When we bought Mist Cottage many people were looking at it, because it was so inexpensive and in such a great neighbourhood. But no one was interested in buying it, there was just so much work to be done. Most people would have just torn it down and started over, but not us! Here was our chance to invest in a place where we might comfortably retire, as neither of us could expect a pension. It has proved to be a lot of work, and on most days it seems worthwhile; not on all days though.
Let me tell you what we found in the kitchen the day we took possession of the house. The lower cabinet shelves were lined with… carpet! It was dark blue floor carpeting, stapled to the shelves. The carpet was covered with mouse urine and droppings, the stench was extremely off putting. My first project in this house was to tear out the carpet in the kitchen cabinets and spray the whole area with bleach. That first summer we rented the largest dumpster bin available on the market, and filled it with the carpet and items with similar horrific physical qualities.
We have been fighting the mice ever since we moved in here. Slowly but surely we are blocking their entrance points. Below the kitchen sink where the plumbing comes through the floor was one of the entry points, and the wall behind the kitchen sink another. They are now both completely blocked.
Saturday, August 13, 2016
Saturday began with a trip to Canadian Tire to pick up plumbing parts to connect the new dishwasher. After arriving back, Attila set to work. First the area where the dishwasher will be installed had to be prepared. The cupboards are the originals, old, solid wood frames, nothing prebuilt about these old cupboards. Attila did the work, I am describing it.
The cupboard doors were removed. The cupboard shelves were removed, one inch thick wood needed to be sawed through and removed, and new supports for the what remained of the shelves were built. The bottom of the cupboard was removed, which proved time consuming.
This is the inside of the cupboard where the dishwasher will reside. Already one shelf has been removed, the rest need to come out, which includes the bottom shelf.
Here is what we found under the bottom shelf of the kitchen cupboard! The large mouse nest was built using insulation from the wall behind the cupboard.
With this potential health hazard in the kitchen, we turned off the central air system, removed the curtains from the windows, stapled sheets over the doors from the kitchen to the rest of the house, and removed all visible items from the kitchen, storing them temporarily on the living room floor, creating another tunnel!
I sprayed this mess with hydrogen peroxide, then Attila donned a mask and gloves, and proceeded to use a paint scraper to remove all of the loose debris into garbage bags, which were sealed and put in a larger green garbage bag to go out with the trash next week. The area was sprayed for a second time with hydrogen peroxide. Attila then took a shower.
A second trip to the hardware store was undertaken, more parts were needed.
Upon return the thick wood shelf surrounding the sink drain and plumbing was removed using a oscillating saw.
A third trip to out, again to Canadian Tire, to replace a part that sported the wrong sized threads. Then home again to eat dinner, before Attila took up the project again. After installing a new drain trap, he called it quits for the day.
Thus ended the first full day of work to install the new dishwasher. We have a sterilized hole to place it in. The contents of the kitchen are strewn across the living room, covering every surface.
We have had intermittent rain, and it is beginning to have an effect, after an entire day of infrequent showers.
Sunday, August 14, 2016
Installing the new kitchen taps was first on the roster this morning. The water supply to the house was turned off just after breakfast. Removing the old taps proved to be a mega-job, taking all of the morning. The air was blue in the kitchen this morning. I made very effort to be busy in one of the adjoining rooms, and asked no questions.
At one point Attila became concerned about the number of ants suddenly crawling everywhere in his small tool area in the garage. They crawled all over him when he needed to fetch items, or work on something. Off I went again to Canadian Tire and purchased Wilson’s AntOut spray (not aerosol), hurrying home with it so that Attila could continue with his project in relative comfort. The product, by Attila’s account, was a great success.
Then on to cleaning up the kitchen sink where the old taps had been removed, and installing the new taps. By this time it was well past lunch time, so I was very grateful to have the Lentil Salad sitting in the refrigerator ready for a quick meal.
The new kitchen taps, well tap, the original had two knobs, one for hot, one for cold, but this high flyer has one handle that you can lift to turn the water on with back of your hand when your hands are dirty… what luxury!
