My Week 17 – GPS Guilt and Indoor Wildlife Rankings

Monday: My GPS makes me feel guilty.

Last year for Christmas, Ken bought me a GPS. I don’t mean this past Christmas, I mean Christmas two years ago, technically. I never installed it, because a) I have an innate sense of where I’m going b) I lie about my innate sense of where I’m going, so I use Mapquest a lot, and c) I hate winter, so it was always too cold to put it in my SUV, and I only ever thought about it during the winter. But a few weeks ago, Ken decided that I should have it in my new car, just in case I got a job in Toronto. That sounds like a weird long shot, but it turns out I DID get a job in Toronto, which just goes to show that Ken is prophetic AND practical. Anyway, he installed it, or at least tried to, in my new Chevy Sonic. But there were some significant issues with the Tom-Tom, which is a stupid name anyway, and always makes me think of Jacob Two Two, and his Hooded Fang, because the GPS is just like having a Hooded Fang in the car anyway. The first sign of trouble was when it kept coming un-suctioned from the suction cup attaching it to my console. I’d turn a corner and the whole thing would fly through the air at me like a pissy poltergeist was controlling it. Then we actually tried to use it, and the real problem made itself abundantly clear: its sole purpose was to make me feel sad and guilty, because the voice of my GPS was a very pleasant woman—well, pleasant at first, but don’t cross her, because she can be pretty tyrannical. Everything was going fine for the first little while, with her telling us to turn right, or that there was an intersection coming up, but then we made the fatal mistake of GOING A DIFFERENT WAY. Then she was all like, “Turn right here”, trying to redirect us back to the route SHE had picked, and she started to sound more and more sulky. Then things started to get really dramatic, and we somehow ended up in Ajax instead of Toronto. Well, not really, but according to her, that’s where we were supposed to go , and if we didn’t want her advice, well screw us, we could just rot in Ajax. For the record, I don’t even know where Ajax IS, but if it’s my punishment for defying the GPS, then I don’t WANT to know. Anyway, a couple of days later, I was driving with T, and we decided to try the GPS lady again, hoping she had forgiven me for my past cartographical transgressions. We were going into Kitchener, and wanted to practice programming it, and thought we had done everything right, when the whole monitor part went crazy and started flying around the car. The next thing we knew, she was trying to direct us to Stratford, and kept yelling at us about going up some Regional Road every time we came to an intersection. Let me just clarify here that I actually KNEW where I was going, since I drive the same way to work every day, but she was f-ing relentless about us taking a road that looked like it went through some kind of swampland. The more we ignored her, the more insistent she got, until finally, I just yanked the plug out of my cigarette lighter thing-y. T calls this “rage-quitting” and I think it’s an accurate description of the way you feel when you get sick of being manipulated by your passive-aggressive GPS. (Ken just told me that he was “fiddling around” with the GPS the other day, which sounds slightly infidelity-ish, and that you can program it to talk with a different voice. I said unless it sounded like Darth Vader, or Bane from Batman, or my mother, there was NO WAY I was taking directions from it. And if it DID sound like my mother, it would keep asking me why I wasn’t wearing a scarf because it’s cold out, you know. Now it’s in his truck. I hope she makes him happy.)

Friday: I rank the animals you don’t want in your house, from best to worst.

I’ve had a lot of time, and a lot of animals, to consider this, and it occurs to me that other people might benefit from my experience of having a variety of wildlife in my house and cottage and which ones are better than others. So I decided to rank them in order of what’s the best case scenario to the worst case So here you are:

Number 5: The best kind of animal to have in your house is a BAT. That sounds really crazy, but honestly, they aren’t so bad. Bats have sonar, which is a fancy way of saying that they can tell where you are and won’t fly into your face or hair, which is always a plus. The other day, we were eating dinner, and Ken suddenly said, “A bat just flew by the doorway.” I had my back to the kitchen at the time, so I said, “What?!” and turned around in time to see it fly past the doorway again. I ran into the corner with my dinnerplate, while Ken went to investigate, but he couldn’t tell where it had gone. He also found it pretty amusing that I was freaked out, but not enough to make me stop eating my dinner from the corner of our breakfast room. Well, I was hungry. At any rate, we searched the house, but it seemed to have disappeared, which was bad news, because I was NOT going to bed with a bat in the house. We had also just taken apart a piano, and I became irrationally convinced that the bat had been living in the piano, and I wouldn’t go hear it for the rest of the night. Finally, around 11 o’clock, I went downstairs for one last glass of wine (wild animals always make me want to drink), when I saw it hanging quietly on a curtain. Ken came down, and cool dude that he is, he just wrapped it in a towel and let it out the door, while I drank wine and made squeamish sounds.

Number 4: Mice. Mice are OK, and if you read my blog about Jimmy, you’ll know that they can become elevated to almost pet-status in our house. But I can’t say too much more, because if my sister-in-law even thinks that I’m writing about mice, she will NEVER read this blog, and a) I like her feedback and b) I don’t want to traumatize her even more than my blog about Jimmy did. Enough said.

