I spent a lot of time patching up holes at our house this summer. I’m not going to lie. I often spent much of that time simultaneously patching and singing The Beatles 1967 hit of the same name.
I’m fixing a hole where the rain gets in
And stops my mind from wandering
Where it will go
I’m filling the cracks that ran through the door
And kept my mind from wandering
Where it will go
But why? What holes? Why was this such an ongoing project throughout the summer?
The answer, my friends, is a small one. A chipmunk-sized one. Because it’s a chipmunk.
Early this summer we noticed a hole in our driveway, not far from where the garage door is. We assumed, as it was below the path of gutters above, that excess water had worn it away over time. So, one afternoon I went out, filled it with some rocks, mixed up a little concrete (with plans to cover it with cold patch once it dried) and filled up the hole. Inside the house I went and peeked out the window about an hour later to see if it had dried up yet and ready for the next step.
I did a double take at the window. Wait, what?
The entire hole had been dug up, or rather pushed up from the inside. Before the concrete could dry, it and the rocks below it now sat in the driveway, scattered about. As I inspected closer, I found that it wasn’t just a hole. It was a tunnel! A tunnel that led to the grass just off to the side of our driveway, where a tiny little chipmunk looked at me before running off.
I couldn’t believe it.
So, I patched up the hole again, this time covering it with a bucket and stone on top, while covering the other end of the tunnel with a big brick. This time it worked.
Until another hole popped up a few feet away. And then we discovered multiple holes in the masonry walls of the garage itself where our little friend was coming and going, leaving his droppings and gnawing away at any bags of birdseed. Which I discovered by picking up said bag and having it spill out from the bottom thanks to a chewed hole on the bottom.
Because I apparently live in a reality akin to 1940s Donald Duck cartoons where yes, I’m playing the role of Donald to my tiny co-star of Chip, Dale, whichever one is burrowing holes into our driveway and garage.
As the sun begins to set on summer, so too (at least I think) has the sun set on the cartoonish ongoing battle with our small antagonist (or are they the protagonist and I’m the antagonist?). The holes have been successfully filled in with rocks, concrete and a layer of cold patch on top. The holes in the garage walls have been filled in with steel wool, spray foam insulation, and where possible, a layer of concrete.
All those years of laughing at Donald Duck’s over the top attempts to stop those little chipmunks from causing chaos in his quiet little world have finally come back to bite me, I suppose.
But if you see me in my driveway, doing the Donald Duck angry tantrum bit again next season, you’ll know why.
Why such a specific lesson, you ask?
Because while playing around and being a little maniac, as little kids are supposed to be, our little guy used his head to shatter one of the panes on the doors leading to our ‘sun room.’
Don’t worry – aside from a little pain, he is okay. No bleeding, no cuts. We couldn’t have asked for a better outcome on his end. The window itself, however, did not fare well in this battle.
Side note – I wasn’t in the room when it happened. I had stepped outside to attend to a stray cat that appeared to be hobbling by our garage. He unfortunately wouldn’t let me get close to him, but I was able to leave some food and blankets for him to rest and hopefully heal. But that’s a whole other story someday.
When I returned to the house about 90 seconds later, Meg was holding our teary-eyed little monkey in her arms, had a look of pure anger on her face as I entered the house again and was motioning with her head to the door. When it finally dawned on me what she was doing, I noticed the door and the glass, which had the spider-webbing design that you see when an object usually gets flung through it.
She kept him out of reach while I covered up the damage with some newspaper. Before I took it upon myself to dismantle the remaining glass, I wanted to make sure I did so correctly. So, I gave my father-in-law (the man who constructed his own house and master of tools) a call and asked him if I needed anything special. He called back a little while longer while the little guy was napping and told me he was nearby anyway and coming over. So, using a wrench, we pulled as much glass out of the square pane as we could and then, using a putty knife and that wrench, removed the wooden border that holds the pane in place to make sure there were no stray pieces left behind.
