You don’t even want to know…..

And yes, there’s been another death. You must be tired of reading this same topic. I’m tired of writing it. This death, like the old television, and the water line, and and and, (if you really want to know, simply scroll back through the last few blog posts because this whole year has been about fixing) came with a rebirth. Most deaths do, I suppose, in one way or another. This one was much more costly abet likely life-saving.

A month ago, yes, it’s been a lengthy rebirth, on a late Friday afternoon, September 7th to be exact, we heard a loud boom from the stairway wall that sounded as if a very large book had fallen on the floor. The sound was more a k-whomp, actually, than a boom.

Immediately, the house died. Well, not entirely, we had electricity in the kitchen, which was rehabbed before we bought the house, half the dining room, one socket beside the back door, and half the basement. Nothing on the second floor.

We are the proud owners of a 1924 built house, two main floors, a full basement, full attic. It has its charms. It also, as it turned out, had mostly 1924 wire, bare in some places where the old insulation had worn off, especially in the attic, most likely from years of mice chewing on them. And in fact, the electricians discovered the new kitchen sockets showed new wire at the outlet, but new wire wired below the socket to the 1924 wire.

The night after the first k-whomp, we attached a heavy duty extension cord to the one working socket by the back door and snaked it up the stairs to give electrical power to Cliff’s C-Pap at night and the PC’s surge protector during the day. Each night, we maneuvered up the stairs and into the bathroom with flashlights and an electrical lantern. Cliff had to shave in early morning dimness with the same lantern. Monday morning, we called our favorite fix-it company, the same company which had installed the new furnace in January, and while waiting, I cleaned the basement and did laundry.

I won’t detail the following days of electrical testing and paperwork and figuring things out and whether to go with a partial rewiring or a complete, but it was harrowing. Given that most of the wiring in the house is really old and doing a partial re-wiring left us open to more problems, and the company lowered the price by over $3,000, we went with a full house rewire.

Their top electrician and his partner arrived to rewire the house. It was a noisy process with much banging and sawing of one sort or another. They went in all sorts of directions at first; I remained confused.

After a few days, or maybe a week, I don’t know (although part of that time I baked cookies for the crew since they hadn’t started on the kitchen) the two electrical wizards managed to get everything working in my writing room and I hid out there. Not that I could do any writing. But it was moderately protected from banging and sawing.

At the same time, a huge hurricane was crashing into the Carolinas and gas explosions north of Boston were making the news. I think there was also an explosion in western Pennsylvania, but as you might guess, I lost track. However, those catastrophes gave us food for positive thinking: i.e. we weren’t in a hurricane and by acting, we’d likely prevented a looming fire that would have destroyed the house — a house that contains not just all of our individual lives, but the lives of our parents and grandparents: photos, dishes, paintings, furniture, etc.  There’s a lot to be said about downsizing, but we haven’t. My sister-in-law, also at this time, fell on front steps of their house, broke one foot, badly sprained an ankle, and bruised her knees. We were all functioning in this house. And upright.

I won’t go into the fear and despair at another costly job on this house, but that only lasted a couple of days. Mostly we were grateful.

Today, the house passed its final inspection. We have yet to admit KC Power and Light into the back yard to string a new electric wire from the back corner transformer or whatever it’s called, to the new box on the outside of the house, but that’s in the works.

The good news, other than the fact we’re not going to burn up in a house fire, is the cleaning we did behind pulled out chests of drawers and bureau and china closet and bookcases, etc etc etc, that had managed to evade cleaning for too long. You probably don’t need to know the size of the dust bunnies.

Now. Perhaps. I can get back to work, or what passes for work in my life. This is the first writing I’ve done since this whole project began so perhaps there’s hope there, too.



15 thoughts on “You don’t even want to know…..

  1. Well, that is good news “Juanita”. A completed work. And re-wiring was the right decision. When we bought the new house, (Only 40 years old) the first thing we decided, along with full remodeling, was to rewire the entire house. And I don’t regret it one bit. Glad you could get back to “work”. (I have the same kind of work, don’t worry)
    Have a lovely week-end.

  2. Janet,
    I hope your major repairs are behind you.
    I am continually dismayed at how life gets in the way of how we want to spend our time. And yet, without our trials and the strength they give us, what would we have to write about? We wouldn’t be who we are. (That’s a collective we, not a royal we.)
    Best wishes for peaceful and productive writing.

    1. Thank you, Theresa. I hope they are behind us, too, quite frankly. Our repairs etc may be the reason I responded to your post abt building a new house and moving as I did. Hopefully, yours won’t be too chaotic.

  3. Wow. You have had an energy-draining summer and done more deep cleaning than I’ve done since I moved to my apartment six years ago. That process was my final downsizing, I think. Enjoy being back to normal.

    1. Thanks, Viv. Downsizing. It sounds so wonderful and impossible at the same time! We are shoveling out some stuff, but as you can imagine, it’s waaaaayyyyy to much stuff. An energy-draining summer is about right. Thank you for saying that as I couldn’t understand why I remained so tired even though all the work was done. “I tired,” as a little friend once said to me.

  4. Speaking as a retired electrician, and someone who follows your blog, I’m happy to hear that you decided to rewire the entire house. It’s a lot safer for you, now, and for generations yet to come.

    1. Thanks, Allan. Actually, I thought of you as this was going on and knew you’d understand why we chose to do the whole house. Safety is the biggest reason we went with the whole house rewire. Hopefully, the generations that will live in this house after we’re gone will feel the same way. Although we neither have plans for moving or dying at the moment. My son, who was once an electrician, was a help. He knew the questions to ask.

  5. Yikes! I’ve been in the same situation with getting too-long-neglected things done due to something else being re-done. Making lemonade from lemons. 🙂 I was glad to discover it wasn’t a human death!!


    1. “Yikes” is about right. Quite frankly, I was glad it didn’t include a human death! Like ours. I love this old house but it is a chore from time to time. But now that everything is working AND clean, by golly clean, I’m hoping I have the head space to begin thinking clearly again!

  6. Janet, we usually invite friends over to force us into cleaning our house in order to avoid the embarrassment of rampant dust bunnies. You decided to re-wire and clean. Could I suggest you could have left the old wire in place in order to burn the house down, therefore, avoiding the lengthy task of house cleaning. I could be wrong with that advice.

  7. Wow, that was some building havoc you survived! Congratulations! We are planning a minor extension to our house. Reading about your experience is making me reconsider!!
    Enjoy the re-wiring. Until the next great life account, so long,
    Og and books xxx

    1. I understand your hesitation! I’m really hoping there won’t be another “great” account although we are heading to Baltimore for a week. Hopefully, that report will have photos and laughter and crab cakes.

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