Homeownership is nothing if not a reality check. No matter how glorious the house, it takes work to keep it in shape and functioning properly. Thus is the case with our new not-yet-named place. Just when you move in and have stars in you eyes…Wham! The house says, “Ugh, yeah, could you fix me, please?”
Our new place broke us in early. Two days after moving in, we’d managed to unpack enough of the sitting room off the kitchen that we could arrange Scout’s crate, water bowl, and food bowl in there on the tile. B went downstairs in the morning to let Scout out and feed her, because nothing comes between Scout and a prompt breakfast. Suddenly, I hear my name being yelled in that you-need-to-do-something-pronto kind of way. I race downstairs to find that every ant in a 5-mile radius has invaded our kitchen. Scout’s bag of dog food is full to the brim with little black ants. (I should note here, because this is our life and we only do things above and beyond the crazy line: This bag of dog food was just purchased the previous day. On sale. For $70. Double note for those who don’t know: Scout has food allergies, thus the expensive food. Now full of ants.)
B and I proceed to wage war in our pajamas on our second day of homeownership in our kitchen. We finally track the ants back to a tiny hole in the caulking of one of the windows in the sitting room. B grabs a caulk tube and frantically plugs the hole while I try to get Scout’s dog food bag into the garage without being taken down by the trail of ants in the process.
When it’s all over, we pause, and I ask B, “Has Scout eaten?”
“Of course she’s eaten.” (Because, again, nothing comes between Scout and breakfast.)
“Did she eat any ants?”
“I don’t know. I fed her with the lights off.”
We look down at the dog. She looks back at us and wags her tail. No harm, no foul, we pray. (Scout was fine, for the record. It’s the closest to hunting down her food and devouring it alive she’s ever come. Her wild ancestors would be ashamed.)
The next day, we wake to find that the ants have climbed to the second floor and are now devouring Zoey’s food, which is in our master bathroom. We proceed to stomp as many ants as we can while seeking out their new hole, but come up empty. They’re on the floor, the walls, the ceiling, us, everywhere. All we can determine is that it has something to do with the bath tub, which has this odd ring of plastic something—it looks like a plastic bumper—around the circumference of the tub.
We had already checked with the home inspector, who said it was just cosmetic, so we ripped it off in an effort to follow the ants’ trail. (We’d planned to take it off anyway down the road.) Underneath the plastic whatever was some half-dried caulk/glue of some sort, which immediately got all over our hands. It stuck to the wall of tile and the tub and everything in between.
But we found the tiny hole in the grout that the ants were coming in at, so B took a tube of clear bathroom caulk and went around the perimeter of the bathroom until we were sure we’d plugged up ever hole near the tub. Fast forward to Monday of this week. We woke to find that the ants had come back into our bathroom and attacked Zoey’s food bowl again, this time through a tiny crack in the baseboard inside the linen closet in the bathroom. Again, we frantically killed as many as we could while moving Zoey’s food bowl to the tub and washing it out. B caulked every single perimeter in the entire bathroom, and we waited.
B bought bug spray and treated the yard, which we discovered is covered with ant beds. He sprayed the perimeter of the house. I tried not to think about all the chemicals being used around the house (the type we bought does say it’s safe for pets and children once it’s dry, but still). Then B bought ant food that is supposed to kill the nests.
Finally, this morning, we woke up to find that the test bowl of food we’d left out in our bathroom was ant-free. Too early to declare victory? Possibly so. Let’s play it safe and say that we’ve won this battle, but the war is still TBD.
In the meantime, between all this ant killing, we did manage to get some stuff done around the house.
We’ve got some bookshelves and art on the walls in the future guest room:The wall color here is the previous owners’ choice, but we kind of like it and may keep it. It’s called Quiet Rain by Glidden. (Which has a very strong smell, for the record. We painted some holes we’d patched and had to air the room out overnight with the window open.)We cleared out a major amount of boxes from the sitting room:
(Scout was licking the slow cooker just before I took this picture. What are we going to do with her?)All the empty boxes that filled this space (60 of them!) were sold, along with the bubble wrap, on CraigsList. Why let them go to waste?
And the biggest thing was done almost all by B: painting the powder room. Before, a kind of University of Texas orange:
We picked this gray for one reason: The previous owner left a full gallon of it unopened in the garage. That’s $40 worth of paint that we couldn’t turn down, and this orange room was calling our names.
We plan to do wainscotting around the room and then paint a gray-and-white pattern on the top half using a wall stencil. The hardwood floors are going to stay because they’re perfectly good, but we’re undecided on the pedestal sink, which looks good from afar but up close is kind of wonky.
I’m actually pretty excited for this project, whenever we get to it. The beadboard that we did at the last place really transformed it on a budget, so I think this will look great once we’re done.
Hopefully without any interference from our ant friends.