Rodents, Roaches, Reptiles and Resilience

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Well, here we are in the east East Bay. We’ve rented a nice four bedroom house. Not a place I thought I’d ever live; but, alas, here is where He has led us. And Amen to that.

I knew I’d be facing torrid temperatures, but I was confident in all of the AC systems at work and at home. I knew I may be facing adverse attitudes from children about the extreme relocation; however, our new place has had surprisingly nice blessings. My son has found a very sweet girlfriend who lives down the street, and my youngest is pretty happy at the local high school. I’m close enough to all my grandchildren and see them on a regular basis. My job is not only challenging, but also pays well. My desire to move northward yet remains. That I will rest in the Lord’s hands, rather than wrest it from His hands which is normally my modus operandi.

However….what I did not consider…what I did not even anticipate, nor even think about was the indigenous creature population of this region. I thought maybe roaches and was kinda worried because I’m not the greatest housekeeper, but rats, reptiles….little ants that bite?? Yikes! The roaches over here are giant, and play dead for a second, but if you move, they scurry away to some nearby hideout. Only a few have come into the house, they mostly stay outside or in the garage. An agreed detante.

When I first looked at the house, I noticed some rodent activity. I brought my concerns to the property manager, and she assured me that steps were being taken to mitigate the problem. Because I was so excited to be able to afford a four bedroom house and finally have my own room, I took a step of faith and signed the lease agreement. First night, though, we had visitors…I saw the evidence the next morning. I called the property manager right away..and she sent the exterminator. Problem solved…right?

The rodents had been gnawing under the kitchen cabinets, and one night – first night I was all alone – I went into the kitchen late for some warm milk, and I heard the gnawing…ugh! I texted my daughter and asked if I could come over there to Martinez, since I was a big wimp. She responded that everyone was asleep. So, instead of disrupting my oldest’s household, I manned up and put on my Eowyn face. Eowyn wouldn’t be scared of some rats…she fricking faced the Nazgul. I can do this…and I did. I called the property management the next day…and for now, our problem has been abated.

I am a jumpy kinda person, much like the hare I relate to. Well, I have a friend who keeps me on my toes. His name is Frankie, and he is a lizard who lives in the the front yard, and his mission in life is to see how high I can jump when coming from the car. I don’t even walk on the walkway anymore, he has taken over like he owns the place. Come on, Frankie, give me a break! Evidently, Frankie has friends.

Rats, roaches, even lizards are creatures I am sort of familiar with. Please refer to my story “The Day I Shot the Rat”. What I never imagined, never anticipated was rattlesnakes. Yep…a rattlesnake. Right at the start of Shelter in Place, I came home for lunch one very warm Friday. Work had been stressful as the District and our office were managing how to do school in the new normal. I parked my car, got out, did the Frankie dance, and, voile, there’s a snake at the front door. Whattt!!!??? I looked close and saw a little rattle…a rattlesnake, are you kidding me?? I immediately called the girls and told them not to open the door. I called the property manager, no response. I texted people. One colleague said call animal control which I did. While waiting in the 90+ degree heat for animal control, Frankie came out to taunt me. Not a good time, Frankie. Give me a break!

I texted my boss, and told him I’m not coming back today. I waited for over two hours for animal control’s 45 second visit where he grabbed the snake, bucketed it and went along his merry way. I went inside and, no doubt, ate carbs and watched movies for the rest of the weekend. I don’t even really remember.

These creatures sure have wrecked havoc on my nervous system, but I am acclimating to this new environment. I’m mindful now when I go into the garage that I may run into a bug or two. I’m not ignorant that I must co-exist with my geography and its inhabitants, so I have developed some resilience and am not so jumpy anymore. If I see a roach, I don’t scream or call for my son, I grab the broom and sweep it outside or pick up a handy bazooka and blast it into eternity. When I go into the backyard, I don’t anticipate seeing deer like I did at the old house or a little bunny, but dead rats or, perhaps, a lion, tiger or bear. Oh my!

Next up: My Nemeses: Pincher Bugs, Pharoah Ants and Swooping Barn Swallows

We Miss You, Erma!

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Ninety. Wow, you would’ve been 90 today. Boy, Erma, we miss you. Times are tough now. Humor has taken a nose dive. You know, when I was a kid, my best friend’s mom used to always ask me how things were at my house, “How’s the humor?” she said with a wry smile. I never really got it, since she grew up with my dad, I think there was some tongue in cheek antics going on.

Well, Erma, the humor’s not so good these days. It’s the hyena kind of humor: the creepy, screechy laughing while they rip their prey to smithereens humor. Not very funny.  We still need you, Erma, we need some of your humor.

We need you to remind us of the silver lining of humor in our daily lives before we drown in the ridiculous ridicule being passed as humor these days. It’s good for us to be reminded of the idiosyncrasies of our ordinary lives….like raising kids.

Things My Mother Taught Me

LOGIC: If you fall off your bicycle and break your neck, you can’t go to the store with me.

MEDICINE: If you don’t stop crossing your eyes, they are going to freeze that way. There is no cure, no telethon, and no research program being funded at the moment for frozen eyes.

ESP: Put your sweater on. Don’t you think I know when YOU’RE cold?

FINANCE: I told you the tooth fairy is writing checks because computerized billing is easier for the IRS.

CHALLENGE: Where is your sister, and don’t talk to me with food in your mouth? Will you answer me?

HAPPINESS:  You are going to have a good time on this vacation if we have to break every bone in your body.

HUMOR: When the lawn mower cuts off your toes, don’t come running to me!

Like fantasizing about Paul Newman…

“I don’t know if I can explain it or not,” I said slowly, “but Paul Newman to a tired housewife is like finding a plate of bourbon cookies at a PTA open house. It’s putting on a girdle and having it hang loose. It’s having a car that you don’t have to park on a hill for it to start. It’s matched luggage, dishes that aren’t plastic and evening when there’s something better to do than pick off your old nail polish.

“Paul Newman, lad, is not a mere mortal. He never carries out the garbage, has a fever blister, yawns, blows his nose, has dirty laundry, wears pajama tops, carries a thermos, or dozes in his chair or listens to the ball game.

“He’s your first pair of heels, your sophomore year, your engagement party, your first baby.”

We need more humor writers like you, Erma. We need someone to bring the cynical laughter out of the cultural boxing ring, purify it and bring it home. We really need to laugh because our societal discourse right now is very painful.

An interviewer once asked what the Bombeck family was “really” like. Did we seem as we are in print? A composite of the Bradys, Waltons, Osmonds and Partridges sitting around cracking one-liners? The last time my family laughed was when my oven caught fire and we had to eat out for a week.

I did not get these varicose veins of the neck from whispering. We shout at one another. We say hateful things. We cry, slam doors, goof off, make mistakes, experience disappointments, tragedies, sickness and traumas. When I last checked, we were members in good standing in your basic screw-up family.

There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt. And how do you know laughter if there is no pain to compare it with.

In the midst of all the pain going on, we should be laughing ourselves silly.