We are coming to the end of the house makeover. The floors were finished today, except for some painting of the baseboards. A few more little things to finish and I hope we can start moving the furniture back into place (and out of my office) this week.
Before we had white ceramic tile just over most of the area. It gave the house a very cold feeling, not the comfy and welcoming one that we wanted. The flooring is EcoTimber woven strand bamboo in amber. It’s tough stuff.
I plan to be back to the blogging world soon. Really.
So it looks like I unintentionally took the month of August off from blogging. I think I needed the break. But now, in a rambling order that will likely repeat some things some of you might have read on Facebook updates, I’ll let you know what’s been going on. Because I know you’ve been waiting to hear. Really. I could hear you whispering. But I’ll warn you right now this is long and you can feel free to skip.
It started with the garage. I really only planned to hire someone to rip out the old cabinets and finish off the sheet rock but then I took a look at the list of things that we were going to do "one of these days" and decided that one of these days was now. In the last month we have (with the help of the handyman, sheet rock guy, electrician, painter, plumbers, and the checkbook:
ripped out old cabinets in the garage
insulated and sheetrocked the garage
installed new shelves in the garage and then transferred all the junk from broken cardboard boxes to nice plastic storage containers
had track lighting installed in the library and in my office (each of which entailed a new electrical nightmare)
new ceiling fans in the library, my office, the bedroom and my husband’s office (more electrical nightmares for each of these)
new whole house fan installed (more electrical…well you get the idea. The electrical in this house was a mess.)
new recessed lighting in the living room, dining room, kitchen
new lighting that turns on when you walk in the room in the laundry room and the pantry
new lighting in the entry hall
moved/combined a total of 11 switches
installed a banister and post where there once was none
opened up the wall over the fridge for an over the fridge cabinet (still waiting for that to be built and installed)
repaired the sagging ceiling in the living room and the dining room due to poor installation from the previous owner
repaired/replaced a ton of sheet rock, floated new mud and texture over entry hall, dining room and living room
installed new window and door moldings throughout the house.
Each of those things meant making a lot decisions, where did I want the new light fixtures and what kind of light fixtures did I want and where did the switches need to go.
Going on right now is new copper piping throughout the house which means more holes in different pieces of sheet rock and more repairs.
Coming up next is the install of new faucets in the kitchen and the bathroom and I sure hope finding the right colors and styles was the worst of that but with this house I’ve learned anything is possible. And because of the new faucet in the bathroom the hardware on the cabinets needs to be replaced. Normally that would be easy but the cabinets have backplates and they are a large size which means there aren’t a lot to choose from and they are hard to find. I’d remove the backplates but then you’d see the holes in the cabinets and that’s not going to work for me.
Also going on right now is painting the entry hall, dining room, living room, kitchen two bathrooms, stairwell, hallways, an office, a work-out room and a bedroom. All that new molding and newly textured walls will need to be primed before getting painted. And all that paint meant a ton of decision-making over the various colors. In order to paint we need to empty and move two china cabinets and a bar filled with glassware.
Also coming up is the removal of all the ceramic tile in the entry hall, dining room and the kitchen. A LOT of tile. Think war-zone with all the dust. After that the wood floor will go down. And then I’ll likely collapse.
It’s not that it will be done but this phase will be. I hope it’s finished by Halloween. Please.
If I was able to do the light and breezy funny kind of updates I might have kept on blogging this month but as is my way, I feel everything deeply, even house renovations. And some people were worrying about me being so intense about it all so I just figured to keep it more to myself for a while. Because the intense stuff, well, that’s just who I am and it’s not likely to change. Everything I feel, I feel deeply. And that includes things like picking the right color of paint.
But I have been writing in the evenings once the house is quiet, working on the YA verse novel that has evolved from the poems I did about my father for National Poetry Month. It’s slow progress, but it’s progress. And I’m hosting Poetry Friday this week.
So yeah, I think I’m back.
I have been MIA from the online world for a while while we have had so many workers taking care of things around the house. While it’s nice to get things done, it’s very hard for this introvert to deal with having people here all the time. Hopefully the electrician only has a few more days of work, then it will be just me and the handyman and the painters I have yet to hire.
