So I haven’t been writing much lately and it’s annoying me. To be fair, I have a number of pieces that I’ve started and they seem to be fine and then — bam — I just can’t find the finish. In some it’s like I’ve lost my train of thought and can’t get back to it. In some it just seems that I’ve said enough but I can’t find the right way to wrap it up. I haven’t really had that “feeling” in the last little while, that overpowering urge to put something down, that surge of energy that needs to come out through my fingers.
Of course, I have had other things to do: laundry, cooking, gardening, raccoon catching, clothes sorting, recycling, composting, etc. I’ve already written about laundry. Cooking is having a hard time keeping me interested lately, mainly because I no longer know what the other two members of my family will eat with any semblance of regularity; it’s very hard to be excited about cooking something when you know you’re the only one who’s going to enjoy it. Gardening — there’s too much of it that needs doing for it to feel good, it mostly feels overwhelming. Raccoon catching, now there’s something I could tell you a thing or two about. Okay, maybe. Clothes sorting is something that needs to be done but like gardening can get to feeling overwhelming. It’s a separate category from laundry although much of it stems from laundry. Recycling and composting, how exciting! We have a bit of an issue on those two fronts because it all piles up in our small kitchen and gets on everybody’s nerves — mainly because I’ve only got two hands and so many hours in a day.
Okay. Raccoon families. Are you familiar with these rascally bandits? Sure they’re cute. Right up until they’ve pulled your soffit and fascia apart and decided to make their home in the bulkheads on either side of your kitchen. That’s right, in the walls and/or ceiling of your kitchen. My kitchen. I heard scratching, a little bit of movement. No chattering. If we banged on the ceiling you could hear movement from one area to another. It wasn’t until I was up on the ladder pruning a tree that stands right next to the house that I saw where it (at this point I really thought it was just one) had gotten in. I remembered my neighbour once telling me that the bulkheads in the kitchen ceiling were open to the front of the house, and I remembered not really being able to picture it as he described it. There’s an overhang at the front of the house, over the kitchen, it’s closed off, I couldn’t figure out what he meant. Once I realized that Rocky Raccoon was in my kitchen ceiling it started to make sense. The bulkheads are open/accessible from insidethe overhang so once they got in it was a nice snuggly place for raccoons to overwinter, what with all the yummy smells coming from the kitchen as an added bonus. What to do, what to do? Enter Grandpa. I e-mailed him photos of the point of entry and he designed a one-way door, came over and installed it, complete with a ramp so the little rascals wouldn’t fall when they were trying desperately to get back in. (To me it seemed like a balcony and I was sure I’d come home one day and see little raccoon deck chairs out front of their new storm door.) I set a trap in front of the kitchen window. Caught me a raccoon on the third day after the door installation. YAY! Took it to the conservation area and prepared for a quiet night. HAH! Still heard the pitter-patter of little feet. Set the trap again. Caught me another one two days later. Took it to the conservation area. All was quiet for about a day and a half …. then … scratching in the ceiling again. Caught me a third one. I could not believe that there had been three raccoons up there; seriously, there was no chatter, no arguing, no excessive noise. No normal raccoon interaction. Three was it. After another week or so with no movement, no noise of any kind, Grandpa came back and removed the one-way door (and the balcony) and threw up some extra flashing to ensure that the soffit and fascia could not be breached again. This was a year ago last December and we haven’t been bothered since.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, there are still raccoons staring in my bedroom window every once in awhile, there were two up on the roof in the fall and when BoyGenius and I went out to throw tennis balls at them to scare them off the roof they decided it would be fun to keep throwing them back at us. I have an opening under my deck (where a family of raccoons has been known to nest previously) that I never seem to get around to closing off. Well let’s be honest, you can’t really be sure the critters are out until it’s the middle of the night and then the neighbours have been known to complain about the hammering or drilling. But you know, if they aren’t in my kitchen, I’m not too bothered by them. They need somewhere to live, right? So it’s all good until a week ago last Thursday when a raccoon came crawling over my fence just as I was about to leave to pick BoyGenius up from school. That’s right, at about 3:15 in the afternoon. I told it in no uncertain terms that it wasn’t supposed to out at this time and that this didn’t bode well for its future. In the schoolyard I asked my friend if I could borrow his trap again. He said sure, he had just gotten it back from someone else and it was available. I picked it up that evening, set it just before I took BoyGenius up to bed and while I was singing to him, SNAP! It had been sprung within 20 minutes of being set out. Yep. Caught me a raccoon. Closed up the hole under the deck as best I could without having lattice or fenceboard or anything similar around. Four days later I noticed it had been reopened — with a vengeance. That same evening there was a mama and baby out on my deck, with the mama standing on her hind legs, brazenly taunting me while the baby played with BoyGenius’ toys. The trap went back out. I caught the mama; no sign of the baby. Mama took a trip to the conservation area (but I blindfolded her and drove her around a while first). I figured the baby had to come out sometime so I put the trap right in front of the opening under the deck and waited. The next morning there was indeed another raccoon in the trap, just kind of laying there like the lazy adolescent he was; no sign of the baby. When I told this teenager that I was taking him up to see his mama he wasn’t happy about it. I think he knew he was going to get in trouble. There is still no sign of the baby. I have spent quite a bit of time looking under the deck with a spotlight, both day and night and there isn’t anything under there anymore. The trap is still at the deck opening, just in case. I’m thinking I’ll close that hole up this weekend.