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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Paranoid 3: Betting our hedge

The roof of our former house narrowly missed the car across the street. Photo by: Jennifer Oberhammer

Looking back over the past five less-than-stellar years has me thinking about luck. Most of us think in terms of bad luck and good luck.

I don't think it's that simple. There's good-great luck and there's good-could-have-been-much-worse luck.

An example of the former is having the winning lottery numbers. When I think of the latter, I think of a scenario like this:

A woman gets dragged under a bus for a mile or so and then is set upon by a pack of feral dogs, but is still alive. The newscaster reports that she's in a medically induced coma while awaiting a donor for a full-body skin transplant. The cop featured on the five-second sound bite says, "That's one lucky little lady."

I'd say that's my kind of luck, but I'm luckier because I have all my skin--and teeth. And we got out of there, by the skin of our teeth.

So far, I've recounted major house damage and then heart damage. Then, there were the scabies-that-turned-out-to-be bed bugs and the therapeutic demolition job.

Next up we have real estate snafus, lice and a tornado. But there I go again, rushing things.

When I left off, we were engaged in a full out war against bed bugs. For months, we watched each other carefully for any rashes or bite-like lesions. I felt like a scout for the porn industry: "Take your clothes off and stand over here." And that was just for guests.

And the nightmares! In the dead of night, I'd go from a twitchy prone position to standing with all the bedding in my hands and the light on in 1.2 seconds. It wasn't long before Oli stopped asking what I was doing. He'd just wait until I was good and ready to hand the sheets back.

Bed bugs and beyond

After a year, we were in the clear. Not one to just sit back and enjoy some free time, I started advocating to move. I wanted to live in a house where I didn't have so many bad memories. Not that all memories were bad. I'd brought home my two (colicky) infants from the hospital to that--. Yeah, now that you mention it, there weren't a lot of good memories, plus we were running out of room to store all the sports equipment we couldn't use, now that we were parents.

I found the perfect place, just blocks away. We put an offer on the house and it was accepted. In a divine stroke of luck, acquaintances expressed interest in our place.

But of course, when your last name is Murphy, things rarely work out the way you think they will. After we signed off on our home inspection, our inspector's "just-in-case insulation test" for asbestos came back positive. I wanted out of that purchase in a big, bad way. But the vendors were really great about it and got it removed and replaced, largely at their expense.

The home inspection on our place didn't go so well either and we had to pay for some big expenses there.

What's a life event without bugs? This time it was lice and all of us were afflicted. The treatment and the moving stress had me flirting with female-pattern baldness.

Hegemony (Phonetics: Hedge-eh-money)

The universe wasn't done with us yet though. The purchaser's lawyer had hedge issues with our place.

Our hedge's proximity to a property line had our sale teetering on the edge of oblivion. It was the most confounding situation and I can't get into details here because I fear angering the gods of property and libel law.

Our legal fees quadrupled, while my mental faculties halved.

My and Oli's parents swooped in as I unraveled. I could neither eat nor sleep because I felt so responsible for our impending financial ruin.

In the midst of all this, there were layoffs at work and I was called to an unscheduled meeting. As I walked down the hall, pondering rules for filing bankruptcy, I was ushered into the "survivors'" meeting and I almost fainted with relief.


Our lawyer hit on a solution at the 11th hour, which involved a night-time visit with a chainsaw and a headlamp. Oli's hedge removal was masterful. When he was done, there was no evidence that a 12-foot hedge had ever been there.

It really did work out in the end. I loved our new house from the first, but I could tell that my husband was a bit "meh" about the cost, the big mortgage and stress of the move.

But five months later, he developed a whole new appreciation for our abode.

The April after we moved in, a tornado stampeded through the old neighbourhood and tore the roof clean off our former house and deposited it in the middle of the road.

I'm sure the neighbours across the road were cursing us for upping the "R" value of the roof insulation because it looked like their giant maple tree was part of a pink ribbon campaign.

I felt so badly for our purchasers; what a beginning for their new home. I thought a fresh start would change the luck of the place. They've recently moved back in and much like us, I'm sure they have a whole new appreciation for home insurance.

That house could really do with a dose of good luck. An end to the bad luck would be a good start.

Now, I feel pressure behind my right eye. I wonder if it's a tumour.


  1. Me too! Same eye!

    Honestly, you are the best person I know, with the worst luck. It's really nice of you to feel bad for the new owners -- a lesser person would be glad that someone else was in the shit for once.

    I am offering here, in public, to come babysit your kids some evening so you and Oli can go out. As soon as my husband gets back from France. Seriously.

  2. Damn Murph's law! Hope you're on the upswing now and that it will be a fantastic year!

  3. Thanks, gals. Here's hoping. At least I wasn't threatened with a tracheotomy!

    Allison, you're so sweet to offer to mind the kids. I may just take you up on that.

  4. Ohmygoodness...what terrible luck. Though considering your luck I'm somewhat surprised the tornado waited till after you moved out.

    Hope 2010 is the start of a long string of good luck years.