I abdicated responsibility for trying to prepare a meal and ordered a pizza, from the only pizza establishment that lists all the allergens in their food.
After dinner Attila got the hoses and electrical hooked up, but the dishwasher will not fit under the counter, it is too high. He will try to raise the counter, we will see how that goes! After the hookup Attila wanted to try the unit out, to make sure it works. I got it all loaded and setup, then pushed the start button. Soon thereafter Attila shouted from the kitchen that I should come and turn it off, as he raced to the basement to turn off the main water supply. It leaked, all of the water that should have gone into the dishwasher poured into the area below the sink. Another mess to clean up. More parts were needed.
Monday, August 15, 2016
Day three of the great dishwasher installation dawned. Oh heaven, above let this be the last day of the dishwasher installation!!
I arose early, showered, then wakened Attila. We have important things to do. He is taking a day off work, and although it was originally planned so that we could have a camping weekend, it isn’t turning out that way! This morning the car was dropped off at the garage for an oil change and checkup, and Tank transported us, bright and early, to the Home Depot a half an hour away, so that Attila could return parts he did not need, and buy more parts that he thinks he does need.
After arriving home Attila went straight to work on the dishwasher. Finally it was time to turn in on for the second time, keeping close watch on the discharge pipes and under the machine and the sink, to ensure that the water was all going where it was supposed to go. It was!
The washing machine took three hours to cycle, and during that time we noticed quite a strong “mousey” smell in the kitchen. We had a serious chat, and both decided it would be best, since the kitchen was already emptied and the cupboards torn up a bit, to carry on removing the base level of the cupboards to reveal the floor below. There had been quite a large mouse nest, full of urine and droppings, below the lower cabinet floor where the dishwasher was installed, and from the smell we suspected there were more nests under the other cupboards.
At this point there was some discussion about installing new cupboards, but the expense was determined to be beyond our means. The old cupboards would have to be made functional, there was no choice but to forge ahead with the old.
I headed off to the Hardware store to purchase a litre of BIN, to use to paint the exposed floors under the kitchen cabinets. I took the opportunity to visit the library while I was out, to return books, and borrow more. I was pleasantly surprised to find a book written by Kip Harness, a singer/songwriter from Toronto who frequented the same places I did when I lived there.
The opening for the dishwasher with the shelves removed, and the floor painted with BIN. Note the holes in the drywall are “sealed” with steel wool, to keep the mice from coming in through the back wall. Someday, when we put in new kitchen cabinets, we will remove this old drywall, and all the nasty mousiness behind it, seal the area to prevent further mouse incursions, paint the whole thing with BIN, insulate, rewire, put a vapour barrier in and install new drywall. Putting in new kitchen cupboards will be expensive and very, very, very time consuming. Eventually we will reclaim this house back from the mice!
Once again everything in the kitchen was covered with sheets, and all items were removed from the kitchen. Attila donned his breathing mask, and latex gloves, and set to removing the entire lower shelf floor. This involved dismantling the supports for the kitchen cupboards, so that they sagged to the floor, to wait there until Attila would install new bottom shelving. Basically, Attila had to rebuild the bottom kitchen cupboards. I knew this job would not be a simple put-in-the-dishwasher, hook-it-up-and-go job. In an old house these little projects are seldom, I might venture the word never, simple.
The kitchen draped with sheets as Attila removes the bottom shelf of the kitchen cupboards, to reveal two additional huge mouse nests, full of urine and droppings. Mice are so disgusting. Those who find them cute should drop into their homes for tea sometime.
Just as we suspected there were two other huge mouse nests, filled with dried urine and faces, built from wall insulation, under the sink cupboard. They were soaked from the leak experienced on the first trial run with the dishwasher, and reeked. Attila spent a few hours removing the mouse mess, using copious amounts of hydrogen peroxide to kill any viruses or bacteria that might be floating around. The cooling system had been turned off before the removal of the boards began, so there was no air circulating through the house to spread bad things in the air all around.
