You Dirty Rat

Guess what?!

I was brushing my teeth in the downstairs bathroom when I saw something out of the corner of my eye. Fortunately I am not overly superstitious, as I’d been watching a cable show about alleged hauntings (I find these shows hilarious). This particular “haunting” was short, dark,and furry. It came bounding happily down the stairs, probably from the kitchen. Apparently Murphy the Ferret has begun to invite friends over to the crib to party down without asking permission first.

Now, I’d like to say it was a squirrel. But, in my heart of hearts, I’m fairly certain it wasn’t. Two years ago, my grandmother had a run-in with a wild rat in her kitchen and brained it with a hot frying pan full of sunny-side-up eggs. It raced off, and the score was tallied at Rat: 1, Grandmother: 0. Then, being a genteel Southern lady, she sat down and had a mild attack of the vapours.

The next day, she was ready to curl up with a nice scotch and Virginia Slim and ogle that handsome Jack McCoy on “Law & Order” and a very deceased rat fell out of her afghan onto her lap. Score revised: Rat: 0, Grandmother: 1. My grandmother gets extra cojones points since she was 90 at the time.

Last year, my neighbors began complaining that a family of rats had taken up residence in their bathroom’s air conditioner unit. This was unacceptable, but they are dog nuts, with three voracious hounds that will eat whatever isn’t nailed to the floor, so rat poison was out. They have had to just live with the occasional rat sighting.

A month ago, I heard scritching noises in the ceiling. I had hoped it was squirrels. In Atlanta, you can rest assured it is probably just squirrels. It’s always squirrels. Not so Savannah. No, in Savannah, the squirrels live off the fat of the land and little old ladies’ bird feeders. Living indoors is too cushy for their tastes. The squirrels don’t do pampering. But rats? No problemo. They dig invading houses.

So it’s my turn to deal with rats. Hoo fucking rah. I’m so excited.

The problem is that they clear-cut the woods surrounding our neighborhood for a totally useless parkway. No woods, no habitat. This is why we get snakes, opossums, bugs, squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, etcetera, invading the ‘hood. Their homes were stolen, so they’re out for payback.

Now, I’m not anal-retentively clean, but neither am I a fucking slob. I take my trash out and put dirty dishes in the dishwasher and so forth. My ferret, however, is less tidy. He manages to push half his food out of his cage on a daily basis. I sweep it up, he makes another mess. It’s a buffet. I’ve tried to feed him less, and he sulks and acts like he’s dying of starvation. I’ve tried feeding him in smaller increments more often, and he stops pushing his food out, but he gains massive amounts of weight and lolls around like a beachball. I haven’t figured out a way to balance the two scenarios. Either I have a happy, healthy ferret and a big daily mess, or I have a surly, fat ferret and a smaller daily mess.

So I’m standing there with a toothbrush handle hanging off my lip like a street hood sporting a cigarillo, and this rat streaks across the floor like a frat boy doing a rush prank across the quad clad in only a lampshade. I see a blur of fur and a very non-squirrel-like tail vanish into the utility closet, which is dark and scary and full of tools and boxes and a furnace and a maze of vents and pipes and vacuum cleaners and electrical wires and electronics that are incompatible with 1940s-era electrical outlets and fuses. No hot frying pan. No shoes, even. I’m in a slip and some lovely white crew socks. Very sexxay. Me versus a possibly rabid wild street rat. Rat: 1, Me: 0.

So now I have to call the exterminator, and I hate the idea. I like pet rats just fine. If Ratty was not in my house, I’d have no quarrel with it. I also fear having a dead, stinky, smelly rat carcass in my ceiling. Or an angry, half-dead rat stalking me. Or rat relatives seeking sweet, sweet vengeance: “My name is Inigo Rattoya, and you killed mah fadda. Prepare to die.” Some yellow-jumpsuited rat will hop out of the ceiling waving a plastic cocktail sword and everything will go all black and white and we’ll both shout stuff in bad Japanese and the rat will make a pop culture reference or two and then lots of grey ketchup will spray all over the place. I’ll wake up one morning and find a toy Breyer horse head in my bed looking at me.

The Bone solution–you know, the comic book guy?–would involve leaving out several tempting quiches laced with Drano. The stupid, stupid rat creatures would then eat the quiches and die. Horribly. Sure, they’d have all that quiche-y goodness, but Drano is a motherfucker. I can’t bring myself to clean out these rats’ pipes like that. I just want them out of the house.

