Vacation Week

Last week was Vacation Week here in Maine. If you are picturing me lounging in the sun, fruity drink in hand, keep dreaming.  The only downtime I got was Sunday, between the hours of 12:30 and 2pm.  I didn’t see a single fruity drink the whole week, unless you count the orange juice I had to wipe off the windows when the kids missed the sink.  The one highlight? My husband also took the week off. Normally this would have rocked beyond belief.  But since we are LIVING THE DREAM of 250 year old home ownership, Vacation Week was Hell.

Highlights of Hell included:

Cleaning out the basement.  Normally I wouldn’t complain, a little tidying here & there, but our basement was so congested we had to rent a jumbo sized construction dumpster.  It arrived Friday afternoon.

Let the Vacation begin!  Our super duper olde house had some super duper olde wood in the basement.  As you can see here:

All the construction debris from upstairs had to be stowed somewhere.  Unfortunately, the recent rains which flooded our basement also waterlogged much of the discarded material.  Causing it to mold as well as rendering it ungodly heavy.  The rodent excrement peppering much of it was just a bonus.

It took us four days to haul everything outside to the dumpster.  And if the backbreaking labor wasn’t memorable enough, its aftermath was truly unforgettable.  Likely b/c of something I breathed in/touched/otherwise ingested while hauling all that crap, I spent two nights splayed across the bathroom floor, longing for death.  There is something about a severe GI upset that scars a person.  Twice in 3 days is enough to induce psychosis.

In between the wood hauling, full body chills & bathroom trips, we enjoyed nature.  And we didn’t even have to leave the house!  When you are Living the Dream like we are, you discover all sorts of things you never knew you had.  Like red squirrels!

OOOooOOOh!  Yes he (or she) IS VERY CUTE.  My older daughter was beside herself with worry and desire, both to save and KEEP the squirrel.  I am wild about animals. but frankly, I draw the line at eyedropper feeding an infant squirrel ten times a day for the next who knows how long.  After 2 days of trying unsuccessfully to reunite baby w/momma, we took him (her) to the nature refuge.

So, where was that squirrel hiding?!  Remember all that wood in the photo above?  Well, it’s reeeeaaallly hard to see, but there in the back you can faintly make out some wood paneling/shelves.  These walls/shelves were put up by the former owner, who had hoped to use the basement as a workshop – before realizing how high the water table is.  Back before we bought the house, our home inspector urged us to remove as much of this stuff as possible.  50 years of flooding hasn’t been good to this wood.  These walls/units were serving no other purpose than to 1) hold water, 2) mold, 3) conceal stuff.  Stuff like the squirrels who’d been living behind them.  As well as a lot of chewed up batting, poop, and potential structural issues – which, thankfully, we’ll now be able to see before they wreak havoc.  Here is the space with the beautiful brick archway exposed.

But the nature discovery didn’t end there.  Oh, no.  With all that work we’d been doing INSIDE, we hadn’t noticed just what a beating the outside had been taking.

When we moved in 8 months ago, we had a green lawn. Over the winter, the green naturally turned brown. As spring has sprung, much of the grass – mostly out back – has regained its verdant look. But the lawn out front?  About a month ago, these strange brown patches started appearing. Subtle at first, now downright ugly. Initially the dead grass fit the pattern of being urine burned. Along the edge the sidewalk, where dogs do their business. Or, as one neighbor suggested, it could have been salt burn from the snow plowing. Initially this made sense, until these brown patches began to grow, moving up from the sidewalk to the upper part of the front yard. My husband and I wondered whether it could still be dogs? But our neighbors are courteous, and we had such a mild winter. Surely, neither explanation could account for this, and no other yards seemed touched. The dead zones kept spreading and our concern grew.

I went out late last week to investigate. I brought along a heavy metal rake, and began first by poking, then by scraping the surface of the grass. The brown dead areas came off effortlessly, and just below the surface, to my horror, I found:

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!  WHITE GRUBS. Dozens and dozens of them. I spent some time removing the dead zones, which of course just so happen to be DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF OUR HOUSE. Facing the street. Where everyone can gaze upon them.

Ughhh.  Yes, it is UGLY.  Having had a mere postage stamp of a yard in Philly, we had no freaking clue.  How could we have possible hedged against a nemesis we didn’t even know existed?!  And so, we got to work.  Once again.  We spent time researching online, investigating natural and chemical pesticides, trying to determine the best course of action.  I wish I could tell you we did it the happy holding hands way, but this time – it was us or the grubs.  We decided to take the dirty route and poison them using Grub-Ex.  I did not want to do it, but dammit, we have invested everything we have & more in this house and I will not let some white grotty grubs take my beautiful lawn away.  OH NO.  Our next door neighbor lent us her spreader and we put that Grub-Ex down on every inch.  2 days of work and the lawn’s still ugly as sin.  But hopefully it’s on its way to health.  Time will tell.

