’17 A to Z Challenge – V

Challenge2017

letter-v

 

 

 

 

Rat

Varmint – Vermin – Victor/Victim
VINDICATION –VICTORY!

When we last left our stalwart hero, the Pied Piper, he was valiantly attempting to rid his home of rats….

Back last June, when I chose these ‘V’ words, I wasn’t sure that I could achieve Victory – or who would be the victor, and who the victim.

I checked the air intake tube for the furnace, and found Ping-Pong-ball-sized stones piled above the steel grate, to prevent just this problem. Next, I checked the dryer vent.  This entailed emptying and moving a steel shelving unit in the basement.  Back in the corner was the 4-foot aluminum carpenter’s level.  I stood it against the wall, just outside the utility room door.

The dryer duct is expandable aluminum, hardly stronger than a potato chip bag, against the power of sharp little rats’ teeth. That corner was covered in dryer lint.  I used a shoe-box side and duct tape to close the gaping hole, and folded a small piece of chicken wire double, and screwed it over the outside vent.  That should keep any more from coming in.  Now I just had to deal with any left inside.

I put a trap outside, below the dryer vent, and 2 days later, caught a female, hopefully, trying and failing to get in. A week after, I drowned one in the peanut butter/swimming pool trap that I built from SightsNBytes direction.  Another week, and the Tonka Toy, Hungry, Hungry Hippo trap caught another female.  Just how big is this guy’s harem??

I removed the adhesive trap, because footprints proved it wasn’t sticky enough. One of the traps disappeared, even though I tie them down to prevent that.  I found a Dollar Store that had the old, reliable wooden trap – for $2.  The $12 special, now baited with soft chocolate cookie, nails yet another female.

New plastic and metal containers are bought. The amount of food disappearing goes down – but there’s still that occasional ‘gnaw, gnaw, gnaw’, some nights.  Wile E. Rat is still down there.  One day, an unmoved box of macaroni is emptied, and there, behind it, is the missing trap.  It’s down a shelf, and 6 feet away, on the other arm of an L-shaped shelving unit.

One day I go down to get something from the freezer. Dancer-cat rushes ahead and jumps up on it for his usual ruffling.  As I walk over to him, I ALMOST STEP ON THE RAT, padding across in front.  Later, Mr. 20/20 Hindsight Son asks, “Why didn’t you just stomp on him?”  Uh…. because he startled me, I hadn’t thought of doing that….and because I didn’t have my slippers on.

The next day, we go down again, only this time dancer-cat stands peering over the end of the freezer. Sure enough, there under the bottom shelf is Mr. Rat.  My well-shod feet are just waiting – but he won’t come out.  Would the cat go in??  I place him on the floor, but his way is blocked.  I move a box….and the rat is gone.

Later that evening, I go back downstairs. There’s that carpenter’s level.  I might as well put it on the workbench, because I’m going back in that corner to empty the cats’ litter tray….AND I DAMNED-NEAR STEP ON THE RAT AGAIN.  Here he is, almost in the middle of the floor.  I have the level.  Do I want to risk a $50 tool?  Hell, yes!  But the rat quickly scuttles under the work bench.

While the cats seem to have little or no interest in the rat(s), the dog does. He’s part terrier, and they’re bred to dig out rats.  Only, this one just goes downstairs and barks, usually when someone’s trying to sleep.  He’s deaf as a post, and has cataracts so bad that he bumps into things.  I think he just barks at the odors.

I was working on the computer one day. The wife later said she’d heard the dog in the basement.  I went down to the main floor, just as he jumped up on the couch.  We put a blanket there, and let him, but he acted guilty.  When I looked, he had one of his chewy toys in his mouth, which are not allowed up….but this toy had a tail.  Future evidence showed that he caught a rat in the same place he chased one a month before.  But is it the rat?

Rats piss and shit wherever they go. I can vacuum up the solid – several times Dust-Bustering the shelves, but the urine reeks.  We have a spray bottle of Febreze-like liquid.  It’s supposed to absorb odors.  I sprayed under my workbench.  I sprayed the linty corner – behind the steel shelves – behind the beer fridge and water softener – behind the freezer – under the storage shelves, and on the now-open spaces, avoiding all food….and went upstairs, a couple of weeks later.

