A Little Peace

06 Nov

One year ago on November 8th we moved into our dream home. We’ve had a few glitches. One was my bathtub, which would only fill about 1/8 full before the water turned tepid. Finally, I convinced my husband and the contractor that their lives were on the line if I couldn’t have a nice steamy bath…and soon.

The plumber came and opened the crawlspace hatch. The air coming from the opening smelled moldy. Now, you’d think with our ultra-dry Idaho climate, mold wouldn’t be a problem, but in our little section we have soil drainage issues.

I called a disaster cleanup group and the bad news quickly turned to a worst-case scenario. We got the customary bids. Group one said we had mold and showed me pictures, group two said we had mold and showed me photos, the insurance adjuster said he didn’t see any.

We contacted a mold tester. He tested inside and out. The outside air showed 160 whatevers of mold. The tester said he fully expected the inside air to be twice that. Well, it wasn’t, it was 32,000 whatevers. I’m no math whiz, but even I can tell 32,000 is more than twice 160.

Judging by the three bids we got mold is much more valuable than gold. After a set of coronaries, we settled on a service that promised they could get it pumped out, cleaned up, and put right in seven days. We lived with fans blowing in and out of the foundation vents for several days.

I need to mention here that I have two very large, very loud watchdogs who are bent on letting me know whenever someone arrives. No matter how often they come.

Restoration began. They pulled the insulation out through the vents. Better than through the house. Side note: My husband is an architect. Architects are want to insulate things a lot. So, when they began pulling insulation, they saw their half-day job stretched into four full days. And with the extension, my hopes of having them out in seven days evaporated.

Two days into insulation pulling, I went out the front door and discovered water on the front walk. Not just a little. Nope. When I walked out to see how bad it was, I found myself standing ankle-deep water. It had formed large puddles in the flowerbeds too. Next to the house. I called the landscapers. Then, just because I could, I lifted the crawlspace access door and, yup, you guessed it. The area was filled with water…again.

Again came the pumping truck. The dirty little secret is they don’t pump for free. It’s fifteen hundred dollars every time they pull in the driveway. Maybe, I tell myself, this time they’ll get it repaired.

Later that day, the landscapers assured me the system was fixed this time for sure.

More days lost to pumping and drying and we’re waving good-bye to week three.

The stars align. The insulation and the vapor barrier are gone. Now to treat the mold. Things are humming along only three plus weeks off schedule. I think, okay, they’re almost done.

One morning I again notice more water on the front walk. I’m a patient person…sort of, but this was one leak too far. After the customary phone calls, I have a yard and house full of workers again. Again with the pumper truck. Again with the fans. And again the assurances that all is fixed.

At this point, my husband decided that having the crawlspace pumped out three times in one month is too much. He says what is needed is a drainage system so this doesn’t happen again. In comes company number three, complete with another set of workmen. They’re tasked with digging a trench around the inside of the foundation, drilling a hole in said foundation, and installing a sump-pump. I’d have felt bad for these guys having to dig in those close quarters, but with all the dog barking and strangers in and out of my home I have a sympathy deficit.

Things appear to be going well when they discover a wet spot in a different area of the crawlspace. And voila, the sprinkler box is filled up again. This time, we have to have all the outside faucets replaced with some special kind that should have been in the first place. So, now I’ve got two more sets of guys roaming my house, a plumber and an electrician (to wire the sump-pump). And it’s week six.

One set of workmen or another decided that a ditch would be the answer to the sprinkler box issue.

A new set of guys arrive to replace all the insulation and the vapor barrier. I figured, judging by past experience, it would take another week. At this point, I’m wondering if I’m going to have to set extra places for Thanksgiving dinner.

To my complete surprise, they’re in and out in a day. Two days later, the drain is all done and everyone is gone.


The good news is we both feel a lot better with the mold gone. Of course that’s offset by my shattered nerves. Picture large dogs barking every single time someone comes into the house.

