For the most part, I describe living out here in quasi-realistic, honest terms. There is a bit of ‘idyllic’ inserted now and then to allow for the OTG booster I am, too. Basically, I tell the truth and just maybe not share all the little ‘irritations’ of life off the grid. That is not because I am a Rebecca-of-Sunnybrook-type, I am not. It is just that there are NOT THAT MANY irritations. But there are some. My highline snapped a couple of weeks ago and I have to repair it but the lower anchor point is underwater (tides) during the day so I have to postpone that and, for a grouchy guy, postponement is frustrating. And so it goes. Freezing pipes, engines not starting, running out of something….little issues that, in summer, do not even add up but, in winter….well, winter can be a bit vexing all by itself, too.
We just came back from five days in Victoria. Went to see a dentist and visit briefly with family. Of course, when in town, one also shops a bit. So, all in all, five days of hell-on-wheels (our Pathfinder). I can’t believe how much time in my life I wasted in traffic. After the dentist, it was snowing heavily and Sal and I were hungry and so we stopped in a funky li’l cafe for a soft lunch and….well, I can’t believe how much of my life I wasted on waiting for a sandwich in funky cafes, either. From Costco to Pagliacci’s, it all seemed like moving wet cement uphill.
However, none of that is the blog-story today. Today is about a Santa imposter. I took our woodstove heater door off before we left to go South. Had to. I broke the glass in the door a few days prior and one needs one’s woodstove working full-tilt up here in the winter. I dropped it off at the wood-stove-repair guy.
When I took off the door a small blast of cold air came down the chimney so I folded two thick layers of cardboard and duct-taped that faux-door over the opening to keep drafts from blowing ash into the house while we were away.
When we came home, it was getting on and we had a ton of crap to unload. So, we got on it but first I turned on the water system and Sal started the wood stove. The house temperature was 42 degrees F, 5 degrees C. It was cold! as we worked to put stuff away, the fire started to raise the temp but five hours and a lot of wood later, we were still only at 60 degrees and still bundled up.
“Hey! Sweetie! I think we had an earthquake while we were gone. There are a lot of little items that have fallen to the floor”. We looked around and concluded that it must have been an earthquake but there was also a hint here and there that it may have been a critter. Mice would have done more damage and left too much irrefutable evidence. NOT mice.
I went out to start the genset and, when I came in, I saw our intruder looking at me from under the sideboard in the dining area. It was a big, beautiful shiny, healthy squirrel. I couldn’t resist, “Hey, Sal! Look, a squirrel!”
Sal is very brave in spirit and/or when taking life-threatening challenges at sea. But, in the presence of small, wild, mammals in the house, she is girlishly hysterical. When the shrieking died down (and the noise froze the squirrel in it’s tracks and she/he just sat there wide-eyed, looking at Sal and, as you can guess, that just raised the screaming an octave or two), we got to chasing the little bastard. He first ran around the lower floor and so did we. Then he ran up stairs and I followed. Sal stayed down to ‘hold the fort’. I opened the back door (mid-landing on the stairs) for his easy departure but felt obliged to go upstairs and herd him towards it. After a comedic ten minutes or so, our guy made a bee-line towards the back door. Just as he was about to exit, he spun 180 degrees and headed down the stairs straight at Sal (armed only with a pillow and a cushion, she was no match for the squirrel and emergency shrieking was once again invoked). Sal went one way, the squirrel sauntered past her and returned to the living room. And the chase was on again.
Over the next 30 minutes or so, the squirrel clung to window screens, ran along elevated ledges, hid under furniture and basically covered every square foot of the downstairs. He was accompanied by the sounds of two people chasing him with flashlights and pillows and yelling ridiculous orders at one another (including the squirrel). It was mayhem.
I had also opened a window which ‘Santa’ had run past at least two times but, on his third and final circuit of the living room, he saw the open off-ramp in it and took off. “Holeee!!! What a squirrel! What a couple of nuts!”
Sal still looked a bit unnerved. “But how did he get in? What the hell?”
