Bats! (Baseboards!)

In my attempt to be light-hearted about the topic, I mistakenly led many of you to believe that we’re not serious about the dangers in keeping bats.

Thank you for all your calls, comments, and emails.  We’re not keeping them, so you can rest at ease.

I like to think that I’m a level-headed person, rarely over-reacting about the challenges of my life.  And I obviously would like you to believe the same, or I might have provided you more detailed information about last weekend’s “oh my god, do something; we’re all going to die of rabies” tirade, directed at none other than Ben, of course.

When we moved in, one of the first things I wanted to do (i.e., wanted Ben to do) was fix the gaps in the walls of Matthew’s room.  Of course, I also wanted to fix up the back porch, paint everything, replace the bedroom doors, re-do the kitchen, replace the windows, among other things.  In fact, one of the first things I wanted to do (i.e., wanted Ben to do) when we moved in was everything.

So some things were put aside.

The upstairs was rebuilt after a fire in the 70s, and the new walls were not as deep. They covered the original floors with particle board and carpet (two layers!), so there was no previous concern for these gaps.

One of the larger gaps in Matthew’s room. Ben filled in most of the large gaps with wood last year, but we still needed baseboard to cover up the rest of the gaps, up to a half-inch.

And then there were bats.

Last weekend was horrible.  I was suffering from a double-day migraine, and Ben and I were suffering from an inability to communicate.  It was nearly impossible to figure out what we were doing, as too many projects often loom over us, and we hadn’t even agreed on a trim for the upstairs.  But something had to be done, and I said something like, “I don’t care anymore, just get whatever and fix Matthew’s room before one of the bats has rabies and bites one of the kids!”

Pleasant, huh?  I’m sure I’m softening it up a bit because I seem to remember that at the time I would not shut up.  (Poor Ben.)

I’m telling you this because I want you all to know that, if nothing else, we are well-educated about wildlife and rabies.  There have been a few cases of rabid animals in our area, and our public health department has definitely educated our community.  Foxes, skunks, and bats — we stay away from them.  Last year there was even a local case of a girl who contracted rabies, did not receive prophylaxis treatment, and survived.

This isn’t to say that there are a lot of rabid animals around these parts.  Less than 1% of bats carry rabies, and I don’t think that percentage is much different in our county; I am confident when I tell my irrational self to calm the fuck down.

We don’t even know how the bats were getting in. In April, we assumed they had flown in through an open door.  And a few times, when discovering a bat in our cat’s mouth, we thought he might have brought it in.  And of course, there are those nights when our dog is growling at the wall in our bedroom.  However, there were just a few too many cases of bats in our house.  So… baseboards: Done.

Wall and baseboard in Matthew’s room.

Windows (Part 1)

This is a complicated topic for me.

I love old glass. I love how it melts and distorts and changes the view.  I love the kaleidoscope effect it has as I look through the window while walking across the room.

I love old wood. I love the character of it, the chips and splinters. I love the energy it absorbs over the decades, and how it radiates warmth to the touch.

I love classic styles.  And I abhor plastic.

When we moved in, I wanted to repair the windows. Preserve the classic beauty and style of wood sash windows.  How can I buy a 120-year-old house and install vinyl windows?  How could I not maintain the integrity of the architectural style?

I wanted to know every alternative to vinyl windows. I talked to everyone that had them, and everyone that didn’t.  I saw the cheaper vinyl windows that were falling apart. I saw the high-end vinyl windows with disappearing screens.  And to this day, as I’m walking through the neighborhood, I study the houses with them, and without.

Windows aren’t normally cost-effective to change.  Energy-saving guides don’t recommend changing the windows as a first step toward insulating the home.

But then again, they haven’t seen my windows.

A half-inch gap between bottom rail and stool.

Sash cords and pulleys are completely painted over.

Nails have been “installed” as locking mechanisms (and painted over).

Stool has many chips out of it. I assume it’s from many times the window has been painted over, and then pried open. (This window is by the back door. We’ve used it ourselves to climb in when we were locked out by Sam.)

The locks are in disrepair and often screwed into wood that’s rotting.

Some windows without pulleys have sash bolts, completely painted shut of course.

Sash locks, painted many times.

Another gap.

What do you think of vinyl windows on an old house?  Tacky?

The Garage: Phase 1 – The Roof

The work on the garage has begun.

Could that statement be any more passive?  Could I be any more passive?  When I say the work has begun, I mean that Ben has started.  I’m honestly just sitting around.

Ben and Jerome Craig will tear off the old roll-on roofing asphalt this weekend, repair loose decking, and start putting on a new roof.

He started tearing up the roof about 10 days ago and then it’s been raining off and on since. The roof leaked before. I haven’t bothered to see how much water is sitting on the floor (green shag carpet!).

View From Our Bedroom

Our bedroom is in the southwest corner of our house, so we get the sunset views.

Our first night in the house, November 2011. Sunset from our window.  The tree on the far right can be seen in the midleft of the next photo.

Sunset in May 2012, from the same bedroom window.  The sun moves a lot up here near the 41°.


The Living Room (East)

I believe this was the original dining room. But we have no way of knowing. For now, it’s the yellow room.

When we first moved in, I wasn’t sure how to refer to these two rooms, which are seemingly one.  It was suggested that I name them after folks I know, such as the Chet room, and the Roe room.  But I couldn’t decide, and indecision lead to passivity, and before I knew it, Sam had the rooms named by color.

The east side of our living room, as seen from the other side. We want to build built-in bookshelves along that whole wall. It will be amazing. Someday.

The yellow room is home to the blue drop-leaf table (against the right wall), the stove (left wall), and the red nesting tables (straight ahead).  Heh. Nice chandelier, huh? We can’t even be bothered to put another bulb in.

This is the darkest room in the house, due to the structure attached to our back porch. (Gosh, I haven’t even showed that to you yet. What an ugly mess. But it’s been a nice dry storage area, and the cats really appreciate the shelter.)

It’s hard to get an accurate photo of the two wall colors together. I mean, it’s hard because I have children underfoot and I was interrupting March Madness when I took this picture.  The green is warmer than shown here. 

The old Zenith radio cabinet -- bought at an estate sale for $10. White doily -- from Grandma's house. Lamp -- locally passed-down. Painting -- copy of Georgia O'Keeffe's "Pansy 1926"

Did you see that bookshelf? Books are stacked two-deep, and we still have more boxes of books.  We were previously living in a rental that had built-in shelves everywhere, and we passed on the extra bookcases we had.  (I know we could get rid of some, but then how would we fill our built-in shelves?)