Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Welcome to Pete's house of noise

I'm pretty sure I've never lived in a house that didn't make a lot of noise. 
SQUEAK FOR YOURSELF: Ikea wood is silent because
it's pining for the fjords.

Some people, I've heard, spend their lives in quiet buildings. 

In fact a few years ago, I was in a new house in Mississauga; the owners had just taken possession of the home so the lovely place was still under warranty. (Who knew?) 

One of the hardwood floors squeaked and the new owner told me he'd lodged a complaint with the developer who apparently said a repair person would be by to fix it sometime.  I never did follow up with the guy.

I wonder if he's like, calmer. Or maybe they have a happier marriage or something. I bet not.

Every building I've ever lived in has been really really noisy. Floors crackle and squeak, pipes whine and moan. When I walk by our piano and get up to where the  high notes are, some of the Hummel figures in the china cabinet rub against each other and rattle. The upstairs bathroom door grinds when it shuts and if you listen closely you can hear the living room light dimmer hum. 
a slender chance the writer took the photo only
because he thought of the pun. 

We've a high-efficiency furnace that competes with Iris the cat's purring and there's something else noisy in the basement that I think is a hot water heater, to which my brother Ed would say "why would you want a hot water heater? Isn't it cold water that needs heating?"

Our house is busy.

But none of those sounds are as important as the noise the stairs make. Almost all stairs not only make sound, they tell stories: Adventure tales that can get a person into or out of trouble.

Consider the one-and-a-half-storey home we dozen Carters lived in, in Sudbury, Ontario. I seem to recall there were 13 steps, all told, if you counted the top and/or bottom, joining the first floor to the second.

By the time I was 15, I knew that if you came home late and didn't want anybody to hear you go up to bed, you had to tread really softly on the first stair but then skip the second and third altogether and when you put your foot on step four, you had to just use your toe and stay to the right. One miss-put step and the ratfink stair would yell to everybody in the place: "It's really late and Pete's trying to sneak in to bed!" 
case to be made for stairs testifying in court. A stair case.

Those -- and the stairs in the old Toronto house where we've been living for the past 18 years -- were actually more polygraph than stairwell. 

And even after all the years of being in this century-old building, I have yet to master a silent ascent.

Full marks to our own three kids, Ewa, Ria and Michel--all in their 20s and living on their own now--for cracking the stairwell code in this joint early on.

I'm sure there were  nights (and early mornings) when my kids played those stairs like Tom Hanks did the giant keyboard in "Big" and therefore got away with lots of stuff I still don't want to know about.

Silent stairclimbing is a lifeskill worth honing.

Plus it's not just stairs.

About 30 minutes ago, I was telling my wife Helena that a certain home-repair contractor had made an appointment for a visit to our place (for a non-stair-related matter); and while I was sharing the information, I was on the move. 

I started the sentence in the living room but by the time I'd reached the actionable part of the story, I'd turned the corner into the front hall. 

When Helena asked when the appointment was, she got the following: "The guy on the phone said they'd be here on on Friday..."

Floorboards drowning me out:  "Squeak, rattle, squeak."
Helena: "What?" (As my pal Richard says, "Nobody warns you that so much of marriage is going to be, simply, yelling, from one room to the next, 'what?'".)

Me: "Sorry. The floor squeaked. Friday, June twelfth at eight a.m."

No harm done, right? 

At other times? That loquacious old hardwood saves my hide.

Two weeks ago, we took delivery of an assemble-yourself Ikea picnic table.

While putting Ikea furniture together is way easier than, like, building something from scratch, it's never either fun or rewarding. I'd rather mow the lawn. (Spoiler alert. I eventually got the assembly done, and with such finesse that I afterwards phoned my sister Charlene to brag: "Chuck I actually just assembled an Ikea picnic table and get this: There are no parts left over!" She didn't believe me.)

A few days after Ikea delivered the unassembled table, Helena mentioned that it'd be nice to get the damn thing together before the good weather.

As I responded, I was heading to the front door, so what I sort of mumbled was  "I'll start work on that table when..."

Floorboards: "..squeak rattle squeak squeak squeak."

Helena: "What?"

Me, quickly reassembling my answer: "I'll start work on that table when I get my shoes on!"   

I'm sitting at the Ikea table as I write this. I love my noisy house. 

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