Thursday, August 28, 2008

How to remove a squirrel from your fireplace, or I heart Google

The area I live in is semi-rural. I live in a small subdivision built in 1970, in a village of about 1500 people, surrounded by dairy farms, cornfields, and bush. So we do tend to interact with the local wildlife a bit. For example, there's been a skunk digging up my back lawn for the past couple of weeks looking for grubs. This morning, I took Old Carp Road on my way to work. It winds through forest for much of its length, and on the trip I had to honk my horn to get a fat doe to leave the middle of the road and I passed three wild turkeys grazing (or whatever it is that turkeys do) under the trees. The other evening, four fat raccoons came out of the culvert in the ditch beside my house (four!) and climbed my oak tree. I shouted at them to scare them off, but they just looked at me, and if those tiny paws could have formed the right shape, they'd've given me the finger for sure. But I digress...

This morning I got Leah up early for a 7 a.m. dentist appointment. At 6:45 she was sitting on the couch waiting for me to get my go-cup of coffee, when she suddenly said, "Holy Cow, Mum, there's a squirrel in the fireplace!" Our fireplace has an old brass surround with bi-folding glass doors (like old closet doors) and behind that, a chain-mail curtain, so that you can enjoy the heat of a fire without having sparks jump out and burn the carpet. Both the doors and the curtains were closed. I could see something moving around in there, but it was dark. Leah said it was a smallish squirrel, I couldn't see it very well, but the cat sure wanted to check it out. I decided to wait until after the dentist -- hey, maybe I'd get lucky and it would climb back out again. Maybe. If I was really lucky.

Forty-five minutes later we were home. The squirrel was at the front of the fireplace. He was huge. And grey. And he was sort of hanging from the chain-mail curtain. I could see his paler belly and the underside of his tail. What the hell was I going to do? Well, when in doubt, google it. Surely I wasn't the first person in the world to have this problem. So I went downstairs and googled "squirrel in fireplace". There were a surprising number of hits. Probably not as many as would result from "Hugh Jackman shirtless", but a respectable number nonetheless.

The first site, a wildlife rescue, said: "Do not remove the squirrel through the fireplace as it may escape into the room. Secure a heavy rope from the top of the chimney and drop it down to the fireplace. The rope provides a perfect escape route during daylight hours." Riiiight. I'm going to risk life and limb climbing a ladder and stuffing a rope down my chimney for a freaking squirrel. I don't think so. I'd sooner follow the advice of the 16-year-old staying with us: "Why don't you set it on fire?" (I'm pretty sure she was kidding.)

The next site, was a goldmine of information (and if this ever happens to you, this is where you should go for advice. Screw the rope down the chimney). It said that you have a couple of other choices:

Removal Through the House

Close all doors to any rooms in the house that the squirrel is not in. Close all of the curtains on the windows or the doors in the room where the fireplace or exhaust fan is located. If necessary, use newspaper to cover incoming light sources. Leave the curtain open on the window or the door where you want the squirrel to exit. Open that window or door as wide as possible. Remove the screen, if necessary. Open the door to the fireplace or the cover from the exhaust fan so the squirrel can exit. They will escape towards the light.

Now you're talking. That made a lot of sense. I locked the cat in the bathroom, the girls all went in my bedroom to watch TV, and I opened the sliding glass doors in the kitchen. I closed all the other doors and curtains, and the sun shone in the open door like a beacon to squirrely acorn-filled freedom. Gingerly, I opened one of the fireplace doors and the mesh curtain and jumped back. The squirrel didn't move. And I don't mean a cowering-in-fear kind of not moving, it was more of a not-breathing-ex-parrot kind of not moving. Great. Now I probably had a dead squirrel to deal with. I had changed into old clothes and was wearing heavy suede gauntlet gloves, and I pulled the mesh curtain aside. No movement. There were tufts of fur on the floor of the fireplace. He must have been thrashing around pretty good to cause that kind of damage. The body looked funny, though. Kind of formless and fluffy rather than furry.

Slowly, I put my hand out...and grabbed hold of....a big wodge of the grey insulation that had been stuffed between the edge of the fireplace surround and the fire brick inside the fireplace. It must have been dislodged by the squirrel running around in fear after falling into the fireplace. It was hanging against the mesh curtain doing a remarkable impersonation of the underside of a squirrel. The real squirrel was long gone, he probably climbed back up the chimney before we even left the dentist's office.

What an anticlimax. Two things occurred to me at that point: 1) if this ever happens again, I'll know how to deal with it (thank you Google), and 2) it is better to be lucky than good.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Ken is lucky he's not sleeping on the couch.

Two barbies (well a Ken and Jasmine from Aladdin), a decorative cushion, and my bathing-suit cover-up sarong look like this:

I didn't ask the girls what was going on in this scenario -- probably just Ken and Jasmine taking a nap (Ken is in swimming trunks and Jasmine is in a cute 2-piece top/skirt set), but the determined way they're ignoring each other got me thinking.

"I was not looking down her dress."
"Shut up, Ken."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Fun in Toronto

Did you ever look forward to something and then find that it wasn't as good as you expected?

