Monday, July 6, 2009

Michigan Move

I've been putting off this post for a number of reasons. First, I am tired of thinking about this move & dealing with all the details. It feels like I have been consumed by 'The Move' for the last month. Next, I am overwhelmed with things to do. We took on too much to do in too little time, and it's all compounded by having family come stay with us less than a week after moving in (I just don't feel anywhere near ready to have company here when we're still unpacking, cleaning, and painting). Finally, I don't really want to admit we're here for a good while. I know I'll probably like it once I lighten up & give it a chance, but for now I prefer to maintain my abysmal mood & continue missing Iowa.

Moving day was not bad. For us, it went off relatively smoothly. We were blessed with helping hands to move all the big stuff (6 strapping young men), and an amazing friend who watched the kids all day (and put up with my multiple "We're almost done, it should be just another hour" phone calls). We hit the road later than expected, but still made it to our hotel before 11pm. The major hiccup was that Big Daddy thought he lost his wallet! We had to rendezvous, regroup, hand off cards, and make a few phone calls, but it all turned out well (wallet was in the back of the truck, as discovered on Tuesday evening).

Tuesday we were slow getting up & on the road, but we finally made it to the house in the late afternoon. The landlord had left the key for us, and we let ourselves in.

And then it hit us.....

The Smell.

A little backstory: The previous renter was an older lady. She lived here for 6+ years, then became sick. Someone (a daughter, a granddaughter) moved in to help take care of her, and as the lady became more ill, the worse the condition of the house became. When she passed away (NOT in the house) the landlord took possession again and discovered it was trashed on the inside. He said the carpet looked like it hadn't been vaccuumed in 6 years, there was food all over the house, ketchup sprayed on the walls, 20 garbage bags of abandoned clothes.... you get the idea. I never saw it in this condition - but when I toured the house in May, I smelled the aftermath. I don't know what exactly happened here, but I DO know they had cats. The landlord swore the smell would be gone by the time we moved in, but it was (is) not. He finally showed up the day after we arrived, and, standing in the basement (source of The Smell) directly in front of us, straight up told us he didn't smell anything. Folks, it was so bad it WOKE US UP in the middle of the night on our first night in the house (all windows open, fans whirring above).

In addition to the smell, we've encountered the following:
  • A non-functioning furnace
  • An abandoned washer
  • Abandoned bookcases - pressboard soaked in cat urine & molded (I have pics, but don't want to gross anyone out)
  • Basement wall covered in mold & crystallized cat urine (hidden by the bookcases detailed above)
  • Missing smoke detectors
  • Next door neighbors with beagles, who like to let their dogs roam & bark while they wash their car at 6:30am on Sunday morning
  • A newly tiled shower surround with a badly installed faucet which limits how much hot water comes out
  • A bathroom sink faucet that gives you a shower along with your morning ablutions
  • A hornet's nest
  • A water heater full of rusted water (gas was shut off for 3 months)

Good Times!

Part of me is at the end of my rope. The first night, I seriously considered what the options were (suck it up & stay, stay for a few days & find another place, get out immediately & rent an apartment.....). But another part of me is not a quitter.

Smell? I'm going to let a little cat stink beat me?


And it's getting a little better. Landlord said we could do anything we want to the place - paint the walls & doors, install new light fixtures, plant a garden. He agreed to reimburse us for our de-stinking efforts, and I think we've seen a tremendous improvement over the last week. Is it still a battle? Yes. But with a little elbow grease and some serious chemicals, I WILL conquer this house. Urine Off seems to be making a huge difference, but I am open to suggestions if you have any (but please don't tell me to rip up the carpet & lay hardwoods - that's not the problem. Basement is painted block walls interspersed with cheap paneling and linoleum tile/ concrete floor).

On the Up side: The house is sort of a clean slate for us. There is new carpet, the walls are freshly painted - and begging for a little more paint TLC (which I will be providing this week). With the green light to make improvements, I have plans to replace the light fixture in the dining room, repaint the ceiling fan in the master, add curtains on all the windows, paint the front door, and do some serious work on the basement (it's very dank & basement-y right now). The neighbors across the street are really nice & both introduced themselves on our first night here. People walking by will stop & chat, or say Hi. We love the extra room, and Big Daddy has been using the garage to build us a new bed. We're just a few miles from an area which seems to have every major chain store & restaurant known to man.

Would I trade it all to be back in Iowa? In a heartbeat.

But we'll make the best of it. I'll post pics of the before & afters as they occur.

I'm off to do some more laundry & battle the boxes (it really seems like it's never going to end).


Ted and Hilery said...

Iowa misses you too! I hope things get better and you start to feel at home... but if you don' can always come back to Iowa in a few years and all your friends will welcome you!
I can't wait to see before and after pics!

Ashley said...

I'm glad y'all made it there but what a nightmare with the house stench!!! Way to not give up - I can't wait to see the before/after pics either! I can't believe your landlord said he didn't smell anything - but at least he's allowing you to make the place yours and reimburse you some $$ as well!!!

GOOD LUCK & I know your place will begin to feel like home in no time ;)

Rosie said...

I would trade it all for you to be back in Iowa in a heartbeat too.

Your life sounds like a story for Judge Wapner.

Jackie said...

You guys are incredible to get that much done already! Your pics will be fun to see--it would be nice if we could see you in person, but they'll have to do.