’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.

SDC11058

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!   😎

 

Advertisements

COOL

ice

Shortly after the last ice age ended, and the glaciers withdrew, the Neanderthals started to notice that the carcasses of woolly mammoths began to go bad quickly. Soon, many people were looking for an artificial way of producing cold/ice.  Finally, about 1850, using ammonia, some Americans perfected a machine to remove heat.  It only worked on a large scale, but the race to develop a smaller version was soon on.

In 1930, Frigidaire (frigid air – get it?) developed Freon™, and made lighter, safer, cheaper, home-size refrigerators possible.  The chiller-tubes (actually freezer-tubes) were wrapped around a small box at the top of the fridge, to increase the cooling area.  The cold air drifted down to chill items on lower shelves, but anything placed inside the box froze solid.

The makers soon learned to put doors on these boxes. You could put a tray of ice cubes in, but there wasn’t much more room than would take a modern cell phone.  Housewives still relied on regular trips to the butcher or grocery store.

This technology didn’t drift north into Canada very quickly. Possibly Americans felt we still had enough ice to keep us going.  My parents relied on an icebox until after 1950.  Too young to notice, I don’t know how or where we stored meat for daily meals.

One of the businesses on the main street was a lumber store, with saws and planers and sanders. The little office at the front did not require the full store width.  In an attempt to increase his income, the owner had one of the big refrigeration units installed, forming a large, walk-in freezer. He installed various-sized lockers, and rented them out.

Of course, only the more well-to-do in town could afford this service – to pay for the locker, and afford to buy and have butchered, a side of beef, half a pig, or a dozen chickens. As a young child, wandering the main street, through the big front window I often saw the ‘Rich Lady’, from the other side of the tracks, entering this strange room, wearing a full fur coat – in the middle of summer.  When I asked my Father, he explained about the rented frozen food storage.

By the time I got old enough to travel to other towns and cities, and look around, refrigerators were equipped with larger freezer compartments.   Both the lumber store and the need for its freezer room had disappeared.  I am not aware of this service anywhere else, but find it difficult to believe that it was unique to my little hometown.  Have any of my (particularly older) readers seen or heard of this service elsewhere?

Flash Fiction #59

Addiction

PHOTO PROMPT © G.L. MacMillan

WHITE RABBIT

As a little girl, Alice had enjoyed visiting her grandparents. She often spent time in the old storage shed behind their house. Her path to the back was blocked by the swivel frame of a mirror-stand.

When she was 13, she realized she could access the rear simply by stepping through the empty oval. She found a set of shelves with colored bottles and vials. A sign on one said, “Eat me”. Another was labeled, “Drink me.” Others said, “Snort me,” and “Smoke me.” She obeyed them all.

“And that,” she told the rehab psychiatrist, “is how I got addicted.”

***

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

#487

Autumn Housecleaning

broom

 

 

 

 

 

 

By which I mean, The Autumn of Our Lives.  When I first burst upon the blogging scene, I found a site titled A Hundred Things – A Hundred Days.  It was the tale of a woman trying to make her house neater by getting rid of accumulated, unneeded, unwanted, stuff.

At first, I thought she was writing about one item a day for the 100 days, but soon found that she was jettisoning 100 items, each day for 100 days – for a total of 10,000 pieces.  It could be a bag of screws, or a pile of paper.  It could be no-longer-worn winter boots and socks, but, a hundred things went out every day.

Both the wife and I are a bit OCD.  Children of Depression/ WW-II-raised, just-in-case parents, we have also accumulated far too much stuff in our house.  Wooden mop and snow-shovel handles, bits of metal – I’m like a magpie – odd nuts and bolts, old dog tags, split rings, chunks of leftover, and found, lumber.  We add shelving and storage units till there’s hardly room to walk or work.

I was only semi-joking when I told the son that, when we die, he’ll need to get a dumpster, and spend a week throwing things out.  Something needed to be done.  I started with the garage.  We can’t get a bicycle in, much less a car.  Plastic plant pots – empty, but never thrown away, the boxes from a new humidifier and printer, now broken down and thrown out – repair parts for a motorcycle I haven’t owned for ten years – the broken automobile tail-lights I replaced.

There were three weeks where I put out two full bags of garbage, not just an almost-full one – three weeks of two Blue Box recycling bins instead of one.  We gave the Kidney Foundation two boxes of goodies and, a month later, two more boxes went to Diabetes.  I’ve dropped off unneeded but usable items at the Salvation Army Thrift Store on my way to get my daily newspaper.

I gave the daughter several keys to locks which no longer exist, as well as several short lengths of light chain, which she can use to produce mobiles, wind chimes and other crafts for sale.  I opened a small box about twice as thick as a deck of cards.  From the weight, I expected to find a random collection of fasteners, but instead got 8 feet of chain heavy enough, but not long enough, to tow a car.  Why would I save that??!

I got rid of 20 tee shirts I never wear to the grandson, 14 of them from Jethro Tull, Moody Blues and Billy Joel concerts. I have a box with newspaper clippings, ticket stubs and concert programs.  I plan to ask the second-hand music shop if the programs would be of any value to them.  Included were jokes, cartoons and other items, some of which you’ve seen and others which will be added to future posts.

I gave the coin dealer at the market a margarine tub full of duplicate foreign coins, and received two packs of quarter-sized mounting brackets in return.  The young store manager bought out the lady who owned my second-hand book store for years.  To him, I gave a box of my old science fiction books, and have seven more boxes I plan to take in over time.  Many books are in poor condition, but he should be able to sell at least some of them.

The more things I throw away, the more things I find that I regret either finding, or having to make further decisions about.  I found six half-inch worm-gear hose-clamps – just like the four I bought to hook my rainwater barrels together.  We’ve lived here for 14 years.  We lived at the last place for 13.  I found peg-board tool-hangers and storage containers from my workbench at the house before that.  In one of the little trays was a complete set of 1/16th to ½ inch bits for my electric drill, lost and unused for almost 30 years.

In the same box, which sat on and made using my table-saw in the garage difficult, I found the wife’s portion of the family silver.  She had forgotten that she had it.  It’s actually only silver-plated flatware, produced by Wm. Rodgers & Co.  Back in the ‘30s and ‘40s, when money was tight, people were enticed to go to the movies with giveaways; attend a show, get a spoon, see a flick, get a fork.  When a bunch were accumulated, you got a free blue velvet tie-pouch to store them in.

I threw out a leather business card holder.  It contained a business card from every job I held where I rated one.  It also had cards from fellow Purchasing Agents, salesmen and technical reps I dealt with for years.  These were guys I ate, drank and partied with.

While much of what is getting tossed is just unlamented junk, things like the card holder delineated our careers and lives.  They are full of nostalgia, meaning, and fond memories.  Sadly, now, in the autumn of our years, they only create and gather dust, and take up space.  The cleanup continues.