Chapter 9: Blood, Sweat and Tears…Mostly Blood

January 25, 2007 • Written by Christina Berry

Well wow, since last we left you, our trusty readers, we’ve had quite the adventure with this little old house. There’s been blood, sweat, tears, and even some weird porch sex. Where to begin? Let’s start with the blood (we’ll save the sexy part for later, that will keep you reading!).

The blood part came during the “make room for Christina” effort. But first, the blissful salad days, before all the pain and suffering (and outrageous hospital bill).

Ah, now isn’t that nice? Welcome to Errek and Christina’s padded cell. In the foreground you can see the guest bedroom, next to the bedroom, and in the back you’ll find the breakfast nook.

Don’t mind me, I’m just plugging in the kitchen.

And in this image from the opposite corner, you can see the class act media room off in the distance. I’d say we’ve given the term “living room” a whole new meaning. But the room is missing something…

Ah yes, of course — the best damn bed ever. Kids, that there is memory foam, and I highly recommend it.

So now for the blood…but first, a little back story. See, Christina wasn’t coming alone… Okay, it’s weird writing about myself in the third person. So… I wasn’t coming alone. Nope, I had a cat.

Meet Lucy, quite possibly the coolest 18-year-old, half-blind, totally-deaf, three-toothed cat you’ll ever meet. This little lady has been with me since I was 13 and there’s no way I was moving in without her.

Problem: Errek is EXTREMELY allergic to cats. They give him asthma attacks. He could die. He’s seriously THAT allergic.

Solution: Completely separate the front bedroom from the rest of the house so that Lucy can live there and so that I may utilize it as a daytime home office while Errek is at work.

Awesome, so we forged ahead with the construction of the Lucy Biodome on New Years eve eve eve…er, the Friday before New Years. It was storming out and the neighbors behind were having quite the fiesta, shooting off butt loads of gorgeous fireworks while singing along to their favorite Tejano tunes. Across the street, a couple generations of the Hernandez family stood on their porch drinking beer, smoking cigarettes, watching the fireworks and watching the silly white people at it again.

Step 1: We needed to reopen the third door, which had been boarded up. Check.

Step 2: Put a new…wait a moment, what do we have here? A problem?

Why yes, we have a big problem. Note in the photo the stud which is simply dangling? Someone in the years of yore got the “brilliant” idea to cut the plate out from under this stud in order to make room for something. WTF? The studs were already spaced about 2 feet apart, and now you’ve taken the support out from under it? This had to be fixed, as it had caused the entire house to sag in this spot. But how do you fix such a thing. Hmm. We thought about it and then quickly the light bulbs (or possibly fireworks) flashed on over our heads. We’ll use leverage. Genius! We grabbed all sorts of wood and made a giant lever, Errek fashioned a handle on the doorway and a cinderblock platform to pull against. Then we took turns pulling, pushing, using every ounce of our body weight to lift the house so we could fit a 2×4 plate under the stud. Nothing seemed to work. We got very close three times but something would always break and the house would slam back down, raining 60 years of dust all over. That’s when we decided to try it one more time. Only this time the “lever” (aka a 2×6 and several 2x4s all screwed together) broke and came down on one of us. The identity of the injured party has been disguised in the following photo.

Okay, it was Errek, and he was very annoyed when I took that picture. But I did it for you, gracious reader, and for the sake of the story, which goes a little something like this:

We almost had it. I was trying to slide the plate under the stud when I heard a crack and then BAM! the house came down again. I checked that all my fingers were still attached and then yelled outside, “You okay?” To which I heard nothing. I looked outside and there was Errek on his ass in the driveway, clutching his hand to his head. He mustered a weak, “no,” as he stood up. Turns out, when the lever broke, it came right down on the left side of his forehead.

Errek came inside and wanted to go into the bathroom, but forgot we’d just completely gutted the bathroom so he turned to me as his talking mirror, “how bad is it?” he asked and quickly pulled his hand away. The cut was a big triangle and I watched it for three heartbeats, I know because it gushed each time. I said, “It’s bad” and rushed to get him a towel. The Hernandez’s, who had called an ambulance, were a great help, they agreed to watch the house (and cancel the ambulance) while we rushed off to Brackenridge hospital. They’re awesome and deserve a medal for best neighbors ever. We took off for Brackenridge and then waited…and waited…and waited. In the meantime I drove back to the house where the Hernandez’s helped me board up the hole where a door once stood. Eventually I made it back to the hospital where Errek and I watched Spanish language news and a Samuel Jackson shark movie while we waited for the doctor to stitch him up.

Several hours, six stitches, and $1800 later, we got the brilliant idea (from the hospital orderly) to buy a $20 car jack and use that to lift the house.

Tada!

So now, back to step two…

Step 2: Put a new door in, one that has a working handle.

Step 3: Board up the door to the rest of the house and tape up all the seams with duct tape.

Step 4: Bring furniture and Lucy. “Thank you, Errek!” She purrs.

And to show her thanks, she’s helping out a bit by mowing the lawn, one blade at a time.