So we’ve lived on our property for over two decades now. When we moved here, the land was ugly. The former owners had stripped the top of our little hill to put on a mobile home.
We let the ground recover, letting it go fallow and using no chemicals. The recovery has been slow. The top soil has been removed decades earlier, and chemicals were used to destroy weeds.
The mobile home was about 30 years old when we moved in. But the previous owners never took care of it.
By the time we got the property and house, the house was in such disrepair (hidden under a facade of new siding) that we could never catch up.
The ceiling had collapsed from rain a few years before. The roof had three layers of shingles on it…or more.
There was no moisture barrier under the house anymore. Mice lived in the insulation beneath the house. They and the rats began brazenly to take over after about 15 years of living there.
Water seeped into the living room because the past owners, who were also contractors, didn’t put in the drip channel between the shingles and the siding. The water poured down between the two and onto our floor.
Finally, one day, I woke up to find that the wall at the foot of my mattress was mushy. With a light push, the wallboard caved in and revealed the entire inside cavity to be filled with black mold. This, after we discovered that the 8′ addition wasn’t bolted to the frame of the house and was falling off, and the insulation beneath the house was stuffed with carpet remnants instead of insulation.
Did I mention the dead critters and old acorns down there, too?
All the defects had been hidden. An inspector I talked to later said there would have been no way to see any of this. Part of the reason was that it was a mobile home. Part of it was because the cover-up was just enough to hide it all.
Time for a change.
The search for Nirvana…
Ten years prior, we began a search for another house. We knew we were living in a time bomb, and our health was rapidly deteriorating.
We found a beautiful old house in the middle of town, but the foundation wasn’t able to be full inspected. It was sitting directly on the ground in some sections, so we didn’t know if there was mold there.
Property around us had jumped from $89,900 as a high, to over $200,000. Our resources couldn’t accommodate that.
Manufactured houses seemed to be a reasonable option, but they were out of our price range. And all the place that used to sell them had closed down. The builders running the local construction codes for the surrounding counties hated them and did all they could to destroy the industry.
Up the road, there was a national home builder. We went there, found a model we thought we could afford, picked out all the details from the showroom. Our paid off property was going to be bundled with the new house.
But when I received the loan information, the loan company was only giving me credit for the property somewhere around $100. If I were to sell the property alone, it was worth over $30,000.
I balked. And the woman in the loan office didn’t understand what my problem was. We bailed on the deal. She didn’t get her commission.
Another several years passed by.
Then my daughter came across another remnant manufactured home place nearby.
Manufactured housing has been demonized by the building industry and were losing ground. Most people think of old trailer parks with dilapidated abodes.
But we weren’t intimidated. A building built inside a shelter is far less subject to outside environmental exposure. Interior wood left in the rain, snow, burning sun was more likely to develop mold than a building built in a controlled factory.
And they are built to the same standards as stick built homes – but without the rain.
It didn’t hurt that they were about $100,000 less expensive, either! Even with the upgrades and county requirements added to the cost.
We had saved up quite a bit of money over the years of waiting, so we were able to put down a substantial deposit. I negotiated for the right overall costs and monthly payments. We had determined a set amount prior to this stage so that we could pay the whole thing off in 8 years.
The deal was finalized. We were all set.
A few snags…
Except we weren’t.
It turned out that the salesman, who was also the project manager, failed to get the electrical company involved early on. (Even when I’d asked about it way before the first shovel was used on the property.)
The power company had to put in an underground line, new transformer, new pole, and cut down our neighbor’s tree. A bit of coordinating that wasn’t anticipated.
The building had already arrived within two weeks of purchase. But nothing could be hooked up until the electricity was connected.
Now we had to wait…and wait…and wait.
We drooled over the new, shiny house sitting 4 ½ feet from the front porch of our old one. All our stuff had been packed and moved into the garage, not thinking we’d be into the hot, humid summer months before we could move it into the new building.
So we peeped into the windows and dreamed of what it would be like to live there. All the while, the mold continued to invade our old house. And now began to creep into our stored belongings in the humid garage.
And we were getting sicker.
It was like Christmas! The foundation was poured. The two halves of the house were put together. And we were allowed to move our things into the building.
We just couldn’t live there.
The water had to be hooked up. The electrical lines completed. The septic system connected.
Then the final inspection.
YEA!!! IT PASSED INSPECTION!!!
We couldn’t move in fast enough! The whole house AC was kicked on, and we were in heaven!
Then we got to watch the old house be torn down and hauled off. (Well, the family did. I was at work. So I got to watch the movie of it all going down.)
