Monday, August 30, 2010

My Dogs Outsmart Me Every Time

So, there's been this nest of baby bunnies in my backyard. In an attempt to prevent my dogs from killing them, I've done a couple of things. First, I constructed my patented baby bunny protective enclosure:

I've also minimized the time my dogs spend in the yard. Basically, I've just been letting them out in the yard to pee as soon as I get in from work, before I feed them. During this time, I hover over the bunny enclosure, shooing curious pooches to the opposite end of the yard, encouraging them to hurry up and pee already, so we can go in and leave the bunnies in peace.

This weekend, Bones the Bunny Killer tried to strike again. He's been on steroids, due to an insane allergy attack. This means he pees a lot. He's even peed in the house a few times because he just can't hold it more than an hour or two. So, I've been making increased use of the yard to get us through the steroid phase, letting him out in the yard to pee, because I know he'll just pick a spot immediately and go. He's a smart dog, though, and will run right to the bunny enclosure and pee right there while he madly sniffs away. This weekend, he finally figured out that his paw would fit into the holes of the crate.

Cue panicked baby bunny darting out of the crate, across the yard, out from my fence, and behind my neighbor's trash can. Cue insanely excited pooches, one of whom decides to try and squeeze herself under the fence to get the baby bunny. Cue one panicked human running around, screaming, trying to get the dogs back into the house. It was a madhouse. The dogs were finally herded back into the house, and I attempted to return the baby bunny to the nest. What I didn't know then, and what my research has told me this morning, is that this bunny is now ready to live on its own...

Twice, I tried to stick him back in the nest with his brothers and sisters and twice he scooted away and tried to hide elsewhere. I finally gave up, re-covered the nest with the crate, and left the yard, hoping he would head back on his own if he felt like it. This morning, when I checked the nest, all of the bunnies were gone. They really were ready! That, or a cat got them. I'm choosing to believe that they are out in the wide world of yards, making trouble for someone else's dogs.

Squirt has now achieved the label of murderer. Apparently, the bunnies still sort of hang around the yard they were born in. One of the babies just didn't bounce out of the fence quickly enough last night, and he met his demise in the jaws of slobbering fiend. May he rest in eternal bunny peace. I made the spouse perform the clean up work. And now I know to check the yard for lingering bunny babies BEFORE I let the monsters loose.

Friday, August 20, 2010

You don't want this to happen when you are in the midst of a renovation.

Phone rings.

I answer.

An automated recording from my credit card company's security department tells me that they have noticed suspicious activity on my account and need me to verify the last several transactions. When they get to the "money transfer at a Western Union," I scratch my head. Yeah, that one was not me, nor was it the spouse. Thus, pressing the appropriate button, I am transferred to a customer service representative, informed by this person that my cards are being canceled effective NOW, and new cards will be sent to me in 7-10 business days.

Yeah, that's just what you want to hear when you are renovating a house. Your primary purchasing source has just been shut down, and you must scramble to set up the back up purchasing source.

For the record, both credit cards are in my and the spouse's possession, so this is a case of someone, somehow, getting a hold of my information electronically or by snapping a photo of the card, copying down the number, whatever. Sigh. The price of life in the present, I suppose. This is the second time that my card has been replaced for security reasons.

A big thank you to the security department at Citi. You are on top of your game.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dumb Rabbits

I am a firm believer in evolution, and the whole "survival of the fittest" shebang that goes with it. However, when a bunny mommy is dumb enough to make her nest in my fenced back yard, the yard where my three psychotic Labradors run, dig, and eat rabbit poop, well, I just can't stand by and let "nature" (i.e. Bones the Bunny Killer) take its course.

I took a vacation day yesterday, in the hopes of catching up on minor and miscellaneous errands and chores that have piled up in my life. CPM and I spend all of our free weekend time working at the new house, and the rest of the weekend time we spend recovering from working at the new house (in other words, eating out and sleeping). Unfortunately, my day off began a bit earlier than I would have liked, as the early morning "get in the yard and pee so I can go back to sleep for another hour" trip was interrupted when Squirt discovered a baby bunny nest. Luckily, she's just curious, and not into killing things, so she was simply digging the protective grass away to take a peak when I heard the baby bunny screaming. (Have you ever heard a baby bunny scream? It's blood curdling.) I ran from the other end of the yard to intervene.

I know the sound, you see, because a few years back, Bones found a similar nest in a similar location in the yard. I thought he had found a squeaky toy lodged behind the air conditioner. Nope. It was a baby bunny, that he promptly shook by the neck until it stopped screaming. He got another one out of the nest before I was able to convince him to move and end the play. Once the babies were dead, he lost interest. Yes, my dog just wants to play with baby bunnies. Too bad play time is fatal.

So, I herded my now super excited dogs back into the house, returned to the yard to assess the damage (none, phew), then had a minor panic attack. WTF. A quick google search told me what I needed to know about baby bunny nests: do not disturb/remove them unless they are hurt or you know mom is dead. Mom comes back at dusk and dawn to feed them, so you can cover them up at all other times if you have to, but get the cover off at night so mom can return to feed them. Hence, I spent a portion of my morning at Lowe's purchasing a milk crate and some bricks to weight it down. Yes, I can keep my dogs out of the yard for the few weeks the babies need to mature, but I'm more concerned now that my lawn guy will run them over.