Number 3: Rats are gross, but if you don’t know about them it’s not an issue, unless your husband decides to tell you YEARS LATER that your dog once found one sunning itself on the basement stairs and “took care of it”. You know what—if you ever DO find a rat in your house, and you’re the ONLY one who knows about it, keep that shit to yourself. (Speaking of things that should be kept to oneself, Ken just told me that the bat was back yesterday. Apparently, he came out of the shower, and Titus was running around the kitchen trying to catch it. So he opened the door to our courtyard, and flapped his arms at it until it flew outside. Ken did a great job of imitating both himself flapping and Titus snapping his jaws and going Rar, rar, rar, but I still REALLY didn’t need to know.)

Number 2: Raccoons are vicious beyond belief if they have babies. Once, I had a really bad cough so I was sleeping in our guest room. At one point during the night, I woke up to what sounded like an elephant moving furniture around in our attic. It was unbelievably loud and scary and possibly human, but the attic door locks from the inside-the-house side, so I figured that if it was a serial killer, he was pretty much stuck up there until Ken dealt with him, and I went back to sleep. In the morning, I told Ken about the noises, and he said he would investigate. I was taking a course at the time, so I told him I’d call him at the break and he could tell me what he found. When I called, Ken sounded a little distracted.

Me: Where are you right now?
Ken: In the attic.
Me: What did you find? Please tell me it’s not a rat.
Ken: No…I’m staring right now at a very large mother raccoon and six newborn baby raccoons. She’s kind of hissing at me.
Me: I’m going to say back away slowly. Don’t break eye contact. If she goes for you, run.

Eventually, after several misadventures, and a lot of damage, including a hole chewed right through our roof (raccoons aren’t the brightest apparently, and can’t see their own offspring in a shoebox at the bottom of a TV tower), we caught her in a live trap. Ken had to carry her in the trap out of the attic, and through the house in order to get her outside. She was going insane, snarling and trying attack the bars—I could tell Ken was a little intimidated by the way he was holding the trap as far away from his body as possible, and walking VERY quickly. We decided to take her and the babies down to the river flats where they could live happily ever after, but then we realized we had a major problem—what if, when we opened the cage, she tried to attack us in a fit of vengeful rage? Ken had the great idea of using the cardboard box the live trap came in, putting it against the trap door, and letting her out into the cardboard box, which might disorient her long enough for us to jump back in the car and make a clean getaway. So we did that, but she somehow missed the cardboard box. I don’t know what happened next because we were both already back in the car, having run for our lives. Ken went back later to get the trap, and both she and the babies were gone. I hope they had good lives down on the riverbank.

Number 1: The absolute worst thing to have in your house, or anywhere near it, is a squirrel. Oh, but squirrels are so cute, you say. No, squirrels are simply rats with bushy tails. The next time you look out your window at the squirrels cavorting on your lawn, and you smile indulgently at their antics, think about how you’d feel if it was rats doing the same thing. Your lawn covered in rats. Even worse is having one in your house. A couple of years ago, I got home from work, and was puttering around while T did his homework upstairs. I walked into our back family room, and as I passed the couch, I heard something sneeze. I looked around, and couldn’t see the cat or dog anywhere, so I figured it was either my imagination or some weird old-house noise. But then when I came back the other way, I heard a sneeze again, and this time there was no doubt that it was coming from BEHIND THE COUCH. I just lost it—I ran upstairs, got T, and made him look behind the couch with a flashlight while I cowered around the corner in the kitchen.

Me: Can you see anything? Please tell me it’s not a rat.
T: I can’t see anything yet—HOLY SHIT, there’s something back there!!!!
Me: What?! What?!
T: I think it’s an owl!
Me: An owl?! How the hell did an OWL get in our house?!

So I called Ken on his cell phone—he was about 5 minutes from home, and I made him stay on the line with me until he arrived, based on a bizarre belief that if he kept talking to me, the owl would leave me alone. Anyway, when he came in, he took a look and very calmly announced that it wasn’t an owl, it was “only” a squirrel. This was a new experience for both of us, and while Ken pondered how best to get it out of the house, I poured a glass of wine and stayed on the other side of the room. Finally, he decided the best thing to do would be to open the door, push the couch away from the wall, and let the squirrel make a run for it. It did, but not after doing a couple of mad circuits around the room, trying to run up the wall, and falling back down (which I think stunned it a bit). Finally, it saw the open door, and took off. You’d think it would have been happy to escape and would have gone into hiding, but NO. It ran up a tree and spent the next ten minutes telling us exactly how pissed off it was that it had fallen down our chimney and ended up behind our couch, where apparently, it was very dusty. Now, I realize it doesn’t seem like squirrels are so bad but this is not my only squirrel story. Next week, I’ll tell you all about Squeaky Fromme, the cottage squirrel from hell.

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