Damn it. Every week, it’s some new infestation in this house! I still have a ribbon snake living somewhere behind the water heater. Too bad they don’t eat rats.

Hey, Rush Limbaugh: Weren’t you going to relocate to Costa Rica if “ObamaCare” passed?

Hey Rush, weren’t you going to relocate to Costa Rica? It’s been ages since the Affordable Care Act was passed. It’s about time for you to book your flight.

Heads up, Costa Rica!!

 

Barack Obama: LOL, we haz healthcares nao.

Rush Limbaugh: I’m taking my toys and going…er…somewhere else! Like Canada!

Canada: LOL, we haz universal healthcarez.

Rush: Well, then, I’m gonna go to…to…COSTA RICA! BRB, Costa Rica!

Costa Rica: LOL, we haz universal healthcarez.

Rush: Er…well, I could move to…hmmm…

Argentina: LOL, we haz universal healthcarez.

Austria: LOL, we haz universal healthcarez.

Australia: LOL, we haz universal healthcarez.

Belgium: LOL, we haz universal healthcarez.

Brazil: LOL, we haz universal healthcarez.

Canada: LOL, we haz universal healthcarez.

Chile: LOL, we haz universal healthcarez.

China: LOL, we haz universal healthcarez.

Cuba: LOL, we haz universal healthcarez.

Cyprus: LOL, we haz universal healthcarez.

Denmark: LOL, we haz universal healthcarez.

Finland: LOL, we haz universal healthcarez.

France: LOL, we haz universal healthcarez.

Germany: LOL, we haz universal healthcarez.

Greece: LOL, we haz universal healthcarez.

Iceland: LOL, we haz universal healthcarez.

Ireland: LOL, we haz universal healthcarez.

Israel: LOL, we haz universal healthcarez.

Italy: LOL, we haz universal healthcarez.

Japan: LOL, we haz universal healthcarez.

Luxembourg: LOL, we haz universal healthcarez.

The Netherlands: LOL, we haz universal healthcarez.

New Zealand: LOL, we haz universal healthcarez.

Portugal: LOL, we haz universal healthcarez.

Russia: LOL, we haz universal healthcarez.

Saudi Arabia: LOL, we haz universal healthcarez.

Spain: LOL, we haz universal healthcarez.

Sweden: LOL, we haz universal healthcarez.

South Korea: LOL, we haz universal healthcarez.

Sri Lanka: LOL, we haz universal healthcarez.

Ukraine: LOL, we haz universal healthcarez.

The United Kingdom: LOL, we haz universal healthcarez.

Rush: …Shit.

Greenland: It’s fucking cold here, so we bum off of Iceland and Denmark. Because they can haz universal healthcarez.

Afghanistan, Oman & Iraq: Dude, even WE haz some kind of universal healthcarez.

India: Hey! No universal healthcarez here!

North Korea: Nope. No can haz.

Burundi: We don’t haz much of anything. Come on down! But first, are you on Team Tutsi or Team Hutu? Answer carefully, fat man.

Sierra Leone: We can haz violent civil wars, sexual slavery, torture (including disfigurement and amputation), conscripted child soldiers, even cannibalism. No universal healthcarez, though! You’ll love it here!

Somalia: We are a Libertarian paradise! No government, no healthcare, no regulations, no nothin’! Come on down. Bring body armor.

Rush: Um…

Antarctica: Hey, man, you like sealz? I gotz sealz. And sno and ice. Lots of sno. Fucktons of sno. And sealz. But no healthcare! Pack a parka! For the sno! (I’m soooooo ronery….)

Oh, don’t worry, Rush. We know you were just bloviating, as usual, and weren’t really serious about your threat to leave. You didn’t leave when Obama was elected, you didn’t leave when Obamacare was passed, and you won’t leave when Obama gets re-elected. Just in case we were wrong, however, I’m sure we can find some people who would be delighted to help you pack, once you find some first world industrialized country without universal healthcare.

Problem is, there aren’t any.

Suck on it.

 

Snake! On a bathroom floor! (Warning: this entry is rated NC-17 for Samuel L. Jackson content)

Never mind the exclamation points, I’m not all that scared of snakes.

This guy is huge, though. About four feet long and as big as a dollar coin all the way around. And he’s in the basement bathroom. Good grief.

