Investing in the Future — Chapter 3

IMGP0516The next year became a whirlwind of activity. I had my schooling to attend to, a wedding date set for June and we had started to look for rental properties. I had developed a passion over my lifetime for real estate.

Planning a wedding was really not that important to me. Unlike many young girls, I had never dreamed about my wedding day and although I had wondered who I would marry, I did not have an ideal guy dreamed up in my imagination, much less an ideal wedding planned.

Surprising to me now is the realization that I did wonder whom I would marry, but I never wondered if I would marry. I was raised under the assumption that I would get married. Respectable women got married. My grandmother, on my mother’s side, even assured me that I did not need to go to school, because I was pretty enough to get married. Marriage, of course, was the first choice for a woman—or so it was always assumed—so you would only bother with an education if you thought that marriage was unlikely.

Bob and I went to his parents and explained what we could afford, as far as a wedding was concerned. Bob’s mom found our plan unacceptable and offered to pay for a “proper” wedding. I did not care either way. Bob liked to say that he did not want a big wedding, but he only ever said this in hindsight. He did not say that he did not want a big wedding to his mother, the one paying for it, only to his friends and people that he was trying to impress. Going against the grain was always something that Bob liked to do and since big weddings were in fashion, he liked to say that he did not want one.

I remember my soon to be mother-in-law doing most of the work planning our wedding. This was fine by me. I was estranged from my family pretty well, so I did not ask them to contribute and I did not invite many of my friends or relatives to the wedding.

My love of real estate was born during the first house hunting that I did with my parents while I was in grade three. I remember being thrilled with all of the possibilities. I was amazed at how different homes were just in our city. It was difficult to imagine how different they would be across the world.

When we were staying in the townhouses, while I was a young teenager, I was astonished at how much of a difference good wallpaper could make in identical units. Then, later, when my mother bought the large rental property it did not take a lot of intelligence to realize that she had bought herself a solid investment, an income.

My father used to explain to me how much simple inflation could impact the value of a home and that in the divorce settlement he had paid my mother, for her half of the assets, over ten times the amount that he had paid for the house initially. This was difficult for me to get my mind around.

I managed to convince Bob that we should buy a rental property. He was reluctant. He did not see why we should buy a property and not live in it. He did not understand that you could buy one and rent it, especially in a university town. Eventually, he did come around and we bought a semi that was half of an older home, within walking distance of the university. It turned out to be an excellent investment.

The rental property paid for its own mortgage, our rent and went up enough in value over the time that we owned it enough to pay for my student loans completely.

So the summer was a blur of getting married, working at the veterinary hospital as an assistant and buying our first rental property.

Our honeymoon was planned for a secluded cottage in Ontario, right on a small waterway. Friends of mine had let us borrow their cottage and had stocked it with a different, high quality, bottle of wine—one for each night. Our difference in relaxation reared its head again. At this cottage, we were totally disconnected from the outside world. We had enough supplies to last us for the entire time.

I was reveling in how nice it was at this cottage and enjoying our break when Bob got restless. He needed to be doing more. He wanted to read the newspaper and catch up on what was going on. He did not want to stay the entire time. His argument went something like this, “We have all of the gifts to put away. The apartment is a mess. We have a bunch of work to do. We should not stay here the entire time because we’ll have to go back to work and the apartment will still need a lot of work. We should leave early.”

So, once again, relaxation was thwarted. The honeymoon was cut short and we went home early. It did not occur to me that this was a symptom of a larger problem. I can add all kinds of insights in here about what this should have revealed to me and how it was a symptom of a larger problem, but it does not seem fair to judge myself in this way. Hindsight is always 20-20 and I took it at face value at the time. We did have a lot of things to take care of at home.

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available

Keep Reading: Pregnant?

www.wendypowell.ca

Everything Changes — Chapter 1

IMG_0500The most discreet and defining change in my life was about to happen shortly. My mother was very socially conscious and living in a wartime home was simply not good enough. She wanted to be looked up to, envied and seen as having it all. With this in mind, my parents set out to buy a new home.

The purchase of the appropriate home was essential to how they saw themselves, or at the very least how my mother saw herself. My mother’s family was farmers by spirit, but my grandfather had taken a factory job. I don’t know the details of when they left the farm or when they moved into the city, but I do know that they always managed to live well, despite food stamps and the recession. They always had an abundance of food and enough money to buy what they needed.

