Sunday, July 22, 2007

Short Takes from Lanesville 1

or.....Cats, Bugs, and Other Critters......

Needless to say (but I'll say it anyway), renovating the house in Lanesville was an enormous undertaking. It was made even more so by living in it at the same time.

One of the more critical upgrades was getting the kitchen redone and usable. When we bought the property there were two major problems with the kitchen (and many minor ones). First of all, we couldn't get the water through the pipes. The city came to turn on the main at the street and nothing happened. Seems the main water line had become so clogged with sediment that it had to be replaced (along with all the lead and galvanized pipes changed to copper). Then there was the drain (sewer) problem. When Vivienne's parents had put in the kitchen and the half bath, the sewer line was run to an abandoned well near the brook that ran through the property, under the road and remained underground until it reached the ocean. Mildly put, not good. And not working due to a collapsed pipe. Ah well, kitchen demolition!

And......oh yuck. We tore the kitchen apart and hauled all the cabinets and metal sink unit to the dump. We left around 6:30 a.m. The neighborhood was still quiet and asleep. What a huge pile we had loaded on the truck with the metal sink/cabinet atop it all.

Until we got to the Rockport town line when that metal cabinet and sink flew off the truck and became a crashing, clanging alarm clock. How embarrassing. We pulled over, reloaded, and TIED it on! After the dump, we returned to finish tearing apart the kitchen. We needed to insulate the walls and also raise a window to fit over the new cabinets we would install. Doc started on the walls using a huge pry bar. That's when we noticed things moving.....

Like giant black waves, thousands upon thousands of carpenter ants flowed endlessly out on to the kitchen floor. Doc kept yanking wallboard down and I stood behind him with the ant poison, drowning them as they ran forward in hopes of escape. We found out that the kitchen walls had been insulated with cellulose (soft, wood fiber). This had made a feasting and, for years, breeding ground for the ants. We also found out that their damage extended to the main sill along the back of the house.
Here you see my dad and Doc (in the shadows) replacing a 12X12X10 foot section of the sill after jacking up the back of the house! Also, although the rest of the house had plaster and lathe walls, apparently when the kitchen was installed they decided to use homasote (sp?) for wallboard. This is a gray, cardboard-ish composite. But this is not the main emphasis of this story.....

At the time that we were ripping apart the kitchen, we were sleeping in the parlor on the sleep sofa. We were exhausted after working demolition all day and battling the sea of ants. It felt good to crash in bed that night, even with thoughts of crawly things! We slept well and awoke the next morning ready to make our morning run to the dump. Doc got up first, dressed and started to put on his work boots. First the left, then the right. But wait, the right boot wouldn't fit. Maybe a sock was down inside? Doc stuck his hand all the way in to the toe of his boot and felt something soft. Ahhh, must be some of the old cellulose insulation, he thought. He pulled his hand out and tipped the boot upside down with a bit of a shake. The prideful strut of our cat, Tiffany, should have been the tip off. As the boot was shaken, out fell one dead mouse, lovingly left where "daddy" would find it!

Good kitty.....sort of.

2 comments:

dickiebo said...

I think that they should have paid you to have that house. Blimey, full marks for perseverance & perspicacity.

deb said...

We called it fun!