Saturday, March 10, 2012

Of mould and mayhem

If it's not one thing, it's always another.

We have moved countless times over the last few years, and the above statement seems to hold true for each one of them.  Every move is completely different, and yet each one is riddled with some kind of mayhem or another.  It doesn't matter where we move to or how much planning we've put in.  Something always manages to go completely berserk.

Like the year the car transmission died and we were stuck in a hotel for an entire week on the outskirts of El Paso.  Or the year we had to stop every five miles because the van overheated.  Or the time the computer in our car melted, we crashed into a hotel canopy, and I had the police called on me for not accepting ice cream from a strange, hairy man with a large dog in a deserted park. Seriously.

Traveling always has its ups and downs, but after we arrive things usually calm down.  Not always.  The same year our car's computer melted, we had no transportation and our temporary accommodation had surreptitiously been taken over by someone's mother-in-law.  But usually, once we get into a place to live and begin unpacking, things begin to settle down fairly quickly.  Not this time though.  This move takes the cake.

After Stratford, the hotels were all booked so we spent a week on the floor of another professor's vacant rental apartment before moving into our new house.  The first week was dedicated to unpacking, and except for a lack of cupboards, it was going fine.  But then the trouble started.  One morning I went to open the curtains in the kids' bedroom and discovered mould growing up from the baseboards across an entire wall.  We had been in the house less than two weeks, and despite cracking windows to air out their room, there was mould.  I quickly pulled their wooden dollhouse and other toys out of this alcove and freaked out a little bit, before I went back in armed with bleach.

Over the next week, we found mould growing in every room-- in windowsills, doorjambs, on ceilings, on baseboards, behind furniture, mirrors, and creeping up my nature table and homeschooling bookshelves.  The bottom of my bookshelves held all of our loveliest picture books-- Beskow, Von Olfers, Ott-Heidmann... and seagrass baskets filled with games, math manipulatives, and early readers.  Those baskets were completely saturated with mould.  I ended up tossing quite a bit and saving what I could.  It was heartbreaking.

Meanwhile, we couldn't get internet access because we couldn't open a bank account.  Despite our finances, good credit history in two countries, and a UK job contract, we couldn't readily find a bank that was willing to open an account for us.  Finally, we found one, and promptly ordered internet.  But the internet company forgot to send us a router.  And when it did finally show up, we plugged it in and discovered that the gas boiler was off-gassing in the office.

As soon as one problem was fixed, we faced another: missing items from our move, a second invasion of mould, (including under our bedroom carpet), both faucet handles and door handles snapping off... things just kept popping up everywhere.  And then our gas boiler died, twice, which meant that while it was no longer off-gassing, we were without both heat and hot water.

It's an extremely old boiler, so new parts have to be crafted with fairy magic, or something like that.  We were instructed to arm ourselves with space heaters.  The kids were cold, so we set out to the store to buy some and discovered that our new bank cards didn't work.  In fact, our entire account had been fraud blocked, as I would find out the next day, because I tried to pay the rent.

And that was only our first month in the new place.  Since then the bathroom light fixture exploded in a haze of melted plastic.  The boiler keeps shutting off, not quite enough to require replacing, but enough to make things a little complicated.  The sewage line has backed itself up twice, to which the local plumber tells us that our lines are bad and we can expect to call him out a few times a year.  The mould, or "rising damp" the locals call it, seems to be waning, though I'm sure it's just waiting for me to look the other way.  And I'm not even going to mention the explosive kitten diarrhea...

If nothing else, moving is an adventure.  I'm not sure what the take-home message is, but as far as homeschooling goes, I'm sure the kids are learning a lot.


  1. Cathy9:19 PM

    Oh dear. That sounds bad. Hopefully Spring will weave her magic and make it all go away, but I think that really you need a whole new house.

    Lovely to hear from you again, Sara!

  2. Oh. My. Goodness. I knew about many of those incidents, but when you put them all in one blog post, it is jaw-dropping. I just want to scoop you all up and protect you from all the weird and horrible things. *sigh*

    I'll have a word with the universe to start making things better for you (alas, I don't think I have much clout).


  3. Thanks, Cathy. You are always so sweet! And yes, we definitely need a new house!

    Teresa, all those bits add up. And this isn't even everything... but I think the worst is behind us now. Or at least we know what to expect. Knowing what can go wrong is a kind of power... isn't it? ;)


Thank you for taking the time to leave a message. I appreciate your sweet words so much!

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