The way that this was explained to me was that certain allotments of food stamps were for cigarettes and alcohol. Since my grandparents did not partake of either of these, they would trade these stamps for baking ingredients; sugar and flour. My grandmother could bake. It is not adequate to say that she could bake really well, because that cannot possibly describe how her fudge would melt in your mouth, or how a mouthful of butter tart was so delicious that you simply could not speak while eating one. She gave out fudge for Halloween and I witnessed a man that had drove from a neighbouring city to visit her house on Halloween in order to receive a piece of her fudge. She sold these baked goods for a tidy profit.

My father’s family was city folk. His father was in the police force and his mother, his father’s second wife, was a schoolteacher and significantly younger than her husband. I still don’t know how many half cousins I have on my father’s side because there was an almost complete split between the two families. My father had not gone past grade twelve himself. Not because he was not capable, but because it was not necessary.

We lived in chemical valley where crude oil is converted into gasoline and other products. He was hired full time right out of high school and was doing very well financially. This had to be demonstrated to everyone by the type of home that we lived in, or so my mother felt.

We visited these gorgeous places. I remember running around the schoolyard describing beautiful homes to my friends. I had to tell everyone. There were patio doors that looked out onto landscaped back yards, there were pools, there were large rec rooms and finished basements. The possibilities seemed endless. We were moving out of our old home, that was heated with a stove that sat in one corner of a livingroom, into places with central heat. I didn’t know what central heat meant but it sounded exciting to me.

The visits to the homes for sale went on long enough that my friends started to not want to hear about it anymore. Lost in the excitement of the move, I had totally missed the fact that I would be leaving most of these friends, to never see them again, or only see them in passing. That did not concern me very much.

When new students came to our school, they were celebrities. Everyone would flock around them to try to get to know them first. They were coveted potential new friends and everyone wanted to meet them. I assumed it was like this at all schools.

The conflict between my parents was unseen by me, at the time. My father was a very practical man. I know that my father wanted a garage and that he wanted to deal with the issue in a logical way. My mother wanted some place extravagant. I don’t know if money was an issue. The house that was decided on, my father explained to me, was largely because the person selling the house would also buy our A-frame from us. This was practical and straightforward. It was important to my father that this detail be taken care of. I don’t know if this purchase preceded the ability to put an offer on a house conditional on the sale of your other house, but if it did, that would explain my father’s decision. To be stuck with two homes would be a problem for any family, at any time.

My mother was not happy with the house.

I was not happy either. It was terrible when I realized that I was losing all of my friends, my backyard, my maple tree, my large bedroom, my tree lined neighbourhood and my family as it turns out.

The new house was a three bedroom bungalow, situated on the corner of a very busy four lane road, in a newer part of town. It was a block from the school. My father had to back out into traffic in order to get the car out of the driveway. There was no backyard because it was a corner lot and the large two-story double car garage took up most of the yard and blocked out any sun that may have entered the small sliver of lawn. There was no room for a pool, or a garden and there were certainly no trees of mention.

Vicki and I flipped a coin for the large bedroom and I lost. The room that I was now in was so small that my bed needed to be replaced with a single bed because there was not enough room for the old one. The basement had been divided into several small rooms, so even though it had a rec room, it was not much of a room. It was also uninviting in a way that some basements are.

So, in the summer of 1971, I found myself a freshly minted nine year old that did not have any friends, any backyard and no place to spread my toys out to play. To top it off, my cat did not make the trip. I heard that there was another nine year old girl on the block and I decided to go down and introduce myself. Now all I had was to go to the new school in September and see how that went.

Keep Reading: New Friends

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available

books-finding

Martha Beck teaches you how to navigate the ever changing landscape of your life.

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Begin With a Move — Chapter 4

IMG_1065It seems almost predictable that the first thing that Bob and I decided to do together was move. The house that I was living in was my home alone. Bob felt that if we were going to start a new life as a couple, we would need a home that was ours and not just mine. I couldn’t argue with this and we began the process of looking for another place to live.

Bob had managed to get a job at another university in the same general region in Ontario and we decided to move closer to his work. Since I had quit my job, location was not important to me. I had no intention of going back to that particular job so it made the most sense to focus on living near his work.

We could not afford a home that we liked in the city where the university was so we bought a house in a city that was very close to where he worked. It was a beautiful older home that had been built in the early 1900’s. It was a two-story brick home with a full dry basement and three bedrooms on the second floor. The baseboards were a full foot high and there were hardwood floors and solid oak doors and finish throughout.

