|The view from our living room.|
We are now in the Alberta Rockies. At a pretty incredible place, with views of the mountains, for HALF what we paid for that smelly dump in Edmonton. We are happy and at peace. I'm listening to birds singing as I type. If I close my eyes I can almost imagine I'm home. On top of that, I grew up in the rocky mountains, so in more than one way, I feel as though I am home. And now I can share my love of the rockies with my kids. Oh the fun we're going to have.
The smelly dump. I can't even express to you how relieved I am to be away from there. After staying with my brother for nearly a week, we started to realize that we'd be away from home for a long time. We decided we needed our own space. We found a house and moved in with some friends who also have children our kids' ages, one having autism. In theory, the house should have been perfect and given what we were going to pay, it should have been amazing. Or at least clean.
But it wasn't. It really, really wasn't. The "executive vacation house" that we rented was no more than a 15 year old, run down, smelly, dirty hole. We thought we were getting two living areas... instead, we got one living area and a bonus room with a couch, love seat, chair, AND two queen sized beds. There went our sleeping plans, but we made due. It worked okay.
The living areas were sparse, at best. At least the furniture was pleather and wipeable given the drips going down the wall behind the couch. We used boxes as side tables, so we could put our drinks on something. The carpets were stained. It smelled like something. Probably five year old dust. Or stale smoke. Or uncleaned animal. We couldn't quite place it. The fireplace, featured so prominently in the pictures, did not work. The cable box was on the floor with wires coming out of the floppy, cut carpet. Not sure how one is supposed to clean around that. The internet connection was spotty. And once we finally got it working, the owner sent a repair guy that made it worse. There was a basement suite in the house, which we didn't know about until we were driving to the house and the owner told us that we could only use the left side of the driveway.
The kitchen was... uhm... nearly unusable. The dishwasher left food all over the dishes. The oven didn't turn on. The fridge froze nearly everything, despite having it turned to the warmest setting. All three appliances looked older than the house and had grungy, dirty drips going down the sides. The microwave had had a massive explosion of something in it, uncleaned and gross. There weren't enough dishes for all of us. The plastic cups looked disgusting. The cutlery were cheap, cheap pieces of what I can only assume was metal as they rusted in the dishwasher. We used disposable everything while we were there. This expensive, "executive vacation house" had cuts in the countertops and a film over everything. I spent an hour cleaning just the countertops and "new" table, they still felt dirty. The cabinet above the stove had a layer of grease on it. The couple pots that were there were gross and unusable. We ended up borrowing pots and buying the other necessities we needed to make the kitchen work, that we then didn't use much because... well... the oven didn't work and the fridge kept freezing our produce.
When we opened our bed that first night, we found hair in our bed. Long hairs that were not the colour of any of the people in our house. The same hairs were in our shower. The bedding was threadbare and we couldn't trust anything to be clean at that point. After being displaced for a week, all we wanted was our own beds. We settled for the next best thing by heading to Ikea the next day and buying new blankets and pillows, just so we could sleep in comfort. We found a used razor behind Finleigh's bedside table. When we talked to the owner about the dirtiness, she didn't even apologize. She just told us that all her other clients had been happy and there were lots of the people that wanted the place. Then she asked us to mow the lawn. HA! For the price we were paying, we should have had professional landscapers in there every other day.
Since we had paid for three weeks, we stayed. Insurance or not, we could not afford to pay anymore for housing as this was at the very tiptop of our budget. We did take pictures of all this and more that I don't want to waste any more blog space on, but like pictures of beauty (unless taken by the most talented among us), they just do not do any of it justice. Besides... I don't want to contaminate my blog with a careless, greedy woman's version of "executive".
Our new "home" is what I would have expected from the first place, but even better. Everything I'd expected from the first place is here. And more. For about half the price and with views to boot. I cried when we walked in and I realized that we had everything we needed here. While we were in the other place, I kept telling myself that I was being entitled and had expected too much. After all, we had the space we needed and we all had a bed. But coming here, I know I wasn't. We were being ripped off, pure and simple. We have all agreed that we will not talk about the other house anymore. This will be my last mention of it. From now on, it will be referred to by all of us as "the house that shall not be named." That chapter of our evacuation is done.
Voluntary re-entry begins today for Fort McMurray. We could go up as of June 3rd according to our neighbourhood. We will not be going up, however until at least the end of June.
We've read that water will not be drinkable until the end of June and the hospital will not have full services until the 21st. We can't trust Finleigh not to drink the water and make herself sick. Quite simply, although our house is standing and likely just fine, it is not safe for us yet.
The husband will be back to work later this month and we have no clue if insurance will cover any of this, but it's worth it to us. For the first time in 30 days, I'm more than just fine. I'm good. Really, really good. We're going to treat this time as a bit of a vacation and starting living again instead of just existing.