Sunday, September 15, 2013

Be Careful What You Wish For


Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans. ~John Lennon

I’ll start by saying that this is NOT the post I was planning to write today. Where to start? I’ll start with rats. I have rats in my attic. No, I’m not speaking metaphorically. Real rats. In my attic.

It started with a soft scrabbling sound above the ceiling in the kitchen. I thought it was a squirrel. I called the ecological, humane pest control company. Eric, the technician, found a hole chewed under the eave above my front door. Hoping the squirrel was outside, he sealed the hole and set a live trap in the attic just in case. We waited.

More scrabbling ... and chewing. Eric changed his opinion and set rat traps in the attic. I pondered my preference for trapping squirrels live and relocating them alongside my willingness to kill rats. One of life’s mysteries.

More waiting. This went on for several weeks. They chewed through the sealed hole, came and went as they pleased, and partied at night till I was sleeping with ear plugs.

Many calls to the company. Many visit from Eric.

Meanwhile, my son’s birthday dinner was Friday night. I had presents for him. Problem – the wrapping paper was in the attic. To get to it, I would have to open the attic door and reach past several traps. I was afraid. What if I opened the door and there was a dead rat in one of the traps? Waaayyyy too disgusting for my delicate sensibilities.

So I did the reasonable thing. I went to the store and bought more wrapping paper, even though I have enough in the attic to wrap presents for the next decade. Really, what else could I do?

Saturday morning, Eric worked overtime to come for another attempt. By now I knew the names of his kids and he knew too much about what I keep hoarded in the attic. We discussed options. I was over my qualms about killing rats. I wanted a blitz attack – poison and traps. Eric discouraged the poison. They would most likely die in the house, would certainly die in the house if he resealed the hole, and it would smell bad for awhile.

I hesitated only a moment. Do it all, I instructed. Seal the hole, put out poison, and set another trap outside on the roof above the door at the resealed hole, anchored to the roof with a wire around the gutter down spout. I want them gone. Eric complied.

Late Saturday night I was in bed reading. Suddenly I heard a “thwack” and some bumping. Then all was still. I knew what had happened. Who could I call at midnight? Or even the next morning since it would be Sunday? Maybe I could just go to sleep and check it out in the morning. Maybe the rat carcass was up under the eave and out of sight, so I could wait until Eric could come on Monday. I turned out the light and tried to go to sleep. The spirit of the dead rat taunted me.

Resigned to my fate, I got up and put my robe on. I dragged myself down the stairs and to the front door. I turned the porch light on. My hand paused on the doorknob. I took a deep breath and opened the door.

Right out of a horror movie. The dead rat dangled in the trap, suspended by the wire,  right in front of my face. The trap had exploded its head and there was blood and brains all over my front door, the wall, the window, and the front porch.

I thought about just closing the door and staying in my house until Monday when Eric could rescue me. But then I imagined someone coming up my front walk only to be confronted by this grisly scene. It might be a child. I couldn’t leave it there. I closed the door and sat down for a minute. The squeamishness I had felt about going into the attic to get wrapping paper just a day before now seemed ridiculous. Like life was saying to me, “Oh you think that would be gross? How about THIS?!”

So I did what I had to do. I put on rubber gloves, got a trash bag and some rags, and cleaned it all up. Yep, that was what I did on Saturday night.

Now I’m sure there are some profound insights I can glean from this freakish midnight ratcapade. But at the moment they elude me. Maybe if I take another shower....

What do you think? Any life lessons here?

related post: Night of the Skunk

60 comments:

  1. Oh, Galen. How awful! I did smile a few times, remembering my own bout with carpenter ants earlier this summer. Every time I turned on the bathroom light, a few scurried back under the toilet. For weeks.

    However, they didn't bleed right in front of my face. I would have screamed and maybe thrown up right there on the porch. I admire your fortitude.

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    1. Linda, I'm surprised I didn't...both scream and throw up. Somehow I got very calm, in a totally grossed out sort of way. Thanks for your sympathetic comment.

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  2. Oh, my Galen, I felt your horror! When I read that you went to the store to get wrapping paper, I nodded--me, too, yes, ma'am, I wouldn't go up in that attic either. When you opened the door and saw what you saw? I would probably have screamed. I hope I would have had your courage to clean up the mess and ponder the meaning of it all. I can't think of any life lessons, though I agree that there's lots here to ponder about animals.

