After our whirlwind time last weekend, we wanted to have a quieter time this weekend. It didn’t quite work out that way, but it was pretty good anyway.
Friday morning I took my car in. I had it in a week earlier for an oil change, and they said they’d noticed both an oil leak (possibly coming from the head gasket) and a power steering fluid leak. They suggested I take my car to have the engine block steam-cleaned, and then come back in a week to see if they could find the leak. So I did that, and they couldn’t find any evidence of recent leakage. So perhaps whatever they saw was an old leak which has since been fixed. They also showed me how to monitor my power steering fluid level to know when to add more fluid, or when it might need to get fixed (which will be expensive). So, that was about as good as I could have hoped for. I did get a new battery, though, since mine was nearing the end of its life.
That night we went out for Italian food and drinks, which I was craving. And then we went for one of our walks around the neighborhood, which we haven’t done recently since Debbi has been hurt (shin splints and/or pulled muscles in her leg), or sick, or we’ve just been busy (after all, I bike to work on the days we did our walks over the winter). We dropped in on my friend Alex and his family so Debbi could see how their black lab Alton is doing. He’s no longer a puppy, is how he’s doing (well, he’s dog-sized by still has a puppy brain). He also got so excited that he peed on my sandal. Thanks, Alton!
Saturday we ran some errands. The filter warning light for our refrigerator’s ice maker has been on for a couple of weeks, so we bought a new filter for it (and subsequently found the one we already had). We then discovered that it didn’t actually have a filter installed! Yet it took two years for the warning light to come on. Weird. Well, there’s a filter now.
We also bought a new area rug for our family room, as we had to get rid of the old rug because Newton had peed on it. (I hadn’t really intended this entry to be about animals peeing, but there you go.) Debbi wanted one that didn’t have shag since the old one was a pain to clean and vacuum. We found one we like pretty well, and put it down. And then we decided to run it the other direction, so we moved it on Sunday. Lots of furniture moving. But it did give us a chance to pretty thoroughly de-fur the couch.
The cats love the new rug. They’ve all been lying on it, especially when it’s in the sun, and we’ve played with them on it. Jackson likes to lie under the coffee table now that the rug is there.
We made a trip out to one of our favorite pet stores to buy some toys for the cats and also for Debbi’s sister’s family’s kitten. And we got Chinese for dinner, trying a couple of new dishes by ordering their prix fixe menu (or do I have to figure out what “prix fixe” is in Chinese to write that?).
We have been a little worried about Roulette since Newton left us last week, since now all three cats she grew up with are gone, and she hasn’t warmed up to the kittens yet. So we gave her some extra attention. We even each got her to play for a bit, and she tolerated having Sadie sleep almost right next to her. I wonder if she knew Newton was not in good shape and if that was stressing her out. Now that that’s been resolved, maybe she will integrate with the kittens a little better.
Sunday I got up and mowed the lawn. The back lawn was looking a little brown, and I finally did what ought to help it: Replaced the solenoid for the valve which controls the automatic sprinklers for that area. I hate doing those kinds of home repair, because it seems like when I do it not only do I fail to fix the problem, but I manage to break something else. But this went smoothly (other than dousing my shorts with water when I removed the old solenoid, not realizing I should have shut off the water to the valves first), and I ran the sprinklers in the evening to let them get some water overnight. Talking with my friend Chad about sprinklers I’ve learned a bunch of things about them recently. I’m not sure I’d want to actually replace one of the valves myself, but maybe I could.
We wound up the all-too-short weekend by grilling pork chops and asparagus for dinner (and I made some sour apple martinis), and then I went upstairs to pay bills.
The weekend flew by, and I feel like we didn’t have quite enough downtime during it, but we did get a lot of stuff done, and between the family room and the sprinklers it feels more comfortable now.
This weekend we took advantage of OSH‘s “we pay the sales tax” weekend to pick up a bunch of stuff for around the house. For example:
- New filters for the HVAC system. Apparently you’re supposed to replace them more often than once every 2 years! (LOL.) The old ones were completely filthy, ew.
- New bulbs for the under-counter lights in the kitchen and laundry room. 6 of the 9 bulbs in the kitchen were out. Replacing them was simple once I figured out how to get the covers off.
