This house, man.
Is it normal that all of our home renovation projects begin completely accidentally? Twoish years ago, the innocent question of “why is this bathroom fan so loud?” led, step by inevitable step, to a complete gut and rebuild of our entire second floor. You know, as can happen. And this round also began with a simple question, to wit, “how are those ants getting into the den?”
Oh, the ants. We should have known something was up when we moved in and found all of the cans of ant poison and insecticides that the previous owner had left behind in a closet for us. And after three years of setting out bait traps and caulking entry points, we have more or less emerged the victors in this particular struggle. Except. Last summer I kept finding ants in the den, and their trail ran off under a side table and then under the carpet and then… where? Armed with my trusty caulking gun and a foolhardy sense of optimism, I moved some furniture, carefully popped some quarter-round out from under the sliding door, pulled up the carpet and found… the hole.
I mean, it certainly explained how the ants were getting in. Compared to their usual cracks and crannies, this was a super-highway. A hidden, horrible, water-damaged, rotting super-highway. Hurrah.
Long story short, we finally have contractors in this week to put things right. This has involved taking out all of the carpet (good riddance), replacing the sliding door, rebuilding the damaged portion of the floor (pictured more fully below), fixing part of the deck to prevent further water problems, building a new crawlspace access hatch in the linen closet, and finally laying down a completely new floor. We did the carpet removal ourselves; the rest, so far, has gone surprisingly quickly. They’ll finish tomorrow, unless I’ve just jinxed it by writing that down.
I will say that I can think of warmer ways to spend a February day. But we’ve got a lovely new door in now, and the floor is half laid, and only one child has slipped on the sawdust and hit her ribs on a power tool, so things are generally looking up.
And the ants? I trust that getting everything shipshape in this room will finally end the war. But I am also reminded of a children’s book we own, by Robert Quackenbush, called Henry’s Awful Mistake. Henry, an anthromorphic duck, has asked his girlfriend Clara over for dinner, and as he’s in the middle of cooking it, he spots an ant in his kitchen. Through a series of ridiculous escalations as he tries to kill the ant, Henry’s house is eventually washed away in a flood (!). At the end of the book, Henry is in his new house, and Clara is finally coming over for dinner, when he looks over his shoulder and spies… an ant in his living room. Whereupon Henry makes his wisest decision in the entire book: