Sometimes I feel like our house is held together by duct tape and a wish. It was an old house, made in the 30’s, so it has issues. Most houses do. Yet sometimes it seems all of those issues hit at once.
Last week, Will was trying to make some food. I was showering in the basement, as the shower head in the upstairs bathroom was installed with the thought that giants might stay with us and like to shower. For my purposes, it is like showering in the rain and I hate it. When I told Will this he said, “Oh, yeah! You are so short!” Great epiphany, love. Hope you remember it the next time the issue comes up (i.e. the shower head needs to be replaced).
Our dryer has been making a squeaking noise pretty much since we got it fixed a few months ago. The squeak drives Will crazy. The squeak reminds him that he needs to level the dryer when he is already focused on making bookshelves and the living room is a complete disaster area of used furniture, old bookshelves, and generally speaking, Things In The Way. Because the dryer seemed to distress him, I tried to only dry clothes when he wasn’t home. This worked for a while, but eventually I kept forgetting to dry the clothes while he was gone. I had a load in the washer that had been there for a while. Every two or three days I would think, “Oh, shit! The clothes!!” Go downstairs, and add a few more items of clothing to justify running the wash again.
Finally, on this particular day, I decided that Will would just have to deal with the noise as the situation had become ridiculous. Also, damn near every item of clothing that actually fits me happened to be in the washing machine, so it was getting dire. I put the clothes in the dryer, and the squeaking started. I go ahead and shower, figuring that I will suffer through the squeaking.
There is ominous thumping and cursing from upstairs. Will making unhappy frustrated noises. Will brings the unhappy noises to the basement and I figure he is irritated about the dryer squeaking, but I am poised to explain that it is necessary squeaking.
I swear to all that is holy in the land, as soon as Will came downstairs, the damn dryer was louder. Like it was trying to piss him off. I told him so and he believed me.
“Do you know what I am doing?” he asked me as he goes over to the big buckets that catch water from a leaky pipe. When I say big, I mean we bail this thing out with 5 gallon buckets and it takes quite a few trips.
“Bailing water?” I asked tentatively, sensing this was a trick question.
“I am getting the roaches out of the oven, but I need a specific tool to take the oven apart, and that tool is down here. I get down here and I see the bucket is overflowing, so I have to take care of that instead!”
I knew it was a trick question.
So, roaches. We occasionally have a roach problem. I am psychotic about cleaning our dishes due to a horrendous ant problem we had early in our marriage that can only be described as an infestation. In addition to hating the place we were staying, which was essentially a huge ant hill, we decided that since ants are the only other thing on the planet that wages war and they clearly had us outnumbered and they were immune to poison and Will’s wrath a tactical retreat was the only chance we had. Since that time I wash dishes like someone with OCD. A writer friend of mine once told me – as she sat in my kitchen and washed dishes – that she was going to write a story with a character who would compulsively wash dishes. I maintain that clean dishes mean less food for insects. If the insects have no food they should, in theory, leave you alone.
And yet we have roaches. Not just the type of roaches that come out at night and scurry about doing their little roachy business. No, we have tiny roaches that like our appliances. After spending $160 to repair our oven (we repaired it at the same time we got the squeaky dryer fixed), we now could not read anything on the display because there were two roaches standing in front of it. Those fuckers were taunting us. I’m pretty sure they were also laughing at us. Will would occasionally ask me what time it was and I would glance at the clock and say “Three roach o’clock” because the numbers were blocked by mocking roach bodies.
Well, on this particular day, Will had had enough of the roaches mocking him. He decided to take them out. He was quite angry about it, too.
So, we had a tense conversation about the dryer and how it should only have lighter loads and it was silly of me to only run the dryer when he wasn’t home and it was probably squeaking louder because of the extra heavy load, while Will bailed water and I showered. I shut up, Will finished bailing, found his oven opening tool, and went upstairs. I took my time toweling off, went upstairs and saw he had taken the oven partially apart to get at the villainous roaches. I thought that maybe I should tell him to unplug the oven, or possibly flip a breaker so he didn’t electrocute himself as there were lots of wires, then saw his expression and figured that I would leave him alone.
I went to the bedroom, got out socks and underwear, and then I heard a pop, a thud, and the power to the entire house went out.
I wait a beat or two, then figure I should do a verbal Dead Husband Check.
“Yeah, I know!!!”
“I heard a thud after the pop and was worried you killed yourself.”
Now, Will is starting irritate me a little at this point but I figure that all the man wanted to do was cook a crappy tv dinner in the oven and he has had to bail water, listen to recurring squeaks of doom, and then wage war on roaches, I will leave him alone.
He didn’t just blow a fuse, but blew out the entire house. He figured that meant he could work on the rest of his Kill The Roaches project since the power is out. He takes apart the control panel, and honest to god those roaches are smart little assholes. They are in a part of the oven where we cannot get to them. It is this clear rectangle box thing that has circuit boards attached. Will and I can both clearly see that if we take it apart to kill the roaches then we cannot use the oven. After we curse their name for a while, Will realizes that whatever he did to make the whole house go dark, pretty much killed that part of the oven anyway. We have to call a repairman, but the roaches can die.
Another $160 to fix the oven. At this point if the oven breaks again I am chucking it, probably shooting the crap out of it if Will will let me, and buying a new one rather than sink more money into repairs.
Will cannot get the power back on inside the house. This means that I have to go outside and flip that fuse. Imagine my delight when I saw that is was raining cold, gray, miserable winter rain. The power does come back on, so hooray.
Since that time, Will has built a new structure for the dryer that is level and it still squeaks. It needs a new ball bearing, so we have to call the repairman again. I am super happy about that, because I am sure it will be something like $80-$160 meaning the dryer will get replaced if it stops working again, too. However, in the meantime, it works, so that is good. Also, Will made that part of the basement really nice, with a special foundation for the dryer that is level. There has to be a foundation because the basement leaks. Our new sump pump and flood hole (I think there is a technical term for this, like overflow well or something clever, but I am not sure what it is) usually takes care of any leaking the basement does, but if the power goes out, the sump pump doesn’t work and things get flooded. Therefore, Will puts appliances up above the flood levels of the basement.
In addition we found out that our upstairs renters have a huge mouse problem and maybe a squirrel or raccoon infestation in the roof somewhere. That will be fun. We cannot poison the mice because we have cats and they will die. Trust me on this one – and just as a PSA when you poison mice you are also poisoning hawks, owls, cats, and many other creatures that feed on mice, so it’s a Very Bad Thing. We cannot use live traps because they will be in someone else’s apartment. We use live traps at our place but I also check them compulsively because starving to death in a trap seems like a pretty horrible death to me. Many other people I’ve seen use live traps are not as OCD as I am and would have been kinder using snap traps. Anyway, Will is going to seek out the advice of our elders and come up with some sort of solution while I try to not to think about poor little mice who finally found a warm home only to get slaughtered. I know my mouse pity is irrational. You cannot have vermin eating your food and pooping everywhere. It is gross and unhealthy. I still feel bad for the mice.
But not roaches, man. Fuck those guys. Roaches do not gross me out or anything like that, but they are little minions of evil designed to ruin household appliances. I am ok with their destruction and I feel no guilt. Ok, a teensy bit of guilt, but that guilt is assuaged by the thought of a $160 repair bill.
The point of all of this is that our house is sometimes held together by sheer force of Will, the hero of this and many other tales.