Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Nuclear Option

The weather took a turn for the worse yesterday morning. Olga and I were walking about 8:30 a.m., prior to me heading out to meet Kevin and Brent again for some sightseeing, when it began raining pretty heavily. Olga and I sprinted home and then Kevin and I cancelled our sightseeing plans. (I think we all felt like we needed a day of rest anyway.)

I've been feeling guilty that Olga has been neglected this week while I've had visitors in town. (And her dog walker hasn't shown up -- I didn't realize they were taking this whole week off! I thought they were just taking the holidays themselves. Dave doesn't walk her, so she's pretty much been staying home.)

Finally, yesterday afternoon, when the rain had subsided and we even had hints of sunshine, I took Olga to Fortune Green and the cemetery, where she had a good run. I don't think Dave understands how much she needs to be able to blow off energy. He enjoys staying home and lounging around on the couch, but I get stir-crazy if I have to do that for more than a day -- so I empathize with Olga's need to get out and about.

Dave called the flat's management company about our broken oven yesterday, and the conversation was pretty much a series of "no's" from them -- no, we don't have anyone who can fix it now; no, it's not an emergency; no, there's no supervisor for you to talk to. The only "yes" was, yes, you're going to have to live without an oven until your maintenance manager returns to work next week.

Dave was incensed by this and scared me to death by insisting that we move when our lease is up in July. I think that's throwing the baby out with the bath water. The Nuclear Option, you might say. Instead I plan to call again next week and impress upon them the urgency of some of our long-standing maintenance issues. I also told Dave we should just spend some money ourselves to solve certain small problems -- it would be cheaper than moving. I don't want to go anywhere. Even with all its faults, I love this flat.

Remember our garden cam? I haven't had it out since last spring, because in summer, when we're in the garden a lot, it only takes pictures of us and Olga. But I put it out again last week, for just a few nights, and caught this fox lurking behind our horseradish plant. He (or she) is looking at the windows of the upstairs flat -- maybe our neighbors, the Russians, were making some noise that made him/her wary.

The guinea pigs go home today, I believe -- thank God! They are stinking to high heaven and I can't change the cage myself, having no sawdust. Also, Olga is getting way too interested in them!

Hurry, Mrs. Kravitz!

(Top photo: Street art by Sell Out, Shoreditch, on Thursday.)


  1. Poor Olga! Assuming that Piggy and Trump survive till Mrs Kravitz returns, you ought to purchase a couple of guinea pigs next time you pass a pet shop. They will make lovely doggie snacks which Olga will consume with glee.

  2. Wow. All three photographs are killer. I wish I had foxes running through my backyard. I wish I had a dog, too. But not on days when the Polar Vortex is in town.

    Can't you withhold rent until you get your maintenance issues resolved? Or am I thinking too much like a New Yorker, where renters have tenant rights that verge on undemocratic?

  3. I once saw a UK-made portable oven that a blogger was using instead of her large Aga...I'll see if I can track it down. That might be a better answer than moving...

  4. I would not trust Olga with those creatures alone for a second! Not her fault. But talk about nuclear options- I can't even imagine what Mrs. Kravitz would do if anything happened to her furry little rodents.

  5. Very cool photo of that fox in the yard. Makes me wonder what s/he was looking for. I remember the first time I saw a coyote in our backyard fruit trees and discovered that canines enjoy fruit. I had no idea. I'm always a bit taken aback by how much of normal everyday life (like needing your oven repaired) gets suspended for the holidays. Hope you get more sunshine in every way.

  6. Dave doesn't really want to move. He'd miss the garden too much. I'm with you, spend my own money for small things. Maybe they would let you deduct it from the rent. and I know what you mean about Olga having a high energy dog myself.

  7. I am so much like Dave - in fact even now I should be getting ready to leave for my nephew’s wedding but I’m parked in my easy chair. Fortunately, Mike doesn’t need to be taken for walks :)

  8. I tend to be like Dave (screw 'em! It's a matter of principle!) and my husband is more practical, like you. I think Dave should probably take your reasonable and common sense advice, but I do feel for his righteous outrage! :)

  9. I sympathize with you and feel about the same as Dave. Damn them! Let's move out! But I think your more measured approach is the correct one. Stay the course. Good luck.

  10. I totally understand how Dave feels but, I agree with you. It is a frustrating situation. I prefer renting at this stage of my life so that I don't have to deal with expensive repairs but, the trade off is having to deal with management to get things done. Sometimes I just do it myself if it is something I can do. However, fixing an oven wouldn't be one of those things.
    I bet you are happy you are returning the guinea pigs today.

  11. It is so frustrating tying to get management to service appliances. i kind of agree with you that spending a small amount yourself might be worth the headache. but an oven is a big thing, especially for one who cooks as dave does. still, you have that garden. i don't know london very well but could you walk into another set up like that easily? maybe the garden is worth taking a few things into your own hands. then again, it wouldn't hurt to see what else is out there, knowing you always have the option of signing a new lease where you are.

  12. Even in one's own home, one is subject to the whims of repair people, so there's that to consider, too. It will be a matter of weighing the pros and cons, like so much else in life. Hopefully you can navigate a path that suits both you and Dave!

    Mrs. K really should have given you sawdust to change the cage at least once. I can imagine how stinky it is. Olga could fix the source of the problem right quick, I think . . .

  13. Vonshef Mini Oven is an oven, rotissarie, grill and comes with two burners 80 pounds, free delivery within UK and well reviewed on Amazon UK.

  14. YP: I guess people buy mice to feed to pet snakes, right? Same thing, really.

    Vivian: We've talked about trying that, but this is where my unfamiliarity with British rent laws comes into play. I'm honestly not sure what our rights are. With the exception of the oven, we've been able to get critical situations handled. It's the cosmetic improvements and small repairs that take forever.

    E: Thanks for the oven tip! Hopefully we won't have to go as far as to buy our own, but stay tuned!

    Ms Moon: Outside the cage, NO WAY. In the cage, Olga honestly can't get to them. Weirdly, she seems mostly curious about them and why they're here.

    Robin: I never knew a coyote would eat fruit. I guess they'll eat almost anything, though. We get foxes pretty frequently, but it was nice to have such a clear shot from our automatic garden cam.

    Ellen: Yeah, he says we could get a place with another garden, but I keep telling him -- not like this one!

    Bug: Ha! The thing is, it's partly for my own sanity, because without a walk Olga becomes a pain in the neck! WAY too much energy.

    Jennifer: It's always good to have a balance in a marriage! :)

    Catalyst: I think that's the plan. But it changes day to day!

    Sharon: Yeah, I don't know why it's taken us so long to learn that it's much easier to just do some things ourselves. Replacing an oven, however, is not one of them. That's the landlord's responsibility -- period!

    37P: Yeah, when I talk about doing things ourselves, I don't mean the oven. The landlord has to give us an oven. I think it's just the holiday season that has interfered with speedier resolution of that problem. It's the cosmetic things that take forever -- painting the kitchen, for example.

    Jenny-O: That's true! The repair people aren't exactly at our beck and call, are they? And yes, I think if we ever sit for her guinea pigs again, we'll ask for sawdust. She says the cage only needs changing once a week, but frankly -- BLEAH.