Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Look Into My Crystal Ball
One of the things that was hardest to leave in Toronto was our grape-vine covered back yard. Shockingly, the yard we managed to score here in Calgary is even more lovely to behold. First up, it's huge (Calgary's giant plots of land are largely responsible for the housing crisis going on here), but the former owners of the house really tried to make it special. There are little patches of flowers and shrubbery everywhere, a swing, a bench with vines growing over it, a little archway and a really charming shed at the back (which I'm sure Ruby will soon claim as her play house). In addition to the old piano and vintage organ (which are so awesome they're worth a post of their own) that the former owners left, we inherited a menagerie of lawn ornaments. While I was saddened/relieved to see that they'd taken the plywood cowboy silhouettes and life-size stone deer from the front yard, they left tons of stuff in the back: woodland creatures, tiny cherubs, birdhouses, a bubbling fountain, butterflies over the garage, a dinner bell, a sword in a stone (really), a stork, some painted pots, a rain barrel... and more I'm sure. So far the only thing we've gotten rid of was a Calgary Flames flag (we support our hometown team, but we don't need to advertise it), but we may also need to turf this giant purple crystal ball.
I kind of like the kitsch factor of the ball, but it does sit in a tiny mosquito bordello (i.e. gross standing water) and it's the first thing you see when you look out any window in the house. I do however have a soft spot for fortune telling gear: as legend tells it, my great-grandmother Kathleen Chorney worked out of the lobby of a prairie hotel under the name Madame Chorney. If my father tells it correctly (keep in mind, he is a well-known b.s.-er), her specialty was tea leaf reading. One day she read her own leaves and was shocked to learn that her husband, John Chorney, was close to death. Rather than warn him, she allegedly ran out and took out a huge life insurance policy. Time marched on and everything was fine until John found the policy tucked under their mattress and promptly shipped Kathleen off to live with their son (my grandfather) and his family. I recently found a picture of Kathleen arriving at my dad's childhood home -- she was a formidable woman, and from what I could tell, was wearing a raccoon coat.
That's all for now. There are more tales from the new neighbourhood to tell, but I'll get to them another day.