Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Optimism in January. In Maine.

I put stickers with my house number on the side of my mailbox today. 

Not so much to help people find the house as to help me identify the mailbox as mine when the snowbanks melt away.  It's kind of like tagging the webbed feet of migrating waterfowl.  Once the plow sends it flying, you might not see it again.  I've been playing with the idea of putting a shooting target on the mailbox as well, to make it a bit more fun for the plow drivers.

Speaking of melting away, we had a torrential downpour and unseasonably warm weather here the last two days.  Into the forties.  Our snowpile is half its former self, and we're down to the actual driveway instead of solid ice.  And to think that just this past Saturday I was contemplating getting a ladder and shoveling the snow off the roof to prevent the ice dams from getting too big.  Now the roof is clear.  Hooray!

Oh, and I found the nice square-head shovel the kids left on one corner of the driveway.  Henry's orange hat is still missing, but I know roughly where it is, by the shed.

Other sure signs it's warm in Maine in January: As I dropped off the eldest Toadroller for basketball practice today, the indoor track team was outside, jogging on the high school's entrance road in shorts and t-shirts.  Hey, if it's in the 30s, get your butt outside!  It won't be that warm again until late March.

I believe that it rains for the sole purpose of helping me identify the next leak to fix in my house.  We may have turned the corner in leakity-ville, though: this one was just dripping into the garage, not into living areas, drywall or wiring in order to leave behind a trail of mold.  I did have to clear my car out of the garage; rip down some rotten insulation; empty my toolbox, drying each tool by hand; and rescue my compound mitre-saw. 

Anyone want some slightly damp Home Depot crappy shelving?  Free.

I ended my mop-up duties by going outside to look around for the culprit.   The porch.  Of course.*  The water was coming into the garage where the porch attaches to the house because, well, the under-side of the porch is sealed plywood, yet above that, the floor of the porch, is typical decking.  You see, the roof of the porch leaks, which I can accept as it's external to the house.  The leaking water falls onto the decking of the porch and then becomes, as best I can tell, a little minnow-pool because of the aforementioned sealed plywood. 

"What the hell," I figured, "I'll enjoy ripping the whole thing down and leaving it unfinished this summer.  Good thing it's on the back."  I got my Makita drill and made some swiss cheese (meaning random) drainage holes in the until-recently-sealed-underside.  I felt like a drunk cowboy shooting my Makita into the air.  The results were eerily similar to my attempts to find a stud in order to hang a picture.  I eventually hit some of the right spots and it emptied out like a kid who'd been holding it the whole way through Spanish class.  Or like an interior latex paint-sack on a house renovation in Maine in February**: http://sanesanctuary.blogspot.com/2008/02/building-bathrooms-and-going-batty.html

Shit, I hate this house.

Take black mold, for instance.  It loves us.  Black mold cost us $7k or so to mitigate and sell our house in Colorado.  Black mold awaited us here in Maine, due largely to a local Master Craftsman's (I can't recommend him, really I can't, despite his services costing twice everyone else's) inability to properly vent or waterproof anything.  That Master Craftsmanship led to this: http://sanesanctuary.blogspot.com/2008/03/you-mean-i-was-right-about-something.html

We're still in re-construction of that renovation, and will be for the next year or so.  Our second parlor room is now affectionately referred to as "the mold room" and is serving time, unheated, as a storage room for all our crap until spring, when I'll rip out the drywall and insulation, kill the mold somehow, and turn it into my woodshop/base of operations for personally and slowly (time, skill, and money allowing) rennovating the downstairs of this house.

The icing on the mold-cake, though, was the discovery of mold IN OUR FRIGGIN' SELECT COMFORT BED!  You see, the foam layers apparently trap humidity and become a literal hotbed for mold growth.  Yes, there's a class-action law suit.  Yes, I could raise hell with Select Comfort's support lines, Rush Limbaugh, or any of the other mini-celebs advertising the air-bed nee moldy cheese factory and get it replaced.  But then I'd still have a crappy Select Comfort bed.  Quick two-word-review of the Select Comfort beds:  They suck.  So, mold in the bed and we've started up the musical beds, again, until we decide when and how to replace the Select Comfort (did I mention it isn't comfortable?) bed.   I know what the replacement mattress will be, and when we get commisions, bonuses, taxes and house-sale (not this house, which I've mentioned I hate) squared away, we'll get it.

I need to bleed the air out of my hot water heat piping. I'm not so sure that I know how to do that. I think I might have figured it out last winter when I finished the local plumbing and heating company's job for them after paying a good $13k for a half-assed, slow-assed job. I literally reverse-engineered the wiring to the relays governing the valves, re-wired the upstairs thermostat (correctly this time), and marked off which pipes went where and in what direction they were flowing. But now there's air in the system. When it kicks in for the upstairs, it sounds like a toilet flushing.

I still have half a tank of oil and it's late January.  I think I might get through this winter with one more fill up and then a topper in May or June.  I played the "pre-buy" sweepstakes fairly well; I'm probably $100 ahead of the game, but that doesn't mean much when the winter's bill is in the $2k range.

Optimism.  January.  Maine.  If you don't have it, you'd better move.  Before you hurt someone.

That or sing carols as you take down the Christmas tree.  I hope we get to that this weekend.

* It wan't just the porch.  Of course.  Water was coming in through the wiring and piping for the alarm system some bright spark put into the house.  Now, given that this was Samantha Smith's (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samantha_Smith  ) childhood house, down to the Holly Hobby wallpaper in her former bedroom, maybe a security system was to ward off the KGB or the CIA.  We didn't find any cold-war era bugs in the walss during the renovation...  Otherwise I'm at a loss for why anyone would set up an alarm system in house in a small town in a state where most people leave the keys in the ignition while they go grocery shopping.  

** That's right, if you survive January, you have all of February to look forward to***.  There's a reason it's the shortest month of the year.  It's kinda like Select Comfort beds.  A three-word review of February in Maine:  It sucks too.

*** Two word review of March in Maine:  Mostly sucks.  Now, don't get me wrong; I'm serious when I say this piece is optimistic.  It's just that five months of the year in Maine can be dedicated to cold, one month to mud, two to bugs, leaving us three or four nice months depending on the local side effects of global warming.  Or rain.  Shit, I forgot the two rain months, summer**** and October.  Maine sucks.  Why are we here?

**** Yes, I know, footnotes to footnotes to footnotes.  I also know that summer is not a month.  The point is, one random month of summer (maybe two, like we had in 2009!) can be set aside for rain in Maine, which falls mainly on my house, which should more accurately be labeled a drain.

No comments:

Post a Comment