So for this Friday five, here are my favorite electrical things that have been done around the house these past few weeks.
1. All the lighting work in my office. Track lighting where there once was none has eliminated three lamps. The new ceiling fan does a great job moving the air around. And then there’s the rope lighting on the ledge in my office that delicately lights the word “IMAGINE.” Everything totally ups the “makes me happy to be in my office” factor, .
2. Additional track lighting in the library (got rid of yet another lamp) and another new ceiling fan.
3. Motion detector light in the laundry room/pantry that actually works with updated light fixtures that give off actual light.
4. The elimination/combination of way too many switches and dimmers into single switches. We used to have to turn on 3 switches to turn on each light in the living room. Now one light turns/dims them all. In the entry hall alone there were 9 switches in 3 different faceplate, each with 2/3 switches. Now there is a single 4 plate line of switches to take care of everything. On the other side of the room there were light switches behind the columns that have been moved and combined with the more easily accessible light switch at the end of the wall. So much cleaner. Well, except for the fact that there are holes in the sheetrock all over the place for the fishing/moving of wires.
5. The new lights in the kitchen. While I’m not a fan of the design of the lights, the function is superb. We have several slanted ceilings in the kitchen which look nice but the previous owners installed the recessed lighting on the angle effecting lighting the walls and not the actual kitchen. We installed new lights that telescope at a bit of an angle so the light actually points down, where it should. Loverly!
Okay, I thought I’d post the evolution of the creekbed, though it is not yet 100% it is closer to being done.
You can click through any photos to the larger pics or the full album.
Replaced the fence around the courtyard and started on the creek. It’s not deep enough yet.
Note the two drain pipes sticking up – they are the end of the downspouts which have been run under the courtyard and then underground so that the rainwater will go to the creek.
Saturday we spent all day reshaping the creekbed and placing the boulders.
What a difference! There is still more to do. The big rock at the top of the creek needs to go a bit more in the ground, as much as it can. There’s a pipe sleeve under there for my solar wires so it can’t go too deep. I’ll add some dirt around the front of it and then of course we need more plants!
Tired now. But happy.
A productive day.
Up early (not by choice, thank you Cassie) and I sorting through a stack of poems for a novel in verse that I had started two years ago. I have 32 poems but probably 1/3 of them don’t belong in this book. I am torn on the direction of the plot. I find that I have pieces of Hugging the Rock, piece of Plant Kid and piece of something else. It may turn out that none of those belong in the book and all I really have is one poem. Time will tell.
I’ve also sorted through the bulk of the poems I want to use in the juvenile hall poetry workshop that starts Monday. I am nervous. Nervous in the way that one who hasn’t taught or spoken for over a year often is. I realize the things I fear most are that my memory is going – I can’t pull things up from the recesses of my brain as fast as I used to. I’ll bring a big bag of tricks with me to fill the dead air.
At noon we headed outside to work in the yard. It was a lovely, sunny day here and we worked outside until the moon came up. The only thing, and I mean the ONLY thing we did, was work on reshaping the creekbed. Somehow when we added the rocks it sprawled wider than I had intended and ended up looking more like a flatened drainage ditch. Plus it was missing big rocks. I finally found some rocks on craigslist and today was the day of removing creekbed rocks, digging holes, and sinking the big rocks into the creekbed. A lot of artistic decisions went into the reshaping effort. It’s not all done but probably 90%. (It was too dark for taking pictures by the time we were done.) I still need to remove some more small rocks, add some pebbles to the center of the creek and then add more plants. Yes, MORE plants.
I’m so sore that all I can do is sit here on the couch and veg out in front of the tv but it is a good kind of sore from a hard day’s work.
I’m way behind on posting the variety of things we’ve done around the yard but as we are coming up on the end of the hardscaping, here are a few pictures.
First thing we did was the sideyard. This goes from the front courtyard to the backyard. When we bought the house a year and a half ago it looked like this. (For the record – that’s the junk from the previous owners, not us.)
