The Best Laid Plans

Sometime back in the summer, when everyone in my family (but me) and everyone in my wife’s family (but me) were all at a house on the North Carolina coast (all 40-something of them), my two boys (MLI and MLE) conspirated with their two similarly-aged girl cousins from Texas, to get together before Thanksgiving.

Wanting to foster this “cuz-luv,” my wife tried to schedule a “meet in the middle” trip to Memphis, but her brother (father of the girl cousins) wasn’t going for it.

So, my wife, bowing to peer pressure from the boys, scheduled a trip to Dallas, leaving today and returning next Tuesday evening. I would stay home with the recovering dog, and generally enjoy some quiet time.

Seeing as how we also have a daughter who is a good bit younger than the rest of them, we kept trying to convince her NOT to go since “5” is always an odd-person-out, but she had major FOMO and was insistent on going.

So, you remember that part, back when I wrote, “Best Laid Plans”?

This morning, my daughter woke up with a bit of a scratchy throat and, fearing she’d get sicker on the trip, away from the comforts of home, decided to stay home and NOT go on the trip that was scheduled to leave in less than an hour.

OK then. Needless to say, I was mentally ready (OH SO READY) for several quiet days at home, doing catch-up projects, NOT having to cook for anyone, or generally tell anyone I was leaving the house and having to worry whether or not they were safe. There was probably going to be an adult beverage or two. But not now. When you’re home alone with a kid, you can’t ever really let yourself go. You have to always be in physical and mental shape to tackle any emergency–real or imagined.

I also had a massage scheduled (the gift card I’ve been sitting on since Father’s day) and a very large, DIY project. None of that is happening now and in fact, I’m reconsidering the days I took off from work next week to accomplish these things.

I was FINALLY going to tackle this disaster area. How I HATE metal wire shelving!

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I love my daughter y’all like nothing before, but I still haven’t mentally adjusted to weeks of planning to the contrary.

Hey, I ain’t runnin’ no ark over here!

image I’m a handy kind of guy. It’s not that I’m just sooo good with tools and all; more like, I’m just not afraid to try. And believe you me, I’ve screwed up enough stuff in my life that I have learned a bit about homebuilding humility and I know when to call in the experts versus trying to do it myself. Because home ownership is nothing, if it isn’t rife with constant projects that need your attention, I normally spend a good deal of my time at least walking through my basement, even if I’m not actually doing anything there.

As I’ve blogged about ad nauseum lately, I’ve been busy. I haven’t done much around the house. Plus, it’s winter. I mean, seriously…

But this weekend, what with the weather being perfect and all, I found myself with time on my hands to work on a couple of small projects (shelving in a closet) that afforded me the opportunity to spend time in my basement.

And that’s when I discovered that we have a little visitor.

Poop here. Poop there. Poop and torn insulation everywhere!

The little bugger–dare I say RAT-bastard–has apparently made himself quite at home this winter in my absence. I first found his spoor over in the corner after moving a tarp that was lying on the floor. I then tracked his movements around the wall and under the toxic waste dump plastic shelving where I keep all of my chemicals. Which wouldn’t have been so bad, except he completely ignored the 20 things up there that would have killed him, and instead ripped into a 15lb bag of grass seed. He/it also apparently wallered in it like a Sumo wrestler at a Denny’s Breakfast buffet because it too was full of poo!

So now I’m off to the hardware store to try and find something yummy that will kill the thing so that I can, in a week or two, stumble upon his little dead body while tracking down some awful new stench in the house. Good times.

It’s a bird…it’s a plane…no, it’s a…friggin hole in my house!

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Home ownership is not without its rewards. For one, there’s a nice tax advantage to writing off the interest. And of course there’s the whole, “It’s something of my very own that they can never take away from me” fallacy that anyone with a mortgage will tell you is utter crap.

I’m convinced that if mortgage brokers and banks told the truth about owning your own home, that at least a third of the people who now own one, never would. For instance:

  • The tax write off doesn’t equal what you pay
  • On top of your mortgage, tack on an average 15% each month on upkeep
  • If you want to make minor improvements on your home, tack on another 20% each month
  • If you want to upgrade anything on your home, add another 30% each month

…and the list goes on.

I think the most bothersome thing about home ownership though, are the surprises. The little things you never thought about.

