Marsha Canham's Blog

November 6, 2012

Part Two of the Search for Nirvana

Filed under: Caesars Through the Fence — marshacanham @ 7:39 pm

Nirvana is defined  as:  a place or state characterized by freedom from, or oblivion to, pain, worry, and the external world.

I thought that divorcing the numbnutsasswipe would allow me to achieve that state, but no such luck. Just when I thought he had found a new level to stoop to…or slither to…he dug deeper and found a new one. So, thinking to sever all ties, I put my Dream House on the market and bought a new one that was so different from the DH that brand new memories would be made and savored. It is a quirky, cute Victorian on a street lined with beautiful Victorian houses which, like mine, bear heritage plaques stating what they once were when the village was originally built. Half a block up the street is a church built in 1804, since converted into a house. Beside it is the blacksmith’s home and beside that the wheelright and the boarding house belonging to the Widow Stokes. Mine was a farmhouse that belonged to the town planner, full of original woodwork and a foundation built from field rocks. The perfect atmosphere for writing historical romances. As previously mentioned, the home inspection passed with flying colors. A little cleanup around the electrical box was all that was required. The wiring was all new, so no worries about knob and tube nightmares. One of the three bedrooms upstairs had been converted to a bathroom, complete with jacuzzi. It came with all the appliances, so naturally I sold my house with all the appliances thinking it would be an easy move. The DH, with the basement space included, came in at around 5400 sq feet, and the Quirky New House was a mere 1700 sq feet with no basement to speak of. There is a “cellar” which was dark and gloomy concrete,  full of spiders and  130 yr old dust and rubble. The Clone did a fine job of shovelling it all out and painting all the surfaces with white concrete paint which at least made it look a little less creepy. And, bonus, it came with a cold room that was more than adequate to hold all my wine racks and bottles!

Selling the DH turned into a bit of nightmare, with the sales across the board coming to a screeching halt through the summer months. I took possession of the QNH on Sept 1st, quite happy to have time to repaint and do the few changes I envisioned on my walk-throughs, namely:  gut the kitchen and main floor bathroom and bring them into the 21st century. The kitchen was a good size, but there were six cupboards in total and a smallish island with pot drawers. My kitchen in the DH had 20 cupboards plus a floor to ceiling pantry, plus a large double closet that had shelves put in to hold  assorted *stuff*, plus a separate spice pantry crammed full, as well as a large island with three deep drawers. I won’t even mention the condiment fridge. So the QNH needed a bit of work *snort*

A bit of backstory here. Most of my furniture in my office, living room, family room, bedroom etc was custom made by Kitchen Guy who started out in business as Cabinet Guy. I have known him all of his life. His mom and I were/are best friends. Cabinet Guy took over his father’s business when his dad moved up north to retire and since then he’s concentrated mainly on transforming ho hum kitchens into magnificent kitchens. He was, naturally, the first person I called. He even came out on one of my house inspections to take measurements of the kitchen and bathroom (he has a Bathroom Guy who does work for him during renovations).  The plans were drawn up wherein both the bathroom and kitchen would be completely gutted and new magnificence built in their place. Work would begin even before I got actual possession–once the plans were approved–cuz the cupboards could be built ahead of time then shipped to the house as soon as I had the keys in my hot little hands. It would have been a fine plan had the DH sold right away. But as the weeks dragged on and nothing was happening, I had to delay Kitchen Guy, which delayed the Sept 15 goal of having everything done before I moved in.

That, of course, didn’t stop me from going over every day after I took possession, paint cans in hand, determined to eradicate the yellow walls that were in EVERY room. Yellow and orangy yellow. Every room. Had there been cash flow, I would have hired someone to do it, since the yellow made my eyes roll around as I worked from room to room, but with no cash flow, I had to do the painting myself. I had time, after all, and even though I have two buggered knees and a bad back, I took it slow and easy and gradually eradicated all the icky yellow.

Late September, my DH sold, with a Nov 1 closing date. Perfect. Called up Kitchen Guy and Bathroom Guy the first of October to give them the green light. Called up a moving company to get an estimate for trucks and five guys to move all the heavy stuff. I was determined to be organized and not leave anything to the last moment. *snort* I figured by then I had moved at least half of the bazillion boxes on my own, taking a dozen or so each trip that I made from one house to the other. Oddly enough, no matter how many boxes I stuffed into my car and moved, the mountains of them at the DH never seemed to go down at all. The corners and walls of the new place were starting to get filled, with the spaces closing in, leaving me wondering if I had thrown away or given away enough stuff. And since most of the boxes were designated kitchen or bathroom, all I needed was a kitchen and bathroom to unpack them into.

