Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Joys & Annoys of Householding

Home Sweet Home  Umhmm
I used the word 'householding' (which is probably a neologism) because the word 'homemaking' has such a gender bias not to mention a 1950s June Cleaver ambience which is not what I want conveyed.

When Ed was setting up to make dinner Thursday evening (see not the least bit June Cleaverish our household) he discovered the sink was clogged.  Another first for our new house.  He had to put meal prep on hold and walk up to the store after Drano.  While he was gone I heated water in my electric teapot and poured it into the guck.  Once for each side.  And minutes after the second one the sinks drained.  But Ed still used the Drano as there was no way we could keep the hot water going long enough to be sure all grease was eliminated nor could we be sure it was only grease.

So dinner was two hours late that evening.  This was the latest of the snags we've encountered since moving in.  The kind of snags we weren't responsible for at his folks place.  Though he quite often did pitch in with the elbow grease or the driving or the know-how over there.

The experience had me thinking about all of the annoyances and comparing them to all the joys of having our own place again.  I though I'd share some of each.

First the annoys.

Don't mistake any of the following litany for whining. The joys still outweigh the annoys and I will not soon nor in this lifetime forget from whence we came.  The annoys of our new rental--our first in twelve years--were part of the package.  They were what made the deal doable for us.  The landlord is charging only what thee space rental costs him and no first, last and deposit to move in.  In return we are to take on some of the many, many issues the house has developed under the 'care' of past tenants.  Some of these are:

  • Cranky plumbing
  • Holes in the walls
  • Stained, dirty and scorched spots on the walls
  • Broken window blinds
  • Missing screens
  • Plugins that won't hold a plug or work intermittently.  That makes me nervous and I avoid using them at all tho Ed assure me there isn't a fire hazard
  • Not enough light anywhere except directly over the kitchen and bathroom sinks
  • A toilet that needs to think twice about complying with the command and clears its throat and swallows slow like an old man suffering from strep throat.  And you must hold his hand(le) until he's finished or he'll fall asleep on the job.
  • A hot water tank that is so small that I could not get a shower and shampoo without ending up rinsing my hair in cold water.  In the winter!!  We have partially fixed that with an energy saver shower head.  I can now get through the second rinse with at least warm water if I stay focused and on task.  No more leisurely showers letting hot water beat on sore muscles for awhile.  We hope to install one of those new heat on demand heaters in the future but not the near future.
  • The hot water hookup for the bathroom sink is defunct.  When we first moved in the landlord had been working on it and had it working--sorta--but the handle did not have a set off spot so you had to keep turning it back and forth to find the sweet spot where the water stopped flowing.  And even then you might come back later to find a thing trickle coming out.  While I was at my mom's this winter it quit altogether and Ed hasn't fixed it yet.  It is very annoying not to have hot water in the bathroom sink.
  • As for hot water in the kitchen sink there is the issue that it is so far from the tank that it takes forever for the pipes to heat and by the time the water is running hot enough to rinse the greasy rag you just wiped the stove with you have seconds before its temperature is declining.  Thank goodness for the dishwasher as I don't think we could run one let alone both sinks full of water to wash and rinse a meal's worth of dishes.
  • The floors aren't level.  And i don't mean there is a gentle slope in one direction.  I mean there are dips and rises all over the house that I need to navigate carefully to avoid falling are just getting a jarring by playing the pinball in the hall and doorways.
  • The steps off the front porch are uneven and the handrail is full of jagged slivers.  A lethal combination for someone with vision and balance issues.
  • The carpets in the living room, master bedroom and my office are nasty with stains that won't come out even with a powerful shampoo machine. Pet barfs, beverage spills, engine oil, are a few of the identifiable ones. A past tenant had been a mechanic and must have brought his work inside.  The last tenants had spent their last few months in here without electricity thus zero hot water and no vacuuming. 

