Tag Archives: house

Good-bye, Ron

Today, I bought a sander.

Actually, no, I shouldn’t start there. I should start last winter.

Last winter, I moved out of my master bedroom. Yeah, last winter. I’m not the fastest when it comes to home improvement projects. Last winter, I was a little alarmed that my window kept frosting up all the time. Sure, they’re old windows, but they hadn’t done that the previous year.

My room started smelling a bit funny too. I thought maybe I was being negligent with the laundry or something, but the smell was still there after I gave the whole room a thorough cleaning. Once the frosted window thawed a bit, I got a hint about what the problem might be. Well, it took me a bit to realize the black grungy stuff wasn’t just dirt. It was mold.

Ick. Mold. I panicked a bit. All those Dateline NBC exposés about Deadly Black Mold Lurking In Your Walls! had me a bit nervous. I don’t know how long it’s been a problem, either. I moved out of the bedroom and into the basement. And I started to look around.

I’d always thought it was a bit odd that there was wood paneling on the back wall of the bedroom. The same sort of wood paneling that’s in my basement. (The house is from the 70s. What do you expect?) With the mold, I was suddenly suspicious. In a rare fit of DIY energy, I got out the crow bar and ripped the wood paneling down.

From Ron

Fortunately, there wasn’t any mold underneath. Just a bare, plaster wall and nail holes from the wood paneling. And thick, black glue that had been holding the paneling on. I guy named Ron put up the paneling. I know because he wrote his name on my wall. In glue.

It’s stubborn stuff, too. I tried scraping and chiseling it off, but I was doing more damage to the plaster than to the glue. I tried sanding with a manual sander, and I made a little progress, but it would take years at that rate to get it all off. I tried a heat gun, thinking that maybe there was a coat of paint under the glue, but no, it’s just plaster. Which is odd, since it means that that wood paneling has been up since the house was sold. Meaning a professional thought, in his professional wisdom, that wood paneling was a good thing to have in a master bedroom. Only in the 70s. I blame Ron.

Today I picked up a power sander and I’m making good progress on the glue. Ron is gone, at least. I’m covered in plaster dust and it feels a bit gross. The window is going to be replaced on Tuesday. Once I get the glue off, I can start spackling the holes and chips and start sanding that. Then I can clean up the mess.

Ice-Free Eaves

Apparently having not learned my lessons from last winter’s leaky roof adventure, I didn’t quite get around to cleaning the leaves out of the eaves troughs before the snow came. Over the last couple weeks, ice was starting to build up again.

In my defense, there was only about a week between the leaves falling off the trees and the snow starting, and the snow hasn’t let up since. I was hoping the Looj would help me out, but it didn’t fit. I called some maintenance company about an estimate, but haven’t heard back.

So I was pretty much on my own. As I was saying, the it’s been looking pretty grim as the snow hasn’t let up. Until today. A Saturday.

Today, miraculously, the temperature drifted briefly above 0°C. That was my cue, and I sprung into action.

I hooked up the rubber hose to the hot water tap in the garage, got a chisel-like device, climbed up on the ladder and chunk by damp, icy chunk, removed the leaves from the eaves troughs.

They work much better now.

I only did the L-shaped section bordering the back patio. That’s the only part that’s been giving me trouble (the ice really likes to build up in the L-corners of roofs, it seems), and it was most easily accessible by ladder. I ended up very wet by the end, and my hands ended up dyed bluish-black from the gloves I was wearing. The ladder ended up a little bit icy. I’ve put the damn thing away till the spring. I hope I don’t need it again.

I’m really going to have to work on getting someone to help me out with this maintenance stuff, since I can’t seem to keep up with it all. I’m just glad I was able to get this horrible weight off me, especially since I’ll be home in Belleville the next few weekends.

Haru, The Unwanted Kitty

Ellen and I have been seeing each other for a year now, and I’m very happy about that. I’m not going to talk about that so much, though.

[Haru looking forlorn] When Haru came to live with me two years ago, it was kinda meant to be a temporary thing. I did kinda realize at the time, though, that when a cat comes to live with you, it’s generally not likely to leave.

And honestly, all things being equal, I would have been perfectly okay with that. He’s a minor burden in some ways: I have to get someone to come check up on him if I take off for more than a weekend, for example, but generally, it’s really nice to have someone to greet me at the door when I get home, and he’s gotten much more friendly and cuddly over the years. He needs a bit of attention and play time, but he’s not really that much trouble. If my life had carried on as it was, I don’t think I’d mind one bit having him around for the next ten to fifteen years.

