Saturday, July 26, 2014

Squirrels: gone!

I win.

It turns out that the best way to get rid of the squirrels is to take down the squirrel highway.

I wondered about the highway when I took out the dead tree - I had watched them jump from tree to tree across the yards, and was curious as to how they'd get around with the tree gone.  I needn't have worried; they quickly figured out alternate routes using the fence and the power line.

The line originally crossed the back yard at about 8'; it was easy to reach up and grab it - and the squirrels had no trouble jumping from the fence to the line and from there to the roof.  I wasn't so keen on the 8' above the ground part (I didn't know yet about the squirrel condo in the eaves; if I had, I wouldn't have been keen about the squirrel roadway part either), so when I had the foundation dug, we also buried conduit between the house and the garage.  When the outside of the garage addition was complete, I had my electrician come back and install a new meter box. (The line had to move SOMEWHERE, anyhow - the location of the original meter is now in the middle of my kitchen.)  The power company was most cooperative about coming out to move the line from the house to the new box.  I don't think they were keen about that 8' clearance, either.  From the new meter box, the line runs below ground to the new crawl-space; the main panel has now become a sub-panel off the feed.

While we were at it, we also had old cable and phone lines taken out, and the new fiber line also moved to the garage.  Which means there are now no suspended wires connecting my house to the pole.

Turns out the squirrels didn't like having their main highway taken down.  They CAN make the leap to my roof from the neighbor's house, which is only about 10' away, but it's an awkward jump.  It's uphill, and not a great angle.

So, within a week after the line got moved, they packed up their bags and moved on out.  Not sure exactly where they went - I think they just moved to the tree across the street; I see them climbing on it all the time now.

I'm happy.  The squirrels, presumably, are happy.  The cats, not so much.  One of their favorite pastimes was watching the squirrels through the screen, plotting how they could get out there to catch the little buggers.  With no rodents to watch, they've had to find other interests.  Oh, well.  Can't please everyone...

Monday, July 14, 2014


No, not my house.

But last weekend I stepped outside to see the tree in front of the house a couple of doors down festooned in toilet paper.

It brought me back, way back...

Like many high school students, my friends and I thought it fun to teepee houses.  We'd round up our weapons by scrounging from our parent's houses and assorted public restrooms.  (a belated apology to those gas station and restaurant owners...)  We'd pile in my van (a discreet vehicle it was - a red and white full size Chevy van) and go to the targeted friend's house.  We'd park around the corner and gather up the missles.  We'd creep not-so-silently in the night and set to work.  I still remember how good it felt to launch a roll just right, to see it soar high into the night over the targeted tree branch; a ribbon of white arcing in the darkness, decorating the tree in ghostly strips.

One night, we decided to target David Looby's house.  There were five or six of us in the group.  We marshaled our resources and managed to come up with over twenty rolls of TP.  The Looby's had three or four mature trees in their yard; we covered them in white.  A masterful artwork if I do say so myself.

We congratulated ourselves on a job well done, and went home to sleep with satisfied hearts.  The next day, I oh-so-casually called Dave to see how things were.

"Do anything fun last night?", I asked innocently.

"Yeah", he said.  "We got teepeed and boy is my mom mad!  She's grounded me for the next two weeks.  She says she thought my friends were better than to pull such a sad stunt!  I'd better get back outside to finish cleaning up before she gets any madder..."

I felt awful.  We were out to have fun, not to get anyone into trouble.  So, I called the others in the crew, and gathered them up.  Properly shame-faced, we headed back to the Looby's to help with cleanup and to apologize for the trouble we'd caused.

Much to our surprise, when I pulled up to the house, there wasn't a shred of toilet paper to be seen.  Hoping to salvage some of our relationship with his mother (she made the BEST tubs of popcorn...), we rang the doorbell.  When she answered, we poured out our apologies.  We were so sorry, hadn't meant to cause anyone any harm, we had come back to clean it up, would she please forgive us?

She cocked her head and looked at us, puzzled.  She said she hadn't been mad at all.  In fact, she thought we'd done a capital job.

As we stood there in stunned silence with our mouths hanging open, Dave came around the corner laughing.  After a moment or two his mom figured out what had happened and joined in.  A long moment later we finally figured out the joke was on us, and our laughter melded with theirs.

But I don't recall teepeeing any more houses after that.