Saturday, 17 December 2016


Feng Schadenfreude

This morning was much like other mornings. I sipped my coffee from a Beatles Apple Records mug. I perused the newspapers. The disc jockey on CKUA had gobbled acid with his breakfast oatmeal and was spinning some bizarre stuff, lame Holiday Inn cocktail lounge torch treatments of classic rockers. One of our tabbies had found his way into an enclosed space and was yowling at a blank wall. The other tore at its fur, scattering tufts on the carpet in the hall.

Out on the front porch grey cigarette smoke snaked and swirled away, hotter than the freezing air. Not much higher up, the moon, a pale smudge on fading navy paint behind muslin cloud curtains, hung frozen solid. Somebody somewhere fired up a motor; a lazy idiot using a machine for a sweepable skiff of snow, I thought; during the winter sound carries much as it does over water, sharply. Then the jackhammering began nearby in earnest. Nobody in their right mind busts up concrete in mid-December when it’s 20 below. I worried that a City crew was attempting to expose a compromised water main. Swell, a couple of days without running water. Great. I leaned over the railing and peered down our street.

Our very fine house is situated in what is now considered a desirable inner-city neighbourhood. The river valley, the University and hipper-than-thou Old Strathcona are all within walking distance. Downtown is across the North Saskatchewan River, a ten minute drive or train ride. The community is long established and its trees are described as old growth. Some folks with too much time on their hands are advocating for expensive and pretentious retro-decorative light standards and street signs. Some of us are quite content with the status quo.

Neighbourhoods like forests regenerate over time. Older homes are demolished and replaced by newer models with better insulation and more reliable and safer hidden working guts: PVC pipes, mandated smoke detectors and electrical wiring that doesn’t require hockey tape to function. Interior millwork reflects current d├ęcor trends and fashionable materials. Street life isn’t very different for the most part. Infills generally blend into our sloped roof bungalowscape once their new build sheen has been subjected to the wind and the weathering of a season since builders and owners tend to respect the existing character of the community. Generally.

There’s no accounting for taste. Three doors down and on the other side of the street the Borg have begun colonizing Edmonton: RESISTANCE IS FUTILE. Somebody postmodern and gauche has commissioned a black cube of a home complete with black windows. The architectural style is sort of Prairie-Brutalist, Nazi bunker with a second storey. It might look all right in a moon crater in a low budget sci-fi film. At least we don’t live in its shadow nor have to look upon it directly.

Our local devil’s radio suggests that there’s some feng shui involved with the design of the simple square – the steel and concrete fortress is worth a million alone, never mind the lot! For instance the front door is actually located on the side of the house to confuse floating evil which only manifests from one direction. There are whispers of a small exterior courtyard hidden within the confines of the cube, very feng shui though impractical in this climate (Where do you pile the snow even if you're shifting it with a gasoline blower?). Maybe grocery store tabloid astrological charts and Facebook memes of affirmation guide the construction and labour of sub-trades?

The jackhammer was working on the new neighbourhood blight. Cracking a surface poured mere weeks ago. Something was wrong, out of sync with the crass micro-universe. Expensive. Good. Now the noise didn’t seem so irritating. I smiled upon the misfortune of the strangers sullying my street. I do not ever want to get to know the Borg because I might actually like them; I will never be assimilated.


  1. Merry Christmas and please send on to Stats Guy as well. Hope all is good. Maybe we should go for some Christmas Cheer one time. Mom passed away this year so it has been tough and can't wait for a better New Year. mbd

  2. Christmas cheer is good, better times ahead.

    1. if you have time for Christmas Cheer in our between hockey