Sunday, August 30, 2009

Meet 'The Power of Jordan'

This is what we affectionately call this oil portrait that was found in the house. Painted by the artist in 1976, this piece has a sort of spooky effect with 'The Power of Jordan' eyeballs shifting his gaze on you wherever you are. (Just like the Mona Lisa -- except, the Mona Lisa is in the Louvre with security guards, and 'The Power of Jordan' is sitting on our porch outside, with the critters to guard him.)

If my Mom is reading this right now -- wait, she'll have turned the computer off, 'The Power of Jordan' freaks her out, so much so that she had to turn it around when she and my Dad came to visit last week. (Sorry Mom!) She'll probably have the heeby-jeebies for days now and have to cleanse her screen.

'The Power of Jordan' cannot be denied! All of that feathered 70's mullet-ish hair and brooding expression draws you in, and if that doesn't do it, the v-neck sweater that looks like it's been sewn from a bear hide will. It's kind of like a 'Q-Ray' bracelet -- it will enhance your feelings of well-being and help you get more out of life (maybe).

Warm up your printers and make a copy of the painting and tuck it into your wallet, you never know what 'The Power of Jordan' will do for you!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Kitchen of horrors

Remember the last shot of the kitchen? Yes, lets hope you haven't eaten anything within 30 minutes of seeing this picture again:

You're lucky this photo isn't scratch-n-sniff. Take it from me, I've been there, and it's bad -- in a dry heave-y way.

Onwards and upwards, right?

Another beauty shot of the kitchen showing off it's fly tape and impeccable organization. Everything a modern family could possibly want. HA.

We decided to put on our big boy and big girl pants and bring the kitchen down (note to self: buy bigger big pants):

There was a noticeable decrease in the number of winged friends buzzing in drunken dirty kitchen swarms once we started to take the cupboards down.
(Small pause here: The two older guys who were frolicking through our yard-o-crap took these cupboards. I hope they took them far, far away. Crazy old guys nonetheless.)

Once the cast iron sink was taken out (and our spines readjusted) we discovered the mouse hotel under the lower cabinets and up into the wall.

EVICTION NOTICE! Well, not quite as dramatic as that, but we were glad to see that no one was home at the time. The mouse hotel was engineered using insulation and plastic bread bags.

Excuse me for a moment while I get a little sidetracked:

THESE PEOPLE CLEARLY WERE NEVER ON THE ATKINS DIET. The sheer volume of bread, tortillas, wraps, pitas, buns, flatbread that we're discovering must have cost a small fortune. We have 3 FULL SIZE freezers left behind, and every single one of them is full of bread. Two of them are outside, and one is down in the basement. When you wander around the yard you stumble across plastic bread bags and those plastic ties used to close them. I mowed the lawn (whole other story there, if I go off on another tangent this post will never end) and mowed up 3 bread bags hidden in tall grass and weeds. It makes the mower sound like a category 3 hurricane.

Sidetracking over (for now, you're lucky).

To add to the mouse hotel, we noticed an ant inn (trying to make a theme work here):

And I now know where the inspiration for Edvard Munch's 'The Scream' came from. The resemblance is uncanny:

I think my face did the exact same thing at that moment.

Then we noticed the shoddy electrical work:

Yup, that's duck tape. Doubt THAT meets code. Good thing we had already decided to bring down all of the drywall in the house anyways.

So that leaves us with a parting shot of the scene we're uncovering. Another ant party was found in the far corner, but we couldn't find any ant inns around there. That might mean there's another problem on the second level. Hopefully not, but if there is, we'll deal with it -- and I'm going to buy a 36-ton pack of caulk and cover the exterior of the house in it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

More hoarding in the barn loft

Here's photographic evidence more 'stuff' crammed into the loft in the barn:

I spy an exercise bike, can you?

Sinks, sinks, and more sinks. And above that my Dad discovered super cheapie toilet paper -- the kind that comes out in small squares.

Formica repair kits anyone? We've got lots!

There's really no words for this scene, but we're keeping the hemlock moulding for when we eventually decide to fix up the barn (in the year 2030...).

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Conquering the giant vine

One of the fine specimens of our garden was growing up the side of the house. Sure, it hides a lot of the ugly, but it's really not good to have little tendrils working their way into the siding, and then possibly tapping you on the shoulder while you sleep -- or worse, waking up covered in creepy vines. (Sorry, that's my worst-case overactive imagination talking there.)

I couldn't take looking at it any longer, so I decided to tackle it with whatever tools I could find laying around (and there's many). I came across a broom initially and smacked the living daylights out of it with some success, knocking most of it from the house. (I was like a horticultural my mind.)

Take a look at my handiwork, and notice the fact that windows exist under all of that:


No really, they shouldn't have -- housewarming gifts from the previous owners

Usually, we like receiving gifts, but in this circumstance we don't have a choice. We're just starting to scratch the surface of the 'gifts' that have been left behind for us. For example:

• Blueberry jam (preserves?) and cans of dog food in a box. This was left on the porch for us.

• A plate o' half eaten ribs found in the garden. I guess it was just too difficult to bring inside and clean up. (I think this sums up the habits of the people who lived there nicely.)

• Surprise cars! We call them this because we haven't taken the tarps off yet, but we think Jaguars lurk underneath.

• More preserves and dulche de leche sauce. This was left just sitting on a cement ledge. The orange one is kind of pretty looking with the sunlight streaming against it. (I guess that's what you call 'making the best out of a bad situation'.)

