I have officially owned my house for one month and and three days.
I look forward to the column I write about my house in which the word rat is nowhere to be found.
Today is not that column.
But I'm excited to report that today is the day when my new duct system should be completely installed. And new ducting means I can finally turn on the air conditioner. Yesterday the guys from Phil Carpenter's Air Conditioning & Heating arrived at 6 a.m., climbed in my attic and removed all the ducting from the clean attic, now free of flammable redwood shavings, dead rats and even live rats.
My dilemma with the duct work was whether to pay about $500 to just repair the places chewed through by the rodents, or whether to spend thousands of dollars to remove and replace all the duct work. I chose Door No. 2, and I'm so glad I did.
It turns out the ducts were filled with rats' nests throughout. This got me wondering about the previous dwellers in that home, who inhaled the rodenty air conditioned air all summer and rodenty heated air all winter.
I now wonder about all the times I've been inside some building, oblivious about the quality of air flowing through the vents into my lungs. I was blissfully ignorant regarding the contents inside the bowels of the ducts themselves.
Before I bought this house, I naively assumed that ducts were a closed system. I never imagined that not only could/would rats chew through the ducts, but they could get inside the ducts where they could mate, give birth, poop, pee, die and decompose inside the ducts. Not in my wildest nightmares did I conjure up those horrible images.
Yes, I realize I'm a bit obsessed with this whole rats-in-the-attic situation. Corey, my right-hand handy man, is well aware of my rat phobia, which is why he spent two full days blocking every possible rat access point, from the top of the attic to every inch beneath the house.
For all the talk and all the crazy ratlore about rodents' Houdinish ability to flatten and squeeze themselves through openings no larger than a quarter, in my house, no rat had to ever squeeze, since the house lacked screens on some of the more spacious openings, places that should have been covered with wire mesh.
The rats at my house could form a chorus line 12 abreast, join their chubby little rat hands and river dance through the ample openings in my old house, such as this large vent shown in this photo, below, where, once again, there were no screens. (There are now.)
I could go on and on showing examples of ways and means the rats could enter my home, but I'm weary of rat-writing, so I'll move along to tell you something awful the duct guys found in the attic that I thought at first was a head of a rat skeleton. Some Google searches (rat skeletons, squirrel skeletons, etc.) proved fruitful when I was able to breathe a sigh of relief and know that the small critter skull was not a rat. Most likely it was from a small opossum (it's all in the teeth, you know).
To escape thoughts of rats, I have set up a little paint station - my happy place - where I go in the cooler evenings or early mornings to work on furniture for the day when my house can actually accept furniture, like these cute chairs I bought at a yard sale last weekend, and painted.
Oh, that reminds me. My container drop-off of all my stuff has been miraculously delayed again. I'm so happy, because the house is still a major mess, and it wasn't ready for the delivery. Now the container drop-off date is scheduled for the first week in September. Perfect!
I bought a little dresser that I will use as a small kitchen-sink vanity in the back guest room. It's well-made, with dove-tailed joints in all the drawers. I got the idea after pricing the pressed-wood cabinets upon which most sinks are housed. Something of the dimensions of this little desk would be in the $400-$500 range. So I decided to use old, well-made furniture as sink bases instead. I got this piece for $79.
I have no idea what kind of wood the little desk is, but I painted it a pretty grayish-purple color that I found on OSH's oops paint shelf for $2.50. I love oops paint, because while it may be considered a mistake by one customer, it's often a winner for me, especially because it's sharply discounted.
Speaking of oops paint, I invested $118 in a 5-gallon bucket of Dove White paint, a color I chose after much research, and learned that Dove White is on many decorators' lists of favorite whites.
Within three days I'd brought home five 5-gallon buckets of paint after two paint-mixing errors. The first error was the paint clerk forgot the add the tint, which left the paint looking like something more fitting for an airport runway. Super white! The second bucket I had to return was tinted, but it was incorrect, which produced a color I'd call Someone Pissed in a Bucket of White Paint - white.
I'm happy to say the two final 5-gallon buckets of Dove White I purchased are correct. The rooms are finished, and are awaiting trim.
And the back guestroom floor is done, too. It went from this:
Sometimes in the evenings, after all the various workers are gone, I'll sit on my front porch, take in the sky and imagine the day when all the work is done inside my little old house.
Right now the biggest push is still regarding waiting for my permit so I can have a few walls altered. I won't say "removed" because all the extracting is on partial walls. Even so, there is the unfortunate matter of at least one load-bearing wall, exactly where I want to remove a hunk. The reason I want these openings is so I can see from the kitchen into the living room and out the front door.
All four of walls that require cutting are related to the kitchen. The first is between the kitchen and living room (see above). Here's the back side of that wall, inside the kitchen.
The second is between in the kitchen and dining room.
The last wall is between the kitchen and laundry room.
As usual, for me, when it comes to houses, it's once again all about the kitchen. But there's the whole frustrating domino effect, such as the fact that although the kitchen and laundry room cabinets will officially arrive in a few weeks, and son Joe will be here the first week in September from the Czech Republic to install them, the cabinets can't be installed until the walls are cut and finished off.
And the floors cannot be installed in the living room, hallway, dining room and laundry room until the walls are cut, and oh yes, none of that can be done until the concrete pier block footing is poured beneath the living room floor to shore up the post and overhead beam (header, whatever), to mitigate the loss of that one portion of the living room wall.
It would have been so much easier if I'd just left all the walls alone. But the thought of being boxed up in the kitchen made me feel a little crazy. I hope it's all worth it.
And I hope the city grants my permit quickly, despite what I wrote about Stillwater Business Park this week. 😉
Meanwhile, no segue, but a few of you had asked about my workouts. Never fear, I'm still working out at Align, although I confess that having this house remodel is like having a high-maintenance boyfriend, and he's all I think about, to the point where it's hard to make myself show up to work out. But I'm on a schedule, and the Align folks will hunt me down if I don't show up. So I keep going.
I bring healthy snacks in a little insulated bag with me to the house, where I hang out and even work on my laptop until the inside temperatures get unbearable.
But as of today, I'll have functioning duct work, which means I can use the air conditioning. I'll have a fully rat-free attic, and a house with every access blocked to rats or opossums or any other critters that foolishly attempt entry. Of course, I will still have the pest guy set traps in the attic, and outside, and in the garage, and by the water heater, and anywhere else I can think of, for good measure.
I'm not out of the rat woods yet.
But at least I have air conditioning.