Where’s Samuel L. Jackson when you need him?

“Dude, did you see Pulp Fiction?”

“Yeah, that guy Samuel L. Jackson is such a bad m-“

“Shut yo’ mouth!”

“I’m just talkin’ ’bout Sam!”

“We can dig it.”

“I think I found your problem, lady.”

*begin dream sequence*

Samuel L. Jackson: Describe what he looks like!

Me: He’s, um, black…bald…long…stripey…

Samuel L. Jackson: Does he look like a bitch?

Me: What?!

Samuel L. Jackson: DOES…HE…LOOK..LIKE…A BITCH?!

Me: NO!

Samuel L. Jackson: Well, okay, then. … WHAT?

Me: I’d just like to, you know, go to the bathroom without starring in the home version of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. I don’t own any hipwaders, yo.

Samuel L. Jackson: “The path of the righteous woman is beset on all sides by the inequities of the socio-economic level you occupy and the tyrannies of evil snakes. Blessed is he who in the name of charity and good will shepherds the weak through the valley of motherfucking snakes for he is truly his sister’s keeper, and the finder of lost reptiles. And I shall strike down upon the serpent with great vengeance and furious anger, those who attempt to poison and freak out my sisters when all they want to do is pee in peace. And you will know my name is Samuel L. Jackson when I lay my vengeance upon the snake!”

Me: YEAH! It’s a snake. In my bathroom! What’s up with that shit?!

Samuel L. Jackson: Motherfucking snakes in a motherfucking bathroom! Stand aside, fool, I’ve got it.

Snake: Oh, hello. Hey! What? Who? Blimey, it’ssss that guy! From that film! Who did that thing! Woah. How’ssssss it goin’, dude?

Samuel L. Jackson: Say ‘hisssss’ one more time, motherfucker!

Snake: Uh…ssssssay what?

Samuel L. Jackson: *divine retribution, possibly with sharp, pointy farm-implement, such as hoe or shovel*

Me: I TOLD you to get out of my damn bathroom. Stupid. I had to break out the Bad MotherFucker brand Snake-Be-Gone canned Whoop-Ass.

Samuel L. Jackson: Your sins, motherfucker! Do you repent?!

Snake: Hey! That ssssssmarts! Ouch! That hurtsssss! Yow! That’s not fair, givin’ a guy a ssssshot down there!

Samuel L. Jackson: VENGEANCE IS MINE, SAITH THE LORD!!! *SMITE smite SMITE smite SMITE*

Snake: Lo, I be sssslain and ssssmote. *expiressss*

Samuel L. Jackson: Time for a Royale with Cheese. That’s a mighty fine burger.

Me: How about some freshly dead snake? Tastes like chicken!

*end dream sequence*

I’ve been catch-and-releasing little green frogs of various sizes for two months, I guess Snakey knows a good hunting ground when he sees one.

Wee Phwahwg, stay out of my house.

Last year I had a Snake Intruder who zipped under my bed downstairs. This left me slightly less complacent for two reasons. I did not want to wake up nose-to-flicking-tongue with a snake coiled up on the neighboring pillows. I also did not want to pick up a dead snake a few weeks later.

I went on a Great Snake Hunt lat year and never found him. This leads me to one of two conclusions: Snake One survived and has become Snake Two, OR Snake Two is a different, larger snake. The former conclusion means that Snake One survived on his steady diet of wee frogs and got much, much larger. The latter conclusion means that I probably have an unknown number of snakes living with me but not paying rent.

There are other conclusions possible, including one where, when I move, I find an entire NEST of the damned things down here. I prefer not to think about it.

I told Snake One that I’d live and let live if s/he’d stay hidden or find the way back outside. I hope that this discussion worked. All I know is that I never did end up sharing a bed with Snake One, or find Snake One in the shower stall, and what I don’t see doesn’t stress me out. Now I’ve told Snake Two that if s/he will oblige me by crawling into a handy container, I will put said container outside, which is where Snake Two should be. Time alone will tell if this happens.

I’d be a lot more nervous if I thought the Snakes were poisonous. Georgia is home to six species of poisonous snakes, and these guys do not look like rattlesnakes (canebreak / timber, pygmy, or eastern diamondback), southern copperheads, water mocassins / cottonmouths or coral snakes. I suspect it’s a common garter snake (though it could be a ribbon snake, they prefer wetter environments).

