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More Adventures of Home Ownership

Monday, May 9, 2011, 13:15 EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

Remember when I first moved into my house and I included the heat lamp in the downstairs bathroom as one of the features I loved? That lamp, recessed into the ceiling, is actually a combination heat lamp/exhaust fan. I haven’t used the heat lamp since the weather warmed up, but I have used the exhaust fan every day when I have a shower. Late last week, I noticed a little drip coming from the corner of the trim plate around the fixture. Upon closer examination I discovered, to my horror, that quite a bit of water had collected up inside it. It was raining at the time, and my first thought was that I had a leak in my new roof. So up to the attic I went to find the source of the problem.

Anyone who is a regular reader here knows that my house is full of, um, surprises left for me by past owners, such as electrical switches not wired properly. It has gotten to the point that these things no longer faze me; they simply get added to the list of things to do when I get around to it. But I must admit that what I found in the attic over my bathroom filled me with a new sense of awe and wonder:

Exhaust fan vent to nowhere

The Exhaust Fan Vent to Nowhere

That’s right, ladies and germs, someone installed an exhaust fan in the bathroom and vented it into the attic.

Now, I can understand why you might do that temporarily. Perhaps a bathroom renovation was underway and you wanted to install the fan along with the recessed lighting, with the intention of completing the duct work in the future, such as when the roof was replaced and a vent could be added, in which case you would leave the power to the fan disconnected. That would make sense. The trouble is that I had the roof replaced two months ago and don’t really feel like asking the contractor to come back and cut a hole in it. So for the time being, I am sans exhaust fan. And that’s fine; I’ve never had one before and won’t miss it, as long as I can disperse the moisture by opening the windows or showering with the door open, something I can do because I live alone. I just added to the bottom of my to-do list, “SHORT TERM: disconnect bathroom exhaust fan switch; LONG TERM: vent exhaust fan through roof.”

Another thing I’ve never had before is a yard. Mine had been in need of attention for a couple of weeks: lawn needed mowing, the beds around the patio needed raking out, shrubs needed trimming, assorted toys needed picking up from where the prior owner’s kids had left them before the snow fell and covered them up, never to be thought of again. I took care of the toys a couple of weekends ago, finding and disposing of at least one ball from almost every sport known to America. There were a football, two basketballs, a volleyball, a soccer ball, a softball, two baseballs, a golf ball, and a ping-pong ball, which one normally doesn’t see outside. I also found two aluminum bats, a Wiffle® bat, a plastic child’s spade, and two covered sandboxes. And that’s not to mention the non-toy items, including a hand cultivator, two garden hoses (one with a hole in it, one intact), and a sprayer nozzle. It took about two hours, but I got all that picked up and, for most of the items, disposed of. I kept the cultivator, the sprayer, and the good hose.

Back yard leavesYesterday presented a rain-free window, plus my son was visiting for Mother’s Day, so I we took the opportunity to begin the rest of the yard chores, starting with the beds around my patio. The various vegetation therein was surrounded by a layer of leaves which we began to rake out. It didn’t take long before we realized that the layer of leaves was more like multiple layers of leaves, probably from multiple years. The lower layers were composting. And wet, because it had just rained for three days. So after we got all the leaves out of the beds, we left them on the grass to dry out. And I added another item to my to-do list, “Bag old leaves after they dry out.”

VioletsIf I couldn’t finish cleaning up the old leaves, at least I could mow my lawn. I don’t actually have a lawn mower yet, so I borrowed my father’s self-propelled Honda power mower, which with the handle collapsed can just about fit in my trunk if I lower the back seats. I decided to start in the front, not only because I was anxious to get rid of the violets (right) growing up amongst the blades of grass, but also because the front and sides of my property slope down to the street and looked like they would be a challenge to mow. Better to get the hard stuff out of the way first.

I finally got the little patch of front lawn finished, but only after struggling mightily to keep both myself and the mower from falling over into the street. I promptly went inside and added one more item to my to-do list, “Plant ground cover on the front and side slopes.”

The afternoon was wearing on, the clouds were rolling in, I began to feel the very first tiny precursors of rain drops, and I still hadn’t mown my back yard or bagged the old leaves. But I figured I had time to trim my shrubs, most of which didn’t look too scruffy so it would be a quick job. My front yard has some evergreen shrubs (yew, maybe) along with a couple of flowering bushes I’m pretty sure are azaleas, a few tulips (now past) and some other vegetation I haven’t yet identified. I’m not crazy about evergreen shrubs, but I’m pretty happy with the azaleas, one rather large and one miniature.

AzaleaMiniature azalea

Grape hyacinthThe other currently flowering vegetation I have in my front yard is something I believe is called grape hyacinth (right), or at least it looks similar to what is so identified on this page. These adorable blue flowers have sprung up along side my driveway in a quasi-rock garden that is a nice idea poorly executed. I hope to execute it better at a later date, maybe in the fall when I’m planting ground cover on the slopes.

The funny thing about all the flowers is that I’ve never really been a flower person. To the extent that I do any gardening, it’s of the vegetable variety. All I managed this year were two pots of herbs, one sweet basil and one flat-leaf parsley, which are both just now germinating by my kitchen window. Now that I have all these flowers, though, I have to admit I kind of like them. The blooms extend into my back yard too, where I have another miniature azalea I will probably transplant because it’s in a funny spot, as well as this plant I can’t begin to identify, so if anyone can enlighten me, I’d appreciate it I found out from this site is called bleeding heart, or more specifically Lamprocapnos spectabilis:

Bleeding heartsBleeding hearts, close-up

Add to all that the Japanese maple in my front yard and the two mystery ornamental trees in the back yard that are just budding, and it turns out I have stumbled into quite the botanical menagerie. True, the beds need weeding and edging, there are a few patches of dead grass that I’ll re-seed in the fall, and I have my work cut out for me getting those slopes taken care of, but all in all I’m happy with my little yard.

It almost makes up for the exhaust fan vent to nowhere.

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