January 11, 2008

Throwing in the Towel?

If it's not one thing, it's another. The kitchen sink leaks. The cabinets are mouldy and unpainted. There are no electrical outlets in the dining room, no lights in the hallway. My beloved Little Blue House, the only house in Edmonton where I thought I could be happy, is now making me miserable.

I know every house has its quirks, most of which you don't discover until you take possession, like that two-inch hole in the back door, the one that lets in snow. And I'm not above a little DIY and TLC. I'm actually looking forward to repainting that noxious pink color in the kitchen and bathroom, to repainting every square inch of the interior, but my fear is that none of these improvements can make the Little Blue House a home.

For a house to be a home, you need to feel relaxed whenever you walk in the front door, but all I feel right now is anxiety and nausea. Actually, at this point, I would be happy just to be able to walk through my front door, but my landlord can't seem to find the key and appears to be in no rush to get a replacement.

The problems start at the surface and run deeper, much deeper. First of all, everything needs to be painted, beginning with the adjoining living and dining rooms. But after two weeks in this house and hundreds of paint swatches, I can't find a single color that goes with both the hideous rosy tile in the dining room and the putrid mustard floor boards in the living room. I don't know how I never noticed this before, perhaps I was seduced by the words "original hardwood floors" when I read the ad, but there is nothing sexy about unstained Canadian pine. The stuff is baby-s@%# yellow, and my contractor-landlord has covered it with so much varnish that it's positively reflective.

The other thing I failed to notice when we visited in November is how incredibly small the house is. I suppose every house looks spacious when it's empty, but I quickly realized, once our furniture arrived, that though we now have a full house at our disposal, it's not actually any bigger than our Boston apartment. Every single room is about 25% too small, and the doorways are positively Lilliputian. I don't understand. Our house was built in the 1920s, not the 1720s. People were not that much smaller back then. Presumably they wanted to furnish their bedrooms with a bed, a night stand, and a dresser, so why did they build it big enough for only two?

The final straw came last night when I went down to the deep, dark bowels of our basement to do an inaugural load of laundry. When my new white bath towels emerged from the washing machine they were dirtier than when I put them in; they were positively caked with mud and grit -- my brand new white bath towels! To make matters worse, the dirty water in the washing machine refused to drain, so I couldn't even run them through a second time with bleach.

The problem was finally solved many hours later after lots of fiddling with hoses and pipes, but the experience has nearly drained me of any desire to improve this place. Surely another rental -- even (cringe) a modern one -- couldn't be this unlivable. I am seriously considering throwing in the towel here at the Little Blue House -- I just have to be careful it doesn't land in the general vicinity of my washing machine.

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