Who pooped on my counter?

About a month ago, I was invited to the Flames game with my cousin and some of her lovely friends (Thanks Janine and Spencer!).  It was a ton of fun. I arrived home tired, happy and ready for bed. I got ready for bed and was reading sedately in my bed when I heard a gentle rustling in the kitchen area. Naturally I assumed it was a home invasion. I grabbed a paring knife and proceeded to search the house. About three long minutes in I realized that home invaders do not generally make gentle rustling/crackling noises like a plastic bag being moved  and that it was probably a mouse. I changed tack from closets to cupboards and identified what I thought to be the source of entry.

Note expertly applied pink duct tape

Note expertly applied pink duct tape

I went back to bed feeling that I had generally gotten as far as I was going to get at 1:00 am with the calming confidence that I had blocked their entryway and that mice, while gross, are unlikely to kill me in my sleep. I’d like to take some time to thank Wine for my general state of calm at this point. Had I made this discovery without Wine by my side, I may have been less sanguine.

I awoke in the morning refreshed and ready to assess the real damage. At this point, Wine and my sense of calm rapidly abandoned me as I realized that the mice had made a lot of headway in one short night.

Mouse teeth marks in my butter. Oh yes they did.

Mouse teeth marks in my butter. Oh yes they did.

Turds... everywhere

Turds… everywhere. I apologize for the lack of contrast. The granite is good at hiding turds.

I did not photograph all of the turds but everywhere I looked in the kitchen I found more. Drawers, floor, and window sills were all compromised. Naturally, I proceeded to power clean the entire kitchen and carefully seal all potential food sources in either glass, rubber or metal containers.

The cleaning phase.

The cleaning phase.

The sealing of all dry goods

The sealing of all dry goods

Feeling that I had both removed all traces of the mice and made my mouse the most inhospitable mouse environment possible I went to home depot for the killing machines. I was a little overwhelmed by choice at first and generally uncertain about how I wanted to handle the little vermin. I initially installed some sort of high frequency mouse deterrent in my icky crawl space where I suspected their entry point to be.

Now listen here mice.

Now listen here mice.

I also placed a large volume of mouse poison underneath the sink. For those who are thinking “Wait! How fast acting is this poison? Is it like Iocane powder? Do they die right away or do they crawl into your walls and die there?” Well my friends, according to the lovely man at home depot who helped me out they apparently eat the poison and go outside searching for water and die there. I had high hopes. Just to be on the safe side, I also purchased some of those glue pads that stick the mice as they walk over them if the poison wasn’t enough. My parents had success with this strategy in the past and I was optimistic. Unfortunately glue quality does seem to vary and while it was clear that some poison was consumed and the pads were in the right place, the mice footprints across the pad suggest that they are not quite sticky enough.

During this time, occasional mouse poops continued to appear and re-sterilizing the kitchen prior to every meal was getting a little tiresome. I had come to the conclusion, however that the mouse and I might be in it for the long haul and I believe it was at this point that the mouse received a name. Norman became the personification of Mr. Mouse. I received several suggestions from friend during this time on how to manage the mice. M suggested the “Supertrap,” involving a bucket filled with water, a string, a can painted with peanut butter, and certain death. S suggested the classic mouse trap with a nicely aged parmesan as a less messy alternative to the peanut butter classic. I decided against the bucket, mostly because it seemed like a moderate amount of work and I was tired from all the cleaning, and opted for the Parmesan charged classic trap. Unfortunately, it appeared that the mice could remove the Parmesan without initiating the trap. My goal was to kill not feed so I replaced the cheese with sticky, gooey peanut butter. This was, as S pointed out, much messier and I set off the traps a few times while loading which, while not fatal to humans, is unpleasant. I also decided to be aggressive and create a mouse minefield. Sorry Princess Diana. This was the ticket. I went to bed hopeful that this would finally be the end of the mice.

Approximately 7.5 hours later I awoke. I emerged from my bedroom, mercifully mouse free the entire time, and encountered Normina, limp, dead and making her final poop. During the naming process, there were many discussions on the gender of the mouse and I attempted to determine the gender prior to tossing out the body. I found the following website quite helpful in my determination that Norman was in fact a Normina: http://www.thefunmouse.com/info/sexing.cfm. Don’t get your hopes up though. The website is slightly less fun than it sounds.

