|Janice and Jim have moved to a new apartment just blocks from their old one on English Bay, but the ambience is worlds apart.|
When John and I bought our Dunbar house in the mid-1970s, I felt from the start that it suited us. Small and simple, with pretty wooden windows and a big green yard with apple trees, it seemed like a house we could grow old in. Mom and dad's last house suited them too. It was old and tiny, but there was a big garden for their green thumbs and a big garage for dad's workshop. Dad died four years after they bought it, but it was the favourite of all the houses they had lived in since they left the farm.
I thought of how we fit into our houses when I saw the new apartment John's cousin Janice and her husband Jim are living in now. It's almost the opposite of their previous place, a many-windowed apartment with a knockout view of English Bay, the ocean, the ships, the sunset and the seawall. It was, as Jim says, like living in a beach house; the ambience was endless summer holiday.
They loved it, but over the years, the noisy buskers, the tightrope walkers, the party-makers, the fireworks, the Sun run and other events that rolled continually past their windows began to grow old. The clincher was the single elevator that had been fancily renovated, but was constantly breaking down.
Their new place a few blocks away is like coming home from that summer holiday. It's simpler, older, quieter, with a peaceful view of Lost Lagoon and hardly any passersby. The elevators have faux wood instead of fancy mirrors, but there are two of them, and they work. The apartment is small, but it has far more storage, bigger bedrooms and a bigger balcony. Filled with Jim's books and Janice's artwork, it is cozy and comfortable.
The old apartment was a glitzier way of life, says Jim, but this feels more like home. Like our Dunbar house and mom and dad's last one, it suits them.
|Jim, an English professor who specializes in Aldous Huxley, managed to find room for many of his books in the hallway of the new place.|
|Jim in the living room with more books, some his own publications.|
|Janice always brightens her homes with her own colourful artwork.|
|Janice in the kitchen of the new place; it's small but functional.|
|The big selling point for the new place: two elevators instead of one, and they actually work. Notice the ashtray.|
|Janice and John in one of those plain but functioning elevators.|
|The new building has a big pool, which the previous one didn't. Janice and Jim use it often.|
|I loved the pool rules, which included "girls must wear caps." Very 1950s.|
|Another plus of the new place is an observation deck on the 26th floor, which offers an almost 360-degree view of the city. Here, Janice is looking out over Lost Lagoon.|
|Lost Lagoon, Stanley Park and the ocean from the observation deck.|
|Looking toward Stanley Park and the North Shore mountains from the observation deck.|
|Sunflowers, a fireplace, a sleepy cat (the little ornament). What could be more homey?|