Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Case of the Missing Fireplace

Home, for a little while
So we are here, installed in our new digs and settling into this somewhat transient, temporary home. For those not following along at home, we sold our house a little on the early side so we had to find a place to stay for a while before moving to Texas. Things worked out really well with this particular apartment. Its normal occupants are a math professor visiting Yale for two years, his wife, and three-year-old son. They are jaunting about the world for the summer and subleasing to us for the couple of months between when we moved out of our house and when Rob finishes up his residency. Lots of things about this place are great. It is one of the least expensive options we found for a temporary apartment, they are totally not making a big deal of us bringing Abbey, they have a room set up for a toddler with a little bed and everything, and it’s in a great neighborhood with a park, lots of delightful walking, and a fun little market and cafe. They just left it furnished with all their stuff in it, and we packed up all our stuff in moving containers and just brought clothes, the computer, some toys, etc.

As often happens in life, it is not a uniformly wonderful situation, however. The kitchen and bathroom of this apartment leave something to be desired. The kitchen doesn’t have a dishwasher (which I knew ahead of time) or a garbage disposal (which I didn’t) and is teenyteenytiny with barely workspace enough for a cutting board or a bowl. This isn’t too much of a problem because it turns out that this apartment’s normal inhabitants aren’t much for cooking and there are very few items with which to cook. Here are a few things I have searched the tiny kitchen for in vain: cutlery beyond a table knife, a measuring cup, a can opener, and a spatula of any kind. Cooking utensils of all types are represented by one lone wooden spoon and there is one cutting board that is about 5” square. This has been quite a shock to my routine, as I am a cook-from-scratch person most nights. The bathroom is less than could be desired as well, as there are some leaks, a small hole in a wall, and a lot of soggy drywall; the whole thing smells a bit mildewy and like wet plaster. Rob spent almost an hour last night thoroughly cleaning the bathroom, for which he has my undying gratitude, and it is a lot better now.

I don’t want to be overly precious about my physical environment so I am trying to concentrate on the positive things about living in such a fun neighborhood and on how temporary this all is. I may be tempted to use the words squalid and decayed, but that would be a definite exaggeration. I know I am so spoiled with a history of living with shining suburban kitchens, mostly recently one we renovated ourselves, and soon we will move to a house with another lovely kitchen. Surely contentment in such a tiny trial is not out of reach.

And in between the good and the dreadful lies the, well, mysterious. We have two of these phantom mantels in the apartment. This apartment is the first floor of an old house built in the decade leading up to the Civil War and I have no idea if there were originally fireplaces there, or if the mantels were always purely decorative, or if darker forces are at work and the fireplaces have fallen prey to foul play sometime in the past century and a half.

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