Once Normina was extinguished I was hopeful that the problem was resolved but unwilling to declare victory. I can now say that after 3 weeks of no more poops, VICTORY IS MINE!!

See you in Hell, mice.

 

LOTW

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Why hello house, It’s ever so nice to meet you.

I assume that all of my lovely readers have been waiting impatiently to read my house intro blog post. If you haven’t been waiting impatiently, humour me and pretend you have. I initially thought about looking for a change of scenery in the spring of 2013. I was getting antsy for some outdoor space and frustrated with the communal decision making but not necessarily equitable distribution of labour on the condo board at my building. I felt under-appreciated like a mom. Sorry mom for under-appreciating you for 98% of my childhood. Unfortunately, financially 2013 was not the year to make the move. I waited impatiently for the right time muttering and allowing my bitterness to fester like an open wound.  Healthy, I know. Arrive 2014: I finally finish installing the door to my condo bedroom, fix all the other things I was meaning to fix and sell my condo to a lovely girl and her sister. I met her briefly and she seemed a lot like me when I first bought the place. She was a new professional, stoked to be living in Mission, and totally  in love with the space. Things are a bit hazy but I think this happened towards the end of June. Possession was set for August 28th and I was thinking “Great! I have so much time to find a house. This is fantastic! Down payment secure and no pressure to buy.” Turns out that Calgary was in some sort of real estate boom and crappy unmaintained rental units on the side of 14th St., a very busy road, were selling like hotcakes. My realtor Lori (http://www.loriswizdaryk.com/) and I, who I would highly recommend, saw some real gems. The highlight reel includes when my buddy Mark accompanied us to a little house in Mt Pleasant. After several jokes about a cat that sounded like he’d had a pack a day habit for the last 20 years, we realized the tenant was in fact home, smoking, owned the cat, and had likely heard the whole thing.

Fast forward to the end of July:

At this point, Lori and I had seen a lot of homes, I had made unsuccessful offers on two, and I was beginning to feel a little bit defeated. I also missed my friends. House hunting is exhausting and time consuming. Enter from stage left: the little house in Mt Pleasant that is exactly the same age as my Grandma. In a lot of ways, it was not exactly what I was looking for. I was looking for a place with a basement suite and a south facing backyard. This place does not have a basement suite, or even really a developable basement  and the backyard, while gigantic, is north facing. It is sunny though! Why, you may ask, did I purchase it?

BECAUSE I LOVE IT!!! The layout is really open, I use all the space, it has an adorable front hedge, and it feels homey. Let me take you for a tour.

This is the front of the house. Note awesome front porch which is immediately endearing and a great place to sit and drink wine when its nice out. South facing and sunny.

This is the front of the house. Note awesome front porch which is immediately endearing and a great place to sit and drink wine when its nice out. South facing and sunny.

One must pass through the arc to get into the front yard. This probably sold me. I'm not even sure I need a house if I have an arched shrub to walk through.

One must pass through the arch  to get into the front yard. This probably sold me. I’m not even sure I need a house if I have an arched shrub to walk through.

I’m having trouble coming up with a way of describing the layout of this house so I used my graphic design skills to create the blueprint below. I know guys. I won’t quit my day job. Don’t worry.

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The first thing that greets you when you walk in is the dining room. First impressions range from “Oh my god its so cute!” to “Wow, its kind of painted like an easter egg in here.” Each room is a different shade of pastel. There’s purple, yellow, pink, green and a colour I can only describe as pastel jaundice? Planning to make some big changes there.  Below are some shots of the living room. I really like this space. There is a step down into it from the front area. Not planning to do much in this room other than paint and possibly attempt to find out what is under that tile on the “Fireplace.” I’d like something that is a little simpler than what is up there but that is not very high on the priority list.

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Next comes the kitchen!!! Love the layout and the light. Not much planned in here either. It was updated in 2010 and its in pretty good shape. It’s not exactly how I would have done it but also nothing urgent in here. Side note: There are not always that many wine glasses in there but I was having a party.

