86. Demolishing the strongholds

We strapped on our armor this past week. We were doing battle.

safety glasses and masks

Against the creatures who have lived and died in our walls.

What is living in the walls of your house? The better question might be phrased What is dead in the walls of your house?

It isn’t pretty, and it isn’t picture-worthy. What? You say, you don’t really want to see pictures of Dead mice, Old nests, Dead ladybugs, Old hickory nut shells, Scat, and Spiders? Throw in dirty insulation, rusty nails, and forty-year old newspapers that have been stapled to the walls? And dust, lots and lots of plaster dust…

Lesson learned: If your house is neglected, unwanted creatures will move in to dwell with you.

I actually wished that the newspapers were in better shape — I love looking at old newspaper ads and reading articles from the seventies would be fun. But the newspapers were of the sort that couldn’t be touched without gloves — heavy duty work gloves, that is.

This newspaper is dated March 14, 1974.

This newspaper is dated March 14, 1974.

I have stopped dithering about what is to be done next and decided to just go with what is. Or what will be? Everything we do to this old cottage is an improvement; so does it matter if one project isn’t quite finished before we start the next? Or, more accurately, does it matter how many rooms are torn up in the effort to finish them all?

Lesson learned: Demolition of walls is only fun once it is done.


The view from the living room through the holes. The mudroom has already been gutted; the living room is on its way….

The holes in the mudroom lead into the living room. An air conditioner was once there; a log box for storage and easy access for fireplace logs was once there too. Now they are just gaping holes that have to be repaired. Wiring is another issue. The wiring in the living room is just hodge-podged up there and has to be fixed. The electric panel is in the mudroom, and right now with those holes between the two rooms, it is a perfect time to rewire the living room too.

When we bought the window for the mudroom a few weeks ago, we also ordered a new series of windows for the living room. (Can’t pass up a sale on Anderson windows!) In order to take out the large window in the living room to replace it, we had to take off the current trim and a bit of the old paneling. Once we had some of the paneling off, there was a terrible stench. We have had bad smells at this place pretty often; we have torn up carpet, peeled off wallpaper, and scrubbed walls to get rid of smells. This one was very bad, so we had to keep tearing out to find the root of the evil, er…the smell.
Living room wall demolition

We are now down to bare studs on the living room wall. (We were hoping this wasn’t the plan…) But three dead mice later, the smell is gone. So now insulation is a necessity too.

Lesson learned: Every part of a house is interconnected.

We thought we would be doing this cottage one room at a time. It’s easier to manage that way; it’s easier to think about one room at a time. But the inter-connectedness of the wiring, walls, roofline, ceilings — all makes that impossible to do. And I’m okay with that — finally.

My post on the finishing of the kitchen that is ready to be published? It will just have to wait. And that’s okay too. After all, the whole house has to be finished for us to get featured on This Old House anyway. 😀

Lovely expensive sheers (K-mart special) hanging next to bare stud walls and insulation. Is this like leather and lace?

Lovely expensive sheers (K-mart special) hanging next to bare stud walls and insulation. Is this like leather and lace?

There are many lessons in this post, but these three should be repeated:

  • If you neglect your house, unwanted creatures will move in to dwell with you.
  • Your house is interconnected; it can’t be dealt with one room at a time.  
  • Demolish the strongholds of ugly stuff today; the longer you wait, the bigger the job.


11 thoughts on “86. Demolishing the strongholds

    • Possums in the roof! At another country place where I once lived we had flying squirrels in the ceiling…They were loud! It is a battle. Clara, Mr. H.C.’s mom who used to live here, had a kitty door that the raccoons used to use as much as the cats.


  1. Even in a house that is not neglected unwanted guest move in. My trusty ADHD Australia Shepherd, Maggie, alerted me that something was amiss where the A/C line enter the crawl space…my steelwool was missing along with more of the foam insulation on the refrigerate tubes. The hole around the tubes has been on my to-do list (okay, neglected list) for some time. So far two rats have met their end in my slightly modified Vector traps (hair trigger and a better bend on the bait holder). I know there is at least one more because the second rat was munched on (a blog post is in the works about what it really means to call someone a rat…with pictures of my kill). I normally just toss the rat and trap but this rat eating rat is going to meet the same end in the same trap…hopefully. The battle is on! I may send Maggie (or one of our three lazy cats for a night) under the house. /A\


  2. Great metaphor :) That first photo looks like you guys are EMTs rushing to revive someone who is ailing… I guess in this case it’s your house. It’ll all be worth the hard work when you finish.


    • Thanks!
      No one would ever mistake me for an EMT — I usually faint dead away at the sight of blood. I’ve tried to get over it — I keep telling myself that I’m a grown up now and I can handle it, and then I’m on the floor.


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