Like squirrels.

In the two years that we’ve been in this house, I have trapped and released elsewhere, two squirrels who have taken up residence in my attic above my master bedroom–above my very bed in fact. Their scratching and merriment throughout the night have led to many a clenched sheet and frustrating loss of sleep.

Each time, I’ve tried to find their entry and have failed.

Until yesterday.

Due to some architectural elements in our house, getting around in our attic is a challenge. Getting over to the eaves in the attic is a near impossibility unless you’re Plastic-Man, able to bend yourself around corners and whatnot. (Actually, I hear The Redneck Mommy is “bendy”…).

Anyway, I had a general idea where the little critters were living once they got into the attic, so I put a piece of 2ft by 3ft plywood on the rafters and scooched over towards the eaves. Using a combination of hop and pull maneuvers, while also sliding under ducting and around wiring (in your head, imagine me doing my best Catherine Zeta-Jones “Entrapment” impression), zeta jonesI finally got over to the eaves where I thought the squirrels were living and sure enough, nest-ola! And just beyond the nesting area and, wouldn’t you know it, out of my reach, I found the entryway.

Apparently, someone goofed when they built my house; I can find no other reason for this:home in roofThe back of my house is pretty much a straight line. In fact, as you can see from the air, my house is basically a big rectangle. However, about a third of the way over from the right, it suddenly cuts in about four inches and then runs straight the rest of the way. My only guess is that some construction goober goofed on one side of the house and they had to just fix it and this was the solution.

Anyway, where the two sections meet, there is no gutter and so the rain has slowly deteriorated this part of the roof over the years. I can see where it appears the previous homeowner “patched” it, but the patch was poorly done, leaving a hole the size of a pack of computer paper that the squirrels were using to make themselves at home.

So for nearly two hours yesterday, I removed leaves, twigs, pine tree seedlings, squirrel poop and desecrated insulation, and then after a trip to the local hardware store, patched up the hole as best I could with one arm and zero room to maneuver. It’s not pretty, but there’s not a hole yet that Great Stuff foam insulation couldn’t fill.

Also, I breathed in more than my share of animal poop dust, which my late-night education on the Discovery Channel tells me can be harmful.

I can concur. My sinuses have been killing me ever since. So anyway, if I suddenly start raving and foaming at the mouth, you’ll at least know that it probably has something to do with squirrel crap.

Well, that or kids. Take your pick.

So easy, even a Caveman could do it…

caveWith CareerMom out of town again, it’s just us boys here at the house. Now, when I was single, I was a pretty neat guy. In fact, my condo was usually cleaner than most homes you find today, and I’m still pretty clean, generally speaking. However, I must say that with no estrogen-influence wafting through the house, hygiene and general cleanliness is more of an effort than it normally seems to be.

DIY has a show called, “Man Caves” and it’s basically where a homeowner carves out a spot in the house somewhere, typically a basement, for the man of the house. What the man does down in this area usually revolves around a large-screen television and a wetbar, although I suspect these are just the things publicly disclosed. Well, without CareerMom here, our whole house feels like a Man Cave.

So far, I’ve contemplated not shaving, not brushing my teeth before bed last night and I literally had to drag my butt up today and throw a load of laundry on to wash just so the boys would have some jeans to wear tomorrow should the cool weather hang around. When CareerMom is here, these things aren’t even a conscious decision; I just do them. Without her here, I have to make myself comply. It’s eerie! And this doesn’t even begin to cover how many times someone has said, “I tooted!”
I’m not sayin’ that I said that, just that someone has said it on numerous occasions. If you haven’t noticed yet, fart humor is highly prized by the “Boys under 10” crowd.

Now, in my defense, part of this has to do with the fact that when CareerMom is here, I have help–I’m not doing everything myself. So by the time I have a few minutes to myself–like now–catching up on the household chores is about the last thing on my mind.

Oh, and let me complain for just a second here: CareerMom arranged for her mom to pick up the boys from Daycare tomorrow evening to give me a bit of a break. But the catch is, I have to pick them up by 6:30.

6:30?

At the risk of sounding ungrateful…um…why bother? That’s like a whole hour later than I’d normally have them home anyway. And I’m betting there will be no free dinner involved either. Wow! What ever will I do with myself for that extra hour?

Probably the dishes.