Did you ever meet someone in real life that you had 'met' online and find yourself with nothing much to say because the person was so much different than you were expecting?

Yeah, well neither of those things happened last week when I got together with Josie (No Internal Editor) and Jen (Jen on the Edge) and her wonderful family. The girls and I had the BEST TIME in Toronto at Miniblogstock 2008. Jen and Josie are just as funny and sarcastic and great in real life as they are online. Jen's girls are lovely. And Jen's husband Pete makes me wish that human cloning was further along than it undoubtedly is. I'm sorry that it's taken me so long to post about it -- I needed some time to recover from 11 hours of driving in two days followed by a two-day end-of-season soccer tournament and a sleepover play date I had scheduled at my place and then promptly forgotten about so it was a bit of a surprise when I got the call asking what time they should drop off the girl. Yeah, advancing maturity sucks, people.

Now where was I? Oh yeah. Toronto. I got up at quarter to four in the morning and finished loading the car, got the girls up at 4:30 and we were breakfasted and on the road by 5:15. We made good time except for a half hour detour in Belleville to find some ibuprofen for Leah who had decided to run a fever. And after reaquainting myself with Toronto traffic and driving manners (I've gone soft living in polite Ottawa for so long) we finally arrived, after circling the hotel like vultures for about 15 minutes due to one-way streets and no left turns and met everyone in the lobby of the Sheraton.

Talking non-stop, we walked down to Union Station and jumped on a streetcar for Ontario Place. The girls bonded instantly with Jen and Pete's two daughters and we spent a wonderful afternoon at Ontario Place, which was full of fanciful sculptures which are lit up at night for the Chinese Lantern Festival. Check out this one, my favourite -- it's a huge temple made entirely of dishes:

The girls spent almost an hour running around a play structure that looked like a cross between a McDonalds playland on steroids and a Habitrail.

We did the bumper boats (word to the wise, don't go on the bumper boats if you need to use the ladies' room. All the water splashing around will be a test of willpower, and with all the water that ends up inside the boat under your bum, you get all the discomfort of actually peeing your pants, but none of the relief) and the Wilderness Ride -- a log flume ride that was pretty good, but wet.

We saw an IMAX film called "Adrenalin Rush" in the Cinesphere, which was about skydiving and base jumping and was very exciting. Too bad the guy introducing the movie seemed to have mainlined some valium right before the performance. His monotone voice was truly mind-boggling, and had Josie and me in fits of giggles. It felt like high school again. But in a good way.

We ended up back at the hotel relaxing in Jen and Pete's room, where Pete took a picture to commemm comemmor so we could have something to remember our meeting by:

Then it was down to the pool for the girls to have fun.

And finally, to bed. Where Leah found out that the Tooth Fairy can still find you in a hotel. (And I nearly had an aneurysm trying to stay awake til the girls fell asleep so's I could slip some money under L's pillow for the tooth that fell out in the car on the way to Toronto.)

The next day dawned a bit foggy and rainy, but off to the CN Tower we went. This is the CN Tower as seen from our hotel room:

My pictures of the girls standing on the glass floor didn't turn out as stomach-churningly as Jen's did, but Leah gamely posed for me suspended over a horrible drop:

(Josef Karsh I ain't.)

We made it back to the hotel with Rachel whining all the way, and after some restorative ice cream, we said our goodbyes and headed back to Ottawa, where Max was very glad to see us.

If you ever get the chance to get together with bloggers that you read and admire, just DO IT. It's a wonderful experience. Now if I could just have some luck getting the Ottawa blogging chix together for another drink...

Monday, August 11, 2008

5 going on 15

Today, Rachel's bedroom. I'm helping rake up the detritus clean up her room. Sifting through the mess Picking up toys, I come across the Aladdin doll's one-piece white jumpsuit thingie.

Me: Um, Rae, what's this?

Rachel: Aladdin's clothes.

Me: You mean he's naked? [sympathetically] Poor Aladdin, he must be cold.

Rachel: Mom. [with all the disdain of a pms-ing teenager] He's a Barbie. Seriously. What's wrong with you?

Me: ...


I'll be missing again for a couple of days as I'll be getting up at Oh-dark-thirty (or as my friend Ev says, half past crow piss) and hitting the road for Toronto for Miniblogstock 2008 (Hah! who needs Blogher). I'm meeting up with my major blog crushes Josie of No Internal Editor, and Jen, of Jen on the Edge. I'm sure that Hogtown will never be the same. (I'll take pictures. I promise.)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

I'm not dead yet

Sorry for the unexplained hiatus. I'd like to say it was because I eloped with Daniel Craig or because I was beamed up to a spaceship (hey, alien probing would be more action than I've been seeing lately), or because I won the lottery and was busy looking at condos in the Turks and Caicos, but the reality is a bit more prosaic.

My mom is up visiting and I've been doing things with her and the girls, and other than that, periodontal surgery is the most exciting thing that's happened to me in ages and I hit a bit of a blog dry spell. So, until I can think of something interesting to write about, here's a picture of my pretend fiancé Daniel Craig to keep you amused.