First Christmas in the Rose Cottage: Post 8 of 9 – Decontamination

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By Mary Duggan

Mary Duggan

My now completely hideous but heated and cooled and sealed basement still had one redeeming feature: a full-blown white ceramic bathroom complete with a kick-ass steam room. Go figure.

Not having been a pot smoker myself I could only surmise that somehow steaming must have gone with pot smoking, so my pot smoking rehabbing predecessors had popped for this special treat. My most trusted and treasured clients knew about it and would bug and badger me until I would relent. They would descend into the dungeon and then into the white ceramic bathroom and sit for ages in my steam room. Again, only a chosen few from the inner circle were allowed this viewing of my great big embarrassment.

One day, a client came up from the depths and reported that something was going on. The steam room must have leaked because the floor outside the bathroom had flooded. And so it had. A small lake had formed. It was just days until Clare would be home for Christmas, with her new hubby in tow, and that second bathroom would be critical to our comfort. I called the plumber. Fortunately the cause was only some caulk needing to be replaced. It was no big deal. It was no big bill. Finally, the tides were turning. And then from the corner of his eye he noticed something.

“Mary” he bellowed from the bottom of the basement stairs “how long have you had this water on the floor here by your washtub?” WHAT WATER BY MY WASH TUB?! I screamed as I ran to the basement. The plumber  had to get going to his next appointment. But, he would be back in the morning to check it out because he did not like the look of it.

The next day as he fumed and fussed in the basement I finished trimming my first  Christmas tree in my new home, while Annie lay on the couch and apologized for not having the energy to help. I shook the ants off the red velvet skirting before I placed it around the base of the tree, and was laying on the floor adjusting it when the plumber stepped into the room and said Mary, I am going to have to punch a hole in the wall behind your washer and dryer to be able to figure out this water thing. By this point, I was 9 months into home ownership and had become a pro at saying do what you have to do. The basement is wrecked anyway. Very little time passed before I heard the plumber scream, Mary get down here NOW!

Annie followed me down and what can I say here? That it was so gross that I felt instantly nauseous? Can I say that I actually felt scared? Can I believe that Annie had the wits and wherewithal to say immediately, “I”m getting my camera! No one is going to believe this!’ Okay, now maybe that is a bit too much of a build up to the reality of what I was seeing; there was not a rotting body behind the wall. But it was gross and the plumber explained why.

The washer and dryer were now in the middle of the small room. The wall had been almost completely removed with a sledgehammer. Bags were overflowing with chunks of drywall and soaking wet insulation. Creepy critters were swarming out from the cavity and now I don’t exactly know how to describe it but the area was impacted with gunk. I mean eight inch thick, ceiling high, dense, compacted, I don’t know what. Kitchen waste, he said, as he showed me the broken plumbing coming down from the kitchen sink. “From the amount of impacted kitchen waste we have here, and the seepage and damage done to your ceiling, joists, beams, flooring, and concrete and the like I would say this thing broke about 8 or 10 years ago. Your kitchen sink has been free flowing into your basement walls for all that time. There’s your big stink source, Mary” the plumber said to me, beaming with pride, or maybe the knowledge that he too would be making a sizable chunk off Casa de Maria. “And there’s no saying how far down these walls it is going to go”  he said, pointing the length of the basement. He agreed to return in the morning with all the proper Bio Hazard gear and a crew and a truck and Mary, keep your pets out of here. We don’t know exactly what we are dealing with here in the way of bacteria and the like.” And just like that it was done.

plumbing problem two
Problem found.
plumbing all clean
Cleaned and bleached.
plumbing all fixed
Problem resolved.

The men dug and bagged and gagged and packed and trucked the muck off for hours. And then came the bleaching and cleaning process, followed by the re-plumbing of the wall and the putting back into place of the washer and dryer. I was advised to not put up new drywall for a good long while so that everything could dry out and I paid the whopping bill and it was over. The stink, the wet, the bugs, the mystery: all healed finally. Just in time for Clare and her brand new husband to come Home For The Holidays to my house that no longer smelled at all or had any bugs whatsoever. Of course not before the plumber had to be called back about 2 days later because the re-plumbing he’d done was already leaking a bit. But that was to be expected; after all it was still my house. But it was time to begin anew. To start again. A fresh and sweet smelling AND CLEAN AND DRY new beginning.

But first I had to call a lawyer.


Click here to continue to Post 9 of 9: Celebration.


Mary Duggan is Co-Founder and President of the Duggan Sisters.

The Duggan Sisters cracked the code and created a natural deodorant that actually works: lifestinks. And that was just the beginning. We hope you will spend a few minutes exploring to experience their spirited approach to wellness through their natural products and healing stories.

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