Friday, June 22, 2007

"Ben, you're always running here and there..."

Listen...they're playing our song...

The above art from my friend and co-worker David Wright (he took this with a cartoon camera in my garage a few weeks ago) told the story that went with the story I wrote, about a battle with rodents at the Allen Estate, which is not very big but how much room do a dozen or so rats need, right?

Anyway, there is no trouble in paradise now, thanks to patience, a quick trigger finger, peanut butter and the T-Rex Snap Rat Trap. I received much mail from those of you how have fought the similar good fight. One letter I print below: it's long, but I've read it three times, just for the pure enjoyment of the words. I share it with you to carry you through what I hope will be a wonderful weekend. The author, "Sarah/Old Highland," gave me her blessings. "Yes," she wrote to me, "put it on your blog. It may help someone else."

Next week is Pea Week, don't forget! So save some energy. And Mayberry After Midnight returns too...

From the mailbag, Sarah's effort...

Hi Teddy

I had been meaning to write about the T-Rex but of course, meaning to and doing so do not often align. After reading Sunday's Taking Time off.......with your reference to the fact that the R-Rex actually exists, here you go.

I relate so well to your two biggest fears, rats and snakes. I think it is not consequential that one often finds snakes where one finds rats, the result of the "food chain." That alone is disgusting enough to contemplate, so let's move away from it.

I live in Highland, which has wonderful architecture, diverse and eclectic neighbors, virgin timber, and rats that have raised generation upon generation of city vermin who have evolved into what we call, Super Rat. My next door neighbor is a divorced energetic lady in her 60's, will not mention names because of the age thing, and she lives in what we call a Grand Dame, an old plantation home, two stories, really three because in her attic you can move around at will in a totally upright position. She has about as much business living in this old, drafty, high maintenance home as a hog has wearing a side saddle. That is one of my Mother's favorite sayings. For a moment, just put a visual on that, okay?

Anyway, this neighbor practices yoga, goes on binges of different things, like all soy for food, then, no night shades for food, then, no carbs, then nauseum. One never knows what she will be doing or thinking next. She would be charming if she were not so dogmatic, all or nothing, and if she would mow her yard on a regular basis during the warm months.

One morning, I am on the side of my house that shares her property, and I hear the sound of people speaking, and I mean so loudly that I can hear what they are saying easily, through her walls and over the natural air space of the outside. I am thinking to myself, "What the heck.....? This goes on for a few days. My husband indicates that he can hear the same from the sidewalk, and it is definitely coming from her house. Finally, after a week, she picks up her phone. She, of course, had turned the tele on and promptly left for a yoga retreat. I ask, why the tele? She responds, and I am not kidding, "I have rats in my attic, so I took the tele, elevated it as high as I could to the ceiling on tables, books, whatever, and turned it up as loud as it would go so while I was gone it would run the rats out." She has 12 foot ceilings, so, for a moment, just put a visual on that, okay?

Just writing this makes my mouth fall open again. The only rats it ran off were the human kind who could not stand the volume of the tele from the sidewalk in front of her house, about 30 feet from her front door. Of course, it did not work, as the dreaded Highland roof rat has seen and heard it all. This is the same woman, who having an Internet date over for dinner, had to listen to him calmly ask her if she knew she had rats. She asked him why the question and he replied, because I just saw one ambling in your kitchen. Swoon, now.

After another week slid by while she purchased sonic devices, held incantation and dance, as well as chanted, screamed and beat the ceiling with poles. She finally contacted the pest control people, who advised that trees growing next to her house was the main reason the rats moved upstairs. They cut a few trees and put out the obligatory potion, and the roof rats were no more.

Now, I don't want you to think that she is the only one to have rats. When we first moved in our bungalow, I and my husband personally witnessed a rat who, no kidding, was marked up like a paint horse, one like Little Joe rode in Bonanza. He had some well defined trails from our free standing garage along the fence line and under it to the neighbor behind us, where he apparently did a lot of business. We nicknamed him "Old Paint" because he became a regular, and each time I saw him, I screamed and swooned. Gawd, sometimes I hate being so predictable.

We began a rat eradication program in earnest at that time, nearly 8 years ago, with a certified, licensed and bonded pest control company. One would think, with all the poison they have put out over the years, there would be no more rats in Highland. One would think that you would eventually interrupt the breeding chain at some point in time. One would be wrong.

We built a small deck in our back yard to enjoy, and we do, unless one of Old Paint's offspring has decided to cash in the chips under it. What were we thinking? A deck for a rat is like an open invitation to move in and stay awhile, a very long while. One summer, about three years ago, while paging through Home Improvement's catalogue, I found for sale, a Rat Electric Chair. I bought it for $49.00 plus shipping and could hardly wait to get it. When it arrived, I took it out of the box and put in the 8 D cell batteries ( not included with the purchase) and baited it with peanut butter. I have checked it everyday for the last three years and still no electrocuted rat. I noticed recently, in the same catalogue, these same rat electric chairs were in the close out section for nothing, they pay you to just take them. What was I thinking? The box stated to be very careful inserting the batteries and engaging the on button to make it "set." The shock could apparently disrupt pacemakers, but the Highland rats, perhaps having seen it before or just reading the side lingo warnings, decided the peanut butter was not worth the risk. It has been in my garage so long now that I am afraid to pick it up. Not that I have a pacemaker, just that I don't want one anytime soon either.

We continue to make a dent in the rodent population as our small contribution to mankind. At least for now, I can say we have never had a rat in our attic, nor one in our house, but it brings me no pleasure to know that they are as close as next door, doing their ratly thing. As for our neighbor, she is mad at me for lopping the head off a snake in her yard, stating it would bring bad luck because of the way Chinese feel about snakes, etc. And I thought you had to break mirrors to have bad luck. Perhaps bad luck is better than having the dreaded roof snakes......Gawd, get a visual on that for a moment, okay?

Your column made me laugh out loud, and swoon, which is darned excellent by any standards.

Old Highland