Return to Mildew Manor



Yes, after many a dallying and a wandering, the ego has finally, wearily, at last, landed. I’m home.

While I’ve been gone the patches of mildew have spread, stippling the interior walls of my living room with greyish patterns like poorly printed, ancient maps of archipelagos. And instead of wallpaper, I have vertical stripes of black threatening to break through the drywall every couple of feet, the mark of something moisture-based and imminent on the other side of that gyprock. When I walked through the place, spiders scattered like confetti in a backdraft. Something left small mammalian footprints on my chair.

And then there’s the mess.

The mess is such that it took me fully five minutes to realize I’d been broken into. It wasn’t till I walked into the living room and saw the suitcase that I most assuredly hadn’t left empty (it was nice of them to unpack me, even if they only put it on the sofa; hell, that’s all I ever do, myself) lying, as I said, empty, in the middle of the floor, patiently waiting to be filled with booty.

Oh, speaking of boots.Do you want to know what they took? Yes, you do; of course you do. Don’t be too proud to admit it now. We all want to know what losses other people have suffered, if only to reassure ourselves that we, at least, haven’t lost our hammered copper vase.

I lost my hammered copper vase. Shit, y’all know how I love me some hammered copper. They took my mercury glass Gazing Ball out of it, and then stuffed it and some assorted other stuff I don’t specifically remember from my bookcases because you know what? I have a lot of stuff in my bookcases although somewhat less than before, into a bag or something but not the suitcase because HEY the suitcase was still there. Aren’t you paying attention?

They lifted up about $700 worth of solid silver engraved cuffs, threw them on the floor, and grabbed all my junk jewelry that was underneath them. Unfortunately, they also got two of my actual silver bracelets: one made by a friend and the other my charm bracelet that I’d had since I was 10 or so. They may or may not have gotten the very fancy silver lace bracelet with a different monument on each panel that my mother got in Paris on her honeymoon.

They got every. single. pair. of. my. high. heeled. shoes.



Sheldon can't believe it either

Sheldon can’t believe it either

Not my patent leather cut-out open toed booties with the ribbon ties. No. Not them.

Dr Please

Dr Please

But yes. Yes. They got them.



AND my leopard print stilettos. Yes. REALLY. The leopard print stilettos.

Once I’d recovered (as if anyone ever could fully recover from that) and taken a quick spin around the rest of the place, I saw they’d grabbed pretty much every DVD I own, my late mother’s jewelry box, and, of all the perverse, bastardly things to steal, my Harry Potter books.

In hardcover.

Bad enough, but could be worse. Could have been a lot worse. I could have been home, for instance, which would have ended badly.



Well, I got myself calmed down, picked the suitcase up, and left to spend the night at a friend’s house. A few days later, I returned.

No-one had cleaned up in the meantime. Damn.

I did get one ego stroke, when a few very clued-in Anons suggested it was law enforcement or similar, grabbing the DVDs and leaving the good jewelry to make it look like a junkie. Unlikely, but if that is, in fact, the case, someone tell Officer Friendly I would like my charm bracelet back.

And the family silver.

Actually, it’s silver plate, not valuable, and about six mismatched patterns: Art Deco geometry, swirly flowers on curvy stems, all kinds of things. Two pearl-handled butter knives with curly, engraved blades that fascinated me when I was little. A long, serrated, ivory-handled knife, always warm to the touch. Four sets of sugar tongs and pincers. A couple of tea strainers. An absinthe spoon. Two pickle forks. Three baby spoons, one mine, and a baby fork with Little Red Ridinghood on one side and “Marguerite” on the other.

Marguerite was my Great-Uncle Ernie’s daughter, who died before she turned 25 of diabetes. That was before the Second World War. I always thought if I had a little girl I’d call her Marguerite, and now I almost feel as if I can’t.

Uncle Ernie used to come and take us to the zoo every Sunday. He was the kind of old man who is never not described as “kindly,” and had been the last person to drive a team of horses for Weston’s bakery, the foundation of the Weston billions. They retired him and the horses at the same time, but none of them wanted to be put out to pasture, and the customers raised such a stink that the company brought them all back to clop down the streets of Winnipeg for another ten years, until the horses really were beat and he was ready to settle into his shabby-genteel apartment downtown. It was where my parents kept the wedding presents that were too delicate to have in a house with two rambunctious little girls. After he died, his sisters got in there and we never saw those again either.

So. The silver.

Dear B&E Artiste: I would like it back.

And if you knew what I was capable of, you would want me to have it.

17 thoughts on “Return to Mildew Manor

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  2. I came back to an empty house, and when I opened the door there was a crash. Someone had propped a stool behind the front door. They had also left the sliding door to the patio opened. It had been jimmied.

