Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Decidedly Less Amity These Days

Either it's the weather and whatever dead thing is in the house is now an ice cube, or it's down to dust and the smell has finally gone away. Either way it's refreshing, quite literally, to be able to breathe again without the great stink. Even better is the fact there are no maggots raining from the ceiling. I saw that once in a movie back in my early teens. I can't remember the movie, just the fact it rained maggots from the ceiling. This would unquestionably cause me to take up residence in my car and sleep in my driveway. But fortunately the plaster is holding and it looks like things are improving after all.

My life is happily and decidedly maggot-rain free.

And speaking of weather, it turned this week from promise of spring to depths of winter. Ok, not quite the depths of. It only drops into the 20's at night and does break the freezing barrier in the afternoon. Just. Winter was far, far colder however you can't appreciate the swoons I perform when discussing the weather without a bit of dramatic verbiage. There are icicles outside. There is snow. There is repeated and determined plowing.

Between you, me, and the fence post I am so utterly thankful it's freezing right now.

Warm weather means the things in the walls will be breeding. Warm weather means we will have to figure out how to cool the house down when some windows don't work and only one room has screens. Warm weather means I have to mow the 1 acre lawn with only my electric hand push lawn mower with the 20 foot extension cord and I am thinking this is going to be highly entertaining for my neighbors.

Of course warm weather also means fresh fruit and vegetables. And cool cotton dresses. And family vacation. And ice cream on the porch. And barbecues. Maybe I can make this whole thing a win win scenario and just get a goat.

The new house I am buying has room for a goat. It isn't entirely a bad idea.

Maybe "I am buying" is a bit of an exaggeration, We don't have a mortgage, we don't have a signed contract, and technically the house is in escrow with someone one else. But we looked at the house for a whole hour and I have a rather extensive pinterest board dedicated to decorating it and I wrote lists, many lists, of things for and about the house. That makes it practically a done deal, right? I mean, all the legal stuff is just a technicality. I don't know why they just don't hand over the keys right now. I have plans. That may or may not include a goat.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

My Mother In Law is Coming

Normally these words trigger fear, resentment, or hostility in women. But not me. I love my mother-in-law. Really. I named my third kid after her.

She is probably the most low maintenance guest on the planet. She cleans up after herself, and does a bit more while she is at it. She eats everything I give her, even if she can't stand it. She brings gifts for the kids but these are kept to a minimum, usually homemade, and she runs any food treats by me first. She doesn't interfere or pry into our personal affairs and even though she is grandma, she still follows our house rules. She asks permission and doesn't assume. And pretty much anything we want to do, any place we want to go, she is first in line ready to go and enthusiastic the entire time.

She listens, she remembers important things, she genuinely cares. Hell, she has even read all three of my books even though English isn't her first language and I can be, well, verbose and archaic. She read them because I wrote them and I am important to her. It took her months.

I know. I am the luckiest person on the planet. I totally won the mother-in-law jackpot.

There is no but to this post, by the way. Don't bother looking for it. I am not going to say "she is nice, but" or "she is great, except" because I don't have to.

I am just here to brag that my mother-in-law is coming and even though my house is stinky and buggy and we don't have enough chairs to sit on in the living room she is going to find something to compliment and make me feel better and make the kids happy and take some pressure off on field trips because I won't be out numbered anymore. I might even get a date night with my husband while she is here. Fancy that.

My mother-in-law is coming. And I am happy.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Life in Amityville

I was trying really hard to not bash my current rental. Really hard. But the events of this past week have pretty much lead to me the fuck this noise point in my life. Have you seen a fully grown adult house centipede? Yeah. Unless you are currently in Australia this mofo is the scariest damn thing on the planet. And it's as big as my damn finger. Bugs should not be as big as body parts. This was the straw that broke the camel's back.

In the span of three months, there has been the excitement of:

  • Invasion of flies in the dead of winter
  • 4 wasps attacking me
  • 3 house centipedes plotting my death
  • 2 dead animals yet unknown decomposing in my walls and/or floors
  • 12 or so squirrels using the space outside my window as some lewd porn palace. At the same time.
  • 1 dead bat that required the services of 3 animal removal specialists and 2 state biologists and a request for me to keep the carcass in my fridge which I point blank refused to do 
  • 1 mystery thing that only eats bread and doughnut remains out of my garbage cans. It doesn't like the crust. 
  • The ceiling raining murky water on everything as the main sewage pipes burst. Twice.
  • 4 lovely mushrooms growing on my walls due to the sewage pipes bursting
  • Daily requirement to clean the plaster piles off the floor as debris falls nightly. Like snow. Only less pretty.
  • The sad discovery that some of my windows don't open and others won't close without an interpretive dance of a dying sloth
  • 566754483993377474783889993983848477 tiny black beetles that get into everything, even my hair. Yes, my hair. THEY WERE TOUCHING ME.
  • Random cracks appearing in walls, floors, ceilings, bricks, and even a solid marble brick but I am not to worry because houses shift like this all the time and it's ok don't panic your house isn't going to collapse even though it is at a very weird slant and the retaining wall was lowered by a foot and the front yard has been moving like a giant earthen glacier hell bent on making to to Florida by June.
  • I have no dishwasher, no microwave, and no toaster. Which doesn't matter anyway because the only counter space in my kitchen measures 2 foot by 3 foot and really, there isn't any room for them. Even if there was an electric outlet nearer than 8 feet away. As the crow flies. 
  • Assuming of course they work because over half the outlets in the house don't and of the ones that do, several cascade sparks and sizzle while they are in use. 