The wife had started a load of wash, but with her recent knee operation, it was up to me to move the heavy wet laundry from washer to dryer. I went into the main floor powder/laundry room and flicked on the light.  Dancer-cat Micah jumped up on the dryer.  That’s not normal, but he’d been a bit more sucky than usual.  I flipped up the washer lid, and turned to open the dryer….and the cat is paying no attention to me.

There’s Mr. Rat, sitting on some hand towels, on a 4-foot-high shelf beyond the dryer. He’s always stayed in the basement. Oh yeah, I sprayed the shit outta that.  How did he get up here?  The dryer duct – gotta check that again.  What can I hit him with? What can I hit him with? There’s the wife’s ‘laundry stick’, for dunking or removing clothes from hot water.  It used to be the heavy wooden handle of a barbecue brush.

I can’t get at him because he’s tight to the shelf above, and the cat’s in the way. There I stand, with the raised baton in my hand, like an orchestra conductor.  He‘s not moving, because the cat will chase him (maybe), but the cat is interested.  Bit by bit, the cat oozes forward, until their noses are inches apart – slowly, the cat raises a paw….

Just before contact is made, the rat jumps. We have a sponge/ squeegee with a 3-foot handle for cleaning outside windows, leaning against the wall.  He jumps to that.  Then he lowers his nose to look for a safe landing spot – and I clop him a good one on the back of the head.

Holy shit – rats are tough! I expected death, or at least unconsciousness.  He performed a mid-air 360° tumble, and landed, squealing and thrashing, in a 14-inch-high, narrow, plastic garbage pail.  Can he climb out?  Can he jump out?  I’m not waiting to find out.

Quickly I grab the edge with my left hand and, still holding my Ninja club in my right, I head for the nearby front door. With both hands full, I don’t know how I got it open.  I told myself that I shut it behind me, so that cats couldn’t get out – but how?

I was just going to throw him into the middle of the road, but if he got in once, he might get in again.  This is a fight to the death! I run down the driveway, and set the pail on its side on the sidewalk.  He’s safe in there.  He ain’t comin’ out.

I dumped him out onto the concrete, and immediately administered several blows. I may have broken a front leg or two and/or some ribs, but I slowed him down.  Then I got 5 or 6 to the head. Do. You. Know. How. Many. Nachos. You. Ate? Broke the wife’s stick, and had to glue and tape it back together later.  Went to go back to the house, and here’s two cats leaking out the open door.  The next day, I took a photo in the rain, for proof.

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And so, peace has descended upon Casa Archon. No more missing/spoiled food.  No more furtive movement.  No more squealing, rustling or gnawing.  I am the Victor!   😎

 

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Poppa Attack

poppa attack

Just to show that procrastination isn’t the only reason that I don’t get accomplished, what I should. Like Mary and her lamb, I love (most) animals, and they love me.  When I stop in at the daughter’s place, I don’t usually sit down.  I get in and out quicker.

The above photo, dark and murky though it may be, shows what happens if I sit in the big recliner chair. Daughter is hosting two short-haired female Chihuahuas for a breeder.  One insists on licking my entire face – could be for the perspiration salt – could be because she really likes me.  The other doesn’t lick faces, but will clean out both of my ears.

The grandson’s German Shepherd-cross never believes that the Chihuahua does my face correctly, and insists on re-licking it. With a much larger tongue, it should take her less time, but if I don’t insist on coming up for air, it could go on all afternoon.  She took out my sapphire ear-stud out one day.  I never noticed, and I’ve never replaced it.

The daughter’s younger male cat, who will not be picked up, has picked up on the fact that I’ve been practicing my petting and skritching at home.  He has settled onto the left side of my lap, while the little female loudly stands below him at my knee.

Not seen, on the sofa to my right, is Benny, the big son to my now-gone Contessa. He was battling a two-ear infection, with partial deafness and vertigo, but still loudly insisted that I reach out to him too.

The daughter sometimes babysits the breeder’s little, male, long-haired Chihuahua, when she’s on a business trip. He will let no man near him, but will run to the daughter when I arrive. She is allowed to pick him up, and hand him off to me.  There, he quickly settles into the crook of my left elbow, and closes his eyes as I stroke him.  He’d probably purr, if he were a cat.

