7:54 PM

Since about March, I have been on an energy-conserving spree. This began when I learned from several of my brothers that you could request (and receive) a free energy audit from our local electric company. This I did. The nicest guy imaginable came and spent about 4 hours walking room to room through my house with me while I peppered him with questions, took extensive notes (to his great surprise!) and made a detailed Excel (or in the words of my friend, Josh, an Expel worksheet) plan to follow through with "tightening up" our old 1935 house. I was shocked to find out that the biggest leak of energy was only what I thought it was - our original windows. Which I adore and refused to get rid of. I hate new windows.

Plus, to replace all the windows in this house would be...unaffordable. So, this guy innocently suggested we add storm windows to the outside of our existing windows which would/should seal off the leaks and make them just about as energy efficient as brand-new windows. At a FRACTION of the cost. I almost kissed the man. But I refrained.

Essentially, I was informed that with the installation of storm windows and a whole lot of caulk (and a few minor other things), we could take care of most of our energy leaks. For a house this old, I felt pretty good about that. That, and my excel spreadsheet, made me happy.

And I have been rigorously tackling my 5 page sheet of "energy audit to do's". Which led me to my basement this afternoon to spray blow-caulk up into the holes where pipes entered from the basement to the next level. Which brought me much to close to lots and lots of spider webs (EWW!), but fortunately I also found some leftover paint stirrers which I wielded with great finesse in front of me to swirl up the cobwebs like so much cotton candy!

So, as I craned my head up and slowly paced below the boards of my living room, looking for holes to caulk, I wandered in front of an interesting and somewhat alarming sight...what looked like rotted wood sort of built up in a little area. Uh oh.

With my handy paint stirrer, I cringed and poked. And the stirrer poked right through the wood. It was either seriously damaged by water worst fear...termites. By this time, I have no idea what got into me, but I actually hauled over a chair to stand on and set to work poking and trying to see how bad this really was. I was spitting chunks of wood out of my face and praying as fast as I could. No live termites - that was good. But overall, the situation was bad. I could tell it went through part of my wall, but I couldn't tell how far. I wanted to cry.

This is because we just paid to have our whole house trim repainted. Not cheap. Then we're in the middle of having our storm windows installed. Also not cheap. Why is it that we ever even want to own houses? Why is that the American dream?? It's a stupid stupid dream! What they should show the poor, hungry immigrant with nothing but their stupid American dream is a hapless homeowner writing out a big fat check to FIX something! Which is what we do most of the time! Come on!

Fortunately, I have the world's sweetest, cheapest handyman plugged in my cell phone, and I was calling him up in about 2 seconds. And bless his sweet heart, he was over at my house in an hour, peering right up into that hole with me. His thought - water damage PLUS some hungry termites. But he is convinced he can fix it without breaking the bank. If anyone can, it's Roger. But meanwhile, I have this section of wood that is obviously in bad shape, possibly hosting termites I can't see, and am waiting for a call from my termite company. That is why we pay for termite policies, right?

I'm so tempted to just start ripping out boards myself to see how bad it is, but then where would I be? With holes in my walls waiting for Roger to come fix it. Probably not a good idea. So here I sit, irked with homeownership and all its onerous responsibilities, wishing I lived in a tiny, worry-free apartment, waiting on my Orkin man to come see me and praying there are no more disgusting critters gnawing things in my house. Please, oh please, Lord, let that be it!

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