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OHHHH yes that is right. GAS RANGE!!!!

OHHHH yes that is right. GAS RANGE!!!!

Next are the bedrooms! Not much planned in the guest room other than paint but the master bedroom has already been a focus. The lady who lived here before me was a triple dog owner and she definitely let them sleep in her room with her. There was carpet in there and it was so stinky and gross that I was not happy sleeping until I got it out. No amount of vacuuming was saving that stuff.

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The last space is the closet/office room. Not sure what to do in here. In spite of the clothing explosion you can see, I am not sure I actually need a room closet and its a bit inconvenient to have my PJs that far away from my bedroom. Lets just say that its very important for me to keep the blinds closed.

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I’m planning to save the basement and backyard for later because A MOUSE ATE MY BUTTER!!! Note teeth marks below. I officially have more important things to attend to. I will let you know how it goes.

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Farewell for now,

LOTW

Bush Maintenance – Macro Scale

I know I haven’t done the house intro yet but I am currently feeling the need to suck every last hour of nice weather out of this season and have been succeeding! I’ve been focusing on the outside and as it  turns out, gardening is harder and more time consuming than I thought. My whole garden reminds me of the Secret Garden from Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic kids book. It seems like it was once well maintained but then someone decided to ignore it for years and let it turn into some sort of back jungle that people could camp in and I would be completely unaware. Since I have a “by permission only” policy for backyard camping and I do live in the inner city, I decided to tackle some shrubs.

One of the neglected shrubs

One of the neglected shrubs

It’s always key to prepare for a task with the proper tools. I have very few tools so this is what I pulled together:

The right shrub pruning outfit.

The right shrub pruning outfit.

The Saw. Not pictured: A pair of trimmers. They are less exciting.

The Saw. Not pictured: A pair of trimmers. They are less exciting.

I also did some light reading  to ensure I was doing things the right way. My “Essential Guide to Gardening Techniques” (by Susan Berry, who, with a last name like that, can only be a gardener) told me to get ride of all of the  suckers first (little shoots that pull resources away from the main tree or bush) and then, depending on the type of shrub, different types of pruning occur. I didn’t get to the second step. Turns out my entire shrubs SUCKS or is dead. Instead of pruning, I found that I had increase the usable land in my backyard by about 8 feet by 4 feet. I highly recommend this activity if you are mad, sexually frustrated or grumpy for any reason. Its rejuvinating.

New real estate.

New real estate.

As you can see, what is left is still one of the ugliest shrubs of all time. There is also another shrub behind that shrub that is encroaching on what is left of shrub one. I think they might be in some sort of all out shrub battle of wills that only ends when one shrub chokes out the other shrub with its bare branches. I call this shrub Imperialism.

Shrub 2.

Shrub 2.

At this point, I had created a pile of limbs the length of my garage and my arm was sore so I decided to call it quits and tackle some low hanging fruit…. the bottom branches of my apple tree. This was far less terrifying. I did get some awesome tips from  this website: http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/video/0,,20810402,00.html. I’ll give you one guess as to whether I used the right kind of saw or not.

My decorative apple tree.

My decorative apple tree post prune.

Until next time,

LOTW

The Caulk Block

The episode in which this lady discovers previously undiscovered levels of wasp related vengeance. This is for all those swollen hands and faces that my little allergic brothers have had over the years.

The W family’s hatred of wasps goes way back. My dad and I are the lucky ones and do not seem to be affected by their stings in any significant way. My brothers and mom, on the other hand, are highly allergic. None are anaphylactic but the level of swelling that I have seen them all suffer looks pretty terrible. I remember the time Brother D got 3 wasp stings on one camping trip and a lovely evening in New Orleans where Brother P’s face swelled up so much that my mom kept him home from school (I have my suspicions he might actually have enjoyed that one). Naturally, when I discovered a wasps nest near my back door at the new house, I began immediately to plot their demise. I wanted to be strategic. I went to Home Depot (likely the 4th visit that week) and picked up some foaming wasp killer and caulk to close the entry point. Foam never looked so deadly and, frankly, caulk never looked so grey. Matches the house well though. I also bought a compost bin. Unrelated, you may ask? Tangent in the middle of this riveting wasp tale? NO!

