Ilze Berzins

Silk threads of Plum Rain

Buttercup bright children

Mountains like large furry peaches…

This is the little bit I can remember of a poem I wrote while I traveled through Japan in 1980.

I intend to find the entire poem in the masses of clutter accumulated over the years. Only now do I realize what is important and what is not. My Kyoto poem is important. I will find it.

Below is a photo taken of me by a Japanese friend in Kyoto, the spring and summer of  1980.

Food was so expensive in Japan that there was no choice but to lose weight.

I’m not wearing a wig. This is (was) my natural colour.

Yukimasa Myagishi, my Japanese friend, designed the kimono I’m wearing. He told me that no one before me had ever worn his kimono.

To please her son, his mother wrapped me up in it, tying down the fabric with a bright yellow obi.

There is a long, very romantic story behind this kimono photo shoot.

It’s wonderful to remember.  

And to keep private.

1980 I hardly recognize myself

The American artist Christo became famous wrapping up buildings.

He didn’t need to draw or paint or sculpt. He just wrapped.

So I’m taking a page out of his book.

I will WRAP my little dream house, become famous, and live happily ever after.

WARNING: Just another boring real estate post. Nothing Parisian about my life these days.


Yes, that’s a big word. If I remember right, at one point in official politics, the implementation of multiculturalism became a no-no.

But who am I to remember what particular stance was taken by what particular political group?

This is still a real estate story, all be it with a multicultural angle.

I have before my eyes the lovely realtor who ate up my time today. I did meet her, fleetingly, as she was showing my home to a buyer. I could not help but remark on her superb head-dress. She appeared to be a female version of a Sufi Whirling Dervish.

The difficulty is that I’m not able to pick up on the subtle ticks, as it were, the signals sent non-verbally from one culture to another. I feel at a disadvantage, like a ‘fish’ (is that the word for a loser poker player?).

WARNING: This post will take you away from the enchantment of Paris to the netherworld of Ottawa Real Estate practice. It is not suitable for the faint-hearted.

As you know,

I have decided to sell my house on my own. No agents. But try as ya may ya ain’t rid of em.

Just today I received e-mail from a lovely real estate lady who asked me if I was related to Andre Berzins.

Now, what has that got to do with the price of tea in China, so to speak?

I guess it’s manipulation, sucking up, getting on my right side. If she only knew what I think of my brother! 

But since I’m committed to documenting this real estate experience, blow by blow, I feel that every little bit adds to the great big awful picture.

And here is another little bit:

The real estate lovely who e-mailed me today is a Social Worker AND a Lawyer.

And since this post is about family, I must add that my brother is a lawyer and my sister-in-law is a social worker.

But to be both!!!

And to wind up as a real estate agent!

This is a Canadian tragedy!

So you would think.

But I’m still getting e-mails from this social worker/lawyer/real estate agent.

She’s angry. Aren’t they all?

You’d think selling real estate was a testosterone-induced game.

Not so.

In my experience, the vast majority of players are female.

Males seem to be called to real estate by default.

Just in the few weeks I’ve been involved with these folk I’ve heard one tale of woe after another.

When things went south in the .com biz, a number of guys were down on their luck. Temporarily. A few courses, an exam and presto! .com guys reinvented themselves.

Believe it or not, one fellow actually told my husband and me that he was called to real estate to help people.

 I much prefer my first ‘love’ as I cheerfully call him (we have made up) who said: “Your house is meat on the hook for me. I work for myself.”


WARNING!  This is not an art story. It’s a real estate story. A war story. Adult viewing only.


The ‘Salon des Refusés (Exhibition of Rejects)’ was held in Paris in 1863. 

In those days, all artists who wanted to make it, or who wanted to survive, had to exhibit a painting in the official Paris Salon. Many put their best foot forward, but many were rejected. Some of the rejected ones later became world famous. Like Manet and Whistler, for example.  

Then, one day, all these rejects got together. They weren’t going to take it any more. They rented a venue and hung their work. Their exhibit created quite a buzz in the staid old Paris of 1863.

But this is not a post about boring old art history.

This is a war story. A story of wallet to wallet combat in the true life real estate BIDDING WAR. It is also a story of my innovative SALON DES REFUSES, a venue  for the losers of this war.

And losers will be many. Only one buyer will win the war.

For the many losers I’m producing  a REAL EVENT — miles and eaons ahead of the same-old-same-old boring Open House gig where neighbours and phony friends traipse through a home making bitchy comments about the seller who’s bailing. “Good ridance”, they say with traces of mean-spirited envy.

This REAL EVENT (or you can be old fashioned and call it a Happening. Remember those?) like, say, Ozzfest, for example — or even like, maybe, Woodstock will be—-

Whoa! Leave Woodstock out of it. (That’s the Santa Carolina speaking again.)

