Troubles behind the Green Door

The trouble with winter … is not snow.

The trouble with winter in the country… is not snowy unplowed roads.

The trouble with winter in the county in an old house… is not frosty, drafty, arctic air.

The trouble with winter in the country in an old house that’s not quite finished…

is mice.

The other trouble is that we were lulled into thinking we had successfully insulated, caulked, and boarded up all holes when we redid the kitchen, the living room, the dining room, the bedroom, and the mudroom.

The other trouble is, we aren’t finished; so there are other parts of the cottage that are not successfully insulated, caulked and boarded up so the worthless little critters can still get in. (Mice can get in a hole that is the size of a pencil eraser!)

Trouble lurks behind this green door.

green door to the basement

(This green door illustrates the most famous post on Apple Hill Cottage’s blog. About 50 (!) people per day read this post about making a shiny brass door handle look like oil rubbed bronze. It amazes me that there is so much interest in getting rid of shiny brass.)  But back to the troubles at hand: behind this green door with the lovely oil-rubbed bronze handle is the basement of the cottage.

We have a split level basement. Behind the green door go down five steps and turn to the left and there’s a door to the outside. There’s also a closet where King Henry the Cat has his litter box. The laundry is down there too as well as built-in shelves, which are filled to the max with the sundries of living in an unfinished house: screws, nails, paints, paintbrushes, stains, tarps, caulking tubes, electric supplies…. Turn to the right and go down six more steps and there’s the rest of the basement — the furnace, the hot water heater, the toilet, sink, and shower (!)  and beyond that Mr. H.C.’s workshop.  In addition to all that stuff, Mr. H.C. keeps a lot of his business inventory down there. It’s a basement’s basement, and there are quite a lot of holes to the outside that have not been insulated, caulked, or boarded up. And frankly, it is WAY down on the list of things to redo around here.

We tried to close the green door last night before we went to bed. About three o’clock King Henry woke us Mr. H.C.  because he needed to get down there to his litter box fast. So there really isn’t the option of closing the green door. There is, however, the option of locking the cat down there with the mice…

(Spoiler alert: If you are a mouse lover, read no further…)

As far as we know, our lovable but worthless cat has caught one mouse. It was dead in his mouth when he brought it to us, but lately I’ve been living in fear that he will jump on the bed at night with a live mouse in his mouth. Mr. H.C. also found a trap with nothing but one mouse leg in it, so the cat could have eaten the mouse out of the trap too. We aren’t sure about that; we haven’t seen any 3-legged mice around lately, but if it gives the cat a taste for mice, I’m all for it.

Mr. H.C. reminds me that Henry caught a mouse this summer too. Yes, he did; but that doesn’t count because he caught it outside. I’m fine with well-behaved mice who stay outside where they belong.

It’s terrible to have mice in one’s kitchen. Suddenly nothing is certain and I can’t be sure if  a mouse did or didn’t scurry over a pan. In the warming drawer of my OVEN I found mouse droppings! Ugh. Now I have to wash every pan before I use it. I’ve lived with mice before. It’s not a surprise. I just thought I was done with them when we finished our beautiful kitchen.

The last straw was a few days ago when I opened the oven door and found a stash of cat food in the corner of the oven. CAN I SHOUT HERE?

Yes, we are feeding the cat expensive Rachael Ray Zero Grain Chicken and Potato cat food, and the mice are stealing the expensive Rachael Ray Zero Grain Chicken and Potato cat food, and hoarding it in the corner of the oven. Isn’t there something wrong with this picture?

And just so you know, last week when we were in Home Depot the mouse traps were SOLD OUT! So we must not be the only ones with this problem…

And just so you know, I am blessed that Mr. H.C. takes care of all the mouse trap issues…

And just so you know, the oven is now sparkling clean, the green door is now closed at night, and the mouse troubles are staying downstairs. For Now….

cat napping on blanket img_7762

So the cat can continue with his daily routines.

Mudroom Again…

I’ve written about the mudroom in our little cottage before. And before. And before.

It’s been two years since we’ve worked on it, because work stopped dead on the ceiling when we discovered a leak in the roof by the chimney. So nothing could be done until we had a new roof.

img_7708This summer we put on the new roof. But still nothing could be done about the ceiling because. Money. Time. Or lack thereof. You know, LIFE.

So the entrance to the cottage had an insulation ceiling and one wall that wasn’t finished. And a door and window that never got trimmed out because of inertia. Or lack thereof.

The wall you see when you walk into the cottage looks like this:img_7705

Not so impressive. Even though the kitchen has been 100% gutted and redone and is now gorgeous. Even though the living room and dining room were 98% gutted and redone. (We kept  the pine flooring that was under carpet, padding, and a layer of battleship linoleum.) But the first impression is bad.

But now — Now we have a white beadboard ceiling that matches the kitchen. We have trim around the door and window. And we have a real ceiling light, not this one:

Which light do you prefer?

Did I mention we now have real trim around the door and window?

img_7737

This door has been in place since October 2, 2012 when the outside of the house was still blue… It’s been so long since it’s been in that we have lost misplaced the little plugs that go around the small windows. We’re sure they are around somewhere, but it’s low on the priority list to spend hours looking for them. Maybe when This Old House calls us….

And just in case you’ve forgotten (I had) this is an early shot of the original demolition in the mudroom, ca. 2013.

In the meantime, we’re working on the 4th wall…

Finished and Unfinished...On the left is the finished kitchen....On the right is the only unfinished wall of the mudroom.

Finished vs. Unfinished…On the left is the finished kitchen….On the right is the only unfinished wall left in the mudroom. Those wires will be hidden soon…and there will be one last post on the mudroom.

the roof only leaks when it rains…

i’ve been trying to think of how to show off the new roof on the cottage.

after all, we spent a month on it this summer — at least — and many many dollars.

but the truth is?

a passer-by wouldn’t even notice.

unless they drove by often and noticed us

up on the roof every day in july this summer…

we had a dumpster for three layers of old shingles;

we had ladders on every conceivable side of the roof;

and we had a home built pulley system to bring heavy shingles and buckets up to the roof with the flick of a button.

plus, we had friends.


a friend is someone who helps you do your roof.