The wife insists that I’m the reincarnation of St. Francis of Assisi. All this adoration is like high-octane gasoline; it fuels my soul.  It de-stresses me, and lowers my blood pressure, though it doesn’t help my memory or concentration.  “Why did I come in here today??  Shopping??!  What for?  What time is it?  What day is this?”   😕

On-Line One-Liners

Ditzy Blonde

How can you tell if a blonde is having a bad day?

She has a tampon behind her ear and she forgot
where she put her pencil.

***

How many dead hookers does it take to change a light bulb? Apparently, more than two three, because my basement is still dark.

***

If everything is under control, you’re moving too slowly.

***

Couch potato? Sounds delicious; does anyone have a recipe? I’d look for one, but I’m reclining in front of the TV.

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Cutting a gateau into slices looks difficult; turns out it’s a piece of cake.

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Don’t worry about parallel lines and vanishing points. It’s all a matter of perspective.

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Yesterday, I was washing the car with my son. He said: ‘Dad, can’t you just use a sponge?’

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Amputations cost an arm and a leg these days.

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Atoms are made up of small subatomic particles called protons, neutrons, electrons and morons. My atoms have extra morons.

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Never trust what an atom tells you. They make up everything.

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You know you’re a bad driver when your GPS says, “In 400 feet, stop and let me out.”

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I almost borrowed a book from the library called HOW to HUG; until I noticed it was volume twelve of an encyclopedia…

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I also foolishly invested in a failing graffiti business; I didn’t see the writing on the wall.

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I have one of those memory foam cushions, but I can’t remember where I put it.

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Eco-friendly computers can be constructed from the outer layers of tree trunks, but they turn out to be all bark and no byte.

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Did you hear about the scientist who froze himself down to absolute zero? He’s OK now.

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I can’t decide if I like this variable temperature hair dryer; I’m blowing hot and cold.

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I found a great site that sells sausages online; but the link’s broken.

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I got out of the wrong side of the bed this morning. Now I’m trapped in a tiny gap next to the wall.

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How do we know that the Earth isn’t flat? If it were, cats would have pushed everything off the edge by now.

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I just joined the Flat Earth Society. We have members all around the globe.

 

Ode To Contessa

 

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Contessa – my little one – my Missy – my Lady Cat – my gravatar partner – the one who happily, excitedly, ran to greet me each day as I left the bedroom – has died, and I cried like a baby!

It was not unexpected, but it was no less painful. A retired breeder, she was with us just over 5 years.  She was 16 years old, but many Bengals live to be 20.  She was supposed to be the wife’s cat, but she adopted me and kept me in line just like she did the dog.

A couple of years ago, she developed some sneezing, coughing and wheezing. It was feline asthma.  The vet warned that, when we lost her, it would probably be to breathing problems.  Month by month, the coughing grew more common.

About a month ago, she caught a head cold. Nose was stuffed up and runny.  From February last year, to her vet appointment this year, she dropped from 8 pounds, to seven.  Whether because she felt poorly, or just couldn’t smell her soft food, she stopped eating.  By the time we got her to the vet again, she was down to 5 pounds.

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He gave us some antibiotic, and some high-calorie food. We got the medicine in, but not the food.  When Bengals stop eating, it’s almost impossible to break the cycle.  They will starve themselves.  She spent a week in the computer room, taking the occasional sip of water.  She finally came out and collapsed on the carpet in front of the bathroom door.  The end seemed inevitable.

As I sat in the living-room, reading, I suddenly realized that she’d dragged herself downstairs and was on the floor at my feet. I like to think that she wanted to be near me at the end.  Minute by minute, her breaths became shallower.  I hoped that she would quietly, painlessly drift off.

I had called the daughter and asked what to do with her when she passed. Daughter said that, as soon as I was sure she was gone, to seal her in a plastic bag and put her in the freezer, until a decision could be made – burial with a marker in the back flower garden, or cremated, and her ashes returned?

I’d had a long, hard day with the wife in the hospital for a knee replacement. I left a plastic bag and a note for the son.  I tried to go to bed at my usual 5:00 A.M., but I couldn’t sleep, and I couldn’t leave the problem to the unsuspecting son.  Besides, if she wanted to be with me, the least I could do is be there for her at the end.

I put clothes back on and went and sat beside her, occasionally stroking her. I couldn’t read.  I couldn’t think.  I alternated between the chair, and pacing the floor, cursing Fate and the Universe, and crying.  It seemed each breath was a little shallower than the last.  At one point she raised her head to look at me.  I want to believe that she was making sure that I was still with her and was comforted.  Then she sank back down and I thought that had been her last breath.  A couple of minutes later, she shook her ears and moved her head.

