Summary: I spent 4th of July weekend and most of the rest of that month executing the most massive household renovation/ waste management/ de-stenching operation to date on Panache House. This post describes the background and rationale, and the preparation process.  

Listen while you read to “Prelude”, the opening track on “Neo”, the EP Chi and I cut when we first began our musical collaboration in Tokyo, Japan in 1998.

July 2011

So it took a nuclear catastrophe to get Chi to take indoor air quality seriously….

TEPCO apologizing

Ever since the catastrophic events that took place in Japan on March 11, 2011 and the ongoing disaster with the Dai Ichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Chi has been on high terror alert regarding contamination from radioactive material, and has been driving me completely f*cking batshit with his constant hysteria and Cassandraizing about it all, trawling the internet constantly for updates, which he proceeds to harangue me about.  I have no idea how he thinks it could possibly produce any useful result to continuously suck my energy into this futile black hole by dousing me with his constant, radioactively toxic negativity over something that is obviously completely beyond my reasonable control.

However, one bright spot in this dismal nuclear winter emerged.  He got the idea, probably from his incessant internet trawling, that we must procure super-hardcore, nuclear-grade, HEPA-filtered air cleaners and a similarly die-hard HEPA-filtered vacuum cleaner, and then described a very elaborate procedure and schedule for changing the filters without releasing any of the radioactive material he thought they would trap back into our house.  I was cautiously elated about this sudden interest in the air quality inside our home, which ever since we’ve been living with each other and several cats, has been so putrid that I am almost constantly miserable with allergies.  It would cost a small fortune to procure these items, but the benefit of having better air quality and thence a better quality of life, made it worthwhile in my estimation.  I was at the same time apprehensive, given his propensity to spend a lot of money on something and then when he realizes that his bank balance has reduced according to the amount of money he just spent, he starts abusing and shitting all over me about it, demanding that “I” stop spending money.  Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

New HEPA-filtered Oransi air cleaner

The air cleaners arrived about a week before he was to leave on a 3-week musical research trip to Cuba, and we set them up and  put them to work.  It already made a noticeable difference the first morning I woke up after having one running in the main bedroom all night.  I wasn’t coughing and sneezing all day, and I could breathe easily.

New Miele HEPA-filtered vacuum cleaner

The vacuum arrived a few days later, and when I put it together and tried it out, I was amazed at how much easier it was to use than the ones we already had, one of which is decent quality but very cumbersome and heavy, and the other one is more maneuverable, but too weak to clean properly.  My amazement increased when I tried it on the carpet, and the vacuumed part was a totally different colour than the un-vacuumed part as big gobs of ground-in cat hair and dust were being sucked out.  Wow!

Soooooo…since I have always hated the shitty carpet and nasty-ass linoleum in the house, I planned on demolishing the floors while Chi was gone, all the way down to the subfloor, if that was the only place where wood could be found, and sanding out the cat piss smell that had permeated the surfaces  in the pee zones, and then restoring / refinishing / sealing it.

There were other projects that I hoped to be able to do too, such as getting the Panache Garden under control, which had got completely out of hand since I’d last had a go at it in mid-spring, and trying to clear out and organize the crawl space under the house, which has become so chaotic and full that we can’t even fit any more stuff in it, let alone get to the stuff that’s already there.  In other words, another feng shui disaster area.  I also was hoping to put in some quality face time with my instrument and do some recording, and get to spend some time with my friends too.

After dropping Chi off bright and early at LAX on Monday, July 4,

the first stop was the Marina del Rey garden center to pick up a couple odds and ends I wanted to integrate during the garden clean-out, but after a couple more stops to pick up some more odds and ends with my blood sugar plummeting as fast as the temperature was rising, my enthusiasm for doing a lot of dirty, frustrating detail work outside in the now-blazing sun waned.