What does this have to do with writing? If I were a better person, I’d be able to tell you that I wrote through the whole thing. I didn’t.

Have there been times in your life when you weren’t able to write?


Posted by on November 6, 2012 in Blogs, stress, writing


14 responses to “A Little Peace

  1. Judith Keim

    November 6, 2012 at 7:29 AM

    Peggy, I’ve felt so bad for you during this whole process!!! (Loved your sympathy deficit remark!). Yes, there have been times when I couldn’t write for reasons beyond being stuck in a scene or working out a plot. Those times for me have been due to a lagging “spirit”. Because writing is such a combination of emotion, spirit and thought, I need to be able to sit in my seat and “fly” with my characters. When the combination isn’t there, it doesn’t work. Hope that makes sense…Good luck with your “new” house!

  2. Peggy Staggs

    November 6, 2012 at 7:48 AM

    I agree. I admire people who can write through anything. If I have people tugging at me from all angles I can’t concentrate.

  3. marsharwest

    November 6, 2012 at 8:07 AM

    Bless your heart, Peggy. I had visions of that old movie The Money Pit. The contractors just kept saying “Two more weeks!” I liked the “sympathy deficit” line, but I loved, “Even I can tell 32,000 whatevers is more than twice 160 whatevers.” You took a dreadful situation and made me laugh. And you wonder at not being able to write under these circumstances! No one could.
    So glad your perfect home finally got to be perfect. Now you better get cracking with those computer keys. You have a little catching up to do. 🙂 Your pups must need to catch up on a lot of sleeping. That’s what happens with ours anytime we have people in and out. Like yours, they’re honor bound to announce the new arrivals!

    • Peggy Staggs

      November 6, 2012 at 1:01 PM

      The doctor had all three of us on Prozac. I’m excited for the calm of the holidays.
      My fingers are poised to get back to the keys they love so much.

  4. Meredith Allen Conner

    November 6, 2012 at 10:23 AM

    Peggy, I am so sorry. Things like that – that are out of my control – drive me nuts. I have to agree with Judith – I go through periods where I can’t write and it’s due to spirit – or my alter ego Mildred as I like to call her. Those are the worst times. I’m glad your drainage issues are over and you can get back to your life now 🙂

    • Peggy Staggs

      November 6, 2012 at 1:03 PM

      All is now under control. The only thing left is to move the furniture out of the two guest bedrooms (the carpet failed–if it isn’t this it’s that) and I’m pretty much back to life as it should be.

  5. Janis McCurry

    November 6, 2012 at 10:36 AM

    At least you have fodder for reasons to kill your characters! Glad to see things are settled down for you.

  6. Peggy Staggs

    November 6, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    Thanks. All should be normal…as normal as it ever is around here soon.

  7. maryvine

    November 6, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    Oh my goodness! Sounds like a current New Jersey flood story, not in Boise. So glad things are better and may they stay better. I didn’t write for 5 years at one time as I went through a divorce and then started dating.Finally settled down.

    • Peggy Staggs

      November 6, 2012 at 4:19 PM

      This wasn’t anywhere near a divorce–although it nearly caused one–or dating. YUCK! I so do now want to go there again. The good news is we both made it out the other side.

  8. Liz Flaherty

    November 8, 2012 at 5:55 AM

    Whoa, I feel for you. What a mess! Hope all is well and clear now.

    • Peggy Staggs

      November 8, 2012 at 8:08 AM

      Thanks. All is much better now that all the workmen are gone.

  9. Clarissa Southwick

    November 8, 2012 at 7:54 AM

    How does this fit with writing, you ask? How about a heroine, overcoming obstacles, only to have a bigger one thrown in her path? So sorry you had to go through all this. Here’s wishing you many happy years in your new home.

    • Peggy Staggs

      November 8, 2012 at 8:08 AM

      Thanks. I’m sure things will be much smoother house-wise from now on.


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