The Cross House

2001 meets…1894


In the classic movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, a huge and mysterious black monolith appears at…


…the beginning of the movie, and…


…the middle, and…


…the end.


And what, you may be asking, does this have to do with the Cross House?

Well, today, a mysterious brown monolith appeared…

(scroll way down)


















…at the Cross House. It is huge, 15-feet-long and 8-feet-wide and eight-feet-high.


I would like to announce that the brown monolith suspends time and space as we know it.

But…alas…it is just a temporary covering for the three AC condensers.

Last year I spent an absurd amount of money and time to haul the three condensers away from the house and over to their own space. Then I spent a scandalous amount of money to have very tall poles installed in the ground (my mini-Stonehenge) to support a fence which would cover the condensers.

However…however…I have yet to find the perfect fence material. I thought I had, but the product (as it developed) was only available in California. It cannot be shipped to Kansas. After much ado, I found another fencing material. But each panel was $130, or $100 more than the California-not-coming-to-Kansas stuff. So, to surround the condensers would be like $3,000. Ouch! So, yea, that was soooooo not going to happen.

For the last eight months the three condensers have been covered with…


…a blue tarp. Which looked like a beached sacrificial whale in the middle of my mini-Stonehenge.


The reason for the blue tarp was to make the condensers, ah, invisible. For, people steal condensers.

But I cannot turn on the AC in the house with the condensers covered.

Eight months ago, I had thought that, surely, come spring 2018 I would have the fence material resolved and installed. But…no. So, with hot weather soon approaching I knew that something had to be done. Something, anything. Whatever!

Hence, the brown monolith.

The monolith is simply brown tarp. It will last this year. And, if I am lucky, through the 2019 season.

As such, the brown monolith buys me time. Time to find the perfect fencing. To achieve this aim the fencing cannot be the obvious choice: wood. For the fencing will, importantly, protect my cats. And cats can climb a wood fence. The fencing, thus, must be plastic or metal. Which the cats cannot climb. And the fencing must also complement the big ol’ adjacent house.

Sigh. I had no idea that a fence could cause such distress.



19 Responses to 2001 meets…1894

  1. I would do a wood siding on the outside which compliments the house, perhaps something similar to the exterior siding. Then a metal or plastic on the inside. Doesn’t have to be expensive, but doubling it up would cost more than just one layer..

    • The condenser “room” will eventually be IN the cat yard. The fencing material cannot be wood as the cats will climb it.

      • Ross darling, what he’s suggesting is that on those massive 4x4s, you have hanging space on the *outside* facing the street for a wood facade. On the *inside* facing the house, you have the structure to hang plastic so the cats won’t be able to climb. Rather like a sandwich? Facade, post, facade.

  2. Make sure you think about airflow around the units. If you restrict the airflow around the condensers to much it will reduce the efficiency dramatically.

      • I assumed you had, you tend to do your research well enough to avoid trouble. But as a Mechanical Engineer not everyone thinks through heat transfer.

  3. I’m partial to low split rails or even tall pickets but, what Jonathan W described- plastic on the cat side, wood the public side -sounds good.

    I have zero experience with plastic fencing- will the plastic just not take paint? Even if it’s surface is roughed up?

  4. Ross. there are several options you could install on top of a wood fence to prevent the cats from escaping. One would be to install wire fencing angled in (there is a certain angle that is required). A lot of people in England use these to contain cats in their “gardens”. There are also cylinders that can be installed along the top that roll when the cat tries to climb the fence. You could also install a “catio” inside the fencing. Look it up on Pinterest- there are numerous options. Personally, I would go for the catio with fencing installed around the outside but with large enough gaps between the wood that the cats can see out. Or you could just upgrade to a larger cat (think tiger) to keep the condensers safe inside a wire fence! LOLj

  5. Hi everyone!

    In my post I state that whatever fencing material I end up using cannot be wood.


    Because cats can climb wood.

    I have several decades experience of keeping cats fenced in. And wood does NOT work! Even with wire at the top to keep the cats from getting over the top. Done that!

    Only two things are effective. 1) height (as cats cannot jump eight feet). 2) An unscalable material like metal or plastic.

    The condenser “room” will one day be in the middle of the cat yard, but kissing not-yet-built fencing. If any part of the “room” is wood, the cats will climb it, and then be able to walk along the top of the ENTIRE fencing, and escape. And with a highway adjacent, this would be a very very very bad idea!

  6. Would you be willing to post what was the “perfect” fence-from-California-which-will-not-be-sent-to-Kansas for those of us who like to internet sleuth who may come upon similar things that can be sent to Kansas?

  7. As usual, I have a crazy idea. How about creating a supersized “doll house” with as many of Charles Squire’s signature details as possible. The roof would be open and you could have the inner part be a cat play yard heaven in the middle. It could be the same height as the proposed fence, but have the Cross House’s three story look.
    CRAZY!!!!? I live for crazy.
    The way to keep the cats in would be to have the cat proof fence inside the facade.

  8. I totally get your stress about finding the right material. G-d is in the details. Plastic has no character.i am a fellow problem solver and there are many considerations here, from a material to work time-appropriately with Cross House and that must be functional enough to keep the kitties safe.i like Stewart.s dollhouse idea! Maybe a mini Cross house! We have something like that at a house here in New Rochelle. A mini house exactly like the big house it sites beside. I hope your internet sleuth contributor can help you find that perfect CA non Kansas shipping material!

  9. Hi, Ross. How important is it that your beloved feline companions have access to the whole yard? My daughter loves this show where some hipster dude in California builds elaborate structures for pets which give them access to the outdoors but also keep them contained. Could you build a cat habitrail (for lack of a better word) which would then allow your fence to be built from whatever material is best and available?

    As a side note, I appreciate your candor and openness as you work through this project. When folks can watch a whole house remodel or construction in a half-hour tv show, it feels really honest to see a timeline that reflects realities of budget and, in your case esp, scope.

  10. Post pictures or links to the one that cannot be flown to Kansas, someone may know of something with similar characteristics. You feline masters need a yard. You will work it out. At least the monolith has given you time to figure it out.

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