Meanwhile, back at the ranch

Our daughter Alice might have thought she was getting a bargain when we went overseas and she moved into the big old house. But then about a month into her residency, the kitchen caught fire and the whole first floor sustained major smoke damage. The insurance paid for everything; still, if organizing the subsequent six-month cleanup and renovation didn’t disabuse Alice of the bargain notion, three years of constant old-house upkeep have worn her down.

Recently she posted this status on Facebook:

Free to a good resident:

One five-bedroom 100-year-old brick home; comes with myriad unique bonus features including:

  • a water heater-cum-cigarette lighter: approximately once per minute the control panel sparks loudly, so you’ll never be denied a relaxing smoke
  • an in-wall cistern: I don’t know what keeps filling it, but it sure seems to be an “H2Ornucopia”!
  • engage in a Debordian dérive every time you plug in the Cuisinart. With the almost magical, patternless tripping of fuses and the random, mapless layout of the plugs and fixtures they power, you will have no choice but to actively engage with the house, which may or may not be becoming sentient.

First come first served!

Huspaz! also comes with a neurotic 11-year-old terrier and rotten egg bombs hidden in every other bush outside- you never know what you’re gonna get!

Well Alice, happy birthday. It’s a big one, and I hope it’s a good one. Someday we’ll take that white brick elephant off your hands. Meanwhile I hope you enjoy the new smoker. Just don’t use it in the house.



About lornaofarabia

I am a teacher from Medford, Oregon. I currently live and work in Bangkok, Thailand.
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6 Responses to Meanwhile, back at the ranch

  1. Kira Ashley says:

    As a kid I lived in an almost two hundred year old farmhouse over near Griffin Creek in the Medford area. It was the original pear orchard farmhouse and came with antique farming equipment and a buggy. My parents got it for so cheap and they’d never owned a house before that (it was five bedrooms, two bath, with attic AND a fruit cellar). But old houses need LOTS of repairs, as your daughter is finding out, and I spent most of my elementary years fixing the house. Some more memorable repairs was re-roofing the asbestos roof and my mom dropping the old asbestos roof tiles off the roof and onto the ground for the kids to pick up (not sure if this was before the poisoning from asbestos was found out about hahhahha), and we called each other Casper like the friendly ghost because the dust painted us white! Another fun incident was when the sump pump backed up and flooded our fruit cellar and we got to go swimming in the water to save all the holiday decorations stored in tubs down there. The water was over three feet deep and our resident salamanders loved it just as much as us kids did!

    Old houses make lots of memories! Whether bad or good…

  2. Alice says:

    I don’t think a “deal” is ever a word I’d have used for living in this house… but it has been more of an adventure than I anticipated. Character-building learning experience and whatwhat- I know more about roof moss and sump pumps than I ever thought I would! And soon will know more about smoking pastrami than I’d ever dreamed.

  3. Alice says:

    I mean “bargain.” Dammit.

  4. Alberto Enriquez says:

    LOL! This must be the advantage of higher education. Have myself struggled with tripping circuit breakers and the inevitable muddy/dusty crawlspace excursions and/or blown insulation attic struggles which ensue. Coughing fits have I known but never in decades of home repair spelunking, have I experienced a “Debordian dérive.”

  5. Sam Elliott says:

    Just last week, Jon said to me, “I hope Lorna and Andreas fully appreciate how much they owe Alice for agreeing to caretake their home while they are out of the country for 4 years!” Personally, the thought that goes through my mind as I read your wonderful blogs is, “They could not be living out this dream/adventure if Alice had not signed on for her own uncertain adventure in caring for an older home.”

    It has been a pleasure watching Alice grow into this role. Her very active participation in helping her class prepare for the annual Master Gardeners Spring Fair, her stepping up to fill the vacancy left by our Neighborhood Coordinator for the Food Project, along with single-handedly caring for a very large home and yard, working, going to school, pet sitting, all deserve kudos. Oh, and did I fail to mention that she shares her mother’s love of cooking, so also finds time to share that with her friends.

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