31 March 2009

The Newton Woodchuck Project

Does anyone remember that movie from almost 10 years ago, the Blair Witch Project? Remember how those kids sat around in the woods really freaked out with flashlights shining on their faces? Well that's kind of how I'm feeling right now. Except I'm not in the woods. And it's not dark out so I don't need a flashlight to dramatically light myself. And I don't have a runny nose or a video camera. But I am oh so scared.

Every time the house creaks or the girls make a noise I'm on high alert looking which way and that to plan my escape/find an effective bludgeoning instrument to survive the woodchuck attacker. As of last night Tim almost had me convinced that the woodchuck had left and it was just a little ground squirrel in the library. See this is why our relationship works so well. Tim makes up completely irrational stories to explain away things he doesn't want to deal with. And I support him in this by being stupidly gullible. For the most part it works for us. That is until I go and do something like take Molly's potty stool out to peek in the window of the library. It's very hard to be gullible when you are looking right at the woodchuck.

Now tonight Tim will return home (well, unless he reads this first and then I'll bet he'll make every effort not to), and I will demand that he take care of the situation. Yes, I could and really should do it myself. But I see claiming to be a sissy around wild animals as being one of the perks of being a girl. The cons of course include menstruating and never being able to beat your husband at arm wrestling competitions. Tim will try and convince me that I don't know the difference between a woodchuck and a ground squirrel, and that it was yes, a really big ground squirrel. I will act all insulted for him thinking I'm stupid, even though technically I was stupid last night, and sulk around the house. Then he will eventually give in and try to fix the situation.

Of course, my day will not be complete unless I share this gem with you that he told me on the phone this morning when I called after the woodchuck visual. "Just calm down. It gives you something to blog about."

30 March 2009

Where's The Supervision?

After reading this post at House In Progress a few months back I now sometimes ask myself this and laugh. You've gotta scroll down to about comment #16. And then her reply the next day.

So last Friday afternoon Molly gets up from her nap and I'm on Facebook (and I thought blogging was a time suck) so she's running back and forth from the office. I get done, close down the computer, and she comes running in say "Mama I put the stickers on the table." "Oh, OK." I reply obviously not yet thinking. Then it hits me. I walk into the kitchen to see the kitchen table mercifully clean. Molly looks up at me and says, "No, not that table. In here." and heads for the living room. I obediently follow behind to find this...

Lucky for her I am distracted by some banging and a snarling noise coming from the basement. So we high tail it to the upstairs, and I call Tim at work in a panic. He convinces me to go back downstairs and go into town to my mothers. Which I do.

Last night he went into the basement to see if the rat poison was gone. It wasn't. That apparently doesn't work. He set a trap, but came upstairs convinced that it was gone. I hope he's right.

Here's the great thing about houseblogging. You find out you are never alone. Thanks again for the suggestions Mike!

27 March 2009

Creature Discomfort

Thank goodness Tim and I don't live in the 1800's that all I can say because we would be dead. We are incapable of trapping or shooting anything it seems. In my last post I poked fun at my outdoors-manly brother-in-law, but I do have to say I appreciate him far more than I think he knows. None of the other men in my life share his skill set (well Tim's dad does too, but I want him to think that I'm super smart and cunning so I don't bother him with stupid questions) so he comes in very handy at times like this morning.

Our house sat vacant for about two years. Now I didn't think that was too bad. There was a house down the road from where I grew up that sat for over thirty years before someone refinished it. However, I guess that two years is plenty of time for creatures to become familiar with a house. It seems once they are happy with an area they don't like to move.

I can co-exist with mice. Growing up our farm house always had mice. When they started running around the living room at night while you were watching TV it was time to put out the traps to discourage them a little. We do that here. Last winter we had our first rat. For awhile we told ourselves it was just a really big mouse we hear moving in the walls, but when it started hijacking diapers from the pail we had to confront reality and take care of the situation. We tried multiple kinds of traps and bait with no success. Finally I broke down and let Tim get out the poison.

With bugs it's always that big rush in or out in the spring and fall. For a few weeks I look at them crawling over every available surface on the south side of the house and think I should get out the vacuum, but I mostly just wait until they've found their happy place and then sweep up the dead relatives.