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    1. Tina, I feel pretty foolish now about going to get that wrapping paper. Yeah, I'm still working on the life lessons. Thanks for commenting.

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  3. Having had cats for years l have grown accustomed to various presents, on my front door step or in the living room. Mice and birds mostly, a mole, one cat had a thing about big feathers, but worst of all a snake. I have never had a rat dangling in my face though, that is awful. Horrible having them the attic! Think rats are far worse than mice. A lesson to learn? Keep wrapping paper downstairs :-)? Hope you are rid of the nasty things for good anyhow. Pam xx

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    1. Pam, I did notice a neighborhood cat hanging out around my front door the last couple of weeks. I wish the cat had had better luck hunting and spared me the midnight clean up! Love your life lesson. I laughed out loud. Thanks for your comment.

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  4. I would probably let out a blood curdling scream! I doubt that I would be so brave to clean up the mess. If I am in your shoes, I may just call Eric and beg him to come over.

    I can't imagine what the life lessons can be. But it is interesting that you should ask that. I'd be interested to know what others come up with.

    It is awesome to read your posts once again, Galen!

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    1. Evelyn, If I had had Eric's number, you can bet I would have called him! His company wisely does not give out home number of their technicians. So far the best life lesson is Pam's above--keep the wrapping paper downstairs! Thanks for commenting.

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  5. Oh, what a nightmare!
    Maybe, the lesson here is that it's better to confront our fears, i.e. going to the attic for the wrapping paper, then to hesitate and have something even worse happen. Oh, well, I took a stab at it!
    Very descriptive and entertaining post, Galen!
    Blessings!

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    1. Martha, That's a good stab. I thought along those lines myself. I'm certainly over my I'm-too-delicate attitude! Thanks for your comment.

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  6. Galen -you exemplify courage in the face of great fear. Remember, it could be good and it could be bad. FYI - I hate rats and have trapped three at my house (sewer thing.) I have rubber gloves, bags and a cat pooper scooper - call 24/7.

    Lila

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    1. Lila, Good reminder! Hmm, trying to find the good angle here. Got you on speed dial. Thanks for commenting.

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  7. Speechless......don't know what to say except YUCK....may they be gone forever.....

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    1. Nancy, Second that! Thanks for commenting.

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  8. Next time, take a look through the peep hole in your front door. Call Eric immediately if the scene is more like a horror movie than the normal view of flowers and greenery.

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    1. Bob, If I had had Eric's number, I would have called right away! Heck, if you had still been in the area, I would have called you. Be glad you left when you did. Thanks for your comment.

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  9. You are a warrior in the truest and bravest sense of the word! You are also a noble knight to be thinking of others (A child finding this grisly scene)in your hour of need.

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    1. Betty, That is the ONLY thing that got me to clean that up. If it had been in the back yard, it would still be hanging there until I could get someone to come over. Thanks for your comment.

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  10. You are so brave. I hope there are no more to be found. I would have shut the door and call my hubby home from work. I have had only one encounter with a large rat and my husband took care of it. I guess I am very weak when it comes to rats or spiders.

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    1. Bonnie, What's your hubby's number? Just kidding. Sort of. Spiders I don't mind. In fact, I'm okay with most anything else. Well, okay, not poisonous snakes or sharks. True confession time! Thanks for your comment.

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  11. Tell Eric there are battery powered traps that electrocute the rat. No muss, no fuss. Just a little peanut butter to entice them. Works every time.
    Sorry to hear about your 'rat woes' - way too stressful. Hope the others are scared away by the mayhem.

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    1. catlady, Maybe you could send some cats over! I haven't heard anything since Saturday night, so let's hope.... Thanks for your comment and the suggestion.

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  12. As I have eleven garden cats I never seem to have rats or mice about the place. However, I don't know what I would do if I had been confronted with this! Or what I would do if one of the cats presented me with something like this! I have rescued some birds from their clutches but so far so good. The most yukky thing I experienced lately was a carpet of slugs in my back yard. The husband put down salt and the slugs literally disintengrated into a carpet of sludge and slime. It was really yukky and I felt sorry for the slugs! I meant him to put the salt down pre slugs to prevent them not afterwards to massacre them! Anyhow, hope you are over the experience and I'm not sure what the lesson is!

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    1. fsmum, Even with all the feral cats right around my house, the rats managed to set up housekeeping in my attic. A carpet of slugs--boy that is a close tie with the dead rat for grossness! Thanks for commenting.

