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A Rat In My House

It was like a horror movie.

I was in law school. Or, actually I was done with law school and studying for the bar exam. In my infinite wisdom and with a splash of arrogance I decided I did not need the assistance of the bar exam prep courses everyone else took. No, I put myself on a home private study regimen. My husband and I had no children at the time, we were living in our little starter home with our adorable Labrador Retriever.

I would study most of the day, take a break in the evening when my husband got home, and then do a night shift of studying after he went to bed. My mini-split level had a pseudo downstairs den and a small damp room which I used as a study. There were sliding glass doors from the den opening to a small yard and beyond that, a wooded area. We hadn’t been in the house long. The previous owners used to leave the sliding doors cracked a bit so that their small dog could come and go, which, of course, allowed other critters to become accustomed to coming into the house. We, of course, discontinued that practice, kept the sliding doors closed, had the place exterminated, and didn’t have any problems with pests — or so I thought.

One night, during my late night study session downstairs, long after my husband had gone to bed, something ran across the room. It was NOT my adorable lab. No, this was smaller than a lab, bigger than a mouse, too fast to be a possum and had a long hairless tail.

A freaking rat. A huge gray rat!

A RAT!

I gasped so hard, I almost swallowed my tongue. But, I’m a tough girl. Bugs don’t bother me. I’ll get dirty outside, I have a strange interest in serial killers and I seriously considered becoming a mortician at one point in my life — but vermin? — not my thing.

I sat completely still waiting for it to come back. Afraid that if I moved it would come after me. I heard scratching; it was still in the house. So I did the responsible thing and ran up the half flight of stairs, through the kitchen, rounded the corner to the next flight of stairs, turned into my bedroom, closed the door and jumped in bed. May have done it all in four steps.

Studying done for the night.

I woke up my husband, told him we had a rat. He didn’t get up, said he’d look for it in the morning. I had nothing more to do but wait for the sweet release of sleep, behind my closed bedroom door.

Rambo

Rambo

My husband went to work very early. As usual, he got up before me. Before leaving, however, he woke me to exclaim that he’d killed the rat with an arrow — he had hunted it down and stabbed it. He asked me if I heard it screaming. I had not. He was so proud. But, he added, it had gotten away and he’d have to find it when he got home because he couldn’t be late for work. Huh? I was half asleep, murmured, “Okay. Thanks.”

I woke later. Looking down the stairs, I saw my dog’s butt. She was on her haunches staring into the kitchen.

This can’t be good, I thought.

I was right.

I slowly descended the stairs and peeked into the kitchen. My dog looked up at me as if to say, “Um, we have a situation here.”

Rosemary’s Baby

There, on my kitchen floor, was a quite large, dead rat. It had apparently been wounded and emerged from its hiding place and did a death crawl to the middle of my small kitchen. Entrails hanging, a train of blood and guts behind it. It finally succumbed to its wounds equidistant from the kitchen sink and refrigerator, blocking the steps to the downstairs den and study where my books were.

My study regimen for the day did not include disposing of a dead rat. My knight in shining armor did not complete the job.

I freaked. Of course I did the mature thing and went back to bed.

That didn’t last. I was afraid my dog would play with it. Really, though, the dog was like, “I’m not getting near that thing.” Plus, it was summer and we did not have central air. The only thing worse than a dead rat in my kitchen would be a rittingbdead rat in my kitchen.

My husband was unreachable, this was before cell phones and he worked on the road. I hadn’t made friends with any neighbors yet. I was on my own . . . and I needed to study. I considered grabbing my books and heading out to the library, my parents’ house, anywhere, to study for the day. But my books were downstairs, through the kitchen. My husband wouldn’t be home for hours.

I cursed him. I cursed him like I’d never cursed him before (of course events in later years have elevated my cursing him to an art form, but I digress . . . ).

How could he go all Rambo like that on the rat and not finish the job — leaving his wife to dispose of the body?

What kind of man was he to leave me with this mess?

Oh, he must have been so proud running around stabbing this rat and then walking off into the sunrise, leaving the corpse to me, a sleeping student suffering through the stress of the impending bar exam.

Damn, him. Damn. Damn. Damn.

Cursing him to myself did not help.

The dead rat was still in the kitchen.

I’d taken my dog out the front door and around to the fenced back yard.