When we first bought the place there was a skunk family that lived in the crawl space in the back of the house. We generally ignored them, having to deal with the stink only when we started up a particularly noisy power tool. When we moved in I decided they had to go so we tried trapping them. We did end up with one right away (since discovering our trapping skills over time I've come to the conclusion that he must have been suicidal), and then nothing again. Tim sat out on the porch for a few nights with a shot gun we had borrowed from his dad with no luck. At this point I was glad we lived on a quiet road because it was probably something that would have generated talk at the local bar had he been seen. So the first couple of years living here we and the remaining members of the skunk family coexisted. A crying baby must have been too much though because shortly after we brought Molly home we never smelt them again.

Two falls ago Tim tore down the old grainery to build his shed. We knew that a woodchuck lived under the thing. We'd see her out and about in the evening sometimes. We just assumed that she would go on her merry way and find a new place to live. Well she did. It just happened to be in the old skunk hole under the back of the house. We figured it out last spring and spent most of the summer trying to trap her.

So last night Tim get out of bed and heads down stairs with out a word to me. I assume he's going down to check his sugar and have a little snack. Well he takes his sweet time so when he gets back I ask what he was doing. "I heard something downstairs." He says and rolls over to go back to sleep. I, of course, ask, "What?" "You don't want to know." He replies. Well he was right. It was the woodchuck. It seems it has transitioned from the crawlspace in the back of the house to the basement area in the middle of the house. What Tim heard was her banging on the duct work at the bottom of the furnace. I guess when he opened the basement door she gave him a less than friendly greeting.

So the rest of the night I had nightmares of her eating her way through the basement door and gnawing my leg off. I must save the children! When Tim called this morning about something he said, "Yeah, I figure I'll come home tonight and they'll be this really fat woodchuck staring at me in the middle of the kitchen." Because you know she's gotta be hungry because there's nothing down there to eat. And that is exactly what we are hoping for. We put a little left over rat poison down there and hopefully by tomorrow night we'll have a dead woodchuck in our basement. Yes, it looks like poison is becoming the Newton family weapon of choice. Now the only thing that's got my pickle (if I lived in the 1800's I'd say that a lot more I'll bet) is that Tim thought someone was in the house and didn't say anything to me. If you are reading this dear, I would like a little notice when about to be killed so I can enjoy the last few minuets of my life. You know, panicking appropriately.

24 March 2009

I'm A Giver

I think Etsy is just cool. Every time I see or hear something about it I go to the site and spend hours looking at stuff. And I tell myself, "Self, next time you have to give someone a gift use this site because the stuff rocks and it's super cool to support craftspeople." Unfortunately that little conversation I have gets lost in my brain space and to this day I have never ordered anything from the site.

After lunch today I was flipping through April's House Beautiful magazine and noticed they had a full spread of stuff from the website. Look at this (Tim the Tiny House Earrings are my favorite, you know just in case you were wondering)! And this! I love these but Tim would hate them. Maybe I could get away with a few in our bedroom, but that would suck because they are too cool not to be seen.

All I can say is Tim's outdoors man, manly man brother Tom better hope I don't get his name in the drawing this Christmas because he so needs this.

22 March 2009

The Return Of The Big Box Shopping Experience Part II

So I must say I had a lovely experience at the Home Depot. Tim on the other hand did not.

Tim ended up re-arranging my plans for me, and so we ate before hand. And supper took much longer than I expected so when we got to the store I sent Tim in search of items for weather-proofing the windows and I headed out in search of refinishing and landscaping items.

The refinishing stuff was right were it was a year ago and so that was a breeze. However, the Home Depot was in the process of creating their outdoor landscaping section and most of that stuff had been moved out there, but it was not yet open. And as I'm figuring this out I notice a college age looking kid right in front of me with the smock on. I approach him, not expecting much, and end up pleasantly surprised. He took me right back into the unopened part and the waited at a courteous distance and didn't make me feel pressured to make a choice so he could go back to re-arranging stuff. And then just as I emerge from the landscaping section I see Tim headed my way with what looks like not even close to what it will take to tackle the window job, but that's his problem now.

So we head for the check outs and of course there is just one open with a line. This does not bother me because three years ago with the housing market was booming there was only one check out open with a line. We wait our turn and when we make it to the front there is a cute and bubbly high schooler at the check out. She greets us like an exited puppy all friendly and I think to myself that yes, this has been a success. I leave Tim to pay the bill and take the cart back to the dead zone where all the used carts gather.