- A couple of new daisies for sports in the yard, as a couple of plants died off over the last year.
I also mowed the lawn and gave it some food, so it was a pretty productive weekend. I still haven’t replaced the busted tube on my bike, so I still haven’t biked to work, but hopefully this week.
We also went to Half Moon Bay yesterday morning for the first time in a few months, and enjoyed the incoming warm weather to go for a couple of nice walks along the coast. We got parking at the trailhead near Pillar Point Harbor to go on this nice walk out to the beach (very popular with dog-walkers we noticed), although we didn’t walk along the beach itself.
I feel like I’m finally just about caught up on all the stuff that piled up during my trip east last month.
I’ve had four of the last six days off. Well, two of those were the weekend, of course, but I took Wednesday and Thursday off to both catch up on some things and to have a fun day off since I haven’t taken much vacation time this year.
Debbi took Wednesday off and we decided to drive down to Santa Cruz and then up the coast. We had breakfast at Stacks in Campbell, and then drove down to Santa Cruz. We passed to small traffic jams on the way, but otherwise it wasn’t too bad.
In Santa Cruz we went to the Museum of Natural History, which is small, but hard to beat for the $4 admission. Plus it’s near a nice beach which you can walk to while your parking pass is still good. Then we went into downtown for lunch, dropped in a couple of stores to shop, and visited The Penny Ice Creamery, which a cow-orker recommended and which was very tasty!
Our drive up the coast was uneventful, other than looking around to stop at the few beaches I wanted to drop in on. I remembered doing this same drive 13 years ago when I got my car, and stopping at several beaches which were clearly visible from Highway 1, and this time we stopped at some other ones. We particularly enjoyed seeing kitesurfers at one beach:
We also stopped at the Pigeon Point Lighthouse and saw a couple of sea lions from a distance, and visited Pebble Beach (no, not the one with the famous golf course).
We should’ve brought some water bottles with us, but otherwise it was a nice drive along the coast seeing some sights we hadn’t seen before.
Debbi went back to work Thursday and I worked on stuff at home, such as mowing the lawn. I also took care of some of my Mom’s affairs – such as cancelling her cell phone contract, since she doesn’t even know where her cell phone is at this point; if she ever needs one again, a prepaid phone will probably be the way to go. I’m constantly surprised at how many details there are to take care of, yet how most of them are not too hard individually – they just add up over time. Managing my own affairs is hard enough!
I ran a couple of errands for my own, and left lunch a little too late, settling on buying stuff for PB&J sandwiches at home.
Friday I had a 1-day work week, and Debbi and I went to Cascal for dinner. Yum!
Over the weekend we worked on some home projects. It started with a trip to the vet with Blackjack, who has been breathing more audibly lately and one of his eyes has been getting gunked up. We got some drops for his eye, and some blood work done (which came back the same as his last tests). We’re always worrying that his next symptoms might be the other shoe dropping, but so far it’s all be pretty little stuff (though the vet visits get expensive). He and Newton have both been doing pretty well this summer.
We went by Crate & Barrel to buy some new drinking glasses, and ended up also buying some wine cabinets, which we’ve needed for a while. (The old Ikea bookcase currently holding our wine is not in great shape.) We also tried to go to Ikea, but couldn’t find a parking space! Or, rather, we could, but only a lo-o-ong way from the front door, so we gave up. We went back Sunday morning and bought some shelving for our dining room, to store knick-knacks and other things that don’t currently have a home. I put it together and then we unpacked two of the last boxes remaining from our move. Almost done! I think we have 3 or 4 boxes in the study yet to unpack, but at least 2 of those are old gaming materials that I can’t quite decide to get rid of.
So a pretty productive weekend all-in-all. We finished it by grilling steak & baked potatoes, and playing a round of lawn bowling.
It was back to work today. Hard to believe fall has arrived already!
I wrote how two weekends ago we had our smoke detectors go off during a power outage at home. I’m still pretty sure they went off due to steam from the shower (since the vent fan in the bathroom wasn’t working, the power being out and all). Annoying, but it happens.
