The joys of homeownership

This is the second house we’ve owned, but because our first house was so easy there are times it feels like we’re doing everything for the first time here. Well, that and because this is the first yard we’ve had, the first driveway, the first time without a homeowners’ association that would take care of certain things, etc.

Yesterday felt like the universe was trying to teach us a lesson every time we turned around. It started when we woke up and went into the kitchen to make brunch but discovered a horrid, dead animal smell coming from the dishwasher. We cut the power to it and tried to pull it out, but it got stuck. I realized the hoses connected to the sink were what was keeping it from moving all the way out, but we had no idea how to turn the water off. In our townhouse, we had a panel in the laundry area with hot and cold water shutoff valves for every single water-producing thing in the house. In this 84-year-old house, not so much. We did discover some valves in the basement, but turning them off did nothing.

Eventually we located the valves for the kitchen sink, but once we got the dishwasher away from the counter top we realized the smell wasn’t coming from behind it, it was coming from inside it. We looked everywhere we could in the thing, but couldn’t find any dead animals. We checked the water and drain hoses to make sure nothing was clogged, and checked the food trap as best we could (we have some fancy new model dishwasher and you can’t take apart the food trap like you could in other models we’ve had before), but found nothing. I ended up running a cycle with eight ounces of vinegar inside and that seems to help some, but there is still a slightly deathy smell in there. Since I don’t feel like paying a few hundred dollars for a technician to come out and disassemble the thing, I’m going to just wait it out and hope that if there is a dead animal in there it decomposes and gets flushed out quickly. Sounds sanitary, doesn’t it? (Don’t worry: If the smell doesn’t go away soon I’m sure we’ll break down and pay someone to take this thing apart. Or try it ourselves if we have the right tools.)

After spending a bit of time unpacking and organizing some of the boxes we took out of our storage unit, we spent the afternoon with our neighbor digging up the stupid-ass pampas grass
that the seller of this house had put in, and that was a beast of a job. Ian had the fun task of digging six of those fuckers up out of the ground—an ordeal that took about two hours. These things were less than a year old, too. I can’t imagine how bad it would’ve been if they’d been well-established plants. My neighbor and I also cleaned up all of the trash that people had dumped out in front of the wooded area next to our house, and then made a list of what plants and trees I want to plant in the front yard in the coming week or two.

Later that night, after dinner, as we were settling in to watch some Burn Notice, Ian discovered the garbage disposal wasn’t working. It had power to it, but the blades weren’t spinning. He messed with it while I googled how to potentially fix it, and we figured out that something was likely making the blades catch. Once he stuck a screwdriver in there and forced the blades to move (for the record, Google results recommend using a wooden broom handle since it’s less likely to break off in there), we were back in business.

Considering we normally spend our Sundays getting drunk and playing video games or watching TV, this was an exhausting day. Adulthood is not always all it’s cracked up to be.

Well look at that

Ian and I have wanted to get a dog for a long time, but our situation in Murfreesboro was less than ideal for that. Besides not having a yard, our long commute to Nashville required us to be gone for almost 12 hours a day, every week day. Even if the dog were able to hold its business for that long, it would have been a lonely life.

But now that we live in a house with a backyard and are home more, we’re planning on adopting a puppy this summer. I’m hoping that since I work from home, house-breaking the puppy will be easier, and if I have to go out of town Ian can run home at lunch since he works only a couple miles away. The only concerning issue that remains is the cats. They’ve never spent any prolonged period of time with a dog (one time my sister brought her two pomeranians with her on a visit and Evil Twin was the only one who would go within 10 feet of them), so we’re not exactly sure how they’ll react when one moves in permanently.

However, our neighbor (who was also our realtor) has stopped by a handful of times since we moved in, and she’s brought her 13-year-old, totally chill, super-friendly dog Millie with her. The first time Millie came in, all the cats scattered. The second time, King Boo and Gordo took off but BK stuck around. She kept her distance, but she was really curious. That’s pretty much how it went until last night, when our neighbor and Millie hung out for a couple hours. Millie is used to cats since our neighbor rescues/fosters them, so she didn’t give two shits about the three pairs of eyeballs staring her down from various points in the room. She was content to lay on the floor and sleep.