The dead rat was still in the kitchen.

I cursed my husband again.

The dead rat was still in the kitchen.

I’d have to get rid of it, without looking at it, without feeling its weight, without dropping it. I still shudder.

Damn him (husband), damn the rat.

The whole disposal operation took me about two hours. I had to rest between tasks. My study schedule was ruined for the day. Once the carcass was removed, I disinfected the floor to a level beyond operating room clean. Many trees lost their lives to make the mound of paper towels I used. Lysol was my soul mate.

But I don’t think I ever went barefoot in that kitchen again.

When my husband came home I was a raving lunatic. He laughed. He thought it was hilarious. At some point much later I was able to laugh about it, too. But I still cursed him. I still do.

Clean up after your kill, man. Clean up after your kill.

Just Me With . . . a dead rat, paper towels, a shovel, Lysol, and trash bags.

See also, Tales from The Bar Exam

Sleeping Pills and Clogged Toilets: How to Unclog a Toilet While Under Sedation

I’m on a sleep regimen.  No messing around this time.   I have a lot of crap to deal with and I need to do it without being sleep deprived.   Sleep deprivation is a form of torture —  of mind control, right?   (We all saw the third Bourne, it can drive you to kill.)   I haven’t  slept on a regular basis in years.   This week I have been  making a point  of going to bed at a decent hour.  No television, no computer, no phone.   I’m also taking a very mild sleeping pill.   I have a low tolerance for sleeping pills,  however, they put me seriously out,  and I’m often groggy the next day, even  though I’ve allowed myself the  full eight hours of sleep recommended.   Consequently,  I take a low dose and break it in half.  Still, two nights ago, it didn’t work well.  I had trouble falling asleep with the half pill.   So last night, I figured I’d take a whole low-dose pill.

All of my night-time routine work was done, i.e. dishwasher was running, instrument had been played, kids were in their rooms, dogs had been out and were back in.   It was all good.  Sleeping pill taken.   Then,

“MOM!!!!!”

“What?!!!!!!!!!”  (I’d like to say I said, “Yes, Sweetie,” but I don’t think that was the case.)

“I CLOGGED THE TOILET!!!!!”

Swearing in my head commences.   We’d just had a bad experience with this about a month ago, hereinafter known as “The Last Clogging Incident.”   It was not pretty.

You should know that I hate plungers.   I hadn’t bought  one for this  new old house (except for the first few days, we didn’t have a working toilet here anyway in so it was unnecessary . . .  but I digress).    I hate plungers  because although they serve a useful purpose,  I despise cleaning them afterward.  It’s just one of my things.  My usual method of unclogging is to pour water down the toilet, quickly, to “flush” out the obstruction.   Often this must be done multiple times, but it works, it’s less messy and less smelly.     During The Last Clogging Incident,  however, it did not work.  There was no plunger in the house and it was after midnight.  Suffice it to say, I have a plunger now.

Back to last night,  the hour wasn’t as late as The Last Clogging Incident, and I now own a plunger,   BUT I HAD TAKEN A WHOLE SLEEPING PILL!!!!     If I had a strong reaction to it, I would be a stumbling idiot in a few minutes.   If not, and I simply attempted to override it, I would be cursed with a blinding headache.   Plus, two kids had to use the bathroom.   The “clog-her” was content in her bed, reading on her Kindle.    grrrr    Still, I had one on deck and one in the hole.   The drug would soon take effect, and  I, too,  had to go to the bathroom.   (As a result of prior medical/emotional issues, if I don’t go to the bathroom right away when nature calls, I become nauseated).   Oh, did I mention we only have one bathroom in a house with 5 girl-type people and one boy?

It was a race against time.   But since The Last Clogging Incident — when we ran out to a convenience store to use the bathroom just to buy time for me to figure out what to do and stave off my nausea — I had gained some knowledge.   It is amazing what a simple Google search will yield.    I had searched then for  “How to unclog a toilet without a plunger.”   I found the following.   I do not claim ownership, authorship, or creative input.    In short, I did not invent this method, but I pass it on.

Squeeze liquid dish detergent into the toilet.

Boil water.

Wait.

Slowly pour boiling water into toilet.

Wait.

Repeat.

