Thursday, September 4, 2008

The 'adventures' we've had staying in Edith

I've previously alluded to some problems in the house we moved into. To help me keep things positive, I'm calling them adventures. To preface this all you should know that Edith is not ours. We're only renting. Chances are very likely we will be the last family to live in her. Edith, along with her sister, Edwina, next door, are slated to be torn down and the land redeveloped within the next couple of years or so. We knew this when the offer was made to my husband to let us rent Edith. What we didn't know, or better put, what I didn't know, was how down on her heels Edith is because I never set foot in her until we moved in. She has been a rental home for many years and had been suited out on the main floor, upstairs and even the basement. Through the years, she has not been properly tended (I'm not blame laying here, just trying to paint a picture for you to understand what we're dealing with). For example: that pretty set of windows in the next photo? Yeah, well, the far right window opens fairly easily after the initial stiff start, the one on the left grinds or gouges across the window sill and then the middle one has rotted off its hinges and is actually only 'sitting' in position with its lock holding it in place. There's many little things like this throughout Edith that need attention .
I'm in a lovely old house with maintenance issues and problems like missing light fixtures and switch plates (seems someone ripped these off Edith's walls and ceilings to turn a buck without the new owner's knowledge or permission). Thankfully, my husband had capped all the bare wires before we moved in and we know we could go pick up some second hand fixtures to have Edith back in action with some proper lighting.

The next little adventure I had came in the form of the illegal radiant heater on the second floor that I only discovered was so after our gas was cut* and I had to have someone come in to light all the pilot lights.(*that happened after a mere 3 days into our stay in Edith. Yes, it was quite fun to have the gas cut off, especially when you had made arrangements to be on the billing only to discover someone(?) mucked it up and then get charged for reconnecting it... !) Ultimately the gas cut off did turn out to be a good thing, since we also discovered the uncapped gas line in the living room fireplace and had the serviceman deal with that for us.
Despite all these little adventures, we still were thinking of staying on. We would deal with the cosmetics. We would figure out a way to make her more energy efficient (all Edith's pretty windows are single panes and we could imagine very high heating bills come winter time). We talked of ripping out the stinky old carpets and sanding her wood floors. Of reworking her sad main floor kitchen (lucky for me, my husband has installed and built cabinets for a living). And then. Just as we were thinking we could refresh Edith for the time we could live here.... Well. That's when she had a plumbing problem. The kind that flooded the basement. Did I mention that the basement had a carpeted suite? That the basement was old and smelly to begin with? That past renters had left an odd assortment of unwanted furnishings downstairs that included old mattresses (read: super sized sponges...)? We now had a serious problem in a house that was slated to be torn down in a couple of years and we had only been here about 9 days! We had to hire a cleaning service to clean up before we could get another professional in to address the blockage in the sewer line. Yep. There is our most recent adventure in Edith. The sewer backed up in Edith's basement. We had just got back from a weekend of camping and now this.
We spent more than 24hours without being able to use the plumbing. We made the arrangements to have the mess cleaned up and to get the line unblocked (thankfully the tree roots that caused the problem were dealt with quickly... but what about the next time? Because you know there will be a next time with the number of trees in this yard alone and the age of the sewer pipe...). We stayed with Edith through this 'adventure'. Many thanks to the kind neighbour that let us use his washroom for the time we couldn't use ours. (Now there's an adventure! Dashing next door in the night with your flashlight and unlocking your neighbours front door so you can go use the facilities. The humour in it strikes me now. Especially considering that while camping we had flush toilets to use and hot showers at the campground).
Can you see why now that we were ready to leave Edith? She has problems that could make this very challenging and possibly costly to live with and the bottom line is that she is not ours and that she is slated to be demolished.
And yet... I still find my mind toying with the idea of doing what it takes to make her livable so we can stay. If we can find something suitable elsewhere that we can afford, we will likely move. Meanwhile we're still living out of our duffel bags, sleeping in our sleeping bags and keeping our household in moving boxes. I have told our boys (who have taken it all in stride very admirably) that this experience makes for some great story telling, "Our adventures in Edith"... ;o)


  1. Oh Katherine! I'm ROTFL over here!

    "super sized sponges" What a visual!!!