The walls in this place were almost a foot thick. They were a sandwich of space with wallboards and then plaster on each side. From the point of view of a mother that had a child that woke at the slightest sound, this was a dream home. The backyard was fenced and had mature trees. We moved into this place three months before our second child was born.

I immediately connected with this city. I joined a Dancefit group that exercised by dancing to choreographed songs and met a bunch of women right away. We could walk to the public library from where we lived and there was a preschool nearby. The preschool was not a formal full time school; it was a community centre that had a playtime three hours a week. This allowed me to take my oldest daughter out to play with other children and gave me the opportunity to speak to some other mothers.

The main difference between a first pregnancy and a second one is that during the second pregnancy you have a child to take care of. Unlike when I was in school, my time was not my own and was largely dictated by my daughter’s needs. This had contributed to the stress of being pregnant and my having to quit my job.

Of course, this was not the only thing that contributed to the stress. I had not made the adjustment to being back with Bob. We were actively looking for another house, which required a lot of driving around and visiting homes. We were also trying to sell the house that I had bought which meant that it had to be kept clean enough to show and even if I did have time for a nap, it was often interrupted because there were people that wanted to see the house.

In the early 1990’s the bottom fell out of the real-estate market and we were unable to sell my house so we put it up for rent instead. This turned out to be a great thing. For tax purposes it was worth substantially more when we converted it to a rental property than it was when we finally sold it about year later. This shows up as a capital loss and we received a large tax refund because of it. We still managed to sell it for slightly more than I had bought it for a couple of years earlier.

This was a busy time for me. The sheer work involved in having a preschooler plus moving into a new home and being pregnant meant that I was fully occupied. Bob was settling into his new job and I was getting to know the neighbours and my way around the city.

It made sense for me to be taking care of the house and the meals because I was at home full time. This was not something that I questioned or argued with Bob about because I felt that this was the way that it was supposed to be. Long gone were the days when he would do half of the work that needed to be done. He shifted into doing very little. No yard work, no garbage, no car maintenance, just his job.

Keep Reading Early Labour

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available
The Narcissist Survival Guide now available

 

Everything Changes — Chapter 1

IMG_0500The most discreet and defining change in my life was about to happen shortly. My mother was very socially conscious and living in a wartime home was simply not good enough. She wanted to be looked up to, envied and seen as having it all. With this in mind, my parents set out to buy a new home.

The purchase of the appropriate home was essential to how they saw themselves, or at the very least how my mother saw herself. My mother’s family was farmers by spirit, but my grandfather had taken a factory job. I don’t know the details of when they left the farm or when they moved into the city, but I do know that they always managed to live well, despite food stamps and the recession. They always had an abundance of food and enough money to buy what they needed.

The way that this was explained to me was that certain allotments of food stamps were for cigarettes and alcohol. Since my grandparents did not partake of either of these, they would trade these stamps for baking ingredients; sugar and flour. My grandmother could bake. It is not adequate to say that she could bake really well, because that cannot possibly describe how her fudge would melt in your mouth, or how a mouthful of butter tart was so delicious that you simply could not speak while eating one. She gave out fudge for Halloween and I witnessed a man that had drove from a neighbouring city to visit her house on Halloween in order to receive a piece of her fudge. She sold these baked goods for a tidy profit.

My father’s family was city folk. His father was in the police force and his mother, his father’s second wife, was a schoolteacher and significantly younger than her husband. I still don’t know how many half cousins I have on my father’s side because there was an almost complete split between the two families. My father had not gone past grade twelve himself. Not because he was not capable, but because it was not necessary.

We lived in chemical valley where crude oil is converted into gasoline and other products. He was hired full time right out of high school and was doing very well financially. This had to be demonstrated to everyone by the type of home that we lived in, or so my mother felt.

We visited these gorgeous places. I remember running around the schoolyard describing beautiful homes to my friends. I had to tell everyone. There were patio doors that looked out onto landscaped back yards, there were pools, there were large rec rooms and finished basements. The possibilities seemed endless. We were moving out of our old home, that was heated with a stove that sat in one corner of a livingroom, into places with central heat. I didn’t know what central heat meant but it sounded exciting to me.

