mess, with moss growning in the oven, bags of garbage all around, and nails sticking out of the broken tiles on the floor. Walls and ceiling in the bed-sitting room were painted the color of dried mustard–which can be a nice accent color, but is too much when it fills the room, uninterupted. The pattern on the kitchen wall (and ceiling) paper was upside-down.

I recruited some help and set to work on it. We cleaned and disinfected the fridge and stove, and scoured the floors, walls, and cupboards in the kitchen. Then we removed (or pounded in) the protruding nails in the floor, and gave the bed-sitting room a thorough paint job. We did it in light blue, which went well with the broken tiles, and really served to brighten the place up. The wardrobe (which was a permanent fixture) was painted a bright white. I then bought a peice of light grey carpet (an end peice) which covered most of the broken-tiled floor in the bed-sitting room.

The bathroom was down the hall, and I shared it with two women who lived in similar tiny apartments on the same floor. It didn’t even have a shower (just a bathtub with a big ice cream bucket for filling and dumping over your head), but I got used to that right away. We were all on somewhat different schedules and we were all good about keeping the place clean, so the bathroom situation was a non-issue.

And that was it–I had done the work and had transformed the place. The upside-down wallpaper stayed, but that was OK because it was something of a coversation peice. I really felt like I had built a wonderful little nest for myself there, and I still have fond memories of sitting on my bed or in the big old creaky armchair while reading or entertaining a guest or two.

Back then I didn’t own a lot of stuff, so that was all the space I needed. I left my bike outside (even over the winter), and the neighbours were all good and friendly. I stayed there only one year. Circumstances changed and I moved into residence for my final year at St. F.X.U.

I could easily live like that again, but not as a permanent arrangement. If I had a “home base” somewhere and was inclined to move around a lot spending weeks or months at a time in other cities, that is all I’d need in those other places. For example, if I made huge bucks and were required to pass a few months of the year in London, I’d be first in line for a microflat. In fact, I’d probably spend more time there than in my bigger place back in Montreal!

Missing Babes

Jude points out, in the comments attached to my Types of Babes post, that I had forgotten about Scooter babes! My gawd, of course! How could I forget? Scooter babes are women who ride Vespa-like scooters, preferably in Europe. This is a phenomenon we don’t see much in Canada, but go to Italy or France and you see all these gorgeous women zipping around town on scooters. It’s fabulous! Especially when they’re all done up as if they’re going on a date or something. I can see them now in their black skirts buzzing around the fountains in the Piazza Navona, or barrelling up the Boulevard Jean Médecin in Nice. Mmmmmm… scooter babes….

Interesting times

Jeez, what an intense couple of weeks! Every winter I say I’m going to go south for a vacation, but when the time comes I always find some lame excuse not to. Well, this year is different. The plane ticket is bought, and the plans are made. I’m off to Mexico in two weeks time, for a two week self-directed tour of the Yucatan peninsula.Deciding to go there over my other options (Costa Rica, Venezuela, and Trinidad & Tobago) required a lot of reading and researching, but what it finally boiled down to is that this one’s the easiest, although certainly not the least expensive. Besides, I’ve been wanting to go to some of these places for years. I’ve got reservations made for about half of the trip, just because the “Mexican Riviera” has become so expensive that I don’t want to show up somewhere and have everything full except the $125US/night places. I have a few alternative itineraries, but I’m staying open and flexible, because I may want to go where the wind (or the Danish/Spanish/Scottish/whatever babe I may meet along the way) goes.

Then there is the small detail of buying a condo. As I reported earlier, I had made an offer on a place but in the end I wasn’t satisfied with it. I broke the deal, and that night found a really wonderful place. It had just gone on the market that day, and I made an offer before the clock struck midnight. Talk about moving fast!

Then I had to pay for another building inspection, sign a million papers, arrange for a mortgage, and decipher the condo agreement. It’s now a done-deal, all except the notary and the final signing, which won’t take place until the end of April. I move in the first week of May, which seems like a million years from now. You can get a peek at the place here.

During all of this I’ve also been sick, with a low-level flu-like thing scratching around inside me sapping my energy.

Finally, to top it all off (and to shake the foundation a bit), I survived a round of layoffs at work. *gulp* One does not want to hear “layoffs” in the same week as “your mortgage has been approved.” But I did survive it. Unfortunately, Steve my office-mate did not.

Types of Babes.

Bill’s and Partygirlie’s comments after my Sexualist vs. Sensualist post, in which they talk about getting off on/in libraries and bookstores has prompted me to reveal my highly coveted list of Types of Babes. Keep in mind this is blork talking, so I’m not going to fall into that rut where “babe” means some kind of Barbie doll chick. Au contraire, a Barbie doll-type has to work extra hard on other things to overcome that handicap.

As such, for the purpose of this (and any further) discussion, a “babe” is a female person who isn’t hard on the eye-bones (this is very subjective and widely variable), and who exhibits the proverbial je ne sais quoi that transforms her out of the morass of the ordinary into the exhalted realm of the extraordinary. This can be as simple as how she wears her scarf, but is usually a complex arrangement of physical characteristics (with “cleanliness” at the top), plus style, attitude, smarts, wit, sensibility, and lack of annoying habits.

There are, however, a number of specific short-cuts, which are categorized below. If a woman fits into one of these categories, the chances of her achieving “babe” status increases by a full order of magnitude.

Thus, for your intellectual enjoyment, I present blork’s taxonomy of babeness:

  • Women in book stores (book store babes)
  • Women who drink scotch whiskey and don’t make a big deal of it (highlander babes)
  • Women in long black dresses who play the cello (cello babes)
  • Women who will eat just about anything I put in front of them (not-fussy babes)
  • Women who fall down when they laugh (fall-down-laughing babes)
  • Women who love to travel (travelling babes)
  • Women who love my cat (Spiff-lovin’ babes)
  • Women who know how to be angry without being hurtful (non-nasty babes)
  • Women who are jounalists—particularly Canadian TV journalists (news babes)
  • Women who don’t think I’m a dope (very astute babes)
  • Women who wear big knobby sweaters (sweater babes)
  • Women with Russian accents (ruška-babeškå)
  • Women who write plays, novels, or magazine articles (writerly babes)
  • Women who are astronauts from Quebec (les cosmo-babes)
  • Women who ride scooters (scooter babes)
  • You, if you’re still reading this