Sunday, June 22, 2008

Digging in the dirt

Just dealing with my yard a little at a time. Russo's had perennials on sale if you bought 10 --just the right number to start filling in the bleak space along my fence facing the front. I also had to go out and get a new hose as an extension (one hose just doesn't cut it for all the perimeter space I have to deal with). National Lumber in Newton had pink hoses! Wow!

I would have bought one anyway, seeing as I needed a hose, and this was pink and how the hell cool is that? Even cooler - the manufacturer is an official corporate partner of the Susan G. Komen foundation for breast cancer research. The guys at the counter kidded with me. "Whoa, someone's buying a pink hose!" they grinned. "Tell me I'm the first!" I hollered back. "First on your block, lady!" "You know, I have to be careful with this hose 'cause I live offa Route 9," I told them. "You don't know, the grammas in my neighborhood are gonna steal this off me," I added to much laughter.

It felt good to dig up some dirt this morning and put some things in the ground that will come back every spring - butterfly bushes, coreopsis, meadow sage. Just a little at a time will do it...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Batty Batty Batty

I was so proud of all my planning today - here I was, sitting in the living room of my brother Ted's rental house in downtown Newport, relaxing and surfing the web on my laptop after a long day of presentations and touring in Rhode Island for my Firewise work, waiting for a call from my in-laws to tell me when to swing by their timeshare for dinner. Yes, a successful day and time to relax! Amazing how the body will defend you even when you think you've let your guard down. My peripheral vision (left eye) suddenly bolted to attention, tapped my brain on the shoulder and said, "Hey, what was that black thing that just zoomed through the kitchen?!"

Brain replied, "Geez, what, a bird flying past the window? Chill out, will ya?" Body reminded Brain, "You know, it's the first time we've been in this house, and do YOU remember seeing any windows besides the tiny ones over the sink?" As the scary-movie music started and Brain pondered this oddity, Body let my jaw drop as a little brown bat (note - that's the naturalist description - my description would be, a not-so-little black rat with wings) flew past my nose and swooped around the living room. Body then proceeded to pump adrenalin all over the place until my heart felt like it was going to burst through my skin. I had the presence of mind to leap up and shut the bedroom door to limit the bat's options for rooms to roost in, and open the door to the outside. Then I called brother Ted, who rightly proclaimed, "This could only happen to you." I observed the bat hanging ever so battily upside down on the kitchen side of the doorway between the kitchen and living room. It actually cocked its pug-doggy little head towards me and tilted its ears at me while I talked on the cellphone.

Keeping Ted on the phone so I could give him the play-by-play, I ran across the kitchen to try to close the doors to the back hallway and the bathroom to further cut off bat hiding spots. The bat followed me around for a moment, accompanied by my whoops and squeals of ridiculous girly fear. I know the damn things don't nest in your hair, but their behavior indoors feels very much like a dive-bomb attack. He (she?) ended up in the living room clinging to a little boat. "He's on the boat!" I shrieked into Ted's ear. "What boat?" "The friggin' boat statue over the TV!" Ted (or at least his rental-house roomies) are clean folk, so there was a broom handy. There was no way I was going to try to whack the bat with the broom, but I wasn't going to try to touch it either.

How I wish I'd read this guy's great blog about his battles with bats before taking on my critter. I poked the bat with the broom but it just clung onto the boat with its tiny claws and kind of crawled around a little -- ugh! I tapped it again and it opened its ugly, toothy little maw and hissed at the broom. Crap! Meanwhile, Ted is relegated to speakerphone and listening to my high-pitched shrieks of frustration and horror. The damn thing swoops around some more and lands on top of the fridge. I investigate and see it clumped up there like a piece of moldy bread. Ugh again. Ted and I are discussing options when my mother-in-law beeps through. I hang up with him and get on with her, determined to bravely not say a word about the fact that I'm about to have heart failure over this bat. She asks if I'm sure I want to come all the way (2 miles) to their timeshare for dinner, it's such a harrowing drive (they've just come down from Maine through Boston during rush hour, so she really does think it's a bad drive). Oh, yes, I reply, so anxious to get the hell out of this room that I'm shaking. She puts my father-in-law on to give me directions. I'm jotting down the turn rights, turn lefts when the bat cruises directly past my nose once more, eliciting a strangled shriek from me into the phone.

I apologize and say, I didn't mean to do that, it's just that there's this bat in the house..."OhmyGod!" he says, in a tone that means "Get the hell out of there now!" I agree and promise I'll be there soon. Bat is now on the kitchen floor huddled up under the sink cabinet. I figure I have to scoop him up and find the only couch-arm slipcover with which to do the deed. I throw it on top of the bat and it doesn't move. I try to scoop it without touching and it starts wriggling and making angry little squeaks. Oh God, please let us both survive this! I grab one end of the cloth and try to bat the bat (argh) across the floor to move him toward the living room again. That sorta works but the bat is up and flying again. Now I'm really pissed. I need to get the hell out of this room but I also need to come back later and sleep. I start swiping the bat with the cloth and yelling at it to get out. This is a busy street I'm on so I'm a little surprised no-one's dialed 911 by now. I get it knocked to the floor and in two more swoops I get it out to the pavement on the stoop. I slam the door victoriously and phone Ted to boast of my conquest of Public Enemy Number Bat.

Poor pathetic bat - I'm sure its adrenalin was going bonkers too. It lay on the pavement for several minutes gathering its strength (I peeked) but when I went back to take a picture of it, it was gone. So I didn't kill it, thank goodness. I quickly washed my hands, splashed my face and brushed my hair, hoping my heart rate would slow down by the time I got to dinner. I took it slow going outside to make sure it wasn't lurking. As I stepped out to close the door, a sparrow fluttered away from the stair rail and I screamed my head off. Poor pathetic person!