Friday, August 11, 2006

Not with a bang, but with a broom in the ass.

The rat escapades have more or less come to an end. On Wednesday I came home from work around 9 p.m. to find Christopher sitting on the couch looking a little worn out and the house spelling like a hospital.

"The rat's gone."

Woo! Except, holy shit, I'm so glad I stayed late at work. This is how it all went down. When he got home from work, C wanted to start cleaning the house from top to bottom, but knowing the rat was injured and probably hadn't strayed too far, he poked and peeked under all the furniture to see if it was laying about. He didn't find anything, so he started sweeping and mopping.

In the kitchen we have an upright, skinny shelving unit in the corner because we have zero cabinet space. It sits on legs about three inches above the floor, and I happen to keep my garden tennis shoes underneath it because it's right by the back door.

So C gets to the kitchen and pushes the swiffer underneath the cabinet and - yeah, you know what I'm gonna say. The rat dashes out from underneath it, and cue Christopher screaming at the top of his lungs. The rat runs past him out the kitchen, follows the wall into the dining room and zips towards the entrance to the living room - where the dog is laying.

The dog quickly made his move and grabbed the rat with his mighty jaws. No, wait. The dog barked a terrifying bark and chased it out of the house like the superior animal he is. Wait...that's not it. The dog layed there while the rat JUMPED OVER IT into the living room, then idly stood up, while Christopher continued to scream and panic, and went upstairs. Some proper dog needs to sit down with this useless creature, who's bitten every one of my friends that's visited, and tell him that he's got it all backwards.

So whatever, that dog (inaptly named Chase) is a total waste, and Christopher is stuck alone with the rat. He followed it into the living room so he wouldn't lose it, and saw it run behind the radiator. C, being the logistical genius he is, started moving the tv stand and bookshelves so that the only path out from the radiator would be towards the front door, which he opened.

C then poked at it, while screaming "GET OUT! GET OUT! AHHH!" for all our neighbors to hear. The rat did run towards the door, but then, instead of seeking sweet freedom, veered back into the house and behind the couch. Poking at him here induced him to run further back into the house and all the way through the kitchen into the bathroom.

C, now rightly terrified that he was going to get stuck in a 3' x 3' bathroom with a rabid rat, followed him anyway. The rat, apparently seeking familiar ground, ran under the shelving unit in the bathroom that's identical to the one in the kitchen. Before attempting the bathroom smoke-out, C grabbed an endtable from the living room and used it to block the path through the kitchen and instead make one to the now open back door.

Standing on the three inch ledge of the shower, C poked at it some more with the broom. As gross as rats may be, this part is a little sad. The whole time, though the rodent was still speedy, was clearly injured and limping a bit. As C started poking at him here, he started squeaking like he was just begging to be left alone to nurse his wounds. Remember, C's a vegetarian, too, so he started to feel guilty about shoving a broomstick in this animals face while he begged for mercy.

Finally,the rat appeared and tried to run through the kitchen, then started climbing the endtable (C informs me that rats can climb up walls, ick), but C, with his bravery and fast thinking, ran after it and swatted it with the broom straight out the back door. Christopher slammed it shut with a shout of victory!

The exterminator came yesterday and checked out the house, and said he was pretty sure it was just the one little guy. He also looked in the backyard and found nothing, so it looks that I'm cleared to water my garden again, though clearly I have to toss my garden shoes (which is kind of sad, they're Nikes worn through from travel on three continents...). On Monday he's coming back to lay traps anyway, and also get rid of our millipede problem, which is AWESOME! We totally thought millipedes were just something we had to deal with living in a house (rather than an apartment), but we realize now we should have called him last summer.

So there you go. Let's all hope that's the end of THAT story.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Rats on a Motherfucking Staircase

Last night Christopher set the rat trap and the mouse trap he got at the hardware store. I stopped drinking water at 10:30pm, so I wouldn't have to get up in the middle of the night (I know, I've contributed heavily to the Shock and Awe campaign here).

This morning I found a note on the kitchen table which said, in part, that the rat was injured but not dead, that I should definitely wear shoes at all times, and that C was calling the landlord ASAP. When I got to work, Christopher and I had the following email exchange.

-----Original Message-----
From: Heather
Sent: Wednesday, August 09, 2006 10:34 AM
To: Christopher
Subject:

So, do tell. Do we have an amputee rat now?

-----Original Message-----
From: Christopher
Sent: Wednesday, August 09, 2006 10:41 AM
To: Heather
Subject: RE:

I don't know that we cleanly severed a limb or anything, but we definitely injured the bugger. Joe saw it on the stairs this morning when he walked out of my room. He said it hobbled away slowly. Unfortunately, he was so freaked that he came back into the bedroom and closed the door instead of following it. In the kitchen, the trap was lying face down on the floor and there was blood on the floor and counter.

