Wednesday, January 11, 2012

no no no, don't make me look at any more termites

The time had come, in my opinion, for some repairs to be made to our over-100-year-old home. The deck had some highly questionable spots in it and was the home of a thriving community of Pacific dampwood termites which caused Lola to go into hysterics whenever one got into the house. (We had to cancel a date and come home early when our normally intrepid babysitter called to report that Lola's bug hysterics were too much for her). The Sober Husband's theory was these termites were not a risk to our house, because they only attack damp wood and supposedly our house's wood is nice and dry, but I wasn't buying it. Additionally the top of our house needed to be powerwashed (we powerwashed ourselves the parts which we could without risking our necks), a strange screen door frame, without any screen door attached to it, was crumbling and termite-infested, some shingles needed replacing, and arguably some parts of the house should be repainted.

To begin with, I hired one of my campmates from Burning Man to do the work, an unlicensed contractor who earns a living of sorts doing this kind of work. He took care of the door, removing the old door frame, fumigating the shell, and creating a new frame. He also did some initial probing on the deck and showed the skeptical Sober Husband just how bad things were. My Burning Man friend proposed just replacing half of the deck as a conservative measure (he seemed to have mystical feelings about redwood and wanted to dispose of as little of it as possible). All appeared well, until the Sober Husband requested an estimate. "I don't work that way," said my Burning Man campmate. "I'm just not comfortable working that way. I just like to be paid by the hour."

"But he just wants to have an idea of how much it's going to be," I said.

"But what," my campmate said with emotion rising in his voice, "if I open up that deck and it's worse than I thought? What do I do then?"

"You call the Sober Husband and say it's going to cost more than you thought," I said calmingly, but it was to no avail. "I"m just not comfortable working that way," he said. "And I don't like to drive all the way to your house." He did admit that he enjoyed eating lunch with me, but the charms of lunch with the Drunken Housewife were not enough to cajole him into giving the scary Sober Husband an estimate.

Later I laughed with the Sober Husband. "You broke my Burning Man carpenter, what with your fancy city ways! Estimates!" We laughed, but the Pacific dampwood termites were gnawing away. "Now it's your turn," I said. "You broke my carpenter; you have to get a new one."

Subsequently the Sober Husband did bring in a new contractor, one who enjoyed a manly laugh with the Sober Husband at the expense of the Drunken Housewife and her Burning Man carpenter. Now this contractor is hard at work, exposing the horrors of termites to the poor Drunken Housewife. Yesterday several times I was called away from whatever the hell it is I do around here all day to go see newly uncovered termite atrocities. "Look! Look! And it's RIGHT UP NEXT TO THE HOUSE!" was the refrain. The subtext of each of these little show-and-tell episodes was "this here, this scary thing, is going to cost you another thousand dollars." And there is no joy for a Drunken Housewife in looking at a termite. None.

I have seen the termites. I have seen the hell they hath wrought to the supporting structures of my deck. And to the side of my house, by the laundry room. I have witnessed the devastation. And all I can say is I just want to curl up in a ball on my bed, possibly with some chocolates, and never look at another termite again.


GodsKid said...

But he's only finding them in the deck? (Good!) Or is that the only place he is looking at? (bad)

midwestspitfire said...

This post made me feel yucky in my insides. You poor thing.