My arsonist neighbours.

Oh my glob.

The neighbours are not okay.

Second and third-storey apartment suites are showing severe fire damage.

I don’t think this involved either Andrew or Holly, but the suite, where the fire started, was rented by the guy with the massive hair.

A pencil sketch of a gaunt old-looking man with massive, curly hair.

This fire was large enough to make the news, and it says that the occupant of the suite where the fire started and another were taken to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation and minor burns. Two cats were also rescued.

The fire happened while Yann and I were at work. I went climbing afterwards, so we didn’t get home until close to 9pm. At that point, the fire dept had long left, and it was too dark to see anything. The only thing that seemed off to me was the guy browsing his phone while sitting in a car in the alley between the building, henceforth known as The Black Lodge, and ours.

Halloween morning was when we got our first spook of the day. Yann noticed the charred voids before me, even though I had been up for a good hour before him. I had to do most of my investigation online at work: I found videos of the fire online, and it was no joke. The fire has scared me into getting renter’s insurance. If the tenant is found to be at fault, they’ll be on the hook for what looks to be $100,000 in damages.

This is something I’d expect in North Park, where I used to live. Actually, it’s something that has happened in North Park, as seen in this photo taken from my old place in 2006:

A tree is alight in a streetscape photo.

I now live in a picturesque area where horse-drawn carriage tours pass through in the summer. Perhaps the crime stats for my neighbourhood is concentrated on my street? Then again, the homes of the affluent burn equally well.

Last year, the building across from my workplace burned to the ground. Who am I to say that I’m not a harbinger of fires?

On our side of the alley, our building remains unburnt even after I’ve baked three and a half batches of gingerbread dough (21 cups of flour). We have a cliff-like gingerbread structure hanging out in the bedroom closet, as it’s the only catproof place where it fits. It’s incomplete as the deadline isn’t until the 18th, although I had to submit the details of my creation today. I put this off until the last minute because the form asked a bunch of frustratingly trite questions that I couldn’t take seriously. Eg.

Creation Title: I was about to go with Cliffy McClifface or Cliffy McCliffface, with the extra f. Yann did not approve. “Come on, you can come up with something better than that,” he said to someone whose domain name is Squaremeat.com. Luckily, Kristina has volunteered to help me decorate the already-stale cookies that I’ve fused. She was able to suggest a better title: The Cliffs of Insanity!

So, that’s what went on the form. It looks like I’m up against a bunch of she-Boomers who wear Christmas sweaters unironically. This crusty Millennial is ready to crush some Christmas spirit!

Another question was: What was your inspiration?

“All these poor children without houses in which to live.” (It’s a Habitat for Humanity contest.) But, no, I kept my cheekiness in check and instead recruited the help of a co-worker. He didn’t answer the question. Instead, he rambled about its symbolism.

“The house represents the dizzying heights of excess… Nah, the decadence that Western Society has achieved. The cliff, crumbling and time-worn represents the institutions that have degraded in the meantime. The house, therefore, cannot exist without the cliff!”

That was some stunning wordsmithery. It was too beautifully written to not use.

Next question: “what was the most challenging part”

“Evidently, taking these questions seriously.”

Ok, no, I didn’t go that far. However, I’ve decided that to make my gingerbread structure stand out by making it thoroughly ridiculous. I should make a giant octopus out of fondant to scale the… CLIFFS OF INSANITY!

We have so much gingerbread in the closet that the smell has permeated our clothes. I’m going to smell curiously festive for the rest of November.

Hey, it’s my birthday in three weeks. Do you know what that means? I’ll still be legally able to consume alcohol. Yet, it will also be my anniversary of abstaining from alcohol. As it turns out, 2020 was a fantastic year to give up drinking: I haven’t needed to decline any invitations to go out for drinks. I still feel obligated to tell people that I don’t drink anymore only because I realized alcohol was what was triggering my migraines. It wasn’t a decision made out of righteousness: I mean, I’m stoned as I type this.

I want hamburger earmuffs.

Back to the Black Lodge: while it was up in flames, I was assembling an ebike at work. It was one of those super-popular Rad Power cargo bikes that you can order online. The bike comes in a box containing smaller boxes containing even smaller boxes, all the way down to the ittiest bittiest boxes!

Ok, that would be silly. How about this:

Bilingual oven display with orange-brown grease stains along the bottom edge.

Congratulations! It’s a… greasy oven display? The bike, I could assemble. I was confident about installing the child seat. I wasn’t even thrown off by the “deflopilator” spring.

Printed label reads: Radwagon 4 Front Steering Spring with Cover (1x) Deflopilator Spring (1x) Cover Installation: Carefully stretch between mounts, apply cover. Warning: Wear Eye Protection when... (the last words is blocked out by my thumb.)
Dirty fingernails because I do honest work!

Installing an oven display on an ebike, however, is beyond my mechanic capabilities.

I also ended up questioning my abilities as a cyclist. There was a warning in the manual for the kid seat to not mount/dismount the bike by swinging one leg over the rear wheel:

I remembered this detail when mounting the bike, but not when I dismounted. Thusly, I nearly fell in the patch of sloping dirt in front of the shop, in a clear view of the more adept cyclists inside the shop. It’s all good: I didn’t get hurt nor kick a tyke in the face. And, I saw triumph with the installation of that deflopinator spring.

A trickster dressed as Trump jumped at me from behind a bush on Halloween night. Nice try: I was still in shock from the morning’s discovery. I was so lost in my thoughts that I didn’t react appropriately: I glanced over my shoulder blankly and kept walking as if everything were normal. I think this is how I need to approach the rest of 2020: carry on as if it were 2019.

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