The Tomb of The Abandoned House Cat: A DIY Holiday Story
It’s getting into mid-November and I’m starting to feel the holiday spirit.
I think it’s likely we will have a white Christmas here at the love nest.
It’s a little unusual for our neck of the woods to have a White Christmas, but somehow we always manage to have a light dusting of white stuff around for the holidays.
I’m not talking about snow of course. Nope.
Every year about this time we start contemplating our TO DO list of home improvements and by the time we are into the thick of things, say Christmas Day or New Years Eve, we are all in, drywall dust flying, making everything white, at least, if not merry and bright, (there’s generally some cussing involved), here in our little love nest.
So this year we are tackling the mudroom, which was the laundry room before we moved that into the new master suite addition.
We tore into the walls a long while back when we needed to investigate the plumbing behind the old washing machine.
When we did, we found a couple of huge holes in the bottom wall plate that looked like someone either hacked them out with a steak knife or perhaps sent a wood chuck in to do the job for them while they finished their beer.
Two holes, one pipe. Apparently mister beer-drinking wood chuck -exploiting DIY- guy either made a gross miscalculation of where the pipe should go or the wood chuck was a total over achiever.
Now, on an earlier DIY expedition around the property, we had discovered that Previous Homeowner Lady had cut through the screens in the foundation vents for some unknown reason.
So between the massive and ugly holes in the sill and the breech in the foundation vent screens, every rodent who so desired to, could gracefully and without any effort at all get under the house and into the warm walls of the laundry room without even breaking a sweat. And they did.
Obviously, she loved animals.
Because on another DIY expedition we found a mysterious oddity hidden in the spare bedroom, under the carpet, (tricky!). There was an old rectangular hole in the floor from a defunct heating system. So someone, a genius I’m guessing, set a floor vent cover into it, no screws of course, (it’s not a mansion, after all) , and then placed a little board inside it at an angle, like a ramp, that went down to the dirt in the crawl space.
I think it was Previous Homeowner Lady’s own ingenious invention, actually, kind of an Acme style cat door/ramp for the kitty to get in and out of for midnight hunting expeditions under the house. Just remove the vent cover to let the little fluff muffin get in and out at it’s leisure.
Of course this is all conjecture on my part, but I say this because the old man did find the petrified, (but not mummified, Previous Homeowner Lady was weird but not that weird), remains of a house cat under there once, while working on the plumbing.
And Previous Homeowner Lady had said something about leaving one of her cats behind when she left, to which we replied, rather emphatically, we thought, “NO THANK YOU. Our dog hates cats and has been known to kill them”, which wasn’t a lie. Not Cosmo of course, but Cody. He was brutal on small animals.
But ever since the discovery of said cat remains, I’ve wondered if she did leave a cat behind, because for quite a while after closing on this house, we were still living out of state and only here every now and then.
Which wallows in lameness.
I wonder if she ever fed her cats or just cut holes in the vent screens and floors and let them fend for themselves. It’s all very Stephen King-ish.
Maybe she didn’t love animals so much after all.
Which is why every time we get the brilliant idea to maybe move again, we slap ourselves. Hard. Well, figuratively speaking. We are sane people.
As much as habitual DIY-ers can be.
Because we know that even as we say we will only ever buy a new house again, so that we don’t have to deal with the shit previous homeowners do, when the time comes the realtors will smirk at us when we tell them our budget, and we will end up with another “fixer-upper”. Which is just realtor jargon for creepy and decrepit house.
It’s all just too frightening to think about, especially with Halloween being over now and the merry and bright holidays coming and everything.
So for now we are staying put and just trying to finish all of our DIY home projects.
But at some point we will most likely move on and start on another place, because, you know, this DIY shit is a disease. I suspect we will die with drywall dust in our nose hairs. Which might make things interesting if there is any reason for a medical examiner to get involved.
So any day now, we will start tearing out the drywall to change out the plumbing to accommodate a sink cabinet in our “new” mudroom.
Only I hope this time when we drag in insulation from the outbuildings, we will check it thoroughly, because last time we worked there we didn’t, and when the old man left the insulation in the house and ran to the hardware store and I was vacuuming up construction debris, I saw something fly past my head.
I thought. It was kind of out of the corner of my eye, like in the Fleetwood Mac song where “something flies by your window”. So I wasn’t really sure it happened.
But it did. It was a mouse jumping off the stack of insulation onto the floor.
At that point I took a piece of drywall and barricaded the hallway into the kitchen and stood staring into the beady brown eyes of that frightened little creature and waiting for the old man to come home so we could humanely kick it’s ass out of our house.
Which we did, sort of.
The mouse, and it’s spouse, (surprise, there are two!), both sensing they were in mortal danger, started running around the laundry room floor like lunatics. And when the old man tried to scoop them up with a dust pan, one made a mad dash for the woodchuck hole in the floor and disappeared under the house, never to be seen again, and the other got accidentally sucked up into the shop vac which I was using to try to scoot him away from the hole his mate just jumped ship into.
And the old man, bless his big heart, brought the shop vac out into the back yard and released the shaken, recently estranged but apparently healthy brown mouse into the wild, but not before filling the wood chuck hole with half a can of expanding foam insulation and forever sealing the other mouse into the tomb of the abandoned house cat.
Or maybe not.
I’d like to think that the two of them somehow reunited and lived happily ever after, and that they loved to tell their half million grandchildren about their adventures back in the day when they were just starting out and so poor they lived in a metal machine shack out in the woods, which to this day, is still standing.
And sorely in need of maintenance.
Maybe later. When the mudroom is done.
I’m thinking around Easter.
Copyright 2019 by Ilona Elliott