This morning I was woken up by the smoke alarm going off at 6:10 am. Which is about 40 minutes before my alarm went off. I was not happy.
The strange thing is that the thing only did its three-beep signal once, and then stopped. But I got up anyway because I wondered if it would go off again in 5 minutes or something. But it didn’t.
Our house has 7 smoke detectors, which I believe are connected to the power supply (and have battery backups), 5 upstairs and 2 downstairs, and they’re also connected to each other. When they operate normally they have a green LED which is on constantly, and a red LED which flashes once a minute. (It’s pretty hard to see because it flashes very briefly, and you have to sit for up to a minute watching it.)
I went around to each detector and saw that 6 of them were flashing green, and one (in the downstairs hallway) was not. The instructions say that flashing green indicates that the alarm which is flashing was recently triggered and then the triggering situation went away.
What on earth would trigger six alarms for just a few seconds and then stop, but not the seventh alarm?
My best guess is that there was some sort of power surge or outage. Either that or one alarm was triggered by something but for some reason five others went into that flashing mode.
Another possibility is that I need to clean the detectors, which the instructions recommend doing and which we’ve never done. And another possibility is that one or more detectors is failing. So I should test them.
The cats were pretty funny after the alarm went off. Roulette was all wound up, running around and meowing. Newton was sitting in the downstairs hallway, and then was a bit restless, walking upstairs (which he doesn’t often do since his hospital stay last spring) and joining me for my shower. Blackjack was snoozing with me when the alarm went off, came down for breakfast while I was reading the instructions, and then went up to sleep in the study, which he doesn’t often do. Newton and Rou I assume were disturbed by the beeping, but Blackjack is deaf so I think my getting up early just threw him off.
Anyway, I went around the house and reset the six flashing detectors, and nothing else happened with them this morning.
Hopefully this was just a fluke.
We had a pretty busy weekend lined up this past one, and then it got even busier with some sudden plans (“sudden plans”? Is that a thing?) that came up.
Saturday morning Debbi had an appointment with the hair stylist (on Saturday morning as the result of her schedule getting jumbled up during the previous week), so I spent the morning finishing up some work on the study (okay, mostly I was filing Magic cards, but also paying bills).
When she got back we went to lunch and then to the hardware store.
See, a couple of weeks ago I inadvertently fertilized part of the lawn. (Well, I was planting some new seed, with a mix that included mulch and fertilizer.) I noticed last week that that patch of lawn was growing much better than the rest of the lawn – which has gotten a bit brown despite all the rain – so I determined to fertilize the rest of it. I bought a fertilizing machine from OSH and spent some time on Saturday doing the lawn. I had to run back to OSH for more fertilizer, having probably over-fertilized part of the lawn (but it probably needed it). Whee! Now I’m trying to keep from checking the lawn every morning and night to see if it’s looking greener and lusher.
We also picked up some new solar lights, and a new hose and a box for it. Home improvement! Well, yard improvement.
(Wait until I buy a shed and see how much I write about that!)
As I was finishing up, I got a call from my friend Syd, who was in town for one night and was inviting some of his friends out for dinner. So on fairly short notice Debbi and I got our act together and joined them. It was good to see him, as I’ve missed him since he left.
This was in lieu of our usual Saturday plans of going to Cafe Borrone. We’ve been down on Borrone lately because the variety, prices and portion sizes of their entrees have all been going in the wrong directions, and they’ve eliminated some of our favorite desserts. So going elsewhere wasn’t unwelcome (we’d planned to have dinner elsewhere anyway). One of the desserts they’ve eliminated was the chocolate rum cake from The Prolific Oven, so after dinner we went to that establishment and got a couple of slices of cake. In theory I guess we could consider hanging out there on Saturday evening from time to time. (We’ve tried the coffee chops in downtown Mountain View, but they all tend to have bands on the weekend nights, which puts a damper on our desire for a quiet reading evening.)
Friday night we got an invitation from our friends Chad and Camille to visit on Sunday for swimming and a barbecue. So Sunday morning we went to the grocery store and Debbi made potato salad to bring. Chad and me and the kids spent, what, an hour or two? swimming in their pool, and then we had dinner. We hadn’t seen much of them since last year, since we’ve all been busy, and we had a great time. Camille tells us that their daughter has upgraded us from “friends of their parents” to “cousins”.
