Monday, December 14, 2009

The Dimlight Saga, or My Adventures Moving Into a 1950s House in Montana

Really I am just going to tell you all what's been up with us for the last 10 days or so ... I do not have the energy to write this all in the clunky Stephenie Meyer style with lots of gazing and brooding and stuff.

Saturday morning the 5th, we left my parents' house about 9:30 AM. Almost as soon as we hit the freeway, there were flurries, and once we got to about Kaysville it was just wicked. G says he counted 20 cars off the road. We just went slow, slow, slow and were fine. Didn't have any luck reaching V so we could stop on the way and buy an office chair ... but with the weather like it was it was just as well we didn't need to stop. We got lunch at Arby's somewhere around Tremonton (yum, I haven't had Arby's in forever!) and headed on up the road. The roads got a lot better through Idaho, but there was still snow on them so we didn't go much faster than 65 the whole way. I had a hard time with this (boring!) but I did feel like G was probably inspired to keep it slow so we could stay safe, so I followed (mostly). We stopped for snacks at the Super WalMart in Idaho Falls. Wow, what a zoo!!! Monida Pass was really no sweat; a couple of the other passes in MT had more snow but it was dry and powdery, not too hard to drive on.

So, we got to our house around 8 PM, found the key hidden under a brick, got in no problem. The realtor had left us a goodie basket and a beautiful wreath. I went to the store, we ate some ham and some scalloped potatoes my mom had sent with us, and we went to bed. There was only about an inch of snow on the ground in Butte, and again, dry and powdery, no big.

Sunday morning, G called the number his aunt had given us for the church. Turns out it was the bishop's house. The bishop's wife told us church was at 9, so we hustled and made it on time. The kids were shockingly good - between exhaustion and shyness they hardly moved a muscle all through sacrament meeting. I wonder how long until that wears off? We introduced ourselves in Sunday School and RS and EQ - the usual. G was in charge of recruiting helpers to unload our moving truck - we thought it would be Tuesday afternoon at this point. A family in the ward invited us for dinner so we went over and had spaghetti and sat on furniture, which was nice. They have two little girls, ages 2 and 4, perfect little friends for Z.

Monday we took G to start work, and I intended for the two middle boys to start school, but I had inadvertently packed their shot records and birth certificates in the truck. Oops. So I made some calls to get their shot records faxed from our doctors' offices in California. Then I basically spent the morning on errands and shopping - ordering phone and internet service, setting up our water account, buying little stuff for the house. And big stuff - I got the LG washer and dryer at Sears. I could have saved a hundred bucks or so buying them in Cali and moving them here, but oh well. I don't actually feel too bad about that. True confession: I only took Z and left the boys at home alone. They had the TV and VCR we had brought with us in the car, and their Legos, and they were fine despite my worrying. Notice my worrying was not enough to induce me to take 4 kids on errands.

About 2 in the afternoon we decided to go to the YMCA and get a membership and swim. Just before we were to leave, I noticed the basement toilet was unflushed and flushed it and walked out. Well, I cannot remember what made me come back downstairs but I came back down about 5 minutes later and the toilet was overflowing and running everywhere. I shut the flap in the tank to stop the running and then went out -- with all 4 kids -- to buy a mop and bucket so I could clean up. Came back and cleaned up 3 big buckets of water out of the bathroom, then remembered I should check and see if the water had run into the utility room. Sure enough. So I cleaned up there. Then we went to the Y, got our membership, and swam for about 45 minutes. It is NICE! Z had a big tantrum because she didn't want to go home, and K got all dressed and stood by the showers, which someone then turned on and soaked his shirt. I just took it off and let him wear only his coat home. Remember it was below zero at this point, at the warmest part of the day. Crazy crap.

Tuesday A and K started school. We found out the truck was delayed in Salt Lake. I threw a big fit on the phone and got them to give me $50 for every day they were late. S and Z and I did a few more errands and got the gas fireplaces in the house going. I had bought a small heater fan to dry out the utility room, which still was damp. I didn't want to take any chances of growing mold in there (it's a susceptible area). Plugged it in that night and went to bed.

When we woke up in the morning, the master bedroom where we slept with the gas fireplace on was all cozy, but as soon as we stepped out, BRRRRRRRR! The rest of the house was about 50 degrees. I first thought that the heater had just kicked off because of the fireplaces - the furnace thermostat is by the fireplace in the living room; kind of dumb if you ask me. But when I turned that off it just got colder and colder and the furnace did not kick on. In the meantime my new washer and dryer were delivered, YAY! So I spent some time with the Sears guys installing them.

