What shall I do? I was standing at the door of the Roedde House Museum, perplexed. There was a notice on the door. It said that it opened at 1 p.m. and the opening time had already passed. So, I tried to open the door, but it did not budge. Then I found there was a small piece of paper on the door. It said “Ring the bell if you need anything.” Oh, I see! But…where is the bell? First I could not find the door bell. Is this the bell? A gold colored key-looking thing was poking out from a keyhole-looking hole in the lower part of the door. I tried to turn it.
Tinkle-tinkle. Yes, it was the bell. I heard the soft footsteps of someone coming, and then the door opened finally. “Hello.” A tall man was standing in front of me smiling. He must have been the one I had seen through the window a few minutes ago. The Roedde House Museum was built in the late 1800s as a residence for the family of Gustav Roedde, a German immigrant and bookbinder. Actually, the city of Vancouver, the owner of the house, decided to demolish this building and to develop the area as a park in the mid 1970s. But some citizens took action against the development and the house was preserved and now the area is maintained as a park called Barclay Heritage Square.
Tinkle-tinkle. When the guide began explaining about the history of the house for me, the door bell rang behind us. He rolled his eyes and said “Excuse me,” and rushed to the door. There a short woman was standing with two little boys, who looked naughty. She told him that she was their teacher. The boys looked like each other. Probably they were brothers. They were about eight to ten years old. While their teacher was paying the admission fee, they started hunting around for something interesting. One of them picked a notebook up from the table. Of course, both of the notebook and the table are exhibits.
“No, no!” The teacher darted to him, “You must not touch anything!” In the meantime, the other one sat on a chair in the room. “No!” She said and tried to pull him off. The house which had been quiet several minutes ago became lively. “Oh, so sorry…” she apologized to the guide, who was standing with his eyes wide open. He blinked a few times and whispered, “Ah…that chair is…okay…but not the others…you know…the 19th century…”
Mr. and Mrs. Roedde had six children. But a daughter died from eating poisonous berries at the age of five. Another daughter was killed by a patient while she was working as a nurse… “Oh, my…” the teacher murmured at the guide’s explanation. The guide showed us around the house, which had not only possessions of the Roeddes but also many things from the 19th century. Of course, the boys ran around during the tour. Their teacher apologized to me, “I’m sorry for disrupting the tour.” Actually I was enjoying the extraordinary experience and said, “Oh, that’s okay. You know, I’m your third student. And they are my little brothers.” She chuckled and looked relieved saying “Oh, thank you for saying that.”
After the grand tour, the guide gave me the information card written in Japanese. “It looks Japanese for me…why don’t you look around at your pace? You can take photos.” At that moment the door bell rang again. “Take your time.” He smiled at me and rushed to the door. “Hello…” So, I started looking around in the house again. The teacher was asking the boys about the exhibits in front of them and giving them other questions. I was able to spend a relaxed afternoon at the museum.
It was past 2 o’clock. I felt hungry. So, I went to Robson Public Market, which was on the way to my hotel. The market was not colorful compared to the other one in Granville Island. There were few customers inside. Some booths were closed. I went upstairs. It was a food court, but only two booths were open. I looked around and caught the eye of the chef at Apple Deli. He smiled at me.
“Hmm…” I could not quickly decide what to eat.
“I highly recommend the smoke salmon and cream cheese sandwich,” he said.
“Actually, I had the same kind of sandwich on…on…a famous island this morning.”
“So, you had a smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich there…then…how about an avocado and bacon sandwich? It’s also delicious!”
“Okay, I’ll have one!”
I was waiting for my sandwich reading a free paper, when the chef brought the food to my table with a newspaper. “Here’s today’s paper. Enjoy.”
The avocado and bacon sandwich, vegetable soup and coffee. They were voluminous but cost just $8.50 or something. Of course, they were tasty! I enjoyed the meal, reading the newspaper, which filled blanks of my understanding of recent news. I cannot catch exactly what people are saying in English on TV. I thanked him and went back to my hotel to take a rest. I was going to go out again in the evening.
Around 6:30, I left my hotel and headed to Shangri-La Hotel. Actually, my final destination was not the hotel. It was an open space next to it, where there is the exhibition space of Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG), called “Offsite”.
There was an opening ceremony for new exhibits in the evening. People started gathering together when I arrived at the place, where some terracotta pots were perched on piled jute sandbags on the water. Then men in black costumes began serving some drinks and foods, and I got some. The open space became a party place. There the artist Babak Golkar, who is a Vancouver-based artist, appeared and the atmosphere was heated up. According to a curator of VAG, the exhibition was expressive of our fragile lives in the modern time or something… What do you think?