2008-05-12 - 6:30 a.m.

Saturday around noonish, I went up into the attic to find something resembling a table for the front porch. Kirk gave me rocking chairs as a Mother's Day gift and I wanted to be able to eat lunch out there in the chairs and contemplate the hydrangea, the pruning of which was my afternoon project.

Our attic is quite the point of contention around here. It's divided up the middle by some very steep stairs into the Small Half, which is full of my books and a multitude of rubbermaid bins of baby clothes, maternity clothes, art supplies, and other Jenistar-family storage, and the Large Half, which is full of about 1/3 Jenistar Family Holiday Decorations (in more of the aforementioned rubbermaid bins) and 2/3 My Mom's Stuff. My Mom's Stuff is in a huge, dense pile, the middle of which is not visible from any angle. She and Kirk have been unable in the four years since we moved into this house to have a conversation about the pile of My Mom's Stuff that didn't end with unhappiness on everyone's part. I can see both sides of the argument they have, over and over, and do my best to stay out of it. I think it's important that they learn to communicate.

Anyway, back to this Saturday...

Knowing what was on the Small Side, I took a detour into the Large Side, hoping to find something that would pass as a table until Yard Sale Season starts in earnest. As I passed through the narrow walkway, I thought, "Eew--what's that smell?" but kept walking. Near the far end of the house I found a small bench that I think is my mom's but that would definitely fit the temporary table bill. I grabbed it and started to pick my way back to the stairs. Suddenly, the smell seemed stronger, like something had stirred it up. It wasn't me--there was no smell up where the bench had been stored. It was strongest just past the stairs on the Large Side. I paused, trying not to choke as I looked around for the source. Then I realized what it smelled like.

My attic smells like the zoo.

As the realization hit, I heard the Noise. A tiny chorus of squeaking and a small rustle.

I beat it out of the attic like a bat out of hell.

The damn squirrels, the ones whom we've seen using a hole in our soffit as a convenient entry point to the Jenistar Bed and Breakfast in the trim, went and had a big ol' nestful of babies.

I ran down the two flights of stairs to the porch (no easy feet with a three-foot wooden bench in my hands) and spit the news out to Kirk. He looked up from the foundation hole he was filling in around the front of the porch and shrugged. "Nothing I can do about it until we get the attic emptied."

This was not the right answer. Maybe the truth, but not the right answer. Because at that exact moment, with the memory of the squeak and rustle choir still making my skin crawl, I was never planning to go up into that attic again. In fact, I was considering abandoning it all and moving somewhere else.

Many, many hours later, after a trip to Costco and dinner and a movie of my choice, we managed to have a quiet, calm, rational conversation about the rodents. And it appears that the Guv'ment check, that sweet $1500 that will be winging its way toward us in the near future, will NOT be going to finance my iBook as planned after all. Instead, it will be helping to pay the seven grand it's going to cost to replace the trim and rid our house of its uninvited guests. In the meantime, the radio up there is on, and the ammonia-soaked rags and mothballs will be up there as soon as Kirk gets back up the stairs.

Because I'm never going in the attic again.

Oh, and my mom and I had a completely calm, rational conversation about the stuff up there and have set a date to get it all out. 'Cause that's what happens when you leave the boys out of it.

Damn freaking squirrels.


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