When we moved in – a clean sideyard, standing in the backyard looking toward the courtyard.
After the cement was removed.
Planted with redtwig dogwoods and yerba buena. I’ve still got to get in there and replace the decomposed granite in-between the stones that I can’t stand to look at anymore. I’ll put in some soil and a lot more yerba buena. The dogwoods should grow up and over each other and give a nice archway. Once I have shade I can fill it in with more shade plants.
The house before we did anything. Okay, we did remove the fountain that you can see to the side of the garage. It had cherubs. Not quite our style.
A closer look at the front with the old fence and the Mayten tree that kept dropping giant branches in each storm. Note the large quantities of stone/concrete/non-peremable surfaces.
After the new paver driveway and paver courtyard.
Minus the Mayten tree and with a new fence. I LOVE the gate. Next up here is to finish digging the creek which will capture the water from the downspouts which has been piped out to it. Plus rearrange the mound so it looks natural and not like a burial mound. Not as easy as it sounds.
A corner of the backyard. More aggregate, a path that goes nowhere. Thirsty grass. Boring. Plants that have no wildlife value.
The sliding doors are to my office.
The path is gone. The grass was the next to go.
This weekend my husband finished laying the stone patio. Now I have to plant in-between everything.
Whew! Just looking at all this pictures again has me exhausted! Next weekend it’s shopping for boulders! Plus there’s a little matter of a light that comes up in the yard that we can’t figure out how to turn on. No switches in the house work it. No timer in the garage. No idea. And we’re not handy enough to figure one out on our own. Time to go looking for an electrician.
1. Even though it is my day off I was up at 6:30 to await the delivery of mountains of topsoil and compost and drain rock and path fines and 4 tons of Blue Stone for the path on the sideyard. It is now 8 am and I have the topsoil and the compost and nothing else. I won’t start to panic until the landscape guy is here with his crew of 5 and wondering what it is they are supposed to do.
2. I am also awaiting the sprinkler expert who is coming (between 7 and 7:30 but note above, it is now 8am and he isn’t here yet.) He is coming to repair the water pipe to the old sprinklers that was broken by the paver guys. The paver guys fixed it once and I woke up in the morning to a busted pipe and water gushing down the driveway. They fixed it again. It broke again, though we caught it before the gushing stage. Sprinkler expert guy said paver guys tried to glue PVC to copper pipe with PVC glue. Don’t try this at home. It doesn’t work. After sprinkler expert fixes this I will still be waiting for the hot California sun to dry out the saturated dirt so I can tell if there are any other leaks because right now there are giant wet spots in places I don’t think should be wet anymore.
3. There is a hole in the backyard 2 feet wide by 2 feet deep dug by the phone company 2 weeks ago in order to repair the underground phone line that had gone dead. This was the same underground phone line that when we called the “call before you dig” told us didn’t exist. It took a week for the phone company to come out and find the problem. Then they had to call a different guy to come dig the hole. Then a DIFFERENT guy had to come fix the problem in the hole. But he can’t put the dirt back in the hole. It have been almost 2 weeks since it has been fixed and there is still a giant pile of dirt next to the hole and big piece of plywood covering the hole. We’d put the dirt back ourselves but there’s that liability issue that I am sure would come back to bite us.
4. The pavers over the stamped concrete in the courtyard are cracking. We hope it is just from getting settled into their sand beds and being tapped too hard. They had to be hand tapped since they are only 1″ pavers over concrete (due to drainage issues that would be caused if we had used the standard ones because they would block water at the fence line. Today the courtyard will see a lot of activity (see #1) and I worry how they are going to hold up. Thankfully they have a lifetime warranty.
5. I am excited about the work that will be done today (though I don’t know how they are going to get it all done in one day. First thing they will do is put in a dry well. This is not my choice but needs to be done because we will be moving the two ACs into the back yard where they belong (hopefully come fall) which means tons of repiping of things that have to go right down that sideyard. And the city of San Jose wants a drywell for the condensation. Oddly enough the drywell has to be a 2 foot wide by 2 foot deep hole just like in #3. Alas, it has to be on the sideyard. After that they will install a bluestone path with red twig dogwoods lining it on either side. And an irrigation system for that area. And fill it with dirt and path fines and make it all pretty. In one day. I hope.
