Wednesday, April 16, 2014

You Sure It Was A Rat?

One of the advantages of living in a small town is that sometimes I meet people who used to live in my house and they tell me stories about when they lived here.  From 1970 to 1976, the Jeske family lived in what's now my house, and since Mr. and Mrs. Jeske live just a block or so away now, I see them a lot and I get to hear little stories about the house now and then.

A few days ago Mrs. Jeske was walking her dog and stopped to say hello.  "I heard you found a dead rat in the ceiling," she said.  (Apparently she heard this story from my sister-in-law Kristy, my little brother's wife.)

I laughed and told her that I did indeed find a rat and that (so far) that's the yuckiest thing that's happened to me.  

"You sure it was a rat?" she asked.

"Oh yeah," I said, "it was a rat.  Big teeth, nasty little claws.  Yuck.  It was a rat."

" big was it?"

Now about this time I began to think that maybe Mrs. Jeske had lost her mind, or perhaps she possessed a sick sense of humor that I wasn't previously aware of. I stuck out my foot.  "It was about that big, as big as my foot."

She considered this.  "Hmmm...did it have a tail, or no?"

"Yeah, it had a tail.  A big long tail wrapped around its hiney.  It was gross."

"Oh.  Well, that's too bad," Mrs. Jeske said.

Huh?!?  Too bad??  

She must've seen the puzzled look on my face because she provided an explanation.

"Yes, it's too bad.  See, when we lived here the kids were little and they had a pet hamster.  It was my son Benny's hamster.  We went on vacation and a friend of ours was taking care of the hamster for us. Somehow, that hamster got out of his cage and we never did find it.  Benny was so upset.  He cried and cried.  I was gonna tell Benny that you finally found his pet hamster after all these years.  Too bad it was a rat."  

Friday, April 11, 2014

We Have Determined...

You'd think, after a little more than seven years of living here, that I'd get used to things not going well.  I mean, things never ever ever go as well in reality as I imagine they will in my head.  And yet, every time I start something, I'm amazed all over again when I run into obstacles.  Folks, the learning curve around here seems to have flatlined...

Anyhow, I went into the porch demo full sail and with flags flying three weeks ago.  I had a plan:  first I'd take out the screened panels, then I'd strip off the roofing with a tear-off shovel, then I'd cut through the roof decking with a Sawzall, then Dylan or someone with a chain saw would cut through the joists and then the sides so we could take them out in chunks, until finally only the porch posts would be left standing.

The screened panels came out really easy.  Actually, even easier than I thought they would.  That was probably an omen that the rest of this demolition was going to be horrible. 

First off, I couldn't find an edge for my tear-off shovel to get under, and it wouldn't poke holes in the rubber roofing.  That's when Dylan came over with his ax.  We were thinking that he'd start a hole and then one of us could get under the edge of the roofing and strip it off.  Except that there are two layers of rubber roofing up there, with an underlayment between them that appears to be made of kevlar, copious repairs to the roof made with shingles, and a bottom layer about an inch thick that's entirely hot-patch applied directly to the roof decking.  There's no getting under that.  

Then Dylan tried to saw through all the layers of roofing with a circular saw.  He managed to make a pretty decent cut...and then the roof caught fire.  Seriously.  It caught fire.  So after he hopped around on the roof like a madman to stomp out the flames, our hell-with-it level soared and we went and had a couple of beers. 

This week Dylan's friend Steve came over to help.  Dylan told him all about our troubles the previous week and after careful consideration Steve said:  "We have determined that this sucks."

Yes.  Yes, it does.  It was, however, a little less sucky with him around because he and Dylan worked out a system.  

Steve sawed through the joists with a chain saw
and then Dylan came along with an ax and chopped away the roof
until pretty much all of that side of the porch roof was gone.
Then they carefully pulled off the gutter.
(which we'll cut down and re-use on the new porch)

They put plywood over one of the windows
and next week they'll put plywood over the other window,
and the front door and its transom
to protect all that as they get closer to the house.

I took that last photo today after I'd cleaned up all the demolition debris on the porch.  Three 33-gallon bags of trash, plus a giant pile of stuff too big to fit in the trash bags.  I stacked all the big stuff on a piece of the roof decking and dragged it around to the side of the house so the front yard doesn't look so junky.

And then I walked across the street and looked at my place with a critical eye.
Scrap lumber stacked in the yard, peeling paint, house two different colors, wicker furniture stacked on the porch, the gutter in the front yard (lower right), the little flowerbeds covered with leaves...

Oh well.  At least the porch floor is nice and clean, right?