Peckin’

woodpecker

Woody, Woody, cut it out.
   Please don’t make me have to shout.
Woody, Woody, go away.
   Please don’t be a dick today.
Woody, Woody, that’s enough.
   Please don’t bang upon my stuff.
Woody, Woody, can’t you see
   That my house is not a tree?

 

I awoke yesterday to a strange knock – couldn’t tell if it was coming from inside or outside.  Thought it might have been a neighbor doing some yard work, but the cadence wasn’t reflective of any productive human activity I could think of, and it almost sounded like it was coming from inside the wall.

I went outside to find a cheeky woodpecker perched on the decorative trim on the side of my house, banging away at the stucco.  I reached down to pick up a snowball to throw at it, but when I looked back up it was gone.

It came back later.

And then again this morning.

Frowny face.

 

Bene scribete.

Dincton Flatt and the Crime Scene Place

Time for some more nonsense?


 

Is a crimes

 

Dincton Flatt strode handsomely through the quaint French doors of 29 Cherry Grove Street, his robot coyote trotting alongside him.  He adjusted his collar and surveyed the scene, expression insisting on his own importance.

“Heaven’s grace, Flatt!” blurted Abberson Watley, one of his top agents.  “It’s been three hours – where on Earth were you?”

“He felt the need to take a detour for a spot of chair shopping,” Featherby offered.

Flatt raised an eyebrow at his coyote.  “A man must see to the needs of his posterior, you’ll agree.”

“Mr. Flatt, I’m glad you could join us at last,” a familiar voice floated in from another room.

Flatt nodded in greeting as the other approached.  “Constable Billiardsman.  What precisely are we looking at?”  Jeborah Billiardsman was one of the more competent officers he had worked with, but his attire sported a preposterous amount of buttons.

“It’s Detective Inspector, Mr. Flatt, as I’ve told you many times.”  He gestured toward the middle-aged woman who lay motionless in the center of the sitting room.  “Hiddia Ribbenstern, forty-three years of age, found at 10:30 this morning with her body cut off.”

“Her entire body?”  Flatt grimaced, eyes sweeping over the woman’s corpse.

“I’m afraid so.”

Flatt shook his head.  “Savages.”  He knelt over the body.  “Do we have any leads?”

“None yet,” Watley sighed.  “Who would commit such a heinous act in such a well-kept and well-priced little chalet?  To so wantonly devalue it is the real crime, if you ask me.  Have you seen the kitchen?  Real marble tops and new, stainless steel appliances.  Solid maple floors throughout.  And such a short distance from the station.”

These last comments were directed toward Billiardsman, who held up a hand.  “I’m not here to house-hunt, Mr. Watley.  Merely to investigate a murder.”

“Yes.  Yes, of course…”

“And on the topic of said murder: how much do you know about the owners, Mr. Flatt?  Why are they selling?  Any financial difficulties?”

“The Hollyrakers?  I don’t believe so.  She’s expecting, and they purchased a larger property last month.”

“One represented by Flatt’s Flats, of course,” Watley added.

“Naturally.”  Flatt smiled at his reflection in the metal clasps of the deceased’s handbag, running a hand over his short, impossibly blond hair.  “No, I doubt they were involved in this.  Perhaps the culprit was incensed by the victim’s fashion.”  He stood up, gesturing to the bowler that lay askew on the floor, a half meter from the woman’s head.  “That bag with that cap?  No, madame, I fear not.”

“I hardly think–” Billiardsman began.

“Did anyone notice her mobile?” Featherby chimed in.  He had been nosing around the woman’s body, and was fishing the device out from under her frame with a paw.

Watley retrieved the phone and looked through it.  His eyes widened.  “My god!”

Flatt stepped over.  “Watley?”  Watley showed him the screen.  Ms. Ribbenstern had written a note to herself, and Flatt read it aloud for the officer’s sake: “I am not wearing a hat today.”

Billiardsman blinked.  “No hat?  You’re certain?  Then, that means…”

“That our killer must be some–some sort of hatleaver.”  Flatt frowned.  “Watley – call Ms. Franklin and have her cancel my dentist appointment for this afternoon.”

“You do not have a dentist appointment today, sir,” reminded Featherby.

“Ah, yes.  Watley – call Ms. Franklin and have her schedule an appointment with Dr. Clamb for 5:00.”

Watley’s features contorted.  “But, Flatt, we–”

“And then have her cancel it.”

Watley was silent a moment before asking,  “Whyever for?”

“We haven’t the time to indulge in the luxuries of oral hygiene, Watley; we have a murder to solve.”  Flatt turned to Billiardsman, who had scooped up the cap and was turning it over studiously.  “Have that checked for hair and prints, Constable.  Meanwhile, we’ll start looking for anyone who appears to have recently parted ways with a hat.  And committed homicide.”

“Detective Inspector,” the officer sighed.  “And I assure you, Mr. Flatt, that the CID is quite capable of handling this investigation.  You are merely here as a courtesy and character witness–”

“Nonsense, my good man.”  Flatt clapped him on the shoulder.  “I’ll have this dastardly hatleaver brought in forthwith.  And this property will sell in no time at all.”  He turned and beckoned to Watley and Featherby.  “Come, gentlemen; let us get to work.”

