Monday, March 30, 2015

Ick, Cracks & Need

My least-favorite bit of estate sale prep is the occasional encounters with live spider crickets and freshly dead mice. Dead spider crickets smell terrible, too, but they are not as juicy as mice.

Thank God for antihistamines!  I woke up at 3 AM last week with the back of both hands covered in a nasty itchy rash--likely due to the late-season dryness of my skin, but probably also to the extensive cleaning needful in the house we're prepping for a sale, where I spent more than five hours Tuesday sorting through the basement (I drove up to DC after my CELTA application interview). At least there is no mold--that was fully remediated in an intensive six-month treatment my boss required before we started--but it is dusty, and though I was wearing gloves most of the time, there was bound to be some skin irritation.  There is fabulous stuff in this estate--excellent ormolu inlaid French furniture, chinoiseries, a Black Forest schrunk and screen, a furs and vintage fashions, and eclectic jewelry.  If we can sell the light fixtures, I will be thrilled--there is a silver chandelier in the dining room of which the old Russian nobility would have approved, and superb Austrian crystal wall sconces in the living room and main hall. My favorites, though, are two bronze Japanese lanterns in the solarium.

Besides recently-deceased rodents, two of which I found in a tall hand-blown glass bottle that I was cleaning at the sink (that was a nasty surprise!), there is one major concern among us, as the house (which is within sight of the National Cathedral) features a great fissure in the ceiling of the formal living room, a crack in the plaster that we suspect dates from the earthquake that toppled the cathedral spires several years ago. In some places, the split is an inch wide, as the ceiling has descended towards the middle crystal chandelier, making it a full 6 inches lower in the center of the room than around the molding. What if, God forbid, the whole thing caves in during the sale, pummeling shoppers and employees with hunks of hundred-year-old plaster, wrecking the fine furniture that we've assembled in the room? Short of having the whole thing cut out and replaced with sheetrock, I can't imagine a method of remediation.

I have, somewhat presumptuously, created a GoFundMe page for me to attend that CELTA course in Prague. I've already gotten (indirectly) a nasty response from a friend of a friend, who opined via Facebook that she'd grown up poor and never received "handouts", and that such appeals were presumptuous and befitted only those truly destitute. Argh! I hadn't in mind to insult anyone, nor to badger those less fortunate than I, nor to harass friends or relatives, but if one does not ask, one does not receive. This is not a purely pleasurable trip (although I dearly hope it will be great fun--must one suffer meantime to make others' generosity worthwhile?), but focused on the month of 5-day weeks of 9 AM-6 PM classes training me to be a good teacher of English to speakers of other languages. I'm tired of borrowing money from my mother. I've eBayed and consigned items, sold books online, vended pottery at a street market and commuted up here to work in DC until I'm exhausted. Sure, I'm not starving, I have comfortable clothes to wear, and wonderful houses to live in (courtesy of my mother at home and my boss who lets me borrow her guest room up here), and thanks to a sweet girlfriend in Prague, I'll have a great place to stay there. But I cannot easily afford the transportation and course fees, and if someone with extra money were inclined to think my endeavor a worthwhile one, why shouldn't I make it possible for them to fund it?  I'd write them a lovely thank-you note! And they'll get to enjoy a new assortment of interesting blogposts...

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