Note – it is 8:18 and no one else is here yet. I am not worrying. Really I am not. Not yet.
Last week with the shut-down from the day off and my normal Fridays off I ended up off work from 6/27 thru 7/7. I love love loved being away from work. I did not have to get up at 5am every day. I did, however, have to get up at 7 every day because of the work we had going on around the house. I am going to start a garden blog (as soon as I can decide whether to do it here on LJ or on Blogger) but until then here’s what’s been going on for the last couple of weeks.
This is our house. A normal house in the Silicon Valley with lots of houses all around. A very small yard. The front yard is made smaller because the previous owners fenced in half of it and made a courtyard which we love.
You will notice there is a lot of cement. The previous owners extended the driveway on either side, some with cement (a different color) and some with aggregate (a different color) none of which did much to compliment the house nor add any wildlife value. The also added cement to the parking strip area surrounding the Crepe Myrtle tree.
Our plan is to convert the entire yard, front and back, to California Native Plants with the intent of creating a habitat for any wildlife. We also hope to show people that they too, can use native plants and still have beautiful and inviting yards. If you want to see the rest of the small yard that we have to work with you can check out the album here.
The first thing we did last fall was replace the backyard fence that was falling apart. The expense of that pretty much stopped us from going any further since only 1 of the 4 neighbors paid their share of the “good neighbor” fence. Grrr. We also had the backyard cleared of everything except for one Japanese Maple. Though not native it is a big tree and does have some wildlife value.
This year we have big plans. We had the county water district out to measure the lawns in the front and the back because they are offering a nice rebate if you reduce/remove your lawns. Then we had a crew come in and begin the tough job of removing the back lawn. It was almost all the dreaded Bermuda grass. It is evil evil evil! Every little inch long scrap of it can reroot. They dug down, chopped it up and shook the dirt off the clods. We still have to rake it out and remove more roots and pieces. There is no way we got it all but we made a start and we will have to be diligent about digging out all the resprouts. We are using no chemicals in the yard so I really appreciate this crew’s hard work. There’s still the front to be done but it is a good start.
Next it was time to get rid of all that excess cement. I needed DIRT! First to go was the sideyard of wall-to-wall cement with serious drainage issues.
Much better! We have big plans for this space starting tomorrow!
The path to nowhere in the backyard had to go.
With the path gone I can start to see the garden begin to take shape, at least in my mind.
The aggregate in the front and the driveway were next. From this:
Along the way there were a few more adventures. Like my idea to have them trench the stamped concrete in the courtyard and run pipes for the downspouts out the front yard.
And then there was the back stoop that was so narrow you couldn’t step out on safely and the dog would curl up as tiny as she could get to try and lay there and not fall off.
Ditto the stoop in the front courtyard. It was supposed to be 3 feet for code. It wasn’t.
But now it is.
The new driveway gives us a bit more room to plant on the left and a lot of room to plant on the right (which will help hide the hideous motorhome that never moves). I also had them leave a couple of cut-outs for planting on each side of the garage.
We are really pleased with it all. I love the earthiness of the pavers and the way everything flows now. I can’t wait to move all my plants and furniture back to the courtyard! The whole album can be seen here.
Tomorrow the next phase, the path and planting on the sideyard!
So last night the window guy called up and said that instead of putting individual shutters on each window he believes we should put one giant shutter over each half of the windows.
Which pleases me not at all.
And which I don’t think is even possible because the vertical beams that divide them are flush with the wall so that would make the shutters stick out over the edge.
Which means I am back to square one when it comes to getting rid of the ugly and covering up the windows. I am also looking for a new window guy.
I am not a happy camper.
Oh boy. Most people have a dream that recurs when they are under stress or in a particular situation. Mine is being lost at school, not being able to find my class, nor my locker, missing my homework, etc. And it is always my math class. I had that dream last night. Sigh. And I have no trouble figuring out why.