“Mr. Flatt, that isn’t how–” Billiardsman was calling after him, but Flatt stopped listening.  He was too busy playing at a bicuspid with the tip of his tongue.  Alas, there were signs of a chip.

“Watley – ring Ms. Franklin, if you would  I think I’ll keep that appointment after all.”


 

Bene scribete.

The Nightmare Concludes (For Now)

AC Good

 

At last, at last, I can breathe again.

There was a secret open drain to nothing inside the wall behind the furnace, branching off from the sewer line coming down from the kitchen, venting up rotten gasses from the depths of hell right into the air return path.

No idea what could have been down in the furnace room once up on a time to make use of that drain. Not sure why it was just walled off instead of closed when the furnace was installed in front of it.  Hard to say why it would have taken this long for the trap to dry up.  But shame and frowns and shaken fists upon whoever decided that HIDING AN OPEN SEWER LINE INSIDE A WALL USED AS AN AIR INTAKE WAS A REMOTELY O.K. THING TO DO.

AAAAGGHHH.

Anyway, after ripping open the wall, capping off that pipe, and venting out the house once more, I can sleep in a room that is both cooler than 88° and does not smell of death, which, let me tell you, is pretty swell.

 

Bene vīvite.

AC BS CONTD

AC Unit

 

This is a special kind of nightmare come true.

A week and a half later, I still can’t use the air conditioning, and the rotten stench is getting steadily worse.  I paid an HVAC guy just to come out, look around, and shrug.  A plumber-and-everything-else friend of mine came over to investigate, but couldn’t find anything going on with the plumbing, or any methane leaks anywhere.

The smell started only a couple weeks after I stopped using the basement shower, so I though maybe there was some dried-up trap down there letting sewer gasses through, but I ran the water down there again to no avail.  My friend even found a dead mouse on top of the ducting in the furnace room that looked like it’d died a little over a week prior.  Perfect timing and location – surely that must be it.  No.  Got rid of that and aired out the furnace room, but the smell is still coming, stronger than ever.

Maybe there are other dead mice in the ducts themselves that conveniently died at the same time as the other.  Maybe I’ve been infested by a mouse suicide cult on a mission to make everyone have a bad time.  Maybe it’s still something completely different and there are simply a number of wild coincidences strewn about to throw me off.

I’m at my wits’ end.  Getting desperate.  This is not O.K.

Ugh.

 

Bene vīvite.

AC Blues

AC Unit

I have a frowny face today.

I’m not sure why I have such horrendous luck with central air conditioning.  Maybe it’s because I have a low heat tolerance, so naturally, it’s a great avenue for cosmic spite.  Seems as good a reason as any for it to have broken down five times over a seven year period in the last three places I lived before this one.

When I got this house, it had a nearly-brand-new, massive, high-efficiency unit that has worked pretty fantastically, keeping the pretty well-insulated place (well, the ground floor) at 68° in 110° weather without a hiccup, so I figured I had finally escaped this recurring theme.

You know, because I’m a stupidface idiot.

Since it’d be a little too ridiculous for this heavy-duty unit to break down already, the fates contrived a new, far more heinous way to deprive me of this modern comfort this time around: sewage leaking into the air ducts somewhere.

Or maybe something found its way in there and had the bad manners to die.  I don’t know; I haven’t actually tracked down what it is, yet.  Likely whatever will be the most expensive to fix.

So I could have cool air, if I wanted to choke on that air and vomit.

I don’t want to do that.

 

Bene vīvite.

Housecapades: Part VI

After many weeks, screams, dollars, and disasters, I have a newly remodeled master bathroom. Yesterday was the first day I was able to take a shower in it since owning this house.

 

Before

Pre-remodeled bathroom

[Click for 360 view]

 

You always try to steady yourself for everything to go terribly wrong when remodeling, though no matter how much you prepare for, it’s always more.  Rotten walls and floor behind the old shower – sure, I expected that.  Pipes the wrong length, height, or size for the new stuff – of course.  Things breaking left and right and needing to get three times the parts and materials as anticipated to compensate for bad design – naturally.  I wouldn’t have guessed the floor would end up delaying everything for days.

Whoever did that floor is just, well, a bad person.  Linoleum on top of linoleum stapled six-hundred times through a layer of plywood and even more linoleum beneath it into the subfloor.  I threw my back out trying to get it all up, leaving me useless as my dad and a friend had to finish the rest of the demolition.  Bad times.

 

After

Remodeled bathroom

[Click for 360 view]

 

I could go on a tirade detailing the countless setbacks and frustrations the whole process entailed, but at this point I’m just glad it’s over, and grateful to have gotten so much help with it all, particularly from my father, who willingly came all the way up here for the first week just to take part in this misery.

In light of that, here’s hoping he has an especially happy father’s day today.

 

Bene vīvite.

 

[I kind of regret that I never got a true “Before”, but I’d already repainted and replaced the switches/outlets when first moving in.]