Tuesday, 8 April 2008

A moving story, chapter 1

So, as some of you know, Danijela and I bought a house in January of this year. That gave us about two months to stew in that broth of responsibility before the sale closed on March 27. There was lots to do, of course. We knew that we would be doing an awful lot of work on the house, and we were willing. The electrical was mostly original and had to be replaced so that we could be insured (if not only for our peace of mind and convenience). The roof shingles will have to be replaced this year, the furnace soon after. There is some awful fake brick plastered on the front of the house—over the original brick, which looks in fine shape, from the few spots where the overlay has broken. That will have to go, along with the porch; the latter we'll replace in some form or another. Also, the basement is basically unfinished, and will take a couple of months of destruction and construction to create my ultimate man cave. Those were the things we knew about or were fully aware of.

It was an exciting time, those two months, and stressful, too. I began packing early in February, which created havoc in our old apartment. Of course that was inevitable with three persons living in maybe 500 square feet, with our belongings overflowing into the hallway/fire escape path shared with our downstairs neighbour. We had to transfer our utilities accounts and change all of our registered addresses. Credit cards, drivers' licenses, everything. And then dealing with the financial stuff: the mortgage and insurance, getting quotes, getting details, finalizing things, signing things, and on and on. Thank God, Danijela is amazing with this stuff. Without her, the whole process would have been a disaster. She managed somehow to keep track of everything that we had to do and when, and it all got done and nothing got lost (that we know of). If anybody wants to know more details about this stuff, feel free to ask me or Danijela.

When we got the keys, we were excited. Danijela went to visit the house with her dad right away. It was a Thursday afternoon, so I was working, but afterwards, we returned to have another look. Finally, we were in! That two months had felt like ages to me, and now, here it was, empty, silent, ours, full of potential. I could see how I wanted it to look, though I could also see the current state of it. I wanted to start right away. I couldn't wait until the weekend, and I had booked off the following week from work.

Of course, then came the surprises. The entire interior of the house needs repainting. Most of it is brown, including the ceiling in the upstairs bathroom, and most of what isn't brown is dark (blue and red), which, besides washing, will require several coats of primer and paint. The room we are planning on using as our bedroom was covered in fake wood panelling, which, once removed, revealed the original plaster, cracking and damaged and hiding a near complete lack of insulation. Elsewhere, the lighting is bad: in the upstairs bathroom, there is only one light; it's on the wall—opposite the mirror so it is effectively useless. Other rooms have equally ineffective lights, mostly failing to light anything beyond a metre-radius. A raised addition at the back of the house hid a pile of junk including nasty old shoes, a squash racquet, a broken shovel and shears, wires, soil, general garbage, and a plastic swan, which is probably the most useful thing in the pile. That same addition also lacks heating (at least it has a ceiling light).

Lest I sound like I'm just complaining, I love this house—our house. It has "great bones" and it is in a terrific "up and coming" neighbourhood, the Junction. With Spring here and warm weather on the way, I can't wait to throw open the windows and relax in the yard and clean up the lawn and maybe plant a garden (eventually—probably not this year). There's an evergreen tree right in front of the house now that we'll probably replace with something deciduous that we can watch grow. Joy.

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