Step Into my Day

August 21st, 2014

The story: How my house burned down

Hi everyone. I hope you’re having a wonderful summer. Monsieur and I spent a lovely two weeks in Europe… Istanbul and the Amalfi coast were incredible! So many beautiful places to see and exciting things to do. We got back late in the afternoon on Monday, exactly five weeks ago.

The next morning, I woke up extra early (oh, jet lag) and spent the day mostly unpacking. On Wednesday, I replaced my mom at work in the afternoon. That evening, like most days, my parents were out playing volleyball. My sister went out with her friends. Monsieur came over for supper and we drank red wine and talked about politics… And because I was still heavily jet-lagged, I went to bed extra early while he drove back home.

Then, at 3:45 AM, my house went on fire.

As some of you already know, we live in a semi-detached duplex, with tenants living on our second floor. That night, the daughter of the tenant fell asleep with the incense burning. The candle of the incense was left burning beside the bed, and the blanket must have touched the flame. Here is what happened next:

I’m not a heavy sleeper, so when I heard a loud bang on our door in the middle of the night, I was awake in a second. My mom was already at the door (another light sleeper).

“THERE’S FIRE !” said the upstairs girl in a broken voice.

“WHERE ?” screamed my mom.

“UPSTAIRS”.

At the word fire, I jumped out of my bed, grabbed a t-shirt from the floor, and while trying to put on jeans, I ran for the phone. I dialled 9-1-1, actually I dialed 514-911, and said: “We have a fire! XXXX street name”, at which point they transferred me to someone else, I repeated our address, and added “It’s really big, HURRY UP”. Ok, I heard and they hung up.

In the 20-30 seconds that I was on the phone, my mom awoke my dad (who was sleeping in the basement), and they both ran upstairs. My mom tried to stop the flames on the bed, my dad burst into the room, and ran to get a bucket of water from the bathroom. When he dumped the water on the bed, black fumes formed. Gasping for air, he ordered to open the window. As it was summer, other windows throughout the floor were opened, there was a solid air flow. As soon as he did that, a decorative ribbon that hung on the wall went in flames and perfume bottles started popping. My dad quickly ran out and returned with a fire extinguisher. The entire room was in flames. It was too late.

I had not climbed up the stairs to the second floor, but I stood in the corridor at our entrance door when I spoke with the 911 operator, watching the commotion upstairs. I remember seeing black smoke in the air, and my mom coughing heavily. All this happened in a matter of seconds.

My parents and the girl descended the staircase. “I already called”, I said. “Take what’s important” my dad yelled. I ran to my room and grabbed my laptop and my camera. My mom was in her bedroom, taking her purse and her passport. My sister, freshly awoken, had her passport and her computer in her hands. The two of us ran outside. I stood in the entrance path in front of our house with my sister and our tenant. Flames started coming out from the front of the building on the second floor. My parents were still inside.

If I had been calm and collected prior to this, (thank you adrenaline), here I completely lost it. I started screaming hysterically in Russian “GET OUT OF THE HOUSE”. I think I woke the whole street up. A few seconds later, they rushed outside. “The CAR!” my mom yelled. Our car was still in the driveway. Flames were coming out from the kitchen windows on the second floor, which gave out on the driveway. While my dad got in the car and re-parked somewhere down the street, my mom ran to wake up the neighbours. By unbelievable luck, the other side of our semi-detached was empty. On both floors.

I ordered my sister and the girl to go sit on a front yard further down the street. As they left, I called Monsieur. “Sweetie, my HOUSE is on FIRE.” I said. “What do you mean?” “The entire second floor of our house is on fire, the firemen are coming. We’re okay. I’ll keep calling you during the night”. It was 3:51 AM.

I hung up because the firemen arrived. And then the police. I told them everything that had happened. While the firemen were setting up, I watched, barefoot, as all the upstairs windows were falling out. My dad was sitting on the grass, taking in how the fruit of his ten years of hard work (renovating the building entirely), was disappearing under his eyes.

