Wednesday, May 21, 2008

It Only FEELS Like We Made a Terrible, Terrible Mistake. Right?

When we arrived at our new (to us) home late last Saturday night, two things took primacy over my thoughts of falling into bed:

1. The trains don't just rumble on by us. Our street crosses the tracks a block away, so several warning blows of the whistle are in order. Every time. This is both startling and ear-splitting. Soon we discovered that it is not uncommon to go for a stretch of several hours with a train passing every 30 minutes.

2. The kitchen and pantry stink. Reek. Not quite as bad as when an animal dies under the house or in a water pipe and starts to decompose, but at least as bad as a leaky septic tank. Bad enough to cast a pall of despair over my heart as I crawled into my sleeping bag and tried to ignore the worry that I had moved not to an old, charming house, but to an old dump of a house that will smell bad forever and ever amen.

Sunday morning we had such a challenge trying to wrangle showers that I was completely convinced; renting this house was a very bad idea. There was not enough water pressure to keep the water diverted from the faucet to the shower head. Making the attempt resulted in a very loud keening noise that reverberated spectacularly around the room. We got clean after much effort and then set off for Newberg for the family celebration.

After Mother's Day brunch (which was quite nice, despite Nels embarrassing me) we came home and I scoured the kitchen while Shaun unloaded the moving truck. The necessity of doing this (surprise) made me very crabby. I expected to find the house clean, but the kitchen floor was dirty enough that it made me doubt how clean the rest of the kitchen was. I couldn't face the thought of moving our dishes and food in without making sure it was really and truly clean.

On Monday we finished unloading and returned the moving truck. By the evening it was obvious that both Willem and I were getting sick. By the next morning the gastro-intestinal nightmare was in full force. Also the water pressure finally wimped out enough that even a weak or noisy shower was out of the question. Sponge bath time. I felt very pioneering. And very annoyed.

I'm not really sure about the next few days, as being sick made me really sleepy and I took a lot of naps. I know I didn't cook and that I ate about a third of what I usually do. I know that the kitchen stink got worse and worse and that we realized that the upstairs also stunk to high heaven. Plus you all know how hot it got out here in the west. That didn't help the smell. One night I went to bed feeling bad for not making any progress on the unpacking (being sick), and I was thinking that we had just spent so much money and energy moving to a place that was stinky beyond what I thought I could handle, and I just cried.

On top of the sick and the smell, I was experiencing a bit of culture shock. On Monday Shaun had met the across-the-street neighbor, who gave him a jar of honey and told Shaun that a bunch of stolen cars had been found after being dumped in the ravine across the street from our house. And it wasn't the first time. This neighbor helped the police tow the cars out. Later we met our next-door neighbors, a police officer and a probation officer. They separately warned us about the first neighbor, citing the "bad company" he keeps. Too late! He already gave us honey!

On Thursday we still had no shower capability to speak of, and getting more than a few inches of water in the tub took an eternity. This was the day that Willem started throwing up. I finally got better by Friday, but he just got worse and worse. The property management company sent some plumbers out. They poked around but needed to turn off the water to really figure out the problem. They couldn't find the main. Shaun hadn't been able to find it either. They left, saying they'd have to call the city to find out where it was.

On Saturday morning there was water pressure like...a normal house! We all got showers. The kids got baths. We thought that perhaps the plumbers had gotten hold of the city and the problem was solved. Then...nothing. No water at all. There's a lot of construction going on around our house, so Shaun went out to take a look. He ran into another neighbor and told him what he was up to. And THAT's how we found out that our water is supplied by a well on someone else's property and that the pump had failed. The plumber they brought in did a temporary fix (resulting in our awesome showers) and then cut off the water to our house (they didn't know we were here relying on it) in an effort to keep the pressure up to the other two houses. Our property management company only would have had to look in their file to see that our house was on a well and not city water. I had even told them that the city told me they did not provide our water when I called to put service in our name.

So our water problem is being solved, but our house still stinks, and I have little confidence that our property managers will take it very seriously. We think there is a sewer line broken in the wall or something wonderful like that. That's what it smells like. At least it's not the WHOLE house. Mostly just the kitchen/pantry (bummer) and the upstairs landing and our bedroom. So, really, you could still visit us. If you're not afraid of a little train-related hearing loss.

