Sunday, April 28, 2013

I Was Wrong

Remember not too long ago when the seven pounds of mouse doody fell on me?  And remember how I claimed that little event was the most disgusting thing that's ever happened to me while working on the house?

Well, I was wrong.  But I'm not about to say something stupid like, "This--this right here--this is the grossest thing ever to happen to me."  No way.  Because the way I see it, Karma is a mean little witch with a wicked sense of humor, so if I make that claim then she'll try to top it, and I still have a little bit of demo work to do elsewhere in the house where something horrible could be hiding.

Anyhow, there I was standing on the ladder all geared up (respirator, safety goggles, lucky hat, and the rest) once again, pulling out the old Rock Wool insulation batts.  Removing them was pretty easy--just grab an end, pull, and roll up as you go.  A dusty and dirty job, but not really disgusting.

Until....(cue ominous soundtrack music here)...until I pulled out a big chunk of insulation and found something odd.  It looked like a shoe stuck down in the rock wool.  "That's weird," I said to Louis Cat (who, as always, is serving as my foreman on this job) "What the hell would a shoe be doing in the ceiling?"  I grabbed the "shoe" with one hand and pulled the insulation away from it.  Then I saw a tooth.

(Note:  The following comment is slightly edited.)
"Oh, Cheeses!  Oh, Cheeses and Rice!  It's a fudgin' skull!"

And then I dry-heaved.  For five minutes.

And then I went back into the bedroom to see what it really was and whether or not I'd have to call the cops or an exorcist.

Here is where you should probably stop reading if you have a weak stomach.  You certainly shouldn't look at the next couple of photos if you tend at all towards queasiness or if you don't have a slightly sick sense of humor.

The thing wasn't a shoe.  It wasn't a skull, either.  Well, part of it included a skull, but--oh, Hell's Bells, I'll just show it to you already:

Urrp.  (Sorry.)  A dried-up dead rat.  The ruler is there so you know how big it is and for proof that it's a rat, not a mouse.  Although, really, I'm not sure what difference that makes--either way, it's still a dead rodent that was in my ceiling.  We won't discuss how it may have gotten into my house, or how long it lived in there, or the possibility that based on the rate of decomposition it might not have been all that long ago that it was alive and in my ceiling.  Urrp.  (Sorry again.)  My friend Rachel exclaimed when she saw this photo, "It's Mrs. Kelly's pet buck-tooth Chihuahua!"  Currently, I'm accepting this utterance as the gospel truth, because finding a petrified Chihuahua, even a buck-tooth one, in my ceiling is way better than finding a petrified rat.

And then I sorta lost my mind a little bit (more) and decided that if Tilda Swinton sleeping in a plastic box is art, then I could create a modern art installation right here in my own home.  So:

I call this piece "Just Hangin' Out Doin' Hood Rat Stuff With My Friends" or "Heyyyyy, Macarena!"

I probably shouldn't give up my real job.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Twins

I think I might have accidentally started a trend with the matchy-matchy flowerpots on my front porch.

Because now I have two matchy-matchy tables.

Really, there are two of them.  I considered taking a photo of both of them together, but then I thought, "Hey, they look exactly alike, so what's the point of that?"  Besides, I'd already put them at opposite ends of the sofa and I'm lazy.

I'm seriously in love with these tables.  Those curved legs, that flowery trim, the glass knob, the storage space.  Love them.

When I bought them I thought they'd make good end tables for the front parlor, but now that they're on each end of the sofa I think they look like bedside tables.

Which got me thinking...maybe they should indeed become bedside tables.  Eventually.  If and when I move my bed into a room that has enough wall space for two bedside tables.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Fit Of Optimism

In a fit of optimism that winter might really be behind us at last, I decided that today is the Opening Day of Porch Season.  I'm pretty sure this is the latest Opening Day in the seven years I've celebrated Porch Season.

