Last week I gave you a guided tour of the exterior of my house and some photos I took in the part of the crawlspace that is easy to access. And I promised photos and a tour of my foray into the more difficult area on the opposite side of the house. This expedition, last week and this week, came about in an attempt to locate the entry point the squirrels (as noted in last post) were using in their exploratory missions into my house. As far as I knew, the three that I caught were scouts sent ahead to reconnoiter my territory and probe for weak spots in my perimeter. Evidently they found at least one, otherwise I would not have had to catch them for three days running. Unless I located this breach and sealed it, it was possible that I would wake up some morning with a hundred marauding squirrels running amok in my house. Sort of like Hitchcock’s The Birds, only with outdoor tree rodents.
One of the curious things about the house is that when one is standing outside looking at it, it’s almost impossible to visualize the interior. Even if you live here. I can tell you, as I have in several posts, that there is an entire two room schoolhouse buried inside, but even I have a tough time figuring out exactly where it is when I’m outside the house. Even when I’m inside I have trouble figuring it out. The house is like one of those M. C. Escher drawings where stairs go up, or do they go down? Which is the ceiling? And which is the floor?
Outside, on the opposite side of my house…
The window you see looks into the kitchen. The low door is the entrance to the crawlspace where I believe the squirrels are breaking into my domain. The pink insulation and pottery are my laughable attempts to block this door.
Open the door.
Now I’m going to get down and crawl inside. From the ground to the joists I have about 24 inches of space. I have to drag myself forward by my elbows. I’m breathing dirt and 175 years of dust. I stopped and took this picture.
This is the clearest picture of two of the pillars closest to me; I took it using the telephoto on the camera, so I’m not really as close as it looks like I am. Although my entire body is underneath the house. You can see how the house has settled and pushed the front pillar to one side. That’s four layers of brick and some old lumber holding up the house. Note the partially obscured white cinder block at the right side of the picture.
I have now hauled myself closer to the cinder block. I stop for a breather. Let me paint you a word picture…
You’ve seen those films on Nat Geo specials of faraway beaches where enormous sea lions are involved in frightening mating rituals? Where they drag their tons of blubber around the beach, thrashing, braying and snorting? That’s me underneath the house. At this point I realized I’m as far in as I’m going to get. I’m exhausted, and I really don’t like the looks of that roll of material that is tucked into one of the three openings in that cinderblock. It looks like metal sheathing, but I really don’t know what it is. All I know is, I’m done.
Slowly, slowly, I inch my way backward. “Ork! Ork!” (sound of floundering sea lion). I’m finally outside, lying on the ground, in the sun, gasping.
Mark is laughing at me.
Later on, at the Lead Penny, after a shower and a change of clothes, going through the pictures on my phone, I realized that I forgot to look for the holes where the squirrels were getting in. And I forgot to look for the freshly dug pits that the inspector said were there. The truth is, when you’re under there you forget about everything that’s not an inch under your nose or a few inches over your head. Maybe there’s something in the atmosphere that clouds the mind.
At any rate, I’m not going back under there again. At least not voluntarily.
Here’s my last picture of the night; well, almost the last picture.
It’s the end of a long day under the house. I’ve showered and had dinner. We have watched television and now it’s time for bed. In this picture, the television set (unseen) is to my left. I am on the couch looking into Sherry’s office, which also opens into a bathroom that is attached to one of the two rooms of the old schoolhouse. Note the doors. I believe in one of my earlier blogs I pointed out that every door in the house, even the closet doors, had locks on them. The question being: were the locks there to keep something in? Or something out? If you were to go through these doors you see here you would be circling around the old schoolhouse rooms. It’s very confusing. Remember the Escher drawing at the beginning of this post?
Last week I promised you a picture of the ol’ Ghostbuster in his late-night exploring garb. I took this at three AM this morning in the upstairs bathroom before I headed down to see if the light was on beneath the floorboards.
While I’m there I intend to listen for sounds of digging. And to look around the rest of the downstairs. Here’s the thing, I’ve got this strange feeling that maybe the little girl has come into the house. Maybe she sent the squirrels in first to scout the way, or just to annoy me. Does she really need a hole to get through the floor? I don’t think so. OK, ready to go.
What’s that noise?