Monday was my and Debbi’s 11th dating anniversary, and we went out for our usual anniversary dinner. Where have the years gone?
Since then I’d like to say things have been quieter since then, but yesterday I biked to work for the first time this year, and boy did my butt hurt afterwards!
Since we’re never snowed in around here in mid-February, I spent a chunk of this weekend doing yard work:
- I raked the front yard, hopefully the last batch of leaves I’ll have to rake this year. Had to go across the street to retrieve the leaf pan from our neighbor Juan (it’s his, but he doesn’t have many leaves, so it often lives with us).
- Dug up some crab grass and pulled up many tree seedlings from around the boxwood in front of the yard. The boxwood is young – most of it under 18″ high – and a bunch of it turned partly brown earlier in the winter. I suspect it needed more water, but now I wonder if the stuff I pulled up was taking away some of its water and nutrients. Maybe it will bounce back now. (All of it is still partly green, so it hasn’t died.)
- Pulled up a daisy around the side of the house which was a style I’m not fond of, and which had grown to be ginormous since we moved in. I transplanted a different daisy from a large pot on the patio in its place. Hopefully it will settle in nicely.
- Finally transplanted the lavender plant that Joar and Karin gave us last Memorial Day into a proper pot. Only took me nine months.
- Did you know that when you leave a plant in its temporary container which in turn is inside a real pot for nine months, snails discover it and decide to hang out there? Dozens. Of. Snails. Eew. I threw them all into the rosemary bush.
- Pulled up a bunch of weeds in the back lawn.
- Trimmed back a bunch of juniper and daisy plants along the back fence that were starting to grow over the lawn. Take that!
It’s been nice having a break from mowing during the winter, but I gotta say, I’d rather mow than rake.
2011 was a mixed bag for us, with some big highs and big lows.
The main high was buying our new house (as well as selling the townhouse, no small accomplishment in this economy). It took us about 3 months of looking, and no small amount of frustration (bidding on and not getting a house we liked, and seeing many other houses we didn’t like) before we found this one at their open house. Debbi is a believer in things that are “meant to be”, and I’m not, but this house is a strong circumstantial argument for such a thing: It’s really perfect for us in location and layout, it’s just what we wanted. And the move went smoothly, even though it took weeks after the move to get the last few items moved from the townhouse
The other high was Debbi’s sabbatical and our trip to Hawaii, where we went to Maui and the big island. This was a great trip which we’ll remember for a long time.
The low, of course, was learning that Blackjack has cancer (lymphoma). He spent 5 weeks getting radiation therapy, followed by 6 months of chemotherapy. He was a good boy through all of it, even though he hated going to the vet. He seemed to be doing pretty well, until we got back from Hawaii when we learned that he’s gone deaf, and he was very wobbly on his feet. That seems to have been the low point for him, and he’s improved since then, almost back to his old self. But we still worry.
Those were the big points of the year. We finished out 2011 with a week off from work (both our companies closed down for the holidays). We spent most of it quietly at home enjoying the house.
We’ve just about got the last room in the house, the dining room, set up. For a while it was just the room with the big tables and all the boxes we hadn’t yet unpacked. Actually it still has 2/3 of the boxes we haven’t unpacked (by which I mean “2 boxes”, the third one is upstairs in the study), but now it has a buffet tables filled with our board games, and we bought a rug for it on Saturday, so it’s looking pretty nice. The cats are enjoying the rug, since it gives them somewhere comfortable to lie where they can look into both the living room and the kitchen.
Blackjack has been doing better this week. We’ve both seen him moving around more swiftly and even starting trouble with Roulette. He’s getting more comfortable jumping, and this weekend he got a little more affection towards Debbi, which she loved since he’s her special cat. But he also likes to go into the smaller spaces in the house (the bathrooms and closets) and meow his head off. He’s always had a really pathetic meow, so when he started doing this we’d go find him to make sure he’s okay, but it seems he just likes to do it. I don’t know if he can hear himself meow, or if he has a bit of tinnitis or similar phenomenon which makes him want to meow, or if he’s just frustrated at his condition and does it to let out some frustration.
