Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Finally ...

We're in. Two nights we've slept in the house now, amid a rather large degree of chaos admittedly, but in the house nonetheless. Julius has 3/4 of his bed (bed legs and top layer of the 3-layer mattress missing), while Maria and I are on a makeshift arrangement - comfortable enough - on the floor, waiting for our bedroom floor to be finished and our own bed legs to turn up.

The bathrooms are usable, but lacking final coats of "accent" paint, not to mention a basin in the downstairs bathroom, or places to put "stuff" (toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc). But Maria had a hot bath (that took several hours to drain), and Julius and I have both had showers that crept over the "warm enough" barrier.

The fireplace has blazed on both nights, filling the radiators in their rooms with enough warmth to
keeping the frostman out, and depleting our meager wood supply rather alarmingly.

We've retrieved 2/3 of our belongings from our neighbour's house, and are managing to find narrow walkways between the myriad boxes that are adorning the majority of available floorspace.

If it wasn't for the particularly unfinished kitchen, it would feel like we've moved into a finished house. At least we have a fridge and stove, both operating, but we don't have a working sink, cupboards, or a countertop.

But we'll manage until we've found the time, energy, and wherewithal to get that Nordic resin spatchelored on, and found willing helpers to get our marble dining room table carried inside.

Perhaps the best surprise so far is that the ubiquitous rat and/or mice waste matter in our storeroom was limited to the outside of the boxes - no sign of rodent habitation inside anything, just a few nibblings of plastic here and there ... so far.

I wasn't sure this day would ever arrive, but here it is, and if it wasn't for the absence of a kitchen, I'd be waxing right lyrical now, I'm sure. Euphoria aside, it's good to be in. It's going to be a nice home.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

So near … and yet seemingly inching away

Amongst the milestones of moving into a new house are: (a) moving in, and (b) finishing the move-in. (b) takes rather longer than (a), as most will attest. If you’re renovating, or building, somewhere in there is “completing the building”, and then “completing the touching-up”. The first of these can be pre- or post-(a), while the latter typically coincides or is subsequent to (b).

To someone who is eagerly working and waiting for any of these activities merely to start, these distinctions and timeframes are purely academic (as is the numbering). And they’re most certainly academic for us right now.

That’s right – we haven’t moved in yet, although it’s hardly for lack of trying. Everything in our lives besides “the house” has disintegrated into the background – the very necessary task of getting my Italian driver’s license (to be covered in a subsequent blog), the very necessary task of finding work and/or a source of income, the very necessary task of learning Italian, catching up with friends, even spending real time with our son.

And with every joule of energy that we contribute, the goal of moving in – based solely on a working bathroom and heating – seems to be two joules further away. Here’s a partial list:

  • The special paint which is destined to find its way onto our bath and sinks has not arrived. It was ordered a month ago. We need it to complete the bathrooms. [If you're asking why we needed this particular finish, I'm working on it.]
  • In order to move into the house, and move some of our long-stored items in from the mouse-ridden outhouse, we need to clean the rooms we and they (the “things”) are moving into. Our vacuum cleaner is stored in the house we used to rent next door. The house’s key-keeper, a friendly Englishman, cheerfully announced yesterday that he had lost the key to said house. Aside from the vacuum cleaner we need to do the cleaning, much of our warm clothing, bedding, and kitchen appliances and stuff are in said house. In addition, the compressor we’d hoped to use to help with some power-cleaning of our furniture and other things – we’re expecting some powerful dirt after a year in a rickety, dusty, holy (not-spiritual, that is) storehouse – was removed by the builder the day before we asked to use it.
  • The wooden floor upstairs – site of the bedrooms and therefore the ultimate destination for the stored beds – is finally installed. They started in July. They (the floor layers) are not experts, as the results attest – a bowing surface that had to be nailed down to keep it level, rendering a row of unsightly holes that now have to be filled in. So do the gaps between the floorboards themselves. Given the proliferation of both nail-holes and gaps, it is no doubt going to be a time-consuming effort. Naturally, it’s ours to do … before we then have to paint it with a finish to protect it, that is. And given Maria’s distaste for the varnish that the carpenter supplied (Julius and I, somewhat irrelevantly, are rather taken by it), there will be a delay while she conducts the search for the “right” finish. It’s odds-on that we’ll end up with what we already have, only a week or two later. This, of course, takes no account of the prerequisite search for the filler for the holes and gaps, which has yet to commence.
  • The kitchen “cupboards” – concrete constructions made by the builder – were also selected to receive the aforementioned special paint (see bathrooms above). We started it way after the bathrooms, and we’re now only on the first of the four coats that they will ultimately get. The surface area is much less than the bathrooms, but much harder to do, given that you have to crawl into spaces that weren’t designed for this kind of thing. I hate it, and avoid doing it every chance I get. Along with the inherent slowness of progress, my mindset, which seems unlikely to change in the near future, is equally unlikely to speed up the completion of this rather key location in our new home.

There’s other stuff too, although it doesn’t have an immediate bearing on our ability to move in:

  • We (I use the term “we” loosely here, with a focus on family unity rather than culpability) “mislaid” our cell phone. It’s the only way numerous people, upon whom we are relying to get things completed, can get hold of us, and contains the only record of the phone numbers of those who need constant chasing to get the necessary things done.
  • The downstairs bathroom sink, which was bought some four months ago, finally had the hole for the plug drilled by the marmista (the marble guy from whom we bought it). Only it was the wrong sink … and he can’t find the one we bought.

I’m left considering the possibility of a conspiracy – what else could it be?

“Why” doesn’t matter, of course, when considered in the same breath as the need for (a). Notwithstanding all my rumblings, believe it or not it may be this week. That depends on whether the idraulico (plumber) arrives to complete the installation of the bathroom radiators, toilets and other fittings. Am I holding my breath? Don’t look for me to be going blue anytime soon.

The only thing I can say is – thank heavens for angels like Anna Finn and her two daughters, Mimi and Cara Bella, who have accommodated us uncomplainingly with warmth and grace and patience for the past 3 weeks. Without them, we’d be even more at our ragged ends than we already are.