What I learned today:

Eastern Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis): This species is found in a diversity of grassy habitats that are usually wet or damp, although not necessarily near permanent aquatic areas. It is usually less than 2 feet long, large specimens occasionally reach lengths greater than 3 feet. It is distinguished from all other Georgia species, except ribbon snakes, by the presence of three yellow longitudinal stripes down a dark body. Garter snakes have black lines on their lip scales, whereas ribbon snakes do not. Some garter snakes in Georgia have a checkered body pattern with poorly defined stripes. This species gives birth to live young, sometimes having more than 50 babies. Common garter snakes feed on earthworms, frogs, toads, salamanders, fish and tadpoles.

The only part that gives me pause is the several dozen live babies bit. I may be sharing a home with dozens of snakelets. The fun never ends.

Here’s a picture of my little buddy:

Sssssss! I have come to bring much unneeded excssssssitement to your day! Sssssscrew your grad ssssschool projectssssss! You musssssssssst now focusssss on ME! Then you mussssst wassssste time telling some friendsssss and total sssssssstrangerssss about me on Teh Intarwebzssss. Ssssssss!

Not so scary, is he?

If he had rattles or fangs, though, I’d be screaming just like my ass was on fire. Or if he was much bigger. Three or four feet or so is about my limit for free-range snakes….longer than my legs, and I get a little freaked out.

My cousin was an amateur herpetologist and he tried to freak me out repeatedly with his snake collection when I’d visit. Instead, I’d happily hold them all and ask questions, which disappointed him. I even cheerfully scooped clammy newts out of their tanks and handled them. The only beastie I couldn’t really deal with was the furry spider the size of a tea saucer. I held it once, but gladly never repeated the experience. I’m not into arachnids. Frankly, I prefer my pets to be furry, but I also prefer for them to be mammals. (Great. Now I have They Might Be Giants singing “Mammal” in my mind.)

Speaking of: ferret v. garter snake. Who do you think would win?

This is another reason I’m not too fussed. If Snake Two gets out of line, I’m sending in fanged mustalid reinforcements to weasel war-dance and dook him to bits. Right now Snake Two is hiding behind the water heater in the bathroom (or so I think!), and that’s fine by me.

PROTIP: Stop harassing Samuel L. Jackson about snakes whenever he gets on a plane.

Black Wasps of DOOM

The past two-three weeks I’ve had a daily visitation from at least one black wasp. It’s not the same one. I got online and looked up “big scary black wasps” on Google and matched pictures to the latest carcass (it’s literally two and a half inches long from antenna-tip to bum-stinger, which is honkin’ big for a wasp, especially a wasp that is persistent about flying straight at your head). I have a problem. My wasp could be a nice, friendly, spider- and kaydid-eating wasp that’s non-aggressive and helpful, or it could be the Evil Death Wasp With Extremely Painful Stings. They look identical to me. The helpful wasp has brown wings, the evil Death Wasp has curly red antennae. I have a curly-antennae’d black-winged Mutant Wasp.

This picture does not show the slavering fangs or the wiggly, pointy stinger on the vile beast’s bum end. It also fails to represent the sheer enormousness of the Evil Black Death Wasp Wot Flies At Your Head And Attempts To Sting Your Eyeballs Out.

I’m not into randomly slaughtering inconvenient insects and animals if I can get around it. I’ve put my fair share of icky things back outside where they should be. I’m just not going to attempt to catch-and-release a Death Wasp, though.

I’ve about had it with the buglife invading my hovel. It’s non-stop. What makes it worse is when Unidentified Insect Life appears. What do you do with an Unidentified Insect? It could be endangered. It could be a Good Insect. If it’s endangered, that’s too bad. We’re trying to sell this house, and I’m not having the government tell me that we can’t do any painting, washing, cleaning or repairs because we might damage the frail psyche of some creepy bug that has chosen to make the foundation of our house the site for its Last Stand Before Total Extinction. I mean, really. I’m just not having it. Damn bugs.

