Saturday, February 16, 2008

This Damn House

Many of this blog's early posts were dedicated to ups and (mostly downs) of the purchase/renovation/inhabitation of our house. In the process, it acquired its name: Big Yellow House. We acquired a subscription: This Old House. [For the benefit of our global audience, this is a magazine devoted to the care, renovation, maintenance and general obsession with houses built with no modern conveniences, but plenty of um, character. ]

Both Torbjorn & I are huge fans of old houses. I like to compare it to the idea of being 'pre-disastered' from The World According to Garp - the house has already taken a beating from previous inhabitants, and thus it will be more forgiving of our riding roughshod over it's feelings. But this tolerance requires a bit of forgiveness on our part as well, of all the just plain weird things about our home.

Tonight, we walked in carrying sleepy kids after a day out, and the entire house reeked of rotting potatoes. Enough that Lars wakened sufficiently to raise his head and demand 'what is that strange smell?' Only, there are no rotting potatoes anywhere! Another day, both grandmothers called our cell phones frantically insisting that house was about to blow, there was a strong smell of gasoline in the air. But even the gasman couldn't find a thing amiss.

Last February, the day of a pre-Valentines supper party we noticed an unspecified odor in the basement. As only the kids would be down there, we didn't worry. But over the next few days, the smell ripened into what could only be called "The Smell of Death"! It was to the point that Cecilie would tell perfect strangers that "a big animal has died in our basement, maybe a squirrel or a fox!" With my in-laws due to arrive within 2 weeks, let me just say, we tore apart that basement. Again: no source.

Then there are the weird squeaks in the floorboards. The whims of the plumbing: our system doesn't always play nicely with the other utilities. The upstairs radiators are fighting with the downstairs; the upstairs won't put out. When it rains, the basement walls seep (weep?) in a random sort of way. Not a single door in the house shuts tight, except for one new bathroom door. (And yes, that means not even our front door is very secure)

But oh, we're pretty sure this house likes us, and we love it, no matter what our differences. We love the 2-foot thick basement walls, we love the old oak floorboards, we love the original trimwork throughout the house, we love the big front porch. There isn't a straight line in our house, and that's ok. (Imperfection is a big theme in the Nilsen house...)

So yeah, we deal with the Smelly House, but things are good here in Paradise. Whilst we look for those elusive potatoes.


eileen said...

hey, at least you got your own house! :) we're back in renting heaven...

torbjorn said...

I was looking for the squirrel story - couldn't find it, but found this...

Hey, we have a new front door now

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