In honor of celebrating my 20th year in my house, I'm going to share 20 memories. Here's Day Two.
This one is from November/December 2009.
There was a critter in my basement - probably for a month. I was wasn't home much around that time. I was out of town twice that month, for a total of eight days. It seemed like I was always working late at Second Helpings, I was freelancing a whole bunch for NUVO newsweekly, and working at the Red Key and Marigold, and writing the Broad Ripple Gazette column.
I'm telling you this mostly to justify how in the heck I could live with an unknown animal in the house.
I thought it was gone once, only to have it resurface. Plus I didn't want to trap something while I was gone and ask the kind neighbor feeding my cat to have to check the trap. Friendship has its limits.
The adventure started the day that I got a new roof on my garage and my neighbor got a new roof on his house. You can imagine the pounding and noise and general disruption of the area. I unlocked my front door after work that day to find a mouse munching on chocolate that I'd brought back from Germany and my cat watching it happen. We all stared at each other for a few seconds and the mouse ran and the cat had a "who, me?" look on his face.
I set some traps and never saw the mouse again. But I did come home several days later to find a banana eaten THROUGH THE PEEL and and a box of strawberry PEZ flavored popcorn (purchased at a dollar store ten years ago - I can't imagine that it was even edible) shredded and open in the hallway. The war was on. Don't screw with the PEZ collection!
I should mention the cat was home the whole time. Fierce Felix was renamed to Pacifist Kitty.
I set a live trap in the basement with a spoonful of peanut butter for bait.
One evening while I was home I left the back door (that leads straight to the basement stairs) open in hopes of the critter running to its freedom. Several days passed by with no action or droppings or footprints to be found. I assumed it was gone.
Apparently it was still full from eating the mouse and the cat food and the PEZ and the banana.
All Hell broke loose while I was gone for a trip. The critter knocked over the cat food container, flipped the cat food bowl, chewed through several PEZ packages, opened cabinets, chewed through the clothes line in the basement, knocked over crates and pushed plastic storage containers off of shelves to get to the packages of PEZ.
I set the trap again.
When I was at work the next day the critter got in to my purse on the sofa. And helped himself to a pack of chewing gum.
Did I mention that I had a cat?
I got a bigger live trap. More peanut butter and I threw in some PEZ for good measure.
I came home that evening to discover that mystery critter was a squirrel. And a pretty damn big one - too big to fit in the first trap. I was hoping for a bunny or badger or mongoose, not an ordinary squirrel. A not-so-happy squirrel it was. Felix was guarding the trap like he'd done all of the work.
I tried to get a photo of the two of them together, but I was mostly interested in getting it out of the basement without the trap door flying open and the squirrel running up my dress.
I was pretty damn happy that night that I drive a truck. Squirrel rode in the back and we took a little ride to a nice cemetery by the White River full of trees and places to run - and most importantly, in another zip code.
I reached in to release the trap door and the crazy thing would not leave! I tipped the case up. No dice. The thing hung on for dear life. Luckily I had on a pair of sturdy work gloves (they didn't match and I had two left gloves, but they were thick). I had to stick my hand in the trap and pull on the squirrels behind. It finally ran out, around some gravestones and up a tree.
A nice Irish whiskey was in order when I got home.
Thankfully (fingers crossed) there hasn't been another unwanted critter in the house since then.