Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Hello, House ...

By June T. Basemir

I was thinking about you today and how you sheltered our family for 44 happy years. Nine years ago I moved on and built a new house far away and you moved on too caring for a smaller family, albeit with some major surgery to your inside walls.

I wonder if the squeak in the attic over the master bedroom that occurred in high wind storms is ever heard? We sent our oldest son up there one time, in the height of a fearsome storm, to see if he could locate what beams were rubbing to cause the squeak – all to no avail. I was sure there was a flaw in the construction and after some stormy night the beds would be covered in the morning with broken wood and Sheetrock, but thankfully it never happened. 

Whatever caused that squeak couldn't have been too serious. Maybe you were just exercising your voice against the elements. I suppose it should have been mentioned at the closing but frankly we didn't think of it. Besides those high wind storms didn't happen very often. After all this is only Long Island....not Oklahoma!

And remember whenever it rained how the water in the gutters on your north side over the kitchen window would fill up and water would pour down into the window well below until there was no way to stop the cascading overflow as it ran down the inside of the basement wall - flooding it? It wasn't your fault. We tried a number of ideas including a plastic shield to protect the window well from filling up but the ground became so saturated with the brick path on the other side trapping the water, it naturally had no place to go but down the inside basement wall. Of course, we could have had a man dig out the window well and remove the clay dirt that he said kept the water from draining away but at the time the cost of $600. was more than we could pay. It just wasn't there. So with each heavy rain I continued to mop the basement. The number of times the basement flooded was never recorded. Each time it happened was thought to be the last. The N Y Sunday Times did double duty in soaking up what our old towels didn't. I shutter to think of it now. We eventually bought an indoor/outdoor vacuum which shortened the process considerably.

And speaking of the kitchen window(s) what about the “pollen” that I saw floating down from above one summer day? It turned out that it wasn't “pollen” at all but the shavings of the carpenter bees drilling their 1/2” holes in the fascia board behind the gutter. I thought to stop their activity with hammering in wooden plugs the same diameter in each and every hole to trap them. Little did I know the habits of Carpenter Bees...that they drill the holes and lay their eggs deep inside; then come out the same hole again. No exterminator that we called (and we called three) would touch the removal of the bees due to their fear of being stung. My youngest son and I removed the board; heard the buzzing bees; and quickly walked away. A new fascia board replaced the old one shortly thereafter. [The old one had 17 holes in it.

For years we woke up each morning with a rat-ta-tat noise coming from under the bedroom windows. Finally it was discovered that a beautiful but territorial male cardinal bird was attacking his reflection in the basement window. How he could see himself in that dusty cobwebbed “mirror” was beyond me. After several seasons, we finally felt sorry for him and hung some newspaper against the inside of the glass. Eventually he stopped but the next year he (or his son) was back attacking the side view mirrors on both cars parked in the driveway. I pictured his beak becoming shorter and shorter as there was evidence of residue on the mirrors. 

First I hung a fake owl on the bushes nearby but he was not fooled. Then I was given a Japanese garden “cat” with black glass eyes that Japanese farmers use in their gardens with success. It was placed on the same bushes but that didn't scare him either. The bird knew no honest cat would be sitting on those high bushes. So I finally hung a sock on the mirrors which did the trick...but what a nuisance when it rained and they had to be removed in order to drive either car.... where to put a wet sock when all I wanted to do was hurriedly go out grocery shopping.

Now I have to ask...Does the Cardinal bird or any of his male offspring visit? Have the Carpenter bees come back? Does your basement flood in heavy rain storms and what about the squeak heard in the master bedroom during high winds? 

I hope I haven't caused you stress by recalling these stories but I was just wondering................................................. and thinking of you today. Do you miss us?

copyright 2014, June T. Bassemir

 June Tuthill Bassemir is the widowed mother of four and grandmother of 10.  An artist and writer, she  volunteers as a docent in a 1765 farm house.   June loves old cars and antiques, and has also enjoyed furniture stripping and rug hooking.  "I used to say I was a stripper and hooker.but with so many trips around the sun, no one raises an eyebrow anymore. They only laugh."  June has given up furniture stripping, but is still an avid rug hooker.

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