The site of one of the other mouse nests, wet after being sprayed with hydrogen peroxide.
You can see here two issues. first, the dishwasher does not fit under the lip of the kitchen counter, so the counter will have to be raised. Second, in removing the bottom shelf of the kitchen cupboards, the frame sank down to the floor. Attila needs to rebuild the base of the cabinets to bring the cupboards back up to the correct height.
After showering and changing his clothes, Attila and I drove over to the garage in Tank, where I left him to pay the car maintenance bill before bringing the car home.
After arriving home, Attila performed a second cleaning of the floorboards under the kitchen cupboards, again using a spray bottle of hydrogen peroxide to damp down the small amount of debris remaining, as he scooped it up and discarded it. When this dried, the BIN was applied by brush, and we left it to dry with all the kitchen windows open and the ceiling fans running.
At last, the two coats of BIN have dried on the floor beneath cupboards. The mousey smell is gone. Time to rebuild the cupboards.
The BIN drying to the left of the sink.
The BIN drying to the right of the sink.
Luckily the pizza I had ordered yesterday was adequate for two dinners, so all we had to do was heat it in the microwave.
After a quick dinner, Attila was off to cut the planks for the lower cupboard shelves, pine that he had purchased years ago at a good price. Then, as the two coats of BIN were dry, the reconstruction of the lower cupboards began. The pine boards were installed across the cupboards, supporting the structure of the cupboards, later the cedar boards that line the cupboards would be installed at right angle to the pine, lending great strength as it is needed in these hard working cupboards. With the installation of the pine and cedar in one cupboard it was after 10 p.m., Attila was out of time.
And so ends day three of the Great Dishwasher Installation saga.
Tuesday, August 16, 2016
We awoke to the sound of rain on the roof. It was a slow, steady rain, and already the rain barrels were full to overflowing. The rain continued steadily as the day progressed.
After Attila left for work I jumped into the shower to prepare to attend my first Tai Chi class. It is funny, but I was quite nervous about attending, new situations can sometimes hit me that way. I was determined to make myself go though. Before I left I received a message that additional copies of my first book were ready for pickup near the location of the Tai Chi classes. Perfect.
I drove through a wet greening landscape, where some of the plants had turned a vibrant green in the rain, but others were reacting slowly, turning from brown to yellow. It felt like mother earth was gulping the refreshment offered from the sky. It rained all day.
When I arrived at the Church where the Tai Chi lessons were to take place, I was concerned that there was only one other car in the parking lot. Undeterred I ran from Tank through the rain to try the doors. They were locked. Soon a very friendly woman with a briefcase came to the door, and I asked her about the Tai Chi classes. She unlocked the doors and invited me in, where she checked the schedule, no Tai Chi at the specified time! I don’t know what the mixup has been, but I now know that there is no class on Tuesday mornings.
The next stop was the print shop, where the books were waiting for pickup. The books looked good, so the bill was paid. The next destination was home.
The rest of the afternoon was spent emptying the dishwasher’s first load, and stacking the items on the floor in the bedroom, the only area in the house with free floor space. Yesterdays dishes were washed, and the kitchen counter cleared off completely.
Attila arrived home from work ready for a bath and some dinner. After Attila had a refreshing bath it was time to think about something to eat. To save precious evening time for working on the kitchen project, a can of ravioli was opened for a quick meal. Not ideal but perfect in that it involved only two bowls and two spoons in the way of dirty dishes.
The next stage of the dishwasher installation project was to raise the kitchen counter so that the dishwasher would fit under it. The kitchen was built before dishwashers became a commercial success in the 1950s, and so the counter was too low to accommodate such an appliance.
The dishwasher is too high to fit under the kitchen counter. Attila raised the counter on “shims” by 3/8″, and then in she went.
After the counter had been raised 3/8 inch, I began to vacuum, then wash with soapy water, the empty finished cabinet to the left of the dishwasher. The contents of the drawers were washed in the sink and dried, the drawers were washed out, dried, refilled with the clean utensils, and inserted into the cabinets.
