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Day 181: The Mushroom Factor

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Someone is coming to view the house on Saturday. (Don't hold your breath - I'm not, haha.) Himself is still having the PITN (pain in the neck) problem so I forbade him to go around moving stuff and pushing the vacuum and - dare I say it - working outside. I told him if it doesn't rain tomorrow,* I'll catch up on some of the outdoor chores and in the meantime, I've done inside stuff today.

*Because of course while the sky was bluer'n blue when I got up, by 8:30 it was pouring. Gee. You'd almost think it rains a lot in England.

Bedrooms are done - that's just dust 'n' tidy, really. Bathrooms are tomorrow. Main areas are Saturday morning: they don't need much, but I figure those are the rooms we'll be using the most between now and the viewing, so I'll give them a last-minute going over. I spent the most time in the kitchen.

Years ago Spouse #1 and I bought a 1901 farmhouse. It was a great place, but it was a real fixer-upper. Being young and healthy (and broke) we practiced quite a bit of DIY. I learned a lot.

1) No, you don't need to steam and scrape the wallpaper off the ceiling. It'll cost you three days x two people + untold wallpaper scraper blades. And no one will ever notice.

2) Yes, you can too do the plumbing and wiring - IF you're very careful and painstaking. You won't get it done as fast or efficiently as the professionals, but it'll look fine when you're done, and moreover, it'll work.

3) They're called 'primer coats' for a reason. Don't try to cut corners by leaving them off.

And inevitably, you will run into what we came to call The Mushroom Factor. Permit me to explain.

There was a large water-stain on the living room ceiling. You might be able to guess that it was directly under the bathroom - the only bathroom: it was therefore crucial to our existence.

The downstairs ceilings were something like 9' high, so we decided to postpone doing anything about the water-stain. Maybe one day we would put in a half-bath downstairs, then we could take the 'real' bathroom out of commmission for a few days and redo it.

That was the plan - until one night after we'd gone to bed we heard a tremendous crash from downstairs. The kids slept thru it, but we raced down to discover a large chunk (maybe as much as a quarter in all) of the living room ceiling plaster had fallen. Hmmm.

In fact, I found a picture on the 'net. It looked a lot like this:

[Is this more than you wanted to know? If it is, speak up now, lol.]

The next morning we cleared away the plaster debris all over and climbed up to check the lath. It was damp, but basically sound. Looked a lot like that picture too, where someone had put pieces in and moved slats around, probably when the bathroom was installed. (When it was built, the house didn't have a bathroom.)

The keys - you know, the old brown coarse horsehair plaster - had gotten kind of crumbly and half-dissolved tho. Okay, we thought maybe the caulk around the bathtub was letting water thru, so that was letting the bathroom floor get wet which in turn led to the ceiling lath getting wet - well, you get the idea.

So we went upstairs and carefully took up a few of the old floor tiles along the bathtub. Interesting. Underneath was fairly dry. We started prying more up, one by one, until we struck 'damp.' Then we followed a trail that got progressively wetter...

It wasn't a big bathroom, but prying up old tiles that had been glued down in the 1950s isn't something you want to do anymore than you need to.

As it turned out, the leak was the toilet. The old wax seal where the toilet flushes into the large pipe (sewer pipe? outlet? you know what I mean) was more or less gone. We'd been blithely flushing water (it doesn't bear thinking) under the bathroom tiles and into the living room ceiling.

Before all was said and done, we had to get a new outlet pipe, take up the old wooden floor and some of the lath around the toilet, replace all that, and reseat the toilet with a new seal. Then put down a new (vinyl) floor. THEN go back downstairs and tackle the ceiling.

That's the mushroom factor: you start one project, only to find three others sprout up, and they have to be addressed before you can do the job you set out to do. And somewhere in amongst them, you will discover yet more mushrooms that need to be finished before you can do the one you need to do to do the one you set out to do - The House That Jack Built.

Back to the kitchen - that's today, you keeping up here?

It looked as tho some of the cupboard doors (yeah, I hear you laughing: SOME of the cupboard doors? when have you ever seen 'one' dirty cupboard door? and when have you ever been able to clean ONE and not have to clean the rest, now that they look even dirtier by comparison? but I digress) could use a quick scrub.

Our trash can is in a funny little cupboard - this being a brilliant idea of Himself's, which it is - where you pull the bin open, the lid automatically lifts up, drop in the garbage and voila, out of sight, out of mind. No smell, either.

I cleaned the front of that cupboard and thought the front edge looked a little messy. I opened the bin in order to get the entire edge... uh oh. Wonder when's the last time I cleaned the lid of this thing?

Cleaned that and thought, wow, didn't realize there was that much crud on it. It looks almost lighter in color! Makes the sides look pretty dingy.

Okay, by the time I was done, the cupboards, the appliances, the countertops, and the floor sparkled. I'm bushed.

Sunday is my weigh-in day, and by golly, if I haven't lost some weight THIS week, I will be madder 'n an October hornet. But it's really gratifying to have a super-clean kitchen. Himself has to take me out to dinner tomorrow - no way am I messing it up before Saturday, lol...

Goodnight, Sparklers, wherever you are!

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    LOL I loved it!
    3641 days ago
  • no profile photo CD9922996
    Good luck with the house showing -- we just accepted an offer on our condo in Chicago so we're pretty relieved but it does mean I'll have to go back up there for a week or so in a couple of weeks. Just when I was getting into my Florida groove!

    Good luck, Kasey!!!

    emoticon emoticon
    3642 days ago
    Well you made me laugh out loud!--I know the wmushroom affect!--I'll say a wee prayer that they are interested---Lynda from the north--- emoticon
    3642 days ago
    Oh, my goodness... you have greater incentive than I but the "one thing" initiative causes just such a result! Clean a 3 inch square of stove top, the rest looks worse. Bit by bit it gets better, then the other appliances look atrocious! But, I put my blinders on, or I'll throw up my hands in despair.

    It will be there to be my next "one thing"! emoticon
    3642 days ago
    I loved the story! Hubby No. 1 sounds as though he was game to try anything. Lots of men would never dream of getting their hands dirty.

    I can so relate to your story, as I have moved to a county in West Virginia where there's no zoning and much residential work is done by the untrained residents! You never know what you'll find. I find that fixing my own cabin has been a great, ever-evolving adventure, and I'm doing repairs and adjustments I never dreamed I'd be doing, much the way you must have felt in your farmhouse. All this fun, but I still appreciate the way Himself enjoys the technical work-saving gadgets!

    Won't be long and your house will be long-sold. I hope it will also provide many good memories!
    3642 days ago
    Don't blame you one bit--and he owes you for that sparkling kitchen---LOL
    3642 days ago
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