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  13. uugh Galen...I feel your turmoil. OMG they were persistent little rats...but having to deal with dead rats yourself...you deserve a medal kiddo.

    No idea what this is representative of. Maybe your bravery in the face of fire!

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    1. Elle, Well, I didn't feel very brave. Maybe just doing what needs to be done. Hopefully I learned whatever the lesson is so that I don't have to repeat it! Thanks for commenting.

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  14. "What do you think? Any life lessons here?"

    Perhaps for the other rats...

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    1. CW, Ha! I hope that's true! Thanks for commenting.

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  15. Well, I think you made a grisly horror story quite amusing, I'm ashamed to say I laughed out loud, but then, I've always had a Dark sense of humor. Glad your ratcapade is over, they can do so much damage and spread disease... hope that makes you feel a little less guilty about what you hadda do? *winks*

    Blessings from the Arizona Desert... Dawn... The Bohemian

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    1. Dawn, It is funny, in a dark kinda way. I'm not sure it makes me feel less guilty, but it is guilt I'm going to be able to live with. So glad you got a laugh out of it. Thanks for your comment.

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  16. Oh no, oh no!! It was testing our humanity. We don't want rat brains splattered about but we also don't want rats...are they "pests" or are they "animals"? How far are we willing to go? So when we get in a space where we are trying to live "all is one" then we get tested with a situation where clearly ALL are not really one. Just a little reminder, in a really hideous way!! (Once I was present to mice glue traps in a store and I have to say I'd never like to see that again...horrible). Here's to no more tests (or rats!).

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    1. Julie, It was a test, and I failed. But...okay, this is weird...I did apologize to the rat for killing it. And when I'm sure all the rats are gone, I'm going to do a sage smudge to clean all the bad energy. Thanks for your comment.

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    2. You didn't fail! Or at least, I don't think you failed. There is an order to everything, and sometimes it's kind of ugly. Most of us do eat meat, for instance, and certainly animals in the wild feed on each other...it's the way of the world. Maybe it was just asking you to look at your perspective and give it a test drive when faced with a challenge.

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    3. Julie, Thanks for the follow up. And I understand your point. An experience like this give me a great opportunity to look at my assumptions and the basis for the choices I make. Thanks again for adding to the conversation.

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  17. Galen,
    It reminds me of the time as a teenager that I opened up the garbage cans and there were maggots everywhere! I screamed and luckily it was my parents and not I, who had to do something. I still don't know to this day what it was. Yikes! I guess the lesson learned is that life happens and we need to clean up. Simply that!!

    PS This can be applied to anything really! :)

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    1. Betsy, Great lesson, and you are right that it is universally applicable. Thanks for sharing your maggot story. I'm glad I spared another child or teen from seeing something that would scar them for life!

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  18. Oh my gosh; what a story. It was funny but then not so funny. I can't imagine cleaning it all up. We had rats in our home in Washington and you could hear them inside the walls. it took a while to finally get rid of them. I do hate rats. I do have a soft spot for animals but there are some that are just very unlikeable and rats are one of them.
    This was an very well written story and I did smile on some of it.
    Blessings to you and I hope your rat problem is over.

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    1. LeAnn, It's getting funnier as time goes on. It was definitely not funny at the moment. Glad I brought you a smile today. And yes, let's hope they are gone now. Thanks for commenting.

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  19. Galen - you just lived through my nightmare! ;) But seriously, if you're looking for lessons, I think the fact that you were able to go beyond your fear because you thought of someone else being confronted with the sight, was certainly a lesson for me.

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    1. Corinne, That is a gentle lesson to come out of this experience. Thank you for sharing your insight.

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  20. Augh! Kudos to you - I couldn't have done that. When we camp in our cottage and the mice get trapped, it creeps me out! I don't have the stomach for it.

    As for messages, have you Googled "Animal Totems Rats"? That's what I do to find the messages when animals show up and grab my attention.I wonder what rats represent!

    Lori

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    1. Lori, I'm going to go look up rats right now--great suggestion. Thank you.

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  21. Now, don't think I'm nuts, even if I am a little strange. However, I have absolutely no fear of snakes, and I do recognize the problems (like disease) that rats can cause. My solution, therefore, would have been to purchase 5 or 6 nonvenomous snakes and send them in. Problem solved.

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    1. JJ, That's a great idea. I don't mind snakes either. I did think about borrowing my neighbor's cats and locking them in the attic for a day or two! Thanks for commenting.