The amount of storage space in the kitchen has been reduced by 1/4, which is a lot in a small kitchen. The items stored there needed to be sorted, some to go in a tote which would be kept handy in the basement, and some to be returned to the kitchen cupboard. It was decided that no food would be stored in the bottom cabinets in the kitchen, they would be devoted to cooking utensils, baking dishes, pots, pans, and the various items we frequently use as we prepare all of our food from scratch.
Attila spent the rest of the evening installing the pine boards and cedar boards on the bottom of the cabinets to the right of the dishwasher, screwing in a board barrier at the back of the dishwasher to prevent mice from entering the cabinets, and finally putting the dishwasher in place and securing it.
Last night, as Attila finished packing his lunch for work for the next day, we loaded the dishwasher together. Oh what a feeling!
Wednesday, August 17, 2016
The dishwasher is functionally installed, but the job was not done yet.
The newly installed shelves to the right of the dishwasher needed to be washed, then allowed to dry, before items could be stored there. As well, two boxes full of casserole dishes, pots, pans, lids etc. needed to be washed and sorted into what would go back into the cupboards, and what would go into a tote in the basement. These were tasks I easily performed.
Atilla needed to install the footplate on the dishwasher, and install trim on either side of the dishwasher, as the cupboards were not deep enough for it to install flush with the front. Also the raised countertop left a gap at the top of the cupboards at both ends of the cabinets, and that needed trim as well. It was a cluster of fiddly bits, but needed to be done.
After work today, Attila installation for the dishwasher, and began working on the needed trim for the job.
So here we are, so close to being done, just the finishing touches to go. The dishwasher is installed, insulation and all, and it works! Already today’s supper dishes are waiting patiently for an overnight run with a full load.
There is a large cupboard at the end of the kitchen that currently holds detergents, cleaning agents, and all kinds of hardware like light bulbs. Attila wants to convert that cupboard into a food and appliance storage centre. I am all for this! But I would like to leave that project until the winter months, when we won’t have the nice weather to visit parks and go for long walks, or go camping in our trailer.
I know what kind of kitchen cabinets I want if we replace the kitchen cabinetry. Our country house had an island with drawers that pulled all of the way out, so that I could easily see and reach every item in the drawer, without having to move any other items out of the way, or guess what might be hidden in the depths of the cupboard. If I ever get new cabinets they will all have deep drawers and no doors!
We have some pretty serious arranging to do with our belongings as this dishwasher project nears completion, and the garden shed nears completion as well. Things will be shuffled about in the kitchen, in the new garden shed, in the garage, and in the basement. There will be a lot of sorting an organizing going on from now until Christmas, and perhaps beyond. And maybe even some purging!
The heat wave has broken, as has the drought, with yesterdays all-day rain. This morning I took up my morning walks once again, with great relief.
Date: 11:00 AM EDT Sunday 14 August 2016
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.3 kPa
Visibility: 24 km
Wind: WSW 14 km/h
SPECIAL WEATHER STATEMENT IN EFFECT “A significant widespread rainfall event is expected beginning overnight or early Tuesday morning and ending Tuesday evening. Rainfall amounts will range from 25 to 40 mm in most places. There may be appreciably higher amounts exceeding 60 mm in some locales.”
Date: 11:00 AM EDT Monday 15 August 2016
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.3 kPa
Visibility: 24 km
Wind: SSE 13 km/h
[OK, can you believe this, after experiencing a summer long drought, we are now warned that nature may bring to us a sudden, short deluge from the sky. I think that next may come the locusts!]
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH IN EFFECT
RAINFALL WARNING IN EFFECT
Date: 10:00 AM EDT Tuesday 16 August 2016
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 102.0 kPa
Visibility: 10 km
Wind: NE 8 km/h
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
427 BC – 347 BC
This saying never gets old for me, and I find that I need to be reminded of it with some regularity as the years slip every more quickly into the past.