One of the more stressful things about running a house on my own is maintaining it. I can keep the fridge stocked, get grass stains out of my kids’ sweatpants and even sew on a button, but I didn’t even realize that I had an air filter, or that it had to be changed.
I once had to give a metre reading for either the hydro company or the gas company—I still don’t know which is which. Not only did I have to call my ex-husband to ask where the metres were located but I ended up finding the wrong one, reporting a higher number and getting charged an obscene bill as a result. I eventually got it straightened out, but not without feeling like a complete idiot.
But there’s more. One time there was a raccoon in my recycling bin. I ran over to my neighbour’s house, shrieking in fear, and asked him to help us out. I came to him in a panic as well when my garage door stopped opening or closing. I’ve stopped short of asking him to open the lid of a salsa jar, preferring to go hungry rather than admit I’m a completely helpless weakling. I’ve made many a frantic calls to my brother, a contractor, for several other issues: when the towel rack fell off the bathroom wall, when the rod in my closet collapsed, when my kitchen drawer stopped sliding in and out… the list goes on and on. This summer I had a wasp nest in my backyard. My solution? Don’t go outside. Raccoons got into my shed out back. Did we go by the shed to clean it out? Not even once. In fact, I vowed never to even peek inside.
Then, just this week, on account of the cold weather and the fact that I live near a ravine, I started noticing mouse droppings in my kitchen. I was horrified; it was the ultimate cleanliness violation. I had enough of being helpless. I laid out traps, feeling empowered on my trip to Home Depot. Still, the mice were un-phased. They just kept on pooping ignoring the poison completely. Determined to take control of my home, I called a rodent expert . I ended up having a lovely man named Alexander from Contact Pest Control come to my house that same day.
“You’ve definitely got mice in the house,” he told me. “They can squeeze through a hole the size of a dime, let me just check for entry points.”
I followed him around my house as he inspected inside and out. He pointed out several areas that expose my house to rodents. He filled the holes with steel wool and told me to go over them again with expanding foam. (It’s on my shopping list for my next Home Depot run.) Then he laid traps and sold me a one-year warranty, promising to come back if his traps didn’t work.
“By the way,” he said before he left. “Your shed door is open. That would be a great place for rodents and raccoons to breed. I suggest you have it cleaned out.”
I called 1-8000-Got-Junk and they came that very afternoon.
“Yup, animals have definitely been in here,” one of the workers confirmed.
“Get rid of everything,” I instructed. “Everything!”
While they cleaned the shed, I took care of business inside. I changed my fridge filter, which needs to be done when your fridge filter reading starts to get low. I had brought my fridge cartridge with me to make sure I bought the right replacement; then I just popped it right in the hole at the bottom of the fridge. I changed my air filter. The existing filter was black, so I bought the correct size, wrote the date on the cardboard frame and replaced the old with the new. It should be changed every few months. I also took my car to be cleaned. Somehow a chocolate bar slipped out of a loot bag, a mouse got in and had a feast in my car. I felt completely violated by this disgusting experience, but also somehow in charge. Even if I have to call my brother, knock on my neighbour’s door or contact an expert whose ad I saw online, I’ve got a home to maintain and I’m going to do it one way or another.