I set the compost bin approximately in front of the wasps main entrance when I got home. It’s the only place in the back yard with concrete and my awesome Brother D was coming over the next day to mow the lawn so I didn’t want things to get in the way. The wasps were immediately upset by this arrangement and started flying around rather frantically. I panicked and ran inside, closed the door and got distracted reading about compost or something. I woke up the next morning to discover a lot more wasps. They had somehow managed to get from outside into my mudroom. I panicked again and shut the door to the mud room. It was a crisp morning so they were moving rather slowly, cold blooded insects that they are. The moment seemed right to exact my revenge.

I got dressed for battle:

IMG_3151And then sprayed the crap out of everything!

Note foam all over the place.

Note foam all over the place.

I then waited for the poison to take effect, which was fairly rapid.

The haul from inside

The haul from inside

Outdoor carnage

Outdoor carnage.

I sprayed the outside entrance several times. Every time I went outside it seemed like there was one more straggler around the mouth of the nest just hoping to find one of his/her buddies alive. No such luck wasps. Once I was sure they were all dead, I filled the holes with the caulk, effectively blocking* their entrance. Take that dirty wasps!!

-LOTW

*Friends and potential recipients of my wingman skills, I do not intend to carry this methodology out of the home improvement sphere.

Snowmageddon 2014

I was planning to write about the move in next and do a little introduction to the house and some of the plans I have but then, on September 8, it snowed and continued to snow for another day and a half. Calgary is not normally a city affected by any amount of snow but September is early even for the icy Canadian north. At first it was beautiful. The leaves were still on the trees and the flower were still blooming. I walked past a sunflower on my way home covered in snow. Novelty factor was high.

My cute little hedge covered in snow.

My cute little hedge covered in snow.

I took the picture above and left for a conference in Kananaskis not thinking much of it. The next day, Snowmageddon began. There were so many trees breaking from the weight of the snow on the still attached green leaves that our Mayor Nenshi coined the term “Tree-age” for managing the situation. (Yep folks, he’s that awesome).  Power was out all over the place, trees were landing on cars, homes, and powerlines.

I live in an older neighbourhood with wonderful old trees and I was mildly concerned (or panicked) about my own place. I calmly assessed the situation by staring at the snow for 20 minutes instead of paying attention the conference and then remembered that my cousin lives nearby. He popped by for me and checked on the place and let me know all was well structurally. I was quite lucky all things considered. No big trees on my lot and I returned to find a few branches down and a very sad looking bush but nothing serious.

One of the branches that fell down was resting rather precariously on the hedge between myself and the neighbour’s.

The offending branch.

The offending branch.

The neighbour is awesome and I wanted to be a good one in return so I decided to get rid of the branch.  I learned one key lesson in the process.

Use the appropriate tool for the job.

A Leatherman is not the appropriate tool for the job.

A Leatherman is not the appropriate tool for the job.

The above approach eventually resulted in the use of brute force after about 20 minutes of what can only be called whittling the tree became a tad tedious. I believe the primary issue is the size of the blade relative to the size of the tree in question.

The result was a little messy.

The result was a little messy.

The purchase list now includes a snow shovel and a saw. On the bright side, I apparently overpaid my previous mortgage by a whopping $23.03 so this Home Depot list is going to be easy on the wallet.  IMG_3202Until next time.

LOTW

What have I done?

Hello Everyone,

I’m the girl that really wanted to be SingleFemaleHomeowner partially because I really like Futurama and mostly because that is what I am.  Too bad there are so many ladies out there faster and more clever than I. I’m a geologist by day, old things enthusiast by night. My recent house purchase reflects that. I bought a beautiful little house that is the exact same age as my awesome  Grandma (91) and I have been living in it for about two weeks. I am finding that homeownership is turning into an adventure and I’d like to share. This is a bit of a diary for me and hopefully amusing to you.  To come:

1)Move ins and awesome moms.

2)The basement Hannibal Lecter committed his crimes in.

3)The Caulk Block.

Happy surfing.

LOTW