Math class. No homework. No locker. Can’t remember the teacher’s name and I can’t find the room. It’s about numbers, or more specifically, money. Sigh.
Yesterday the guy that is doing a lot of our window coverings put up the outside blinds. I came home to them being done, not even knowing they were ready.
Back story here a bit. Our library and my office both have angular windows that are hard to fit. Here are some of the ones in my office and if you look through the French doors you can see the same ones in the library. Well as you can imagine, the sun is pretty strong in there.
We have new double-pane windows but still, the glare is bad. In my office it shines right on my monitor and in the library it shines right on the TV which is placed across the room from the windows. When we first moved in we thought about putting shutters up there (there are plantation shutters in the library on another window you can’t see) but the cost to do both sets of windows was going to be <gulp> $6K. Since we had just spent $12K on the double-pane windows we decided to hold off for a while. Then the window covering guy said he had figured out a way to use the outdoor cheap blinds and have them cut and roll DOWN instead of up so we could to them outside. We figured “cool” and that it would be an inexpensive solution we could live with for a few years until we decided to spend the money on the shutters.
Another back story, the window guy just ordered $3K worth of woven woods for the two patio doors and the other big window in my office so there’s been a lot of money exchanging hands to “pretty things up” and mostly for me, and I always have a hard time with that.
So yesterday I go home from work and as soon as I walk in the the house I notice the outside blinds are up. And they look, so-so. Okay, I knew it wasn’t going to be great but I figured I could live with it. Then I got closer and there were holes already in the blinds. Holes that are a result of the inexpensive blinds. Holes that can’t be fixed and make the two most dramatic rooms in the house look horrible. Absolutely horrible.
Window cover guy wants to get paid for the inexpensive solution. My bad here. This was one of those things that sort of evolved over the past year without (gulp) a written estimate. I was expecting about $500. He was expecting $1,000. YIKES! $1,000 for something I can’t stand to look at????
Window cover guy is now ordering shutters for both sets of windows, at his cost and I am dreaming about math class. Which means I feel really rotten about spending that much money to make things “pretty” (okay, and reduce the glare.)
Thing is, I have no trouble at all spending money on my kids when they need. And while right now I would have rather spent the money getting started (at last) on the landscaping, at least we have the money to spend.
So why do I feel so bad?
By now you have probably figured out that the house icon and the phrase House Tales means the post is going to have more to do with the house than it will with writing but everything that happens eventually finds its way into our writing so I guess it is all still connected.
I have always been a collector of things. When I was a kid it was rocks and shells and bits of string or rubber bands and gum wrappers and Betsy McCall paper dolls I cut from the magazine. As I got older I went through phases, patriotic stuff, old advertising tins, miniature glass animals, stuffed bears, old kitchen implements. Now I collect blue and white china, cobalt blue glass (okay, and some green glass) and figurines that have something to do with writing or reading. Only the figurines appear to have gotten a wee bit out of control.
I unpacked them all last night. It took HOURS.
These are the writers. All 95 of them.
These are the readers. All 173 of them. That doesn’t include the 50 or so more that are somewhere in the garage in their original boxes. Yikes!
I don’t know where these all were at the other house because I look around here and there is simply no room for all of them. I planned to keep them in my office and the only place for them is the china cabinet which only has 2 shelves. So I am going to have to purge. (ouch, no, no….please not that.)
It is going to be hard because I have been collecting for a long time. I will probably keep most of the writers and a small amount of the readers. I can do Ebay but I thought I’d put out here to see if it would be worth me doing a small web page with individual pics of what I am going to sell to see if anyone is interested. Thoughts?
Here are some closeups:
Off to see how many will really fit in the china cabinet. I know it won’t be big enough for all I want to keep.
Let me just begin by saying that I have a dog who is mostly Border Collie. You’ve seen her around the blog. This is the part where you all go “ahhh………………….”
