Moving Up, Moving In

As the rest of the nation sat glued to their TVs tracking Hurricane Rita, Beau Hunk and I were preparing for an evacuation of our own – out of the Bay Area house. We spent a few weeks weeding through our stuff, planning what furniture to donate / give away, packing non-essential items and making 400 mile (round) trips to a storage unit with a rented trailer. The new house closed on the 23rd, and the Bay Area house wasn’t due to close until sometime around the 30th, so we knew we had some wiggle room.

But there were plenty of things on which we had not planned.

First of all, we knew the new house was being lived in by a person of questionable mental health. What we didn’t realize was the magnitude of his sloth. When we toured the house, the carpet was gray and stained. It was also covered by quite a lot of stuff, and all the windows had the drapes drawn and many were permanently covered, so there wasn’t exactly a flood of light coming in to the place.

We saw the house again a few weeks before we moved – we were in town to drop off stuff at our storage unit and went by the house. The owner was outside packing up his stuff and invited us in to see a few things. It was then that we realized the house was dirtier than we had thought and the carpets were not ready to be lived on. There was also still a lot of stuff in the house and the windows were still covered , so it was hard to get a good look at the whole picture.

We had been thinking about the possibility of removing a wall of the kitchen, so we didn’t want to replace the carpets until we had a chance to mull that over and make a decision. So instead we decided to have the carpets professionally cleaned before we moved in, in the hopes we could make them liveable. At least we knew they’d be clean for Woo.

What we didn’t realize was that the person who lived here had a magnitude of pigness that we hadn’t come close to estimating. We got here around 6pm on the 23rd, and were greeted by our wonderful agent who was bearing pizzas. She knew we were coming in late and didn’t know our way around town, so her welcome was dinner. It was a godsend!!

It was at this point we started to really see what we were up against. We walked into the house and the first thing that we noticed was that the carpets weren’t gray, they were pink. Think about that. Pink, not gray. Ew! And in spite of cleaning, they were still in terrible shape. (The cleaners had called us and said there was no way they could get them clean.) An example: You can see a clean rectangle where the couch was. You can see a clean rectangle where the coffee table was. And in between the two you can see which end of the couch the previous owner occupied, because the carpet is black. After being professionally cleaned. Black. No kidding. We put the couch over that spot because it’s just too gross to contemplate.

The previous owner made no effort to clean the place. It was truly disgusting. You know how when you use a bar of soap next to a sink and it leaves soap on the counter? He didn’t even wipe that up. He just packed, closed the door, and walked away. He left us his fridge (we left ours for our buyer – too much of a bitch to move) and there was even food left in it. Not much, but it was there. We’re talking half eaten ice cream containers. Why in the name of all that is good and holy would you think that was ok?

The walls were filthy, the tub was unspeakably gross, the kitchen floor was black in places, and even the walls and switch plates were filthy. We’re talking years of grime. The first night we assembled our new bed from Ikea and fell into it, wondering just what kind of a pig in a poke we had been suckered into buying.

Satuday dawned and we set out to make this sty liveable. I started in the kitchen, which would turn out to be a huge project. I started from the top down, scrubbing the cabinets with Murphy’s oil soap the OrangeGlo, the counter tops with SoftScrub with bleach and a stiff brush, and the floors with barely diluted PineSol. As soon as I started I knew I was in for a lot of work. When I started scrubbing the tile counters, the chocolate brown grout (that was black in places) started turning sandy beige. I didn’t know whether to wretch or cry. But the good news is that I hated the dark brown grout and it looks really good with beige grout. The cabinets had food stuck to them. The bottom rails of the doors (especially on the lower cabinets) had dirt and dust an eighth of an inch thick. The dining room ceiling light fixture had so much dust and gunk on it that light no longer made it through the clear glass on the top of the fixture. It was completely obscured by years of crud.

I finally got to the floor after about eight hours of cabinet and countertop scrubbing. I grabbed my kneeling pad I use for working in the garden and my stiff bristled brush and went to work. I tried the mop, but that was a waste of time. The dirt on the floor just laughed at my mop. It argued with my scrub brush, but I was eventually able to win the battle. At one point I got up and noticed that the tops of my feet were hideously dirty. I realized this was because I had been kneeling on the floor and the tops of my feet had been rubbing on the floor as I was doing so. The floor was that dirty.

