Kissing July Goodbye.

This July has just been a nightmare and so much work and worry, I'm not even going to grace this last post of the month with a photo. We found another bug today... this one was a juvenile and I found it in the laundry area. I can't really call it a laundry room because it's really just part of the carport. I vacuumed the hell out of the laundry area after that and sucked up roaches and the tail of a dead squirrel. See? Nobody wants a picture of that. I just can't wait to get out of  this humid moldy buggy house.

But I got a grant submitted, have met a lot of people at the university I can work with, have my office set up nicely, and went to Ann Taylor Loft tonight and bought myself some nice new sleeveless shirts.Shirts that I have to store in a black plastic trash bag to keep them safe from the bugs.

I tell you, moving back to the deep south has been an experience. I think I romanticized it by reading too many books and watching too many southern movies. Books and movies don't come with humidity. Well, here they do. Everything comes with a hovering wet feeling and the smells are so intense with the vapor to cling to. The car smells like cat urine. The bedrooms smell like old socks. Old sweaty socks.

I drive around town and walk around campus and think, "is it really true that I live here now?" Well, it's time to get over that. Yes. I live here now. I'm going to bloom where I'm planted, dress for the occasion, and make the best of it. If only I had a front porch in the shade with rocking chairs and ceiling fans. I'd really like it more here if I had that.


This is my view out my office window. I hear the bells of Samford Tower every 15 minutes. Comforting.

This is my office full of boxes and furniture.

Three hours later, Dan and I had almost everything put away. It looks great! Now all I need is more artwork and a nice rug to tie the room together. 


Today we had to bake our belongings in black plastic bags on the front walk. The landlady called to inquire so I told her about our bugs. She insisted they did not come from her house. It's a mystery. Our best guess is the hotel in San Antonio at which we stayed mid June. If one BB laid 5 eggs in Dan's suitcase in mid-June then they would hatch at the beginning of July after our move, and grow to maturity in three weeks. However, that does not make perfect sense because there were eggs hatching, and they must have been laid two weeks prior to that... so we had to have brought live bugs with us. It just doesn't compute. We would have seen them. ARGGGGHHHH.

I escaped for a little while to my Mom's kitchen to see what she was cooking. Chicken and peppers for a friend who just had surgery.

Dan and I hauled all my office furniture up to my office this evening. Tomorrow we will assemble it.
Landlady says her son is going to do mold remediation and tear down a wall in the house THIS week. While we are living here. While the pest control expert is spraying chemicals. I want out!

This saga is just unbelievable. 


Yes, this is disgusting.

This morning I was getting ready for work when Dan asked me to come look at a bug he found while making the bed. I said, "It looks like a tick." He said, "That is NOT a tick." So we caught it in a bag and I decided to find out what it was. I was disgusted to find out we have bed bugs. Yuck.

I went to work and Dan called six pest control companies in town. Two came out to inspect. The first person found more live ones. The second person found a nest of eggs under a label on our mattress. Yuck. Gross.

We spent the evening hauling black bags of possessions out onto the lawn to bake in the sun, out to the laundry room for a wash and dry. We also hauled a load of books up to my new office.

Exhausting day. Oh, did I mention I'm writing a grant and it's due Monday?


This is my new office. It was painted today (it looks OK, not great) and needs a floor cleaning. I will move my stuff in tomorrow night and settle in this weekend. I think it's a bit bigger than my office at UK, but not much- and it lacks color, carpeting, built in bookshelves, and other character traits. I will however, try to make it my new home. It's a blank slate.

I worked in someone's office all morning, then went to Big Blue Bagel with my friend LACA for lunch, then worked in the afternoon in the faculty lounge at school. Came home, cooked dinner, worked some more, and then retreated to an air purified space for my inflamed head to heal. It feels like someone has taken wads of balled up Kleenex and shoved them up my nose into my forehead, cheeks, nose, and skin. Like a stuffed Peking Duck. I hope the whole-house HEPA filters arrive tomorrow.


