So much has been happening since my last post. I've been quite busy and too tired by the end of the day to post updates. But right now, my beautiful daughter is taking a much-needed nap, so I'm taking advantage of the free time. I'll try to consolidate as best I can.
Let's start off with The Good news. A couple weeks ago, my aunt informed me that a friend of hers was looking for a housesitter. So I called, we talked, and it looks like I'll be making a little extra money housesitting for 10 days starting this Sunday. Extra money is always good, but that's not THE good news. The good news is that the owner of the (hurricane-damaged) house, Maela, is doing all the repairs HERSELF. AND is open to having me come and help her so that I can learn a thing or two. I went to help one day last week. I removed nails from the wooden stairs; and though it wasn't a major job like putting up a wall or plumbing, it was something I'd never done and now I know what tools I need and how to do it. Skills!! She also showed me how to use the table saw. Skills!! I'm so excited. I'm gonna learn how to make and fix stuff. No more "damsel in distress" every time something breaks.
More Good news - My sister came down from North Carolina this past week to visit. We started cleaning out my mom's house. This is awesome because I haven't physically done anything on her (or my) house since I got here. So that's a start. We cleaned the kitchen together. This was no small task. The kitchen had not been touched since August 29, 2005 (Hurricane Katrina's arrival). There was a layer of dust (containing who knows what... probably mold particles) over everything. Black and brown water stains on the floor. And debris from the small construction projects she had done recently. We cleaned it all up. Shiny and new. My sis and her friend, Shakana, cleaned the bathroom the next day. Then I swept up all the fallen paint chips and other debris in two of the bedrooms. The next step will be pulling up that nasty carpet. Hurricane-damage aside (it didn't get any water-damage anyway), that carpet is 13 years old and needs to be thrown out. So we'll be either installing new carpet or installing ceramic tile. By ourselves. I'll keep you posted.
And now The Bad news - I mentioned in an earlier post that the front door had been stolen off my house. I'd left it unsecured after the Search-and-Rescue teams busted the door in post-Katrina. The house was empty and my air conditioners had already been stolen... so I didn't think there was anything else to take. Last year, they took my front door. Ha ha ha. Architectural theft is rampant down here now. On a block like mine, which has been completely abandoned (save my next door neighbor Eddie who is also a landlord, and periodically comes by to work on his house), it's pretty easy to steal architectural details off people's houses. No one's there to watch. Apparently, people are doing this in broad daylight. And these are not just your every day crackheads looking for something to sell either. Contractors, people posing as contractors, and people posing as Preservation Resource Center officials are doing it too. Well-orchestrated thievery. My door was not hurriedly ripped off the frame. It was carefully unscrewed from the hinges (there's no damage to the frame or hinges at all). As I've been looking around for replacements, I'm discovering that my door was quite unique. I haven't found anything like it yet. Guess that's why they helped themselves to it. Anyway, about a week ago, my neighbor Eddie informed me that someone stole the copper pipes from underneath his house... and that mine were gone too. So my pipes are gone, conveniently replaced by my suspicion about my neighbor's hand in it. Sucks. Not only is copper expensive these days, but I also have the added expense of fencing off the crawlspace underneath my house so that this doesn't happen again. I've heard they're stealing electric wires now for the copper inside. I just had the place re-wired (Well, almost... that is another bit of bad news. But I won't get into it. Let's just say that the electricians down here are running a racket and they finish whenever they feel like it), so I have to do that soon.
Now for The Ugly. It is literally ugly. I wish I'd taken a photo, but I didn't think of it at the time. I recently discovered mold growth BEHIND my walls. Pre-Katrina, I thought that my walls were plaster. The fact that there was no visible mold growth after the hurricane validated this theory for me. However, as my mother and I were assessing the damage in my house last week, we noticed a crack in the wall under a window. A small piece of the wall was loose and when I pulled it back, I saw it plain as day - mold. The mold and I greeted each other, as dignified enemies do when waging war. Its days are numbered. So, this is ugly for me because the silver lining on my dark hurricane cloud had been "at least I didn't get any mold." I was one of the lucky ones. Now I have to gut the house (at least four feet from the floor) to get rid of the mold. For those unfamiliar with the term "gut" in relation to construction (or de-construction), basically I have to remove all the sheetrock and whatever is behind it down to the framing of the house. It's not as fun as it sounds. But I can (and will) do it. Maela offered to help when she gets back from her vacation. So, I'm grateful that The Bad and The Ugly come with The Good, otherwise I might regret the day I set foot back on the soil of this charming (and charmed) city.
That's all for now, guys. Sorry no pics, Gary. I had "before-and-after" shots of my mom's kitchen, but it's not much of a visible difference so I decided not to post them. I guess you'll just have to READ. Better to do that sober.