Dumpster after dumpster hauled the pieces away. The ground was scraped clean. And we had a brand new front yard. A HUGE front yard! You couldn’t even tell a house had been there!
All was right with the world. And we could, for the first time, breathe without coughing. Our sinuses were clear. Our head was no longer full of mush.
We were careful to destroy anything contaminated with the mold and anything mildewed before moving it into the new house. Old books were lost and can’t be replaced, like the pristine 1968 World Book Encyclopedia from my childhood. Stuffed animals tossed. Leather shoes and boots, gone. Mattresses and furniture dumped and replaced.
It was expensive. But the effect was successful.
It was great.
For a year.
Our heads are full of mush. Sinusitis has reared its ugly head again. The windows were beginning to build up with black mold in the cracks.
And there we were. All over again.
We have continued to dump any organic furniture, like wood or pressboard shelving, that suddenly shows up with mildew. The windows have been scrubbed and sealed. Dehumidifiers have been installed.
But the sneezing and sinus issues are building back.
The search for the source…
The one thing that has happened during our flight from hell was across the highway. A pallet plant grew, quadrupling in size. And a mulch process had been added to the mix.
Piles of steaming, fungus ridden mulch were placed inside large concrete sections next to the road. In the rain. Outside. From the pallets that were rejected or broken.
The contamination spreads for over two miles. A plant in New Jersey was shut down because of the illnesses that occurred in the surrounding neighborhoods. I tried to stop the expansion, but no one was interested in the cause around the plant.
I am not saying that this is the root cause of our illness. But it certainly has contributed to the problem.
Something is also in our soil. If we turn it, play in it, or walk in it, we come inside with sinus problems. The dirt comes inside on the feet of children and dogs for the most part. It is inevitable. When you live in the country, dirt is hard to avoid.
The air isn’t as clear and clean as it was before, either. There are days when I can’t even bring myself to go outside because of the acrid stench.
Added to this, the population during the shutdowns has grown exponentially. With time to look around, many city dwellers moved up in the area dreaming of country life…bringing their want of conveniences with them.
Subsequently, building costs, pollution, and prices have skyrocketed. Huge stores and shopping malls have been built up. The city has moved in along with the people. And our quiet little town has grown up, complete with traffic jams.
We moved from the city to find it creeping back in. Make that roaring in. We didn’t mind the inconveniences of country life. We actually enjoyed the challenge.
We miss our quiet country life.
Our only option…
And we are stuck once more between a rock and a hard place.
Our house is once more paid off. But the price of housing has risen so high in only a few years that we can’t afford to move.
We get cold calls for offers to sell the property. But where would be go? Land is at a premium. Plus the housing out here could be equally as contaminated from the humidity issues.
All building are made out of plastered walls that mold loves. Earth and concrete homes are not available in the area.
So now what?
We wait. And we pray.
When the time is right, the doors will be opened. And, as before (minus the actual 1 ½ months delay), when it is time, everything will fall into place.
So, for now, we will continue to work on what is within our control. We will continue to fight the mold in the window slides, and work on our foods. Neti pots and supplements, detoxing procedures and cleaning up from the outside dirt that lands inside is increased. Dumping things that are found to be compromised continues.
And we dehumidify.
What we’ve learned…
We’ve learned over the years that we don’t “own” anything. Things tend to own us.
Losing stuff is sometimes painful. But it is replaceable.
Memories are what are important.
Our ancestors didn’t have department stores and modern conveniences. They lived with very little. Some lived with only basic sustenance. And they didn’t have cameras to capture their adventures. They kept them in their minds and told stories to those who weren’t there to experience them.
Laura Ingles described a house her sister lived in after she was married. The place held a bed, a stove, a kitchen table. To open the front door and enter took some finagling because there wasn’t room to move.
We are a spoiled culture. Our expectations are to have newer cars, houses, clothes.
Our food must be just so, our palettes refined. Shall we be vegan today, or meat eaters? Should be believe the advertising and buy the latest lab-grown, factory-developed food substitutes? Or should we stick to eating what isn’t grown in a plant?
Even eating has become a fad. No wonder we live in a confusing world defined by “experts”! We no longer feel we depend on ourselves to decide what is best.
So, we are venturing into a world of simplicity. It isn’t necessarily by choice. We are kicking and screaming the entire way.
But, in the end, the simple lifestyle makes it easier to live. And move to other places.
There is still a lot of junk to go through and discard. But a lot less than before.
Our ancestors had it right. Simple is easier to live a full life. The closer to owning nothing, the more life is enjoyed. Happiness doesn’t depend on the next new thing, or obedience to the next great cause. It is a true connection to what is important.
And living according to nature with less is important. Building memories is important. Loving relationships are important.