TOH Part 1

I am a month or so behind on documenting our move. This month has been a black hole of time and energy. I have lost weight from the constant business of moving into a new old home. We knew it would be work. We knew it would be a level of effort to bring it into the 21stcentury. We were correct.

Tom Hanks starred in a great movie called The Money Pit. A young couple buys a charming old home and it basically falls apart at every turn until their marriage is on the rocks, constant construction is the norm, and one of them has sex with a guy in the symphony. Our ongoing adventure has felt a little like that at times, minus the affair with a musician and marital issues. Consider the next few blogs a potpourri of those stories. I will call them This Old House Part x, or TOH for short.


Our first day was a whirlwind. We signed away our old home, bought our new one, and backed the moving van into the driveway. We walked to the front door, slid in the brass key, and turned right and left with the force of an industrial torque wrench. Nothing happened. The eons of patina that had built on the deadbolt held it steadfastly in place. No matter, there were two other doors. The carport door opened right up. On the counter was a bottle of champagne and a note wishing us well in our new home. The previous owners, Mr. Richard and Mrs. Kay, left a trinket treasure hunt for the girls all around the house. So far, they have located teacups, an old pen, a photo of Dr. Langdon, an arrowhead, a metal rose, and some blueprints.

Various friends and family members showed up to help us move and every one of them came at the exact right time. I can definitely say that we would not have survived this process without them. A special thanks to Familydoctormom and her husband for serving us the first ever meal in our new home. A delicious spread of Rock’n Dough pizza.

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Lady Bug was the only one adequately prepared for this move. 

Supermom released the dogs to explore their new home and within thirty-five seconds, Jasper took a shit in the foyer. “Joy! Let me find those packed paper towels.” He has never had a poop issue in the house so I assume he was showing his displeasure from being in his box all day. The dogs’ potty issues would turn out to be a continuous theme. We were all accustomed to having a fenced backyard. I plan on fencing in a portion of our new one but it is further down the list.

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It isn’t home if a dog or child hasn’t soiled it yet. 

Closer to the top of the list – a home for Bindi; our wallaby who is living in the basement at my mother’s house. We are making good progress in that area. When all is said and done I think racecars would be a cheaper hobby than our exotic rabbit deer. But again, I am ahead of myself.

There were some specific items we wanted to update. Item number one was carpet. The existing carpet was plush and dense but there is something about carpet that needs regular changing. My best guess is that the existing carpet had been in place since the 1980’s.

We got a price from a local company to put in some new flooring and one of the line items was “Removal”. I remembered that one of our dogs removed half a room of carpet in thirty minutes so I figured that would be an item that we could complete ourselves to save some money. I was right but my scheduling was ambitious. We agreed to the carpet installation on a Monday morning and we only had two days to get things ready.

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So carpet over hardwood was a thing for a while. 

Nothing will make you feel more at home than getting down on hands and knees to pick out a billion staples with a pair of pliers. You learn a lot about a place. We found hardwood under the stairs. We found old water damage in Delaney’s bedroom. We found old termite damage in the master bedroom. Neither problem is currently active which is good to know also. The carpet installers spent two days getting our new floors in place. They did an excellent job and I bet they would have been fantastic at removal too.

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Floor done. Walls next. 


My story from the Struggle Bus today is the story of our new dishwasher.

It all started one evening when I tried to cook a pizza. I turned on the oven and as it warmed I noticed a strange smell. A strong vaporous cloud that had hints of sweet, sour, and old grease. My first thought was from a few years back when a mouse made a home in the top of our stove. We turned off the oven and went on with life. I added the smell to the list of things to work on “later”. A day later I loaded up the dishwasher and started it on the normal cycle. I was impressed with the efficiency of the dishwasher because the outlet into the disposal only had a trickle of water during the pump-down cycle. Then, during the heat dry cycle, the strange smell returned. It was more overpowering from the dishwasher and we actually had to stay out of the kitchen for about half an hour. We had planned on appliances anyway so we purchased some a arranged to have them delivered a couple of days later.

