Whew. Sorry for the silence, dear readers! The last couple of weeks have been absolutely loopy. Grab a cup of tea and join me on our latest adventures. As Don put it (tongue in cheek), we’ve had thrills! We’ve had chills! This has been an epic blockbuster seventeen years in the making!
Where to start…let’s see…okay, I’ll take you back to our chaotic attempts to locate a temporary place to live. We found a nice little rental in a city. The price is moderate, and it’s actually a rather sweet little 1926 bungalow. I’ve always had a soft spot for older homes. The house is built on a hillside, so it has a basement (with two bedrooms and outside access), a main floor, and a charming little attic with such steep ladder-like stairs that only a fool would use the upstairs room.
Best of all, it has a pantry in the basement! This solved a major problem, namely where to put all my canned food. For obvious reasons, these jars can’t be put into storage in winter.
These empty shelves just begged to be filled. So, load by load, I transported cases of canned food to the rental house.
As Don put it, it’s probably the first time this humble little basement pantry has been used for its intended purposes in years, possibly decades, and certainly during its tenure as a rental house. Here’s the first load on the shelves:
After many tiring trips, here’s the full pantry. The shelves aren’t as deep as my old canning closet, so many boxes are simply stacked on the floor. They’ll be fine over the winter.
Meanwhile, I had to clean out my own canning closet for the new owners. I wiped down the accumulated dust…
…and vacuumed everything. The new woman of the house is also an avid canner, so she needed this space to be hers.
We started moving furniture to the rental house as well, including my beloved antique hoosier. It comes apart into two pieces, but I removed the glass and taped the doors shut.
…and taped the bundle together. I’ll probably refrain from re-inserting the glass until such time as we move into our next home.
Meanwhile, Older Daughter also found a rental (an apartment, in her case). She’s been working and commuting to her job, a very long twice-a-day job which very quickly became unsustainable. This is her first apartment on her own and she was chafing at the bit to move into it (the lease started on Nov. 6).
Her apartment is a small one-bedroom place with a tiny galley kitchen, but it’s all hers. She went crazy and did a lot of furnishing, and the results were lovely. Below are before-and-after shots:
Living room (one view), before:
Living room (another view), before:
So Older Daughter is set while her parents embark on their own Adventures.
We continued packing our belongings and transporting them to the rental. One day as we stepped foot inside the old house, we were startled by how cold it was. As it turns out, the heating system had gone kaput. Naturally, this happened on a holiday (Veteran’s Day) so the property management office wasn’t open. We had to use their emergency number to inform them of this development.
It’s a good thing we hadn’t officially moved in yet, as an unheated house in the middle of November is a truly uncomfortable place. We had a number of repairmen who passed through, but the heat wasn’t fixed until the following Monday.
At one point, looking at the forest of vents that went into each room of the house, I quipped to the repairman how much easier woodstoves are. “You throw in a log, it heats the house,” I said.
He laughed and agreed, and said he too had a woodstove…and he was an expert in heating systems!
The next phase of our Adventure came last Sunday. Don had just gotten off the phone with the buyers, assuring them all was well and everything was on track. Our packing and moving was on schedule, and they would be able to take possession of the house the following Friday. As soon as he hung up, I asked, “Do you know why we don’t have any water pressure?” It’s the kind of question to bring a clutch of panic to any homeowner’s heart.
Suddenly we had no water. I was able to gather about a gallon and a half of water from the gasping faucet before it dribbled dry. We had nothing for washing clothes, doing dishes, mopping floors, taking showers, or flushing toilets. Whee! Are we having fun yet?
A frantic call to the well driller brought that good team out within two days (cha-ching), and they assured us it wasn’t the well pump (which was almost new) or the pressure tank. The driller speculated we had an underground leak somewhere. (Cha-ching.)
This was far from funny. Water pipes, especially on a farm, scatter to distant taps. How could we determine where a leak was without digging up the entire system? And why did this have to happen five days before the new owners took possession of the house? We’d lived here for 17 years without a problem! WHY NOW??
The driller suggested we bring out an expert in underground leaks, and recommended a fellow. He was able to come out and determine with impressive accuracy where the leak was (he had mega-sensitive listening equipment). Cha-ching. Then we had to bring out an excavator and pipe-fitter, who first looked over the project and gave us an estimate (as if it mattered; we needed it fixed), then finally on Saturday — one day after the buyers took possession of the house and a full week after the water went out — the job was done. Ch-ch-ch-ch-cha-ching!!
Then, as if this wasn’t enough, the buyers let us know the kitchen faucet wasn’t working, even though it, too, was fairly new. We promised to remove the faucet and replace it.
Meanwhile, while all these water woes were taking place at our old home, we were moving our possessions out and trying to clean the house without water. The buyers planned to move their possessions in before taking actual ownership, so we wanted to have the place as tidy as possible.
