We have a rodent in our roof. He moves in when the sun dips below the horizon and scratches all night. It sounds like he’s digging the Panama Canal in there. We’ve had the pest control people out to investigate, but this critter is smart. Or they kill one and another comes in to take its place. It’s been particularly cold this season so I don’t blame him for seeking a warm spot. But the word’s gone out. My roof has become a revolving door.
Alf has put traps up there with peanut butter, but that hasn’t worked either. The thing eats the food, tip toes out of the trap, and laughs. I hear him snickering in between scratches.
Lately I’ve noticed a neighborhood cat around our house.
A light grey beauty with yellow eyes. She looks strikingly familiar and then the other day it hit me. She looks identical to the kitten Alf and I rescued a year ago and is now thriving in a new home. This adult cat must have been the mother.
So mom cat is patrolling our grounds. One afternoon I found her on the roof, soaking up the afternoon rays by what must be the hole the resident rodent climbs into every day. She’s on it. In the last few nights we haven’t heard any scratching. Could it be she caught this nasty rat as a thank you for fostering her kitten and finding her a great family to live with? That would be utterly delightful.
Calvin says, “Don’t get sentimental over this. Cats are savages. They’ll eat anything.”
Yesterday evening I took a walk around the neighborhood to see the Christmas lights on houses, Santas in front yards, and wreaths on front doors. Except there weren’t any. I asked myself if I had the right month. I checked my phone. Yep, I did. What happened to my neighbors? Then it hit me. Most of the neighbors that traditionally went wild with their lights and front lawn decorations have fled the area for warmer pastures. I miss them. They had a spirit of Christmas I didn’t so I lived on their enthusiasm. They brightened up the neighborhood and made us smile. We were proud people who basked in their twinkling lights. We could count on them every year. Now they were gone and took the spirit of Christmas with them. Santa’s sleigh and reindeer are now flying high over sand dunes. And no, I’m not going to take over the tradition. You’re lucky if I have a bow on my front door. Inside the house is another matter. I enjoy displaying several trees in the living room, lights over the mantelpiece, and Christmas cards on a table.
So I gave up on Christmas decorations, and settled for the natural growth around the neighborhood. Here are some pictures.
Calvin says, “Yeah, I miss those midnight walks. I tingled with excitement.”
At midnight last night four cop cars pulled up in front of my neighbor’s house across the street.
Alf was awake and watched from the bedroom window.
They could have screeched their way into the neighborhood like they do in the movies with lights flashing and sirens screaming, but instead they crept in like silent ninjas.
Alf said it was their voices that caught his attention.
People, one by one, came out through the front door, with one man in handcuffs. The last person to leave was our next door neighbor. She crossed the street and went into her own house.
The cop cars left as quietly as they had arrived and the neighborhood fell silent again.
Even the birds had stopped chirping in the trees.
I was sound asleep so I missed the entire thing. Alf told me in the morning.
That explained why I dreamed cops were combing my front yard and looking behind every bush.
Wait. That happened several years ago and I was awake then.
Every few years we have some criminal activity and it always seems to end up in front of our house. We’ve had our share of car chases, and thieves and escaped criminals running through our backyard with cops and police dogs in hot pursuit.
I guess we were due for another incident.
Alf has a beeping contest with our neighbors.
Every morning when they leave the house, they unlock the car and it beeps.
At night when they return home, sometimes quite late, they lock the car and it beeps.
Alf matches them beep for beep. Instead of two beeps, it’s four with his, and more on the weekends.
When we leave and come home, he beeps.
“Trying to make a point,” he said.
This has been going on for months.
“Is your point poking them yet?” I asked.
“I’m hoping they’ll get the hint and disengage the beep. It disturbs the neighborhood,” he said.
“You mean it disturbs you,” I said.
“They have no manners. They’re unaccustomed to American ways.”
“You mean they’re uncivilized.”
“They’re selfish,” he said.
“Why don’t you talk to them?”
“Have you ever been to their country? The noise level is deafening 24-hours a day. They’re used to it. What’s a beep here or there to them?”
“But they’re not there, they’re here, and you’re irritated by the noise,” I said.
“I’ll keep beeping. I want to see where this takes us,” he said.
Mother’s Day is just around the corner.
That horrid one day of the year when families take mom out for brunch and fuss over her with eggs Benedict and Mimosas. Then she’s returned to the daily grind and all is forgotten.
I’m sure the restaurant industry contrived the holiday to beef up their bottom line in May.
What if mom doesn’t like eggs with a last name and orange juice spiked with bubbles? Maybe she prefers her steak grilled with a heaping plateful of shoestring potatoes and a large pitcher of sangria?
And please don’t give her a cheesy card with a sappy greeting that a computer spit out last century that you found in the greeting card aisle at the supermarket next to the artificial smelling air fresheners for the house. Definitely don’t buy one of those either.
Instead, head out to the mall and buy her an all expense paid shopping spree to her favorite shoe store. Or put her on a plane to a beach somewhere. Or give her a lifetime of body massages at the Holistic Health Clinic where Mai, the masseuse will be happy to walk all over her back.
Then install the dog in the pet hotel so she doesn’t have to walk him for a month.
Hire a private chef for the rest of the year and give her a break in the kitchen.
Oh wait. The kitchen. It needs a desperate overhaul before Wolfgang can cook there.
Maybe mom has a dream she’d like to focus on for a change. Provide her with the tools she needs. Lipstick, make-up, haircut and color, liposuction, a new wardrobe.
Singing lessons? Maybe she’s always wanted to develop her voice beyond yelling at the kids.
“We got a notice in the mail today,” my husband said. “The city is repaving our street. We’ll have to park the car away from the house.”
“Why? What’s wrong with the garage?”
“They say we can’t use the street for two days.”
“How do I get to work then?”
“We’ll have to park on a street away from the house,” my husband said.
“Ah,” I said.
Our street looked perfectly good in my opinion. There were lots of other streets that needed attention, ones with big cracks and holes in them. Main arteries in and out of the city. The ones with lots of traffic. Those got overlooked for some strange reason.
A week later a new layer of asphalt was laid. Bright, shiny and black. It smelled like chewing tobacco.
For some reason it fascinated Oscar, our cat. He tip-toed to the street. His tail went straight up in the air. His ears were pointed and alert. His whiskers lengthened.
“Oscar, no!” I said.
I ran after him. Big mistake. He leaped into the air and landed on the asphalt. And there he stayed. Glued.
I thought of how I was going to pull him off.
“Don’t even think of it,” said my husband from the driveway.
“How do I get him out then?” I asked.
“He’s smart. He’ll find a way,” my husband said.
“I’ve got to get him,” I said.
“He’s appealing to your motherly instincts. Don’t give in.”
I was worried that Oscar was hardening with only his yellow eyes peering out.
My husband called me into the house for lunch. As I bit into my sandwich, I heard what sounded like a flamenco dancer’s castanets. The clacking got stronger and faster. I got up from the table to see what it was. Through the kitchen window I saw Oscar tap dancing all over the driveway.
I ran outside. That’s when I saw his black paws, like little shoes, making tapping sounds.
“See, I told you he’s smart,” my husband said at my side.
“And talented,” I said. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry or run inside for the camera.
It took me all day to comfort Oscar and peel off his tap shoes. Since then, he has avoided the street. This will shorten his tap-dancing career because he won’t make the auditions, but he’s coping well.
And I’m sleeping better at night.