There’s a mouse in the house. Or, maybe a rat. Or, possibly a family of rats, which explains the cute ears but small size. Whatever it or they are, though, is resourceful. We’re currently renegotiating their rent control.
I’ve been in the Mojave House now for almost six weeks. I consider it warmed. My parents and close friends came for Memorial Day weekend and it functioned as a dwelling, both indoors and out. I’m writing this from the outsized comfort of a $300 IKEA outdoor sofa on the patio, which seems idyllic if you don’t consider the sunburn I’m getting on just my left ear. There is still work to be done.
This project never was a reno, and I am so grateful for that. I am one person. And, this is a weekend place for now. But there are a few things that need to be done, because is any house ever really move-in ready? You leave it for just a hot second and mice, escaping from hurricane force winds, move in. These are my top priorities:
1. Art Studio/Shed: I got a place in the desert so that I can have a detached art studio. The first place I looked at had a rectangular studio that opened with French doors onto its own patio, creating an indoor-outdoor workspace. I want that, but more square. This place has a great 13 x 15 studio with French doors… and the roof is caving in. It is unsafe. We must rebuild, to code, at 10 x 12. The slab is still good, so now I just have to decide what I want, who will help me make it, how to get the old one out, and how to re-do the fencing. There’s already a gate for horses and a hitching post… they may help. I have the beginnings of a plan and am soliciting ideas.
2. Window Coverings: I have a textile addiction issue. I really like them. I like to scour the world for motifs, learn about techniques, and buy the pretty ones. I literally have contemporary batik from Malaysia that I bought thinking “I have no use for this, but I see it being a window covering.” When my mom insisted the window coverings of my house were to be included in the sale, a small part of my heart sank. When I moved in, the owner absconded with everything in spite of the contract. No curtain rods, no curtains, temperatures pushing 100 and 12 windows to deal with. I took what I believe to be an affordable course of action to rectify this with my own handmade window coverings. Thank you, Pinterest. The living room will be Malaysia themed, and if this makes sense to you, this is what I’m going for:
Maybe I should use Guatemalan woven accents in the kitchen, or West African prints in the bedroom? There are so many options, but I put up some field expedient ikea liners and old curtains I made myself when I was a very entry-level employee until I can decide. Shibori, you ask? That will be the the throw rugs at the entrance and exit.
And then this…
3. Mice in the Exterior, I swear not inside: The legal documents I signed would suggest that something with four legs that climbs vertically and chirps at 4 a.m.moved into the house once the previous owner put it up for sale. There is no sign of them inside the house, but they are somehow between the drywall and the siding, or the ceiling and the roof. The inspector did not find any holes, but my dog found one access point. We plugged everything. They still make their way in from a mystery location. Two weeks ago, I guessed that location was the exterior water closet ceiling, which is not fully visible. We knew something lived in there, but since it isn’t in the house I didn’t worry too much. We cut a new door to fit, we plugged holes, and then I saw that the rodent brought in all this old construction material to stuff a McMansion between the door and the hot water heater. The next day she barricaded it with pieces of spiky cactus. Also, those three little Stuart Littles I saw last time? Probably babies because the momma is bigger, likely identifiable with the desert rat who was peering into my screen door watching me do a Green Bay Packers puzzle for hours on end.
Did I mention she is now using a key for her house?
I’ve jury-rigged a temporary solution - door sweeps and a really big rock. This has kept the destruction at bay, but I suspect there are live mousetraps and a drive down the road in my near future.
My goal here is to observe the seasons change and watch the wildlife go about their days. The dogs are amazingly on the same page. Aside from the mice, we have rabbits, jackrabbits, coyotes, kangaroo rats, a very social roadrunner, and quails, all of whom pop by to say hello on schedule.
It’s jackrabbit hour. I must be going.