Posted by: scribe9 | November 13, 2009

Leaving Mildew Towers MT

We’ve moved into our new house, which was built in the ’60s but looks a bit older, from our old house (hereinafter “Mildew Towers”). Even currently houses are built ranch-style with hip roofs and look like late-40s-to-late-’50s style US houses. The garage was built first, and the builder lived there (one can see the tiny shower with a wood-slat floor) while building the house. Garages aren’t universal; there are lots of carports, and many houses without any car shelter.

 The garage has doorknobs and the house doesn’t, so I’d guess that they were built just as the fashion changed (in Mildew Towers, built a century ago in what is known as Colonial style, the knobs were only a few inches above knee level) to very high (4’3”) levers. Maybe it’s for child safety.

 All the rooms have doors except the kitchen, which is open to the dining room, and the laundry room. The laundry room once had a door, blocking the view from the kitchen and dining room. When I did the first load of laundry, in a noisy old washing machine (the one trump of Mildew Towers was a newish, quiet washing machine), I wished again that the door was still there. I know where it is: out in the garage, where it’s been used as a shelf for years and is warped and stained beyond repair, darn it.

 There’s a single door from the front hall to the living room, and double doors between the living room and the dining room. I’d guess that they’re there to corral the heat. This house has no furnace, radiators, or baseboard heaters—just a gas heater on a tile hearth in the living room. (Years ago when we lived in Australia during the winter, our newer townhouse had an open plan so some of the heat from the living room heater went upstairs and took a bit of a chill off the bedrooms—not much, but each room came supplied with lovely thick wool blankets. When visiting people who lived in an older one-storey house, we sat and chatted in comfort in front of the gas fire in the closed-off living room. When it was time to leave they brought my coat from another room, and donning it was like wrapping myself in cold steel.) Maybe New Zealanders get away with eating lots of fat and sweets because of the lack of central heating.

Our living and dining rooms are on the east and north of the house and have many windows, so we should get lots of radiant energy. The house also has a fan system, circulating the air and helping to prevent mold and mildew. (Mildew Towers is legendary among doctors and residents—called registrars here—for its redolence.)

The kitchen has a peninsula more than twice the depth of the 13” counters (“bench tops”) in Mildew Towers, a fair number of cupboards, and a dishwasher. There’s no light over the sink (MT didn’t have one, either), so we bought a spotlight that clips onto the valance to help those washing dishes after dark see what they’re doing. Shelves under the sink prevent one from putting a garbage or recycling can there. Because kitchen garbage cans are on display, one can buy fancy stainless steel ones. We didn’t. One can also choose among a wide variety of electric teakettles, including a model promising to make its owner the envy of the neighborhood. Somehow we couldn’t see spending over $100 to heat water for tea.

The bathroom was redone within the last ten years. Unlike the bathroom in MT, it has a fan, and a heater, and even heated towel racks—all of which are hard-wired in. What it doesn’t have is any electrical outlet (or “points”); so much for running a hairdryer there. (“Points” are something of an issue in every room—if we’re lucky, there are two per room. We’ve invested heavily in extension cords and power strips.)

Just outside the back door is a covered deck that came with a newish barbie—bring on the shrimps!


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