Monday, September 24, 2007

Newsflash! Monster carp found in abandoned house basement

When we moved here, I immediately started looking for a house. Since we were new to the area, I asked several of my co-workers about good places to live, places to avoid, interesting things to live next to, etc. Everybody in the office learned pretty quickly that we were looking to buy a house. I also tried to make it clear that I was looking for something a little bit different, something distinctive.

I did not want a typical "new" house. If anyone has built a new house in the Midwest in the last five to ten years, then you know what I mean. Something with an open floor plan blending kitchen and living room into one space, probably with a fireplace at one end. Something that has a powder room downstairs, a full bath upstairs, three bedrooms upstairs and a master suite. There's nothing wrong with those houses. It's just that they are so alike to each other. A house like that would never feel like my home. It would always feel like everybody else's home.

So anyway, I let everyone know that I'd be looking for something distinctive, probably older, with a lot of "character". My co-workers are generally a good lot, and they certainly mean well, so I wasn't surprised when one of my co-workers pulled me aside to talk to me about my search for an older home. The conversation went something like this.

Co-worker: So you're looking for an older home?
Mr K: We are. We'd like to find something with a bit of character.
Co-Worker: Hmmm...Well, you'll want to be careful when buying something like that.

Now at this point, I am of course thinking of all the things that can go wrong in an older home like high heating bills, leaky roofs, dangerous electrical, lead paint, asbestos insulation, drafty windows, rotten wood, etc. I'm very interested to see if the co-worker has some sort of insight that I've missed.

Mr K: Well, I know that older homes certainly can have some issues.
Co-worker: You know that all of those older homes are located near downtown.
Mr K: Yeah, we've seen a few in that area.

We did go around the older areas of the city and in fact, some of the areas were very nice. At this point, I'm just very puzzled about what could be so horrible. So what could it be? Loud traffic noise? Airplane fly overs? Horrible stench from the sewers? Chemical spill? Nuclear testing? Gaping rift to hell? Keep in mind that this particular co-worker lives in the suburbs in one of the new houses mentioned above.

Co-worker: Make sure you check out the neighborhood before you move in.
Mr K: We have been. We make it a point to go for walks in the neighborhood that we're buying into.
Co-worker: Well, there's a lot of Hmong in the downtown area.

Ahhhhh, now I've got it, I think to myself. She's prejudiced. So I decide to play this out and see how it goes.

Mr K: And?
Co-worker (dropping her voice in her best conspiratorial tone): They raise carp in their basement.
(Stunned silence)
Mr K: Carp. In their basement.
Co-worker: Really they do. Talk to (another co-worker). She lives next to Hmong and they are raising carp in their basement.

Still reeling from this revelation, I try to organize my thoughts.

Mr K: How does that work? I mean do they cover up the drain in the floor, turn on the garden hose and flood the basement? What about the water heater and the furnace? What about the electrical?
Co-worker: I don't know, but you should go talk to (other co-worker).

I'm imagining massive 100 pound carp swimming blissfully in 5 feet of water in a flooded basement, and some 100 pound Hmong man trying to wrestle one up the stairs for supper. I know that I'm going to have to cut this conversation short, or I'll start laughing out loud.

Mr K: We'll be sure to check out the neighborhood, but as long as the neighbors are law abiding and friendly, I think we'll be OK.
Co-worker: Just make sure you know your neighbors.

So there you have it. Anybody else know of anyone raising carp in their basement?


nonick said...

Wonderful! I may have to try that myself; I've been meaning to get more fish in my diet. And we have a lot of Hmong here in the Cities I can ask for advice. :)

Looking forward to adding your blog to the list. I'm planning to start my own here someday. Of course, I've been saying that for well over a year...

Jaysan said...

We just built a new house in the suburbs. Open floor plan, blending kitchen, dining room, and living room: check. Bedrooms upstairs, with a master suite (you forgot whirlpool bathtub in the master bath). Would you call my house like those others???

Pusher said...

Welcome to blogging!

And actually, it's not uncommon for people with koi ponds in these colder climates to overwinter their carp in the basement. The setup I've seen involves a 100-gallon galvanized watering trough and a pump for aeration. Bah. That was a very dull answer to a marvellously entertaining question.

DiploWhat said...

I don't think they mean koi type of carp. I'm guessing it's full on eat'n carp. Mmmm, bottom feeding goodness. Totally doesn't surprise me. They probably just have large tubs in the basement.

And, I'm with you. I really don't care for the open floor plan, but as we're renting, we're stuck.

Mr. Kluges said...

Jaysan - Your house is in an established neighborhood. It and it's 500 neighbors didn't just spring up in the last year. It's also got a lot of weird things about it - like geothermal heat. Would you call it like all the Parade of Homes houses out there?

Allknowingjen said...

This whole post made me laugh- I can just imagine how your face must have looked during that conversation. :) Oh, and our Hmong neighbors keep grandma in the basement, but no carp...

Matt said...

Heh heh. Hmong stories. Have you read "The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down"? J might have a copy, with her teaching background. It includes a lot of stories about the troubles the Hmong had when they were originally integrating into the US.

(And there were plenty of problems - if you think about it, a mountain tribe coming to the first world en masse? They hunted pigeons in the streets of Philadelphia with crossbows! Families brought dirt into their apartment blocks and farmed... until the ceilings fell)

Those original problems are probably the source of weird myths like this.

Anywhoooo.... congrats on the success of your hunt for a creative living space!

Mary Beth said...

This epidemic is not only in the mid-west. We call them cookie cutter houses here in NJ. Who wants to live in a house where you're not sure if you're entering your house or someone elses because they all look the same. Bleah! Give me a house that has some quirks and hopefully 100 years under it's belt! Good luck with everything.