Home Renovation, lead paint


House renovations mess with your peace of mind, and if your mind and home are already a mess, well then bless your scattered little heart. It’s been a week, or is it a month, or how ’bout we just call it as it is and say years?

As we plow forth in this now several years long home improvement journey, the spaces are changing, some for the better for sure, but many temporarily piled higher with our seemingly endless mounds of stuff. I can’t solve the puzzle, full, queen and cal king bedding, for instance. The linen closet has been taken over with paint cans and new HVAC ductwork serving those changing spaces, so these items find themselves homeless. And whomever in the linen industry decided to not CLEARLY LABEL sheet sets with their proper FULL, QUEEN, KING designations was an inconsiderate buffoon. Am I the only one who finds herself draping these UNMARKED sheets across the tops of beds trying to decide which goes with which? When I achieve what feels like success, I get a fat Sharpie and duly note said size. We’ve two bathtubs in living spaces downstairs, another upstairs in the hall, and boxed sinks and toilets scattered about also waiting for their permanent homes. Seems there is nowhere to find calm except for the living room, which doubles as my husband’s part-time office, and the dining room, unless you’re just going to throw in the towel, go upstairs, and climb in bed under the covers. 


In addition to the new spaces we are adding, we also are finally getting around to some house maintenance things, the big ones that take forever to complete and which seem to require multiple equity lines of credit, like a new roof and exterior painting. The house’s origins date back to 1860 and the lead paint removal is tricky, requiring the half a dozen or so paint removers and scrapers to wear hazmat suits. For the last 48 hours our front entry has been off limits with a “KEEP AWAY, LEAD PAINT” banner draped across it. The back entry for now is a makeshift setup, requiring you pay attention and carefully grab a column if you’re going to not lose your footing going up or down. 

It seems topsy turvy is becoming normal. These days I’ve found I also am struggling to enter my car. The fob no longer works to open the driver’s door and the key isn’t helping either, so I must enter the front passenger door and climb over the console, this despite new fob batteries. It’ll be some time before I can get an appt to get it looked at, but I’m glad I’m flexible and can maneuver over consoles and up ladders to get where I’m going. 

Doors open and cats have choices again

Meanwhile there are the cats, bored out of their tiny little minds and being hustled here and there, wherever the work isn’t. I’ve made notes for doors, big sticky notes, with a “KEEP OUT, CATS INSIDE” warning which I move around depending on where the kitties must quarantine on a given day. I often remind my husband and subs which rooms are off limits so none of us forgets. The thought of crawling army style through the crawl space yet another time to persuade the rotund 17-lb Bo to move toward the treat I’m dangling is exhausting, and the hours-long effort is equally if not more so. The little one, sweet Sam, only recently weighing in at 5lbs, likely wouldn’t dash into the crawl space if she were to escape, and we’d worry about owls or hawks or coyotes that would find her a delectable snack. So corralling the cats is a must so we can continue enjoying them in our lives and so they can enjoy the screened porches to come. I remind them of this often.

Window of hope

The bits of improvements we see are huge beacons of hope, enormous concentrated beauty we continue to gaze at starry-eyed. The upstairs bathroom we’ve used for years has been getting lots of love. Since we moved here in 2009, that space was our shared bathroom for the four of us. It had zero HVAC, so we rolled in space heaters in winter and fans in summer. The floor was noticeably sloped, and I recall once when one of the boys was sick and I dropped an old-fashioned thermometer. Little beads of mercury rolled all over the place and I kept chasing them with scotch tape as they threatened to go under the claw foot tub, basically forever out of reach. The slope was such that when you were sitting on the toilet it felt as if you were on the low side of a sinking ship. But today it’s leveled and the room’s tiled and awaiting wainscoting, lighting and fixtures. 

In the middle of all this, two days ago my husband tested positive for COVID. Other than the fact that it’s highly contagious, it’s hard to say exactly where he picked it up. Regardless, he’s been congested, feverish and developed a hacky cough, but is otherwise okay like you are when you have a cold. He was able to schedule a video telehealth appt with our internist today who called in Paxlovid, a recent drug that is supposed to stop COVID in its tracks.

The dreaded two lines

As for me, I tested negative two days ago but soon developed my own congestion and headaches too, and today I tested positive. Much like a pregnancy test, it’s nerve-racking to wait those 10 or 15 minutes for the single or double line results. This same internist couldn’t do a video chat with me until next Tuesday, which isn’t ideal because you want to get Paxlovid in you within five days after symptoms start or else COVID can go right on replicating in you. I got on the horn to my oncologist and an on-call doctor called in a Paxlovid prescription without requiring a video chat. Despite my white count being back to normal since I’m 2+ years post chemo, they still don’t want cancer patients sick with anything. I am thankful to get this drug and feeling the ground underfoot steadying. 

The COVID congestion is definitely a thing which even DayQuil doesn’t touch, and the headache is a big ‘un, like a long thick wall, but get a couple of Tylenol in you and it collapses. Otherwise, because we’re vaxed to the max, it’s your basic head cold. Given we’re both quarantining inside, the plastic covering outside couldn’t have been better timed. It’s keeping the PEEL AWAY paint product toasty warm so it will best pull the paint layers off the wood and keeping our germs inside where they belong.

Pardon our dust…