Joe and I searched for the rat for about 20 minutes, but couldn't find him. I don't know if he finally decided to flee the house and just hide somewhere. In either case, I locked Chase in my room so he wouldn’t get bitten. I called [the landlord], and she called back and left me a message to call this exterminator.

-----Original Message-----
From: Heather
Sent: Wednesday, August 09, 2006 10:42 AM
To: Christopher
Subject: RE:

HE SAW IT ON THE STAIRS???
So, yeah. He called the exterminator but the earliest appointment we could get is tomorrow afternoon. We're going to set the traps again tonight, and also rig this, which Kriston tipped us to in the comments from the last post, in case the rat is too smart to fall for the trap again. Even if we catch him, though, we're not canceling the appointment. Sick.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Oh Gross.

We keep a bowl on the kitchen counter for the garden veggies. It's just cereal bowl, a pretty cobalt blue one. This weekend, much like in this photo, it was filled with most of a bulb of garlic and seven jalapenos. No tomatoes this time.

While walking past the bowl on Saturday morning, I noticed that one of the jalapenos was half gone. That's not very unusual; Joe occasionally cuts off half for whatever he's eating, and leaves the rest in the bowl. I prefer that cut veggies go in the fridge, but you know, it's not a big deal. I walked on.

Later I walked by again and noticed that...something wasn't quite right. I picked up the half-gone pepper and realized it wasn't a clean slice. It had been nibbled. Then I see the one next to it...in the middle there was a hole chewed out. And on another. Shit! We have bugs! Crap. But I don't see any, anywhere in the kitchen. I was kind of busy and figured that not all seven of them were bad, so I left them there to 1) ask the roommates later if they'd seen bugs and 2) take a closer look and keep the good ones.

I forgot about it and went to bed on Saturday. Sunday morning I noticed all the peppers were gone. I thought, oh, one of the boys must have noticed and thrown them out, oh well. I ran into them both in the kitchen later and asked them if they'd thrown away the peppers, as a preamble to asking about the possible bug problem.

Me: "So hey, you guys tossed the jalapenos?"
Boys: (look at each other) "No, we thought you did."
Me: "..."
Boys: "..."
Me: "What??"

A closer examination of the bowl revealed a stem, the only evidence, which we picked up with tweezers and bagged for forensics to examine. We then had a high-energy conversation that involved lots of "oh my gods" and "GROSSes" concerning whether we had giant mutant cockroaches or...a rat. We briefly considered vampires, because the garlic sat there untouched. Secretly, all three of us thought the others were crazy. No animal eats seven jalapeno peppers. Someone must have tossed them and forgot.

This morning Christopher appears in my office doorway (yes, we work together now, but that's a different story).

C: "I have bad news."
Me: "Um...yeah?"
C: "Remember those corn muffins we made last night?" (Which we put in a ziploc bag and left on the stove.)
Me: "Yeah...?"
C: "..."
Me (light turning on): "OHMYGOD OHMYGOD! WE HAVE A RAT!!"

Christopher said he found the bag chewed through and only a pile of crumbs where the three muffins had been. This is so unbelievably gross I want to die. We're praying it's just a mouse, because it is totally inconceivable there is a rat in our house. I know Mr. Happy (formerly of the Happy Deli Chinese Take Out) used to trek around our garden at night, surprising us and our house guests during the occasional backyard bar-b-que, but there's no fucking way he got inside the house.

Also, that means that a rodent really did pack away SEVEN JALAPENO PEPPERS! Are we living near a nuclear facility that has turned the vile little animals into SuperRats with SuperRat constitutions? Are they alien rats? Are they...Texas rats?? Okay, I know it could be hoarding them, but still, that's a lot of hot peppers.

Nevertheless, Christopher bought a rat trap and mouse trap at the hardware store this evening. We're putting the mouse trap out first, because neither of us wants to wake up to freshly dead rat tomorrow. (Not that we want to wake up to freshly dead mouse...but if we have to pick one, c'mon.) My second biggest concern, besides the fact we have a rodent at all, is that we have to walk through the kitchen in order to get to our bathroom, and I quite frequently make a 2 or 4am jaunt down to it. NOT ANYMORE. I will wet my freaking bed before I come toe-to-snout with a rat in my skivvies. UGH!

I told C we should leave the dog downstairs and get him to finally earn his keep around here. C rightly predicted, "You just want him to die of a rat bite." Well, you know, it would be a valiant end to an otherwise horrifically-behaved dog's life. I'm just saying.

I'll let you all know how it goes in the morning. Any other rodent-disposing advice is greatly appreciated.

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