My plans for the weekend were pretty simple. I was going to get a few supplies, turn on the TV, and listen to football while I installed some window balances, recaulked the bathtub, and finished cleaning up the mess of wiring in the basement. Sunday morning was bright, warm, and clear, so I pulled the Scout out of the garage for the first time in three weeks, fired it up, and headed to the hardware store.
Unfortunately, my trip was cut short. The temperature gauge went from you’re fine to you’re fucked in about two minutes of idling through downtown Ellicott City, so I pulled off into the International dealer’s lot at the top of the hill to let it cool down (fitting, I know). The radiator cap was cool to the touch, but when I loosened it, a great mass of burbling steam rose from the depths of the radiator and hissed out the top. While I waited for it to cool down, I went and did a little snooping up the hill where the dealer parks the vehicles they have in progress, and found that a diesel Mr. Scout had found almost abandoned off of Rt. 40 is now hopefully getting a new lease on life.
After waiting a half an hour and calling Jen, I crossed my fingers, prayed I’d make the lights going back through town, and pulled back onto the road. Luck was with me, so I made it up the hill to Dmitri’s (a strange Greek-ish restaurant perched on the side of a hill) before the needle told me to pull off for another half-hour. After making it to the Candlelight Inn, I had my ladies come to pick me up, and we did some errands while it cooled off long enough to make the trip home.
I have a long history of ownership with cars that overheat; from the CRX that disliked idling in traffic (requiring full-blast heat in the middle of July) to the Taurus that resisted all repair attempts to the coolant system (and very nearly derailed our rehearsal dinner with an ill-timed coolant failure on the way back from the caterer’s) to the Saturn’s recent troubles, it seems like my lot in life is to sit on the side of the road waiting for the engine to stop ticking. What was going to be my first water pump replacement will now be handled professionally in order to ensure things are done correctly, but I was really hoping to avoid that repair bill.
Upon our return, I started removing the caulk from around our tub in order to hunt down the odor of mildew we’ve been noticing lately, and found a surprise I wasn’t looking forward to at 6:30 on a Sunday night:
The area next to our tub, where water sometimes runs down—especially after Finley pulls the shower curtain open to say, “Hi!”—has been wet for some time now. I pushed a screwdriver blade into the drywall and it felt like peanut butter. As I dug deeper, it got nastier, and the reason why it’s been smelling like mildew became more evident: When the bathroom was last “remodeled”, new sheets of drywall were nailed up over the old tile and tileboard, effectively sealing an airpocket inbetween the two layers of wall. When water got in there, it had a whole lot of dark room to grow mold, so when I pulled off the outer layer, the tile was splotched black and the adjacent wallboard was damp. I kept pulling until I hit dry wallboard and then I pulled another foot beyond that to make sure there’s nothing left, and what you see above is what remains. That thick wooden stud to the immediate right of the tub is original, and got a nice bleach bath once I was done cleaning the dust. The tile is straight-up 60’s stuff, an off-white with gold speckle. I’m glad it was hidden, and I’ll be even more glad to rip that shit out, along with all three layers of wallboard, nasty mismatched linoleum tiles, poorly milled moldings, balky light fixtures, broken concrete slab, and the ancient, crumbling sink. I admit, it took a lot of willpower to put the crowbar down last night. But for now, the plan is to dry it out, put some green wallboard (moisture-resistant) back in, smooth out the seams, repaint and make it through the holidays.
I’ll sign off with a little humor at the expense of my daughter: Don’t drink and drive.