Toomer's corner trees are almost dead. I doubt they will last the summer.

I interviewed a student today, had a grant meeting, and wrote in the afternoon.

My allergic reaction to the mold has become severe. I fear that if the spores are not kept out of the house I will have to move out. The reaction is so overwhelming- if I even go near the contaminated area my lungs start to feel involved- a tight sensation starts. My face/sinus pressure and pain is almost unbearable when I am in the house. Thankfully my mother is across the street.

I've never had allergies in my life until this.


Here I am trying to figure out how to use FaceTime on my Mac, and also how to create a screenshot. I figured it out! Yes, I look very serious. And yes, I have to wear glasses to see my computer screen! Oh dear….

Today I interviewed a person for my research assistant position, and tomorrow I interview another candidate. I also had a grant meeting with an engineering faculty member, and tomorrow I have another grant meeting with science faculty. Busy busy, and the year hasn't even started.


Got my laptop today....and the verdict is in. I love my Mac! Everyone was right, it's easy to use and very lovely.

We had the inspection on our new house today. It looks pretty good- no major issues. No mold.

We got the results back from our indoor air mold spore test. The mold count in the house is off the charts. 67,000 spores per cubic meter of air. Aspergillus and Penicillium are the major culprits with some Basidiospores and Cladosporium thrown in for good measure. My face hurts.


This morning I had a three hour grant meeting then came home and worked on this project for someone who never checks out chrissysphotoaday. So, if you see this picture, don't fret- it's not for you.

I moved the air filter into my bedroom today because I just needed a place to be that didn't bother my sinuses. I must be allergic to mold. My face, teeth, and head hurt when I breathe anywhere in the house but in my clean air room. This sucks.


Is this a pomegranate in my back yard?
It's the only one.

This is my new air cleaner. It's been running non-stop since it arrived yesterday. I'd say that the mold smell is better by 30%. The mold smell in the sunroom is really bad and it makes the rest of the house musty too. I hope that my new HEPA air filter improves the air quality in the whole house. 

Today I managed to focus more than other days on some work. I have a draft of my course syllabus, plus an evaluation plan for my MSP grant application drafted. Two weeks to work on lots of things before we leave for Denver and focus all our energy on Jes and her healing.


We decided to get our Alabama drivers licenses today. What a nightmare. We had to find this "office" in an abandoned strip mall that was "off the map" and then take a ticket. We got tickets 88 and 89. They were servicing ticket #60 at 8:30am. I figured we were in for a wait... guessing a long two hours.

I was wrong. It was an even longer 4.5 hours. We did not leave the "Driver License" office you see here on your screen until after 1:00pm. We left with paper licenses. Temporary, printed paper licenses. We were so frustrated and angry. OK, so the staff is cut back due to budget cuts from the state and a hiring freeze, but there has to be a better system. Mothers were taking entire days off work so their 15 year olds could get permits. Every person in that office that day lost at least a half day's work. We left at 11pm for a lunch at the nearby Cracker Barrel, only to return with an additional 90 minutes left. We did the math and the staff was processing one person every 10 minutes. Six people in line = an hour wait. Too bad Squirt has to endure this himself next week when he goes in. 

After an afternoon of fuming and catching up on email, we spent the evening with my mom at the Auburn Knight's Reunion concert. We heard concerts from the 30s, 50s, 60s, and 70/80s groups. The 60s group was the best! The mayor of Gadsden was the band director for that era and he did a fantastic job. What a character!


Last night I got this message from a Dove chocolate that Dan brought me from the store. Should I believe it? I still wonder. This transition has not been easy for me. Sometimes I just want to click my heels together and go back to my house in Kentucky. But then again, things like today happen and I think Dove may be onto something.

I took this self portrait today after getting my hair done. It doesn't look all that different. Three hours of coloring and cutting and blowdrying didn't change all that much, but I enjoyed the pampering nevertheless.