  • Ed did the living room and bedroom while I was gone but left my office because it was full of my books and crafts and the book shelves.  A lot of stuff to move but not the issue for him.  It would have been an issue for me to come back to someone else's 'organization' of my stuff.   That's why I did the packing for the move and why I was doing the unpacking and placing of boxes and bags for later sorting and unpacking.  With my vision issues it is very frustrating to find something has been moved from where I left it or something placed on top or in front of it.
  • Speaking of no electricity.  Think what that implies for the refrigerator and freezer.  I never saw.  I only heard it described.  That was one of the tasks Ed took on Xmas weekend as soon as we had the key.  He deep cleaned the entire kitchen and bathroom.  One of the annoys but a brief one necessitating a one time fix.  Well that is true of many of these it is just that the fix for the fridge and other appliances and floors in the kitchen and bathroom was all about water cheap chemicals and elbow grease.  Something we could afford immediately.
  • One of the annoys isn't fixable or rather its part of the intended architecture and is only an issue for me because of my vision and balance issues.  Like the uneven flooring I will have to learn to navigate it.  It is the zigzag the hall makes just outside the bathroom where the laundry closet meets the hall.  When I come out of the bedroom or bathroom heading for the kitchen I am always running into the wall or corner where it zags: 
  •                            _____
  • bed____bath_____|        
  • I hope the format of that little illustration is preserved.  If it is then where you see the vertical line is the wall and corner I'm always banging into.  It is straight on from the bedroom door.  It is two steps left of the bathroom door.  Directly in front of the bathroom door is the dryer.  The back door which we'll use only in emergency is just past the dryer and the light from it's window messes with my eyes in the daytime.  The glare is worse than full dark.  Above the top horizontal line is the hallway going past Ed's office toward the kitchen.  I will eventually learn.  The school of hard knocks has an excellent curriculum.
  • The dryer in question was given to us by the landlord but its element doesn't work so we still have to do both the washing and drying over at the park laundromat.  An unpleasant place so I hear.  Ed used it while I was gone but we haven't been over since I got back.  That is supposed to be on the agenda for this weekend.
  • Another architectural design that creates problems we need to work around is the fact there are no ceiling fixtures in any of the rooms except the bathroom, kitchen and laundry closet.  And there is only one plugin that is worked by the light switches in each of the rooms dependent on lamps.  We still don't have enough lamps to suit me and in the living room and bedroom there isn't a place to set the table lamps and our only floor lamp still has no bulb as it uses the old mogul (fat based) bulbs.  And in the bedroom the plugin operated by the light switch is on the wall opposite the head of the bed where our lamps are.

Well that's enough for now.  I haven't even gotten to the yard, the sheds, the porch and the outside of the house (roof, siding, skirt) etc.

And in spite of all of that we are still loving it.  The joys are enumerable but a representative few are:

  • We can talk at any time of the day or night without fear of waking someone or being overheard when we don't want to be
  • We set meal times and menus
  • We can have the TV or boom box on any time and even cranked as long as its not enough to disturb the neighbors
  • We can have the TV off when we don't want it on.  And have on what we choose subject of course to negotiation between thee two of us.  You can not imagine how important that is if you've not lived for years in a small house with a hard of hearing person has control of the remote and has the TV from 9AM to 9PM and almost never stays on one channel until the end of the program.  So don't bother getting involved in it if you're not willing to live with a permanent cliffhanger
  • I'm not confined for most of the day and night to a 10X12 foot room with no place to be but on the bed
  • I have a room of my own for my creative projects
  • I can decide for myself how much light is enough in a room.  It is only a matter of time now not a matter of the preferences that by rights override my own
  • My eccentric sleep/wake 'schedule' is no ones business but my own.  (well Ed's too to an extent and he knows I'm always willing to comply with requests to be sure to be available for events)
  • Watching our Merlin living his joys: running free through the house with many windows to watch the birds and neighborhood animals from and lots of toys to loose and find and balls to chase and many places suitable for comfy naps

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