Wednesday, February 25, 2009

We're Having a Heatwave!

I'm sharing some pictures taken on Monday.   A heatwave?  Well, we will be seeing above freezing weather the next few days around here, and rain beginning tomorrow.  At least, that is the current forecast.  Monday  our cooperative classes were cancelled because of a predicted snowsquall.  Fortunately, that didn't happen, so instead we spent our morning doing physical education by shoveling off the driveway!  This picture shows that our snow piles out front are indeed shrinking, though the back deck photo shows what happens when no sunshine shines on the snow!  It is on the north side of the house, and while it gets no sunshine right now, we are hoping it means for cooler summer dining al fresco!  

So many exclamation points!  The reason, I suspect is that I am excited about tomorrow.   I will be boarding a jet in Detroit and landing in Houston at 5 pm to visit with our Houston based daughters.  Definitely a heat wave for me!   So much fun, and yet, sad, too.  Just wish we could all go down together.  

Mary and Peter stay home with Tom.  He gets to take them to their fencing classes.   Fencing as in learning the fine art of swinging an epee at an opponent, as opposed to vocational class.  
They will  take in a Knights hockey game on Friday night and have another visit with the family catechism group (which I wish I didn't have to miss).

In the meantime, I'll be taking care of Houston business, hoping to connect with more than a few friends while I'm there.  And just relishing my short time with our daughters.  They are awesome young women!  Well, at least in Tom's and my eyes.   

Meghan is picking me up at the airport and will be spending as much time that day as she can with me.  This weekend she will be camping with her fellow St. Augustine residents and the FSE's.  (Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist who oversee the Augustine program.)

Friday I will be trying to sort out college financial aid, and tuition issues at UST, pay property taxes, drive by our Houston house and visit with friends!  That night I'll be attending the UST drama production of Charlie's Aunt with my good friend Rebecca.   Kate is stage manager, and she tells me via phone that it is an exhausting job that is far more work than being on stage as an actor.  I know she is up to it, and it gives her the perfect opportunity to legitimately boss people around.

Saturday Liz, Kate and I will be heading to the extravagant bridal fair at George R. Brown convention center.  We'll be joined by Liz's future mom-in-law.  It should prove to be a wonderful morning.  With luck, too, I'll be able to visit our "home" parish, and attend Mass on Saturday in their new church!  I'm definitely looking forward to being able to be inside the new church instead of just peering through windows, as we did before our relocation north.

Sunday sees me in airports, flying back to Detroit, then on the bus back to London.  

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

That "Odd" Smell

Our Houston house finally has renters!  That is a huge relief for us.  It has been touch and go since September 1, first trying to offer the house for sale, and then the end of October to begin locating a good renter.  

Back in July when Tom accepted his current job in Canada, we were in Peru, and had only two months before made arrangments for our daughters to continue living in our Houston home with a room mate.  That all changed quickly, and their new room mate happily reunited with her own parents.  We located an apartment close to their campus for the girls to rent the first of September.

The end of August, just prior to Tom leaving to begin his new post, we signed papers to sell our home.   Of course, this all happened prior to the Sept 9 weekend economic meltdown!    I stayed with the kids, and kept the house show-ready, and worked on getting us ready to move to Canada.   My Houston friends will definitely recall that in between we all experienced the winds of fury with Hurricane Ike.

One of the realtors who showed the house remarked on their showing report that the house "reeked, and my client refused to look beyond the front door."  My feelings were definitely hurt since I do pride myself on keeping a clean home.  Several things went through our minds, including how much neglect (unintentional, but neglect nonetheless) happened the previous year when we moved to Peru and left the care of the house to our daughters.  

Before we made the move north in October we terminated our "to sell" contract, and signed with a new realtor to find renters for us.  Slowly, more folks came to look, but none decided in favor of renting the house.  Fortunately a family with similar relocation circumstances contacted our realtor in hopes we would be amenable to their own pets.   

Then, come the first of the new year, with various delays for the tenants, we are told there was an "odd odor" and they were hesitant to move forward with the deal.  Yikes!  So, in desperation our realtor actually got down on his hands and knees to see if he could determine the cause.   The carpets upstairs had been professionally cleaned, but still had a very, very faint animal scent.  But that wasn't the "smell."  Then several possibilities were considered.  Could it have been the resin from the replaced hardwood floors?  Could it be mold?  How about unflushed drains?  A huge variety of ideas were thought of, investigated, and discarded.   At one point the realtor's wife brought a restoration person in to see if he could detect what it was, and see if he knew how we could solve the problem.   He assured her it wasn't any of what we thought it might be.  

As they walked in, the restoration tech asked if there had been a fire in the house.  She said, no, not her knowledge, so he didn't have any ideas.  Fortunately once she returned home and as she readied her oven to clean she was struck by the exact same smell.  At this point she called me, and I said, yes!  

Right after we returned from Houston to Lima last June, our girls experienced a fire in the oven of the kitchen range!  The house wasn't damaged, and other than a bit of heart pounding until the electricity could be turned off the girls were okay, too.  It was summarily replaced and since they had no visible damage outside the range, so we didn't think much more about it.  But, this was the source of "that smell."  The restoration company set up an ozone machine on a Tuesday evening, and by Wednesday morning our realtor said the house smelled wonderfully fresh!  I am amazed that even for a shortlived, contained fire, how it could rapidly permeate the house.  

The good ending is that our renters went through with the final deposits, and are now beginning to move south.  We hope they enjoy our neighborhood as much as we did.  I know they'll enjoy the Houston springtime! 

Please note: using an ozone machine is best left up to professionals.  A good review of various air filter options can be found at Dr. Mercola's website.