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  22. It's nice to read to end of your fear story! I think Eirc was the hero of that story becuase he has killed Rat :D I don't know but I fear a lot with little animals like lizard and rat. These are too horrible by their looks :(

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    1. Bilal, Well, given that Eric was nowhere to be seen at midnight Saturday when I had a dead rat hanging in front of my door, I'm not sure I'm willing to confer hero status on him. You are very generous. Thanks for your comment.

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  23. Wow, you are brave! We once had rats in our attic. They chewed up everything in sight before we know they were there. We had plastic pipe running to our upstairs bathroom and they chewed through it and water ruined carpet in adjacent bedroom. My son was here and made a makeshift repair to the pipe and before we could get rid of them they chewed through again at different spot and water came through ceiling to rooms below. Big deal cleanup with people out to dry out the house and prevent mold. Needless to say, we had copper pipe put in. They are extremely destructive creatures.

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    1. Judy, I'm not sure I was brave. But I was resigned to doing what I had to do. Yes, rats can be very destructive. I hope I have taken care of this before they cause any real damage, other than to my psyche of course. Thanks for commenting.

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  24. Galen, I hope you will have no further trial this year than this - perhaps a lesson here is that no matter no high or pure we aim, sometimes we are forced to get down and dirty. Blessings!

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    1. Dennie, That's a great lesson. I spend lot of time in my kumbaya zen place. Nothing like a rat to snap you into another plane of existence. Thanks for commenting.

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  25. Disgusting as it may be, one lesson is that a trap capable of obliterating the head is a more humane form of execution than poison. It's over in one splatty moment. Once you've decided you deserve to defend your own living space, there's still the decision of how to cause less suffering when killing. I kill mosquitoes and ants if they are inside the house. Funny how we negotiate these territory deals, huh?

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    1. Mikey, I agree. I had some qualms about the manner of death I was imposing by putting the poison out, but at the moment, after weeks of trying to convince them in other ways to vacate, I was ready to resort to most anything.

      You are right that we make artificial distinctions based on place and species. I will kill ants in my house, but I trap spiders and release them outside. I will kill mosquitoes anywhere. Rats are clearly under a death sentence in my house, but a squirrel would have been caught in a live trap.

      Maybe the lesson is one in judgment, and my willingness to pronounce it. Hmm. Thanks for your comment.

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  26. Galen, I would have thrown up, fainted or both. This was an entertaining read as much as it was a horrific experience for you:) Reminds me of an episode of the cartoon Tom and Jerry except Jerry, the mouse always escaped. Always.

    I'm trying to think of lessons here. Like Martha, I'd say the lesson was confronting our fears. Even when your worst fear materialized, you were able to face it, acknowledge, clean it up and and move on. You would have probably not contemplated it for even a second if asked but when you were confronting it, you took care of business:)

    The last time I dealt with pests, it really scared and terrified me. I used the experience as lessons in embracing change. Each day, each moment was terrifying but tried my best to deal with the changes, messes and bites of the irritating critters.

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    1. Vishnu, I'm amazed that I didn't faint or throw up. I like your explanation of the lesson. It's true that the worst part was the anticipation. Once I had to deal with it, I shut down the freak out mode. Thanks for your comment.

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  27. You did what you had to do and that's that. Hey, at least you can get at your wrapping paper now.

    As I was reading this, I thought of the last rat I saw. It was actually at Disney World (ha, obvious irony). There was another guy who saw the rat too, and we just looked at each other and shook our heads.

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    1. Bobby, Funny about the wrapping paper! A rat at Disney World?! I bet it was trying out to be a Mouseketeer! Thanks for your comment.

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  28. OMG! So disgusting, you are a strong woman by far!

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    1. Jodi, Well, now that I've proven myself, hopefully I won't have to do that again! Thanks for commenting.

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  29. Oh my gosh, I am entertained and at the same time grossed out by this post. I commend you for facing it and for doing what you have to do. I don't know if I will be able to stand cleaning up that kind of mess. I'll probably ask my dad to do that for me lol But it helps to think of other people to motivate us to take action, isn't it? I think that's the lesson I learned from your post. And I do hope you don't have to deal with something like this again ever haha!

    I wish you well, Galen! Take care and God bless! :-)

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    1. Irene, I agree. Let's hope this was a one time thing. I like your lesson from this. It's true that if it hadn't been right at my front door, I might have left it for someone else to take care of. Thanks for commenting.

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