Ah, screw it. You're getting all my saved up posts today. Come back and read them slow if you want to, but that first one was just too bleak, and I'm not feeling that way at all today. I'm doing a little dance today. So you get the happy ones too, and just have to deal with the overload of posts.
Twilights are hard. I sit uncomfortably still, in between my daytime fixer-upper busy-ness and evening reading, confused and uncertain, fighting the urge to run away as fast as I can. I distract myself by calling everyone I ever knew, and running down my never-ending list of things to do with each one of them. Some twilight, I’ll find that my list has dwindled, and my legs have stoppped twitching.
Call in handyman or general contractor for a walk-through.
Besides the three windows that are cracked and need replacing before winter, I need someone to shave the door to the root cellar down, tear out the funky seventies “patterned” carpet in the bedroom, and look at replacing all the linoleum through the house, since it’s all bubbling and worn through. The overhang on the front porch is cracked and peeling, and the tin roofing over that threatens to fly away in a good breeze. When I first arrived it was bent in half, one side laying properly, the other reaching for the sky. Subsequent winds have folded it back even further, so that it is hanging off the side by one nail. God knows what else someone with a trained eye will find.
Call pest control.
Thankfully, it appears that the ten little hornets nests in the eaves of both houses are pretty much abandoned. Unfortunately, this is probably because they have all moved in to the monster nest behind the garage. There is also a doghouse nearby that seems to have a lot of flying visitors, but I’m not about to stick my head in there.
Talk fire chief into coming out.
I have bats, not birds, in my chimney. They are conscientious neighbors, they make just a few quiet squeaks when they are flying out at twilight, but I don’t really want to roast them the first time I build a fire, and isn’t guano highly flamable? I can just see the stove exploding the first time I light a match, and me covered in flaming guano. Even if it was clean, I have no idea how to use a wood burning stove. I’m hoping a friendly fireman will explain the dos and don’ts. (Do: use wood, not plastic. Don’t: pour gasoline on it if you’re cold.)
Okay, maybe not the entire bathroom, but not far from it. The bathroom is at the back of the house, so by the time I got there on my first walkthrough, I was a little… overwhelmed, and dazed already. I barely registered the spongy floor, before reaching automatically for the toilet handle. Well, it did still flush, anyway. It flushed all over the damn place. The bowl had cracked at some point, causing a slow leak where the bowl met the floor, and a fast forceful leak from everywhere else if you were dumb enough to try to flush it. This had been going on for long enough to rot completely the layer of plank sub-flooring under the linoleum, and a small piece of the flooring under the flooring. Strangely enough, the one thing I imagined adding to the house was a tile mosaic bathroom floor. So I’ll definitely get the chance to do that.
Replace water pump.
There are two houses on the property. The water and electricity had been left on in the Blue Castle, so when I first came in, I did have a trickle. After an hour of running everything, I still had a trickle. After a conversation with my sister and turning on the valves (Valves? What valves? I’m really new to this, okay?), I still only had a trickle. My neighbors had informed me that I have an artesian well (I heard “that’s good water” from no less than six people), so I called the well folks to come out and take a look. Having them come out gave me the added comfort of sending a strong, young man down into my creepy cellar to take a look.
I think I’ll take a little break from the list to tell you about my root cellar. The day after I found my secret door, the owner told me about there was a root cellar on the property, and I put two and two together. Now, you have to understand where I’m coming from here. California. California doesn’t have cellars. We barely have attics, for the most part. We’re very much a closet state. So for my entire life, basements and root cellars have only existed in movies and books. Mostly horror movies and books. No one goes into the cellar unless something really bad is going to happen; angry zombies or a tornado. You can understand that I wasn’t terribly thrilled when one of my neighbors came by and was able to shove open the door. We looked down the steep, cobweb cluttered stairs, into the pitch black, and decided to stay upstairs. I manhandled the door shut, knowing full well it may never be able to open again.
Just a couple days later it turned out I had to open it again, as that was where the house’s water pump was located. The well guy and I armed ourselves with flashlights and headed down. I let him go first. To clear the cobwebs and attract the zombies. You couldn’t make me do that job for anything. I would like to say that my spookiness disappeared when I saw how normal the cellar was, but that would be a baldfaced lie. The floor is uneven dirt, the cobwebs cover the entire basement, there’s just enough room to crouch or hunch, not to stand, there’s a fabulous old door lying on the ground, half rotted with spider sacs on it, there’s plastic cordoning off one section with a big raccoon or small zombie shaped torn hole, there’s pipes leading to old rusty cans, there’s a constant drip down one corner of the old, crumbly wall. And there’s far off dark corners that I never even looked in.
Oh, and the water pump is shot. It needs to be replaced. I actually went to Home Depot and thought about doing it myself. I think I maybe could do it. If the zombies don’t eat me first.
The well guy also took a look at the Little House. To do this, we crawled through the trap door in the bathroom, into a crawlspace. This one’s actually kinda cute! There’s a new looking sink, plastic covering the dirt floor, and not quite so many spiderwebs. It’s actually lit, and since the whole building was only built in ’95, everything looks nice and newish. I’ve been down there a few times on my own since then, with no fear of zombies. It’s comfy. The guy discovered that the pump’s jet had been pulled to drain the pipes, and in the pulling, had been stripped. We couldn’t test it since the electricity was still off, so he put it back in as well as he could, and told me to keep an eye on it.