Nevertheless, after having something to eat and feeding the Panache Cats and Farishta, I decided to soldier on and start by fixing the tire on my wheelbarrow that had blown out awhile ago since I had no desire to have to lug around tonnages of compost and dirt and stuff by hand.  After an hour of sweating and swearing and suffering over that exercise in high noon sun, I gave up when I’d got the new inner tube about halfway stuffed in.  I just didn’t want to force the issue and risk a hand injury or damage the tube or rim since I didn’t have quite the right tool, and excessive use of leverage to compensate for lack of hand strength didn’t seem like the way to go with this.

Given how hot it was, I decided to defer any further outdoor projects (like the front garden) until it cooled off later in the afternoon, so made lunch and then set out for the big shopping expedition to Home Depot to get the stuff I would need with the list in hand that I had made during my extensive research (I had spent several days trawling the net and querying home repair-savvy friends of mine for information on how to go about this).

At Home Depot

That ended up taking quite a bit longer and costing a lot more than I had expected it to.  There was admittedly a little mission creep, but not enough to make that much of a difference.  The oil-modified polyurethane cost a whopping $50/gallon (!), and all the million smaller/less expensive things really added up.  I swallowed hard as I handed over my debit card to pay the $250 tab, knowing that this would not be the end of it, and I still had to pay our rent come month end.

When I got back, not only was I starving again, but I found myself faced with a typical chicken-or-egg conundrum: there was a truly overwhelming amount of work I wanted to get done during the three weeks that Chi would be gone, and an almost equally overwhelming amount of crap that had to be bulldozed out of the way in order to open up enough space to get the work done, ranging from outright garbage that belonged in the compost bin to large pieces of furniture destined for other places and big pieces of equipment that didn’t get used often enough to justify taking up precious real estate inside the house.

Panache Headquarters

Organizing the home office (a.k.a. “Panache Headquarters”) was at the very tip-top of the list of mission-critical tasks, but there was an awful lot of bullshit that had to be gone through and/or winnowed out first, which would take quite a bit of time (as well as brain power) and could be done with artificial light (but not a heavy fatigue load), while the garden/basement/floors cannot, so do I start with clearing out/ de-junking/ organizing the crawl space under the house first in order to have a properly planned storage area to put stuff, albeit a seriously nasty, dirty, vermin-infested one?  Or do I just start de-stenching, restoring and sealing walls and floors in the living room (including Stink Corner under the grand piano) and Cat Shit Corridor?

Basement/crawl space under Panache House

From my extensive research, I also realized that the floors/walls will require a lot of drying time between applications of various treatments, which meant that I was out of time this weekend.  I could at least de-stench and seal the walls in the pee zones and get that process started, which will require moving a lot of big, heavy furniture out of the way in the living room.  I could even start pulling up a few of the nasty linoleum tiles I planned on getting rid of, and at least get a look at what I’m up against.

Back to the office: should I just pile all the shit in the bedroom(s)/ kitchen/ wherever it will fit, and then bring it back in after the floor has dried and sort it then?  Hmmm… there’s an awful lot of stuff in here, and that will create a major problem with doing other rooms concurrently if they’re going to be full of displaced office stuff.  Or should I just start with the “easy” part(s) of the house where there isn’t so much crap to have to move out of the way and sort through and figure out, like the inner hallway and main bedroom???

home office, a.k.a. Panache Headquarters

It’s kind of depressing too, because everything is such a horrible mess, dealing with it takes up a vast amount of time (and there are loads of other things I would much rather spend this blissfully FREE time doing!), and more depressing still, Chi will just have it all filthed up again within a matter of hours of when he returns home, so it all seems rather pointless from that perspective.

That’s the worst part!  I’ll end up spending the whole time doing all this miserable drudge labour of getting the house into a decent condition, but won’t have any time left for me to enjoy using the nicely clean, refreshed, reorganized space for what I want to do… aaarrrrrrgggghhhhhh…………..

Oh well, I’ll just have to find a way to get him to go off on another trip during August!  How about Peru?  He’ll need to keep up his Spanish, right?

– To Be Continued –