When I went down to check on the furnace, I realized the header fan was not running, either. I had plugged it into the furnace plug. So clearly there was a circuit problem. I flipped the breaker a couple of times. Waited. No luck. Turned the fireplace upstairs back on so we wouldn't die. Finally went back down and started following cords from the furnace. I found an old 15 watt Buss fuse box and sure enough, the fuse was blown. I was really dreading going out looking for those fuses, but fortunately I found some spares in the basement storage room. Once I replaced it the furnace was humming again. More crazy crap.

That afternoon G's mom arrived from Bozeman, where she had been staying with G's brother, and of course immediately started working on my laundry. The woman cannot sit still. At least I had the washer and dryer so she could do something. The RS president from our new ward brought us dinner: ham and potato casserole, frog eye salad, sweet potato salad, carrots, and rolls. It seemed to us like a perfect assemblage of Mormon food and Butte food. Sweet potato salad is a local specialty. It's pretty good. It turns out the RS pres and MIL knew each other when they were teenagers here in town. It was a funny reunion to watch!

Thursday morning we expected the truck. I called to check on it. They told me it would not arrive until Friday. I cried and cried! I was so done with being in an empty house, plus I had horrible cramps and just felt awful. So we (G's mom and I) spent the entire day stripping out old Contac paper and cleaning out the kitchen cabinets. If I ever left a kitchen in that kind of state I think I would die of embarrassment. Yuck. Some of that paper and dirt had to have started along with the house in 1958. G's mom was an incredible sport. It was hard work, and the whole job just shredded my fingers and nails; they are finally not hurting now. In the evening we had Truzzolino's tamale pie, another local dish. It's a take-and-bake kind of deal. Pretty good. I have another one in the fridge waiting for a night when I don't feel like cooking. Probably gonna happen soon.

Friday morning the truck finally arrived. I don't know how this came to pass, but two men, two missionaries and three boys from the ward arrived simultaneously to unload. We had told people it would be Friday night. I don't know how they knew the truck was there that early. It was all done by noon. We are so grateful! G's mom unpacked the kitchen while I worked on getting boxes to the right rooms. Friday night we were invited to the bishop's house for pizza. The kids got along great and we really felt comfortable there - it was so nice.

Oh, and about my title: Almost all the lights in our house are these funky 50s fixtures that you have to pull down on springs and slide out the glass in order to change the bulbs. The former owner put really dim CFL bulbs in all of them. So you can hardly see in the house. I am going to have to go around and change all the bulbs. I'm terrified I'm going to break the glass; it will not be easy to replace if I do, being as old as it is. Also, the light switches are all Remcon relay switches, so every light can turn on and off from like 3 different places. It's a huge pain. One of the guys who helped unload the truck is an architect and he said they're worth a lot for people who are doing midcentury retro homes. Well, I am about ready to sell them off and get normal light switches. I looked them up on eBay and the internal wiring is worth about $40 per switch, to say nothing of the switch plates. We have 8 or 10 of them, plus spares in a box in the basement. I am starting to think that could go a ways toward paying for normal wiring in this house. So much to do.

But we are here, safe, warm, and relieved to be almost done moving. We miss our California friends. We're happy to be making new friends. We have good coats and a working furnace and beds to sleep in. Life is not too shabby.


Crysty said...

I'm so glad you got your stuff! That must've been AGgravating wandering around in a cold, empty house. And GO YOU for figuring out the furnace!

Coolclan said...

Welcome home!!!

annie said...

What a saga. Glad you got your stuff finally. What a pain. It sounds like your ward is going to be great! :o) Congrats on the successful move and good luck selling off the light fixture things! :o)

Kari said...

So gladly you are there safely and working on getting settled!! So excited for your new adventure!!!!

Rachel said...

You made it!! I have been checking your blog anxiously to read your moving adventures. Hope you can get settled in and enjoy Christmas.

Oh you will have to post a picture of your washer and dryer, because that is one of the most exciting parts of the story! wahoo!!

kwic07 said...

Congrats on your successful move. I stumbled across your blog while looking for REMCON switches and covers. If you have some you can part with (hour-glass shaped switch/cover), you would be a lifesaver. We just bought this old, one-owner fifties house and are trying to do some low-budget renovating. Please contact me at kwic07(at)gmail(dot)com and let me know. Thanks in advance.