The theory is that the soap lubricates the mass (ew) allowing it to pass more quickly and the boiling water breaks it up.  All of this is safe for your commode — unlike using chemicals (which neither I nor the convenience store had anyway).

Last night  I chose to use a variation.   Liquid soap, hot, but not boiling water.   I couldn’t wait for the boil, wanted to avoid the plunger.  After a while — it worked.   Two kids used the bathroom (before me, of course, I ignored the  airline face mask on the adult first mantra).

After the second kid used it,

“MOM!!!!! THE TOILET’S CLOGGED AGAIN!!!!!”    (The cursing in my head resumed also.)   Time was not on my side, I was already feeling woozy and nauseated.

This time I got the plunger, the soap,  and hot water (still couldn’t wait for boil).   It took some work.   (Note to self:  add more fruit to kids’ diets).  One kid helped (as I stood back, letting the wall hold me up, pinching my nose closed).  But this was the kid responsible for The Last Clogging Incident, so I felt no compassion.

“It smells, Mommy.”

“I know.”

But finally,  the sound of a flushing toilet.  Twice for good luck.  Thrice — well, for me.   The plunger was rinsed, wrapped in a plastic trash bag and still sits on my back deck.   I went to bed.   I slept.   I feel like crap today.   I will only take a half a sleeping pill tonight.   Still, I am triumphant.   I am strong.  I am invincible, I am . . .

Just Me With . . .  a plunger on my porch and a half of a sleeping pill with my name on it.

The Perfect Man — or so I thought.

My Electrical Challenges

My Electrical Challenges — or My Heart

I was in the midst of a nasty divorce and remodeling a nasty house. (See Piss, Puke, and Porn). I was learning how to do so many construction type things by myself. I went almost daily to the Home Improvement Store.

Sometimes I bought what I needed.

Sometimes I’d just stare at items and plan my next project.

Sometimes . . . I would just stare.

I had decided I would learn about electrical work (dangerous, I know). My thinking was that carpentry is all good but it requires a fair amount of strength – man strength that I just don’t have, and I’d often need help for those projects anyway, same with plumbing. I was looking to learn how to do things I can do my own damn self. So electrical work– nothing big– more like just being able to trouble shoot and maybe one day being able to replace a receptacle or put in a light fixture — could be a skill I could use by myself. It doesn’t take a whole lot of strength, and it seemed like something about which I could at least try to develop a working knowledge. So I bought a book and was standing in the electrical aisle — you know, just looking.

(As an aside, if you like the work boots kinda guy, it’s fun to look at the home improvement store customers early in the morning during the week if you can get there. Weekends, not so much, unless you want to ogle married guys with their wives and kids in tow.)

Anyway, a nice gentleman working there asked if he could help me. He was okay cute, well-spoken, friendly — impressed when I told him about my projects but not condescending. The conversation turned personal and I found out he was divorced with grown kids (he must have married young), and he owned his home. I told him I was getting divorced too, hence my move to the fixer home (my Hoarders dump).

Ahmed Hassan, Former Host of DIY and HGTV’s “Yard Crashers” I miss him, what were they thinking in replacing him?

I started to think: Well, this is The Perfect Man. Based on his store discount alone I could justify falling for him. Plus — bonus, he actually had skills, electrical skills, construction skills — and a nice smile. This man could teach me things. (I was still mid-divorce nastiness, not dating but trying to be open to it.) I started to fantasize about power tools and having someone to hold the other end of the tape measure. Ahhh “Maybe I should go out with this guy,” I thought. “What can it hurt?” So when he finally got around to asking if he could give me his number (very gentlemanly I thought), I just said, “Sure.” At the time, this was a huge step for me. Though my husband and I had been separated for a while, I did not feel very single yet and was not ready to be “out there.” (Sadly, some of that has not changed.) Anyway, he got some paper, scribbled his name and number and handed it to me.

His name? —- SAME FREAKIN’ NAME AS MY ESTRANGED HUSBAND!!!!

What the . . . ?

I kept his number for a while, but I couldn’t bring myself to call. I knew I’d never be able to say his name. Never. Ever.

My Home Improvement Store Guy Fantasy was over.

Just Me With . . . the digits of a guy with the same name as my husband.