Later that day I got the electricity on. Driven by the dream of having a toilet, I ran over and switched the water on. Boy, did it go on. I think every faucet and pipe in the house had been left on, in order to drain the pipes when they winterized the place. I shut it back off, mopped everything up, turned everything off, and tried again. This time, it seemed to work. I even flushed the toilet. Yay! A couple hours later, after dark, I came back, only to hear the pump working in spurts, and the sound of water coming from under the house. Shoot. I assumed the jet had popped out, and shut it off again. Well, I had a toilet for a second, anyway.
The next morning, I poked my head down into the crawlspace. Strangely, everything looked pretty good. There weren’t any big pools of water, and the jet appeared to be in place. I tried again. Again, everything sounded good for a while. An hour later, I heard the pump working and the water pouring, so I jumped down to explore. Turns out the pump wasn’t the only thing down in the crawlspace. The water heater was as well. One quick turn of a handle, and all my problems were fixed. For now. In that one area. But I’ll take what I can get.
Okay, back to the list. Wait a minute, is that it? What am I forgetting? That can’t be it! I have to finish cleaning and furnishing, but that’s minor. I must be forgetting something. Well gosh, how about a list of what I’ve done.
Chopped chin-high weeds (actually, I hired that out, but it’s done, anyway)
Bought new toilet (just have to replace the floor first)
Massive cleaning (although massive cleaning still remains)
Filled 20 yard dumpster with crap last tenants left
Set up phones, trash, electricity, water, po box, bank account
Visited my Community Church, 2 blocks away
Met half the town
Started some talk
Got a job
Bought a desk, chair, table, and tv
By the way, I’ve just been back out to the Little House, and it seems the pump isn’t working quite as it should. When it’s pumping, it goes on and off in intervals of a second. I don’t think that’s normal. Plus, after an 8 minute shower, the water shuts off. Needs work, but definitely liveable. I learned to shower quickly in Florida truck stops. I can flush; what more does a girl need!
Twilights aren’t so hard anymore. I’ve started training at the Motel, we’ll call it Great 7+1, just in case, and my shifts are either swings or midnights. Either way, at twilight I’m either out of the house or asleep.
On top of that, I’m just more comfortable. I’ve felt pretty comfy in both places for a while now; apart from the odd spider or two, nothing scares me anymore. And most of the spiders are curled up and smooshy. Man, those Raid bombs do a number on them. I can’t help but feel a little sad for them. Especially for the really tough bugs, the beetles and the little buggy things I have a sneaking suspicion are roaches. They’re too tough to kill, but they do stagger out of their hiding spots and do some serious twitching. What a way to go. But go they must; I’m not that in tune with nature, sorry.
Yesterday was another big shopping trip to Missoula, and as a result, this place is feeling more and more like home. I moved most of my furniture to the Little House, and it just looks so damn cute. The sun comes in from the big sliding glass doors and settles on my big comfy reddish chair with the blue afghan Rachael crocheted for me thrown over it. That’s my knitting chair. Next to it is the cheapo but attractive end table I assembled myself, with the popsicle stick lamp I found at Goodwill, and the textured paper and flowers lampshade. My good ole futon sections off the sinkroom (I can’t really call it a kitchen) from the rest of the house, and in the opposite corner, I have my desk arranged so that if I look up, I see my comfy chair with the Mountain in the background. The TV is hidden in the closet, just in case I go nuts during the winter. Till then, there it shall stay.
The Blue Castle… well, it’s still a mess. One thing at a time. Yesterday I was feeling pretty damn gung-ho, so I tackled the bathroom. I’m extremely proud. It looks like a tornado hit, but it was just me. The sink made me sweat a bit, but it came out logically, and the top layer of linoleum came up as easy as pie. Most of the subfloor underneath came up easily as well, since it had been so wet for so long and had turned into sawdust. The dry stuff took some more sweat and wrestling with a crow bar, but I got it out. The real problems came when I tried to take out the nails from the subfloor. In the spots with the most damage, around the sink and toilet, three or four layers of old linoleum came up too, as well as bits of the real floor. There’s even one small hole that I think goes all the way to the cellar. I dropped a bit of wood down it and listened for it to hit bottom, like we used to do in the Japanese hospital caves in Saipan. At least it didn’t echo.
The damage is a wee bit more extensive than I expected. I still have to have someone come out and look at the windows and roof anyway, so I’ll just point him towards the bathroom as well. I guess it’s to be expected; that wood has probably been there, soaking up spills for the last sixty odd years.
I always wanted a really old house. A victorian, or an 1800’s manor house, or even better, a medieval castle. Considering the work that this not-quite-that-old house is going to take, I may have to revamp my dream house idea. Maybe a brand new house that looks really old. Faux mildew and moss stains on the exterior, interestingly mottled walls inside, secret rooms and strange architectural details that could have been the side effects of renovations, but are in fact cunningly designed by todays’ top people. Naw, that would just be cold. No matter how perfectly you ‘antique’ a new house, you can always tell whether it’s been lived in and loved or not. This one has. That makes me happy. It’s worth the sweat.
Speaking of… my break’s over. Gotta go bust a move on this big ole house.