five – six – pick up sticks…

4 09 2009

five6During our recent adventures in garage sale hosting, Shop Girl and I discovered a few things that had come back to the wild North from her time in LA that had never found their way out of storage.  Maybe it was on purpose since so much of that stuff represented a different time in her life.  There was a set of three IKEA mobile type doodads that were used as room dividers in that little apartment perched on a hill just above Sunset Blvd.

Two of the three were sold to a displaced hippie that very hot Saturday afternoon almost a month ago.  The third one was promptly hung on my front porch by yet another displaced hippie.  HA! I was mad that we had sold the other two (albeit for at least twice the price they were originally).

The twirly, whirling sticks remind me of one of my favorite games as a kid.  I loved holding those 50 or so little pieces of wood in my fist, letting them go and starting the process of carefully untangling the mess.  One by one, checking first to see that I was pulling out the ones that weren’t touching the others in a way that would move them.  A delicate dismantling.

Her voice on the phone was tight.  She asked me if I was sitting down.  I wasn’t at the moment but soon found myself taking a seat.

Shop Girl’s landlord had called yesterday to ask them to find another place to live.  No, he’s not selling the property.  No, they are not behind in their rent.  No, there have not been tensions in the last two years they have been renting from him.  He just thinks that they should look for a more “modern” living space and thinks that she’ll never be happy living there.

Less than a month ago, together they had addressed some issues that needed attention and he gladly complied with some new paint in their dining room and kitchen along with a new vinyl floor to cover the gazillion year old linoleum in that tiny space.  The third thing on their list was to ask about when the last time the air filter on the furnace had been changed.

There have been smells for the last two years.  There have been year round allergies and what a doctor in Spain once diagnosed as a “stupid cough”.  She has wondered if maybe there is something up with the basement.

A space locked with a key – they are denied access.  If there is a power outage or a tripped breaker, they have to call and he sends his “handyman” friend over to check it out.  Once at the beginning when they were getting their TV hooked up, her husband went down with the cable guy and “handyman” and was promptly asked to go ahead back upstairs since he didn’t need to be “poking around”.

They mentioned their concern about air quality since they are going to be having delicate little lungs breathing in the stuff before too long.  They asked if they might be able to be in possession of a key in the event of an outage and to monitor the humidity down there so they wouldn’t have to wait for Mr. Not-So-Handy-Who-Smells-Like-Hootch-Most-Of-The-Time to show up with his duct tape to fix what ailes.

Those must have been the sticks that were too close to collapsing the pile.

What is in that flippin’ basement anyway? Enough black mold to run his butt into court or what?

I was once in her predicament.  Being the gypsy bunch we are – hasn’t always been by choice.  Settling into our own space almost 10 years ago now and after 22 moves,  gives me a bit of a handle on the tenant thing.  The Dr. and were remembering the time when a landlord who shall remain nameless doubled our rent overnight.

Oh…what fond memories, those!  I remember a night that I wandered the streets of that small village on the edge of Madrid crying my eyes out.  I imagined for just a few instances of what it must be like to be suddenly homeless with no where to turn – no where to go – the pile of sticks collapsed around my head.  There are people all over this state who are experiencing that even with mortgages and homes they were buying.

But in this instance – there is a way.  There always is.  It just takes some careful study.  Some steady handed moves.  I reminded Shop Girl that he is as much as admitting guilt.  He doesn’t want to be liable when some baby gets asthma and they have a copy of a letter where they asked him to address the air quality issues prior to the birth.  Maybe this is saving them from something worse.

Maybe when we move the last stick off the pile we will find that the prize is a place with more space, no locked creepy basement, no Hootchy Handyman and an in-unit washer/dryer.  It is a bit much to take in less than 5 weeks from the birth of her first child…

1, 2 Tie My Shoe

3, 4 Shut the Door

5, 6 Pick Up Sticks

7, 8 Lay Them Straight

9, 10 Big Fat Hen