Oma Sue's Blog
Hi – I’m Sue Reyzlik. I recently realized my life-long dream of building a writing hut in the backyard. The writing hut serves as a creative space and home office for Oma Publishing. This blog will be intermingled with family history, varied experiences and insights on being a Grandma (Oma), creating my special backyard space, as well as, my “retirement” career as a self-publisher of children’s stories. And perhaps a little bit on the 32 years I served as Executive Director for Keep Fremont Beautiful and the wonderful people who are sharing this adventure.
I did a stupid thing. I hate it when I do a stupid thing. In hindsight, if I had waited a bit longer, my normal thing would not have become a stupid thing. My seasonal desire to play in the dirt and my impatience with the frequent Spring rains, helped to create the downward spiral of self-inflicted components that led to a rather significant stupid thing
My stupid thing? Buying a large quantity of mulch. See, on the surface, that doesn’t seem so stupid does it?
As you may recall, the start of this year’s summer season was cool and damp. Planting, landscaping and puttering around in the garden was delayed due to frequent and sometimes heavy rains. I was going crazy not planting my gardens and felt the least I could do was spread some mulch to spiff up the flower beds and keep the weeds in check.
I was impatient, so in between thunder storms I drove the van to the garden center to purchase some plants for the large pots on the patio and to purchase several bags of mulch. As the workers loaded the bags of mulch into the back of my van, I could see them straining to lift the water-soaked material. A dark coffee colored liquid drained from the lower bags as each new bag was placed on top. Obviously, the bags were not completely sealed. Oh well.
I didn’t care about the stains, as the van is quite old and used for hauling just this type of large dirty thing – but I did worry about how I was going to unload the bags at home. My back was hurting just thinking about the weight of those bags.
On the drive home, the smell of the mulch was troubling. I had a physical reaction almost immediately starting with itchy eyes, followed by an itchy nose. I rolled down the windows, however, after a few blocks and sitting through a red light or two, my throat started to tickle. It wasn’t long before I was coughing and my nose began to run.
Arriving back at home, I immediately exited the van, leaving the windows open to help dry out the mulch. Here I made a stupid decision. I would get someone to help me remove the mulch, maybe tomorrow.
That night it rained - oops. I had left the van windows down. Fresh water ran down the interior of the doors, saturating the upholstered seats and the carpeting on the floor. The interior of the van was wet and smelled of mulch. I soaked up as much water from the seats and carpeting as possible. I left the back-hatch door open, thinking that the air flow would help the mulch dry faster and for sure I would get someone to help me remove the bags the next day.
Over the course of the next several days of recurring storms and high humidity, the mulch remained firmly stacked in the van. Eventually, my eldest daughter came to town and I asked if she might help me remove the mulch. Finally, the mulch had been removed.
Unfortunately, the smell of the mulch remained. Every time I drove the van, I ended up coughing and blowing my nose. I put a box of baking soda in the back seat thinking that would help… oh silly me.
I did make an effort to open the van’s windows and doors, closing them at night to avoid another rain event. I had taken to using the spare car and ignoring the smelly van beast altogether.
The poor old van sat forgotten and unattended in the humidity of the hot summer sun. The mulch leachate that had bled into the carpet, found new strength and meaning in its primordial existence.
By the time I decided to try and figure out what to do with the van, several weeks had passed. The interior of the van was dusty. Leaves and tree litter had gathered around the tires of the stationary vehicle. The offensive smell remained.
I turned the key in the ignition… click, click, click… it didn’t start. Hmmmm… I’ll try again. Click, click, click… it didn’t start. The battery is dead. I bet leaving the doors open all those many days wasn’t the smartest of things to do… in fact, it was part of that downward spiral of stupidity.
Not to worry, I have done a smart thing - I have roadside service from AAA… now where is my card? A week later, having searched extensively, making horrendous messes throughout the house and having never found the card, I call Triple A and tell them I cannot find my card and they tell me “No problem – we can look it up by your phone number.” Well, that is good to know.
