Saturday a week ago was commencement at the university – the usual herding of students, threat of rain alternating with sunshine (both prompting umbrellas to be hauled out), thousands (or millions?) of dendrobium flowers sacrificed for leis, the usual speeches complete with exhortations to conserve resources, and after it all, mounds of plastic trash littering the stadium.
I was ecstatically happy to have another academic year over with, looking forward to getting caught up on deferred tasks related to orchid husbandry and perfume-making, but the following Monday the friend/contractor who is rebuilding the whole back deck area and floor and support structure for the warm grow area showed up to start demolition. We have been helping with the project, so spent most of last week removing rotted decking, replacing some bad joists, and replacing the surface of the deck. It’s finished, and it’s beautiful.
This past week the really nasty job started. The back of the house has a semi-attached solarium that we use to grow Phalaenopsis and other warm-loving orchids, and that also serves as a work room and family gathering room. Last winter someone’s foot almost went through the floor, and at that time we discovered that the entire wooden structure under the tile was nearly destroyed by rot. We did an emergency fix and scheduled the real repair at that time, but it was a shock to actually have June roll around and to have to evacuate the plants and other items from the space so that it could happen. To my relief, it was not the plants that had caused the rot, but rather leaks in the outside flashing that allowed rain water to seep between the untreated wood base and the tile.
The first bit of tear-out revealed that the entire structure had become a giant ant colony, so as a biologist, I was the only one other than the contractor who could deal with mass quantities of insects. I was told that I moved 1000 pounds of debris from the demolition site to the truck that would take it to the dump (they weigh material to be dumped). The flooring has all been replaced correctly, and the tile goes in tomorrow. The poor plants have been scattered outdoors where they’re getting too much light, and indoors where they get none. I expect to lose some – that’s just life. But at least we do not have ants any more.
It seems that there’s always some crisis begging for our attention, so we can never get caught up on the things we want to do. I’m still plugging away on clearing out things that get in my way, giving away another batch of 100g of excess perfume samples, so please leave a comment on how you catch up on daily life and find time to do fun things and be entered in the drawing.
The winner will be posted at the end of next week.
[Dendrobium photo from a retailer's website, deck corner and wood damage photos are mine, ant photos are from Wikimedia, but show ants that are half red and half black like the ones we had]