Thank the dieties that Woo was with his mom during all this. I can’t imagine having him in this house with all this pigginess. I have come up with many nicknames for the previous owner, including Pig, PigBoy and Piggie Pie (the name of a book I read to Woo). I shared this with Beau Hunk, who laughed and commented that I had built up quite a disdain for the man. I said, yes, a day and a half of wallowing in someone else’s disgusting filth will do that to you.

While I was battling with the kitchen, Beau Hunk painted Woo’s room and put together his new furniture from Ikea. We painted the room a really pretty light sky blue. It looks really great. After that was done, Beau Hunk set in to tackle cleaning the bathrooms, door jambs and light switches. We decided our policy would be that we would not touch anything that the previous owner touched without chemical intervention.

By the time Woo got here on Sunday night, we had the place reasonalby together. We didn’t move in much furniture – first because some was back at the Bay Area house, secondly because we decided to replace the carpet as soon as possible. There’s not much point in moving stuff in just to move it back out in a few weeks.

Having our posessions spread out between the two houses became a real pain in the ass pretty quickly. For starters, we forgot to bring the box that had the computer mouse and our cell phone chargers. That may not sound too bad, but if you take into consideration that we didn’t put in a landline here and were using only our cells, you realize our quandry. To add salt to this wound, both our phones started dying at the same time – just as we got notice that the Bay Area house was about to close – three days early. Uh-oh. We went to a nearby store and bought a car charger to solve the phone problem. However, the real problem was that we still had a significant amount of belongings in that house. Oops.

We planned to leave the new place at 8am on Wednesday to make the 3-4 hour drive to the Bay Area and get the rest of our belongings. But because Fate is such a bitch, that plan was foiled when Woo woke up at 5:45 am asking for a puke bucket. He and I spent the next three hours going through puke cycles every 20 minutes. The poor little guy was in a bad way. He didn’t have a fever, and he wasn’t bringing up anything but liquid, so when he suddenly perked up around 9, we weren’t surprised. By 10am we were on the road, heading off to get our stuff and leave the Bay Area for good. For insurance (and in case Woo needed some tending), we asked my parents to drop everything and meet us at the house.

It was a good thing we did, too, because we ended up loading our truck and a rental trailer, plus their truck to the absolute gills to get everything out. We showed up at the Bay Area house at 2pm and didn’t leave until 9pm. We got back here at 1 in the morning. Talk about a really shitty day. Woo never puked again, but he was a huge handful. He didn’t do well with the stress and chaos, and was a complete butt the whole day. It was one meltdown and defiant act after another. We ended up asking my mom to dedicate her time to watching/entertaining Woo. I think she was ready to jump off a cliff when the day was done.

We sent my parents home with their load around 7pm while we tied up all the loose ends. It was a horrible, long day, but by the time we left, we were able to lock the doors, leave the keys on the counter and walk away. Forever. It was a good feeling. I’ll miss that little house – I (with the help of a lot of other people) put a lot of effort into fixing it up, but it was time to move on.

We are slowly getting settled into the new house. As we continue to pick away at the grime, we have discovered a lovely little jewel sitting below the filth. Carpet is on order, we’ve picked a paint color, and have a plan for the yards. We’ve made some quick hits that have really brightened the place up – cutting down or trimming overgrown bushes and trees, changing out light fixtures, etc. We have started to fall in love with our little house, and think we’re going to like it here just fine.

The neighborhood gossip lives across the street and informed us that Piggie Pie moved into the house after his mother died. The rumor is that she may have even died in the house. I thought about that and briefly wondered if she had any intentions of haunting our cute little abode. Then I decided that, if anything, she’s probably glad that someone is finally living in her house who will take care of it and not wallow around in their own filth. I think she might be happy that there is a family living here who cares about the place and fills it with light, love and laughter. She wouldn’t dare haunt us, we may be her wish come true.

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