Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Meeting the house

The process of buying a house in this country is insane. You visit the house a few times, poke around—but not too much because, after all, this is someone else’s house and you were raised not to poke around in other people’s things—and then you sign over your soul and first-born child to buy a house you barely know. Marrying a complete stranger is probably less scary and expensive as long as you do a pre-nup. You can’t do a trial run with a house, can’t stay there a while to see how you get along together. You move in and you’re stuck.

You discover there are all kinds of planes and extra surfaces that will need to be dusted. You find all the little non-working things the house inspector didn’t find, like the faucet-thingies for the washing machine that need to be replaced and the fact that the hot and cold tubes are switched. I’m afraid to undo them in case I can’t get them back together. There’s the little room off the main bedroom into which I put two oak four-drawer file cabinets. It used to be a child’s nursery. After I put the files back in the drawers and know I will have to hire two strong men if those cabinets are to be moved again, I discovered the smell of urine embedded in the carpet somewhere. I restacked the boxes and sprayed all over with the enzymatic cleaner I use for the dogs. This stuff should be sold in the baby supply department, not just in pet stores. Everybody knows that dogs get house-trained faster than kids.

Then there’s the oven. I’ve never seen such a scary oven with so many controls. I’m used to cooking by turning a switch for the stovetop burner and turning a switch for the oven. Not here. I have to decide among lower oven, upper oven, convection and regular, burner size, warming zone, front burner and bridge burner, probe. So far I’ve cooked some lentils. I put the lentils and broth on the stove, brought them to a near boil, turned down the heat, and went off to do some unpacking. When I remembered the lentils, half had stuck to the pot but they hadn’t burned. That went well.

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