    I have been on at the strata council to replace these aged doors with something more secure and energy efficient. They refuse and hold on to the huge surplus in the contingency fund like a security blanket.

    The thieves had been through the house pulling open every drawer and cupboard and tipping stuff everywhere. It took some considerable time to clean up. And establish that nearly everything was still there. Except a very small amount in small US bills left over from a visit to my son in New York.

    It almost felt insulting. Nothing that I had spent many years acquiring and holding on to has any street value. I probably couldn’t give it away, unless there is a museum of recent history that wants obsolete technology and no longer needed books, lps and cds. In fact in some cases I might have been better off if they had taken the stuff and I claimed on the contents insurance.

    And maybe I don’t actually need any of it any more.

  3. My sincerest sympathies. It blows when they get stuff that means so much to you but that probably doesn’t rate high on the Junkie Swag Exchange. I suspect that being bloody-minded, you’ll track down some of the stuff or get at least half a clue as to who did it. I highly recommend some kind of justice. It’s quite healing. (The two times I’ve been mugged I got up and chased the little bastards down the street like a Valkyrie. The look of WTF and even fear on their faces was most enjoyable.)

  4. Stephen I completely hear you on this. They got in via the patio door because the frame is warped and it doesn’t lock fully unless you fuss with it endlessly. And we’ve complained about it endlessly. Soon they’ll be doing building envelope work on that side of the building, meaning no doors or windows through the depths of winter, and no security either. Time to get a safe deposit box.

    Sarah, that sounds awesome. If I see anyone wearing my black suede wedgies, my patent booties, or my leopard print stilettos, I’m throwing that bitch under a bus (but only the torso, as blood is very difficult to get out of suede).

  5. I mourn the loss of your shoes and especially those small treasures (the bastards) but I am still chuckling over this post.

    All I can see is you rushing around the house with an anguished “pleasepleaseplease” then having that exact temper tantrum in a cloud of dust bunnies on the floor while the squirrels edge away nervously.

    Also, I now want the kicking and screaming thing on a tshirt to ad to all my other don’t f**k with me tshirts.

  6. The GIFness would be difficult to capture, but if I can manage it, I will.

    Originally I blanked out and thought they’d stolen a great deal more: my mind went instantly to the things that would hurt the most: my Hudson’s Bay point blanket, the oil painting made by our neighbor, my marabou stole. All were safe, as a calmer examination proved. They took the limited edition print of the DTES but they left the certificate for Best BC book for the book I contributed to.

  7. That sucks. Awhile ago we were robbed. The loss hurt us financially because it was goods we made for sale. Thankfully no personal items were stolen. Items with sentimental value or the wow factor like animal print stillettos — Harry Potter hardcovers — off with their heads!

    I’ve got to stop before my blood pressure soars. So sorry this happened to you.

  8. Thanks. I have so much I can’t even well recall what they took, which reminds me that I may not have needed it in the first place. I know what the thieves took from you was your livelihood. That is realer. I can always pick up more doodads at Value Village.

    I am fortunate in that I escaped the sense of violation that so many B&E victims experienced. I just feel angry. It’s just “stuff” to me, which is odd. I always thought I’d be a lot more “line in the sand” but for me that doesn’t even exist with my childhood charm bracelet. It only exists for my family silver. If I had the person who stole that in my power, I would happily lock them in a tank of acid until they had mere stumps of legs. Then I’d let them live, because nobody would believe I’d done that in my right mind.

  9. It is funny the things that are important to different people, isn’t it? Glad to hear your most special bits were still safe. I have a chest at home with my most treasured possesions in it packed after Black Saturday ’09 for a quick escape.

    If a thief was to go through it they would sneer at the junk, but the jumper my late nan knitted, the worn binoculars that travelled the country with my pop etc etc etc all of those things are more important than any other material things in the house.

    Leaving the cuffs and taking the junk just goes to show that your average thief could do with a quick course in jewellery evaluation. They might actually make some money rather than be disappointed at the pawnbroker yet again.

    Now I’m REALLY looking forward to the ‘I found some of my stuff’ post and the story of damage done to the one found holding the booty.

  10. Ha, unfortunately this was largely that, as I thought they’d snagged my oil painting and associated stuff. If I ever find the silver, there will be an EPIC post. And if I ever find the one responsible, I do not invite you to imagine the damage, as I will require plausible deniability, should it come to a coroner’s inquest.

  11. All of those things are among the coolest possessions I’ve ever heard of. How can I just be hearing about such awesomeness after it’s gone? This is like Firefly all over again.

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  13. Who takes someone’s shoes? They should get the death penalty! lol All jokes aside, I am sorry this happened to you. My best friend just had the same thing happen. She took matters into her own hands and visited the local pawn shops and easily discovered who did it. I must say criminals are not a very smart lot!

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