Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Fifteen Dollars and Thirteen Cents

I never wanted to be a landlord.  I grew up with my parents dealing with tenants and all the shenanigans that go with them.  My mother can tell you stories that would make your stomach turn and have you weeping for humanity.

Alas, I am a landlord.  When we bought our house 10 years ago, one of the deciding factors was that it had a basement apartment that we could rent out that would pretty much pay the mortgage. Having one tenant couldn't be that bad, right?  Mom and Dad had up to 36 at time.

For the most part our tenants haven't been too bad.  Sure one of the best ones we had required 2 months of cleaning and Hazmat suites when they moved out, but at least they had paid the rent on time and were friendly.  Others left too soon, and some not soon enough.  But only once have we had a tenant move out without paying their rent. 

I might have let it go.  

We knew they were moving, they just skipped out a month early, and to be honest, we were happy to see them go.  They didn't understand the concept that no smoking meant not smoking anything, not just cigarettes.  They were often late with their rent; they didn't shovel the driveway like they were supposed to, so the ice formed a damn and flooded into the apartment. One of the original people moved out and other friends moved in; in the end I think there were actually 4 people living there instead of 2.  It was hard to tell because there were always people coming and going. We lined up another tenant for when they had given notice and we were ready to move on.

Till I checked out the apartment.

They left behind bags of garbage. They left behind furniture that I had to pay to dispose of.  They broke most of the blinds.  They tried to wallpaper one wall, but didn't bother to measure and when it wouldn't stick properly they used thumb tacks to hold it up. They painted another wall, but only as high as they could reach from the ground.  They moved out and left the doors unlocked and never returned the keys.

After all of that and the general grief they had caused us over the past year, I decided to not let it go.  I would take them to small claims court, even though I thought I would never see a dime.  I knew that I would win; I had a signed lease that said I was in the right.  The problem is that if they don't offer to pay up right then and there in court, I would have to go through the hassle of hiring the sheriff and having their wages garnished.

Even then I might have let it go.

We served her with papers and went to court.  She showed up, all full of self-righteous indignation that we dared to think we were right and that she would have to pay us.  The court took one look at the lease and told her she was wrong.  An agreement was made for her to repay us over the next several months.  She was to contact us within a week to let us know her repayment plan.

She never contacted us.  I decided to not let it go.

We went to the sheriff, filed the paperwork and waited.  

And today, we finally got our first check!  $15.13  It's worth every penny!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Happy Birthday Grandma

My Grandma was born Winifred Thelma Westall on November 18, 1922.  Everyone calls her Winnie.

In October of 1941 she married my Grandpa, Abraham Joseph Roussy.  They had 4 children, 3 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.

Today she is celebrating her 93rd birthday.

Happy Birthday Grandma!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Liam and birthdays

Hilary's 40th birthday was spent sitting in an ER room with Liam while he went through his first migraine.  We were supposed to be sitting poolside at the hotel we had booked, but kids have the darnedest way of changing your plans.

My 45th birthday doesn't have the same pizazz as an ER trip. I just got to sit in the waiting room of our doctor's office so that this could be dealt with.

Last week while we were on vacation, Liam casually mentioned that his toe had mould on it.  Intrigued, I got up to check it out.  Yeah... that's not mould buddy.

After having already spent 3 hours of our vacation sitting in a walk-in clinic for his ear infection, I decided to attack the mould with peroxide and Polysporin till we got home.  He now has a 10 day course of antibiotics and ointment to try and clear it up.

Another birthday to remember.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Goodbye Elementary

We had a very busy and exciting day.  Fair, school picnic, a concert and Grade 6 graduation!  

This was Liam's last school fair.  Twice a year, for the past 9 years, we have attended a school fair where we got to see what Liam has been studying.  This semester they studied biomes. Liam's areas of study was mountains, with focus on Mount Everest and Snow Leopards.  He wrote a story about the two and Fair culminated in a book signing!

This year at the end of school picnic they had the grades 6-9 bands play for the crowds.  I had missed Liam's concert in February, so this was he first time I got to see him in action with the band.