Around 6:00 AM, she seemed to spasm. Her front legs didn’t work, but she used her hindquarters to scoot a couple of feet across the floor.  I was afraid that she was in distress.  I rushed upstairs to the computer.  Our vet is 15 miles away, and doesn’t open till eight, but there’s an animal hospital a mile down the road which opens at 7:30.  I could take her there as soon as the son gets home with the car, to have them end any pain.

Around 6:20, she rear-leg drove herself over into a corner, behind a scratching post. Cats want to die alone, with dignity.  She managed to flip herself over onto her chest and tummy.  She lowered her face, her mouth and nose into the carpet, and….

I lay beside her, gently touching and stroking her, and crying my eyes out. When the son got home, we bagged and froze her.  Next week, when the wife can walk, we’ll take her to our vet’s.  The price for a job-lot cremation is $25.  A single-animal cremation, with her ashes returned is $200.  The son says he’ll split the cost.  We’ve done it for the others.  Honor says that we shall do it for her.

I don’t know how such a small, little lady managed to occupy such a large part of our hearts and lives. She was definitely part of our weird family.  Like any human relative or friend, she will be sorely missed, and never forgotten.  I/we thank you, my regal little Countess.  Be at peace!

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***

I composed this post later in the morning that it happened, to help myself deal with her passing. Thank you for reading my very personal tale of loss.  I’ll be back soon with something a bit more up-beat.   🙂

Flash Fiction #133

Financial

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

THE REAL COST OF LIVING

We recently returned from the vet’s with the wife’s favorite cat – $200 dollars, and no guarantee the medicine would cure it. Then she had to go into hospital for knee-replacement surgery.  You could say that she doesn’t need surgery, but, to her, gardening is as important as eating.

The bill for the last oil change said that the year-old car’s brakes need work. The cost of gasoline and electricity are mounting.  The yearly ‘cost-of-living’ increase on my pension was 97cents/month.  I feel the financial walls closing in.

Will we survive this retirement tunnel, or finish, begging on the street?

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Cat Blog – AKA: Views And Likes, Come To Daddy

They say that, after a while, people and their pets begin to look alike. I don’t know about looking like my pets, but I know that I/we have begun to act like our cats, and the cats, sadly, have become like humans.

Experts say that cats don’t talk to each other the way people do. They have many different meows and other sounds to express wants, needs and feelings.  Two or more cats may make sequential sounds, but it’s not conversation.

I can make a low-pitched rumble in the back of my throat that sounds very much like purring. For reasons not known to me, it is called ‘vocal fry.’  About 30% of people do it at the end of words in normal speech.  The Kardashian females are especially noted for it.  When a cat purrs at me, I can purr back, and we’re both contented.

Cat Blog

When the son comes home in the morning, Mica jumps into his lap, digs his claws into tough denim pants, and demands his whapping and scratching. If son is distracted by food, drink or newspaper, Mica soon yowls to remind him that attention is missing.  The son says he’s learned to read and time these outbursts.  Just as the cat opens his mouth, the son meows loudly at him.  He says the look of confusion is precious.  Wait, what??! I was gonna say that.

I have some mild allergies that sometimes make me sneeze – never once, always at least twice, usually three, occasionally four, at least twice, five in a row. If Mica is in the room, or awake and able to hear me, after each and every sneeze, he lightly meows.  The recovering Catholic wife insists that he is blessing me.  As if I needed blessing, or the cat is authorized to do it.  I think he’s just telling me to keep the noise down, to protect his sensitive ears.

Each of our cats has a different time and place where they demand attention. With Tonka, it’s often as I recline my easy chair for my afternoon nap.  Suddenly I have the equivalent of an 18-pound building block on my chest, wanting to snuggle in – try to breathe, try to breathe.  No wonder superstitious mediaeval peasants thought that cats ‘sucked the life out of babies.’  It’s known as positional asphyxia.

Cat Day

In the winter, the air in the house is so dry that we got half-inch-long sparks off doorknobs, so we installed a humidifier in the hall, outside the bedrooms. It had push-button controls on the upper surface.

As we accumulated cats, we found that they will jump up, and pad around on a humidifier, even when it’s running.  Waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of a cat-induced, speed #10, oncoming tornado is a real adventure.

