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4512 Virginia Street, Zachary LA: Part Two: The Smell

Jan 23, 2024 10:03AM ● By Jen Gennaro

Continued from Part 1...

....But it wasn’t long until the smell returned. It was a dusty, musty smell that only bothered me, and I felt certain it was coming from…. 

…. the eight fireplaces in the house. At this point, there was still so much work to be done–we hadn’t even started on the upstairs yet–so I decided to put dealing with the fireplaces on the “later” list, above the balloons. (more on the balloons and their ultimate demise :( in a later post)

To be honest, December (or was that November?) was a complete blur. We got a contract on our office, the former Lions Club building, that we’d been in just under two years, and spent the month packing and moving things to the new building, while working on the January issue from our then-current office, which had internet. It was the work equivalent of sleeping on an air mattress and living out of a suitcase. (After four failed attempts to get internet in the 1903 historic home–a separate saga that I don’t feel like getting into–we finally switched companies, and AT&T was able to get us up and running in a few hours in the first few days of the new year, just in time to produce the January issue.) 

Michael and his dad spent countless hours patching the hundreds of holes in the upstairs walls where the slat walls had been removed, priming and painting them. He’d come back after I put the baby to sleep at about 6 p.m. and work until 10 p.m. And, as he always does, he made the place look amazing. And, as is his nature, he didn’t leave well enough alone. That weird step down master bathroom upstairs with the giant jacuzzi tub? Gone. Gutted. You’ll have to read all about that in a later installment because it’s, *ahem* not quite ready. 

Me, on the other hand? I’m like a dog with a bone when it comes to tracking down weird smells. I was on hands and knees plugging in my four thousand power cords to the one working outlet in my new office, when I spotted something through a crack in the heavy iron fireplace cover. Is that… am I seeing what I think I see? ARE THOSE EGGS AND A NEST AND A TINY ANIMAL SKELETON? Indeed.

The chimney sweeps were out here 24 hours later and revealed that 1) the fireplaces would never be operational because 2) they’re so old that they were built to burn coal and not firewood and 3) they couldn’t really sweep the chimneys but they could vacuum out the fireplaces for the low low price of four hundred dollars. 

*45 minutes and $50 later*

If it’s meant to be, it’s up to me, I whispered to myself, firing up my new shop vac. Yes, that’s right. I cleaned the fireplaces by my own damn self! Didn’t I say cleaning this place up weirdly energized me? I didn’t stop long enough to investigate the spooky little eggs. But I can definitely smell a difference!

And I am admittedly disheartened about the fireplaces. Future me was really looking forward to a wood burning fireplace in my office, to warm up or maybe roast the occasional marshmallow; or downstairs in the bakery on a cold, rainy day with a nice cup of coffee and a treat from Counterspace. There are some electric inserts available, which I may get just for the coziness of it. Would love your recs in the comments if you've bought one! 

Stay tuned for part 3. It's also about fireplaces, just, um, not in the way anyone expected 😒