    "Especially considering that while camping we had flush toilets to use and hot showers at the campground" Priceless!!!!

    What an adventure it is to live and love a very old house :)

  2. OooooH! I hope you can find a way to solve all those "adventures"...
    Is the campground too far???

    (thanks for your explanations, I was doing everything wrong... did and undid three times... till I found the guilty was the interfacing i was using... soon i'll post about - i'm making travel slippers for men)

  3. wow...that is some adventure! It's funny to read about it, but I am sure that LIVING it must be more than trying at times. good luck, my friend!!! I admire your upbeat attitude through all of it.

  4. You're right on all accounts, my friends. It is funny and it has been trying. Do you want to hear something that adds to the silliness of it all? Do you know that the nite we were without our bathroom facilities our sons had some sort of intestinal bug? Yeah, what are the chances? My oh, am I glad they are teenagers and were responsible for getting themselves to and from the neighbours bathroom that long nite. Poor boys certainly had some close calls from what we heard from them the next morning. (picture a very mad dash down the stairs to unlock one door, more sprinting to the neighbours door and dancing in place while trying to unlock that door). I laugh to think about it now - it wasn't too funny for them at the time. I remember I just said to the whole family that if anything else were to happen... don't tell me. Not one word. I was pretty close to hysterical laughter or uncontrollable tears. Very close indeed.

    As crazy as it all has been, I have had some wonderful lessons in being grateful and so much to be thankful for. This has been a learning experience in so many ways.

  5. Oh my goodness you are still holding it together is beyond me! I lived through several home remodel jobs as a kid. My parents (and I) have a very deep love for old houses. Lots of memories from those days. Take a ton of pictures whatever you do. I can only imagine the bonding that your family has done and will do over Edith. Someday this will all be hilarious!! Take care!!

  6. My heart goes out to you...what you described is just NO FUN! I think if you can manage to find something else that would definitely be your best option...It is so easy to get caught up in trying to make a house livable and comfortable...but at what expense? The last house we rented was stuck in the 1940's along with tiny kitchen and outdated backboiler. One Saturday we found ourselves in B&Q with a trolley full of bits to mend odds and ends in the house...when we did the tally up before getting to the till we realized we had over £40 pounds worth...which we would never get back...needless to say we left the trolley there and started looking at the listing to buy a house of our own.
    Hopefully you can find something to fit your budget...even if it is a bit on the small would be better to have something that is dry and clean and insulated... I'll be keeping you in my thoughts that you can soon settle.


  7. Wow, I understand why you wanted to move out now...

    It must be costing you a small fortune!

    Hope all works out well (soon), one way or another...

  8. The romantic in me says stay, but the realist says you're going to have to move on and bid Edith farewell.

  9. Perhaps a book is in the works. ADVENTURES WITH EDITH!!! Isn't it such a shame that she was not well cared for over the years?

    I hope this week will be better for all.

  10. Hi Katherine! I just chose you for an award. Stop by my blog to see!

  11. Ewwww! Plumbing problems! And flooding! Ewwww!!!

  12. What an adventure! Glad you haven't lost your sense of humour. Your poor sons having gastro during the plumbing crisis. Hope you are able to resolve the situation soon!

  13. I do like Edith. What a great shame she has been neglected. I can very much imagine the house in its original full glory. I do hope you can make some roots very soon. x

  14. Oh, what a shame....Edith promised so much and delivered nothing but trouble. At least you're keeping a positive outlook and a sense of humour about the whole adventure.

    My heart goes out to you - we rent, too - and I hope that you find the house of your dreams - without multiple problems - soon.


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