Thursday, November 5, 2009

November 8, 2009: If You Can't Take the Heat....

I really love living in this historical building, the Hotel de Than. Everyday when I come back from doing errands and walk into the parking lot of our apartment, I see these grand old windows with gargoyles and dead vines and chipping cement - worn from hundreds of years of wear and tear. I always feel the urge to take another picture because I am quite certain that the view I am seeing of our apartment at that moment is far superior to any I have seen yet. That just shows the magnificence of this building. And then you have the wonderful location of this apartment that allows one to have no need of a car, with quick access to shopping, school, museums, bars and restaurants, etc... This place is awesome - ask anyone who has been here!

Yet...there has been some not-so-magnificent points about living here. Let me recap some of the previously mentioned annoyances: the drunk piccolo player who frequents a comfy spot across the street, the building alarms that seem to ring and go unattended for what seems days on end, the slamming theater door that politely reminds us it is around midnight, the chains that clink and clank as an establishment across the street locks and unlocks chairs and tables as though they were made of gold and gems, the teenagers and college students chanting at the top of their lungs from nearby bars as their favorite teams win or lose, the farm tractors that stride down our streets as they beep their horns in constant symphony in protest of this or that, the street cleaning machines that begin their engines promptly at 6:57 a.m. each day (except weekends, which is 7:57 a.m.), the massive piles of pigeon poop that are piled up outside each and every window of the apartment, and finally the garbage trucks that pick up garbage at the reasonable hour of midnight.

Yes, beautiful old buildings come with beautiful old windows, doors, radiators, walls, floors, pipes, carpet, wallpaper, sinks, etc... And many of those beautifully old items are quite charming. But the beautiful old windows are to blame for the annoyingly loud noises we hear each and every day. They are also to blame for the chilly breezes that one feels as they get take a quick break in our guest bathroom and the swaying laundry that is hang drying in the kitchen. Beautiful old windows lack noise and weather insulation - that is what I have gathered.

Remember that one night I slept in Grace and Ella's room on the floor to determine whether ghostly beings were shutting their closet door and walking across their room in the middle of the night? Obviously, old buildings with old wooden floors come with some creaking and drafts...but I think accompanied with the suspect sounds coming from the vacant attic above our apartment I was suspicious. I expected to see a little girl dressed in a gown from the 16th century drift across the floor and play with some dolls or something but alas, it turned about to be nothing, so far as that night went.

Now one thing I haven't mentioned to you is the one night about a month or so ago when I woke up in the middle of the night from a nightmare. I woke up in a cold sweat, I looked over at Andrew and above him I swear to you I saw a body floating. There was a middle aged man's face floating directly above Andrew's with long flowy hair and flowy clothing. I laid there without moving for 15 minutes, just watching this thing float above Andrew while it checked him out in earnest. I was petrified to move. Whatever this being was, either imagined on my part or not, it thankfully never looked at me. Which was good, because if it had looked at me and scowled or hissed or showed fangs or some sort of thing I would have freaked! The reason I even saw this was because of Andrew's alarm clock, which shines brighter than 10 hotels in Las Vegas in our bedroom. Now, was this my imagination? Was I still half asleep and dreaming? Was it the way the alarm clock shone through Andrew's glass of water and it created some bizarre reflection? I have no idea. But after 15 minutes of laying there my clothes were completely soaked through with sweat and I really had to pee, so, I got up, turned on the fan and went to the bathroom. When I got back into bed, I just laid there until morning, waiting for something to happen. But nothing did. I told Andrew the next day that he had something floating above him the night before, just staring at him intently. He thought (and probably still thinks) I am insane. All I know is that I think about this really old building we live in and the people that have lived, visited or worked here in some capacity over the past 500 years and I decide that ultimately, if ghosts or phantoms or souls exist, it wouldn't be unheard of that they might exist here. They seem friendly enough, though, so for now we can all just live in harmony. And if it was just my imagination, well geez, I have quite the imagination!

