Why Yes, My House IS the Color of a Sunburned Sphynx Cat

After a second epic trip to Winnipeg to try to nail down a house in under 7 days, we finally succeeded in finding a place to live.

One would think that all it took was enlisting an agent to help us, tour some places, make an offer, get the legals in place, move.


Ha, ha, ha!

We looked in outlying communities like Steinbach for new houses with big yards but a commute that Ancient One found undesirable. We looked in Selkirk. Stonewall. Stony Mountain. Lorette. Isle des Cheins. LaSalle. Niverville. Starbuck.

No dice.

We looked at new developments in planned communities in the southern part of the city/St. Vital: Island Lakes, Southlands, Royal Wood, Whytridge.

We were out bid by 9 people on one house, 12 on the other. Everything going for $35K + over the asking price, and embroiled in painful bidding wars where sellers were pandering to buyers who  were willing to accept the house before inspection and rejecting people who were wanting to put conditions on the sale. Stupid, dangerous, and not our speed.

The old man had his heart set on North River Heights, and it was looking grim. Same bidding wars, but with ancient heritage homes. Prestige, yes. Easy to obtain? No.

After accepting defeat and acknowledging that we would probably have to live in a cardboard box on Portage/Main when we arrived, we were pleased to stumble across something that would work for us. Great street, great part of River Heights. A little dash of history. Fantastic commute to the airport for The Old Man. Great commute to downtown for me when I go back to work. School a block walk from the house. Kids around the same age as ours living in the houses next to us, behind us and across from us.

Problem? The stupid house was built during an era when people were still riding pennyfarthings, and showing an ankle was scandalous. The electrical was done around the same time. The owners were having a hard time finding someone who wanted a house that required extensive electrical (removal of old Knob & Tube, replacement with current up-to-code wiring) and was poorly decorated. I don’t know what the people who were selling it were smoking when they picked out their interior colors, but it was clearly powerful shit. There are over 8 different paint colors throughout the home, and they just. do. not. jive.

The Old Man loathes the exterior color, which he calls “puke” and I call “sunburned Sphynx Cat”.

Attractive colour it ain’t.

After negotiating the electrical upgrade as part of our sale, having it inspected and appraised, we decided that the risk of buying this crusty old dame of a house (built in 1922 = older than my grandmother) was worth it based on property value retention, the excellent ‘hood we were getting into, and it’s proximity to fabulous shops and easy access to parks/bike trails on Wellington Crescent, leading to Assinaboine Park. It’s far enough away from the river that we don’t have to worry about it being swept away every winter/spring, but close enough that the river is a short walk on a nice day.

Did I mention that there is an apple tree? My kids are beside themselves with glee. They’ve been promised a tire swing. There are also raspberry canes, and a family of feral rabbits that feeds off the fallen fruit. Abundant grey squirrels.

The contractors, the home inspector and hubby are all awed by the screened-in, 3-season patio area. I’m less than enthused about the poorly laid out, badly decorated kitchen, and the teensy bathroom that is mostly still original. I’m flummoxed by the massive hot water rads in every room. I’m thrilled with the new roof, new windows and new gas fire place in the kitchen.

I’ve been joking about renting the basement out to people wanting to re-enact the Buffalo Bill scenes from Silence of the Lambs. I believe I may have told the realtor that if he didn’t rub lotion on his skin again, he’d get the hose. I do not wish to be left alone in the basement. Good news, friends and family! There is a guest room and bathroom in the basement! Yay! (You’ll rub lotion on your skin, or you’ll get the hose too.)


She’s not my dream house, but she’s in a dream location. My husband is over-joyed, and this is remarkable. The kids are sad to be leaving their friends in Chilliwack, but know that there are new friends to be made soon. The big girl is allegedly starting kindergarten in a French Immersion class, which is an option that was not available to me in Chilliwack.

I don’t think I’m going to stop feeling chest crushing sadness at having to leave Chilliwack. The Wack is beautiful, friendly and full of things I have yet to visit and explore. I wasn’t finished here! As I drive through the corn fields and gaze up at the mountains, tears run down my face. Every time I drive down the hill, I end up sobbing hysterically. I haven’t felt this kind of attachment/affection for any other communities (besides Kitimat, which doesn’t count) that I’ve lived in as an adult, and having to go without choice or free will still angers me. We’re in the throes of coordinating paperwork with lawyers and mortgage companies, and the stress that I feel is soul sucking.


Winnipeg is going to be an adventure. The people are welcoming and friendly. The food is great. There is so much culture and history for me to explore. We’ll make new friends. I’ll meet up with a few old ones. Maybe I’ll take up stalking Burton Cummings when I finally determine where he lives (the realtor says Tuxedo, but who knows?)

In the immortal words of Freddie Mercury “…inside my heart is breaking, my makeup may be flaking, but my smile still stays on. The show must go on!”


10 thoughts on “Why Yes, My House IS the Color of a Sunburned Sphynx Cat

  1. Oh, dear heart. 😦 *I’m* crying FOR you (but then, I have issues with moving because I did so much of it as a kid). I’m so glad you guys found a house, and am glad you’re looking at this as an adventure.


  2. You’re near Assinaboine Park, and are able to say that with a straight face? I’m impressed!
    The house sounds great, and I know it will look much better once you’ve repainted and redecorated (and remodeled the basement). Perhaps a nice Toasted Almond or “Shadowed Dove” instead of Sunburned Sphynx Cat.

  3. If your makeup is flaking, may I suggest one of the new stay-put formulations? They’ve made some real advances in the field of cosmetics.

    I’m sorry you’re moving. On the bright side, if we both get really motivated we could start walking and meet in the Soo in just a few short weeks.

  4. Pssstt…… River Heights is built on a swamp.

    However, good on ya. The heights is one of the nicer areas of the city, house looks nice and FI is a nice choice for school.

    And I don’t think Burton Cummings lives in Winnipeg anymore.

    • Thanks, Jillian! I’m hoping that the house will be more of a delight once we’re in and settled. For now, it’s daunting and challenging. I hope that you and Malcolm are enjoying your reintegration back into East Coast life! Lots of changes in 2010…

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