It was then I noticed the discarded cardboard door. There was chewed hole in it. I looked carefully and the hole had been chewed through from the inside out. The damn guy had come down a virtually vertical 16 foot long, sooty, steel-pipe chimney after first gaining entry by climbing up a 30 degree steel roof and a four foot SS insulated chimney. He had gummy bears for feet! But he must have fallen some of that distance and then found himself on top of the inner part of the stove having landed on the (now cold) heat retention baffle. Had the fire being burning, he would have been a roasted squirrel. Best laid plans of mice and men are not as good as those of squirrels, it seems. He did NOT go agly. “Hmmmmm, now that I am covered in soot and everything is pitch black, I will simply start chewing on whatever is chewable and see where that gets me.”
Welcome to Chez Cox.
Our squirrel, now named Santa Claws (Gumshoe to his friends of which there are none) fell down the chimney, ate through the two layers of cardboard and simply could not get back out until we came home to facilitate his departure. He knocked a few light, decorative items around in a fit of pique, tried a bit of over-ripe banana and basically spent much too much time rifling through our allegorical drawers.
Not a very traditional Xmas this year so far……….
…..and left a few treats under the tree……?
Yeah…..looked a bit like raisins but upon closer inspection……Xmas presents.
It could have been a wolverine. They don’t come down no chimney they rip the door off its hinges. Canned goods they just chew the goodness out of them.
Fear of small, trapped mammals in your house is NOT ENTIRELY unwarranted when they get bigger than squirrels. I have had to deal with Raccoons a few times and I must admit, girlish shrieking was at the tip of my tongue much of the time.
I agree with you. I had a rat in my house and it took over a year to get rid of it. The rat chewed holes in several things and eluded traps. His reflexes so good that he could take food from a rat trap. One day his luck ran out and he took a glancing blow and crawled into the wall to die. Later he made his presence known.
I arrived after a long winter away and began the annual ritual of opening my cottage
Turned the power on, checked the well, pipes, etc etc etc,
There were a few things that needed repair.
Namely …the newly discovered …….hole…….
A hole which I had never noticed before.
A perfectly circular hole in a wall in the bathroom at the height of a shelf full of toilet paperrolls that would make any carpenter proud in its excellent symmetry.
A clean, perfect…..hole.
I looked at the hole and wondered why anyone would drill a 2 inch hole through the wall in the middle of a bathroom shelf. A plumbers mistake? I shrugged and decided to patch it.
Got some drywall, and mud, patched the hole and the next day painted it.
The next day I went visiting friends.
Got home after dark, used the loo, went to bed.
Got up in the morning and while standing, facing the toilet….I noticed a perfect , round 2 inch hole in the exact place where I was sure I had repaired the hole.
I was sure I had fixed the hole.
Had breakfast and coffee. Grabbed a newspaper and went to the “library”.
No sooner than I sat down on the toilet when I heard, “scufffle scuffle, scratch scratch” that stopped somewhere behind and above me.
I looked up.
There, poised on a shelf holding all the toilet paper rolls, 3 ft above my seated head, was…..
The hell spawn squirrel staring DOWN at me.
It was a good thing I was already seated on a toilet…..
Both of us bellowed at the same time.
“Hell Spawn” leaped off the shelf to the floor and ran out of the bathroom ( single occupants dont require the closure of the door.)
The battle was on.
It took almost a week to deter HOW the little bastard was getting into, and out of, the cottage ( under the eves).
And and another three 3 days to get rid of it.
Squirrels, cute, cuddly, gnawing, urinating, clawed beasts of Satan…… Hell bent on the manical destruction of anything you hold dear.
Toilet paper, paper towels, pillow cases, Down comforters inside trunks, couches, stuffed chairs, anything soft, comfy and expensive……all knelt before Satan’s minion who considered ME the interloper after his winter of gnawing debauchery.
Mercy left my mind after viewing the wanton destruction of my personal property.
I mentioned my dilemma to my rural neighbor who could have been a poster child for Lil Abner.
Toothless, grizzled, semi literate and clothed in what could be charitably called, hand me downs.
However, all his physical and fashion limitations were equalized by one thing.
His uncanny ability to know where Mr Squirrel would pop up…..and his crack shot aim with a .177 pellet rifle.
Gone in 60 seconds.
They sure look cute up in the trees, didn’t know there were little bastards when trapped inside!
Hohoho, merry Christmas. One of santa’s little helpers maybe. Lucky you were bringing the food home with you.