On Sunday Willem had been laying around and hardly talking for two days. He wouldn't walk. When I had to carry him around he was deadweight. So to urgent care we went, leaving with a prescription for a really scary anti-nausea medication (we didn't end up giving it to him) and the realization that we were going to have to take him to a hospital for an IV if he didn't start keeping any fluids down within the next day. Oh...Nels also threw up everything HE ate on Sunday.

On Monday Shaun started his new job, and because God never gives us more than we can handle, both kids showed marked improvement. No one threw up. They ate. Shaun also got the low-down on our neighborhood from the receptionist at his work, who just happened to grow up across the street from our house. Even SHE warned us about the dodgy honey-giving neighbor!

In order to combat the blues brought on by the water problem, the stink, the noise, the kids being sick, and the worries over crime, I took a stroll around the yard. The lilacs had already bloomed and shriveled, which was sad, but the bug-eaten peony buds were the last straw. I didn't think the house was haunted. I only felt it might as well be.

If you want to hear a good story some time, the receptionist at Shaun's work can tell you about her childhood neighborhood's haunted house, where someone supposedly came to a bad end in a basement manhole.

Uh huh.

I miss Boise.


Hillary said...

Culver City is waiting for you!!!!!

shaun said...

I WILL post a counterpoint comment, a little later (I'm at work).

Gypmar said...

Before I get counterpointed into oblivion, let me add that I don't actually mind the train noise, the house doesn't smell quite as bad when the weather is cooler, and I'm very glad that the boys have seen their grandma three times already since we moved. It's just our choice of house that felt like a mistake, not the move to Vancouver in general.

DaveShack said...

Sorry about all that puking stuff.

And the smell, I was thinking that you could just start wearing a LOT more perfume and Shaun and the boys could start with cologne (it's never too early?), and it would all be really distracting and a different kind of annoying, and the kitchen stench would just sort of recede into unexercised memory.

And rain barrels on the roof!

And just come up here when it gets hot.

DaveShack said...

And Jerusalem cafe.

Gypmar said...

Yee haw. That Jerusalem Cafe link has made my day. Thanks, Dave!

Unknown said...

So sad! Want to come over for dinner next week? Nothing like having to cook in a kitchen that gives you sewagey thoughts. You can give me a call (714)469-1302.

Gretchen said...

Oh, bah humbug! So sorry to hear about the flu, stink, weird neighbor stuff. What a way to be welcomed! I'd take Ariana up on the offer and maybe there's something to David's idea of perfume. Actually maybe a few bottles of bleach and febreeze would help?

shaun said...

Well, Gypsy already counterpointed herself so I don't need to, except to emphasize a few very important points.

1. Yes, we've had a rough week. But, reread the last sentence in Gypsy's comment above - "not the move to Vancouver in general". Yes, this house has its problems. Many. But really, it's not THAT bad.

2. When you all visit you will - every one of you - enter the house, sniff around and go "what the heck were you talking about?!" The smells are being managed to a point where I didn't notice ANYTHING all that bad today. We've removed half the smell and the rest is manageable. Holy cow.

3. Because I am tired I don't have a third item, but a list with only two items is scarcely a list at all.

Good night.

Andrew said...

Boise misses you. If it makes you feel any better, there was a massive sewage spill here and everything smells like, yes, you guessed it, crap! Not really, but I hop it makes you feel better. Also, don't feel bad about teaching the boys "crap," because if you will remember, I nearly taught them a much, much worse version of the word. So. You will always be better than me.

Our new picture window cracked. Right across the middle.

Gypmar said...

Gretchen--great minds think alike. I have an upstairs AND a downstairs can of Febreze.

Ariana--you are too kind. I will call once I am good and sure that the boys have stopped vomiting. Nels took a few days off and then lost his dinner last night.

Andrew--Nuh UH. You'd better be kidding about that window. If only I had my Amanda visual cue--is she sitting behind you nodding gravely or is she shaking her head and rolling her eyes?

Anonymous said...

Keep your chins up kids, at least you don't live in Kuwait! I could go on and on about the explosions (controlled), porta pottys, porta showers, and porta laundry....


Andrew said...

nodding gravely, gravely

shaun said...

Rich, guess what we have just up the street....a German/Turkish Döner shop!!! And not a bad one, considering it's in Vancouver, WA, and they call them "toasted Cibatta sandwiches" (you can't really blame them though - who here would know what a döner was?).