Bathroom Guy, aka Demo Guy, had already showed up with his crow bars and shovels and had stripped the kitchen to the bare walls. The bathroom was right behind, reduced to a cloud of dust. He stopped periodically to ask me, tongue in cheek, if I wanted to keep the salmon pink sink and matching pink terlet, or if I wanted to reuse the natty pink tiles with the flowered pattern on the border. The shower stall was a dark cave with rusty fixtures and cracked tiles, and an inventive slab of slatted wood over the doors to substitute for a ventilation fan. The room itself was long and narrow, with the sink at one end, then a long pink-veined arborite counter, then a dwarf-like washer and dryer that would be good for washing maybe one sock at a time. Next to that was the pink terlet, straight out of an antiques road show rummage sale. (remember pink toilet paper? Regardless of the boils or hives it caused, it would have gone well with this decor).

By the time Demo Guy finished and the dust settled, the erstwhile bathroom was a long empty space with some nifty discoveries. On one wall, after the tile and drywall came down, we discovered two of the original windows for the farmhouse. One was large and deep-set with the panes of glass still intact for the most part. On the opposite wall was a door that had simply been nailed shut and covered over. Very cool. We also found a newspaper between the wall joists dated 1981, which told us when the pink bathroom was “renovated” and the addition put on the house to add a large family room. I’ve made the executive decision to keep the window and try to save most of the frame. I can cut mirror to replace the glass and it will make for a nifty focal point.

Kitchen Guy, meanwhile, started bringing in his cabinet shells and reconstructing my kitchen. According to the plans, I would end up with just as much space as I had in the DH. Roughly the same number of cupboards but taller and deeper, and a larger island with the new dishwasher built into it.

Did I say *new* dishwasher? Ah yes. When Bathroom Guy was demo-ing the kitchen, he pulled out the dishwasher that came with the house and found the entire thing encrusted with mouse poop. When he asked me what I wanted to do with it, I pointed to the dumpster out in the driveway. Ditto with the dwarf washer and dryer. The fridge, which was not a bad size for an apartment, but nowhere big enough for what I was used to, was throfted out to the garage to be designated thereafter as the pop/beer/condiment fridge. So, out of all the “appliances included” in the sale, I managed to emerge with the stove, an appliance I know works because I set off the smoke alarm the first time I tried to cook a small pizza.

While all of this was going on, the adopted son in law came and ripped up the grotty old carpet in the bedrooms, then used a shovel to scrape up the yellow powder that was once the underpad. Removing said carpet also removed a proportionate amount of funky odor that lingered in the upstairs rooms. New laminate went down and voila, the rooms looked—and smelled—great! But the downstairs was nowhere near even beginning to be finished, so, knowing I had a margin of time for error, I called the moving company and pushed the moving date back for a week. No problem. The new date I chose still wasn’t at the end of the month so they were obligingly flexible.

Meanwhile Bathroom Guy thought he could get me an extra inch or two by demo-ing even more of the bathroom, peeling back another layer of studs and lathing. The walls in these old houses are amazing, as Electrician Guy found out. A simple request to add a few outlets to the new counter configuration turned into five full days worth of morning to evening work as he had to literally tunnel through foot thick walls. Drilling through the floor to run the wires was a treat too, as there was a layer of relatively new hardwood, two layers of linoleum tiles, and a bottom layer of inch thick original planking before he could find the floor joists. He missed on a couple of occasions and hit the solid rock of the foundation. I suspect he runs screaming from the phone when he hears me on the other end, but Kitchen Guy couldn’t finish putting up cabinets until the wiring was in place, and Bathroom Guy couldn’t start the drywalling until the electricals were done. Like dominoes, everything has to fall in order, and at that point nothing was falling anywhere.

