This Old House

I didn’t quite make it a month between postings. I think the blog rules are that you are supposed to post every day. Meh- I don’t like rules.

Besides, I have spent the last month fully immersed in This Old House. A little leak, a little black mold, followed by a not-little Scattered Freak Out of the aforementioned. A person excited by finding a foundation settlement crack and termite damage is a little freaky, dontcha think?

But the pest company comes out and reassures you that the termite damage is decades old. There should have been mold, being that there was drywall straight against the wet cinderblock, but there wasn’t. While having cracks, or at the one corner with the mold–a hole in the floor– isn’t Mary Poppins happy, it’s also not catastrophic. A little hydraulic cement fixed the cracks, and a lot of lysol, followed by a liberal scrubbing with Tea Tree Oil fixed the mold. We will paint with Drylock, put up some rigid, below-grade appropriate insulation and “make” a wall out of hardboard.

Why do we need a wall? Well, because for a basement to be considered finished it has to have at least one wall. Predictably, because I obviously crave stress induced angina, I applied to refinance the house right after destroying the basement wall. It was only days later that it occurred to me that a refinance would require an appraisal. Those appraisers, they like to come into your house and stuff. D’oh.

While we were considering home investment, my county started charging water customers by a tiered usage rate. A vintage 1968 toilet flushes about 1000 gallons each time. We were going to upgrade a fancy dual-flush toilet. Um… then I started worrying about the subfloor being wet, leaking, and rotten. I angsted and googled for a few weeks before calling a plumber to just come look at the damn thing. Old water damage– the subfloor fine. Cost for them to remove old bathtub and replace with fiberglass? $3500. Damn plumbers.

Oh- the flooring in the bathrooms (and the kitchen) happens to be vinyl, with an asbestos adhesive, which was really common in the late 60s. I’ve known about the asbestos–we found the original, hand-drawn house plans on a closet shelf shortly after moving in. Honestly, asbestos is fine, as long as you don’t fuck with it. I’m reasonably sure that ripping out bathtubs and replacing toilets is the official definition of “fucking with it”. I am still flaking on my preferred solution to that problem. In the meantime I duct-taped the snot out of the floor registers. Cleaned ’em while I was down there. Grossness.

Now my amateur Home Inspector is on high alert. I am manic with panic. I am in the basement, sealing things, patching holes, staring, examining, and poking at random boards and walls. Which is how I noticed that the roof flashing around the furnace pipe was kinda crooked. And I thought to myself, “Surely that kind of crooked isn’t water-tight”. Faulty flashing causes roof leaks…

Yes, my husband did offer to go into the attic and look for the leak. Yes, the part of my ADHD which involves hyper-focus (medication isn’t always awesome) insisted on doing it myself. Despite being mostly terrified of both ladders and attics. Especially attics like mine with a history of squirrel and bird habitation. Yes, the result of my finding anything alive (hell, even something dead) would have been me falling through the ceiling. I am woman, hear me roar and stuff. But I’m also really jumpy and klutzy, too. Thankfully all I found was a leak. And two unstruck matches- I guess the evicted squirrels were planning a nut-roast.

My solution to the overall manic-panic problem is to hire a home inspector to come out and do a non-amateur inspection. I want a comprehensive list of what’s wrong, and not from someone who gets paid to fix wrongness.

And my clock is ticking. One of the boys’ birthday presents (still unknown to them) was an indoor trampoline. One of my best craigslist finds to date, was two battery-powered ride-on trains with track. Unless Joel and I give up our bedroom, that stuff has to live in the basement. A non-toxic, dry basement. With walls.

Oh, and the appraiser is coming this Tuesday. But hard deadlines are the only thing that results in stuff ever getting finished, so that’s probably a good thing.

In the meantime the Small People are still here, freaking out about how long it takes for Christmas to come, having chronic constipation issues (Elliot) and breathing treatments for “pre-asthma” (Zach). I dedicate some time every night to researching countless Sick House-related diseases. But just a little bit of time. Okay, some nights quite a bit more than a little. Enough time that I’m going to be that mom and take them back to the pediatrician to demand a chest x-ray. Stupid google and webmd.

Staying inside my head about any of it for a prolonged period of time results in embarrassing crying jags. I dislike uncontrollable tears (damn, a control freak, too?), so I’m doing a lot of “c’mon get happy”. I think that’s delusion, but whatever gets you through the day, right? I pepper my manic-panic with Christmas crafting here and there, just because I need to Get Out of My Head. And because it’s my job to shield the Small People from my own stress. Though I’m guessing my overall (im)patience-level is giving them a wee bit of a clue.


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