I had rats. I suppose that statement is somewhat nebulous. Did I have rats in my hair? Did I have them as pets?  Were they running rampant through my house? Actually, two of these three statements are accurate, and if I hadn’t taken action when I did, likely the third could have been true as well.  I have had pet rats, and I’ve also had them running rampant through my house. It is the latter to which I refer. Rats infested my little bungalow, the one I restored in a SE suburb of Portland. I didn’t want to kill them. I started out using sticky paper to catch them and then I would take them to a park or somewhere else to release them. This was quite distressing. They would be so stuck to the paper and it would cause all sorts of physical stress reactions in the little things, and I could hardly bear it. I would cry as I used a stick or some other means to try and extricate them from the glue, whispering I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, over and over to them, pieces of their skin and fur left behind. I also tried live rat catching cages, but not one rat was caught.

Eventually the infestation became too great for humanitarian aid. My brother was staying with me at the time, as well as his girlfriend, and the combination of the two was more bait than any rat could resist. They were horrible housekeepers, which made them less than desirable house guests. The girlfriend especially. At one point during their sojourn, I found it necessary to clean up after them. The discoveries I made in the girlfriend’s belongings were enough to turn one’s stomach. Derek’s stuff, not so much. His stuff was just disorganized, but there wasn’t anything of organic nature in it. But girlfriend had bags full of clothes and at the bottom of bags were all manner of disgusting and rotten foodstuffs, as well as crusty-crotched underwear, and used menstrual pads. I could hardly manage. I’m on the clean end of the spectrum. I don’t like ghastly aged human excretions and rotten food being left in my home. Worst of all, the rats had burrowed into the bottoms of these bags and made nests filled with tiny torn up underwear crotches and pajamas.

As you can well imagine, the rats had a field day with this. They were mating and spawning like crazy. No sooner would I escort 6 teenage rats to the park than 20 more would appear, gorging on dog food, running across the basement stairs when the door opened, or tunneling through girlfriend’s sacks of nastiness. They also chewed cords and walls and were pretty destructive.

I finally realized that I was, unfortunately, going to have to cause some untimely rat deaths. I did not relish the thought.  Having been a rat owner for many years, I loved them. They are smart and cute and furry and all the things lots of people don’t think they are. Who cares if they have skin covered tails? Is a rabbit any different except that it has a fluffy tail? Not really.

I decided against traps. I could not bear squishing them. However, murderous bait was not much more appealing. They would suffer. Yet disposing of whole bodies were more palatable than getting rid of mutilated ones.

And so it began. I put out bait in big plastic things. Within days, I discovered slow moving creatures attempting to escape and find water. I would remove them to the farthest corner of the yard to die. This was horrible, but my cat and I could not keep up with their endless breeding and destruction.  Eventually my brother and the girlfriend left and I was also rat free. I cleaned the basement room thoroughly and made repairs where necessary. Life moved on and I forgot about the entire sordid affair.

So why did I bring this up now, six years later? Because I have a little safe in which I store a backup hard drive for my computer, and necessary papers like passports and birth certificates. Every now and again I have to get into the little safe for whatever reason, most often to back up the computer. This little safe was stored in the basement where my brother and the rats cohabited. One other problem I experienced with the rats is that they peed on things. They mostly peed on Sarah’s clothes (Sarah was Derek’s girlfriend), but they also peed on that safe. I’ve sprayed and scrubbed it and tried to rid it of that scent, to no avail. It is there. It smells. Every single time I open the safe for whatever reason, there is the smell, musky and stinky. It’s like cat pee; it never goes away. It has faded, but I doubt it will ever be gone. For as long as I own and use this safe, I expect I’ll have a little bit of rat urine in my life. I guess I can live with that.

Thinking About Flora

As I sat in the drive through lane at Starbucks the other day I noticed that someone had tossed a used Starbucks cup in the Laurel bush planted in the corner around which drivers drove from the order sign to the pickup window.  I sat there mulling over that plant, wondering what it thought of being used as a trash can for someone, then thought further about plants in general and where humans choose to place them. Plants have little choice in where to be.  They germinate where their seeds land or they live in the pot or on the corner where humans place them, and that’s just their lot in life.

I wonder if plants have a hierarchy among themselves.  You got planted in a Starbucks drive through, I got planted on the edge of the governor’s mansion. Aren’t I the lucky one? But of course, this is a human construct, this version of higher in the hierarchy. In plant terms, maybe it’s totally different. You got planted in shallow soil with little drainage. I got planted in moist loam with plenty of room for my roots to expand. Aren’t I the lucky one? But I like shallow soil with little drainage; it is where I thrive. And the plant in the moist loam pouts because it couldn’t best the shallow soil plant.

I can even see plant junior high humor. Did you see Rhododendron over there? A dog peed on its lower branches! And the oak tree sapling and the crocus buds all snicker among themselves, as the Rhododendron droops in shame.

The corn would stand up and shout that it has controlled mankind, gotten it to plant corn from one end of the earth to the other. We, the corn, are superior! Or the wheat. Or the soybeans. Or the lawn grass, especially golf course lawn grass. We have what mankind wants and get it to put our seeds and roots everywhere!

I wonder how the plants feel about forced plant mating, putting a Gravenstein apple with a Fuji, or a Red Delicious with a Pippen, their little branches cut open and stuck onto one another, held together with plant tape and plastic. What if they didn’t want to mate with one another? They have no choice. Humans forcing apple rape.  Nice.

In any case, these were the thoughts that flitted through my brain as I sat in that drive through lane, waiting to buy and drink my socially acceptable drug.


Sidenote: It drives me to distraction the way web sites bounce all over the place while loading these days. It looks like a page is loaded and you click on something, but no.  It’s not loaded and the click results in something entirely different than what you wanted, which then forces you to go back, and then wait again for the page to load, making sure it’s completely loaded, which means sitting there. Okay. Long sentence.

In ANY case, my real point here is to state that I am writing a book with various journal entries throughout the book, and I’m wondering, should I put in dates? Or should I just say JOURNAL and then write it in italics so the reader knows it’s a journal entry. Since I’m not using the year because it could be any year (after a certain point when the internet and smart phones exist because the characters use these items), but should I add the month?

Anyone who cares to answer, please do. Thank you.

Writing Over the Mountain

Most of the time I just write along on my book and I don’t concern myself with how much is left to finish it.  Then other times, like now, I realize what is left and think Gads, there is no WAY I’m going to ever finish this thing.  It’s like a damn mountain and I’m an ant.  How the hell do those authors who sit and write for 2 days and finish a novel do it?  I can type fast, but not that fast, and it’s a lot of work just putting it all together.

Oh well, plug plug.  I won’t get anywhere if I’m complaining on here.