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.

How Can Such a Little House Have Such Big Demands?

We’ve been doing lots of little things on the house of late, but none of them has been post-worthy on its own.

Earlier this spring, Mr. H.C. put bricks under the front windows to finish them.

We also cleaned the brick, took out the old yews, and put in some new landscaping.

IMG_7069

All landscaping plants are deer-resistant. Unfortunately, the sunflowers I planted weren’t rabbit proof…

We updated our outdoor seating — Mr. H.C. put new wood on the seats of these old chairs, and I painted them.

I painted away the last of the blue gray cedar shakes, and Mr. H.C. built an arbor for our grapes inside the garden gate to protect them from the local plant predators.

There’s a new planter for herbs and cherry tomatoes on the sunny side of the back porch; it looks like it has always been there.


We took down the hideous-looking gutter from the front porch and added a nice new face board.

Once that was done, we agreed that the ugly painted plywood ceiling above the porch just wouldn’t do (it was so ugly, I never even took a photo of it…)

…so we gutted the ceiling and replaced it with traditional porch beadboard. It was a great day when that plywood ceiling came down.

But the really exciting news is that last week two trucks from Home Depot delivered a new door, a new window, and roofing materials and shingles. Mr. H.C. was anxious to get started on the roof, so I was surprised one evening when he came in and said, “I really think we should put the door in first. I don’t want it sitting around getting scratched up.”

Replace Sliding Glass Door # 3?  I danced with glee. (There were originally FIVE sets of sliding glass doors in the cottage when we acquired it. Two are gone. Three are now gone! This was Mr. H.C’s project all the way. All I did was pick the doors, the color, help move them across the yard, and shout encouragement from the sidelines.

The project would have gone faster, but like all old cottage projects, one must expect the unexpected. Or, at least, not be surprised. The sill under the sliding glass doors looked like this when we took it out:

IMG_7079 So extra work was involved rebuilding the sill, adding concrete and raising the new doors a bit to make a lovely (and solid) new concrete sill. These doors enter into what is lovingly called the garage bedroom. It used to be the garage. When the inside is finished, it will be the office, a guest bedroom, and the tv room — it’s a small room to be a threefer…

And one more before-and-after shot:

Painting of Apple Hill Cottage, ca.1973

The original cottage in the fifties

applehillfall3.jpg

The remodeled cottage of the seventies

July, 2016

July, 2016, with still plenty of projects to complete

Excuse the green-tarped package in the center of the yard. That’s the next old-cottage project.

On to the roof…

roofing in the dark to beat tomorrow's rain

Yup, we work 24/7 around here…

 

143. All the Gray Is Gone…

Just when I think I’m going to post about the new back porch that is finished just in time for September (it’s not);

Or the new door that we’ve found to replace sliding glass door #3 (we haven’t);

Mr. H.C. surprises me by saying, “Let’s do the front of the house.”

He must have read my post a month or so ago, when I listed all the projects that need to occur for the front of the house to look good better. (See post 136.)

New windowsThis is the cottage up until two days ago. (Uhmmm — the way it’s looked for the last two years. Just let me say that the front looks WAY better than the back.) So with the red brick, the faded blue gray cedar shakes, and the white clapboard siding, there was just way too much going on. Sort of a stripey effect, don’t you think?

I’m actually favoring the colors of white, red, and gray; but in a google image search for “white cottage red trim” this is the first image that showed up:

old_kurtz_house
Please pardon me, if this is your house, but it’s not at all what I have in mind for the cottage. Though it does look about like the color of red that is our back porch — Segovia Red — this color right here:

Back porch rails and ceiling, newly painted

Back porch rails and ceiling, newly painted

The back porch color can be seen from both sides of the house as one drives down (or up) the road. So it counts.

I always thought when we did the exterior of the cottage, that we would try to emulate what it looked like in the forties; but we can’t really.

Back then it was white with forties green trim.

The roof was green, now it’s gray, and it will stay that color when we put on the new roof (next year?).

There was not a red back porch.

And there was no brick on the front. I’ve looked at photos of white houses with dark green and red trim, and no, I don’t want a Christmas house.

Here’s what we have now:

apple hill cottage, newly painted

Neither of us are used to seeing it without the gray. Mr. H.C. thinks it might be too much white. I was originally thinking of whitewashing the brick, but now I’m thinking yes, that might be too much white…

The sliding glass doors will be replaced sometime before winter with doors that look something like this:

IMG_6391

There hasn’t been an interactive post on this blog for awhile, so here is your chance:

  1. Should we paint the brick? If so, what color of gray? 🙂 (Maybe if we paint the doors red, it will tie in the brick color?
  2. What about door colors? Both front doors can be painted. (Keep in mind that the back porch is Segovia Red, and one can see the porch from both sides of the house.)
  3. What do you think about shutters? Mr. H.C. brought that up the other day, just as I had been thinking about them too. But I have an aversion to shutters that don’t fit the windows, and that’s a 3-window series there in the front… I’m thinking more along the lines of flower boxes under those 3 front windows. What do you think — flower boxes or shutters or neither?

I’d like to hear your thoughts, dear readers. Of course, then we’ll do what we want anyway — whatever that might be…

Here are some more shots to get you thinking…