For months we struggled to figure why the Curmudgeonly Lion’s office smelled of cat pee. After casting suspicious side-eyes towards the cat, we finally braved ourselves and got a blacklight to try to figure out where the smell was coming from, expecting  room to light up like a crime scene on a network procedural. To our surprise, we found nothing. 

Turning to Google, I asked “what else smells like cat pee?” (Thanks, Google, for not judging). I already knew of a few things, like juniper, or dead vermin, that could have a similar effect, but the most likely candidate was wood rot. I wasn’t sure what wood might be rotting, and I dreaded that it might be somewhere in the walls where we just wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. 

It turned out to be the floor. The carpet beneath the Curmudgeonly Lion’s desk was damp with some kind of seepage, and the reason why we hadn’t realized this sooner was thanks to the plastic chair-mat that we’d put down to protect the carpet from the rollers of the desk chair. This had trapped the moisture in the carpet and kept the Lion’s feet dry whenever he worked at the desk. 

We still didn’t know where the water was coming from, but at least we knew where the smell was coming from. We peeled back the mat and ran a box fan for a few days to dry everything out, and the smell subsided. Thinking that we’d solved the mystery (even if we hadn’t figured out the cause), and reluctant to move the desk, which was one of the largest pieces of furniture that we owned, we put it out of our minds and went about our business. 

Well the moisture came back. It wasn’t from the roof because it hasn’t rained. It wasn’t from the cat because we kept her out of the room unless we were in it. It wasn’t from the guest bathroom because we rarely used it ourselves and hadn’t had any guests to speak of. But the water was coming from somewhere and wasn’t going away. At last, we checked the plumbing access door built into the outside of the house that allows a plumber to access the drain to the tub in the guest bathroom. I was running a load of laundry and, part way through the spin cycle we discovered that water was filling a small earthen sump built into the concrete slab. It wasn’t really meant to be a sump- and when the water got deep enough it would sluice onto the slab, go underneath the tub, and seep into the flooring on the far side. 

Mystery solved. Landlady called. Plumber summoned. Cracked drain pipe. 

To repair the pipe, it is necessary to drill out the concrete, which will necessitate going in through the kitchen floor. This, consequently, necessitated uninstalling the washer and dryer and moving them out of the kitchen. The damp, and, as it turns out, molding carpeting in the office needed to be dealt with, which necessitated breaking down The Curmudgeonly Lion’s massive Command Center computer system and levering up the desk.  The moral of the story: whatever you install in the house thinking “once it’s in place I’ll never have to move out again” will have to be moved. Murphy’s law. 

So today they begin the work. “They” being three different contractors and an insurance adjuster. It could take up to a week to finish, depending on which repair they plan to do. We got everything out of the Curmudgeonly Lions office (except the desk, which has to be disassembled in order to fit through the door) and into mine, so neither of us has a useful work space. The washer and dryer are in the dining room. The cast is sequestered in the bedroom. And the kitchen is… Well, still in flux depending upon where they decide to put the fridge. 

Never a dull moment. 

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on August 1, 2017.

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