Egg Sauced

March 3, 2009

Sorry for the lack of pictures.  We are on dial-up internet at the moment.  I now look forward to catching up on your blogs very s-l-o-w-l-y, unless (until?) we should make our pact with the devil, i.e. Comcast, i.e. the only fast internet in our new town.

But we are moved in.  All our possessions are out of the rain.  We left the apartment far cleaner than than our raw vegan musician nudist landlord left it for us.  He remarked as much, in his white tunic, when we woke him up from an afternoon nap to come do the walk-through.  “Here’s my old room!” he said fondly, turning to me for the indulgent approval he is accustomed to receive from women.  I smiled fixedly at him in my wet, filthy floor-scrubbing clothes.  Then he found the lavender bundles in the closet and wanted to know if we were leaving them.  I said we put them there because the closets smelled of cigarette smoke so we figured we’d leave them.  He perked up.  “So, do you burn them?”  (He definitely moves in the sweetgrass set.)

“No, they just sit in there and make it smell nice,” I explained.  (Does that mean I move in the lavender-in-the-closet set?)

I think he’d got a sudden poetical vision of lighting smudges and chanting our meat-eating, milk-drinking, vegetable-scorching spirits out of the empty apartment when we were gone.

Over the years I have thought a lot about the fact that a quarter (an eighth?) of the renters in the world do all of the cleaning.  Every time we’ve moved, Der Mann and I have cleaned the place we were leaving, then had to turn around and scrape somebody else’s thick layer of gunge out of the new one.  We move into dirty rentals and leave them clean: I can only assume some lucky few have the luxurious experience of moving into clean rentals and leaving them dirty.  Virtue is not its own reward, so what motivated me to clean house for these people?

For one thing, money was so tight we were always terrified of not getting our deposit back.  Yet I know for a fact that most landlords will settle for what I call “symbolic cleaning.”  Over the years I’ve observed, again and again, a bizarre landlord-obsession with burner pans.  Replace the burner pans, dump a gallon of bleach in the toilet, knock the crumbs out of the kitchen drawers, and you’re golden: no need to worry about the blobs of jam or crock pot full of moldy leftovers in the fridge, the 9 burnt-out lightbulbs, The gravy smears on the woodwork, the wall you’ve been using for a dart-board, or the pools of shampoo in the bathroom cupboard–he’ll turn a blind eye to those.  If, on the other hand, he’s the kind of landlord who doesn’t return deposits, nothing you can do will to make him give it back.

It’s not that I’m a neatnik.  Well, okay, a little, but only selectively.  While I am depressed by dirt, I weigh the cost of displacing of it very carefully.  I don’t like to crunch around on gritty floors, I think it’s important not to let goop settle on work surfaces, and no human being ought to have to use a gross bathroom.  Also, I have a thing about keeping the kitchen counters cleared in reaction to my mother.  (Her hoarding and her clinical OCD and are a deadly combination.)  But I loathe scrubbing and mopping floors.  And dusting.  And vacuuming.

I end up vacuuming every week or two for the sake of my dust allergies.  In terms of surface area, 80 percent of the dust settles on the floor, right?  As for the other 20 percent, despite the fact that it is a health issue and I find it extremely unpleasant to touch–nails on chalkboard, really–I go months without dusting.  And floors, oh, dear.  Back when we lived in a farmhouse with real linoleum in a speckled brown pattern I once went more than a year without mopping.  But see, we don’t spill much!  And when we do spill something, we wipe it up with soap and and water!  And we don’t wear our outside shoes in the house!

Regular spot cleaning and a household with only two adults is the only thing that makes this kind of piggery bearable.

But I’m talking about our everyday dirt, in our everyday lives.  We would never bequeath it.  That would be wrong.  Like leaving our dirty underwear slung on the chandeliers.  I’ve never faced dirty underwear in a new rental, though I once found dirty sweat bands and sweat socks that had been slung on the closet shelf.

We are still technically renters.  My parents are buying the house as a retirement investment, Der Mann and I are fixing it up.  My parents are paying for materials, we are supplying the labor.  Our rent is about the same as it was in the duplex.  However, since we loaned my parents part of the purchase price, it is also an investment for Der Mann and me.  When my parents sell, we’ll get our money back with a portion of the profit from the sale.

