Tag Archives: remodel

Cat pee and cold sores


I’ve been told God answers prayers in unexpected ways sometimes. And now I can personally attest to that claim.

Summer was a whirlwind of happiness, adventure, love and emotion. But I guess that’s what happens when you get married and travel to Europe with your new husband… After a summer like we had, no wonder the return to “reality” was a little rough.

Patrick and I bought a four-plex last Spring, and one of the units (a basement studio apartment) was in desperate need of repair. Actually, repair is the wrong word. Complete demolition may be a better way to describe the needs of this poor apartment.

So, having returned from a magical trip abroad, hubby and I dug out our old t-shirts and opened the studio door armed with hammers, leather gloves and face masks. Yes, I said face masks.

mask 4-plex

You should have smelled the place.

The tenant who lived there until recently smoked, owned cats and really hadn’t left the apartment for 12 years. The carpet, oh the carpet, was…no longer “carpet.” Rather it was a mass of sticky cat fur, old chicken bones, fuzzy-black mold and cigarette butts.

As we ripped the carpet from the floor, a putrid odor seemed to explode in our faces. Hence, the face masks.

It took us a solid week to rip everything out. We tore it down to the skeleton. The carpet, the cabinets, the walls, the ceiling…which by the way used to be white. They had been turned to a nasty caramel color. Don’t smoke people. You really don’t want your lungs looking like those walls…

We did find some treasures along the way. Judging by the smell, I thought we’d find a body. Instead we found an invoice from prison, a dead bird and a Playboy Magazine from 1966. (It was hidden in the ceiling.) If you’re wondering what Playboy was like in the 60s, it was definitely not like today’s edition…playboy

The bottom line is, remodeling a house is HARD WORK. Especially when it’s just you and your husband and the majority of your house-building knowledge comes from watching youtube videos. (You should have seen us trying to cut a new window in the side of the house…)


The last three weeks of summer consisted of days like this: Wake up. Go to work in the computer labs on campus. Come home. Make dinner for the hubby. Work at the four-plex until 11:30 p.m. Go to bed so I could wake up early and do it all again the next day.

After three weeks straight of this routine, life really started to get me down.

I became a bit of a wretched human to be around. I just floated through the day, not really happy, not really sad. Just there. Just moping in a pity-party for poor me who spent the last three weeks of summer working, working, working in a seemingly endless cycle.

I knew I was being selfish. I knew I was being ridiculous. But I just couldn’t seem to snap out of it.

So, God decided to help me out. And he did, in a miserable and unexpected way.

I’ve never had a cold sore in my life, but there I was, a week before school started, with a GIANT cold sore on my bottom lip. A dreadfully glorious, blistering, cracking and oozing sore. They sell cover-up patches for cold sores. I would’ve needed much more than a patch to cover this thing on my lip. Maybe a skin-colored tarp would’ve done the job…

And if that’s not bad enough, the cold sore spread.

To my chest. (Yes, who knew that was even possible…)

Then it spread to my tonsils.

It felt like a knife was stuck in my throat. I had no energy, a constantly-pounding headache and an aching body. It was a miserable sickness which lasted about a week. Every moment of it was pure pain.

But now that it’s over, I think it was just what I needed; a twisted and ironic answer to my prayers.

As I think back on this experience, I realize maybe God was trying to humble me. I had been complaining about my near-perfect life, so I think He decided to give me just a taste of what a real hardship is like.

While I was sick, I started to see and appreciate all the good things I do have.

I have an incredible husband who really knows how to take care of me. I also have an extremely patient husband who puts up with my complaining.


Most of the time I have a really healthy body. And I am so thankful for that.

And although I won’t admit this without a hint of resentment, I really am thankful for the four-plex, with its cat-pee-soaked floor and all.

I’ve learned more about installing insulation and wiring outlets than I ever wanted to know. But, I’ve learned some valuable life lessons along the way.


(This is the windowsill I dry-walled and medal-edged ALL BY MYSELF! Well…except for a few emergencies…a.k.a. accidentally bashing in the wall next to the window. Ooops!)

My aunt Margee was telling me about the first home her and my uncle remodeled when they were newly married. She said, “I miss those days when we could do all that ourselves. It’s hard work but you’ll never regret it.”

I’ve learned something from this.

I’ve learned to enjoy each dust-filled moment and fiber-glass splinter because if I don’t choose to be happy, I won’t be. Simple as that.


I guess it’s true what they say…

Happiness really is a choice. Too bad I had to experience a nasty week of oral herpes to learn that life lesson. But, I think I’m a better and wiser person now because of it.