The roof leaked.
The wind blew through crevices in need of weather-stripping.
The plaster was peeling from the wall paneling over which it had been slathered.
But, it has become home.
The vinyl siding was mismatched, and at the back of the house, the algae grew up four feet high. The first week in the house, as we relaxed on the couch watching some long-forgotten show on television, we heard a loud *POP* and caught a whiff of smoke from somewhere. Jumping up from our seats, Mr. Muse and I moved quickly in the direction of the sound, me finding that the lights in one of the bathrooms no longer worked and him finding a wispy tendril of smoke, rising and curling from the electrical panel.
So much for relaxing.
Mr. Muse, well-versed in do-it-yourselfedness, traced the smoking connection to the water heater, which was supposed to be wired with 30 amp wire, but the previous owners had jury-rigged it by splicing together 10 amp to 50 amp to the 30 amp hooked into the circuit. We commented that the event could have gone so much worse than it did, but the water heater was quickly and correctly rewired, and we knew that we’d be in for many more surprises with this house as time went on.
Waking up in the middle of a rainy November night to the sound of wet *plotching* had us scrambling for buckets, pots, and pans as we found the leaky part of the roof was directly over our bed. A couple of cans of roof patching sealant got us through until warmer weather arrived months later when we ripped off the entire roof, trusses and all, to put on a far better one complete with a six-foot overhang for a front porch.
New siding, all one color, followed quickly.
Over the years, we’ve remodeled rooms, completely gutting some only to find charred studs next to flying splices in the wiring without wire nuts. Last year, after chatting with one of the locals who walk by the house on the daily, I learned that they were a former occupant and with their spouse and some family members, they had upgraded the wiring. Of course, that was after I mentioned the fiasco of the water heater and the charred wall studs. I stifled an uncomfortable and astonished laugh as they said, “I KNEW I had smelled smoke! I smelled it for years!”
They also told me how twenty years ago they had put in all new windows. Given how the other improvement projects have been carried out, I’m positive that the issues we’re finding now started to creep up shortly after installation. The wooden frames are dry-rotted and attractive to woodpeckers, but half of the windows in the house are large, expansive picture windows, which was a selling point, and I still love them as a feature.
These late summer months have found me in charge of filling holes, priming, and painting the frames on the front of the house after I got a bit overzealous with the pressure washer and ended up stripping off the paint from the frames. One of those situations where once there is a hint of damage on one, you mentally throw up your hands, say “fuck it,” and get on with doing the rest.
There is, of course, the problem that I loathe painting to such a degree that I would procrastinate this window work if I could. But, knowing how expensive it will be to replace the windows, especially the large picture windows, I had to stop putting off the inevitable.
In my adventures with the windows, I’d discovered that the window glazing was falling out and needed replacing are most of the picture windows. I stripped it out and glazed them anew. I’ve learned how to use rapidly-setting filler to fix small and large wounds alike in the wood. I have theorized that using a piping bag for frosting (disposable of course) would give me much more favorable results with the wood filler, and the application of the theory was met with success.
Now, the windows are back in passable shape, or at least they are ready to survive what the Farmer’s Almanac is saying will be a harsh winter, if not a close visual inspection.
We affectionately complain about our house and its character and foibles, because it’s our home. We bitch about the previous owners and occupants, and their “improvements. Fixing and remodeling their mistakes takes longer and more money, but at least, in the end, we know the repairs are done properly.
The house is a pig, but it’s our house and if it takes a little lipstick to hide the multitude of sins, at least until we can make appropriate fixes, then hand me my compact.
The Amusing Muse is a writer, chocolate-lover, and watcher of The Simpsons who lives in Southern Wisconsin. She’s also loves herbal teas and shortbread cookies, though she rarely has the latter around in the house. However, you’ll always find a tasty treat in her freezer, like cookie bars.