• And these little beauties are scattered throughout the house. Each light switch has a different dog. Words can't describe how happy I'll be when these get replaced.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

And on the first day, there was junk.

We finally had possession of the new house on Thursday afternoon (a day late thanks to legal issues that arose on the seller's end). With all of that behind us, we were finally able to set foot -- legally! -- on the property and take a look at what's now ours.

And let me tell you, it's far worse in person than it is in photos. This is a certifiable dump we're dealing with.

Close to the barn, it looks like a garbage dump.

Initially, we didn't set foot in the house; there were far more distracting issues that we were blinded by. Junk was (is!) piled everywhere. It looks like a small village was attacked, and the people dumped their belongings and high-tailed it out of there. Wait, that might not be so far from the truth. Here's a little background on our sellers that we've learned:

• There were two people living here, a man and a woman (married, we believe). The woman ran a dog breeding operation, and the man spent his time going to auctions and buying things (we think this was his job, but we're not certain).

• They have an absolute plethora* of baggage -- both in the physical sense and the life sense.

• They both have serious cleanliness issues, whether this is just pure laziness or a result of some mental issues, we can't tell. Maybe it's both. All I know is that no human being should ever live in the unsanitary conditions they've created.

• All of their neighbours are glad to see them go.

We walked around the property to survey the jaw-dropping scene of garbage/junk/who-the-hell-knows items. After half an hour I was numb (and my face hurt from making that 'oh my god' expression). Trevor seemed to take it in stride a little more, but maybe he's just better at hiding it. Wait, I know he's better at hiding it.

How we found the kitchen. These people are unreal.

We finally made it to the house, and my instinct to be cautious about it proved correct: it was horrible. Fly tape was strung from the ceiling (an effort to clean up?), the kitchen was a mess, floors were dirty, personal items and furniture were left behind, and the smell...oh the smell. Eau de dog funk? I can't sum it up in words, but it's a bouquet my nose won't forget anytime soon. Some horrible things we discovered later on:

• A washing machine full of black water (luckily today we discovered it can turn on and drain, it also contained a pair of socks and jeans).

• Cupboards full of old food (scraped up chunky peanut butter containers, ew), a freezer full of bread, and a fridge with milk in it.

• Old mattresses.

• And, quite possibly the most disgusting thing I've ever seen: an unflushed toilet (I won't go into detail, but it had been there a while).

This isn't the offending toilet from above, it's the one that made me dry-heave. The lovely toilet seat has a new home in the dumpster now.

While we were in the house, we saw some men in trucks pull up, and they explained to us that they were working with the old seller to take junk away and help him out. We had no problem with them carrying on with what they were doing previously (and hey, they have trucks, that's like gold to us at this point!). They have proven to be very handy over the past few days, taking away things that are trash to us, but treasure to them. We also found out from them what happened in the days leading up to our possession of the house, with one standout being that one of their horses (there were two) had to be put down as it was in ill health...and it's buried in our yard now. Let the horse poltergeist jokes start now (or horsegeist?)...

So, with two full days behind us, we've managed to clear out most of the main floor of the house, and almost filled a large dumpster out front. I took two hours and attempted to clean the small powder room bathroom on the main floor so it can be used (I've never been someone who's been overly queasy, but scrubbing that toilet almost had me dry-heaving over it). Cans of Lysol are like currency around here; every knob and light switch has had it's turn, along with walls, windowsills...anything that smells, or could smell.

Junk piled behind the house from the basement. This was also left for us.

The days ahead will be spent doing more the same, clearing piles of garbage and junk out of the house, and preparing it for demolition (not the knock it down kind, but taking it down to stud).

* That's the most dramatic word I could think of.

Monday, August 17, 2009

And, moving on...

Things are going to get a little more interesting around here soon. We close on the new house tomorrow, and have possession this Wednesday at 2pm. Sounds simple enough, right. ...right?

At the moment we're crossing our fingers and toes that our seller will be out of the house come Wednesday. Apparently they're having issues (read: their own crappy bad timing) with getting all of their stuff out by 2pm. More details to come!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

P is for packing

Goodbye lovely stainless steel letter P, I don't know when we'll see each other again. The same goes to the rest of my stuff.

I'm attempting to focus on the reality of living in a 10 foot by 32 foot metal shoebox soon. I measured our house last night to give me a visual and some sort of clue on the size -- this way I can say 'Yes! I knew what we were getting into!' (note: I will also be saying this while rocking myself back and forth in a padded nuthouse room in the future).

Two weeks now until we can officially get this party started, woop woop.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Last long weekend with no reno's

We're just starting to get accustomed to life without renovations. It was very strange at first to not have an endless list of things that needed creating/fixing/improving/finishing in the house, but we've adjusted to it (a bit). Now we spend our time packing, cleaning and planning for the new house now -- oh, and we also have a bit more of a life. I think I can count on one hand the number of times we've been to Home Depot in the past month and a half (but we still know the layout by heart!).

This weekend marks the last long weekend we'll have before we move into the next house and have our lives chewed, swallowed and spit out by it. And that's putting it nicely. To take the edge off of that I'm posting photos of a fun day out to the Othello Tunnels where we hiked, relaxed and were otherwise oblivious to our future reno lives, so I can look back at it wistfully one day and say, 'oh look, we were normal back then!'.

Some of the tunnels are quite dark.

View down from one of the trestle bridges.

When they were constructing the tunnels (back in the day) they would light the charge and then scurry up the ladders away from it. Yikes.