Newton, meanwhile, has a cold, and I need to get some meds for him.
Thursday we drove over to Half Moon Bay for breakfast and then went up to San Francisco for ice cream sundaes at Ghirardelli Square. We also went to Borderlands Books, but the cats were not in residence, since they’ve connected the bookstore and cafe and the cats can’t be there until they have a door between the two. Oh well!
We stayed up ’til Midnight on New Year’s, mostly watching the NCIS marathon on the USA network, including many episodes from last season I hadn’t seen. We got visits from two sets of neighbors from our dinner party wishing us a good one and saying how they were happy we’d moved to the neighborhood. We’re glad to be here, it’s nice to have friendly faces around to chat with when we step out the door.
I have a bonus day off today (Debbi’s back at work), and I plan to just take care of a few things around the house and figure out what to make for dinner. And then it’s back to work tomorrow, trying to put back together all the code I tore apart and rewrote during December. (Ahh, nice big code-rewriting projects, always fun and satisfying. But this one has been larger than any of us had anticipated.)
While I can’t say I’m looking forward to figuring out my income taxes this year after everything that went on last year (but hey, that’s why I have a CPA), I’m hoping that 2012 will be less momentous than 2011 was. On balance things are good right now, but I hope we can go a few more years without that sort of disruption again!
Well okay, another trip to Hawaii would be acceptable.
Two nice things about our new house: One, we have enough space to host a dinner party. Two, we have a neighborhood and we’ve been getting to know our neighbors. And that’s what we did Friday night.
Actually it was our neighbor Juan who wanted to have a get-together, and he finally pinned us down last month to set a date. We invited a couple from a couple of houses down whom we all knew, and the couple between their houses who moved in recently. Everyone brought something, but Juan’s wife Maria cooked most of the entrees: Roll-up lasagna, and chicken tortellini with sausages.
The sign of a good party, I think, is when you lose track of time, and after people started arriving around 7:15, it was 10:00 almost before we knew it. The food was delicious, and we had a great evening all of us chatting. Blackjack hung out with us most of the evening and even showed that he can still jump if sufficiently motivated (like piles of yummy food on top of the counter). Even Roulette came down to say hi later in the evening.
We also got to show off our Christmas lights: We have a new light show on the front of the house, and we have two Christmas trees up: Our main one in the living room, and a smaller one in the family room. All of our guests live across the street from us, so they all get the benefit of the front lights.
A great night.
Back in May Debbi and I bought a house together. But since I already owned a townhouse (which I bought in 2001), that left the question of what to do with the townhouse. My agent suggested I consider renting it, given that the market for homes is still pretty soft, but after considering it I decided that I didn’t want to be a landlord: Even with a management company doing the work of managing the property, it wasn’t something I really wanted to be responsible for. Besides which, the complex is quite small, which means we all shared the load of doing work for the homeowners’ association, something I didn’t really want to continue with – maintaining our new house is plenty of work (even split between the two of us), and I didn’t want to keep having to chip in on the old place.
So, to jump to the end of the story, I sold my townhouse on Tuesday.
As for the middle of the story…
We spent the first two months after we moved unpacking, buying stuff, hosting an open house, and generally enjoying our new house. Then at the end of June my agent prodded me (gently) into moving on the townhouse, since it was just sitting there empty accumulating property tax obligations and HOA dues payments.
I guess I’d expected that preparing the place for sale would be a whirlwind of remodeling activity which would all be a blur but would be done fairly quickly. In fact there was less work to be done than I’d expected (mainly making sure the unit was fundamentally sound, and making it more presentable), but it took quite a bit longer than I’d expected. Here’s what we did:
- A chimney sweep came in and cleaned the chimney. This was pretty easy, and he even found a part which needed to be replaced. (I’m going to miss having a wood-burning fireplace, as our city prohibits newer homes from having them, as they’re big sources of pollution. The gas fireplace we have is nice, though.)
