Saturday, May 16, 2009

No Animals Were Harmed in the Making of this Blog

My next gig begins on Tuesday (about which I did some Happy Dancing here), and in preparation, I've been spending some time in DC. (Wayside Theatre is only about 90 minutes away from my condo here.)

There was an unexpected adventure today. I had a surprise when I awoke this morning. Scratching. No, not me with bedbugs. There was a loud scratching sound coming from the kitchen. Investigation revealed that it was coming from the cabinet above the stove. Now, everybody knows I'm a scaredy cat, and I hesitated to even open the cabinet door. But I could not imagine what had gotten into the cabinet, or how. And the sound did not appear to be something scratching wood, but rather, something scratching tin foil.

I screwed my courage to the sticking place (thanks, Lady M) and slowly opened the cabinet door. Nothing had disturbed the mountains of Tupperware, the fondue pot (don't make fun), the box of steak knives, the empty jars, the large jug of Costco cinnamon sticks, or the popcorn popper. (Yes, I choose to organize my cabinets eclectically, rather than, you know...logically.) But I could hear that the scratching was louder and more frantic.

There was no doubt. There was an intruder trapped in the exhaust piping of my oven hood, which snakes its way through the center of that cabinet.

It was a freaky, freaky sound. Imagine Bruiser, the Legally Blond Chihuahua, racing around on a cookie sheet. Long fingernails on aluminum. Icky.

I was sure it was a squirrel. In the last year or so, the tree right behind my unit has grown exponentially, and its top branches now flick my fire escape. I like this development, and hope in another year or two, that tree may be tall enough to mask the building behind mine, which is too close for comfort. But the tree has now allowed the squirrel kingdom easy access to my fire escape, which they use with abandon. Last year, I had two pots of basil growing out there, and I frequently (like 8 times a day) discovered a rodent rummaging around in there. And once, I walked over to the open window to come face to face with a squirrel which had clawed its way up the screen and just froze, meeting me eyeball to eyeball.

In short, there are some crazy-ass squirrels in DC.

And I clearly had one of the loonies in my exhaust piping. The outside vent has been a haven for birds for years; there is always a bird's nest being built or settled into around springtime, and it never bothered me. But for some crazy reason, this mad squirrel leaped from the fire escape stairway into the vent, scrambled a few feet into the building, then was surprised when the passageway took a steep drop into the exhaust tube in my cabinet.

This problem consumed my day, a day which I had earmarked for running errands in order to get ready for my gig at Wayside, which, as I said, begins Tuesday. Instead, I had to deal with this crap. I went to the gym and the post office, hoping (irrationally) that the squirrel would find its way out of my vent, but no such luck. He simply had nothing to grab onto and climb out with.

I called around to several outlets which advertised pest removal, but had no luck getting anyone on the phone. This is a common problem I have whenever I have to find a professional to come out and do something around here. It seems like nobody really WANTS to perform the services which they advertise they perform. I finally called our building's management company, headed by a woman I do not like, and who does not like me. I know it's hard to believe somebody doesn't like me, but there it is. She put aside her animosity toward me, and gave me the name of the "trapper" she has used before.

Hours later, I had a grizzly old coot in my kitchen, dismantling my exhaust piping above the stove.

With his bare hands, he removed a live squirrel and THREE live birds from that vent, and tossed them, one by one, out the window. With each throw, he hollered, "You're free! You're free!"

He then used a blower and blew out the passage, which was packed full of twigs and other nest stuff. He capped the outside vent with a cage material, to prevent anybody else from entering my condo uninvited, and left a bill for $320.00

Thankfully, the condo association will be picking up the tab on today's adventure, but there's one thing they can't do: get rid of the lingering aroma which the technician left behind. This guy smelled worse than anybody you might encounter in a New York subway car. But I liked him anyway. Remember, he saved everybody's life, and was genuinely excited to release the intruders into the outside world.
"You're free! You're free!"

I'm lighting scented candles.