Thursday, September 18, 2008

Crawl Space

I started smelling it a week before I did anything to investigate. After the days of torrential rain we blessedly received in partial relief of the ongoing drought, a musty, moldy, mildewy smell started hanging in the air of the house. The kids began developing an uptick of sinus problems and I began wondering whether some rain had gotten into the crawl space below, perhaps from a clogged gutter. I immediately instituted my well-honed response plan of actively ignoring the problem in the hopes that it would simply go away. However.......

Finally there was no way I could continue to live in denial, so I went outside to peer into the crawl space. My initial prediction of finding standing puddles of rain water now seems almost heart-achingly innocent, for what greeted me almost by name ("Hi, Babaluba!") was a practically sentient series of festering sludge-puddles of rich organic seepage from a badly leaking kitchen drainpipe. Long gelatinous rivulets joined the scum-covered pools all the way to the base of the air conditioner condenser. "O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!", I chortled in my joy.

It was obvious this stankonia had been breeding for weeks and wasn't about to go away on its own. I carefully considered Plan B (move) and C (burn the house down) but each had its demerits, so I consulted with Gina about which of our neighbors was most likely to have a Shop-Vac. We narrowed the possibilities down pretty quickly (you can play this fun game too: quick, which of your neighbors has a Shop-Vac? You just know, don't you?) Before you can say "I want to vomit" I'm geared up to do battle while protected by swimming goggles, a pair of gloves and a dish towel as a makeshift gas mask.

Inch by stinky inch I methodically sucked up goo pools. I quickly found out two important facts: (1) it doesn't take long to fill a 12-gallon canister, and (2) 12-gallons canisters are H-E-A-V-Y, and moving one out of a three foot crawl space without spilling out the contents is as hard as it sounds. Once I wrestled it into the back yard I had to dump it in such a way that the dog wouldn't happily roll around in it the moment I turned my back.

I repeated the above paragraph several times and finally had the place mucked out enough to set up a dehumidifier and a couple of box fans. I then placed a small trash can under the leaking pipe and and went on a two-day dishwasher-and-sink fast until Zakar the plumber (use him, Atlanta!) came by to do the repair.

And that's how I spent the first half of my 15th wedding anniversary. I'll leave the metaphoric connotations up to others.

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