I walked into the salon at 9am and so did another woman. She said her first name at the counter. A common first name of my generation. But something inside me registered recognition. She approached me. "I feel like I know you", she said. "Did you graduate from Auburn High?" I immediately said her full name. It just came to me. I hadn't laid eyes on her in over 30 years. She was in town visiting and lives overseas. She is publishing her first novel this fall. I must read it.

Everyone knows my mother. It's pretty cool.
People here call Dan "sir" and me "ma'am" and when they refer to my mother she is "Miss Jane." (Her real name is not Jane, but if I told you her real name you would figure out who we ALL are because everyone knows my mother. It's pretty cool.)



Guess who started her own photo blog this week?! Someone I know.... :)
Today was much better than yesterday. I interviewed a PhD applicant, applied for a home mortgage and got approved, had a lovely lunch with Dan (his treat) at Amsterdam Cafe, had a Healthy Tigers check up for a discount on insurance premiums, and didn't have to cook dinner.


This is my home office.
Below is my view out the window.
Today it rained.

Today was not a good day. I was tired and sad and droopy. I managed a few tasks, but avoided many  others.
Tomorrow will be busy- I hope it's sunny and bright in more than the usual way.


Thinking of some loved ones who were born on this day many years ago.

I went to the dentist this morning with a tooth ache, which I still have after novocaine and much drilling.

Slept all morning afterwards. Woke up and talked about the house on South Gay. Decided to make an offer. Offer was countered and accepted as two more folks were vying for it too. It was on the market for one day.

Here is one page of the blueprints from 1950.

Happy and exhausted. My tooth hurts.


Today this house came on the market. We had a look and really liked it. It's the right size, has a good yard, needs updating but is structurally sound, and it is in a good part of town. We'll sleep on it and may make an offer tomorrow.

I have a toothache. My realtor friend called a dentist for me and got me an appointment in the morning.

Mom had tons of leftovers from a wedding last night, so guess what, I got to bring home chicken etouffee and grits, fruit, and corn salad, and pasta salad! Yum!


Today Dan worked on his teaching kits. I worked on some paperwork and read over a grant RFP, cooked dinner, and ate cake scraps that I brought home from my mom's last night. Also, I drew on a map of town. Most of the yellow is where I do not want to live. I drew a yellow circle about 1.5 miles out from my office on campus which is in the bright red zone. This leaves two housing districts ringed by pink. We currently live in the northern pink zone. The old 1903 house is marked with a bright green dot inside the congested yellow section. Tomorrow we go see a house that is inside the preferred circle, and not in a bad yellow area. It is in the southern pink zone.  No wonder finding a house is so difficult here.


After a morning in bed with a migraine, I spent the afternoon at a very productive grant meeting which cheered me up.

I suggested to Dan that we go to Opelika for dinner. Here is the county courthouse...

and the cute little strip of shops and restaurants along the railroad downtown. We went to a place called Ma Fia's. 

After dinner, we got home and my mom called. She sounded exasperated. She wanted me to come over right away. She had a big problem. A big blue problem.

She had to make a cake for a UK graduate and needed the right color blue for Big Blue Nation. I told her she was right on.

She had a productive cake making day.
And tasted a bit along the way!!!


Today we met with our real estate person about the house and started getting cold feet. We went to visit it again and found things that made our feet colder. The house has character, that's for sure. This is one of the bedroom fireplaces.

We had lunch with a new colleague, got paperwork sent off for Jes's insurance, and I cooked my first dinner in the house-- tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Comforting.


I think we found our house. This is the south side with a small stained glass window and a huge chimney with two fireplaces inside. We will sleep on it and go see it again tomorrow for a better look-see.


There is a gardenia bush in the front yard. Really, a gardenia bush is a requirement for a house in the South. Today I worked all morning on my to-do list then went to a meeting at the university in the afternoon. Dan and I went to Earth Fare to check out the cafe options. Not bad. We are very anxious to see the old house on Gay Street tomorrow afternoon.