Now the whole reason I am even thinking about living in this old building and writing this blog is because of a chronic, yet recently exacerbated, problem with our apartment water heater. Our water heater sits elevated just at head level, in our kitchen. The water heater is responsible for the radiant heat in our apartment, basically all hot water requirements. When we first moved into this apartment, I didn't notice any issues. But one night, after a month or so, I was rinsing the dishes in the sink and then walking them over to the dishwasher (the water heater is located just above the dishwasher) and all of the sudden a huge explosive sound came from the water heater and flames bursted out from under the bottom. And it was LOUD. It really startled me and scared me. Needless to say, this has been happening for months. Until today, this very day, I have never been able to predict when these explosions will happen. The water heater lights off and on all day long. No matter where I am, if I start to hear it's clicks (which means it will be lighting any moment) I duck and run for cover. Seriously! If I am standing next to the sink or dishwasher, anywhere in the kitchen, I run as fast as I can out of the area. Last night, Andrew heard my typical, "Holy Shi$!", which accidentally leaks out of my mouth before I even know it, each time this happens. If you ever hear the girls cuss, it will mostly likely be this phrase, as it is all they have heard (from me, anyway). Finally today, I could tell by the sounds that it was going to blow and I got out in time. Pretty sad I have become an expert at the explosive nature of our water heater! Last week, the plumber came to fix it but of course he didn't find any problems...

(pictured above: The water heater in the kitchen)

(pictured above: to the far left, I know to get out of the kitchen when the green light comes on. In this case, Green really does mean GO!)

(pictured above: this is the underside of the heater, above the dishwasher and microwave. The flames come bursting out where the rank tank is)

I was chatting with the plumber while he was looking over the water heater. I mentioned that this building is so old and these problems are to be expected. Then I joked that I was just going to move, as I had had it with this place. He, though, didn't understand that I was joking and then said that people move out of this place all the time for similar reasons - an old building such as this has one problem after another with which to deal.

So anyway, this crazy water heater has really got me running. Some days, after a close call with the water heater, I look forward to getting back to the comforts of a modern home in a quiet place. A place that has nice, quiet heat radiating from it's floors that warms my feet and windows that show me the cold but don't necessarily feel the need to share it with me.

Yesterday, we took a little trip to a cool town known for it's copper and lace making, which I will write about a bit later. Also, my friend Steff is coming to visit on Tuesday and I am so very excited! Some good stories should come from all that so stay tuned!


  1. Well... gosh. Umm.

    I'm sitting in front of the keyboard and thinking about what to say. Should I tell you Andy is right and you are crazy or should I tell you a true story.

    You aren't crazy; here is the story.

    To give you a little background, the house our family lived in from 1969 to 1987 had some interesting things happen inside. We were the 2nd owners and you might ask how or why the 1st owners sold. Well, they both died in the house and it was sold by the estate. Did you ever see the movie The Sixth Sense? Sometimes when people die, they don't know they are dead and until they figire this out they can roam around in places they know. In this case, their old house.

    I vividly remember on many occastions seeing something in the corner of my room (this is where the wife lived and died - she had a make shift kitchen in there). This "thing" was a female figure and had long flowing robes. *shrug*

    Other times I saw a man roaming around in the dining room - apparently this is where he died.

    Finally, more often then not, I saw both of them at either the bottom or the top of the stairs (going up or down).

    Nothing bad ever happened except for a few very unexplained things. At the bottom of the stairs where the hand rail posts attach into the stairs, one of the rungs was always loose. Andy and I being somewhat naughty at times, we broke in half one of these posts. Giving it to mom (and her not being very happy) we said we were sorry. In the AM, the post was back in the same place with no trace of any busted wood.

    The other strange thing happened in the playroom/tv room. Things kept falling off the wall; A tv, the cabinete with all of the glasses and a row of books. Until a few years ago I thought this was just "us" being naughty.

    Enjoy your friends - they are real.

  2. i have to see things to belive them but for these 2 stories i belive them by the vivid descriptions

  3. Wow, Dean! That is crazy! Hearing something is one thing - you can write it off if you want as a random event. But seeing something so vividly - that is hard to explain. So bizarre!