Here We Go Again

The last leg of the Great Mold Removal of 2009 begins tomorrow. We are gutting the Master Bathroom, which was to be the Summer House Project before we found the mold, anyway. The other projects were painting the exterior and Taming the Jungle (the backyard), which we thought we would have to put off until next summer. At least.

Once we decided to put off getting a new fence, the backyard project was not as expensive as we had feared. So we contracted with our awesome landscaper, Mr. Torres. The downside of contracting with the landscaper is that they have to squeeze in the project work in between their regular maintenance work. The regular maintenance work is, of course, beholden to the weather. So our project has been half done since last Tuesday. Check it out:

If I remember correctly (from Alex’s picture books) this is called a skid steer. It is sitting in my backyard because it was used to remove the pond my dad built in 1985.

Yes, I said a pond. I don’t know if he was for real, but I remember him telling me that he would put fish in the pond. There were never fish in the pond, but I seem to remember seeing water flow that first summer. I don’t really remember because that was just about when we first got cable.

These are the remnants:

Oh. And these stones. We are going to use them to reinforce the remnants of the old garden so that the mud doesn’t run off and flood the neighbors:

We are also taking out various bushes and a couple of trees. I will spare you the pictures of that mess.

Here’s what I have learned about landscaping – less is more. You can have grass. And maybe a tree. But make sure the tree is nowhere near the house. You don’t know what those roots can do to the foundation. Wait, they can still get to the sewer line. Forget the tree. Go to the park if you want to look at a tree. Just grass.

So. Tomorrow morning Kiwi the Grey is going back to board at the rescue. She is still on the anti-fungal meds. My mother is taking the dog and going back to the hotel. Spooky the Cat and I are going to tough it out and stay here.

I am exhausted already.

Interior Decorating

I hate interior decorating. I’m not good at it and I don’t care enough. When I first started working, I sat at a 1960-something desk in what had once been a small storage room. From my chair, I was looking at a wall lined with old file cabinets – still in use.

I didn’t care. For those first three years, I was just tickled that I had an office with a door. When those file cabinets were finally moved, I put up a framed photomosaic of Darth Vader.

When we moved to fancy rented property, we all went on a tour of the area. The space was still being built out, and I have no sense of vision for these things, so it was lost on me. What I remember is that we were told that once we moved, we were not to be putting up our own stuff on the walls. We were to choose from among these particular pieces and a print would be framed and hung for us. We were to turn over our certifications for framing, as well.

Well. Being all individualistic, I was a bit offended by the concept. But I didn’t have any trouble at all with how it looked when we arrived. The furniture..the was all good. I missed (still miss) my old bookcase, but it was all good.

I may have told you that last year, when my bathroom was gutted, the contractor asked what I wanted. I said, “Exactly what I have now, but with new stuff.” He talked me into a couple of changes. Then I had to go to a showroom to pick out the new stuff. I was introduced to the guy and immediately apologized. I told him straight up that I hate everything. He asked me to be specific. “I hate everything frou-frou and I can’t stand that post-modern spa nonsense”. He told me that my style was “transitional” and I was in and out of there in an hour. I like my bathroom just fine, thanks.

Now my mother is going through it, but with a different contractor. There isn’t one showroom, just some preferred vendors and a general “get what you want”. I am totally useless. Mostly, when she tells me about something she saw, my response is, “I don’t care. Do what you want.”

We are also going through it with the new library space. We have a room, with a bit of latitude in how we set it up. How do we want the workspace set up? How high do we want the bookshelves to be? More light and airy or more room for stuff? More chairs for sitting or more room for storage? We had a meeting to discuss our options. My contribution?

“We’d better get what we can get now, because I do not believe for one second that there will be budget money left for us later.”

So I have gotten it from three sides. My problem, part of it anyway, is that I just can’t picture it. Whatever gift of vision or imagination is just not in me. HGTV? It is not unusual for me to like the “before” houses better.

Of course, it is possible that I am just lazy.

The Rug

I believe I mentioned that while I was in New Orleans, I custom-ordered a rug from a weaver in the French Quarter. They are woven from your average cotton quilting fabric. Besides being interesting looking, they are: Totally. Washable. As in you could throw it in the washing machine, if your washing machine was big enough. Or you could take it outside and hose it down on the driveway.

We needed a new rug. Before visiting this store I only knew of two kinds – the old oriental rugs and the cheap ones hanging from the ceiling at Bed Bath and Beyond or wherever. So when I saw these, I was pleased. We sent over the paintchips from all of the rooms on our first floor because we weren’t sure if the rug would go in the family room or the front hall. I think my mother also sent her some fabric sample from a quilt she hasn’t made yet. We expected to receive the order in 12 weeks, or the end of August.