Since I received a special request for kitchen photos, I took some today. The kitchen is small with limited storage and wood counters that must not get wet. I have not cooked a meal in it yet- just a PB & J. 

So, here it is. The kitchen. Off the back is the little back porch/yard.
It's functional and clean and has some charm.But when it's dinner time I plan to walk across the street unless I'm heating up leftovers!

Today I was able to work on my to-do list and got some stuff done. Also vacuumed the house and unpacked a few boxes.


This is the house we hope to see next week. It's three blocks from my mom- 5000 sq ft and built in 1902. And the price is right so it must need TONS of work which would keep Dan busy.

Today we said farewell to Aza, who made it safely to the beach. We also said farewell to my sisters and dad etc. We took Mom out to dinner at Bloodhounds. I got all the boxes in my bedroom and office unpacked.


Aza leaves in the morning. She is driving to the Outer Banks for a wedding, then heading to C'ville where she will start her really-truly-adult life in a house with a job as a teacher. She's been working towards this for 6 years now... and as much as we hate to see her go, we rejoice that she has finally reached that day of independence. I think she looks a bit nervous to be driving all that way with her car loaded full of all her stuff. See her mixing bowl in the back seat? And a painting I did for her?

This is our little back yard. Just a patio really, but enough room for a BBQ and for Frisbee to get some sun. 


Happy birthday Jes!

Today Jes turned 26. Unbelievable. She received a very special present from Root and all of us... which she very much appreciated.

Here are the nephews playing with play-doh and trucks at Nana's breakfast room table. Sortof reminds me of the days of Squirt and his cousin Will. They were about the same age apart.


Today my nephews came over to check out my new house. I found Squirt's old Knex toys and got them out for the boys to play with. These vintage building parts were a big hit.

Buddy is 4 and Fozzie is only 2 1/2 but they could each find something to build with the pieces.

Meanwhile, we have a leaky wall and Dan investigated the probable cause- a clogged up gutter system.


Today was awesome. It was my first day on campus as a new faculty member and I had to meet with my department chair, get my faculty ID, get my parking pass, and get my office key. Everything went so smoothly. Aza dropped me off near Haley Center and as I was walking into the building a man on a bench said, "Excuse me, can I ask you a really big favor?" and my city sense was worried that the request for a handout was coming. So I hesitantly said, "That all depends..." and the man said, "I'd like you to have a really great day." and I remembered where I was and replied that I would do my best. Everyone was so helpful. I took the bus system around campus to get the different things accomplished, and get this: The bus system is high tech. There is a central location near Haley Center where all the buses start from. There's a computerized board that tells you when each bus is expected to arrive. There are directions to download the bus app.... and the bus app tells you where each bus is in real time. I was so excited! I searched for the street on which I live, and found out that a bus has a stop 2 blocks away. The SAME bus stop I used to walk to for the bus to the high school. Amazing. So, after getting my ID and receiving a special welcome bag full of goodies and a personalized map tour of campus explaining all the faculty amenities an perks, I took the bus to my old high school bus stop and walked home.


I'm too tired to write about today. See photo.

Later: The truck had a heck of a time getting in the circular driveway. It spent 30 minutes backing up and forth till it was just right. It took three men 7 hours to load all our stuff into the house. We had 2400 square feet of stuff on the truck. It weighed in at around 19,000 pounds. Guess I could calculate density on that...

We found mold. The owner came out with an inspector to take a sample. He said it looked like common house mold, not the bad stuff Stachybotrys. It's gross. 

 The tired moving crew from Lexington resting in the truck after unloading 1700 cubic feet of our stuff.

View from the front door.

The move ended around dinnertime and of course, we just walked across the street to Mom's for a dinner of smoked salmon, salad, and fresh rolls.


Today we rested. Nothing to pack, nothing to unpack, we played with our nephews Buddy and Fozzie and ate good food at my mother's and visited with my sisters Stay and Sakura.

Here Squirt and Buddy are playing a game on my iPhone.