Monday, April 11, 2011

Rat Dungeon No More!

I mentioned several weeks ago that we were getting the storage area that is off of our kitchen on the side of our house re-done.  To give you an idea of exactly why we felt this was necessary, let me show you some of the “before” pictures…

The front of the storage area-complete with a non-working, permanently-stained bird fountain

From the front door looking in

The Drainage ditch-a favorite hangout of the rats-our sink and shower water drains out into it.  Mold anyone?  Also, water poured in through holes in the wall when it rained.

The infamous jail door at the back of storage area-we never used it..but it adds to the dungeon-like ambiance

Looking from the back of the storage area-to the right is the door into the kitchen

Let me also mention that I could hear rats scuffling around in the area nightly, and was often greeted in the morning by a dead rat that had escaped from the trap, but couldn’t make it through the drainage ditch that ran along the wall, when I opened the door to start the laundry.  These may be circumstances that other much stronger, more tolerant, and decidedly more Spiritual individuals would calmly deal with, but not being particularly calm, nor tolerant of non-human creatures, and not infused with this particular brand of God-breathed serenity in the face of mangy critters, particularly of the sort that I’m sure carry diseases and would like nothing better than to find a way into my kitchen, which I would NOT handle well, I needed some major changes to be made.  And after finding a furry friend (in my case, enemy) perched on the porcelain of our toilet, (click here for the full story) I am looking to keep vermin in all it’s forms as far from the house as possible.

Really, is it necessary for there to be so many rats in this world? And why must they be as strong and hearty as lumberjacks? 

But I digress, as I tend to do when thinking about rats.


So yeah, I really needed to have that room enclosed and rodent-proofed!  Also, there was a smell that wafted up from the drainage ditch, especially during a rainstorm, which was a tantalizing combination of old food, mold, and animal waste…and that smell would invade our kitchen regularly.

Again I say, ick.

After about one month of work, which was interrupted by the 20-gallon-drum-as-a- septic-tank debacle (click here for that lovely tale), we officially have a fully enclosed, much cleaner, useable room in which to park our motorcycles, store stuff, and do laundry!

The new front doors-much more sturdy and the wide doorway makes it easy to pull the motorcycles in and out.  Sadly the bird fountain is a distant memory...

Looking in from the front door-so much space and light-we went from one lightbulb to six!

No more drainage ditch!  They sunk the pipes into the ground and covered over it with concrete.  Mold & mildew-free walls as well...Chris and I scrubbed them with bleach ourselves!

From the back looking forward.  A wall was built to block off the back part of the area with the jail door.  The wall and ceiling there were so damaged that they decided to leave them as is.  This means we still have a small, nasty little dungeon room we have to enter from the back of the careful naughty children!

We still need to give it a couple coats of paint, and I am toying with the idea of painting the concrete floor with a fun, bright-colored design-this is if we can get the floor to fully dry, which has been our only problem so far with the remodel.  We aren't sure if the concrete itself is still sweating, or if we have a permanent condensation problem.  We are really hoping it's the former because if it is the later we will probably have to get more work done, and we aren't sure what would help with that type of problem.  We started moving stuff out of our guest room and into the storage area last week, which feels great!  We can actually begin thinking about furnishing our guest room, and Chris can get into his wardrobe (located in the guest room) without traversing piles of haphazardly stacked boxes!  And the best part is, so far, no rats or evidence of rats in the renovated room.  Hallelujah!

While we are on the subject of home improvements, I don’t think I have posted any pictures of our kitchen since the very beginning of our time at the house.  A countertop with lower cabinets came with the house, but we needed a bit more space, and I have always wanted to try open shelving because I adore a cottage-style look, so this is what we ended up with.

I would highly recommend open shelving-I love the look of it, and it is so convenient.  No opening and shutting cupboards or standing on a chair to dig around in the back of them, it’s great.  It’s a nice option, especially for those who use their kitchen a lot and use the dishes often, because if they sit, then they get dusty and that’s gross.  No danger of that here, I regularly use nearly every dish in the kitchen, as my husband, the faithful after-dinner dishwasher, will attest to!