The gentleman comes prepared to tow my car. He doesn’t see me standing by the van and I am sure he believes he is alone. He steps out of his truck and starts a conversation with himself regarding his visit here last winter. He is correct – it is the same van – it was a flat tire – it was in the street – there was a lot of ice and snow - he towed it to Longacres. I keep my side of the conversation inside my brain but it goes something like this “Hmmm, I must have had the AAA card last winter”.
He greets me and quickly starts the van. By the time I drive it to the car repair shop, I am having difficulty breathing. The monster I left brewing in the van has grown considerably in the heat, rain and humidity of Nebraska’s summer. I am hoping for reassurance from my technician that the offensive mulch odor can be removed.
My car guy is not optimistic about removing the smell, in fact he shares his own horror story of an offensive recurring car odor. I have broken my van – the downward spiral continues. I can’t drive a van that smells like that… I will have to get a different vehicle. I hate buying cars as much as I hate doing stupid things – OMG – we have come full circle… the things I hate are bumping into each other – AAAARGGGHHH.
The next day the van is running - it just needed a new battery. My car guy recommends that I have the van detailed – he gives me a number. He has another idea and suggests that I bring the van back the next week. They will change the filter on the air conditioner. He says that may help reduce the odor. I’m thinking a new filter is the least I could do as I prepare to rid myself of the van.
Before going home, I must stop by Max Design to check on the progress of some work. The smell of the mulch was as intense as ever. I lowered the windows but the heat was unbearable. I turned on the air conditioner only to be greeted with the horror of the overwhelming odor of the beast… I imagined there is a death eater making its way through the engine, intently slithering through the hoses and around the belts, ultimately bursting through the vents and sucking the life out of my lungs… eeeeeeyyyyaaa… I need some serious magic to rid myself of the monster I have unleashed.
Arriving at the print shop, I was wound up pretty tight and ready to rant. I launched into an animated and highly exaggerated telling of this “stupid thing” I did with the mulch, the van, the rain, the sitting in the sun, the sealed steaming of the mulch leachate, the draining of the battery, the searching for the Triple A card… and on it went.
Allison and Troy listened patiently, attentively and laughed appropriately at my self-proclaimed stupidity. Upon completion of the telling of the story, Troy did something that Troy so often does. He went into the back room of the shop and returned with a magical machine. How incredible that this particular individual would possess a magical machine that actually eliminates beastly life-sucking monsters from a mulch infested van. Weird – right?
I took the magical machine home. After repeated attempts, at NOT reaching the detailing guy, I decided that I would make an attempt at detailing the van myself. I vacuumed the seats and floor. I used sage infused vinegar to clean the dash and wipe down the insides of the doors and windows. I made an extra effort to clean the carpeting that had suffered so from the mulch staining brew.
Finally, I followed Troy’s instructions and placed the ENERZEN on the floor of the van. I turned it on for 120 minutes and let it do its thing. The advanced portable air purification system cleaned the inside of the van and pretty much eliminated the odor. I was amazed.
There was still a bit of musty smell coming from the air conditioning vents so I did have that filter replaced. When I went to pick up the van, my technicians showed me the old filter. The lower third of the filter was solid black and damp. The next third was a deep, dark gray leading to lighter gray in the final third. To say it was disgusting would be an understatement – to say it resembled a captured death eater, would be a more accurate description.
I have done a lot of stupid things over the years and a few of those stupid things, on occasion, have spiraled out of control. However, as a rule, most of those “stupid things” have taught me a lesson. In the future I will be more patient. I will take the time to arrange and pay for someone, with a pickup, to haul my mulch and place it at appropriate spots in the garden – there, lesson learned.
I feel fortunate that I only sort of broke the van and I do not have to go through the ordeal of purchasing another vehicle at this time. I feel equally fortunate that my printer and car guy had the sense and tools to rid my van of the offensive smelling monster!
Now if you are like me and you drive your vehicles until they no longer move, I would strongly suggest that you have your air conditioner filter changed every once in a while. I know that if I am still driving that van in another 10 years, I will have that filter checked!