On the day the appliances arrived we couldn’t start the install until that evening because of work and life. I tackled the dishwasher first because it would probably take the longest. A few wood screws were holding the dishwasher in place. I removed them and started to slide the unit out. The smell that rolled out from behind the dishwasher was familiar. All of the girls including Supermom gathered around to watch me work. When the dishwasher was about halfway out of the cabinet, something large and grey ran across my foot and under the stove. I let out a, “Oh holy fudge!” My audience didn’t see the rat so they asked, “What? What?!”. I said, “A rat” and they screamed and jumped up on whatever was close. It was so funny that I took out my phone and took a picture. While looking at my pictures I realized that Prima has the strongest survival instincts.

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This is the face of a woman questioning all her previous life decisions. Notice Prima opening the window. That kid is gonna make it. 

So the smell was indeed a rodent living under the stove and pooping under the dishwasher. Our dishwasher was not a high efficiency model, the rat had eaten the drain hose completely in half. The water had been running out through a hole in the floor. Awesome.

I was standing in the kitchen with a dishwasher half in the floor and the knowledge that a large rat was under the stove. My choices seemed limited.

We built a barrier of foam boards that were supposed to be a multicultural market school project. I put on boots and got some gloves. I slowly slid the stove out from the wall. The space under the cabinet was open on both sides. I lowered my phone into the gap to take a picture so I could assess the situation at a safe distance.

Right side = no rat.

Left side = no rat.

Superhuman power of deduction… –> the rat is in the stove.

We lightly strapped the stove to the furniture dolly and moved it into the carport with all of the other abandoned appliances that I’m sure have convinced my neighbors that rednecks are taking over the neighborhood. I checked and rechecked all the possible rat entrance/exit locations and the stove was the most probable location. With it safely in the carport I went back to removing the dishwasher. The plywood was completely soaked with rat pee and sealed with a layer of turds. I poured an entire container of cat litter under the counter to try and pull out the moisture. I noticed a hole in the floor that was probably the entrance location. I also noticed that the dishwasher supply line wasn’t connected under the sink like most lines and that there was not a place to turn the water off. That means I couldn’t remove the old dishwasher without turning off the water and immediately reconnecting the new one. I grabbed a wrench and went to the water meter at the road. Somehow in the process of turning the water off I pulled a muscle that runs from just behind my right nipple to an area between my shoulder blades.

I went to Lowes and arrived ten minutes before closing time. I grabbed a few water line supplies and a tool to open and close the water meter valve. The perky checkout girl commented, “I hope you are having a great night!” I relied with, “Look sweetie, if someone is buying this assortment of items at 9:55pm and smells like the underside of a diaper… It is not a good night. It will not be a good night. It will be something they will survive at best. And my right nipple is numb so let’s just bag this up.”

I don’t think she expected such an overshare of information. I apologized for being grumpy and assaulting her with random facts about my nipple. I made my way back to the house to finish my rat cleanup and dishwasher install. The dishwasher had to sit outside the cabinet for two days while we dried and sanitized the floor. I bought a box of rat poison and placed a block under each cabinet and crammed a cube of it through the floor hole before sealing it off with expandable foam. With everything connected and cleaned I felt victorious. I had driven out the rat and reclaimed my kitchen.

A few days later we noticed a small odor. The next day the odor was a little stronger. Something like… dead rat?

Maybe that last angry block of poison I shoved through the floor hole landed in a family of rats and they were scattered around the crawl space like victims of mass murder. Slowly rotting and exacting the final revenge. I had to know so I removed several vents around the crawl space to look under the house. I could actually crawl under the house but that sounds terrible so I just looked from the sides. I saw a couple of large piles of poo that were from something larger than a rat. Definitely a predator. Raccoon or cat.

If any of my neighbors are missing a cat, I think I know what happened.

If you like a series of random events, this post is for you. I have several to work on; Wallaby House, Fun With Asbestos, Welcome to Mayberry, Renovation Realities, Dining Room Dreams. We are still excited about our home but it will continue to be an adventure for the foreseeable future. You’re welcome.

-Underdaddy to the rescue.

3 comments

  1. Thrilled for you and yours, shuddering at the most recent finds behind the appliances. I hope settling in there gets less adventurous and you can concentrate on enjoying the making of many memories there!

    Liked by 1 person

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