We eventually bought a new humidifier, with touch-screen controls at a 45° angle on the front edge. When cats jump down from something, they slide their front paws over the front edge….  And here comes the tornado again!  We’ve gone two winters now without running it.  A few electric sparks are not as much of a shock as that.

Cat Scratch Fever

All of my cats demand attention at certain times, but Contessa (my little ‘Missy’), is the one who hangs out in the computer room with me while I’m working, or trying to.  She’s also the one with the sharpest claws.  My arms finally reached the point shown above, before I learned to use peripheral vision to notice her coming.  I saw a blog-post the other day.  All it was, was a photo of an arm, scratched worse than mine, with the caption, “Why yes, I do own a cat.  Why do you ask?”

Now, a gentle paw slap as she tries to grab, my attention and my arm, is enough to make her sit back on the floor. Most females don’t want my hands anywhere near them, but when she’s in a ‘pet me’ mood, she demands them all over her.  After 5 long years, she’s even finally taken to lying on her side on the floor at my feet, so that I can rub her tummy – a sign of trust.

Other trust signs are the long, slow, two-eyed blink, and lifting their tail and showing you their butt. They have to trust you enough to take their eyes off you, and the exposed rump not only means that they’re temporarily defenceless, but there are scent glands, which we can’t smell, but which they use to identify themselves to others.

Cat Decision

catacomb – beauty salon for felines
catalyst – cat’s inclination after too much catnip
or – a feline who really makes things happen

catatonic – party fare for cats substituting milk for gin
catechism – manual for turning your doubting tomcat into a true believer
catsup – dinner party for fat cats (catered, of course)
catamaran – a cruise boat for kitties
catastrophe
– four felines and a decorated Christmas tree
catapult – what felines apparently use to get into your lap….when you least expect it
Catalan – a Spanish gato
catamount – wherever your kitty climbs up, to sleep
catfish – be sure to put the lid back on the aquarium

yin_yang_cats

Medical Bills

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A woman brought a very limp duck into a veterinary surgeon. As she laid her pet on the table, the vet pulled out his stethoscope and listened to the bird’s chest.

After a moment or two, the vet shook his head and sadly said: “I’m sorry, your duck, Cuddles, has passed away.”

The distressed woman wailed: “Are you sure?”

“Yes, I am sure. Your duck is dead,” replied the vet.

“How can you be so sure?” she protested. “I mean you haven’t done any testing on him or anything. He might just be in a coma or something.”

The vet rolled his eyes, turned around and left the room. He returned a few minutes later with a black Labrador Retriever. As the duck’s owner looked on in amazement, the dog stood on his hind legs, put his front paws on the examination table and sniffed the duck from top to bottom.

He then looked up at the vet with sad eyes and shook his head. The vet patted the dog on the head and took it out of the room.

A few minutes later he returned with a cat. The cat jumped on the table and also delicately sniffed the bird from head to foot. The cat sat back on its haunches, shook its head, meowed softly and strolled out of the room.

The vet looked at the woman and said: “I’m sorry, but as I said, this is most definitely, 100% certifiably, a dead duck.”

The vet turned to his computer terminal, hit a few keys and produced a bill, which he handed to the woman.

The duck’s owner, still in shock, took the bill. “$150!” she cried, “$150 just to tell me my duck is dead!”

The vet shrugged. “I’m sorry. If you had just taken my word for it, the bill would have been $20, but with the Lab Report and the CAT scan, it’s now $150.”

***

You can get much farther with a kind word and a
gun than you can with a kind word alone.
Al Capone

***

President Trump was being entertained by an
African leader. They’d spent the day discussing
what the country had received from the Russians
before the new government kicked them out.

“The Russians built us a power plant, a highway,
and an airport. Plus we learned to drink vodka and
play Russian roulette.”

Donald Trump frowned. “Russian roulette’s not
a very friendly game.” The African leader smiled.
“That’s why we developed African roulette. If you
want to have good relations with our country,
you’ll have to play. I’ll show you how.”

He pushed a buzzer, and a moment later six
magnificently built, nude women were ushered in.
“You can choose any one of those women to give you
oral sex,” he told Trump.

“Unreal,” The Donald said, “But it doesn’t seem much
like Russian roulette.”

“Trust me!” he said. “One of them is a cannibal.”