Thursday, July 13, 2017

“Long Days and Late Nights: The Rat Tale Continues”

Right now, my muddled brain functions on only three hours of sleep. I have roof rats to blame for this late-to-bed and early-to-rise schedule. Yesterday morning, one of my husband’s live traps captured a youth, which he released into our park.  Before our exterminator arrived yesterday, my son and I decided to investigate each room in our house. We followed a trail of dropped dogfood into one spare room. Its black floors hid the fact that at least one critter had supped in the room on several occasions. We found the three other bedrooms and bathrooms totally free of rat sign, but in previous days I’d cleaned signs of visitation in the family room, living room, drum room, and laundry.
         My son shifted an étagère and found foliage from one of our plants stuffed under it. A rustling drew his attention to a large basket filled with silk ferns—and a roof rat! Their scuffle resulted in the rat darting and dashing between the piano and the wall and escaping into the kitchen where she dove under the dishwasher.
         Around this time, the exterminator arrived. He hustled and bustled around the house, placing a variety of traps in the different spots we pointed out to him. He also set two large poison traps outside. As he placed one by the pond, he spotted the female, so we know that this family has their custom entrance to our home. He suggested to my husband that we continue with our live traps, and David left immediately to buy supplies to build bigger traps.
         When David returned, I convinced him that we needed to move around the living room to clean and disinfect every surface. He went to bed around 11:00, but I stayed on task well after midnight. Then my son and I plotted our strategy for today’s battle. I will continue wiping down with Clorox wipes every item the varmints could have possibly contacted. For this morning, I’ll concentrate on the Roland drum kit and maybe summon energy to dive into the laundry room. When my son’s available, he’ll help empty out the spare bedroom. We’ll clean, disinfect and reorganize as we go.
         Because the rats have forced us into this cleaning frenzy, we will also retile the room before reassembling it. More long days and late nights ahead.

Copyright 2017 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

“Coping in Trumpland?”

         I didn’t plan this journey into Trumpland. I didn’t put this nightmare adventure park on my Bucket List of places that I must travel to before I die. Instead, the people around me abducted me. With hands cuffed, feet bound, and mouth duct taped, they forced me to join them.
         I kick and scream and struggle. I resist.
         I don’t want to be here.

        Trumpland feeds fears.
        Trumpland belittles kindness.
         Trumpland strips dignity from its citizens.
         Trumpland operates as a for profit business.
         Trumpland makes up its own rules.

         If I complain, insults thunder over me and drown out my protests.
“Stupid Snowflake.”
“Mouthy Bitch.”
“Worthless Cunt.”

I respond with phone calls and emails, petitions and protest rallies.
I focus on the one thing I know best—educating those who do not understand. That means I spend hours each day reading, fact checking, and sharing.
I do this because I want to go home.

Copyright 2017 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman



Tuesday, July 11, 2017

“Return of the Roof Rat”

            Last fall, a family of roof rats decided to take up residence in our home. At first, we’d hear scurrying during the night. The laundry room became their preferred nesting area, and when we pulled the washing machine out of its nook, we discovered the critters had chewed through the drywall, giving them full access to one side of the house.
            “I want them dead!” was my response as David spent a weekend repairing their damage.
            “I think I can catch them,” he replied before he headed to Home Depot to buy everything he needed to build three live traps.
            Almost immediately he caught three juvenile rats, all too young and stupid not to avoid the peanut butter and dog food bait he’d set out. The parents, however, proved more cunning. They chewed through the water hose of our dishwasher, I’m certain, as revenge for their little ones disappearing.
            “I want them dead!” I exclaimed again as another weekend was wasted fixing that damage.
            “I think I can catch them,” David insisted as he changed the bait and location of his traps.
            It took a few more days before Papa rat was trapped.
          But Mama proved to be shrewd and bold. She’d race along the attic at night or scuttle behind walls. One day, we heard her behind the wall between the kitchen and the laundry room. David gave the wall a sound pound to scare her.
            “I want her dead!” I demanded when she chomped her way through that very wall later in the day.
           Sensing that this female possessed an intellect beyond her mate and offspring, we called our exterminator, who sent someone out immediately. Poison and traps went into both attics, and he placed something outside as well. We never saw that mother roof rat again, but the stench of her decay filled our house for days. Another trip to Home Depot led to our discovery of Gonzo products. Soon the reek slipped into memory.
            A few weeks ago, I scolded Koi for digging into the pot of one of my plants. Over several evenings, he managed to pull out the lovely leaves of a large Brazil philodendron, I thought, while trying to see out the front window. Eventually, I shifted the plant outside to protect it from damage. When something disturbed the soil of a second potted plant, I realized Koi wasn’t involved. A search of the living room revealed more roof rat droppings. I called the exterminator immediately, but his first opening was a week away.
            And David pulled out his live traps again while I set out a poison trap in an area that the dogs won’t access. I made certain to put the dogs’ food bowls up on a counter and cover them every night if the contained any food. I moved more plants outside and kept my eyes open. Whereas the last roof rat family contained their activity in one part of the house, this time we’ve seen sign in four different rooms. Either we have another extended family living with us, or one rat that gets around.
            Last night, David changed the bait in one trap to a little slice of orange. This morning, he woke up to find a male rat captured inside!
           Logic tells me that he’s built a nest somewhere, and I suspect he has a family hidden in the attic. I can’t wait until tomorrow when our exterminator arrives. He’ll strategically place traps and poison throughout the house. We will continue to set the live traps, too.  One way or another, we’ll win this battle!

Today's catch!

Copyright 2017 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman 

Monday, July 10, 2017

“Summer Morning Rituals”

            Minutes after the front door clicks signaling David’s exit for the day, both dogs beg for morning cheese. They don’t whine, but instead take on a hard to ignore singsong that my foggy brain processes as “treat, treat, treat.” Persistent and persuasive, their summons pulls me out of bed within fifteen minutes of my husband’s departure. Most mornings I unwrap of slice of American for them, but some days I grate sharp Tillamook over their food. Immediately after scarfing down their cheese, they want me to go outside with them.
            During the summer months, Koi zips over to the hose and viciously tugs on the end. He combats this imagined demonic snake while I fight against his weight to uncoil his adversary. He continues his attack until my heated command, “Leave it!” pulls him away.
            I relax into the sacrament of watering. From potted plants to hanging baskets, to the birdbath and the small pond, I nurture and nourish. The hem of my gown grows wet from castoff and clings around my knees as I meander through the yard. I genuflect to an uncurling new leaf and sprinkle it with blessings. Birdsong and soft morning sunshine waft me into peace.

Copyright 2017 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman