Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Mating Habits of Squirrels (Reprise)

My friend Jayne just introduced me to a blogger who is definitely a kindred spirit, Anne Dickens.  Anne's most recent post is titled, "Sacre Bleu - I got caught spanking dog food in a sex spot."  With a title like that, what's not to love?  Her tale of dealing with unwanted house guests reminded me of a post I did a while back.  So, without further ado....

I've lived in the same house for 25 years.  Before I became a homeowner, however, I had my fair share of "adventures in renting."

In college I lived in an apartment over a bank.  Being above the bank made us feel really super-duper safe and secure.  We figured any burglars would be far more interested in the vaults beneath our apartment than in our meager belongings.  Another advantage was that the apartment backed up to a popular pub.  We could sit out on the roof on warm nights and listen to the bands that played on weekends for free... no cover charge up where we were!  It also provided us with a prime view of the guys who were coming out into the alley to relieve themselves.  (We were not impressed!)

After college I moved to Colorado.  (Remember "The Worst Camping Trip Ever?")  There we found a wonderful apartment.  The price couldn't be beat!  Perhaps because the last tenant was an old woman who expired in the apartment in the middle of August... only to be found two weeks later.  We could feel her presence whenever we passed the stain she left on the floor in the parlor.  She also left a distinctive odor, which we later learned was from the powder the funeral home spread around to cover up the other telltale signs of human decay.  Strangely, our friends never liked coming to our house for dinner.  I wonder why?  This resulted in many free meals at their house, so we didn't mind too much.  (Perhaps this was when my cat lady tendencies began.)

The best apartment we ever had was a clean, bright second floor palace with two bedrooms, living room, dining room, kitchen with a dishwasher, pantry and beautiful porch.  Now that was luxury living as far as we were concerned!  No one had died there, so it always smelled as fresh as a spring breeze!  The only downside was that we had to share a driveway with "The Crack," who owned the house next door.  He earned this moniker from the neighbors because of the low riding pants he wore to do lawn work.  His lawn was pristine... the talk of the neighborhood.  He was so proud!  There was never a blade of grass out of place and he was vigilant in brushing up any intruding leaves into a small dustpan.  "The Crack" also lined the driveway with symmetrical rocks that he painted bright white.  (Touching them up frequently when they became even slightly dingy.)  In winter he carefully shoveled each snowflake into a beautifully rounded bank of show on either side of the drive.  He even cleared a perfect half circle of pavement into the street to prevent the snow from being tracked into the driveway by car tires.  

Things were fine until we committed the supreme faux pas when we tried to be neighborly by doing the shoveling ourselves one morning.  Our intrepid neighbor was horrified by our crude, randomly placed piles of snow!  From that point on "The Crack" got up way before the crack of dawn to assure we would never attempt to shovel ever again!  

The following spring, we nearly drove him into an asylum when we installed a basketball hoop on our garage... he even insisted we were to blame for his mother's demise because we played basketball "all over the driveway!"  Horrors!  When we bought our house we were sorry to leave that apartment, but not sorry to see the back of "The Crack" as we drove away for the last time.

The most memorable abode, though, was the garret apartment we rented from a little man of middle-eastern heritage.  He was by far the most peculiar landlord we had.  His English was somewhat sketchy, as was his expertise in the area of rental properties.  

There was no heat in the apartment other than what came up through one small vent.  In the winter we rigged up an army surplus parachute over a mattress on the floor.  By entering this makeshift tent and tucking the parachute under the edges of the mattress, the warmth of our breath raised the temperature inside to a balmy 58 degrees!  Time to break out the bathing costumes!

The issue of heat was minor however, compared to the new pets we acquired with the apartment. In addition to the usual mice, we periodically entertained squirrels that crawled in under the eaves in the storage space. They frolicked merrily around the apartment as we chased them about.  I'm sure we amused them greatly.  Calls to the landlord to assist in their removal were met with cold disbelief.  Finally, the little man decided to act on our request for help in removing the furry tailed intruders.  He came over late at night and squeezed into the tiny crawl space above the low ceilings to capture the little rascals.  It wasn't long before his foot came crashing through the ceiling as a squirrel escaped his grasp!  As drywall dust came down on his head he beamed with pride as he told us he had chased the squirrels away.  

The next day he returned to fix the problem for good... by attaching sheet metal over the eaves with duct tape.  Now that's a sure way to keep squirrels out permanently.  Needless to say, we weren't too surprised when a few weeks later a squirrel once again found its way into our apartment.  The funny little man was not amused when we called him with the news.  Not believing that a squirrel could have penetrated his security measures, he came over to verify its existence.  He conceded that a squirrel was indeed in the apartment, but he could not accept that his fine sheet metal and duct tape solution had failed.  Rather, with great seriousness, he filled us in on an important bit of information...

It was obvious to him that the previous squirrel had laid an egg when it was in our apartment and the current squirrel was its progeny!  So that explains it!

What could we possibly say to that?  We more or less gave up on the landlord providing any useful assistance.  Not long afterward we turned in our keys to the garret and became "The Crack's" neighbors.  We left without cluing in the old landlord to the actual mating habits and reproductive cycle of squirrels.  He's probably still chasing them!

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