First Published in the Tri-Town Transcript October 23, 2014
It began with some chipped paint in the summer. So, I called a guy. A painting guy. As we walked around the chipped deck, we realized that a few boards were, let’s say, moisture compromised. What if we replaced them with something that wouldn’t take it personally when they were buried under ten feet of snow? A composite of sorts? So, we called our builder guy. We imagined composite decking, with freshly painted trim, in mere weeks. Until the painter guy politely knocked on my door, “I have some bad news.”
A more experience homeowner would have poured themselves a relaxing beverage, closed the door, and taken a sweet nap of denial. But I [sigh] stepped outside.
He explained that there was water damaged from a leaky gutter. We’d need our builder guy to replace the wood. Plus we’d need to replace the gutters.
I thanked the painter guy, called the builder guy, who lined up some gutter guys, during which we realized the rot was also along the edges where the deck touched our home.
“We really need a fresh start, let’s pull this wood out and start over,” said the builder guy.
Great! A fresh start sounded invigorating! As they began to rip the deck out, a new and fascinating set of dark holes leading into the wood became visible along the lower part of the house. Fascinating! Almost like invigorating!
“So,” I said slowly, “I know that sometimes mice get in, should we throw some poison into those holes?”
The deck guy nodded, “Let’s see what we find when we get these boards off.
I agreed and headed off for the day. When I returned, the deck guy, who could spot an increasingly frazzled homeowner a mile away, looked slightly pained.
“Sooo, it turns out it’s not just mice getting into these soft spots.”
What else could it be? Escaped neighborhood hamsters? Teeny, tiny, Tri-Town gophers?
He grimaced. “Snakes. We found snake nests in the wall.”
Whoa! Stop right there. Hard. Full. Stop.
He continued. “And ants, lots of ants. The ants are eating away at the wood, we probably
should consider calling . . .”
Wait! Back up!” I spluttered. He could call Ghostbusters for all I cared, but first I needed to clarify this one, minor, point. “I have SNAKES in my WALL!?”
He nodded. “Or you did. They go in to shed their skins, look you can see.” He pointed to a hole. “It’s actually not uncommon,” he explained.
Regular Reader, here is a newsflash for you: I do not aspire to be common in any way that involves snakes and homes. Such a common, mundane life, such an average, ho-hum existence – – one where snakes reside in one’s wall – – is an existence I refuse to take part in.
Count me totally out of that slice of common domestic bliss. At that point, I had a small break with reality and don’t recall the rest of the day.
By the next morning I had come around to at twitchy state of construction zen-acceptance. I greeted the builder guy with a serene smile, along with the gutter guys, and the latest addition – – it may go without saying, an exterminator guy – – plus the landscaping guy we’d brought in because frankly, we were over giant decks, and were going with a patio that couldn’t harbor fugitives.
“Good morning, Esther.” The builder guy said.
“Good morning!” I trilled, instantly noticing . . . an odor.
“You just missed the skunk that wandered out from under the side of the house.”
“Well, goodness!” I chirped. “What’s next?” I laughed with a healthy dollop of hysteria.
Plenty was left. But there’s no time for the ladybug swarm that drove the guys to the brink of insanity, or the hornet that nearly killed the foreman.
All I know is this: some day I will sit on a new, structurally amazing, critter free, back patio, with a glass of wine (or three) and if I see any paint peeling, so help me, I will simply look the other way.