Posted by: emjb | June 5, 2007

Home Sweet Swamp

We’re moved, and we still like our neighborhood. My drive to work is much better. If Matt takes me, we can take the HOV lane, and man, if that doesn’t make you feel like royalty, zipping ahead of the poor single-passenger schlubs.

The house is HUGE (to us), and on the surface, cute, in a hey-look-it’s-an-old-house kinda way. But like all old houses, it has Old House Problems.

We were clued in to some of them when the next door neighbor, Mrs. Needle^, asked if we’d bought the house from “Tim.” Tim, I think, must have been the owner, who did some…hasty…repairs^^ before selling the place to our landlords. Or he died and SOMEone did the repairs. I don’t think there’s been any other renters.

Before he kicked it/retired to the home, however, Tim must have been working on “renovations” for a while. The bathroom has a nice vanity and new cabinets, but no plugs. Anywhere. Speaking of plugs, some of them in the house have two prongs…but some have three. There seems to be no particular reason either way…sometimes they vary in the same room.

We have a garage with an automatic opener, but Tim did not give the remote to the leasing company. Nor did Tim install a wall button to open the door. So the only way to get into the garage was to unhook the automatic door opener and open the door manually.

Tim also neglected to put lights (other than the one in the garage door opener) in the garage, so we have to use a flashlight to go in there. And there are some BIG roaches, so I don’t do that too often. That’s where our washer/dryer hookups are…I’m not looking forward to installing those.

The yard is overgrown and the shade in the back means there’s not a lot of grass. No problem…except what there IS on one side is a LOT of poison ivy. Oh yay! Thankfully we saw it before any of us touched it, but now it’s a showdown to see if the landlords will come and kill it for us. So our visions of Nathan running around the yard will need some work. Also, it hasn’t stopped raining since we moved in, so what there also are are mosquitos..lots of them. And they love Nathan. So we’ve invested in organic baby bug repellent and some disks that promise to kill larvae if you throw them in standing water.

Tim did leave us a set of highball glasses in the kitchen cabinets. Thanks. But also a greasy fish-smelly broiler in the oven. Ew.

We’re making a little progress. We got most of the dirt off the floors and got some cheap IKEA rugs to make things homier. The rain is finally letting up. Nathan’s grandparents bought him a sandbox, which we’ve installed well away from the poison ivy. We painted the walls and killed most of the cigarette smell (Tim was a chain-smoker…or his friends were). Our cat is coming home in 2 weeks. And Nathan has made the (cleaned) laundry hamper in the hallway his hideout, which is pretty cute. Clean wood floors do feel nice and cool on your bare feet, no denying it.

I’m mostly conflicted about the backyard. Once we do get rid of the ivy, what do we do next? I’ve never done much maintenence, but I would like to make it nice for Nathan. There’s old leaves on one side, and inexplicably, landscaping wood chips in the side yard, but no path to get through them. There’s two old laundry line poles, which I can put hanging plants on, but what do I do about the mildewy crumbling slab that used to be the back porch? And what about the even-worse crumbling concrete sidewalk up front; should I keep stumbling over it (the landlord has told us he won’t fix it) or just spend my cash to decrease the hassle? It’s a rental house; I hate to sink a lot of money into it. But we’re not ready to buy, and we may be here for a couple of years. It’s hard to live in a swamp just on principle.

Rent in haste, repent in yardwork, I guess. Still, we mostly got a decent deal, and some of the repair/yard work I can look on as practice. The house itself, if it got a real renovation, would be a very nice, cozy little place. For us, it’s a step up, and that’s good enough for the next year or so.

^Mrs. Needle, the wife of Mr. Needle, who is not really called that, but who looks EXACTLY like Mr. Noodle from the Elmo videos, only with a meth addiction. The Needleses have already told us they’re moving to a trailer in Shreveport next month. Okey dokey by me.

^^Which included painting the tub. With house paint. Which did not cover the mildew, but does flake off in the shower. Hey thanks, Tim!

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