Some garbage bags and vacuuming and the area was all set. Although we currently have a hole to our front room in the french doors, something the little guy loves to point out to us whenever he gets near it, putting his arm through and showing me there’s no glass there. Yes, buddy, I’m well aware there’s no glass there. Thank you.
Now, it’s a matter of me going to the hardware store and ordering a piece of picture-frame-type glass that is the size of the square and then putting it back into place with the wooden borders. Of course, as is always the case when something seems ‘easy peasy’ in home repair, hammering out the nails from the wooden borders yielded one successful nail on each piece of wood and one bent, crooked nail. So I’ve still got some work to do.
The point of the story, though is emergency averted, little guy safe and a new skill learned.
It was a weekend in late October when the battle began – a battle whose first round would go to a device so simple in its design, yet so infuriating. Eventually, I would claim victory, but the road to getting there would be paved with anger and expletives.
Yes it was the epic battle of me vs. the installation of the toilet paper dispenser in our bathroom – a battle for the ages.
There’s many places our tale could begin – when we received the brushed nickel toilet paper holder off our wedding registry three years ago, intent that we were going to get that bathroom renovation done by the end of the year.
Or it could be last Christmas, when we ACTUALLY began the bathroom renovation – covering up what was a tiled wall from the 50s or 60s, white-washing woodwork that was once beautiful and painted by a previous homeowner with a color that can only be described as “poop-brown” as well as pulling out a pedestal sink we once thought would be the perfect fit only to find it utterly impractical. This project began almost a year ago, and here we are, little by little, still putting things together.
We weren’t exactly the speediest when it came to home renovations back when we were just a couple. Now that we have a toddler running around, oh boy, is that repair time few and far between. It started last Christmas, when we started priming all that poop-brown painted woodwork. It was so dark that it took roughly 10 coats of primer and paint to get it covered with white – a process that was done mostly during the little guy’s naps. Then came covering up the flooring, then the tiled walls, a new sink, the quarter-round, and now, the toilet paper holder.
My father-in-law, a plumber by trade but knowledgeable about many a home repair situation, warned me that getting through the now-covered up tiles was going to be a challenge and I didn’t realize how true that was. He told me a nail would work to hammer away at the tile so that I could drill the screws through the tile and into the wall.
Several nails met their sad end trying to break through that tile. When I called my father-in-law to admit the defeat he casually told me ‘oh, I meant a hard nail. you can’t use regular nails on that stuff.’ A lesson learned too late. What was this ‘hard nail’ he spoke of? Well, he luckily had one I could borrow to find out. It acted, in a way, like a pointy chisel. I would place it into the spot on the tile and hit it with the hammer to chip a hole away at the tile. After several sweat-inducing attempts, I was ready to drill.
However, it would require more than just the standard household drill we needed. No, no. This needed an industrial-grade drill to get through the tile and walls.
Who knew having toilet paper hanging from the wall was going to cause this much frustration, right?
A lot of expletives flew that evening as I tried to drill the holes, based on the template provided by the manufacturer. This was I think one of the largest sources of frustration, as I had already used their template to drill holes through the walls in a way that could not be covered up at all, and they were slightly off!!!
This incident has, yes, made me incredibly suspicious about using those templates in the future as opposed to judging for myself.
So, holes were drilled and I had no choice. I would have to make sure that when I placed the holder onto the brackets now attached to the wall, that they be sort of, jury-rigged into place and tightened as much as possible to keep them in place as close to the intended target. Oy!
I nailed, I drilled, I sweat, I swore, I closed the door to make sure the little guy wasn’t around, but it got done. Meg says when the toilet paper is on the holder, it’s hard to notice the slant caused by following the template. I’ll always know it’s there, though. In fact, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stepped into the bathroom to look at it and just casually used my finger to tilt the roll of toilet paper over until it looks ‘just right.’
It may have been a small victory (if I can call it that), but the war isn’t over. We still have two glass shelves and some towel hooks that have to go up. If this was any indication, Meg and the little guy may want to go for a drive to avoid the drama that unfolds.