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summer 2011

Howdy Folks,

Back in Feb. or so, we experienced a series of home invasions and property attacks...conducted by the local wildlife. We were under siege. One morning, I heard this scratching noise that seemed to be coming from inside the wall behind our bed. I thought, "Mice." We get them in the crawl space in the winter and fall, but I quickly trap them. None before have ever gotten into the wall. So at about five in the morning, I am awake trying to pinpoint the exact location of the noise. Now it doesn't sound like it's in the wall, but out in the glass room (Amazon North) where Shirl keeps her summer jungle that we drag in off the deck every fall. I get up, slip on my robe, walk down the hall and open the hall door to the plant room--where I dammed near get run over by a squirrel. He darted up the redwood door jam right next to me so close I though he was going for my throat. I slammed the door as I jumped back into the hall. I made it to the bathroom just in time.

Later, when I cautiously returned to the scene of my near death experience, I looked around and there was this squirrel peeking at me through the blades of an exhaust fan located on the living room side of the glass room. He was smirking. I snarled back and he quickly disappeared--into the crawl space above the vaulted ceiling of the living room. Then, I could hear him scurrying across the ceiling headed for the outer wall of the room. He must have chewed his way through an exterior wall to get into the crawl space. Well, I got dressed and went out in the 20 degree weather. After I circled around the front side of the house several times, sure enough, high up under the roof overhang I saw where she had entered, bringing with her leaves to build a nest. She had found a nice warm place to set up her nursery! I rushed back inside and sure enough I could still hear her scratching near the outside wall. So I started banging on the interior wall, whooping and yelling. This, of course, woke up Shirl, who thought she finally had enough evidence to have me committed.

When I stopped the commotion, everything was quiet, no scratching, nothing. I had driven the thing back outside. I hurried down to the tool room, got my ladder, tools and a piece of cedar to patch the entry hole. No easy feat, that, especially when my hands kept freezing to the hammer. After smashing my fingers repeatedly, I finally got the hole sealed securely. Relieved, I went inside--half frozen--got a cup of coffee and sat down to listen. No noise. Thank you, Lord. Problem solved. Next morning, I walked into the living room and, as an afterthought, opened that door to the glass room. I turned my head and about 18 inches away, giggling at me, was the squirrel, leaning through the blades of the old exhaust fan, which by the way does not work. She had chewed her way in again! But another freezing search revealed that she had not. She had never left and I had boarded her in! Good lord, what to do now?

Ah ha! I had it. I went the nearest hardware store and rented a trap, an oblong wire cage with a spring loaded bait tray on which you placed peanut butter. When the squirrel tried for the free meal, that would trigger the cage door, which would slam shut, trapping the beast. Then, we'd see who would get the last giggle. So I set the baited trap up on the floor of the glass room. The next morning I went to check. No squirrel in the trap, but it had stood on the trap to reach the succulent leaves of Shirl's large jade plant (a small tree actually). I snapped my head around and I swear I could hear the beast singing in squirrelese, "Rock-a-bye baby in the crawl space."

I admit, I lost it. I started bellowing curses at the squirrel as she ducked back behind the fan blades. Then I heard her scurry to the outer wall. I started pounding and cussing until I was forced to stop because my hands hurt and I got winded. That's when I heard this munching sound. Eventually, the munching ended. Curious, I went outdoors to check. There was a new hole up under the overhang. Judging from the splinters scattered all around, it had been chewed from the inside out. We had had a three inch snow fall overnight, and on the ground under the hole, leading away from the house were fresh squirrel tracks. I rushed back into the house to get my tools, yelling to Shirl. "Get the 12 gauge and go out in the front yard, and if you see a squirrel headed our way, shoot the sucker!" She yelled back, "You can forget that. The neighbors already think this place is the nut house." Worthless Redhead wouldn't even help me defend our home from a terrorist squirrel!

Well, this time I used heavy gauge wire mesh to cover the hole (you can't see it unless you get a ladder and climb up). That did the trick, but I kept checking it every day and do you know that squirrel kept coming back to that same hole, trying to chew through the mesh. She eventually got tired (or wore her teeth down) and quit. Battle over! Not quite.

About two weeks later, I was sitting at the breakfast table and I saw this squirrel come up our deck steps with a mouth full of leaves. It disappeared over the edge of the deck and in a couple of minutes reappeared and headed down the steps. This happened a couple of more times, so I went out to check. She was building a nest in the narrow space between the roof of the tool room and our deck which is built over it. We have a whole woods surrounding our house. Hadn't these creatures ever heard of trees? So the next day when I saw her with a mouth of leaves heading for the foot of the deck stairway, I got the BB gun and quietly slid open the deck door. She wasn't even paying attention to anything else, probably humming, "Rock-a-bye baby under deck planks." When she started to slip over the side, I shot her in the butt. That must have smarted cause she dove about twenty feet straight out from the deck and took off in a blur. Never came back.

Now, friends, I don't understand why the squirrels are attacking my house. I'm not a wildlife version of Moammar Gadhafi. Live and let live is my motto...unless one of you has a good recipe for squirrel stew.

Jim

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Jim in front of a classroom, teaching during his tenure on our local school board.


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Jim posed for the River Nymph book cover, chose the lady with the cards model and created the basic design from which Kim Killion worked.


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