But then something cool happened. After about an hour, Gordo crept up to Millie when she was laying by the couch in the living room. He got up to her foot and sniffed it, and then decided she didn’t pose a threat so he walked away looking quite bored with the whole situation. And then King Boo—the most scaredy of all scaredy cats—did the same thing. He crouched low to the ground, eyes wide open, and crept up to sniff her feet. She moved her head to look at him so he took off, but he didn’t hide under the bed like he usually does when spooked. A bit later, Millie had moved into the dining room where we were all hanging out, and lo and behold, here came King Boo again. This time he sniffed her tail, and then he tried to grab it.

Sneak grab

It was the cutest thing, let me tell you.

It made me hopeful that when we do get a puppy, even though it will be hyper and crazy for a while, maybe the cats will be OK with it eventually. My biggest fear is that they’ll stop doing the comforting things cats do—sleeping in the bed and sitting on the couch with us, etc. They were here in this family first, and I don’t want them to feel run off or afraid. Hopefully having Millie time once a week or so will help prepare them for a puppy, even though she is the most chill dog on the planet.

One month in

We’ve been living in our house for just over a month now, and Ian and I were talking the other day about how quickly we felt comfortable here. Not just us, but the cats, too. I was expecting King Boo to attach himself to my leg for two days like last time, and for BK to fall into another pit of despair for a couple months. But they were all comfortable within an hour and acting like they’d lived here forever after about a week.

It’s all a bit strange, but in a good way. Sometimes I’ll glance into the kitchen and it’s the most natural thing in the world, like I’ve been looking at that sink for years. But then I’ll occasionally wake up in the middle of the night in a “Where am I?!” panic. That’s happening less and less, though, and it only lasts a few seconds. We’re all settling in quickly and easily, and if I had any doubt about whether buying this house was the right decision this would quash that.

And as we were making our decision on whether to buy this house, one of the things we kept in the Pros column was that while it’s an 84-year-old house, the inside is basically brand new. “We won’t have to do anything to it!” we kept saying.

Well, sure, for the most part there is less to do here than there would be if we bought a house that hadn’t been renovated. We don’t have to replace appliances or fix broken windows. But, as you know if you’ve ever bought a house, there is always work to be done to make it yours. For some reason the builder didn’t install any mirrors in the house, and at first I thought that was a blessing in disguise because that meant I could pick out my own mirrors. But you know what? Trying to find and transport a framed, 55-inch-wide mirror is a pain in the ass. We finally installed a smaller mirror over the pedestal sink in our half bath downstairs, but I can’t find an already framed mirror that is both the correct size and not heinously ugly to go in our master bath to save my life. So I guess I’m going to get a custom-cut piece of mirror glass and frame it myself… later. I don’t even want to think about what a hassle it’s going to be to install that sucker. Let’s hope liquid nails have some good holding power and the Gods of Levelness are on our side that day.

We’re mostly unpacked, although when we emptied out our storage unit that we had in Murfreesboro we just kind of vomited all the boxes into the guest room upstairs. So we’ve got that to deal with, plus hanging curtain rods and getting pictures framed and figuring out what kind of landscaping we want to do, and some bigger, more pipe-dreamy things down the road.

But! We did get one mirror installed last weekend, plus a toilet paper holder and towel racks, so that was exciting. No, seriously. I completely took for granted how mirrors and toilet paper holders always just seemed to be there waiting on me when I moved into a place.

I’m not too concerned about the leisurely pace we’re going with regard to unpacking and setting things up, though. We’re planning on being here for quite some time. Maybe forever. So no need to rush. I just need to make sure we don’t fall into a trap made of our own laziness and find ourselves with the same to-do list five years later.