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……….