Little House; Big Bugs

A couple of days ago Mike discovered a small hole in a slat of our hardwood floors. He dug away at it a little bit and found, to his consternation, that under the top layer, the wood seemed to be rotten or eaten away. It was filled with powdery grass that resembled cheap sawdust. Not what you want to see in your newly installed hardwood floors. Especially when you spent nearly four grand tenting your house before you moved in.

We called the termite company who did the tenting and they said they’d send someone out. Their work, after all, is guaranteed for two years. If it’s termites they have to deal with it.

Jason, an extremely tall, grinning man with a stentorian voice, arrived right after MJ and I had both arisen from naps. (I know, I am supposed to be not sleeping but doing during MJ’s naptime, but today I just couldn’t. Is this because I’m lazy, or because MJ was up at 4:30 in the morning demanding I read her “Mouse Paint” before she would agree to go back to sleep? You tell me). I had slept really hard, and felt like I was seeing him through clouded glass.

Woozily, I led him into the bedroom (where the wood problem is, folks — get your minds out of the gutter!). He knelt down and looked at the floorboard.

“Huh,” he said, squinting.

I hate when workmen say “Huh.” Translated it means “you’re fucked.” I started to wake up. Fear does that to me.

Jason peered longer, scraping at the spot. He took some pictures and some samples. And then he told me that he wasn’t sure what it was. Almost definitely not termites, though. It could be Powder Post Beetles, he went on, but he doubted that, as there would be little holes in the surface of the wood, and there weren’t. He thought more.

“It could be False Powder Post Beetles–”


“In which case the lack of holes would make sense. If it is them, they came in the wood.”

“Huh,” I said.

Any kind of Powder Post Beetles, Jason went on, would have been unaffected by the tenting we did over the summer. “It would take ten times that much gas to kill them,” he intoned, his voice booming cheerfully in the uncarpeted room. The volume at which he spoke made him sound even more like the Voice of Doom. I desperately wanted to shush him — “Inside voice, please!” — but knew it wouldn’t change the facts. If you’re not supposed to shoot the messenger, you might as well not ask him to pipe down, either.

Jason stood up, brushed off his pants, and said he would do some research and get back to me.

After he left I called Mike. I had spoken to him about the situation for some minutes before I realized I was referring to the potential diagnosis as “Power Point Beetles.” My husband, kindly, had refrained from correcting me. “I knew what you meant,” he said. We would’ve laughed about it, but we were both too busy imagining the thousands of dollars we might be paying to contain some Super-Beetle who is destructive, spreading, nearly impossible to kill and, on top of it all, a False take on the real thing. Perfect. Trust us to get the fucked-up version of anything we put in this house — including the pests.

Jason called later. He said that they were all “a little stumped,” and really weren’t sure what was going on. They were sure, however, it wasn’t termites. He didn’t even know if it was Powder Posts — real or faux. “Best to just watch it for awhile and see what it does. And you may want to contact the guy who put in your floors for you — see what he thinks,” he added.

Great. You mean the unlicensed, unbonded, half-price, no English, cash-only guy who gave us our final invoice under another person’s name? Sounds promising. I’m sure he’ll rush to the rescue.

Regardless. I don’t need a Powder — whoops! — Power Point Presentation to know what the solution will be:

  1. Pay through the nose to fix it.
  2. Pay through the nose to fix it.
        3. Pay through the nose to fix it.

All I can say is I hope we get a big tax return this year. Between the leaky roof, the garden-that-eats-money and the probable infestation in our hardwood, it’s looking less likely than ever that we’re starting MJ’s college fund this year.

Unless we can pay for school with sawdust. Barter, anyone?

2 thoughts on “Little House; Big Bugs

  1. Jeff McElroy

    I’m a little unsure of how to react to this.
    Written with your usual dark-tinted wit. Funny. Frustrating. And at times coming dangerously close to a horror movie plot – Powder Post Beetles or FAKE Powder Post Beetles(!), complete with confused and concerned handyman (Your dad isn’t ghost writing this is he?)

    And yet as amusing as it all sounds, the truth is it SUCKS!
    I don’t think there is a nice way to put it. Home repairs simply suck.
    I’m sending positive vibes your way!

  2. Pingback: Dies Irae « thumbstumbler

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s