Monday, April 03, 2006


A friend, Vermont born and bred, came by today to help me figure out how to fix the dishwasher. During the last subzero snap, it did a little snapping of its own, pouring water down through the kitchen floorboards into the cellar. Not a pretty sight.

I figured it had something to do with the cold, frozen lines popping free of connections. Maybe even, I mused, it was my own fault for filling that big hole with spray foam. I learned years ago that insulating old houses can be tricky, sometimes blocking warm air flow that kept pipes cozy. Not this time.

“Dear,” intoned my friend, the only man I know who can address me in such a way without being remotely flirtatious, “You have a rat.”

Oh, ick. This is not the pastoral haven I dreamt of in Brooklyn. There were rats there, big, honking, muscled ones, but I thought Vermont had only cute little mice. Maybe a skunk or a porcupine now and then, unpleasant rodents all. But rats?

Behind the dishwasher, the intruder had a superhighway from outdoors, and tasty hoses to chew. He got them all, the water supply hose, the squiggly little connector, and the drain hose—big holes bitten out of them. Over fifty dollars worth of parts, before I pay my friend for his time.

All the holes are filled now, with that trusty expanding foam. I think I will stock a couple extra cans and go on a rampage filling holes in cellar and utility room. A mouse or two or even twenty—I never minded sharing my warm house with them as long as they stayed off the kitchen counters and out of the drawers—but rats? No, thank you.


Mary Beth said...

That's pretty amazing. But I'll tell you a strange experience I had. I had gone for a mind-cleansing walk and found myself pretty deep in a part of the local woods that I didn't know too well (but I knew where I was in relation to roads in all directions). I was walking along and suddenly before me was, well, a dead rat. Laying there in the woods like it was a chipmunk. And I realized - rats live everywhere. This was a country rat. One of the most adapted and adaptable critters in the world. I made my peace with the notion.

Second. Total sympathy on the old house thing but man, I envy you the plumber guy!

Third. Why do plumbing jobs tend to go bad in the late hours? Example: Just now, against my own better judgement I tried to speed up a slow draining bathroom sink and of course managed to disconnect the trap from the sink. Man.whatta.mess.

Plumbing just stinks out loud. Messy at best, uncomfortable spaces to work in are the norm. But, I did manage to get the thing reconnected. Still needs to be replaced but at least it's usable. But still slow. geesh.

Finally, a couple of my mousie visitors this year have been deer mice? cute little brown visitors rather than the common little grey house mouse. Thanks to the cats I got to see these up close and personal but only very briefly!

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of a story from one of our local ski bums who was renting an apartment in a less than optimal house.. the house being somewhat old, somewhat decayed, somewhat unmaintained, and filled with young men who weren't overly careful about leaving food out, letting garbage pile up, and storing laundry in a corner of the bedroom.

It was, apparently, his habit to kick the laundry pile and extract a new outfit from it. I assume he thought that clothes left in a pile on the floor clean themselves. Anyhow, this was his habit and it worked for some months until he noticed he had fewer and fewer clothes to choose from.

One day he picked up a t-shirt and the shirt fought back. Naturally, being male, he wasn't about to let a shirt get away from him, so he pulled harder. Braced a food against the wall. Yanked. Out came a rat attached to the other end of the shirt. He dropped shirt and rat, and the rat ran back down the hole with the shirt.

I'd like to say he moved the next day, but he was young, male, and it was only a rat... so no, he didn't.