The wayward author has resurfaced!
This is by far my longest gap between postings, and mea culpa doesn’t cut it. I have lots of reasons that I consider valid, but when I am totally honest I can also admit that inertia played a role. Once I got away from my usual daily routines – writing, exercise, social media postings – and was forced by time constraints to stay away for a while…well, the more time that went by, the harder it seemed to be to get back to a daily schedule that required discipline, motivation, and energy – all of which flagged progressively as time went on.
So just what was the initial culprit that interfered with my usual routine?
Back in early October, we sold our beloved log home in the Adirondacks. The upkeep and my long commute (which I’ve whined about once or twice – or a dozen times here) and our desire to reduce expenses in preparation for my eventual retirement from my full time job left us no real choice. I had two high-speed accidents last summer, neither of which were my fault, but which left me with a gaping hole in my sense of security on the road. I couldn’t stop wondering how bad the next one would be. The cost and effort of upkeep of a log home proved to be more than we had anticipated when we built it. And the design and size meant high heating bills – not to mention being impractical as we aged. Anyway, we put the house on the market in April and it sold six months later.
At that point our packing and preparing began in earnest. I focused on the packing, while my husband did basic repairs and cosmetic fixes so our buyers wouldn’t have any reason to question their purchase decision. (Ah, if only the sellers of the house we bought had felt the same way…but that story will come later). It amazed me how much stuff we had. And when we selected a replacement house that was smaller, we knew we had to unload a lot. I joked about feeling like as soon as I emptied one square yard of space, more stuff grew there overnight. It felt like we’d never be ready to move – and indeed, we were packing right up to closing day and a bit beyond (fortunately our buyers allowed us to come back for some stuff the movers hadn’t taken).
Fast forward to moving day. In spite of increasingly frantic calls to lawyers and banks, the closing on the house we were purchasing was not coordinated with the closing on our old house. The sellers of the house we were buying were moving into a temporary living arrangement in a furnished apartment, so we began working on them to let us move into their house before the closing. We ignored the red flags, not the least of which was a comment by the seller about being advised by his attorney not to let us in before closing because of what we may discover about the house. How desperate were we that we didn’t take a few backward steps to find out exactly what that meant?
Anyway, we didn’t. All we were focused on was having a place to live after we had to leave the old house, preferably without having to pay to move twice (i.e. to an apartment or hotel first). We did try to pin him down on what the issues were that he was concerned about, and he made some general statement about older houses having warts that you don’t see until you live with them.
We knew there were a lot of cosmetic issues that we’d have to take care of, not the least of which were the drab gray and dark blue walls throughout this otherwise lovely home, and the trashed bedroom that had been inhabited by a teenager. We also knew from the periodic odor that they had sulfur water. Knowing nothing about that other than the unpleasant odor and taste, we simply budgeted for a water treatment system to handle it.
Alas, these were not the warts to which he referred.
Finally, he agreed to our moving in the day after the closing on our old house, and the new owners of our house agreed to our staying an extra day. The warts, which revealed themselves to be massive lesions, began to surface on Day One.
We woke, after our first night in our new home, to a very cold house. The furnace had died, and the arrival of a repair service resulted the news that the furnace was dead. We didn’t own the house, so we had no right (or responsibility) to replace the furnace. The seller stepped up to the plate and agreed to pay for it. During the course of the installation of a new furnace, we learned the extent of the damage that can be (and was) caused by sulfur water. Apparently – in addition to the smell and the chronically black/gray water – it oxidizes pipes and fixtures. Who knew???
In the interest of keeping this story to a reasonable length (are you still awake?), I’ll give you the Readers’ Digest Condensed version. So far we have had to replace the furnace, the water heater, all faucets and showerheads, most valves and shutoffs, and miles of pipes. We have had to scrub every salvageable surface touched by the water to remove the build-up of oxidized sulfur, which manifests as a gray to black film and in some cases pocked surfaces.
Needless to say we also had a water treatment system installed. A few days after installation (which was AFTER the closing and two weeks after we moved in), the new water treatment system warning light went on saying the well was running dry. We knew that wasn’t the case because the water table here is high and our back yard was a lake, so the assumption was the well pump was bad. Several hours later the very responsive well company, with heavy equipment and some digging, found a leak in the pipe running from the well to the house – eaten away by the sulfur – which accounted not only for the treatment system’s misinterpretation but also for the “bubbling spring” and mini-lake in the yard. The next day the plumber, who had already been here twice, finished replacing the fixtures and repairing the new leak under the master bath sink and in the washer drain.
I bought a kit to refinish the blackened and pocked white kitchen sink, but will have to replace that if the process doesn’t work.
Meanwhile, in week three of this adventure, our house electrical system kicked the bucket as it terminated the life of our clothes dryer. Remember the movie “The Money Pit?” Well, I think we may surpass that. It seems the former owner put the electric in himself, and nothing about it was up to code. On top of that, a family of mice fried themselves in the box in the basement AND one lone mouse in the box outside. Our wires are underground and we are responsible between the house and the pole, so it took five men twelve hours, working non-stop, to get both boxes replaced and wired properly so we’d have heat and water during that very frigid week. They also had to rewire the plugs for the major appliances, which were not 220. The head guy said we were a fire waiting to happen. All together (so far, and not counting the optional cosmetic stuff) we have spent close to $25,000.
Someone suggested we pursue the inspector, who should have picked up on the more serious issues. Alas, the contract for the inspection had so many disclaimers there was no hope of any help there.
My husband couldn’t understand how I was handling all of this so well. Hmmm. About four weeks into it all I was flattened by back spasms that kept me out of work and immobile for the better part of a week. Guess I wasn’t handling it as well as it appeared.
The night of the electrical crisis, my husband’s doctor called to tell him he has prostate cancer. Since then we’ve been talking with doctors and radiologists about the optimal treatment of his particularly aggressive form. Prostate cancer aggressiveness is rated on a scale of one to ten. He scored 8. So surgery and possibly radiation is in his (our) future.
It has been nearly two weeks now since the last major disaster (not counting the ongoing stress related to Den’s cancer). Little issues have cropped up that we could handle ourselves and there are lots of additional projects on the horizon.
Fortunately I still see the beauty of the house that appealed to me since we first viewed it, and its potential when we are past all this! In the past three weeks we have patched and painted most of the main floor and the stairway and one spare bedroom – and it looks fantastic – exactly as I had envisioned! Slowly we are hanging pictures and filling shelves with items that make this bright, attractive house very much our home.
But I think you might have a clue from this about why my blog and social media postings have been silent. Hopefully that – and my hiatus from writing – is coming to an end!