So, I want to move. I want to move yesterday. And we have a skin of our teeth chance of getting a mortgage because that's the life of someone recently moving to the states and having the credit history of an 18 year old high school graduate. So it's get a new rental or get lucky and buy a house but not until the current lease is up because, despite my brave face and silent tears, there is just no way we can afford double rent and are stuck here.

We found the house to buy, by the way. And a rental. The rental is amazing. Big, clean, bug free. It has major appliances and counter space. The village in which it nestles has an authentic Mexican restaurant and a Starbucks. The apartment comes with access to a community pool and 24 hour gym. The main park is huge and amazing. The town is easy to navigate, shaves 15 minutes of the Husband's commute, and is near a freeway allowing easy access to two major cities and an international airport.

The house on the other hand is in the middle of no where, well, a bit sad. And by sad I mean total fixer. Let me emphasize the total. No power, no heat, no kitchen, and no shower. The septic tank hasn't been inspected nor cleaned in over a decade and the well head leaks. There is something in the basement that looks like asbestos and the paint is so leaded I could probably hang pictures directly to the walls with a magnet. The floor slopes. The windows are broken. The roof leaks. It sits next to a dairy farm so it smells. The hand-painted plaque on the door says it was built in 1832 but frankly the layout suggests something much older. I am pretty sure there is a body in the floor of the basement. Possibly two.

And yet, that is the house I secretly hope we can have. For some reason, being in someone else's cracks and plaster dust and bugs and questionable pipe work is horrible. But being in my own is ok. I get to choose what I live with and what I fix. I get to choose how much of what I can take. I get to rip apart the damn wall and damn the plaster and deal with the damn mess and pay for the damn repair to get rid of that damn stinking, rotting animal because spending 2 weeks in perpetual nausea due to the smell, on two occasions, in a row, and it's not even April yet so it is bound to get worse as these things breed is not what I would choose.

I know I am not supposed to pray for things. And I don't. But man, how I wish it worked that way. Wouldn't it be awesome if I just clicked like and typed Amen in the comments and within 10 days we got the call and this time, in 60 days or so, I could type in the excited title ZOHMYGOSHWEBOUGHTAHOUSE? In the meantime I will be trying to put on a brave face and keeping the tears silent and counting, one by one, the days as they pass until our lease is up. And sweeping up piles of plaster, daily, as they drift in the corners like snow.

Friday, March 4, 2016

The Keeping Room

We are starting down the road to home ownership. I have no idea if this is even possible what with our being in the country not even two years yet. But we are going to give it the old college try. And if it's a bust then we lease again and try next year because really, in the grand scheme of things, we are together and I am pretty sure there was a law passed in this state banning ugly olive green carpet. All will be just fine.

Still, with optimism we visit Trulia and Zillow on a frequent and regular basis. Looking at houses with the husband online has opened some interesting possibilities. And some interesting conversations. Currently the conversation is about having an old house. I want old like Queen Anne old with turrets and towers and dumb-waiters and kitchen stairs and archways encrusted with wooden curlicues. Maybe even a ghost. A gray lady who haunts the rose beds. He wants older. Really old. Like pre-Revolutionary War old.

I am not a fan because this old usually means it has been done up in that horrendous "primitive" style with its I-am-pretty-sure-that-is-lead paint chips off flaking off everything, badly stenciled pineapples, and hinges don't work properly. Heavily distressed means unusable in my world. If I have a damn pie safe cluttering up my room I want to keep my damn pie safe in it. I don't want a dust catcher with eye-brow raising levels of toxicity. I absolutely firmly believe that no colonial woman in her right mind would have so much broken crap around her house. In a time before tetanus shots and penicillin and magic erasers and hot water on demand, that stuff was basically death waiting to happen. And if you had a beautiful piece of furniture that took great skill and ages to hand-craft, like hell are you going to let paint chip off of it and let the worms gnaw at the wood.

We can find the compromise. I mean, that's what the internet is for. Someone somewhere has had the same problem and already thoughtfully posted a solution. Usually with pictures. Isn't our modern world just grand? I could scour out the rust and chips and make it fresh and new. But then, with what we all consider quintessential primitive removed, what about a Colonial house would I really want? What is in it for me? The solution I found came in the form of a thing I have never heard of before: the Keeping Room.

Kitchens of pre-colonial errors contained a little nook nestled into one side or the other called the keeping room. What "keeping" is defined to be exactly is lost in our modern version of English. But I like to think in one instance it means "keeping company." A couch, a couple cushy chairs, a card table, a little informal lounge space for company to sit in while you have at it in the kitchen. On freezing nights the family would sleep in it "keeping warm" in an economical, and relatively safe, way since only the kitchen stove needed to be kept burning. It was used by children for "keeping busy" while playing, reading, working on needlework, or reciting lessons.

A keeping room is for keeping friends and family together, near the hearth, near the heart of the home. A huge glorious kitchen where food is slowly cooked and coffee is sipped and children play. A place of warmth and good smells and promise of full bellies. A place for business and noise and laughing and muddy shoes in the corner. A place that now has a place to be kept, to sit, to linger, to visit, to be part of the life of the home without being relegated to leaning up against a wall or standing in a doorway or loosing circulation in your lower extremities while you perch on a stool.

And just like that I must have a house with a keeping room.