Because she is mostly Border Collie this means she is a mostly smart dog with a current vocabulary of about 37 words. It would be larger but well, I’m lazy when it comes to that sort of thing. She is also a very quirky dog that I rescued from the pound when I lived in New Orleans. Back then she was skin and bones and covered in bugs. I brought her home and decided she was part kangaroo because every day I came home from work I could barely get my stuff put down before she would bounce up and down in front of me until I caught her. Now she is older and much more refined and doesn’t do that sort of thing, least ways not when I’m around to see her.
She’s lived with me in two apartments in New Orleans (where she loved to herd the neighborhood children) then drove with me back home to California (where she attempted to spend most of the trip wedged under the accelerator petal, encouraged, I am sure, by the tortuous sounds coming from the cat who did not think the cross-country trip with him trapped in a carrier was a very good idea. In California she put up with a tiny little 2 bed/1 bath no backyard of her own place for about 5 years. She spent many a day perched on the cedar chest looking out the window waiting for me to come home. (Then she injured her back and we had to keep her from jumping anymore.)
Then we moved to our last house with a huge yard of her (where she quickly set herself up as chief squirrel chaser and guardian of the newspaper.) She slept wherever she wanted to which meant that she spent part of the day on the mat in the bathroom, part of the day on the floor in front of the patio door and all of the night on the floor by our bed. If something scared her, she would hide under the desk in my husband’s office. Notice that there is no mention of any time spent in my office in the old house. I don’t know what was going on there but we couldn’t get her to go into that room. Correction, she’d go in and quickly walk back out again. It had hardwood floors like the rest of the house but for some reason, even with throw rugs down for her, she wouldn’t stay. I could be in there for hours looking at books, filing papers, rearranging things and she, the dog who is always underfoot, wouldn’t stay. I’m not sure what it was about the room but I soon learned that I didn’t like it either. I never wrote in that office (though we lived there for 3 years) and instead moved to the living room couch where I worked with the laptop balanced on my lap and the dog, once more, at my feet. I guess there was something wrong in that room that I just couldn’t see but that Chelsie somehow sensed. (I actually think it was just really bad negative vibes from the owners of the place.)
So you’d think I would have learned to trust my mostly smart dog when it comes to things like that, right?
You’d be wrong.
We bought a house. As soon as I got the keys to the new house I took Chelsie over to get acquainted. We walked around the block a few times and then went into the empty house. I walked her from room to room to room. We went upstairs together, only once because she quickly decided that going down the stairs hurt too much (she’s had back surgery) and we went outside. It had been raining, a lot, and the grass was wet and mushy. I know she doesn’t like that so I wasn’t surprised when she stayed on the patio and just hopped onto the dirt real quickly when she needed to take care of business. I figured once everything dried off she’d be racing around the backyard just like at the old place.
I figured wrong.
Now maybe it’s that I just wasn’t paying attention or maybe it’s just that, as she’s gotten older, Chelsie has gotten even more quirky than before. She can’t stand the tile in the dining room, entry hall and kitchen which pretty much stinks because she gets fed in the kitchen and has to walk across a long expanse of tile to get to her food and water. She expressed her distaste for this by going on the starvation diet plan until I moved her food and water halfway across the room. Now that I have done that she, of course, spends much of her time in the place where her food and water USED to be.
Based on this sort of quirk, I wasn’t too surprised when she decided that the only way she was going to go out in the backyard and walk around was if she was able to walk on the thin row of bricks that lined the rim of the house or in the dirt along the back fence. She absolutely, positively would not step on the grass. And if she did, if she slipped off and landed on the grass she would do a little deer jump back to her chose path.
I thought she being a prissy dog who didn’t want to walk on the wet, mushy grass (we have a bit of a drainage issue.) I never thought it had a thing to do with the flickering lights in the house. (Now we get to the house tales part of the story.)
But it did.
Since we moved in we’ve been suffering with flickering lights. At 5 am when the only thing running was the refrigerator and the alarm, I would take a shower, turn on the blow dryer and the lights would go off and then come back on again. If you had the kitchen lights on and turned on the dishwasher, the same thing would happen. We figured it was a combination of it being a 44 year-old house and the “creative wiring” techniques that had been applied with all the earlier remodeling that had been done to the place. The first electrician said pretty much just that. The second electrician walked in, saw what was going on and said, “That’s not just a flicker.”