The icing on the cake came at the least expected time.  I went to relieve myself and was greeted with this.

No droppings in the (lived in portion of) the house, no sign of them at all – then BAM! a dead one in the TOILET?!  When the mice are jumping ship, is that a sign?  Sigh..

0 thoughts on “Vacation Week

  1. on the plus side though, it seems like it’s buried treasure… whodathunk that a beautiful archway laid beneath all that wood.
    ALL THAT WOOD. (gee house, you must be on the Quicktrim diet)
    The version in my head tells me that you were wearing a respirator.

    My farm-owning uncle told me about some white spore (or was it white mold or milky spore? ANYWAY) that is all natural but will kill your earthworms and all other lawn goodies ALONG with your grubs.
    You know, in case Grub-ex doesn’t work.
    Also, as a fellow homeowner with grubs, you probably have moles. Look out for borrows. Just saying.

    And suicidal mice? Yikes.
    Maybe future vacation weeks should be 86’d.

    (P.S. The Bump is fine… being hungry and not having capacity is annoying and I’ve about had it with my hips hurting. Next peak-day, May 5. Also, tired of wearing sweaters and jeans, however I lack a spring/summer maternity wardrobe- thank goodness for Yard Sale Season.)

    1. Thanks for the milky spore info – I’d read about that briefly. Crazy to hear it kills worms too; def want to avoid that. I heard aerating sandals (strap on shoes w/ nail spikes) work wonders. But I couldn’t find them in any stores here. I’ll have to see about mail order. At any rate, they can’t hurt, might help right?

      I wouldn’t be surprised about the moles. I’ve yet to see one, but our yard is littered w/ holes. Right after we moved in, some neighbors started telling us about their mole eradication efforts. I believe the husband spoke of decapitating them w/ a shovel. And then laughed. You can imagine how close we’ve become..

      SO GLAD to hear you & baby are well!! xoxo

  2. use about 3 or more bad words in that post. im going to start keeping track of how many bad words you use in a post. i also didnt know that we had a dead mouse in the toilet.

    1. Gee, and i thought i was being so effing careful. oh well.. THANK YOU MADISON. Mommy and her potty mouth will benefit from your watch.

      As for poor Mickey – we didn’t want to tell you & G for fear you’d never use that toilet again.

      LOVE YOU!!

      PS: Time for bed.

  3. Ok, WOW. I didn’t know about those grotty grub things either. I TOTALLY HAVE THE WILLIES RIGHT NOW. We have patches in the back yard where grass doesn’t grow but we also have pine trees on the other side of our fence so I am pretty sure that there is no grub-related cause but you can be SURE I’ll be on the lookout.

    So far the garden is doing pretty well (sprouts!) and we’ll be trying to environmentally kill anything that might dare to rear it’s grubby head! Last year we had issues with ‘something’ eating our lettuce and I am determined – DETERMINED – to bring the pain this year.

    I can’t believe you needed the mega dumpster for that wood. It didn’t look that bad in the picture! But 4 days of hauling? Yowza!

    If I were you, I’d be planning an all expense paid (read: alcohol!) cruise. Like yesterday. {HUG}

    1. Thanks so much babe – and best of luck w/ the garden!! We bought seeds 2 months ago but have been too busy to start them. Add that to list..

      Can’t wait to see pics of your produce!


  4. Oh wow, thats a lot of work. Can’t believe how cute that baby squirrel was, i would have been torn too about keeping and feeding it but i can see your point.
    It can only get better, remember that.
    Good luck in your new home

    Gill x

    1. Thanks so much Gill. It was hard letting go (for my daughter, that is) but it’s better left to the professionals. Baby squirrels grow into adult squirrels and before you know it, the whole house is chewed apart. They’re wild creatures, after all – not pets. But the babies are adorable!

  5. The red squirrel is cute but not in the house. Same goes for the mouse.

    Hoping your illness is gone and you aren’t permanently scarred!

      1. Thanks! Feeling muuuuch better now. Though 2 nights ago I was awakened by a chewing noise coming from the wall beside my bed. And this morning I came out to find some greedy bastard had nibbled through the plastic lid of the seed box. I mean C’MON!! The troughs overfloweth 24-7 here, do they really need MORE??!

  6. Dishy, Dishy, Dishy…are you a magnet for all things weird involving insects, pests, water etc.
    maybe we should have a sage burning incense toting medicine woman come bless the house 🙂
    Glad to see you haven’t lost your sense of humor! We have the smaller relative of the moles…voles…our old cat used to put them on the porch as a gift 🙂 My cousin turned a squirrel into a pet once and the darn thing freaked me out…they definitely belong outside in the trees as nature intended!!! xoxoxoxoxox

  7. WOW! Cleaning out the basment looked like a tremendous amount of work. You and hubby were smart to rent that dumpster.