The day before The Move, Granite Guy was supposed to show up to install the countertops. I got a call the previous evening from Kitchen Guy asking if I could be at the house for 9am to let the Granite Guy in to measure for the sink opening. Hmm. One would think that would have been a crucial measurement from the outset, but okay. I shlepped over with one eye open and one eye on the clock knowing how much I had to do still to prep for the next day. Granite Guy was on time, thank goodness, and took two seconds to snap out his measuring tape, jot down a number, and leave again. Meanwhile Carpet Guy was coming at 11 to measure for the stairs and hallway, so I hung around, no point going back home just to turn around and come back again. Meanwhile Kitchen Guy called to say the granite would be coming in around one-ish, so again, I hung around, doing some touch up painting, watching the minutes tick by, planning my strategy in my head for the next day. 1 o’clock came and went, 3 o’clock came and went, 5 o’clock came and I was not a happy camper. The SIL returned to finish up some of the laminate and move all of his dusty cloths and saws and workmates so the movers could get into the room with furniture. He said he would stick around for the Granite Guys, who, after a gnarly phonecall to Kitchen Guy, were supposed to be there within the hour. I took youngest grandson back to the house with me and he helped me put big stripes of painter’s tape on all the furniture and boxes that were being moved out the next day. He also helped me pack up the last few big boxes and mark them, something I had planned to take a bit of care and time doing, but by then I was hurling things across the room and just hoping they landed inside the box.  Carter yelling “2 points Grammy” was encouraging. Ten days later, however, and I still haven’t found my hair dryer and other vital stuff that was hurled with such aplomb. A dozen boxes marked GRAMMY’S LAST DAY STUFF lie somewhere under the mountain of other boxes stacked…somewhere.

Back at the house, the Granite Guys finally arrived around 7:30 and did their thing. I wanted to have a look, so back I went and had a happy little moment because the counters did look splendid. Locked up, went home, and prepared mentally for the next day when the movers were to arrive at 8:30. Because it was a Friday and everyone else in my family was at work, my sister had volunteered to come and be The Person at that end of the move, directing the movers, watching for the green painters tape, ensuring they didn’t load things in the wrong order. I was very specific about certain items of furniture, namely a huge armoire for the bedroom that had to be last on the truck and first off. Kitchen Guy, formerly known as Cabinet Guy, had built the armoire and would be at the new house to install it properly. The floors in the Quirky New House are not exactly level, having had 130 or so years to shift and shuffle. My bookcases, for instance, caused Cabinet Guy no end of frustrations because his furniture is all precise and level, where as the floor in the new office played dippidy do in several places. He ended up having to bolt it to the wall and add half a bazillion shims underneath it to get it close to level.

Day of the move arrived. I was up at 5:30, rummaging and packing and fretting. As far as I knew, Kitchen Guy, Bathroom Guy and Plumber Guy were all going to be at the house while Mover Guys were doing their thing, so with visions of the Keystone Cops Do Moving Day, I girded my loins, had another coffee and wondered who would arrive first, the Moving Guys, or my sister, who had promised to be there first thing in the morning.

To be continued …



  1. OMG, just reading this caused a need for a 2-weeks hiatus from…..everything. I’m tired. ROFL

    Comment by SurferGirl — November 6, 2012 @ 9:13 pm | Reply

  2. I can so easily visualize Lucy and Ethel moving into your new house and not being able to find anything for weeks. I can’t wait for the conclusion.

    Comment by Phoebe Conn — November 6, 2012 @ 10:25 pm | Reply

    • LOL, Phoebe! Lucy and Ethel! Good memory. Marsha has many wonderful friends who could play either roll with her. I wish I were one of them…I love them all, but I just don’t have their energy! I’d back them with my dying breath, though, I’ll tell you. All her amazing friends will descend on this beautiful new house and that place will be abuzz and be well blessed with love, great food and a few bottles of fine wine. I can’t wait for the next installment, either!

      Comment by JILLMETCALFJ — November 7, 2012 @ 4:21 am | Reply

  3. I so love this! Other than the angst and sweat and loss of sleep that went on behind it all, and for which I have been sympathic, I am so looking forwarding to seeing this house, other than online. I love the historical finds in this wonderful new house; original windows and doors is so amazing. I love that you withstood all this terror of renovations and moving. I’ve been exhausted for you. I don’t know how you are still standing after all of this. But I just so know this wonderful historic house is worth all the care you have taken with “her”! As a historic romance lover…I am jealous! Love this house and relax with her history, Marsha. My best wishes and love, my friend!

    Comment by JILLMETCALFJ — November 7, 2012 @ 4:04 am | Reply

  4. Got nothing….looking to read next installment!!! LOL~~~

    Comment by CathyR — November 16, 2012 @ 9:31 pm | Reply

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