O.K. Carrying on:

In the pre-sale portion of my SALON DES REFUSES/REAL EVENT, I will sell lottery tickets (much as CHEO does) and donate a % of the sale price of my home to the Royal Ottawa Hospital.

I might even be able to rope in Daniel Alfredsson (YOU KNOW WHO I AM) to be a spokesperson, along with maybe Marlene Cowpland or even Margaret Trudeau.

Move over Ozzie Osbourne. Hello BERZFEST!

Old Dogs and New Tricks:

Yip! Even an old dog can learn new tricks. Take me, for instance.

Hey! Not that I’m old or anything. Trust me. Still sometimes I feel the ol’ spunk flagging. If I were a guy, I’d say I can’t always get it up. Whatever.

 So here’s what I’m gonna do:


 The nice young couple last night (juvie Donald Trump/engineer and pretty thong girl) were brimming with excitement telling me about the BIDDING WARS.

I thought this was some sort of video game or something or the jousting matches they hold in England. But no. This was true life real estate instigated combat.

The couple had engaged in six such skirmishes. And lost.

But, at the same time, they seemed to be enjoying the whole phony setup.

Ah, the cocky assurance of youth…

 So thars the plan:

 Dress for success, stage a lavish wine and cheese OPEN HOUSE with live band and sexy wait staff AND LET THE SHOCK AND AWE BEGIN.

Finally something to write home about: A child-engineer and a thong.

Say what?

Incongruous as it sounds, this afternoon I was treated to a refreshing walk-in. (Yes, I’m still on about selling my house. Boring, boring,boring…)

The twosome wanting to see the house just blew in from Toronto.

On their Harley?

Well no, in their Jeep, I guess. At least this is what they parked in front of my house.  The guy: leather jacket, James Dean good looks; the lady: long very high-heeled black patent leather boots.

And then, when she bent down to remove the boots… Yeah… Thars right.

The thong! 

These girls! I don’t know… Whatever.

Still, I’m glad my husband wasn’t home.

Long story short: this was a refreshing breeze. Just two young people with cash to spend. My kind of people. I hope I hear from them again.

Oh tempus! Oh mores!

I think that’s Latin. I did study this useful language in high school and even at university.

Roughly translated it means OI VEH!

WARNING: you may find this post long and boring. It’s therapy for me.

Saturday dawned bright but windy. We had decided not to show the house for a few days to get over the Vulgarians and to spruce it up a bit. But somehow a lovely Middle Eastern lady managed to cajole me on the phone and we said:  OK, already. You seem to be really really interested and you sound like such a nice lady that we will show it to you since you are in such a great hurry and just LOVE the neighbourhood.

My husband had a premonition that things would turn out badly.

I didn’t feel anything, just rushed through my check-list: bed made, no dishes in sink, loo acceptable, dogs outside.

At noon they arrived.

Immediately I was enchanted by their little boy. I used to teach kids that age. My Saturday morning ages 4-6 group. This little fellow was particularly bright and so well behaved. My Laachuk too fell in love with him.

So we all traipsed upstairs and back downstairs and outside and back inside.

Spying a corner of one of my painting, Middle Eastern man exclaimed I LOVE THAT PAINTING. Fleetingly I wondered what he could love about it since it was mostly covered up by other stuff but whatever. I felt he should see the whole thing. I uncovered the painting and yes yes he LOVES it. He tells us he’s an architect. Hmm… Wife holds toddler and asks intelligent questions. High energy all around. Things are reaching a climax.

Yes! ‘Architect’ makes an oral offer on the house and adds MY OFFER INCLUDES THE PAINTING. WE WILL DISPLAY IT IN A PROMINENT PLACE. He looks quite self satisfied. He knows he has flattered me. What he doesn’t know is that this is my MOST PRECIOUS painting, stored in the basement simply because it is too large for the drawing room.

A slight pause ensues. Casually the ‘architect’ comments on a family pictures: “Is that your grandfather?”

At that, filled with the milk of human kindness, I leap up off the settee and hand him a copy of PORTRAIT OF A LATVIAN  BEAUTY.

(Big mistake. For the life of me I can’t figure out why giving one of my books as a gift brings me bad luck.  But it does.)

Goodbyes are said. Family leaves after being told we’d call.

We counter offer. Via e-mail. Then wait.

Knowing that these folk were in such a tremendous hurry to see the house, we telephone. No answer. No cellphone? Don’t architects carry cellphones?  I mean after they make an offer. Don’t they want to know where things are at? Then it occurs to us. Maybe these folk are out making oral offers all over the place.

A few hours later lovely lady e-mails telling me that they had NOT (her emphasis) made an offer. Had they meant to make an offer they would have done so in writing. So there!

What!? Gasp!

I look up architect on google. He’s not.

“OK, give me back my book,” I demand. My feelings are really hurt.

“Sorry, book was gift,” comes the reply.