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March 22, 2005: Gaining entry

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We got up this morning a little earlier than usual because we needed to clear out the closet in the computer room. Richard laid out a big sheet of plastic in the bedroom and we carted all three litter boxes out of the closet and into that room. And then, after he vacuumed the excess litter off the floor, he went off to make coffee and I spent the next ten minutes or so cleaning the floor. It's really quite disconcerting to see what your floor looks like underneath the litter boxes. Ick.

Once we were done setting everything up, we locked all the cats in the bedroom a task made ridiculously simple by the application of three plates full of extremely smelly wet food. It may be impossible to herd cats, but anyone who lives with multiple cats knows it is far better to simply lead them to where you want them to go. And bribery is well within the rules when cats are involved.

There was a really good reason for doing all of this, however, besides just some random need to scrub fossilized litter off the closet floor. When we had the house built the general contractor put in about 8 square feet of basic plywood flooring up there for us to use as storage space, but since the existing attic access consisted of a tiny square in the ceiling of the closet in the computer room, getting things up to the attic was pretty much impossible. Setting up a ladder in a tiny closet is bad enough; trying to climb a ladder wedged into a tiny closet while carrying anything larger than a flashlight was pretty much impossible.

We've been looking for someone who could put in a new attic access for us for quite some time, but general contractors who are willing to do this sort of thing (and have time to do it) have proven rather difficult to find. A few weeks ago, somehow the topic came up as I was talking to a friend, and I bemoaned the fact that no one seemed to know anybody we could call. Luckily, it turned out she'd worked with a guy several times in the past and had been very happy with him, so she gave me his name, and I promptly tracked down his phone number and called. We set up the time, he faxed over an estimate and a contract for us to sign, and today was the day. While I was off at work today (Richard worked from home so he could let them in), the general contractor came in with his assistant and put in a new dropdown ladder attic access. And because the litter boxes live in the closet where the existing access was, plus there would be loud noises and banging, we figured it was best to move the cats - and their litter boxes - behind closed doors.

The first thing I did when I got home was go immediately upstairs and check it out. Instead of having to wrestle with a ladder and a closet, the new access is in the computer room. Instead of having to drag the ladder up from the garage, this one comes with a ladder that drops down right from the ceiling with the (determined) tug of a cord. And it's sturdy enough, and there is enough space around it, that climbing up there with boxes of stuff for storage is no longer such an impossible task!

Of course once we climbed into the attic the first time we've actually been able to do that since we moved into this house I was amazed at the sheer amount of space available up there. I think we could easily put in four or fives times as much plywood flooring for storage space up there and still have room left over. Due to the design of the house our attic is big enough to walk around in in fact, if we were willing to deal with licenses and codes and inspections and a lot of work with drywall and insulation and air conditioning, we could add another entire room up there. It's huge! This picture doesn't even come close to doing it justice.

Climbing back down the ladder was a challenge, since I'm not a fan of heights, so we're thinking we may want to try to put in some kind of railing or something on the edge, just to have something to hang on to. And since the access into the attic has moved, we'll need to figure out a way to reach the light switch, since it's now just out of reach. But these are all really very minor issues. After being in this house nearly four years, we can now finally *use* our attic the way we'd always intended.

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