We live down South and there are oak trees and woods nearby. Being down South is enough to qualify you automatically for an entryin the Cockroach Sweepstakes. Everyone’s a Grand Prize winner. No rose, balloons, Ed McMahon or oversized check with lots of zeros on it, alas, just the joy of 600 pairs of feet stampedeing under the fridge when you turn the light on in the kitchen. Cleanliness doesn’t have a big effect. My mother is admittedly more anal-retentive and neat than I am. She happens to have a LOT more roaches. It’s a given that I will be attached by at least one every time I visit. I’m slightly phobic of roaches. I’d almost rather get cancer from spraying roach spray around every week than see the occasional cockroach. They make me squeal and jump on top of things and do the scaredy-cat mambo. Past methods for dispatching roaches when a roommate or significant other are not at hand:

* large book tossed atop roach from across the room

* pummelling roach to death with heel and toe of high heeled shoe

* siccing pets on them (nearly always with unsatisfactory results)

* drowning them Aqua-Net. Killing roaches is all it is good for, I’d never put that crap on my head. My grandmother left me a year’s supply when she passed on. One day I will manage to kill a roach with this method on a non-flammable surface.

* flick and flush. This takes a certain amount of skill. You flick at the bug, conveniently located on a countertop, using a papertowel,magazine, wet washcloth…anything but your actual hand. Screaming is optional. You flick it into the toilet, sink or bathtub. You then flush away or wash the bastard down the drain. Then put the stopper in.

* Lysol drowning. I was out of roach spray.

* Febreeze drowning. I was out of Lysol.

* Spray starch drowning. I was out of Febreeze.

* I once flick-and-diced a roach, accidentally flicking it off ME (aieeeeergh!!!) into a box fan set on the floor. It lived.

There are others, but I’m shuddering with repulsion. Enough.

So we have roaches. Then the fleas. Oy vey, the fleas. My animal is an indoor animal who occasionally walks on his leash to visit the neighbors across the street. That’s all it takes. He is a flea magnet. The exterminator thinks that other varmints reside under the house in the utility crawl space and we’re getting their fleas coming up through the foundations and vents. I don’t have a clue. All I know is that every summer it’s time for Flea Wars. Dip, bathe, spray, pluck and squish, flick, mash, dab, drop, dose, brush, and on and on.

Once the fleas are whipped into temporary submission, we get the Strange Shrimp-Like Things.

Pass the lemon and tartar sauce. Them’s good eatin’.

Sez The Bug Guy I found online: “This is a Lawn Shrimp or House Hopper, Talitroides sylvaticus, a terrestrial crustacean. They become most evident just after rain when they are found dead inside homes. They are not a problem, just a nuisance.”

Yep. They add to the fun after each and every heavy rain. Not only does my apartment area flood, ruining anything that isn’t suspended at least three inches off the floor, I have to sweep up nasty dead Hopper carcasses. It sucks. They are related to pillbugs. But do I get the roly-polies? No, I do not. I get nasty dead shrimpy things. Not teeny, cute little bugs that roll into a ball.

We have brown recluse spiders in our tool shed. I usually refuse to enter it. The Bug Guy sez that the brown recluse spider is not aggressive, and it normally bites only when crushed, handled or disturbed. Some people have been bitten in bed after inadvertently rolling over onto the spider. This has happened to me. This was a clear case of the spider stalking me and invading my personal space. I hope I squashed it in my sleep, as I still have a lovely pair of scars: one on my upper thigh and one on my bum. No spider has any business being anywhere near my personal areas like that. My booty area has a strict “no insects” policy. (Among other policies.) Other folks have been bitten after accidentally touching the spider when cleaning storage areas. Some bites occur when people put on seldom used clothing or shoes inhabited by a brown recluse. Well hell! You can’t wear all your shoes and boots at the same time. Ample opportunity for one of the little bastards to set up house in there. Have you seen what a brown recluse spider bite can do to you? It’s vile.

Not actual size. Actual size is too disgusting to post. There is pus involved. Pus is yucky. Also, this is not my boo-boo, it’s someone else’s. I think that’s an arm. God, this is horrible. *cries*

My patience is just at an end with the bugs. The poor wasp that invaded most recently has paid the price. I’m not going to maintain a “live and let live” attitude if the little bastards are going to start possibly stinging me. It’s bad enough that they are non-rent-paying freeloaders who try to steal my food and hide in my seasonal clothes and sneak into my bedsheets. The biting and stinging is just NOT on.

When the exterminator comes by next month, I’m going to get him to mount that Giant Death Wasp’s head on a wooden plaque so I can hang it over my fireplace as a warning to any other bugs with the temerity to try and sting me in my own home. Bastards! Bastards, I say.