But, as is often the case with these things, my life hasn’t carried on like that. That’s not at all a bad thing.

Ellen’s very allergic to cats. And other things too, of course, but if I ever want any chance of her being able to come in my house, there can’t be any traces of a cat having lived there. The fact that a cat is living here means that my house (which I really like, by the way) is totally off limits to her. She’s never been inside.

Now, I very much enjoy all the time I spend at her house, but it would be nice if she could come over and see me once in a while. It’s going to be a lot of work getting the house into a state where she can visit (and keeping it there as well), but I think it’s worthwhile to make the attempt. There’s no point in even starting any of that work while Haru still lives here.

So I have a problem. My ideal solution would be to find a friend for him to go and live with so I could go and visit him sometimes. I don’t know how likely that is. After that, it’s probably putting up “free to a good home” signs at work or possibly the Humane Society, which I’d prefer not to have to do.

I’ve been procrastinating on this for a while, because really, I’d rather not have to contemplate getting rid of the little guy. I’ve grown somewhat attached. He’s a sweet kitty with his own little personality. He’s affectionate and playful and just wants a little attention from time to time. He deserves a good home, and if I could, I would have liked to be the one to give it to him.

I’m just sorry I can’t.

Leaves

For the record, a “day”, for NaBloPoMo purposes, begins when I wake up and ends when I go to sleep. So this counts as Sunday’s entry.

I spent most of today (the parts that weren’t spent at Ellen’s, anyway) out in the back yard raking up leaves. Okay, I took plenty of breaks, and really, I only raked up what was on the brick patio. That alone came out to eight yard waste bags. I have a lot of trees.

I’ve decided that the leaves on the lawn are going to stay on the lawn. I have a mulching lawnmower, and it seems to do the trick admirably. We’ll see how the lawn turns out. I’ve got a few bald patches, and I have a feeling that my overseeding in September didn’t take. Apparently you’re supposed to water new seed. Every day. We’ll see if any comes up in the spring, but I’m not entirely hopeful.

I’ve still got lots of leaves clogging up the eaves troughs. After last year’s roof leaking adventures, I’m definitely going to get someone in to do it. I’m just a little bit too terrified of being up on ladders to do it myself. I was up there doing a little bit–clearing out where the leaves clog things up the most: at the downspouts and at the one corner. This really needs to get done properly, though.

Speaking of buying stuff, when iRobot announced their gutter-cleaning robot, the Looj, I was all over it, putting in a pre-order. It came in about a month ago, and I put it together and tried it out shortly after. The leaf-spewing spinny front thing works really well, spewing leaves all over the place. However, it appears that my eaves troughs are slightly too narrow. The Looj’s tank treads couldn’t get traction.

I’m planning on writing them a letter. I’m not going to ask for my money back, because I honestly think it’s a fantastic idea. I’m just sad it didn’t work out for me. So I’ll have to hire someone instead.

Overseeding

This summer’s been pretty hard on my lawn. I don’t water the damn thing, because seriously, if it can’t cope on its own, it deserves what it gets.

While I’m doing quite a bit better than most of my neighbours, the bald patches have been growing and weeds are moving in.

Since I’ve moved into the house, I’ve been researching and mulling over ideas of gardening and lawn care as essentially ecosystem management. Let’s face it, the average suburban lawn is about as unnatural as you can get. But I can make my life a lot easier by doing a kind of horticultural judo. I provide the conditions by which a nice-looking lawn-type-thing can prosper, and by which annoying non-lawn things are naturally disadvantaged.

About all I’ve been doing since I moved in has been mowing infrequently (I should do that more, albeit at the mower’s highest setting), and hand-pulling dandelions (and thistles and crab grass, but mostly dandelions). I hate dandelions.

This weekend, I put down a bit of top soil and sowed a hardier, drought-tolerant grass seed.

Apparently Labour Day weekend is a good time for overseeding, since the dew in the morning will help the seedlings without me having to water. I’m watering a little bit to get it germinating, but after this week, it’s on its own.

This is an experiment. We’ll see how it goes. I’m thinking I’ll repeat the process in the spring, although I think I need to get a bit more aggressive laying down the top soil. Even though I’m a bit loathe to do it, I think I’m going to fertilize in a month or so.

If all goes well, my lawn should be all green and wavy next year.