It’s funny that no matter how many times you make plans and they don’t work out, you always think that the next time will be different. I am the eternal optimist. My glass is always half full! And so, when we finally closed on the mountain house on May 17th, I was sure we were home free, and things would go as I PLANNED THEM! Nothing could be further from the truth…
You see, the weekend before we were to originally close on the house (May 6th), we drove up to make sure it was still there, and no damage had occurred from the violent storms that never seem to avoid Gilmer County, GA. Two small pine trees were down, across the driveway. We assumed that Fanny Mae would remove them. But…when we made our first trip as homeowners, on May 18th, we were greeted by the pine trees across the driveway, and the sight of an enormous pine that had fallen away from the house in the back yard. Clearly, a twister had visited our property.
We also had no water, because the well had sat, unused, for over a year. It required a new capacitor (which had been struck by lightning), as well as a new pump. Also, unused wells get filled with mud, and it takes a while for that to clear out of the plumbing lines. When we finally did have water, late in the day on May 18th, we had almost non-existent water pressure. Until today, we have been taking showers with droplets of water, and if somebody ran a faucet in another room while one of us was attempting to shower, there would be no rinsing off! GRRRRR…
The house also has a propensity for sprouting leaks everywhere. I have named it the “Leaky Tiki”. Last week, we were away from the house (went back to Atlanta to get cleaned up!), and when we returned to the mountain house, we found that the toilet in the master bath had a cracked tank. The water from the tank flooded the lower level of the house, and caused a ceiling to just about fall down. Our plumber, Kerry, and his faithful companion, Harold, replaced all of the toilets that day. (We basically see Harold every day; he’s definitely a permanent fixture on the family payroll.) The good news is that the carpet downstairs was filthy, and had to be removed much sooner than scheduled. :>)
Today, I started painting the master bathroom. The goal is to get Dad settled in the master suite, which is on the main floor, as soon as possible. For now, he is staying in the guest bedroom upstairs, because it is the only room that has a real bed. (Greg and I are sleeping on the floor, on twin mattresses, in the master bedroom. Those mattresses will eventually move to bunk beds in Riley’s bedroom.) Dad has trouble walking up and down the stairs, so it is imperative that he have a main floor bedroom. Also, the upstairs bathroom is hideous! (But we will cover that room in detail later.)
Anyway, as I was setting up my ladder and paint tools, I noticed a puddle of water on the master bathroom floor. Then I felt a drop hit me on the head. Looking up, I was horrified to see water dripping from the ceiling. Now, these are not ordinary ceilings. They are solid pine, tongue-in-groove planks, and they are absolutely gorgeous. I had visions of my ceilings being destroyed by water coming from WHERE THE HELL NOW? An SOS went out to Harold; he opened up a wall in the odious upstairs bath and found a connector that was leaking. Apparently, the previous owner, in an effort to save money, utilized a used part to fix a leak. He saved $5.00; it cost us $134 to fix! But the ceilings were saved…
I always thought that that people moved to the mountains in the summer months to escape the heat. HA! Memorial Day weekend was blistering hot, even in Ellijay, GA. It is also the occasion that we used to move a washer, dryer, freezer, and assorted lawn furniture from Atlanta to the mountain house. Greg rented a 14-foot U-Haul truck to manage the move. He was terrified of getting the truck up the driveway, which is a life-altering experience, even in a 4-wheel vehicle. Surprisingly, the truck chugged up the mountain without incident! We nearly had heat strokes unloading the truck, but we all survived the experience, including Dad, who takes a licking and keeps on ticking…His stamina continues to amaze me…
Yesterday, when it was time to return the U-Haul truck, it was pointed in the right direction (downhill!) We were thinking the worst was over. I followed behind in the Subaru, and when we reached the bottom of our drive (which is dirt and a little gravel), Greg steered the truck into a sharp right-hand turn onto the cement ease-way, that is a terrifying slide-for-life down to the main road (which is also dirt and gravel), but couldn’t quite make the entire turn. The truck listed to the right, and refused to back up! Going forward meant a dive into a very deep ravine. A tow truck had to be called, and after being winched to a maple tree, and $75 dollars later, the old U-Haul was pointed downhill, and Greg was on his way.
There is a lesson here. It’s not about what an awful experience this move has been, although I do confess to thinking multiple times over the last 2 weeks what an idiot I was to think that that things would go better than they have. I have also wondered (fleetingly) why buying this house seemed like such a good idea. Jennifer refers to it as the money pit. But, no, that’s not it. First, the trades-people we have called on to help us fix this house, and make it structurally sound, have been salt-of-the-earth folks. They could charge us outrageous fees to perform their work. We’re from Atlanta; what choice would we have but to pay whatever they request? However, that hasn’t been the case. The Ellijay job market is primarily construction-based. For years, people have been building second homes to escape the city, and that market has dried up, due to the downturn in the economy. The new business comes from those of us who are buying foreclosures, and they are welcoming us with open arms. They call us a better crop of folks than the ones who used to inhabit these houses, and they want us to be able to afford to stay! Our plumber, Kerry, had recommended a gutter installer, a painter, and a trash collector; each one of his recommendations has resulted in a new friendship, and great workmanship, at a more-than-reasonable price.
Several weeks ago, when we first moved in, a knock on the door revealed the man who had built our mountain home. He just wanted to introduce himself and welcome us to the neighborhood. It was clear that he still had strong feelings for the property, and he offered to fix the driveway, at a good price, because he is in the earth-moving business. He will also remove the massive pine tree that fell in the back yard. Today, he made good on that promise. We will have him and his wife to dinner soon; they will be our first formal dinner guests!
Sunday was Jennifer’s birthday. She and her family came up to spend the day, and we wandered around downtown Elijay, visiting little shops. Riley, who loves water, and calls it “avi”, enjoyed playing in the fountain on the square. He loves it up here. So much so, that when it was time to go home, and his father was packing all of his toys (including his “VROOM” Little Tykes bike) into the Explorer, he was trying to pull them out of the Explorer, saying “No!” “Stay!”
Dad and I will be in Charlotte next week. He has a monthly visit with his oncologist, and we have to make arrangements to move his furniture up to the mountains. We are also attending the summer cook-out of our dear friend, and my almost-sister, Leslie. Dad’s big concern: Can we go straight from Charlotte to Ellijay, without visiting Atlanta first?
I think all of these sentiments are indications that the mountain house is the right place for all of us. There will be hard times, but they will pale as we sit on the back porch and listen to the sounds of the creek rushing by….
(Pics of the house will be in the next entry, hopefully tomorrow.)