When I return I hear the cashier (now this is not word for word people, I didn't tape the conversation) say, "Oh God, not this song again!" Tim responds, "Do they keep playing the same music over and over again?" I catch the beginning strains of Eric Clapton's I Shot The Sheriff as she replies, "Yes and it's really crappy. It's like all this old stuff my dad listens too." At this point Tim has also recognized the song and gives a little nervous laugh, "Oh yeah, my dad really likes this song too." With that I'm am biting my lip so hard that I'm about drawing blood because Tim owns the CD that this song is on. And I can honestly say I have never heard Lyle (Tim's dad) go on and on about the musical genius of Mr. Clapton. We will not go into how much Tim loves Clapton's Lady In Red. If I was a decent singer I should have sang a line or two of it. The cashier would have thought I was bonkers, but it would have made Tim turn even redder than he was.

But I am on my best-wife behavior and don't do anything to embarrass the poor young thing (the cashier, not Tim). But as soon as we are out those huge automatic doors with our purchases safely in bags I can't hold it in any longer. "So your dad likes Eric Clapton?" "What! Yes, he does." Tim's voice is two octaves higher than usual, "He sings that song every time he hears it. All the time!"

20 March 2009

The Return Of The Big Box Shopping Experience

I never again thought I'd reach this point, the state of being excited to buy home improvement related things. Tonight my mom is watching the girls and we are going to buy home improvement type things. And I am excited. I am going to stimulate some economy, well as much as Tim will let me before yelling at me and then we will sulk all the way home trying to distance ourselves as much as possible as you can in our economy sized car. Yes, it's been a long, long time since I've been able to say I'm excited at the prospect of entering a Home Depot.

You know it's been over a year since I have been to any type of lumber yard, big box store, or even in the home improvement section of the local K-mart? That might not be strange to a normal human being, but to a house blogger it's quite a dry spell. I mean from early spring 2003 until around 2005 we were going weekly to multiple venues. Seriously. And lets just say in that time I developed a aversion to them.

Now before you get all excited an think we have the next big project to start, we don't. I just want to get some things to do a little work on our landscaping, and stuff to seal up the attic windows which I think are a major culprit in our leaking when it rains. Oh and I've got to get some things to finish up the buffet.

So tonight I am going with a fresh outlook. No longer fresh in my mind are the rows and rows of cheaply made items that I know are going to disintegrate the minute they are installed, the smocked help with their don't ask me attitude and hard to find ways, and the end of the evening bill that always ends up in the triple digits even though you are only buying a can of paint and a home improvement magazine. Tonight I am going to expect more. And I am also going to wait to go out for supper when the shopping is done so I can have a few glasses of wine. You know just in case in the last year Home Depot hasn't cleaned up it's act. Here's to optimism!

02 March 2009

Wait... Did Hell Freeze Over?

So remember that piece of furniture I was refinishing? Did you click on the link? Did you notice the title of that post? How it was #1, like there was going to be more posts about it. And then you waited and waited and then you started to think that maybe the buffet fell off the face of the Earth. And then you went on with your normal life and forgot all about it. Well no more my friend! Today the buffet was dragged out of the corner it had been pushed into, and I went at stripping with a renewed zeal that didn't even last until lunch. But fear not I did return after eating.

Now the buffet has been stripped over once. I used Parks gel stripper for the first time. My stepfather had recommended it and it did a decent job. About the same as the Dad's we had used for much of the woodwork in the house. I don't know how the comepair price wise yet since I haven't bought him a replacement for what I used.

I just have to figure out if I'm going to stain it or not. Over the years I've grown partial to non-stained wood, but that could be my sub-conscious trying to save time and those pesky brain cells that die off when you use harsh chemicals.

Something else I'd like to mention. I don't know if I said this or not in the earlier post, but I'm refinishing this at my stepfather's shop in town. Well, I have to say so far that it has been a lovely experience. When we are there together he does his thing and doesn't offer a lick of unsolicited advice, and when I do ask for help is always willing to drop what he's doing and lend a hand. Now this may all back fire for him because I'm having such a lovely time there that I'm thinking of other projects I could do in his warm/well stocked shop.