Live Squirrels and Florescent Chandeliers

A few months ago I wrote here about how we purchased our first home. The day we closed I found a dead squirrel decomposing peacefully in the attic. The new adventure: live squirrels in our attic, running laps over our heads. We tried to find them and ferret them out but to no avail. We did however find a huge gap in the eaves that would explain our squirrel tenants. I picture the squirrels with heat sensor goggles, scoping out the houses in the neighborhood to see which have heat  pouring out of them, zeroing in on their next safe haven. The gap also explains our, "house is leaking heat like a sieve" problem. While I love winter, spring cannot come soon enough and with it a crew to replace our roof.

Also in the initial post I lamented the crystal chandelier that was gone from the attic. I realized only after it was gone how much I wanted it. I called my sister a few weeks later. She had kept the chandelier that she purchased to hang over the sweetheart table at our wedding, knowing full well that one day I would want to give it a home (something I didn't think I would want when living in a small Chicago apartment).  So while the beauty pictured at the right waits quietly in a box for it's time to shine again, another contrast I found humorous is our current dining room "chandelier:"

My husband installed this dandy lighting solution a few weeks ago, to give us light period, as we had been using floor lamps which were mostly in the way and not ideal for construction. The original electrical in this house is sometimes tricky because the people who built and rehabbed before us did not follow code (was there code in 1913?) so the wire colors are wrong and the routing sometimes a mystery. As such, when he said he wanted to fix our lack of lighting I envisioned my husband dying before my eyes while standing atop an 8 foot ladder, screwing in light bulbs and singing, “Shot in the Dark.” One bulb did produce a perfectly timed terrific spark but thankfully nothing more. And now we have light, glorious light, even if it's less sparkly than a crystal chandelier.

So, much has changed since the time of dead squirrels and crystal chandeliers. My hands and arms ache. The same way I know my husband’s hands and arms will ache when he applies the patches and skim coats of plaster, and the same way my hands and arms will ache again when I follow his work with the final coat. The dining room ceiling is *this close* to being ready for paint. We continue to fall in love with our home and our neighborhood. Earlier this week my husband sprained his ankle while running to catch a bus. (It's a known rule of thumb that you do not run for buses in winter. The result is almost always slipping and falling in mud and slush, and you miss the bus anyway. But the buses sometimes run 20 or more minutes apart, and if freezing is your other option, you run for it.) I left for work the next day, too late to have time to shovel the front walk, telling myself I'd do it later. I got out of work as quickly as possible and came home prepared to grab a shovel. But it was already done. The sidewalk was clean. I went into the house to make sure the man who could barely stand hadn't deemed it important enough to attempt. He hadn't, and didn't know who had. The next day I saw my neighbor preparing dinner for her family through the kitchen window. I highly suspected her as the culprit, so I thought I'd stop by with a 6 pack of  beer I'd been meaning to treat them with anyway. I was right. She explained how she had seen Henry, the 82 year old Austrian who visits his Alzheimer's afflicted wife every day in the nursing home, working his way south down our street and shoveling everyone's sidewalks. She said, "I knew I had to get out there and beat him to it or he'd just go all the way!" So she shoveled north, meeting Henry in the middle, and clearing our walk. Coming home to a clean sidewalk may seem like a little thing, but it gave me such a deep down happy. I didn't have to worry about it, and instead could make sure my husband was iced, elevated, resting and medicated. You always hear, "You can't pick your neighbors," which is true. But I have a feeling Someone did it for us, and it's pretty wonderful.


  1. Just finally read this. You're wonderful and your neighbor's are wonderful. Someone certainly IS looking our for you :)


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