It’s no belfry, just my small attic. And it was only one rat, but it might as well be forty. An email from a girlfriend queried, “Didn’t you have this problem last year?” I wasn’t sure if she meant the AC mess or the rat. To which I responded, “I can see why you asked. It all runs together.” So I clarified.
We once had a whole possum family living inside the old kitchen chimney. The house is over eighty years old, and when they quit using the old stove which vented into the chimney, they just walled up the old chimney. The base of which was apparently a great place to start and house a possum family. We noticed a problem when I kept finding fleas crawling on us. We own no pets. I think that was pre-Wilson, but I remember we had to vacate the house while they removed the vermin squatter family and stay out until the flea killing gases cleared. I remember being pretty stressed out as Mark gave Madie a bath and I was going around vacuuming all the base boards, curtains, and cushions to remove all dead fleas and eggs. I had the privilege of doing the vacuuming for seven consecutive days to make sure all the fleas were gone.
Our next run in with rats was when Mark was out of town. I noticed water coming UP the floorboards and into the kitchen. It turned out that a rat had worked it way into the underside of the house and eaten through a rubber coupling where the garbage disposal emptied. Yummy. I was left dealing with water damage, a plumber, the insurance company, giant floor drying fans, and our trusty exterminator.
Following that problem we came home to a terrible stench one weekend. It came from our “master” bathroom. As my mom describes it, it’s a one-butt bathroom. Only one butt can fit at time as it’s about 5 feet square. It turned out the stench came from a rat that had lodged itself in the wall. From the length of time the stench lasted, it must have been a sizable rat. Probably the same grubby rat that ate our pipes. I can only hope he was greedy and didn’t share his food find. I envisioned he got too fat and then got lodged in the wall during his escape. Unable to find the rat, we had to live with the smell. It went away just in time for Mark to go on a week long business trip to Greece. This incident pre-dated the iphone and Mark had taken our camera. Otherwise, I’d have photos of the hundreds of dead flies that swarmed and then died in my bathroom and bedroom. Lacking a guest bedroom I retreated to the couch which isn’t long enough for me to lie down without putting my feet up on the arm. I had taped off the bathroom trying to seal in the flies and kept going in just long enough to asphyxiate them all. Madie was in that desperate “I miss daddy” phase. I was in hell. Mark’s return coincided with the last of the hatching flies and my return to our bedroom. I was exhausted. He may have been jet-lagged but I was less than sympathetic.
We’ve had the AC thermostat wire eaten by rats so there was the combo rat/AC problem again. But that was on the outside of the house and the wire now lives inside a metal gutter for protection. Other miscellaneous parts have broken on the AC over the years. None as dramatic as the first time the thing died eight years ago. For once, something crapped out under warrantee. I was thrilled it was declared dead and needing replacement just days before the warrantee expired. Of course, that was eight years ago, so not too surprising that it’s starting to fall apart.
So you can see why my friend emailed questioning about if this happened before. Why I can’t hit the lotto with my unbelievable skill at beating all odds and being a total life anomaly, I don’t know.
A final note, the most recent rat visitor was rather unceremoniously removed from the attic. The most excitement was on the behalf of the kids. They were desperate to look at it, jumping around the base of the attic ladder, asking the exterminator if they could come up and see, and begging to know if there was more than one rat in the attic. My mother’s suggestion for cremation could not be honored as it appears the rat may have instead opted for organ donation. He was pretty eaten up. No wonder we’ve seen so many flies. The exterminator assures me that it acted alone, has no conspirators, and we should be rat/fly free. Of course, his track record isn’t the best and he did leave behind a few extra traps, just in case.