I tried to take a photo, but unfortunately, baby bunnies must have some kind of protective force field around them against cameras, because my iPhone's camera just froze up each time I attempted the shot. Instead, take a look at this heinous wallpaper that we uncovered in the kitchen/hallway at the new place. It's horrifying.

New House Textures

Monday, August 16, 2010

One bite at a time.

Many times this weekend, I was forced to use CPM's motivational question on myself. I don't know where he got it, but it certainly helps to get me through the moments where I feel overwhelmed:

"How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time."

We spent the entire weekend at our new place continuing to demolish things. I never realized just how much stuff there is to demolish when you are renovating an entire house (all 900 square feet, just imagine if it were bigger). Just when you think that you are "almost done," you realize that you are not even close to almost done. In fact, you are so far from done that you better just go sit in the back yard and hyperventilate for a few moments, then run to Lowe's, then get lunch, then come back and face the mess some more. Thus far, we have produced 50 cubic yards of trash. Another 30 yard dumpster is arriving today. I feel confident that this too will be filled before we are done.

But really, I do feel like we are "almost done" the demo. Har. Har. Har.

The new house is a single level (with a basement). It has a peaked's basically shaped exactly like those houses you drew as a kid, a square with a triangle on top. One of CPM's first renovatory ideas was to vault the ceiling throughout the first floor. Since I'm only five feet two inches tall, fourteen foot ceilings were not a priority for me, but CPM insisted, so I'm along for the ride. It will look fabulous when it is done, I have no doubt. I just hope we get to live in it before December.

Oh, vaulting will be so easy CPM says. We just need to tear down this existing ceiling, and voila, VAULT! But wait, what's that, above the ceiling? A flat roof? This house had a flat roof first? And then they put the peaked roof on top of the flat roof? Okay, so we just also have to cut the flat roof out of the way, to expose the peak. And how many times did they coat the flat roof with tar BEFORE finally deciding to put the peak on? Okay, we'll just peel the four layers of tar off and then cut out the roof boards.

Luckily, I wasn't the one who spent two days in the tightly confined spaces between roofs, cutting and shaving tar off of roofing boards. No, I just got to assist in lugging the tar pieces to the dumpster and sweeping up and disposing of the assorted crap that rained from the ceiling. (It's no wonder that I decided to spend a portion of my Sunday, crow bar in hand, attacking the basement, demoing walls and ceilings by myself. In my mind, it was a far cleaner task.) We're about two-thirds of the way through opening up the ceiling. My goal is to be ready for framing during the first week of September.

I took no pictures this weekend, because to my eye, it all looks like "mess." I may try to go over tonight and get some shots. I'm supposed to be documenting this process after all.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Ah, where do I begin?

For weeks, I have been hinting both here and on Facebook that "something" was happening in my life on July 30. Since that date has now passed, and the "something" is done, I feel comfortable sharing the news: CPM and I bought a new house! We are moving out of the city and into the burbs! Settlement was July 30.

First, I must share my insanity, my reason for being so reticent online about such wonderful news. I am superstitious. Insanely so. During the purchase process, I kept worrying that I would wake up one morning and the seller would have changed their mind, or the mortgage company would have laughed at us, and the deal would have fallen through. I convinced myself that if I said one word about the deal online, that it would crumble into dust. Hence, I stuck to hinting. And the deal was completed.

There were some typical stressful mortgage company antics in the days leading up to settlement, but since this was our second time going through the mortgage process, we were prepared for most of them. The most uncool antic was the call that I had to make to the IRS 20 minutes before our pre-settlement walk through. Immediately upon completing that call, I made CPM drive me right to the wine store.

You may be wondering what motivates us to move out of the city of Philadelphia, the city I have grown up in, a city that I often pretend to hate but actually love. It is just time. That's the best way I can put it. After 10 years living in and improving our current home, we are ready to move on to a new project. We are ready to sit in a yard instead of on a stoop, surrounded by trees and listening to crickets.

So, within hours of being handed the keys to our suburban abode, we began the renovation process. I'm documenting it here. The highlight of our first weekend at the house had to be the moment we found the first of two gigantic squirrel nests that were in our ceilings.

Disgusting Squirrel Nest

It made me glad that I was geared up like this for the demo process:

Safety Gear

I keep expecting some squirrel commando unit to be waiting for us when we return to the house. So far, we've been safe. I also imagine that the squirrels may have hired some skunks to hit us or our dogs when we least expect it. Perhaps a raccoon assassin will make an appearance. (Note to readers: I'm currently copyrighting squirrel commando unit, skunk attack squads, raccoon assassins and any and all childrens books that result from these ideas.) Ah, country life. When I start complaining about cars exceeding the 25 mph speed limit, you'll know I've really gone over to the other side.

I have to take a moment now to officially thank all of the friends who made an appearance over our first demo weekend. Without them, we would not have made such incredible progress. I am so appreciative of their support and work. Demo is a thankless job, especially in the heat of summer. Luckily, we had perfect, non-humid summer weather all weekend. Even still, it was hot, hard work, and I commend anyone who performs such physical labor on a daily basis. As for me, I like my air-conditioned desk job. So, thank you friends, for sweating along with CPM and me.

CPM and I are now busy designing the new interior. I want to start getting excited for picking paint colors, tile, appliances, etc., but when your house looks like this

Demo, Post Day 4

it's hard to think past the mess.