A couple of days before I moved out of the house for the great mold elimination (which I am only mostly satisfied is over), I received an e-mail from Louisiana Loom Works saying my rug had shipped. It sat in my garage for a week. I wasn’t home an hour before I tore open the box. My poor mother was still at the hotel with the dog. And the cat. So I sent her a picture:

The fabric is espresso brown, rather like our family room couch. It is woven together with brick red, the color of the kitchen walls, sage green, the color of the bird room, camel-beige, the color of our family room walls and black. This is how it looks in the front hall:

My mother thinks it makes our dark hall too dark. Her damn fault for insisting on those teeny windows in the front doors. Wherever it lands, we are very happy with the purchase.

Operation SporeKill

We are now in Day 5.

32 years of junk has been removed from the basement. Demolition is complete. Apparently, it took three trucks in addition to this dumpster to get rid of all the drywall, ceiling tiles and general crap that was down there. I recognized the teal slabs on top as being the doors that were there. I remember seeing the tile that was in the bathroom, and the sink. Gone…gone…gone.

They are down to washing every surface of every object on two levels of my house. It is only two because the upstairs was sealed off. I didn’t dare to go inside, so all I could manage was this picture that came out as creepy as it felt to me, although it looks to dark to be translating well here. This is my front hallway leading to the staircase:

This will take 3-4 days. Sound like a long time? Think about your kitchen. When was the last time you removed every object from the cupboards to wash them? Every dish, every mug, every towel. Every pen in the junk drawer.

Back at the hotel, the pets seem to have adjusted. They each took about 24 hours. Spooky had the worst of it. He came with me on Sunday and stayed in my room. Tuesday morning, I took him to my mother’s room while I went to work. When I came back, he had decided to stay with her. Except that she changed rooms on Wednesday. Poor cat doesn’t know if he is coming or going. But so far, he hasn’t taken it out on the carpet. I believe he is under the bed right now. This was from the first night. He still isn’t looking me in the eye.

Shadow is a very amiable dog, but on his first day, Mom was at work, which messed him up. On his second day, the landscapers came and he went crazy. But the biggest drama, and biggest mess, is made by Kiwi. I made her go back into her carrier to eat because the crumbs are too much for me. Sorry for the glare.

I have laundry to do and Rich and Karen are getting married tomorrow and this is not a great time for me to be taking off work and now I’m just whining so I think I’ll go read a book. Or play Diner Dash.

New Home for the Fish

My brother’s contribution to the great Mold Removal Project of 2009 was to take in the fish. They were actually his fish, anyway: he left them at the house when he moved out. Seven years ago.

First, he had to convince his wife. Then, he had to go to PetsMart with my mother to find a new set up. Then he had to build the new set up.
Yesterday, I brought him the fish:

The one in front is, in fact, a good ten years old. I just learned yesterday that his name is Raphael. Raphael is about twice the size that anyone remembered. Apparently he likes to spend his day hiding under things. My nephew, Alex, is calling the other two “the jaguar fish”. I am thinking their scales remind him of the jaguar on the Diego cartoon. I don’t argue with the boy. Except about football.

I brought the castles and the bridge. Alex picked out the Sponge Bob toy that you can just barely see peeking in from the right hand side of the picture. I guess that fish like Sponge Bob toys.


Kiwi the Grey is boarding at the rescue. I took her in on Monday and she no longer finds it amusing. I plan to go in every day after work to give her the medicine, but today was my regular day to volunteer, anyway. She is displeased.

We have taken Shadow the Dog and Spooky the Cat to get tested for aspergillus antigens.

The work is starting on Monday and we have reservations at a local hotel that takes pets. I realize that I am not supposed to declare these things on the Internet, but anyone that wants to rob my house will have to break into a toxic waste zone to steal my 21 year old big screen TV.

Knock yourself out.

In other news, I called my allergist to whine that I am still reacting to my allergy shots. The nurse informed me that the doctor is on leave because he was in a bike accident. Broke his hip and his femur.

So then I had to shut up and count my blessings. That, I guess, is the lesson for the day.


We have seen the mold guys are were informed that every living, breathing creature must vacate the premises while the work is being done. Seven to nine days. And I am pretty sure he meant working days.

Do you know how hard it is to find someplace for two women, one dog, one cat and one bird to live all at once at the same time without going broke? I briefly considered getting a short term lease on an apartment.

Ugh. We think we have it worked out. In the meantime, Shadow went to the vet because we think he might be fighting an infection, too.

Mold is the most horrible thing on Earth. But here is a picture of Kiwi, taking her medicine without complaint.

How many times a week do you think a Grey can have McDonald’s?