My family has been having wildlife adventures lately.
On Thursday, I went to dinner at Ariake, a divine local Japanese restaurant, with my friend Chris. I was happy to escape the house, since I'd embarked on a major book sorting and purging project, and the house had reached that state familiar to anyone who has ever done a major cleaning project, where you wish you hadn't even started because it looks so much worse than when you began.
Anyway, Chris's bento box was so large that even with my help on some non-seafood items, she couldn't finish it, so she tucked a piece of salmon in a baggie she'd brought, just in case. Leftovers for her, with maybe a little for her senior cat.
When she was dropping me off, she said, "Look, there's someone in your back yard." It was a deer--actually, four of them. I decided to demonstrate how I chase them off, so I ran toward them, waving my hands and barking. They all fled, leaping lightly over the fence--except for one who either had an injury or an aversion to jumping or was too stupid to figure out that jumping was the best tactic. He (or she) kept running up and down in the corner of the split rail fence, trying to get between the bars, which wasn't a very smart idea, since there is green mesh wire all up and down the fence to make it dog-proof, and even a butterfly would have trouble squeezing between the bars. He finally wriggled under the fence, pushing part of the wire out--I'll have to fix that before I have visiting dogs. Craziest thing I've ever seen, a deer going under rather than over the fence.
Still laughing and shaking our heads, Chris and I went back to her van--and found that I'd left the passenger side door open in my haste to chase the deer, and my next-door neighbors' cat had climbed in and was sitting in the driver's seat. He retreated to the back, which was filled with boxes and bags of all kinds for him to hide in, and it took a while for us to open enough doors that he felt secure in exiting through one of them. The salmon, which had no doubt caught his attention, was untouched.
I went back to my book schlepping grateful for the break--not to mention the amusing distractions.
Then Friday I got a frantic email from Mom:
I may need you to come down before Monday. The man was here to clean the furnace - made one trip into the basement and came up with the news that I have snakes in there as he saw skins on the rafters. I called an exterminator who will be here in about half an hour - after he looks it over I will know more about what I have to do.
I was torn between concern, not so much over the snakes, which I suspected would turn out to be a mild infestation of non-poisonous reptiles, easily dealt with, but over Mom's state of mind. And frankly, I was a little dismayed over the idea of having to dash down to Yorktown earlier than planned--I was going down anyway for her next cataract operation, and in the meantime, I had hundreds of books strewn all over the floor that needed to be sorted and put back on the shelves, not to mention packing for Bouchercon and getting the house ready for a week-long family visit that begins almost immediately after Bouchercon.
But a subsequent email from Mom reassured me that all was well after a visit from ZooPro, the pest removal service:
The man from ZooPro was very reassuring that there was only one snake skin in the basement - not the dozens that the furnace guy had implied. Marilyn [a cousin] had heard of ZooPro - they had been called to remove an alligator from some pond over in Norfolk. They think that someone brought a tiny one back from Florida and had it for a pet until it grew so big they had decided it wasn't fun to have around so turned it loose in the river. He will come back Monday and stop up some places that crickets can come in and another guy will spray for crickets.
I presume it's the man from ZooPro who's coming back, not the errant alligator. Though if he was well mannered and promised to rid her of snakes, Mom would probably not mind the alligator. The reason for the war on the crickets is that Mom has an unusually large infestation of them, and they're attracting the snake(s).
So I'm breathing a sigh of relief. I finished up the book sorting yesterday, targeting about 900 of an estimated 5500 books to be sold, donated, or otherwise released into the wild. And now I can tidy the house for the houseguests and pack for Bouchercon in peace.
Well, except for the woodpecker that has returned to continue its daily assault on the wooden siding of my house. Too bad ZooPro doesn't have a northern Virginia branch.