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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

HOM: Muddled Mental Meanderings & Mousetakes

We were living in Grampa Handcock's old house, that had been modernized with indoor plumbing and an oil heater. We'd put in a well (813' deep!) and Chuck & Sylvia had remodeled the old pantry into a bathroom for us. Vic & Gladys had lived in that old house for some years after their house in Columbia Falls burned, and used the outhouse and carried buckets of water for washing and drinking. All the indoor plumbing consisted of then was a kitchen sink with a drain. They pulled the old Ashley wood heater out of the dining room and put in an oil-fired space heater. The plumbing modernization was nice, but I remember the first time I used that new bathroom setup. I got in the shower, turned on the water, and was rewarded with a trickle that was half sand. I wasn't sure it was worth all the blisters I got digging the hole for the well head and pump at that point! Luckily, a bit more pumping, some filtration and time took care of the issue. Since it was winter and the little heater didn't do much for the rest of the house, we had our bed set up in the living room. One night we got home late and when I used the bathroom, there was no water. I ran out, flipped open the cellar door, and started down into the basement to see what was wrong. I hit water on the second step down ... the pipes had frozen and burst. I rigged up a little electric portable pump I'd found, started pumping the water out, and had one of my usual shocking experiences. I picked up the pump while it was running, wanting to move it down a step or two. When the suction pipe came out of the water I got treated to the full effect of a shorted out pump housing, all 110 volts of it. Luckily, when the pipe dipped back into the water I was out of the circuit again. Yeah, my guardian angel is the stressed out one with the patched robes, tattered wings and prematurely gray hair. I bought a Sears oil furnace and installed it with Wes Plummer's help. No more frozen pipes and with the whole house being warm we moved into the back bedroom. When Bec came along we put her crib in the living room, though. We were watching TV one night when Lyn spotted a mouse running around under the crib and furniture. Since she had a thing about mice, she wanted me to get rid of it instantly. I grabbed the BB gun and when the mouse paused in the clear for a minute I plugged it, and then Lyn got mad at me for hurting it. Women. You just can't please some of them. I even cleaned up what little blood had been spilled and she was still mad at me. One afternoon Lyn kicked her shoes off and was lounging in her recliner reading a book. She unconsciously started rocking her feet from side to side in time with the radio music, caught a glimpse of movement over the top of her book, didn't realize it was her own foot, screamed, threw the book and piled out of the chair, thinking it was a mouse. Then there was the time she bought the big stuffed monkey. For lack of a better place to put it, she balanced it on the back of her chair. She forgot about it till she sat down and it toppled onto her. She bounced the monkey clear out into the kitchen and then I got in trouble because I laughed. I always thought episodes like that were funnier than she did -- the story of my life. My guardian angel might have had an easier time if my sense of humor had been a bit more subtle. Then there were the bats. Every now & then one got into the house and caused some excitement. Don & Sandy were visiting from AZ and sleeping in the downstairs bedroom when a bat started flitting around their room. They called me. I knew the drill, I just grabbed a tennis racket and went in, stood in the middle of the room, and waited for the bat to buzz by. Sproing! Splat! Dead bat! D&S thought it was funny. Lyn didn't -- she blew up at me, hopped in the car & took off for a few hours. I guess she was a little Batty. TBC (Me) (Blacktail Books)


Jean&Vic said...

this one was a good post, reminded me of living in a place in rose valley just south of Mt. St. Helens (post eruption). We moved there when I turned 17, and the place was dilapitated to say the least. I seem to recall 3 of the rooms were unlivable as the ceiling had collapsed, the upstairs was not safe (though at one time it was a dance floor about the business rooms of the cat house). The whole property was nothing but one big wrecking yard with all sorts of rigs parked outside the main building. one shed was even full of motorcycles, but alas I digress. The place was also infested with rats, with only cold running water, and a wood stove for heat and cooking, well, it was interesting to say the least.
The bathroom was a nice little room, complete with clawfoot bathtub, and a toilet that worked (though the water stained it something awful) There was no sink for washing your hands though.
Did I mention we heated all the water on the wood stove? It was quite an education to learn to cook on that stove too. But again, I digress. The first night there, we were warned not to fall asleep with food on our hands, or we might wake without fingers from the rats chewing them off. So there I was the first night trying to get to slep and all I could hear was the dog whining as a rat kept crossing over me in the ceiling. I took my bb gun pumped it up and waited for less than 5 minutes, and was rewarded with seeing my first rat, and it died quickly. the night wore on and I shot close to 20 of them from the vantage point of my bunk where I was supposed to sleep. After a while I even got good enough to shoo them blind (through the ceiling, as it was only a drop ceiling. of course mom made sure I picked up all the bodies and disposed of them properly before she saw them. she never could stand to see dead animals. Bats though we never had a problem with, just the rats, and owls. I never shot any of the latter though as they were always killing and eating the rats. Oh yeah, I almost forgot the slugs. we had the big ones that were up to 12 inches long there. No such thing as wandering around bare foot there.
Anyway, thanks for the story, it brought back some memories more than I wrote down here.