Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Dead Men Don't Itch

The sun set Sunday night on a sub-zero landscape. When we woke up in the morning, it was -9 degrees---inside.

Just kidding. It had only dropped to about 60 degrees indoors, but that was after throwing nearly everything I had at it, heat-wise. Obviously some improvements were in order. Over the last two years, quite a bit has already been done. Just this fall, my wonderful dad built a better door over the underneath part of the house. Now I don't have to drape carpet, insulation, and boards over the opening. But there are still two main heat drains in this rundown wonderful antique house.

My two doors don't have good seals---hint, hint, Dad, but the biggest drain of all is my attic space. They say you're supposed to have 12 inches of insulation, and for a good share of my roof space I'm about, oh, 12 inches short of that. Last fall, I got Laura's room insulated and half of the roof in the other part of the house. Sadly, the ceiling space of the two rooms is unreachable, but I was determined that I would get the accessible parts done this year. After all, my bales of insulation weren't doing me much good leaning against the wall of the store room.

The super-exciting day of insulating got off to a late start due to some Very Important Things that needed doing first. Caleb had always wanted to try the trick of throwing boiling water in the air when it's really, REALLY cold.  If the temperature is cold enough, the water will freeze into a crystalized mist before it hits the ground. Well, Monday morning was really, REALLY cold enough, sooooo..........

Science is Very Important.

The other thing that delayed progress was me messing around with Picmonkey, a photo editing website. I spent quite a while happily turning pictures of me into mutant, plastic, 18 year-old Barbie dolls. The politically correct thing to do would be to say how the experience showed me my inner beauty and the shallow and ridiculous cultural obsession with youth. Love your wrinkles. Embrace your flab.


I love me some photo editing!

Art is Very Important, too.

At last, even I had to admit that it was time to face the fiberglass. I couldn't find the package of masks, but a nice, Western themed bandana worked very well, too. I looked like a snowman bandit. With safety goggles.

Working with insulation hasn't gotten any more enjoyable since last year. Caleb did the cutting, and I installed the pieces. We got both walls done in the storage room and the other roof done---with the exception of one area I had to leave until some very creative wiring gets fixed. I don't want to shock you (Get it? SHOCK you....snort), but it involved duct tape.

Have you ever insulated an attic? It rivals the most demanding workout video. It was in the low 30's in the attic, but I was working up a sweat. You do lots of squats while standing/crouching/standing/crouching/standing/crouching to staple the insulation on. Then there are the lunges---stepping carefully from beam to beam, trying not to come crashing through the ceiling on Grandpa's head. And of course, no workout video is complete without an ab-burner. Your abs will be fit and toned after hours of laying on your back doing crunches to put the staples in. At one point I had my toes tucked under a beam for stability, and was lying back, balancing along the narrow length of a 2x6 board. And would you believe it? By that time, it even felt comfortable!

Yes, I had quite a workout. And lucky Caleb got to figure out one more career that he doesn't like. If it had been up to him, we would have quit back at the very beginning. This was his first experience with the deceptive softness of fiberglass, but he quickly figured out that it was itchy. And even though he claimed to be near death from itchiness, we pressed on. As I told him, dead men don't itch.

.But it was worth it to get some insulation covering our thin roof boards. Before we started, you could see daylight all along the edges of the roof where the flashing was rotting away. Now you can't see it anymore! Much better.

It's such a good feeling to have that done. Insulating is of those  few things (unlike dishes or laundry) where once you get it done, it stays done. There are still a few details to finish once I get some more insulation, but we're almost done, and at least the next blizzard won't be able to whistle through my attic quite so easily.

Now if I could just get those doors fixed....

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