And now squirrels

We had a bit of a mold situation.

The hot water heater leaked all over the basement floor while we were on vacation.  We were able to get it fixed for free after only a few days without hot water, and I marveled at how quickly the basement dried itself up.  Everything seemed okay, except that some of our stuff got wet (we have no shelves down there, so all our boxes are on the floor), and some clothes I had been meaning to donate needed to be washed.

But it turns out that the basement dried up quickly because someone put in the wrong kind of insulation and drywall.  They put in the kind that absorb water, you see, so the walls sucked up all the water, and then mold grew.

I didn’t know much about these things, and I hate being in the basement (which is why those boxes and to-be-donated clothes had been neglected), so I just went down there quickly, washed the walls with bleach, and retreated.  I did this a few times because the mold kept coming back.  Clearly the situation required more than bleach.

So on Saturday, my husband ripped out the infected drywall and insulation, and I dragged it all upstairs and outside.  I spent today sweeping up debris and scrubbing what remains with bleach.  I hope this takes care of it because this is unpleasant work, and I think I have chemical burns on my fingers.

What is wonderful though, is that I’m no longer afraid of the basement.  Nothing makes you brave in the basement like tearing out the walls, scrubbing them with harsh chemicals, and seeing that there really aren’t as many spiders as you imagined.  Nothing came out and got me after all.  Now I am queen of that basement (but not by my own power, I can assure you — there was a lot of prayer involved).

So what’s interesting, I think (and Strunk reminds me, though I won’t heed him here: “Instead of announcing that what you are about to tell is interesting, make it so.”).  Anyway, what’s interesting is that, although I dreaded going down there this morning, digging around in the walls, and putting my hands where spiders are most likely to be, although I dreaded it to such an extent that it gave me nightmares, despite all that, what ended up being the most disturbing part of the day was the squirrels.

We have a shocking number of really fat squirrels climbing all over the house.  And they’re all acting weird.  Two weeks ago, one got inside the screened-in porch and ran all around, knocking things over and gorging himself on birdseed.  I guess this isn’t especially strange behavior, but the thing is, these squirrels are not easily deterred.  I bang on the doors and windows, I yell at them, I try to intimidate them, but they won’t leave.  They may take a few steps back, but they don’t run away.  Just now I have returned from the kitchen, where I found one sitting outside the window, staring in at me.  I banged on the glass, and he didn’t even blink.  It’s their boldness that irritates me most.

The problem today was that I wanted to carry all the moldy drywall out through the back porch, so I wouldn’t have to carry it through the living room, and so the neighbors wouldn’t see me in my disgusting bleach/mold clothes.  But the squirrels had the porch, and I’m not ashamed to admit that they make me nervous.  Squirrels can be vicious, that’s my understanding, and there were two of them on the porch today.  At the same time.  They’re growing in confidence.

So I need to figure out a way to put these squirrels in their place.  And I don’t think I can simply spray them with bleach.  I imagine if I tried that, they’d stare back at me and ask, “All right, but can we have some more birdseed?”

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