Chris made it through his big week of flying last week just fine-thanks for the prayers.  He actually played a significant part in making a Christian men’s conference happen at a village interior as he and another MAF pilot transported 100+ men to the village doing numerous shuttle runs with a Cessna 206 and a Caravan (those are the names of airplanes, for those of you who aren’t well-versed in pilot-speak, and trust me, I’m not very well-versed myself) on Friday.  Chris said many of the men, especially those who were more advanced in years, were grinning from ear to ear; they were so excited to have the opportunity to attend this men’s meeting.  Chris was blessed to help the Indonesian church in Kalimantan in this way!

I felt a little beat up after last week myself.   I don’t know if it was the back-from-vacation-blues or another surge of culture shock (I have heard it said that around 6 months tends to be a hard time in the first year overseas, and we hit that in mid-March), but I am feeling a bit down and out.   I am officially tired of language-learning and daily feeling like a dummy…I know I won’t always feel like that, but I’m ready for it to stop sooner as opposed to later!  I have to keep taking it one day at a time and not being too hard on myself, but not being lazy either, because I can tend toward that too-sometimes everything feels like too much and then I just end up spacing out in front of a movie that I’ve seen 100 times.  This can be good, but only in moderation…not like everyday…that described several of my days last week.  It only perpetuates the emotional malaise, but at the moment it feels so therapeutic! 

I just started reading the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voscamp (if you want to know more about it you can click on the title of the book for a link to the website), and it is an excellent reminder of the need to be thankful for all we are given each day-all the blessings God gives that we don’t deserve…I need to remember that every moment! 

So now I will wrap this up and be thankful while making refried beans and salsa and guacamole from scratch…be thankful that I have the time and the resources to cook things like this in a foreign land that isn't Mexico.

And try my hardest not to think about Jack’s Artichoke Garlic Salsa and refried beans in a can, lard and all…or authentic Mexican restaurants…dwelling on those things definitely won’t increase my thankfulness.   

Just saying.

I hope you are smiling now, because I am too!  Talk to you later!


  1. Three things:

    1) I can't believe you didn't keep the lovely non-working bird fountain/wall. I mean really, shouldn't everybody have a concrete heron/stork/whatever in their yard?

    2)I completely agree with your notion that rats should be kept as far away from my living space as possible. This is just common sense here.

    3) I ADORE your kitchen. That is all.

  2. Love your kitchen Sarah! I'm so glad you guys got your storage room fixed. It must feel so good! I would be bothered by all that, just like you, and to have something new and clean is just so wonderful! :) Oh am I going to have some adjusting to do when we get to Indonesia!!!! I have been reading One Thousand Gifts, too, and it has been a good reminder. I'll be praying you take a turn in language learning and are encouraged. You can do it!!! More importantly, the LORD can enable you to do it:)

  3. Great to hear from you Heather! Thanks for the encouragement. You will adjust to Indonesia just fine I'm sure, just keep your sense of humor! Praying for you in these last few weeks of pregnancy. Enjoy One Thousand Gifts!

  4. Sarah, you two just keep amazing us with all your accomplishments. What you've done with that vermin-infested storage room and open pit is really admirable. Glad you could enjoy that much needed vacation break in more familiar surroundings with other MAF friends and each other. Your open shelves look is so cheery and bright. We send our love and prayers.

  5. Love to you too Grandma & Fred!

  6. I love the kitchen. I can't wait to sit there and have a cup of tea with you both. I looks just like I would expect a Sarah Kitchen, happy and fun. The colors are wonderful, and so nice to not be worrying about rats all the time and smelling the ditch. A. Lyn

  7. Thanks Aunt Lyn! I think the kitchen turned out both happy and fun as well : ) !!!

  8. I see you have one of April's GurglePots! Awesome.