- The unit was painted. We got estimates from a couple of places, and then I had to choose the colors. Of course, my feeling was, “pick whatever makes the most sense for selling it”, since I certainly didn’t plan to put my own stamp on a unit that I soon wouldn’t own, but still, it was up to me. We had them come back to touch up a few things, too. So this took quite a bit longer than I’d expected. (The paint looked great once it was done, though!)
- The carpets also needed replacing, since they were 10 years old or more. We got a couple of estimates, picked a company, picked a grade and color of carpet – and then things got delayed due to a family matter at the company we’d chosen. Not really anyone’s fault, but it was a little more time added in. By this time we were deep into August.
- We had a landscaper come out to tidy up the back yard and lay down some wood chips, as well as stain the bench back there.
- A pest inspector examined the unit, and found some cracks in the flooring under the washer/dryer closet, and a crack in the pan of the master shower, which led to concerns about possible water damage underneath.
- We hired a contractor to fix the water damage, including replacing the master shower. The damage was minimal-to-nonexistent, happily, and the replaced shower stall looked great. However, this actually took us up to the beginning of our vacation in Hawaii in September.
- While we were in Hawaii, a home inspector checked out the unit. While it’s comforting how thorough home inspectors are (especially considering that there are many parts of homes that can’t be inspected), it’s also worrying in case they find something really serious. Fortunately,they didn’t find any such thing.
- Along the way I filled out disclosures about the unit, gather information from my records, and get the HOA to provide information about the association to my agent to add to the disclosures. This involved a lot of reading, looking things up, and signing.
- And finally, it went on the market smack in the middle of our Hawaii trip.
So it wasn’t that anything went wrong, just that all the work and a few delayed added up to more time to get it on the market than I’d expected. I’d originally figured it would be on the market in August, when in fact it went on in mid-September.
Surprisingly, an offer came in on the place the weekend before it hit the market – the day before we flew to Hawaii. We deferred the offer for a while because I just didn’t have the mental bandwidth to deal with thinking it through at the time. However, that did mean I spent bits of time during our trip communicating with my agent.
In the end, though, that unexpected offer was the one I accepted. The buyer was apparently very interested in a unit in that particular neighborhood (hard for me to argue with since I liked it quite a bit myself, especially the great freeway access), and kept in contact with my agent while the place was going on the market.
While the market in our city is pretty good – everything sells, and things which take longer to sell tend to be overpriced, and sell once the price drops – it’s still a pretty soft market; prices are nowhere near where they were in 2006. But then, they are a little above where they were when I bought the unit in 2001, so it did go for more than I paid for it. Even with the soft market I’d expected it would go for a little more, but it didn’t turn out that way. Still, I’m okay with the price it went for – I haven’t had any recriminations about it.
So the unit went into escrow in late September, and finally closed on Tuesday. (It is a lot less stressful to be on the selling end of escrow than the buying end, as most of your work has already been done just getting the unit listed.)
It is a little sad to no longer own the unit. Whenever I went back to the place it seemed a little more alien as all the decor changed. I kept thinking of my late cat Jefferson whenever I went there, since it had been his home longer than anywhere else, and it was of course his last home – I’m not going to have any memories of him in the new house.
I made multiple sweeps of the place during escrow to see if there was anything we’d forgotten. We made a trip to the county’s household hazardous waste drop-off to get rid of a bunch of old paint and similar items, almost all of which had been left there by the previous owner and which were now out-of-date, if they were even still any good at all. And I found a couple of piles of stuff in the garage which I hadn’t realized were there which I either threw out or brought over to the new place. I finally went through every closet, drawer and shelf in the house one day and didn’t find anything else, so I think I got it all.
Debbi suggested we leave a card saying “welcome to your new home” for the buyer, so I did that on Monday, and left the keys and the garage door opener as well. Then I let myself out one last time.
It was the perfect house for me for many years, and really it was mainly that Debbi and I had outgrown it that caused us to move. I hope the new owner enjoys living there as much as we did.
But we like our new house an awful lot, and really, I don’t have any regrets about making the move.
