It's gotten cold here in North Texas. Not Canada cold or Colorado cold, but Texas cold. It was 24 degrees this morning with a wind chill of 10. And I can't get a coat sleeve over this damn cast.
My two feuding cats--Bob and Dinah--had been locked up inside for several days; each one in his or her own zone of the house.
'Twas the week before Christmas when I started hearing rustling under the floorboards. With everything else I had going on, I chose to ignore it. After all, raccoons and squirrels need to stay warm, too. As long as they stayed in the crawl space, I was willing to live and let live.
Of course, my friends and neighbors were appalled by this laissez faire policy. They offered to set traps for me and all kinds of other gruesome solutions. I steadfastly refused to have my holiday season marred with the sound of traps breaking small animal necks.
Bob and Dinah patrolled daily. I'd watch them stand on their hind legs, slide their claws into the groove of kitchen and bathroom cabinets and pop the doors open so they could check out the interiors. They were so diligent, I was confident the intruders would not enter the house.
Of course, all the biped males in my life pointed out that the critters below were probably chewing through my electrical wiring as we spoke.
During the week after Christmas, I began to doubt the wisdom of my hospitality. My non-paying tenants began climbing inside the walls. They celebrated New Year's Eve playing football in my attic. I lay in bed and listened to them rushing and tackling across the ceiling. Bob sat on top of my headboard all night, waiting for a critter to fall through, while Dinah must have climbed the drapes in my study because she was sitting on top of the valance the next morning.
On New Year's Day, it was warm enough to let the two cats outside. Bob is three years old and a very large, all black cat. Dinah is a one-year-old semi-feral cat, very, very tiny. I doubt she weighs seven pounds yet, but she is fierce.
I wish everyone had their work ethic. One went into the bushes; the other circled the perimeter of the house.
Over the next twelve hours, bodies began accumulating at my various doorsteps. Bob produced one and a half squirrels (I didn't ask about the other half) while Dinah exterminated two rats nearly as big as she is. I'm not sure how she got the bodies to my back patio or to the bottom of the front stairs.
Bob always leaves his kill within a foot of a door. Dinah's are always five or six feet away from a door. Up until now, I've assumed that was a reflection of her ambivalence about living with me. A Freudian conflict. However, in the case of the two rats, I imagined her paraphrasing a Clint Eastwood line, "I don't mind killin' em' for ya, but I'll be damned if I'm gonna sweat over 'em for ya."
I did my part. I provided body bags and removal service. I also circled the house, looking for places where the critters had dug under my foundation. I piled rocks in the holes.
We've now had two nights of blessed silence--not a creature stirring, not even a mouse.
Just goes to show. When you abuse your host's hospitality, you can expect to be evicted.