The visits to the homes for sale went on long enough that my friends started to not want to hear about it anymore. Lost in the excitement of the move, I had totally missed the fact that I would be leaving most of these friends, to never see them again, or only see them in passing. That did not concern me very much.

When new students came to our school, they were celebrities. Everyone would flock around them to try to get to know them first. They were coveted potential new friends and everyone wanted to meet them. I assumed it was like this at all schools.

The conflict between my parents was unseen by me, at the time. My father was a very practical man. I know that my father wanted a garage and that he wanted to deal with the issue in a logical way. My mother wanted some place extravagant. I don’t know if money was an issue. The house that was decided on, my father explained to me, was largely because the person selling the house would also buy our A-frame from us. This was practical and straightforward. It was important to my father that this detail be taken care of. I don’t know if this purchase preceded the ability to put an offer on a house conditional on the sale of your other house, but if it did, that would explain my father’s decision. To be stuck with two homes would be a problem for any family, at any time.

My mother was not happy with the house.

I was not happy either. It was terrible when I realized that I was losing all of my friends, my backyard, my maple tree, my large bedroom, my tree lined neighbourhood and my family as it turns out.

The new house was a three bedroom bungalow, situated on the corner of a very busy four lane road, in a newer part of town. It was a block from the school. My father had to back out into traffic in order to get the car out of the driveway. There was no backyard because it was a corner lot and the large two-story double car garage took up most of the yard and blocked out any sun that may have entered the small sliver of lawn. There was no room for a pool, or a garden and there were certainly no trees of mention.

Vicki and I flipped a coin for the large bedroom and I lost. The room that I was now in was so small that my bed needed to be replaced with a single bed because there was not enough room for the old one. The basement had been divided into several small rooms, so even though it had a rec room, it was not much of a room. It was also uninviting in a way that some basements are.

So, in the summer of 1971, I found myself a freshly minted nine year old that did not have any friends, any backyard and no place to spread my toys out to play. To top it off, my cat did not make the trip. I heard that there was another nine year old girl on the block and I decided to go down and introduce myself. Now all I had was to go to the new school in September and see how that went.

Keep Reading: New Friends

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available

books-finding

Martha Beck teaches you how to navigate the ever changing landscape of your life.

www.wendypowell.ca

Begin With a Move — Chapter 4

IMG_1065It seems almost predictable that the first thing that Bob and I decided to do together was move. The house that I was living in was my home alone. Bob felt that if we were going to start a new life as a couple, we would need a home that was ours and not just mine. I couldn’t argue with this and we began the process of looking for another place to live.

Bob had managed to get a job at another university in the same general region in Ontario and we decided to move closer to his work. Since I had quit my job, location was not important to me. I had no intention of going back to that particular job so it made the most sense to focus on living near his work.

We could not afford a home that we liked in the city where the university was so we bought a house in a city that was very close to where he worked. It was a beautiful older home that had been built in the early 1900’s. It was a two-story brick home with a full dry basement and three bedrooms on the second floor. The baseboards were a full foot high and there were hardwood floors and solid oak doors and finish throughout.

The walls in this place were almost a foot thick. They were a sandwich of space with wallboards and then plaster on each side. From the point of view of a mother that had a child that woke at the slightest sound, this was a dream home. The backyard was fenced and had mature trees. We moved into this place three months before our second child was born.

I immediately connected with this city. I joined a Dancefit group that exercised by dancing to choreographed songs and met a bunch of women right away. We could walk to the public library from where we lived and there was a preschool nearby. The preschool was not a formal full time school; it was a community centre that had a playtime three hours a week. This allowed me to take my oldest daughter out to play with other children and gave me the opportunity to speak to some other mothers.

The main difference between a first pregnancy and a second one is that during the second pregnancy you have a child to take care of. Unlike when I was in school, my time was not my own and was largely dictated by my daughter’s needs. This had contributed to the stress of being pregnant and my having to quit my job.

Of course, this was not the only thing that contributed to the stress. I had not made the adjustment to being back with Bob. We were actively looking for another house, which required a lot of driving around and visiting homes. We were also trying to sell the house that I had bought which meant that it had to be kept clean enough to show and even if I did have time for a nap, it was often interrupted because there were people that wanted to see the house.

In the early 1990’s the bottom fell out of the real-estate market and we were unable to sell my house so we put it up for rent instead. This turned out to be a great thing. For tax purposes it was worth substantially more when we converted it to a rental property than it was when we finally sold it about year later. This shows up as a capital loss and we received a large tax refund because of it. We still managed to sell it for slightly more than I had bought it for a couple of years earlier.

