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If you give a mouse a cookie…

December 19, 2009

We’ve both been hard at work this weekend.

Friday evening, in preparation for painting, Alexandra and I spent a few hours spreading plastic over every square foot of the house, and making sure that the edges were taped down well.  Once we felt that the floors were well protected, out came the shop vac, and down came the spider webs (and spiders) that had been lurking in nearly every corner of the house.  The two closets were by far the creepiest rooms to clean up, as neither of us had actually stepped foot in them yet, and the walls and ceilings were absolutely covered in cobwebs.  It was nearly 11pm by the time we gave up for the night, and we still had a ton to do before painting.

Come Saturday morning, we felt bright and cheery….  or maybe not..   We didn’t make it to the house until nearly noon, partly because we stopped at Habit for Humanity’s “Restore,”  which is something like a garage sale sent from heaven.  We bought a bunch of brass plates for light switches, and some light fixtures.  The first thing I did when we finally arrived at the house was to install lights on the side of the house and on the front porch as well as outlets.  They are a welcome addition, as we can now actually find our way to the garage at night, or to the car.  Chirru showed up to lend a hand around 2pm.  He and Alexandra spent most of the afternoon stripping wallpaper from one wall of the kitchen.  See the before and after pictures below.

Between the three of us, we also wiped down every surface in the house (except the kitchen) so that we can get started painting right away when we come back.  The kitchen has been the toughest room to prep for painting, mainly because we can’t decide where to stop.  Eventually we’d like to strip all of the paint off of all of the cabinets, but in the mean time, we’re painting everything for sanity’s sake.  Alexandra did a little bit of sanding around the base of the cupboards, but realistically, it’s just going to be ugly for a while.

In other news, I have still not quite recovered from my stomach troubles that sent me to the hospital last weekend, but have been given the doctor’s assurance that all will be well given time.

Alexandra made a new friend today…  While I was installing the porch light a lady came up and asked if she could borrow my phone to call the gas company.  She was concerned, not because she smelled a leak at her own house, but because she smelled something block away from her house.  I, being naturally suspicious, pondered this and glanced over at my next door neighbor who was watching this little tableau unfold.  With his finger, he made the universal sign for “one can short of a six pack.”  At this point Alexandra came out, and she being naturally trusting happily helped the lady call the gas company.  The lady argued in Spanish for some 5 minutes with the gas company representative.  Eventually she hung up and walked away and we went back to work.  As soon as she left, our neighbor strolled over and informed me that she was his next door neighbor (two houses down from us) and she was “schizophrenic”.  He also warned us that if we let her use our phone too often, we’d end up with firetrucks, police, and ambulances at our front door.  About ten minutes later she came back to ask if she could call the gas company again because she was worried that they hadn’t gotten the right address.  Alexandra told her not to worry; she had quite surely given the gas company the correct address multiple times.  Ten minutes later, she was back again, this time worried that her gas would be shut off.  Alexandra sent her off with more assurances.  A few minutes later, back again, and shooed away again.   A few hours later she came back and this time says the gas company came and shut off her service.  Alexandra, with infinitely more patience than I have, went over to her house and confirmed that the gas was off and called the gas company.  The gas company told her that a technician had been sent out and that the gas had been shut off and yes they would send him back out to turn it back on.  After going back to work on the house for about 20 minutes, our new friend was back again, knocking at the door.  Now she wants to call her husband…  at this point we no longer knew how to refuse her, so Alexandra let her call her husband.  As we left for the night we saw the gas truck coming to turn her service back on (why can they turn hers off and on in a matter of hours but can’t turn mine on for nearly a month!?).

All this has me asking several questions.  Why is this lady being left alone?  Is her husband similarly impaired, taking advantage of her, or simply an angel sent from on high with infinite patience?  The house they live in is split into a duplex, their side of which can’t be more than 400 square feet total and is in total disrepair.  It reeks and there are cockroaches everywhere.  Is this even legal?  Why can landlords get away with renting a place like this?  I know it’s not really my business but it bothers me a lot that this is going on in my new neighborhood.

I know Alexandra is just trying to help, but I am hoping that she has learned her lesson about giving mice cookies and I hope we can find out more about our neighbor and what is going on.

Anyway, tomorrow is a busy day!  Lets hope things go as planned and we have a whole house primed by Monday!

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