    Funny that you found that baby squirrel because I found a baby squirrel during a walk this week. He was a little older, but wasn’t moving. I scooped him up in a McDonalds cup that I found on the ground and brought him home. We nursed him back to health and released him the next morning.

    Grubs are yummy doggie treats. At least Bodie use to think so. 😉

    1. HAH! Tammy, we are definitely 2 of a kind. Glad to hear your lil one made it. They gave me a case number when we dropped ours off at the rescue, so I can check back on progress. I haven’t called yet- mostly out of fear of further attachment! Wish Max would take an interest on the grubs. But all he wants to eat is the turkey poop!! Don’t know which is worse..

  8. ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. i was eating my lunch at school yesterday when i read this post and the last pic sent me over the edge. it’s worse that the chipmunk that committed suicide in my dryer hose.

    god, the benefits of home ownership. joy.

    glad you had a relaxing vacation. i’m actually getting a rush passport next week so i can travel to st. barths to escape my family. i’ll send you a post card.


    1. Ah, homeownership.. The closest thing to reliving labor pain.

      Soooooo you are FLYING to escape??! Damn girl. Things must be truly awful. Can you bring me back a fruity drink or two?

      Be safe and ENJOY!

      Love ya! xoxoxo

        1. um, i was just teasing about st. barths. i’m actually going to niagara falls with the little students. i somehow got roped into going…but WISH i was going to st. barths. i keep telling everyone that’s where i’m going…

          maybe next week.

  9. Your humor just cracks me up, lady! This is the funniest post i’ve read in a while 😉 hope your house-taming gets easier and easier – i’ll bet your efforts will be worth it! Good luck!

    1. Pamela!! HEY GIRL!! Sooo wonderful hearing from you. Been missing Philly and all my amazing friends. Hope all is very well with you. Stayed tuned for our next adventure, I’m sure it promises to entertain. LOL


  10. THIS IS THE MOST AMAZING BLOG POST IN HISTORY. I’m sorry for the caps, but it is. I’m going to share it on Google Buzz right now. Hold on.

    Okay, there it is. Hopefully some of my slacker friends will read and comment.

    I mean, this kind of makes me glad that I’ll probably spend the rest of my life in various NYC apartments, but it’s such an adventure that I’m jealous of it, too.

    I hope that the one comment above really is from your daughter and that you really didn’t tell her about the mouse. And that now she’ll be afraid to use the toilet.

    I want to comment on every single sentence of this post, but I’ll stop myself now. I’m still in shock.

    1. Thank you UM! I am not worthy of such praise (though I’ll gladly take it all the same.) The comment was indeed from Maddie, she’s patrolling my posts now for bad language. It’s putting a damper on my writing, I hadn’t realized what a colorful vocabulary I have. My husband is trying to convince her “no words are bad” – they’re simply inappropriate in certain circumstances. She’s not buying it.

      1. PS: The girls didn’t know about the mouse until Mads read this post – and of course, shared w/her sister. Now we have 4 toothbrushes in our (tiny) bathroom.. not sure if it was Mickey or the fairly lg spider we found in the hall bath a few days ago. but it’s safe to say they’re spooked. Sigh..(no.2)

  11. I can’t help but think of the movie “The Money Pit, but a more naturized version. I often find those grubs when I am digging in the veggie garden. I had a tomato plant drop dead last spring for no obvious reason, most likely the grubs munched the roots. The mouse was obviously an outcast of mouse society so in his wretched mental state he threw himself from the top of the cistern to a watery grave. The basement looks good now it’s cleaned out, love the brick archway

  12. Theres a lot of comments one this post,i -for one- feel very sorry for that mouse.He looks so helpless.Waaaaaaaa…..
    QAQ: nice post…

  13. Thank you for your blog. I grew up Westbrook Street from your new home and spent much of my junior high years in your house. I think I remember Liza Andrews telling me that her family did a lot of work when they moved in. So, yes it is your turn to make it your own. It has been nice to see that a young family has moved in. It is also nice to see blond daughters–the Andrews had 4. I wonder if Captain Dole had blond children.

    1. Hi Pam! Glad you’re enjoying the blog. Yes, Mr. Andrew did a lifetime of work on this house and we’re happy to be carrying on the tradition. Others have remarked to me how appropriate it is to have blonde girls back in the Dole House.. which has led us to wonder how far back this goes as well. Were Cap’n Dole’s wife & daughters blonde too?? We can only guess.. But if so, the house sure knows what it likes! Hah!

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