Last weekend we had our second house guests in our new house, as K and her new boyfriend C visited for a day and a half (two nights) at the end of a vacation they’d be on. We had a good time, with dinner at Cascal, and a visit to the Computer History Museum. I hadn’t been to the museum since before they opened their spiffy new exhibit hall. While the artifacts on display haven’t greatly changed (other than lengthier descriptions and some multimedia presentations), the big change is that they were able to spread out the exhibits for the personal computer era from a couple of racks of hardware to several rooms of material. Well worth visiting, as always.
Two sets of house guests in two weekends is a little exhausting, though, since it means we spent a lot of time cleaning and preparing for their arrival. We enjoyed having them, but it feels like it’s been quite a while since I’ve had the time to keep up with hobbies and even home maintenance.
That was the most fun “bump” in recent days. The rest are not any fun.
Blackjack has been more subdued lately, and Debbi and I have both been worried about him. He had his regular chemo treatment on Thursday, and the vet said she agreed that something seems off, but it’s nothing she could diagnose, and that we should keep an eye on him. He did have one of his more difficult chemo treatments right before our first guests arrived, and it might be that all the visitors has thrown him off and he’s just feeling tired of change himself. Fortunately, these last couple of days he’s seemed perkier than he had the previous week, so maybe he’s getting over it. But we’re still worrying about him.
The other big bump has been that we have ants in our house. The tiny, black kind who send out little scouts and then swarm when they find things. The weird thing is that they started out in our master bedroom, and have gradually made their way downstairs. They’re in the kitchen now, and found the cat food yesterday. We’ve been dealing with them as best we can, amidst everything else we’ve been doing, but it’s been massively stressful. As with many such problems, my first concern is the cats: The ants aren’t really a danger to the cats, but I don’t want to use a treatment that will hurt them. If it was just us humans, I’d be more likely to call an exterminator to nuke the buggers.
Here’s what we’ve tried:
- We started by getting a soy-based spray and spraying it along the base boards of the bedroom, which stopped them from coming in for about a week.
- We bought some Grant’s Ant Stakes, which seemed to eventually get rid of the ants in the immediate vicinity of the stake, but they have not shown a huge amount of interest in them, so they haven’t done their intended job of destroying the colony.
- We’ve treated a few spots outside with a spray insecticide, which certainly dealt with the problem there, but doesn’t help indoors, since I don’t want the cats to be exposed if we can avoid it.
- I’ve caulked a couple of places where they were getting in, but I don’t think we can caulk every opening.
- Finally, after reading an article by my friend J.D., yesterday we deployed some Terro bait traps (which I’d previously picked up but not tried), which is another “kill the nest” treatment. This one the ants are quite interested in, and we’re hopeful that we’ll have J.D.’s experience and see the ants go away over the next couple of days. Cross your fingers for us that it works.
If the Terro does work, then we’ll investigate more perimeter defense to see if we can keep them from coming back.
While I don’t really hate ants, seeing them swarm around the Terro baits makes my skin crawl. I just don’t want them in the house. I can’t recall ever living anywhere that ants were a problem – it’s weird that we never had a problem with them at the townhouse, which is only half a mile away. But maybe ants are just a problem everyone has to deal with around here, and we just got lucky. I don’t know.
I thought I was dealing with adjusting to our new home pretty well, but the ants have really thrown a wrench into it. It sucks.
A smaller issue is that one of our carbon monoxide detectors (which are now required by law in California homes) beeps occasionally, and the other night about 2 am it decided to beep multiple times, but not persistently, and not in any pattern that the instructions said meant anything. So after checking things out, I removed the batteries, and put fresh ones in in the morning. No more beeps since then, but it’s annoying. (One friend on Facebook called this the “pull me off the wall and throw me in a drawer beep”.)
Lastly, we’ve started moving on selling the townhouse. My agent says it’s in good shape, and he was impressed with some of the things the HOA has done over the last decade to stay up to code. We’re doing the necessary improvements (such as painting and recarpeting, things we probably would have done soon even if we hadn’t moved), and hopefully it’ll go on the market in the next month or so. Other than a few miscommunications, this has been rather fun; but amidst everything else that’s been going on it’s been just one more thing to take care of when I’m already pretty stressed out.
Overall, I’m hoping we’ll have good progress on the ants in the next couple of days, and that my stress over them will go way down.