Hello once again everyone, and welcome to another episode of Jeff rambles on about whatever he’s done in the last week. There are several things to cover this time around, so without further delay…
First, the headboard project, where quite a bit has happened. Last week I had pieced the final decorative parts together and hanging it was the next task. Here’s how that went:
It’s taken a lot to get to this point. The hanging was simpler than expected and the final assembly wasn’t too bad either. What took far more time than anticipated was cleaning up all the interactions between the wall and the bookcase / headboard.
As previously mentioned, the wall is not flat or straight. It wanders all over, and while the shelves are up against the sheetrock in some places they are 1/2" or more away from it in others. Those gaps were ugly and needed fixing. I packed the larger ones with foam backer rod and caulked over them all. It took two long sessions and five tubes of caulk.
On the plus side, I wore the fingerprint off my right forefinger while smoothing out all that caulk, so I can now begin a life of crime. I will be untraceable! Ha ha ha!
What remains is the rest of the cleanup and painting. Once the caulk is cured I need to remove any lumps I might have missed and prime a couple of final spots. Finally the walls behind the shelves will get painted the desired off-white (in eggshell sheen) and the shelves themselves will be painted the same colour but in semi-gloss. There’s another two or three days of work, minimum, before this is done. And then it has to cure for at least a week before we can put everything back on the shelves.
Somehow I managed to take a walk on a few of our local trails with a friend from art school. A neighbour (Hi Amy!) gave me directions to a local suspension bridge and we set off. Here are a few photos from that excursion:
The bridge crosses the Seymour River at the site of two previous bridges that were removed in the past. The tunnel was apparently for an old water line supplying the Vancouver area. We also visited Lizard Lake (not pictured, mostly a bog) and generally wandered in the woods.
It was great to spend time with a friend and chat about nothing in particular. Someday it will be normal to do that again, but it felt both really odd and strangely good this time out. It’s been a year since anything like that was common in my life, and I’ve missed it.
Musings on Community
A couple I know had a conversation in which they learned they had different expectations about the kind of community they might find in a condo tower vs. a neighbourhood of single family homes. She thought living in a tower would be a place of more community and have more things going on, while he thought a suburban neighbourhood would be better on those points. When this discussion was shared it was suggested my response should be included here. So here’s a highly edited and revised version of what I said:
My experience with various neighbourhoods leads to a single key point: you get out what you put in.
No matter where you live, if you don’t go out and interact with your neighbours you will find it dull and boring. If you seek out such interaction, though, the community will feel vibrant. But be aware that the definition of “neighbour” may not be as simple as those you physically live close to.
Here’s an example. In the first eight months in our new house in North Vancouver I have:
Met all of the immediately adjacent neighbours and a few farther out.
Found the local community association.
Volunteered to deliver newsletters for said association and done so once so far.
Agreed to do some trail maintenance with the association this summer.
Befriended the person who publishes the monthly email newsletter (Hi again Amy!) and contributed to it.
Adopted the street I live on for litter pickup.
Am working on additional volunteering opportunities.
In short, even in the presence of Covid I am meeting people and getting involved in a suburban neighbourhood despite the fact that we don’t have kids in the schools. (That’s the primary way people meet each other in suburbia in my experience. Well, that and church, but I’m not religious.)
Such opportunities probably exist in most neighbourhoods and condo towers, but you have to seek them out. I’ve seen neighbourhoods where people drive into their garage, close the door, and never come out of the homes except in their cars. No interaction with anyone, ever. Similarly, I imagine it’s entirely possible to be just as isolated in a condo tower, limiting your interactions with others to nods on the elevator. To avoid that — in either locale — the first step is to make even a minimal effort. Stop and chat, ask questions, find the community resources, and volunteer.
As I said, though, your “neighbourhood” might not be based on where you live. My wife tends to make her connections differently. She does know the immediate neighbours, but she invests most of her social time in the music groups she’s part of. They’re more geographically scattered and the pandemic stopped all group meetings, but she still has a weekly zoom rehearsal with one of them, and another will restart just as soon as they can.
You probably can find interesting things happening in any neighbourhood except a cemetery, but you have to go looking for them. They will not come to you. The default in modern society is to ignore those who appear to want to be ignored, and if you don’t come out of your house or condo — even virtually — you will never meet anyone. For me, volunteering is an interesting way to meet people and learn new things.
In the unlikely event that you cannot find what you want where you live, it can be created. That will take more effort, but can also be much more rewarding. Build the community you need, whatever it is: email list, community garden, neighbourhood watch group, weekly musical get together, or anything else. Pick something that interests you and get started. Talk to your neighbours, ask around, put up flyers if you need to, but find at least a couple of others who want to come along. We have far more in common than most people think. Others will be interested, and in the end you may find you’ve filled an important niche.
All that being said, I recognize that:
Covid has made physical meetings hard — if not impossible — and that continues to be the case.
Not everyone has time for this sort of thing.
The former we have to live with for now, but it will get better. As for the latter, if you’re that busy I hope you have a community of some kind associated with the things that keep you hopping. If not, some reassessment is probably called for. Can you get the community you need there, or should you make time for something else that is better for you? Food for thought.
Regardless of how you get there, though, community matters. It’s what binds us together and gets us through difficult times. It may be structured around different things, and interest will wax and wane, but it is the glue that makes a neighbourhood — be it physical or virtual — work in the end. In my opinion, the value I get from participating in my local community is well worth the effort I put out. I hope the same is true for you.
Finally, here are a few pictures of the canine members of the household, because some of my readers live for them:
That’s it for this week. I doubt the headboard will be done next week, but you never know. As for what takes its place in the project list, I honestly have no idea yet. I’ll figure something out.
Take care and stay well!