In case you are curious, I managed to de-paper, patch, re-plaster, sand and paint the bedrooms before moving day.  All the dog-pee carpets are gone.  Believe how bad they were when I tell you the nailed, splintering, painted and paint-splattered wood floors underneath are a big improvement.  The rest of the house is (Euphemism?  Let’s see, now…) in process.  I’m only half done painting the dining room.  It’s the largest room, and my loom and all the stuff that was going to go in there is crammed in the living room until my paint store gets another shipment of the paint I was using.

Still no washing machine.  We went through the drama of buying one, hauling it home, squeezing it through tight doors, unpacking it, and hooking it up, only find that “automatic temperature control” refers to an internal, non-adjustable thermostat which prevents washing at any temperature other than the factory pre-sets for “cold,” “cool,” “warm,” and “hot.”  The “hot” setting is lukewarm.  Adjusting the laundry taps, which is how I’ve always fine-tuned my wash temperature, did nothing.  It was late at night and I’d been breathing paint fumes for weeks straight when I made this discovery; I was literally pounding on the walls with my fists and weeping.  I stopped short of swinging a hammer through the plaster, which was what I really wanted to do–I knew I was the one who would have to patch the hole!  My poor Mann.  He was the one who suggested we could try to return it.  He did the dirty work.

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16 Responses to “Egg Sauced”


  1. All the things you’re going through! I just ache in sympathy reading about it.

    Wow, I checked your “Fleeing The Landlord” post, and found you were right on target about the 1 month time-frame. Oh, you were so well behaved to that goof-off — I admire your restraint! (I wuld have told him to burn the lavender…)

    You are the ideal tenants! If only I had a house to rent to you 🙂 I’m sorry for all yours toils, but glad that you’re building equity in your own house/investment — and all the sweat and tears will be for yourselves.

    Oh, the washing machine drama was so miserably funny. (Perhaps not to you now…) I’m so sorry! I know the point is moot — but I’m dying to know if it was a front or top loader!


  2. I remember how outraged I was when DH told me he needed hi-speed internet. That was just a few years ago. Now, I’d rather go without heat than go back to dial-up!

  3. deborahbee Says:

    I am so pleased to have you back, but just reading your experiences tires me out. I am overawed by your hard slog,sense of wry humour and ability to read other peoples posts and leave great comments. I will reply to your suggestions about Bergman beaters on my post!!
    SpinningLizzy has been soaring ahead with Beauty and as I’m sure you know has posted a fantastic account.Its inspired me to dip my tie-ups in beeswax!!!!

  4. humblebumble Says:

    aaah, this bring me back. oh yes, to the flea-infested, cat-piss soaked hellhole i lived in in glasgow, renting from a man who, despite being perfectly capable of running a support agency for asylum seekers and consequently keeping many people off the streets and in the country, is completely incapable of supplying me and the council with the documents necessary to get the housing benefit paid on time. of course, i got the blame when it was half a year late in arriving, and i got the blame when it was overpaid and the council wanted it back. as a result i can’t claim housing benefit in glasgow anymore without going to court.

    also, who’s dog got completely covered in cat-fleas, and who paid for all flea-spray, powder, spot-on and so-on? not Phill, oh no. He’s busy drinking the housing benefit cheque and failing to pay the mortgage. who chased the kids out of the front garden and picked up their litter? who made sure the council removed 2 years worth of rat-infested litter from the bin sheds and picked up after the neighbours every time they decided to use the back close as a dumping ground (really, there’s people in govanhill who throw their rubbish out the kitchen window). I could go on and on and on.

    The woes of renting from hippies eh?

    i’m so glad i only live in a draughty flat with a leak in the front lobby now. at least it’s clean

    thanks for your comments btw, they always a pleasure to read 🙂

  5. Leigh Says:

    My, but you’ve been having a time of it. Having been a renter most of my life, I have my own horror stores I could tell. But good for you for leaving the place better than you found it.

  6. Stef Says:

    Wow! You are going through a lot right now!

    I feel your pain with the washing machine. We just purchased a washing machine, dryer, and dishwasher (all three conked out at once). We got our washing machine home only to discover that the model they sold me did not have the ability to spin the water out (essential for my handwoven finishing process).

