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.

41. A winter’s eve

The new fallen snow and ice of winter is beautiful when the sun shines20130103-212845.jpg

or when it lights up an otherwise dark night

or when the icicles glint like crystalline daggers protecting the house within20130106-230655.jpg

or when I am inside sitting by a fire in the fireplace … a mug of fragrant warmth in my hands (a cookie doesn’t hurt either.)

20130106-202446.jpg

Oh wait, how did TWO cookies get into this picture?

But mostly I struggle with winter.

The gray and the cold; the colds and the blues…
20130105-212028.jpg
This year it wasn’t even to the first day of winter before I was sick of snow. I was sick of snow, and it hadn’t even snowed yet…
Snow on porch

And yet, the seasons were created for a reason. It’s all a wonderful circle of life, even though in winter there’s not much life visible. (And the visibility is bad for us poor folks who have to drive in it.) One good thought about snow — it protects the fruit trees from cold and makes better fruit next year. Two good thoughts about snow — I got these gorgeous boots for $9.99.

20130106-201449.jpg

What kind of boots did you think they would be? This is the country after all, and Tractor Supply is my new main store…

There isn’t much happening at Apple Hill this winter. We are huddled in the city house by the fireplace, trying to decide if we can settle for a gas log fireplace in the living room at the cottage. There’s something so soul-satisfying about a real fire. The smell, the crackle, the heat… Ah well, you can get heat from a gas fireplace, but there is definitely no wood smoke or crackling involved. Of course, the lure of just turning it on whenever you want is a tantalizing extra…20130104-211419.jpg

I’ve discovered that many people have strong feelings about fireplaces. So what are yours? A real wood fireplace or gas logs for convenience?

___________________

Extra notes for consideration:

  • The gas line is already run to the fireplace
  • We are most likely going to have a wood stove in the mudroom, and the stove has a window in the door for live fire action
  • The fireplace in the living room doesn’t have a flue/damper so serious work is involved.