From then on, there was nothing we could do but wait. The Red Cross arrived, handing us out water and blankets. With my mom, I walked down the street in search of the Red Cross bus, when she said to me: “I think I have something on my leg.” She obviously hadn’t felt it in the stress of the moment, but her left leg was covered in burns, from the inner thigh down to the foot. There were burnt holes in her sport shorts.

A few minutes later, the firemen gave her and the tenant an oxygen mask because they had inhaled fumes, and covered up her burns. The ambulance arrived and took my mom and the tenant (who also had burns on her foot) to the hospital.

firepictures taken on my phone at 5:00 AM

By then, the fire was long extinct and, luckily, the flames had not reached our floor. But, we were told by the firemen to “expect lots of water damage”. My dad, sister and I were so anxious to see what had become of our floor. Frankly, I was expecting the worst. I imagined a pool of water with furniture swimming from room to room.

When the firemen finally allowed us in, around 6:00 AM, we found water dripping from almost every ceiling, a few centimeters of water on the floors (in some spots) but, for the most part, our furniture was intact. The firemen had pushed together most of the furniture in every room, and covered it in a thick black cloth that left (most of) the pieces dry.

I sat in the kitchen, and began texting my group of friends about everything that had happened. My hands were shaking as I was typing, and a part of me couldn’t grasp that it had really happened, but I knew deep down that our furniture, clothes and books were insignificant. By some unbelievable luck, we survived and were safe and alive. And that’s all that really mattered.

PART II is coming up with pictures, and what happened after the night.

Here’s a link from the news, if you’d like to see.

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June 23rd, 2014

Bathroom Makeover

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Over the weekend, my dad put the final touch to our bathroom makeover. We’ve had wonderful contractors on the project for the past month, and it’s finally finished! While the room is still freshly new and squeaky-clean, I decided to capture it on camera. Here are the pictures, if you’d like to see…

Before:

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We live in a typical semi-detached built in the early 1960s. And while all the other rooms have been renovated (throughout the 9 years we’ve been living here), this room was the last on the list.

The original tiles were black, pale yellow and pine green. And the old bathtub was made of enamel on cast iron (it’d be extra cold whenever I took a bath on those long Canadian Winter nights). It was definitely time for a change! And I’m thrilled with the result:

After:

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My parents coordinated the entire project (usually I’d pitch in the colours or the designs, but this time they were on their own) and they did a great job! My mom brought the soap/toothbrush set from a trip to Paris earlier this spring. And now we have a fancy heating towel rail. But the biggest surprise came from the rotating shelf – which turned out to be half storage, half full-length mirror. Score!

Now I can’t wait to lug in my 1483729 beauty products, light some candles and take a looong leisurely bath…

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June 19th, 2014

Burger de Ville

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Many times before I have passed by this Westminster location thinking “Damn it smells good” without ever stepping inside. Then, one day this spring, I decided to give the burger joint a go.

The small, modest restaurant is considered among the best in the city (ranking #1 in Urbanspoon’s Burger category). The family business prides itself on 100% Canadian beef used in the patties; “Always Fresh, Never Frozen!” is their motto. They hold three locations across town (St. Laurent, Jarry East being the other two).

The menu is small, with poutine, steaks and salads as options. They serve sodas and milkshakes but the endless free toppings section (think caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, harissa mayo amongst other things) is what really left me positively surprised.

I settled on Black & Blue – with bleu cheese, pepper crust and caramelized onions (and the standard lettuce and tomatoes). Monsieur picked the bacon + cheese with various toppings. They asked us the doneness of the patty, and three seconds later, the food was served.

My hamburger was delicious! (I sometimes catch myself daydreaming of its flavour combination). The bleu cheese added an unexpected pang, and the portion was just right. Side note: we shared a portion of fries and it was plenty. One interesting burger variation that my Mom would enjoy – the Mediterranean (with goat cheese, grilled veggies and black pepper mayo).

If you’re looking for an incredibly high-quality burger for a ridiculously small price, look no further. This place is the bomb.

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Burger de Ville on Urbanspoon

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