Monday, May 06, 2013

Trying to achieve respectability

Friday evening we had an official meeting (as opposed to casual mentions over beers) with contractors.   We're hoping to paint the exterior house, replace a damaged soffit, install new gutters and squirrel-proof attic vents, and possibly restore our front door.

I am especially excited about the door.  It's over 100 years old and has been clawed to shit by the dogs--both ours and the previous owners--and one of Seamus' friends shot a bb through the largest glass pane and we haven't gotten around to fixing it.  (We were forced to put a new pane in one of the sidelights after one of the kids hurled a shoe through it.)  I am hoping they will take it away to a magical workshop and dip it in stripper and remove the superfluous lock and lovingly fill in all the claw marks with wood putty and paint it a gleaming white and deliver it home in pristine condition.

Dog claw marks + useless lock

The contractors went all over the house.  I balked a bit when they wanted to see the basement, but was told, "If we're working on it, we get to see it all."  They didn't seem to think it was as bad I thought, although there was a festival of fiberglass insulation all over the floor, which definitely had not been there the last time I visited.  I had horrifying visions of rodents scrabbling under the floors, but then remembered that Jon had torn it down the day of the kitchen pipe explosion.  (It had been dripping into the the circuit breaker box.)  They remarked on the mystery machine, which is still entrenched, although last summer the air conditioner repairman kindly pushed it upright so it is no longer blocking the doorway.

For the exterior paint, we want yellow.  Not an anemic "Ryan homes" yellow, but a strong, golden yellow with crisp white trim.  We saw many good examples of this color in Lisbon.
Yellow House in the Distance

And a couple in our neighborhood.

This yellow is the perfect yellow

I asked the contractors if our house could ever be rescued from its current shabby state.  "It'll be the nicest house on the street," they said.  So we went out for martinis to celebrate.  Saturday I got to the farmer's market early, ahead of the kinfolk hipsters and the Hateful Yuppie Families.  I bought a few more plants, as well as local strawberries and eggs and a bunch of asparagus that became a transcendent creamy lemon/asparagus pasta for dinner.

I put all my plants in: tomatoes and habaneros into the old vegetable plot that I'm trying to save and some perennials into the beds in front.  At the nursery this week, I found two little cone shaped boxwoods that will be transplanted into elegant planters.  The guy at the nursery told me that they could grow in containers and that I would have "total control" over their size and shape.  His words were confident, but his voice was less so.

Since this has degenerated into a "what I did on the weekend" post, I'll just conclude by telling you that I also launched an anti-ant offensive that involved emptying the pantry and counters and spraying them with cucumber-scented cleaner.  This has not deterred the ants, but at least I have confirmation that there is no sticky bag of dates or stale sugar cookies that is attracting them.  Also reorganized my pinterest boards and began process of transferring my CDs to my itunes library and tossing them.  Those flimsy "jewel cases" are the worst.


  1. Love your description of the later folks at the market. I just call them the hateful stroller people.

    Have you tried Terro for the ants? Pat swears by it.

    I may have stockpiled asparagus Saturday morning. Hopes of grilling it have been dashed, so I think I might pickle it today.

  2. What bit rate and format are you using while converting your cd's?

  3. Terro ant bait is good. You can get it in a syringe at Home Depot and squeeze it into the cracks the ants march out of. No pesticides - mostly borax and sugar, I believe. Also, spray the outside perimeter of the house to prevent the ants entering.

    I'm obsessed with this topic.

    You WILL NOT believe how much better you will feel with a spiffed-up door. I didn't realize how much mine was bothering me (it's just a door, after all) until I repainted the inside portion of it. Major focal point in the house...

  4. Doors are important --we have three that are in bad shape. For some reason we have two doors into our living room from a covered porch --there is a rumor that this was done when some Shakers lived here. They are in awful shape and don't close all the way or lock (we just have locking screen doors there). I don't think any of the doors are worth saving, but the house would look a bunch better if we could get around to replacing them.

  5. I feel entirely like an under-achiever (and quite a successful one) each time I read a post of how much you accomplish in a day or weekend.

  6. Becky-- Hateful stroller people! Ha ha!

    Laoch--you are giving me too much credit. All I did was insert CD and when the pop up box asked me if I wanted to add it to my itunes library, I clicked on "yes."

    SC--we've put dabs of terro around to kill the ants, but it didn't occur to me to drip it into cracks. Will try. Thanks!

    Sarah--you still have little ones! My kids are older and need much less from me, so it's easier for me to get things done.

  7. Yes, Terro for the ants.

    I swear, I'm going to come stalk your front garden some time soon and see all the plants you've been putting in.

  8. You have been busy, chickadee.

    Your door is magnificent! I'm so glad it can be saved.

    You've nailed why I avoid our farmer's market--hipsters and hateful Yuppie families. You make me laugh.

  9. I love this post--even more because I got to see both the mentioned market AND your sweet house!
    Happy news about the the renovation--save the door!
    And use Terro. We swear by it here, too. A little goes a long way and works pretty fast and effectively.

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  11. your yellow house sounds like it will be fab!!

  12. I copied all our cds to itunes but then I kept the cds and put them in boxes under a bed. Love the yellow! We painted my mom's house (now our rental) a yellow called "melted butter."