I swept off the porch (kinda--don't look too hard at it) and put the new doormat in front of the door.  I got it at Target and I love the colors in it.  So bright and cheery.  After this winter, I'm in desperate need of all things bright and cheery.
Then I dragged out the cushions for the wicker furniture and rolled out my plastic porch rug from World Market.  Please note that I followed the "rug rule" and put the front legs of the furniture on the rug. Rug rules are important, even on porches.  Otherwise, it's just anarchy and chaos.
By the way, most of the cruddy stuff you see on the porch floor isn't dirt.  I did sweep better than that.  It's glue from when the porch had that fake grass outdoor carpet glued to it.  People who used to live in this house really liked to glue carpet to stuff, even outside. 
Then I put the rest of my matchy-matchy pots on the porch steps.  The little ones have been there awhile which is why they're dirty.  Usually I'm not a matchy-matchy person, but when I set out my collection of mismatched pots on the porch steps (which was supposed to give it a whimsical cottage look, or so Better Homes & Gardens says) my OCD kicked in and I couldn't stand it.  I kept rearranging them to make them look even, but they just looked worse, and it made me nervous and unhappy.  This is much nicer.  (Nicer except for that giant dandelion growing in the flower bed on the right.)

Maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to really celebrate Porch Season on my days off and sit out on the porch with the furbabies.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Layered Look

I know y'all have been sitting on the edge of your seats, excitedly waiting for my update on the back bedroom ceiling, so here it is.  It's pretty compelling.  (And by "compelling", I mean "dirty, dusty, and gross".)

I decided to take the ceiling down in layers:  first the dropped ceiling, then the other ceiling tiles, and lastly the insulation.  In my head that's how it would go, nice and orderly.  In reality, there were places where all three layers came down at once.  (Like during the mouse doody avalanche.)

As I was stacking up the big tiles from the dropped ceiling, I noticed this:
 That's the backside (heh, heh) of one of the ceiling tiles, and the manufacture date is August 7, 1992.  Not 1972 or 1962, or even 1982, but 1992--far after they should have known better.  Not only is the ceiling butt-ugly, it was probably more expensive than drywall.  I just don't get that decision.  (Of course, this is just the latest in a long line of questionable decisions made by Sucky Previous Owners.)

After I got all the ceiling tiles out of there, I took apart the aluminum pieces, loaded them in my car, and drove to the recycling place.  Fourteen pounds of the things brought me a whopping $1.58, which didn't even pay for my gas to drive down there.  (After I got home and read the comments from Jan on my previous ceiling post, I realized the nice folks at the recycling place ripped me off.  Bummer.)

With the dropped stuff gone, the ceiling looked like this:

That's actually almost beautiful compared to what it looks like now:

Yet another layer of ceiling tiles crammed in between the furring strips, and on top of that, the dreaded Gold Bond Rock Wool. 

I make the solemn vow that the rock wool will be gone by the time I have to go back to work on Saturday.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Note:  I meant for this post to be seen this past Saturday, but evidently when I wrote it I forgot to click the Publish button.  I hesitated about posting it now, but decided that I would be remiss if I did not.

This has been a horrible week.  On April 7th one of our neighboring fire departments, the Fort Osage Fire Protection District, lost Assistant Chief Harold Hollingsworth in a line of duty death.  I can only echo everyone else's sentiment that this is a terrible loss for the community and his family.  As one of the firefighters I work with said, "You see this stuff in movies and you always think it won't happen to you or to someone you know."  And then one night it does, and it just wallops you.  

I was talking to a good friend about it and said, "I don't really know what to say about it when people ask me.  We went to high school together and I know his family, but not all that well.  I can tell you this, though: maybe somewhere in the world there is someone who didn't like Harold Hollingsworth, but if there is, we've never heard of it.  Everybody just loved and respected the guy so much.  He was so kind and smart and such a good guy, but he wasn't all sanctimonious about himself.  He was funny.  He was really, really funny." My friend thought about that for a minute, and then he said, "I think that's as good a eulogy to him as I've heard."  