This was a busy time for me. The sheer work involved in having a preschooler plus moving into a new home and being pregnant meant that I was fully occupied. Bob was settling into his new job and I was getting to know the neighbours and my way around the city.

It made sense for me to be taking care of the house and the meals because I was at home full time. This was not something that I questioned or argued with Bob about because I felt that this was the way that it was supposed to be. Long gone were the days when he would do half of the work that needed to be done. He shifted into doing very little. No yard work, no garbage, no car maintenance, just his job.

Keep Reading Early Labour

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available
The Narcissist Survival Guide now available

www.wendypowell.ca

Investing in the Future — Chapter 3

IMGP0516The next year became a whirlwind of activity. I had my schooling to attend to, a wedding date set for June and we had started to look for rental properties. I had developed a passion over my lifetime for real estate.

Planning a wedding was really not that important to me. Unlike many young girls, I had never dreamed about my wedding day and although I had wondered who I would marry, I did not have an ideal guy dreamed up in my imagination, much less an ideal wedding planned.

Surprising to me now is the realization that I did wonder whom I would marry, but I never wondered if I would marry. I was raised under the assumption that I would get married. Respectable women got married. My grandmother, on my mother’s side, even assured me that I did not need to go to school, because I was pretty enough to get married. Marriage, of course, was the first choice for a woman—or so it was always assumed—so you would only bother with an education if you thought that marriage was unlikely.

Bob and I went to his parents and explained what we could afford, as far as a wedding was concerned. Bob’s mom found our plan unacceptable and offered to pay for a “proper” wedding. I did not care either way. Bob liked to say that he did not want a big wedding, but he only ever said this in hindsight. He did not say that he did not want a big wedding to his mother, the one paying for it, only to his friends and people that he was trying to impress. Going against the grain was always something that Bob liked to do and since big weddings were in fashion, he liked to say that he did not want one.

I remember my soon to be mother-in-law doing most of the work planning our wedding. This was fine by me. I was estranged from my family pretty well, so I did not ask them to contribute and I did not invite many of my friends or relatives to the wedding.

My love of real estate was born during the first house hunting that I did with my parents while I was in grade three. I remember being thrilled with all of the possibilities. I was amazed at how different homes were just in our city. It was difficult to imagine how different they would be across the world.

When we were staying in the townhouses, while I was a young teenager, I was astonished at how much of a difference good wallpaper could make in identical units. Then, later, when my mother bought the large rental property it did not take a lot of intelligence to realize that she had bought herself a solid investment, an income.

My father used to explain to me how much simple inflation could impact the value of a home and that in the divorce settlement he had paid my mother, for her half of the assets, over ten times the amount that he had paid for the house initially. This was difficult for me to get my mind around.

I managed to convince Bob that we should buy a rental property. He was reluctant. He did not see why we should buy a property and not live in it. He did not understand that you could buy one and rent it, especially in a university town. Eventually, he did come around and we bought a semi that was half of an older home, within walking distance of the university. It turned out to be an excellent investment.

The rental property paid for its own mortgage, our rent and went up enough in value over the time that we owned it enough to pay for my student loans completely.

So the summer was a blur of getting married, working at the veterinary hospital as an assistant and buying our first rental property.

Our honeymoon was planned for a secluded cottage in Ontario, right on a small waterway. Friends of mine had let us borrow their cottage and had stocked it with a different, high quality, bottle of wine—one for each night. Our difference in relaxation reared its head again. At this cottage, we were totally disconnected from the outside world. We had enough supplies to last us for the entire time.

I was reveling in how nice it was at this cottage and enjoying our break when Bob got restless. He needed to be doing more. He wanted to read the newspaper and catch up on what was going on. He did not want to stay the entire time. His argument went something like this, “We have all of the gifts to put away. The apartment is a mess. We have a bunch of work to do. We should not stay here the entire time because we’ll have to go back to work and the apartment will still need a lot of work. We should leave early.”

So, once again, relaxation was thwarted. The honeymoon was cut short and we went home early. It did not occur to me that this was a symptom of a larger problem. I can add all kinds of insights in here about what this should have revealed to me and how it was a symptom of a larger problem, but it does not seem fair to judge myself in this way. Hindsight is always 20-20 and I took it at face value at the time. We did have a lot of things to take care of at home.