While Don was dealing with all the water woes, I moved into the rental a few days early because I had some online job commitments I needed to attend to. All this time, we had simply been piling our possessions into the house without any kind of sorting or order. The result looked like a hoarder home. This is what happens when you compress a 3600 sq. ft. home, a woodcraft business, and a farm into a 900 sq. ft. rental.
We were both filthy and exhausted, but at least the rental house had water. Unable to take the time to get clean, Don went back home while I stayed behind in the rental. As I unpacked and tried to find where to put things, I unwrapped my favorite wine glass and put it on a shelf, since I didn’t want to accidentally crush it. Somehow it seemed symbolic.
I was beyond desperate for a shower but realized I had a shower curtain, but no shower rings (and no car; Don of course took it with him). I rigged up “rings” using twist-ties on a few of the grommets. You know what they say about the Mother of Invention.
Then I felt guilty because I was clean while Don (who had returned home) was still filthy, but such was life.
At any rate, he got the house sorta buttoned up and turned over to the buyers, and was finally was able to join me at the rental. I celebrated by doing a load of laundry (the washing machine is located in the basement). And then — you’re gonna love this — Don went into the basement and reported it was flooded. Had the washing machine malfunctioned? No, it seemed fine. I ran some water in the kitchen sink, and he called up to me to turn off the water immediately. Evidently any and all water flowing through the pipes was burbling up through a downstairs drain. This, of course, was a Saturday night when the property management company was closed.
Oh well, we could make do until Monday…until suddenly Don said, “Go flush the toilet and see what happens.” I went upstairs, flushed the toilet — and the water came burbling up through the downstairs drain.
Not good. Really not good. At least at our old house, we could use the woods when nature called. Here in the city, they frown upon such things (except in Seattle). We called the property management company’s emergency number and reported the issue, and the poor woman was tasked with finding a plumber willing to come out late on a Saturday night. “How late can I call you?” she asked. We assured her she could call as late as needed. Midnight. One o’clock in the morning. We didn’t care.
So there we were, unable to wash clothes, do dishes, mop floors, take showers, or flush toilets. We had all the water we needed, but it had nowhere to drain out. Whee! Are we having fun yet?
The plumbers, bless them, were able to come early Sunday morning, and it took them about two hours to roto-root out the pipes of this old house. Apparently they do this about once a year for this particular house, the culprit being tiny tree roots that grow through the pipe (they showed Don a collection of the debris approaching a soccer ball in size). By the time they left, we were both in acute distress at the need to postpone answering the calls of nature.
So that’s what the last two weeks have been like. For the time being, we’re getting used to city life. As mentioned, our rental is on a small hill, so we have a nice view of the city below us. We’re getting used to the roar of trucks and the ineffable hum of urban life. There is also (cough cough) a superb used book store about a block away, which could become a deeply dangerous destination (ahem).
It also has a patch of vicious cactus nearby that looks oddly beautiful in the morning sun.
Meanwhile, poor Mr. Darcy is also getting used to city life. Our rental does not have an enclosed yard, so we’re leashing him up and walking him around a block or two several times a day. He’s a Nervous Nellie, overstimulated by the constant din of traffic and the clatter of a city, but — and this is Big News — it won’t be for long.
You see, we’ve found a place to buy! We made an offer, and it was accepted. I know — after all this trouble, we hardly move into the rental and we’re making plans to move out.
Our new home is not Perfect (it’s not a quaint log cabin in the woods), nor is the property ideal in every respect. But as should be abundantly obvious by now, Utopia doesn’t exist. The overall package (home + property) hits many of the marks of what we were looking for in terms of developing it into a self-sufficient homestead. And one of its greatest benefits is it’s far off the beaten track. Far off.
Ironically, I haven’t seen our new home yet. Don made plans to go see the property literally within hours of it being listed, but I had commitments that prevented me from going with him. However the virtual tour provided by the realtor was excellent and I was able to see the inside of the house with great clarity.. Don looked over the house and property with a fine-tooth comb and came away pleased, and I trust his judgment. Tentatively we close on this new place on or about December 18. We don’t anticipate moving in on that date — it may take the sellers some time to move out — and we have to remember conditions for moving aren’t ideal in the winter.
The new home is smaller than our old home by a fair margin, about 1400 sq. ft. total (vs. 3600 sq. ft.), but it’s adequate for our needs. It has not quite eight acres of property, and a huge barn (bigger than the house, about 1800 sq. ft.). While it’s located well off the beaten track, it’s not too distant from a town with a hospital. As I said, it hits many of the marks we were looking for.
So that, dear readers, is what life has been like over the last two weeks. If I sound scattered and distracted, it’s because I am. We’re still moving things from one place to another, still dealing with some last-minute repairs to our old house, and still trying to create order and calmness in our temporary rental house.
But it’s been an Adventure. And now that we have a place to look forward to, the next part of the Adventure is waiting to unfold.
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