18 April 2014

The Winter of our Discontent

I suppose it’s time to get real about living in Better Waverly. Living in our new house is still an adventure—in more ways than one. Let me preface this rant by saying that we did have an idea of what we had in store for us—albeit, not enough of an idea.

Hubby has named this the winter of our discontent. We have to laugh each time he says it.

The new house is beautiful, but the community is less up-and-coming than it appeared when we signed the deed. Last year, when the ink was still drying, we visited our new community often to: work on the house, pick up mail, check out the surroundings, and generally get acclimated to living in the hood. It was a workable system. On the left, right and across from us were mainly working-class families with jobs, yards, other priorities and all of the accouterments that come with.

We moved in at Xmas to a warm welcome from the guy on the corner and set about making our brand new house a home. For once we followed convention and had a housewarming party; it brought together our friends and family from all over the region and we got to sample a variety of libations without the hassle of biking across town afterwards—it was awesome (sorry no pics).

We actually used a different company
than Orkin--a trustworthy company
with great service

The First Shoe…

Shortly after our party the mice came. They trundled into our ceiling from the space next door and decided that it was a comfy situation—so they stayed. I know this because our exterminator made several house calls to squirt poison into the crawl spaces before giving up the ghost. As these non-paying guests haven’t figured how to get from the ceiling into the living space, we’re not freaking out much about them. That said the mice are only the tip of the iceberg.

The two closest trees were giant,
removed to make room for the fence

The Trees...

The trees! At the time of purchase we had four large trees in our deep, narrow yard. We knew immediately that they needed to go. After the housewarming we found Discount Tree Service and gave them a call. Their six-man team removed two half-dead and monstrously large flora that overhung our yard and the adjacent 4 houses (plus numerous power lines). This took less than 6 hours and sang to the tune of 3K. Worth it (and under warranty)!

Shortly after the removal, a powerful winter storm blew through town, bringing with it gale force winds and a sheet of ice that downed power lines and trees from VA to NY.

New Neighbors are Nothing like old Neighbors.

I think there's a law about this...
Start of the fence...
The original right side couple, John and Crystal, decided to take their infant girl and move downtown—leaving their "relatives" to completely trash the place. Maybe that’s hyperbole. The new folks haven’t exactly trashed the place; their walls, doors, and windows are definitely still intact. However, the proliferation of household garbage that regularly spills out of their front and back doors is mind-boggling. We haven’t counted but there’s something like 12 people now living in the three-bedroom 1920s row house.

In addition to being filthy, these people are scary. They’re the youthful lay-about yet physically able, living on the doll, blunts in hatbands, hip hop at 4am, steady stream of transient houseguests, electricity stealing, pregnant pit bull tied up in the back yard, kinda scary.

Suddenly, there’s an element next door. The change in community makeup prompted us to fast track the purchase of our gargantuan privacy fence, and we’ve also purchased these new neighbors a couple lidded garbage cans to help them keep their gallons of trash from blowing down the street every-god-damned-day. Don’t even get me started on the city rats that now frequent the front porch of the not-completely-trashed house next door.

P.S. I’m loving the fence.

Our Sad Sewer System.

The trees closest to
the house had to go
Back in the colder months, pre-fence, hubby noticed a wet spot in the back yard surrounding the sewer pipe return. On one of the many sub-zero snow days this winter he called out a plumber to snake our drain. The cost was high, but relatively low in retrospect. The result of the initial visit was a stuck snake and a scheduled return visit from Mr. Rooter the next day. Their final prognosis—after retrieving the stuck equipment and snaking the pipe half a dozen times--was that the entire pipe needed replacing, to the tune of 10K. Of course our wet snowy winter did not cooperate, and we had to schedule their visit for *1 full week after the price quote. This meant short showers, no hair washing, minimal flushing, and absolutely no running the garbage disposal for over a week.

Eventually, the pipe was replaced at a significantly lower price. Although a large section of the clay pipe was completely disintegrated and needed replacing, the majority of it had previously been replaced. Lucky break!

What else…

The garden has begun to look beautiful, and a couple of the scary neighbors next door have asked me to help them plant a garden of their own. We’re calling that a big baby step!

* Digging down 8-12” in waterlogged soil would severely weaken the root system of the remaining trees causing them to fall and crush the neighbor’s house behind us.