The Snowman — another chance meeting

Piss, Puke, and Porn

Piss, Puke and Porn. Ahhh, my new house. Just Me and the Kids had been living in the marital home since the Husband moved out. I couldn’t afford it. I couldn’t take care of it. But I have five big kids so it’s not like I could hole up in a one bedroom apartment. Plus, the kids and I loved their schools and I did not want them to have to change, for academic and emotional reasons. So, I bought this little house because I could make the bedrooms work and my kids could stay in the same schools.

But the house was in deplorable condition (which is how I could afford it). The people living there had owned the house for generations but had done no maintenance. Plus, they were sick and poor. The house looked like it should have been condemned. Actually the back part of it was condemned by the county and had to be demolished.

I couldn’t even tell the kids about the house because it looked so bad it would have been too traumatic for them. We drove by it every day and the kids had no idea. The prior owners rented it back from me for 6 months and I worked on the outside of it when the kids weren’t around so that it wouldn’t look so bad when I told them.

Meanwhile, the marital home finally sold. I would have two weeks from the time the prior owners/renters left the new old house before I had to move the kids and I there. The prior owners were heavy smokers, and I say this with no judgment, just the facts — and nasty. I knew that I would be undertaking an extreme makeover but . . .

I get that it was a tough move for the prior owners. Their family had lived there for over 60 years. I stopped by on move out night and they asked if they could leave a couple of boxes to pick up the next day. Sure, I said, because I’m nice that way. But when I went over there the next day and could see in broad daylight what was left behind, it made me sick.

These people kept cats but did not take care of them. They left me litter boxes with cat poop and no kitty litter. The boxes merely had newspaper lining the bottom of the pan. They also left used wet cat food cans. This was late Spring, people. Temps were in the 80’s and rising. Also, there was cat poop that didn’t make the cat box at all. They had apparently kept a cat locked up in what would become my room. The cat had yacked numerous times and they hadn’t cleaned it up. Add that to the cat urine which had soaked into the floors and the remnants of wet cat food — the smell was indescribable.

But the third floor attic bedroom was even worse. A grown man (like in his 40’s) and his girlfriend had lived up there — like hoarders. The side of the attic which was used for “storage” had clothes and debris thrown over there, not in boxes, not in bags, and another cat had free rein up there. Think about it. The storage area was nothing but a big litter box.

Do you see the cat?

Anyway, after the move out there were some boxes and debris left there. Well, okay, I thought, they said they’d leave some things and be back to get them. But I had to inspect the property anyway and start to clean. I had to.

This is what I found: bags of trash, well, actually garbage, including used tissues and vintage porn with sticky pages, more cat poop and litter boxes without litter, an adult diaper (used), little green baggies (which I’m told was crack), and, 2-liter soda bottles — a lot of them strewn about, in boxes, under debris, etc.

These soda bottles were not empty — but no soda, either —

I found approximately fifty 2 liter bottles of HUMAN PISS!

Understand that the bathroom was always in working order. Understand that the guy who lived up there, though collecting disability, was not immobile — he could walk, climb stairs, etc. Understand that he was not developmentally disabled to the point that he was incontinent. In other words, he was capable of carrying his lazy ass to the bathroom and knew that’s where people are supposed to urinate! Understand also that he had a girlfriend who must have allowed this!!!! (What kind of woman would . . . ??????)

That whole Hoarders TV show — finding piss collections? Turns out it is very very real.

The Piss Collection

Part of the Piss Collection

Let me say it again — 50 bottles of human piss — in my new house. I knew I’d have to do major renovations, but piss removal?

Thank goodness the kids weren’t with me when I made this discovery. Even my therapist said she’d never heard of anything like this. (This was before the show Hoarders was so popular.) I stopped looking through stuff. My daughters’ future bedroom was a toilet, literally. And people, this was an attic bedroom — in June! It was ten degrees hotter up there than outside. It was nauseating. Truly. And I was going to move my kids in this house in a matter of days. Looking back on it I still shudder. Yeah, I’ve been through some crap . . . and piss.

Just Me With . . . 50 Bottles of Piss in My House, 50 Bottles of Piss . . .

For more new old house stories, see:

That Hoarders Smell

Toilet or Kitchen Sink — Who Can Tell?

What Happened In My House? Murder?

Exhumation by Accident — Be Careful What You Dig For

Goodbye Hoarders