    Much frustration and many tears later, we decided to exchange it for a lower-priced model (same brand) that did have this ability. After the store charged us restocking, penalties, and extra delivery fees, we ended up paying as much for the cheaper model as for the one I had originally selected.

    So…I feel a little fraction of your pain. Hang in there!

  7. Lynnette Says:

    Wow, I got pooped just reading about all your toils. I empathize completely as I have always cleaned like mad when we move out and always move into a sty! I really do enjoy reading your stories with or without photos – you express things so well.

  8. Suzan Says:

    Ha! How awful really, though. I, too, feel for you. Have just gotten the shivers as you describe the filth that others leave and you always “make right”. I think that behavior is part of the Eightfold Path. Now, when you are able to weave again – perfection!

  9. Jane Says:

    Where shall we convene the carport salon? I’m so in need of tea. . . xoxo Jane

  10. Dot Says:

    I quite agree with you about cleaning – I’ve only ever spring-cleaned when moving out! I hope you can find a better washing machine. No temperature control sounds like disaster. Our machine has different cycles at different degrees centigrade, but it’s low water and has a problem with not getting all the soap rinsed out, apparently this is common in the UK with low water machines.

    I hope everything is going well.


  11. What a lot of work you have been through! Cleaning…it’s the bane of my existence. I hate doing it and when I do, I whine alot. I draw the line at “our dirt” and “someone else’s dirt”. I can live with the dirt my family generates(up to a point), but moving in to a filthy house or apartment, or using filthy public spaces…. Yuck!
    You will feel so much better when your space is clean and up to your specs!

  12. trapunto Says:

    I like the thought of him burning the lavender, SpinningLizzy. Tee hee!

    *Writing* about them tires me out, Deborah, and sort of surprises me. “What? I did that?” Big messy jobs must have a little of the same effect reputed to childbirth. I don’t remember the pain so much as the fact of it.

    That said, Humblebumble has me beat. Yikes! Cat piss trumps Dog pee! In fact, your hippie landlord totally trumps my hippie landlord. Mine was more of a scary wannabee than the real thing. (They are rife in Portland.) He’s too young to have experienced the Age of Aquarius as a teenager or adult. I have more respect for the guys like yours who actually got stuck in time, though they are a worse menace.

    Whereas my landlord, who acted constantly stoned without the excuse of drugs, would give flashes of snarling self-preservation as soon as anything threatened to scratch the surface of his mellow. I doubt he would have made such a mess of the paperwork. It would have been too stressful for him!

    I would be really annoyed about the detergent, Dot.

    Hello Katherine! I whine a lot too! It helps!

    xoxo back at ya, Jane. The carport salon has moved to what I’m hoity-toitily calling the breakfast room. We’ll see if the name sticks. It’s where I put the table that used to live in the car port, and where all the mess drifts, but you can talk to me at the stove from there!

  13. trapunto Says:

    Thanks, Lynette!

    Hey Leigh, thanks for stopping by. I love your blog because it makes me think, I’ve been waiting until I have enough brain to appreciate it! Do tell the horror stories! I have an infinite appetite for them just now.

    Oof! Steph, that is absolutely awful. Isn’t it weird that you can’t find out these things before you buy? Google is very bad at providing the reviews I would have liked to see *before* I knew enough to use search terms like “automatic temp control hot lukewarm”

  14. Cally Says:

    Still catching up… Yes, who are those people who get away with leaving their dirt behind them? In our case the house had been rented out so I didn’t know whether to blame the tenants (students) or the landlord (a celebrity in fact). Given the celebrityness, I blamed the landlord.

    At least you can feel smugly superior to the other three-quarters (or seven-eighths).

  15. trapunto Says:

    My interest is piqued! Celebrity landlord? Landlording just seems so . . . not-celebrity-ish. I agree with you about the blaming part. Student renters are kind of like gerbils in a cage. It’s no use blaming them; you just have to clean the cage.

  16. Cally Says:

    Well she certainly didn’t take a personal interest in her property! She — a local girl — has a property company which owns a lot of houses/flats hereabouts and lets them out, so it’s perhaps a bit of a stretch to call her a landlord. But I was seriously unimpressed. If I were a Well-Kennt Name I wouldn’t want said name associated with dirt, grime and letting listed buildings go to pieces.


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