After the concert, they gathered the graduating grade 6s all together and handed out their certificate.  Each kid then when through the line of their teachers and got a hug from each of them.

And with that, Liam has finished elementary school.  The adventures of Middle School will start in September.

Sunday, April 26, 2015


Even though there is STILL snow in our backyard, we decided to have burgers this weekend.  Not just any burgers, but homemade sliders, with homemade buns!  Hilary's Mum told us about a great potato burger bun recipe from Cook's Illustrated that she uses for burgers, so we gave it a go!

It's been a long time since we've made bread, but I think we are bitten with the baking bug again.

We had 3 different styles of sliders.

Bacon, cheddar and dill pickle.

Avocado and spicy Thai  pickle

Blue cheese and caramelized onions.

My favourite of the 3 was the Blue cheese and caramelized onions.  Hilary also made plain burgers for Liam.  When we were in the Dominican he was eating 4-6 sliders a day from the burger bar.  We didn't have a lot of hope that he would like them at home, but we thought we would give it a shot.  He scarfed both of his down in minutes and asked if next time we would make him 4!  You got it buddy!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


I have long struggled with the definition of "ancestor"

Webster's defines the word as "a person who was in someone's family in past times : one of the people from whom a person is descended".

As an adoptee this becomes a bit of a head scratcher. Are my adoptive parent's "people" my ancestors? They are my family. But so are my birth parents, and their people. Does ancestry imply a DNA connection? Or is it a weird bit of both?

There is a new show out (at least new to us) put on in part by They help famous people research their ancestors and you get to follow along on their journey to find out if Great-times-8 Grandma was an axe murder or the local librarian. (Hint, in the episode we watched, she was an axe murderer!)

There seem to be 2 types of people doing the research. Group 1 finds out some trait about one of their ancestors and immediately decides that this is why they have that same trait. "I'm musical because I share 1/100th of my DNA with someone who sang in the church choir 300 years ago" or "I'm a strong believer in human rights because my great-great-great grandfather helped out with the Underground Railroad." Group 2 doesn't attribute their own successes/failures, likes or dislikes to their long dead kin, they just think it's cool to find out the history of people.

I find these shows uncomfortable to watch, mainly because of group 1. Knowing that my adoptive Great-Great-Great Grandparent did XY or Z really has no bearing on my ability to do the same thing. But I doubt it matters if my biological Great-Great-Great Grandparent could do it either. Do I get my sense of humour from genetics or being surrounded by funny people as I grew up? What makes me like animals, music, reading or anything else? Am I the product of my ancestors, or am I just only me?

When I was 11, I became very interested in tracing my adoptive family tree and spent a lot of time working on a big chart, filling it out from found obits and family stories. Since my adoption was during the closed-era, I had very limited information regarding my birth family and I figured I would never be able to find out anything about them. My interest with my adoptive family's history was very much an attempt to be able to connect with the past, any past. It felt important to me at the time to be able to say that these were my people and this is where I came from.

When I was 13 my mother, grandmother and I travelled to England to meet my grandmother's cousin. The trip was steeped in history, visiting gravesites and castle grounds where "our" ancestors had worked (we didn’t stumble across any long lost royalty, just a couple of gardeners). About halfway through the trip, I had a complete breakdown one night before bed. "I" had no ancestors. I didn't have any people that I came from. These stories and this history wasn't mine.

One of the few things that my birth mother sent me after we were reunited was 20+ pages of her family tree. She and her daughter that she raised had worked on it together for a school project long ago. She thought that I would like to see where I came from. It was a bitter sweet gift. Finally after 30+ years of not knowing where I came from, I was holding it all in my hands. But it didn’t mean anything to me. They were just names and dates on a piece of paper, with my name and birthdate penciled in like an afterthought. I realized that I had no connection to any of these people, even if we did share our genetic makeup.

It’s very difficult sometimes to feel like I belong and have a connection to the past. Other times it feels like my history starts with me, that there isn’t anything that came before me. I think I will follow the advice of Ralph Nader “We must strive to become good ancestors.”

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


Whether you are 6 or 12 years old, checkers with Grandpa on Easter weekend is always fun!