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available

Keep Reading: Pregnant?

www.wendypowell.ca

Everything Changes — Chapter 1

IMG_0500The most discreet and defining change in my life was about to happen shortly. My mother was very socially conscious and living in a wartime home was simply not good enough. She wanted to be looked up to, envied and seen as having it all. With this in mind, my parents set out to buy a new home.

The purchase of the appropriate home was essential to how they saw themselves, or at the very least how my mother saw herself. My mother’s family was farmers by spirit, but my grandfather had taken a factory job. I don’t know the details of when they left the farm or when they moved into the city, but I do know that they always managed to live well, despite food stamps and the recession. They always had an abundance of food and enough money to buy what they needed.

The way that this was explained to me was that certain allotments of food stamps were for cigarettes and alcohol. Since my grandparents did not partake of either of these, they would trade these stamps for baking ingredients; sugar and flour. My grandmother could bake. It is not adequate to say that she could bake really well, because that cannot possibly describe how her fudge would melt in your mouth, or how a mouthful of butter tart was so delicious that you simply could not speak while eating one. She gave out fudge for Halloween and I witnessed a man that had drove from a neighbouring city to visit her house on Halloween in order to receive a piece of her fudge. She sold these baked goods for a tidy profit.

My father’s family was city folk. His father was in the police force and his mother, his father’s second wife, was a schoolteacher and significantly younger than her husband. I still don’t know how many half cousins I have on my father’s side because there was an almost complete split between the two families. My father had not gone past grade twelve himself. Not because he was not capable, but because it was not necessary.

We lived in chemical valley where crude oil is converted into gasoline and other products. He was hired full time right out of high school and was doing very well financially. This had to be demonstrated to everyone by the type of home that we lived in, or so my mother felt.

We visited these gorgeous places. I remember running around the schoolyard describing beautiful homes to my friends. I had to tell everyone. There were patio doors that looked out onto landscaped back yards, there were pools, there were large rec rooms and finished basements. The possibilities seemed endless. We were moving out of our old home, that was heated with a stove that sat in one corner of a livingroom, into places with central heat. I didn’t know what central heat meant but it sounded exciting to me.

The visits to the homes for sale went on long enough that my friends started to not want to hear about it anymore. Lost in the excitement of the move, I had totally missed the fact that I would be leaving most of these friends, to never see them again, or only see them in passing. That did not concern me very much.

When new students came to our school, they were celebrities. Everyone would flock around them to try to get to know them first. They were coveted potential new friends and everyone wanted to meet them. I assumed it was like this at all schools.

The conflict between my parents was unseen by me, at the time. My father was a very practical man. I know that my father wanted a garage and that he wanted to deal with the issue in a logical way. My mother wanted some place extravagant. I don’t know if money was an issue. The house that was decided on, my father explained to me, was largely because the person selling the house would also buy our A-frame from us. This was practical and straightforward. It was important to my father that this detail be taken care of. I don’t know if this purchase preceded the ability to put an offer on a house conditional on the sale of your other house, but if it did, that would explain my father’s decision. To be stuck with two homes would be a problem for any family, at any time.

My mother was not happy with the house.

I was not happy either. It was terrible when I realized that I was losing all of my friends, my backyard, my maple tree, my large bedroom, my tree lined neighbourhood and my family as it turns out.

The new house was a three bedroom bungalow, situated on the corner of a very busy four lane road, in a newer part of town. It was a block from the school. My father had to back out into traffic in order to get the car out of the driveway. There was no backyard because it was a corner lot and the large two-story double car garage took up most of the yard and blocked out any sun that may have entered the small sliver of lawn. There was no room for a pool, or a garden and there were certainly no trees of mention.

Vicki and I flipped a coin for the large bedroom and I lost. The room that I was now in was so small that my bed needed to be replaced with a single bed because there was not enough room for the old one. The basement had been divided into several small rooms, so even though it had a rec room, it was not much of a room. It was also uninviting in a way that some basements are.

So, in the summer of 1971, I found myself a freshly minted nine year old that did not have any friends, any backyard and no place to spread my toys out to play. To top it off, my cat did not make the trip. I heard that there was another nine year old girl on the block and I decided to go down and introduce myself. Now all I had was to go to the new school in September and see how that went.