It’s a good thing my husband was the one to hear that and not me because I am sure I would have freaked out. (I still did, but it was a delayed reaction which was probably a good thing.)
The electrician went to the panel and ran his tests. (Don’t expect me to remember the exact numbers because, well, they’re numbers and I don’t do numbers.) Whatever was supposed to be coming in via the two lines was not the case. There was more and then there was less and oh yeah, there was a bunch of electricity in the ground. IN THE GROUND! In the grassy area where my mostly smart dog would not walk.
Turns out we had a mostly broken, dead and dying neutral from the power pole to the top of our roof and it was arcing and doing all sorts of not-very-nice electrical things. The very nice guys at the power company came out and replaced the wire. I came home from work, turned on all the lights in the house and then turned on the blow dryer and NOTHING HAPPENED. Well, nothing except that hot air came out of the blow dryer like it was supposed to. So I ran downstairs, turned on some more lights, and then ran the dishwasher. And nothing flickered. Nary a whit.
So of course (you know what’s coming, right?) I ran to the back door and called Chelsie outside and she, being the mostly smart dog that she is, ran outside and promptly sat on the grass. Then she ran around in circles on the grass. Then she rolled in the grass. Twice. And now, every day, she’s prancing around the lawn like there was never any doubt that her mostly smart humans would eventually figured things out and fix her yard for her.
And we did.
Score: House 2, Susan 0
This is completely off-topic so if you were expecting an illuminating post about writing for children, you can skip this right now. This is about the new house. Or specifically about the old refrigerator that came with the new house. It is built-in. It is a built-in SubZero. Wow, you say. Lucky you.
Not so lucky. First off, I liked my old refrigerator just fine. I imagine it to be rather lonely stuck off in the garage, away from us, home to just the leftover beer and soda from the move party. The new fridge doesn’t like me. In order to open the freezer drawer on the bottom you need to be standing in just the right place, with BOTH HANDS evenly spaced on either side of the center and pull back with a slight (but not too much) downward motion. Can I just say that it is hard to stand in front of it and do that with the island pushed up against my backside. It never takes me less than 5 tries to open the freezer. I can get the refrigerator door open in one try if I use both hands. I’m not liking any of this much at all but I was willing to live with it.
Except that this is a refrigerator that has had a funky smell in it since we moved in. The cleaners cleaned it. We cleaned it. I left 20 mounds of baking soda in it the week before we moved in. My husband took every shelf and drawer and drip pan and any removable part off and washed it in a bleach solution. I called SubZero and they also suggested flushing the drain pipe with the bleach solution. We did.
It still stinks.
But only when it is running. When it is off, it smells fine. Which leads my husband to think that it is in the actual system that we can’t get to because a) it’s built-in and b) we’ve pretty much exhausted our ability as do-it-yourselfers.
So I admit defeat and call the home warranty plan that the previous owners unexpectedly included in our contract. A plan that I was sure we had checked out completely. Only, (you know what’s coming but like a train wreck you are going to keep on reading, right?)
For some reason, we assumed, thought, whatever, that the built-in refrigerator was in the home warranty plan. I called today to see if they would come service it for the smell and IT ISN’T COVERED. We could have added it within the first 30 days which were up, of course, less than a week ago.
I feel so dumb for not catching that in the contract and mad and frustrated and well, mostly mad. If this were a normal kitchen we’d just dump that old thing (it’s an old model – more than 10 years old) and bring OUR old fridge into the house (it’s only 3 years old, and did I happen to mention how much I loved it.) But this thing is built-in. And being a SubZero, this one is counter depth and our old one is not. To replace it with the comparable SubZero is nearly $7K. For that price I could get my new fence installed.
The alternative is to take it out anyway and slide the old one in there. Which means it will look funky as heck, okay, not even funky but ugly and stick out and we wouldn’t really be able to walk around the island.
I’d love to end this with some witty bit of something but I’m not seeing the humor in this yet.
Score: House 1, Susan 0 (SubZero, to be exact)