Thursday, March 3, 2005

Wildlife in the Walls

Wildlife in the Walls…Part 2
While some of you have been busy mocking my pain, greeting my critter conundrum with a cacophony of catcalls and caustic comments—not to mention a plethora of pitiful pictures—others have been kind enough in express sympathy for my situation and inquire about all the ways I’ve been battling the burrowing beast.
This update is for you.
To be honest, dealing with the monster has not been easy.  Especially since I spent the weekend making one of the classic blunders.  Yes, once again I decided to do research on the Internet.  This is not something that ever turns out well.  The Internet is not, surprisingly enough, filled with stories of how the sweet cuddly raccoon inadvertently found its way into the wall and then, once it realized its mistake, wandered out again.
The Internet is filled with information like “can grow up to 30 pounds” or “distantly related to BEARS” or “vicious when cornered” or my personal favorite “common rabies-carrier.”
Then I came upon an article from August 2006 in USA Today that was titled (I swear this is true!):
Psycho Killer Raccoons Terrorize Olympia
That’s when I decided to stop researching on the Internet…largely due to the fact that it is difficult to do research on the Internet while imagining psycho killer raccoons lurking in my walls, waiting to pounce on me in my sleep and rip out my throat.
Do you get the feeling that I didn’t get an incredible amount of sleep this weekend?  Well, you’re right.  I didn’t.
Which is annoying because I usually have no trouble sleeping.  I usually sleep like a freaking baby. I sleep like the dead.  I can sleep through thunderstorms, tornado warnings, phone calls… I can even sleep through small dogs barking and whining and burying things in my bed.
But I can’t sleep through the sounds – real or imaginary—of raccoons in the walls.
And you know what else?
I don’t handle sleep deprivation well…a fact well evidenced by my recent trip to Ace Hardware to buy spackle.  See, when I was in mid search for the rotten raccoons, I noticed that there was a hole in the drywall above the fireplace.  And since this is the same wall where the raccoon first made its presence known, I thought I should close it up before it forced its way into the main part of my home (how the raccoon was going to squeeze its 30 pound body through a dime-sized hole is unclear, even to me, but that didn’t stop me from working up a pretty good panic about it).  So off I went to Ace Hardware and some spackle.
Except in my exhaustion, I couldn’t remember the word spackle.  So I went to the front checkout, said I had a hole in the wall and then started a full blown game of charades in which I acted out my version of spackling.
It was pretty impressive, let me assure you.
The clerk, oddly unimpressed, raised her eyebrows and said “Spackle?”  in that voice most people save for retarded children.
“Spackle!”  I agreed.
And suddenly, inexplicably fell in love with the word spackle and began repeating it over and over.  Different tones, different inflections, even a few different accents.  In fact, I had just started rhyming it with other words—I’d really like to tackle the spackle—when the clerk said “AISLE ONE!”  like I was some sort of dangerous lunatic.
Unfazed, I went over, grabbed the spackle (so fast I could hear the wrapper crackle!) and returned to the cash register.
At this point I kind of started to realize how weird this poor woman probably thought I was and I decided to explain.  I meant to say something like “Please excuse my strange behavior but I’m really tired.  In addition, I’ve been under a great deal of strain because a wild raccoon has dug its way into my walls and is now possibly living in the attic.”
Instead, I looked the woman dead in the eye and said “I have a raccoon.”
That’s it.
Just “I have a raccoon.”
Like I had it in my purse or something….which is probably why she said “OK, then.” And practically threw my bag of spackle at me before hurrying to the other end of the store.
In any case, I went home, tackled the spackle then set about trying to convince the raccoon that my home is not a wild life refuge.
How does one do this, you might ask?  Well, I could have gotten the exterminator guy back in here with his traps but I didn’t want to do that because:
A.                 The guy actually suggested I stick my hand in a wild raccoon hole
B.                 They kill the poor thing and that messes up my karma.
C.                 They charge something like $400 for 3 days of traps WHETHER THEY CATCH THE DAMN THING OR NOT.
Call me cheap, but I thought I’d see if I could handle this by myself.  So, I tried to figure out where the monster has made its home and then basically flooded the area with light and sound.  So, I have spent the past few days with every light in the house on, the patio light shining on the hole, the radio playing at full volume while I beat a broom handle on the walls and the attic door and all the vents and the hole itself.
I don’t know how the raccoon felt but I can assure you that there are a few small dogs who wish they lived somewhere else.
It is interesting to note that when I mentioned my little adventures around the raccoon hole at work this week my friend and colleague Denise Fischer said (and this IS a direct quote):  “You should pee on it.”
Like I’m going to go outside and urinate all over the yard.  THEY ARREST PEOPLE FOR THAT, DENISE!
Anyway, in the midst of all this, I realized that unless I actually saw the raccoon leave, I would have no way of knowing for sure if I had scared the little monster off.  So in a flash of brilliance I decided to cover the hole with plastic.  If the plastic got ripped through, I would know the rotten little monster was still running in and out of the house.  If it remained intact, I'd know I was safe.  However that little chore isn't as easy as it sounds because every time I heard so much as a leaf blow across the sidewalk, I freaked out and jumped about a foot in the air, preparing to fend off a psycho killer raccoon attack.
And you know what I realized when I finished?
Nothing says class like duct tape.
Anyway, the long and the short of it is that even without resorting to indecent exposure and public urination, it looks as if the beast has left.  The plastic has been undisturbed and today my handyman came over, ripped out all the old siding and insulation, and actually found the nest.
And you know what he said?  “Wow, was it big!”  Convincing me that I not only had a psycho killer raccoon living in the walls but it was some sort of mutant freak hulk sized raccoon to boot.
I’m lucky to be alive.
Anyway, the handyman is now sealing every possible crevice in the building and I should be raccoon free from this point on.

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