Godspeed, Chief Hollingsworth. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Seven Pounds

So a few posts back I showed y'all the horrible ceiling in the back bedroom and decided that it had to come down.  I figured the best way to do that is a layer at a time, so I started with the dropped ceiling.  At first things went well.  I took down a few tiles, removed the metal strips as I went along, and pretty soon the ceiling looked like this:

Not too bad, right?  In some places the next layer of ceiling tiles had fallen down, so occasionally when I pulled on a ceiling tile it had a stack of those smaller tiles on top of it.  I worked my way over to the other half of the room.

And here I want to pause to thank everybody who reminded me to wear a respirator.  I am really, truly, wholeheartedly thankful for that advice.  Really.  If y'all lived here, I'd bake you a pie.  Although you might not want to eat it after you read this next part....

Fair warning:  In just a minute I am going to tell you the most disgusting thing that's ever happened to me while working on this house.  Some of you might remember when Larry and I uncovered the mud dauber catacombs and nursery on the side porch and how I ran out into the yard and gagged after seeing hundreds of mud dauber larvae wrapped up in green leaves all over the side of my house.  This is worse than that, and that still makes me shudder when I think of it.

Okay.  So, I was standing on a ladder in the middle of the room, wearing my standard work-on-the-house uniform:  my lucky Pierce Manufacturing cap, a hoodie, yoga pants, and old Converse with no socks.  On this particular night I was also wearing my geeky glasses, Charlie's safety glasses on top of those, a pair of orange chem gloves, and a respirator mask.  The top of my head was about 18 inches below the level of the ceiling.  I pulled on a ceiling tile and it was heavy, but I thought that was just because it had a stack of those other ceiling tiles on top of it, so I gave it a really good yank, it popped down out of the ceiling, and...

seven pounds of mouse shit rained down on me.

It went down my sweatshirt, fell between my two pairs of glasses, peppered my face and my hair, stuck to my pants, and filtered into my shoes.  About two pounds of that seven pounds of mouse shit ended up in the hood of my sweatshirt.  I'm not ashamed to admit that I screamed like a little girl.  I jumped down off the ladder and said...wait for it...."Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit!"  Yes, I did.  My first instinct was to rip off my respirator and get the hell out of there, but then all that training we have at work about HazMat situations kicked in and I realized two things: 1. I do not want to inhale any of this junk; and 2. I need to contain this mess to this room. So I did the sensible thing.  I stripped off all my clothes.  (If you've never tried to take off a hoodie while wearing a respirator, I don't recommend it.)  That was when I found the two pounds of mouse doody in the hood of my shirt and nearly barfed in my respirator. I shook my clothes out thoroughly, put them into a trash bag, tied it shut, and left them in the middle of the room.  Then I walked across the room nekkid except for my poop-filled Converse and the respirator--I was looking pretty sexy I bet, and thank God I hadn't yet taken down the curtains--to the bathroom doorway, removed my respirator, put it in another trash bag, took off one shoe, brushed the kaka off my foot, stepped partway into the clean bathroom, repeated the process with the other shoe and foot, tied the trash bag shut, slammed the door closed, and ran the rest of the way across the bathroom to the shower, where I took a very long, very hot shower with lots of soap and much scrubbing with a body brush.

Now, I know what y'all are thinking.  Seven pounds of mouse shit?  Really?  It's not like you weighed it or anything.  But that's where you're wrong.  See, after showering and putting on nice clean clothes, I looked up the dangers of mouse doody and how to clean up mouse doody safely.  Because I'm a geek like that.  So after I napalmed the whole room with bleach water the next day--the CDC says wait a week, but I'm pretty sure the mouse poop is more likely seven years old than seven days old--and picked it up with a cat litter pooper-scooper and threw it in trash bags, I weighed the trash bags.  Almost nine pounds.  I figure wet doody weighs more than dry doody, so I subtracted a couple pounds.  Therefore, seven pounds of mouse shit.

I can hardly wait to see what else might be up there in that ceiling...

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Rock Or Not

Some awesome things have the word "rock" in them.

For instance...

Rock and roll.

Or even, The Big Rock Candy Mountain

And of course, Hugh Jackman's rockin' body.
You're welcome.
Yeah, especially that.

But not what I am about to show you.
Gold Bond Rock Wool.
Not awesome.
Particularly not when it falls out of the ceiling onto your head.