I love my house. I really do. I love the look of the bricks, the large backyard, the small greenhouse, the quiet neighborhood, the sunroom I use as my office. There are so many adorable little touches that make my house charming and well, homey.
Unfortunately, it is also old. I’m not sure how old, but based on the neighborhood, very old. My landlord is a sweet old lady who had been trying to sell the house for about three years before deciding to rent it out for a few years. Since they were trying to unload the house, they weren’t overly concerned with making little updates. Some of these updates would not be too hard to make, but when the house is not your own, the cost and effort can be more than the inconvenience you live with for a short time. Of course there are other changes you wouldn’t make unless you own the house. Living in a foreign country for a short period of time means buying a house is not an option. Instead, I sit and I list the things that irritate me about living in an old house.
1) Horrible hot water
Our water heater works between noon and five pm every day. It will not heat water at any other time, even if you ask pretty please. The unit will hold water for a short period of time, meaning I do have hot water to wash dishes at night, but it won’t hold much hot water at a time. By the time my children take baths, and I wash dishes we are almost completely out of hot water for the day. And there is no middle ground between boiling and freezing temperatures. If you are in the shower and the water begins to cool, you have approximately one minute to get out before you are hit with an icy blast guaranteed to freeze your insides for the rest of the day. It’s not too bad in the summer when the sun keeps the pipes a little warmer, but when you are in the middle of winter, and that hot shower is the warmest you will be all day, it is tragic when it turns out to be colder than if you just rubbed down with a handful of snow.
2) Blowing a fuse when trying to cook lunch
The electricity in my house needs a little work. And that is being polite. I have had the power go out in my house completely when trying to make lunch. Running the laundry, using the stove, and listening to music over the internet can be too much for my house to run at a time, and it just gives up. The laundry room used to go out if I tried to run the washer and the dryer at the same time. Of course, there are other times when everyone is home, we are all running things, and the house is perfectly fine. Maybe it just doesn’t like my selection of soup on certain days. Either way, it can be infuriating to have the entire house turn off three times simply because I want to do some wash and heat up lunch at the same time. It doesn’t seem like too much to ask.
3) Waking up to a flooded living room
The seals on the windows and doors can use a little work. Not only to improve the heat efficiency in the winter, but also to prevent flooding during rainstorms. In our living room, there is a set of large glass doors. If the wind and rain hits them just wrong, the water sneaks in, flooding everywhere. Usually at an alarmingly quick rate. Over night. Right next to several electrical hookups.
4) Odd electrical hook up
Speaking of electrical hookups, they are weird in my house. I’m not talking weird as in European hook ups instead of American. You expect that when you move here. It’s a part of living in a foreign country, you must adjust somewhat. I’m talking about having internet and phone hookups in the basement. Only in the basement. I’m talking about having cable hookups in rooms we would never choose to place a television. I’m talking about having a refrigerator and freezer in the garage.
And that freezer? That freezer is the most judgmental appliance I have ever met, and that is including the bathroom scale. For some strange reason, my freezer refuses to keep ice cream in the winter. Everything else in the freezer will be fine, but my ice cream will melt. It can solidify water to make ice, but can’t manage to keep my ice cream from melting. The ice cream is fine in the summer, but in the winter, when it is cold enough outside I should be able to keep my ice cream in the yard and have no problems, it melts in the freezer. I have to drive for 45 minutes to reach the store where I can buy American style ice cream. That is an hour and a half of driving only to have my ice cream melt before the end of the night. Not cool freezer.
5) No proper heating
This is probably my biggest complaint. I hate to be cold. REALLY hate it. I often wish I was a dragon, simply so I could breathe fire on the ground and sleep on a bed of hot coals. And yet, I have several rooms in my house without any decent heat source. I was certain I would freeze to death when we moved in and I learned my bedroom had no heater. Fortunately I live in a world with space heaters, which can help to offset the cold.
I know you are probably thinking I am nothing but a whiner here. Maybe even thinking, if the house is that miserable, I should just move. But the truth is, I really do love my house. I kind of wish I owned it, just so I could fix the things I dislike. I love having a tree that my daughter can climb. I love that we have our first real live Christmas tree here, now planted in the backyard. Our Christmas tree will still be here in 20 years. How cool is that? I love having my gardening space where we grow fresh vegetables all summer. I love having a landlord whose 85 year old father comes over to teach me how to make jelly from the tree in my yard. I still don’t know exactly what kind of fruit it is, but the jelly is fantastic. I love having my space, a bright and cheerful sunroom to work in. I even love the oddity of having elderly neighbors randomly stand in my backyard and stare into my sun room space. Yes, sometimes I rant and rave, and make lists of everything I hate about my house. But it is our home.