Sunday, June 22, 2008

Remodelling by an amateur

For some time Deb has been trying to get me to put in a ceiling fan in our living room. A few weeks ago I ran out of excuses, so I scraped away all the popcorn texturing in our living room, which we were happy to be rid of. Then came the painstaking tasks of learning how to create the type of knockdown texture that we wanted, fish wire through the walls, etc., etc., etc.

Unfortunately, we forgot to get some before pictures, but here are some pictures mid-project along with some of the end result. A project that would take an experienced person a few days took me weeks since I wanted to make sure I did everything right the first time. There's nothing like spending hours on something just to realize you not only have to do it differently, but also fix the problem that you created by doing it wrong the first time. It's amazing what a project like this can do for your confidence. I started out thinking I would need to get help from more experienced friends, but when I realized they didn't have much time to offer, I decided I'd just have to find out how to do most everything using the internet and books. Well, it worked, and I learned a lot in the process. Now all I can hope is that the next project goes a little faster!

Picture 1: Holes in the wall/ceiling to fish the electrical wiring to the center of the room--plus the mess of the living room.

Picture 2: A close-up of some of the holes and wiring before adding nail plates to protect the wiring.

Picture 3: The walls and ceiling after patching everything up and painting.

Picture 4: The newly installed ceiling fan.

Picture 5: The room after finishing!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Setting Traps for Thy Neighbor...or Two...or Three...or Four

No, I'm not trying to ensnare my neighbors, but I am setting traps for their benefit as well as our own. Two weeks ago we set some mouse traps next to the fence that separates our back yard from our neighbors back yard. We had noticed a few mice coming over from the neighbor's yard and nibbling on some of our garden plants. I was somewhat lackadaisical about resetting them or putting fresh bait on them after we caught a mouse. Consequently, we only caught five mice that week.

At the start of this week I thought we would only have five or six mice left, so I decided to wage an all-day war against them and rid ourselves from the small infestation creeping in from next door. I grabbed a particular food--which I won't mention here--from the fridge and baited four traps. When I checked them, there was a lizard and three mice in the traps. I began to wonder if indeed we were halfway if I had caught three mice that quickly, so I baited and set the traps again...and again...and again. For a while I was able to just stand back about twenty feet and watch as the mice crawled over from our neighbor's back yard. Some of the mice were so small that they stood on the bait without springing the trap, which I must admit, frustrated me to no end. Fortunately in some cases an adult mouse would come and eat and it would catch the two simultaneously. All told we caught fifteen mice this last Monday.

After I had caught nine, I went over to our neighbor and told her how I had been watching mouse after mouse meander into our yard from her side of the fence. I'm not exactly sure why she acted so surprised because her back yard is absolutely filthy, but she assured me that she would notify her husband as soon as he got home from work. The following day we caught five more mice and we have caught a few since then. All told we have caught about thirty mice in less than two weeks. As you surely can imagine, I have had a hard time eating the particular food I used to bait the traps after all that carnage. Additionally, there is no "mouse talk" during mealtime. Who could have possibly imagined catching thirty mice using the old-fashioned traps. If I had it to do over again, I probably would have put a barrier up and set up some bait so the mice would eat it and then have to go right back to the neighbor's back yard to die.

I have been told that mothballs work well at holding mice at bay, but I would love to hear other suggestions since the mice breeding ground next door seems to have no supply shortage.

P.S. Don't mention this to my daughters! A few weeks ago we watched Ratatouille. I'm sure you can imagine the rest! One evening my youngest daughter came out with me while I was watering the garden. She saw a mouse going for one of the traps and started trying to coax him over to her by saying "Here mousy, mousy. Here mousy, mousy." Meanwhile, she had the palm of her hand facing downward as she used her fingers to signal that she wanted the mouse to come to her. I discretely made enough of a disturbance to scare the mouse away from the trap. Imagine that, I set up all those traps just to find myself obligated to shoo one away from an almost certain death!