Keep Reading: New Friends

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available

books-finding

Martha Beck teaches you how to navigate the ever changing landscape of your life.

www.wendypowell.ca

Everything Changes — Chapter 1

IMG_0500The most discreet and defining change in my life was about to happen shortly. My mother was very socially conscious and living in a wartime home was simply not good enough. She wanted to be looked up to, envied and seen as having it all. With this in mind, my parents set out to buy a new home.

The purchase of the appropriate home was essential to how they saw themselves, or at the very least how my mother saw herself. My mother’s family was farmers by spirit, but my grandfather had taken a factory job. I don’t know the details of when they left the farm or when they moved into the city, but I do know that they always managed to live well, despite food stamps and the recession. They always had an abundance of food and enough money to buy what they needed.

The way that this was explained to me was that certain allotments of food stamps were for cigarettes and alcohol. Since my grandparents did not partake of either of these, they would trade these stamps for baking ingredients; sugar and flour. My grandmother could bake. It is not adequate to say that she could bake really well, because that cannot possibly describe how her fudge would melt in your mouth, or how a mouthful of butter tart was so delicious that you simply could not speak while eating one. She gave out fudge for Halloween and I witnessed a man that had drove from a neighbouring city to visit her house on Halloween in order to receive a piece of her fudge. She sold these baked goods for a tidy profit.

My father’s family was city folk. His father was in the police force and his mother, his father’s second wife, was a schoolteacher and significantly younger than her husband. I still don’t know how many half cousins I have on my father’s side because there was an almost complete split between the two families. My father had not gone past grade twelve himself. Not because he was not capable, but because it was not necessary.

We lived in chemical valley where crude oil is converted into gasoline and other products. He was hired full time right out of high school and was doing very well financially. This had to be demonstrated to everyone by the type of home that we lived in, or so my mother felt.

We visited these gorgeous places. I remember running around the schoolyard describing beautiful homes to my friends. I had to tell everyone. There were patio doors that looked out onto landscaped back yards, there were pools, there were large rec rooms and finished basements. The possibilities seemed endless. We were moving out of our old home, that was heated with a stove that sat in one corner of a livingroom, into places with central heat. I didn’t know what central heat meant but it sounded exciting to me.

The visits to the homes for sale went on long enough that my friends started to not want to hear about it anymore. Lost in the excitement of the move, I had totally missed the fact that I would be leaving most of these friends, to never see them again, or only see them in passing. That did not concern me very much.

When new students came to our school, they were celebrities. Everyone would flock around them to try to get to know them first. They were coveted potential new friends and everyone wanted to meet them. I assumed it was like this at all schools.

The conflict between my parents was unseen by me, at the time. My father was a very practical man. I know that my father wanted a garage and that he wanted to deal with the issue in a logical way. My mother wanted some place extravagant. I don’t know if money was an issue. The house that was decided on, my father explained to me, was largely because the person selling the house would also buy our A-frame from us. This was practical and straightforward. It was important to my father that this detail be taken care of. I don’t know if this purchase preceded the ability to put an offer on a house conditional on the sale of your other house, but if it did, that would explain my father’s decision. To be stuck with two homes would be a problem for any family, at any time.

My mother was not happy with the house.

I was not happy either. It was terrible when I realized that I was losing all of my friends, my backyard, my maple tree, my large bedroom, my tree lined neighbourhood and my family as it turns out.

The new house was a three bedroom bungalow, situated on the corner of a very busy four lane road, in a newer part of town. It was a block from the school. My father had to back out into traffic in order to get the car out of the driveway. There was no backyard because it was a corner lot and the large two-story double car garage took up most of the yard and blocked out any sun that may have entered the small sliver of lawn. There was no room for a pool, or a garden and there were certainly no trees of mention.

Vicki and I flipped a coin for the large bedroom and I lost. The room that I was now in was so small that my bed needed to be replaced with a single bed because there was not enough room for the old one. The basement had been divided into several small rooms, so even though it had a rec room, it was not much of a room. It was also uninviting in a way that some basements are.

So, in the summer of 1971, I found myself a freshly minted nine year old that did not have any friends, any backyard and no place to spread my toys out to play. To top it off, my cat did not make the trip. I heard that there was another nine year old girl on the block and I decided to go down and introduce myself. Now all I had was to go to the new school in September and see how that went.

Keep Reading: New Friends

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Martha Beck teaches you how to navigate the ever changing landscape of your life.

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