Burning Down The House (And Other Misadventures)

4.13.2021

Went longer than I would have liked between updates but there’s been a lot going on. Since I last wrote we’ve had a couple of minor disasters. Manageable, but it’s certainly been keeping us on our toes.

Not long after the last update, Jennifer and I were out having a smoke on the porch. We smelled something burning and commented that at least it wasn’t Misfit Manor, though it smelled like it was close by.

Well…as it turns out, it was Misfit Manor, or at least the plastic pot with the dead plant that was sitting on the porch.

When Jennifer put her cigarette out, it managed to catch the root system of said dead plant on fire and we had quite the little blaze cooking in the plastic (and rapidly melting) planter. A quick splash of water and it was out, so no harm done, but it got our blood pumping, for sure.

Then, two days later, we’re in the kitchen. Jennifer is washing some dishes and….the guts of the plumbing system under the sink just randomly fell out onto the floor.

So, fire and flood within two days of each other. Yikes.

Plumber called and…no. Strike that. Plumber 1 called. No response. Plumber 2 called. No response. Plumber 3 called. No response. Plumber 4 called, this one with “24 hour emergency service.” The guy was on a fire call (member of the volunteer fire brigade) and would get back to us tomorrow.

Next day, no dice. Day after, still no dice, though the guy at the office said that the plumber “might could” be out the next day.

Day three, we got a plumber! He hooked us up, ripping out the old drain pipe in the basement and rigging us up a new drainage system.

That was good, but…in setting up the new drain, our plumber drilled screws into our hardwood floors. Screws that wound up sticking up in the hallway.

Jennifer discovered them a day after the plumber had gone. Fortunately, she had shoes on, or that would have been a free trip to the ER, for sure.

I went into the basement and backed out the screws. They’re still there, and still holding the new drain line in place, it’s just that they’re no longer sticking out thru the floor in our hallway.

Additionally, our plumber “fixed” our hot and cold water situation. The hot water was coming out of the cold pipe, and the cold water was coming out of the hot pipe. His “solution” was to simply swap the “H” and “C” tabs on the faucet. So they’re still reversed, but at least they’re labelled correctly.

Now, on to the basement.

The basement, we were told, was secure. It had been insecure, and critters had been sneaking into the house, but those areas had been boarded up.

That part is probably correct. What’s also true, however, is that there are all sorts of unboarded up access points to get to the crawl space under the house. Jack and Izzy (my two most skittish cats) instantly went to the basement, crawled under the house and stayed there.

Not good.

So, since it would have been impractical to try and board up every crawl space access point, we opted for a simpler solution: We would simply rig a door leading into the basement. Then, the thinking went, we get the cats out of the basement, close the door and just pretend we don’t have a basement until we’re ready to deal with it.

This involved some good, old fashioned Redneck Engineering.

We tore a large piece of paneling down from a wall we had previously marked for removal anyway. Measured the height and width of the basement door frame, and cut the piece of paneling to fit (actually, slightly wider, so there would be some overhang).

Went to Walmart and got some hinges and some cup hooks.

Used the hinges to connect the door to the frame. Used the cup hooks and some bungee cords to secure the door closed, and then, left it open until we could wrangle some cats.

Izzy was easy. Being under the house for two days, she had developed a cold, had a runny nose, and was hungry. A can of food was enough to lure her in range, and I snagged her, then closed her up in the office with all the other cats, minus Jack, and got some yummy dinner in her rumbling tummy and settled her in for a nap in the cat bed on my writing desk.

Jack was another matter. He would not be lured by food. In fact, he only came out when he was sure everyone was asleep.

So, we set food about in strategic places well away from the basement stairs and went to the bedroom, lights on, reading, hoping to lure Jack out.

With the lights on, Jack didn’t come out.

So, we turned the lights off and I brought a rocking chair into the bedroom, positioning it so I could see the kitchen and the doorway leading to the basement.

Jack poked his head around the corner and stared at me, but would go no further. Again, he was not fooled.

Okay, time to up the ante. We would not be outsmarted by a cat, no matter how streetwise.

So Jennifer goes into the library and lays down on the floor under a blanket, monitoring the stairs going to the second floor where the food was.

I stayed in bed, lights off, pretending to be asleep, but remained fully clothed so I could spring into action when needed.

Jack cautiously entered the bedroom after ten minutes and verified I was in bed and seemed to be asleep. Then went to the living room and up the stairs.

Jennifer texted me when he was headed to the second floor, I slipped out of bed, went for the basement, pulled our makeshift door closed, and secured it.

Jack safe! Not at all happy about it, but safe.

Whew.

Here’s a picture of our “door.” 🙂

Now, to the bank. This was the original idea: I own my car outright. I paid cash for the house, so…we get moved in and so what if we run up some credit card debt during the process? We get a HELOC set up, pay that off and then make the improvements we want, right?

Yeah, no.

According to the bank, in Pandemic America, I’m not a good credit risk, and many banks aren’t even accepting new HELOC applications, so…no infusion of cash to rapidly take care of home improvments.

Sigh.

But you know what, it’s fine. In a few months, I’ll have most of the credit card debt paid off, and I’ve got enough space on as yet untouched cards that I can pay for the most critical projects to be done (attending to some rotted boards on the exterior, and new gutters), and the rest – we’ll simply wait on. Still, annoying. GRRR.

But, it is what it is. The bank has their formula and apparently it doesn’t matter that the house is owned free and clear, so…whatever. We’ll work around it.

And that’s the state of Misfit Manor as of this morning. I am sure there will be many other misadventures to follow!

I think though, that this latest chapter in the saga calls for some music. I propose two selections:

And

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