For the Sophisticated, Discerning Home Decorator...
Sonny Boy came home for his Spring Break from college about a week or so ago. Now, when he moved out a couple of years ago, Evan moved into his old room and the smaller room became the guest room. It was somewhat painful for this mama to make this transition, but Evan deserved the bigger room and after I got going on the guest room, I realized I could girly it up a little and had a good time with it.
Now for many complicated reasons, this room is also the site of the Cat Food Distribution. The cats jump up on the desk and chow down on an at least-twice-daily basis. Unfortunately, this means that the room has a constant not-so-faint smell of dry cat food and the aroma of half-eaten Marinated Beef Feast in Gravy courtesy of Fancy Feast. We've never had a real guest stay in the room, and Sonny Boy manages to tolerate the smell fairly well. (Amazing since he is a vegan.) The 6:00am rattling of the cans and the meowing cats is a little tough on him though.
Recently our very old, but beloved dog, Maddie, was put on some medication that made her lose control of her bladder for a couple of weeks. For some reason, it happened in the guest room on a frequent basis. We tried to catch it when it happened, but there were some days when we didn't. In preparation for Sonny Boy's visit home, we took up the area rug that was in the room, which helped tremendously, but dog urine is a tough smell to get out of a carpet. We plan to get new carpets in a year or so, and I have a fairly high tolerance for bad smells, so I didn't get too bent out of shape about this.
However, being the good mother that I am, hours before Sonny Boy was due to arrive home, I was in the guest room, cleaning up errant empty cat food cats and using about fifty pounds of baking soda on the carpet to try and get rid of the urine smell. Evan had purchased some really hideous smelling air fresheners--the kind that are shaped like trees. The worst one was "New Car Smell." I put one of those around the lamp pull and one in the window, hoping the overwhelming coating of of hazardous chemicals upon the cardboard tree would mask all the other smells.
The combined smells of dog urine, cat food, and "new car smell" was, to say the least an intoxicating aroma. (I use "intoxicating" here not in the urbane-Audrey-Hepburn, kind of way, but more in the morning-after-a-big-Ovaltine-and-vodka-substituting for-Bailey's-Irish-Cream-Liqueur-night-leaving-you-with-a-sickening-feeling-in-your-stomach kind of way.)
It was while I was in the room cleaning up, that I heard scratching coming from somewhere. I climbed on the desk by the window and looked at the giant ficus tree outside, wondering if the branches were making the scratching noise. I took a break and, while enjoying my snack of iced tea and potato chips, I heard the scratching again. I sat, chip in midair, as the horrible realization came over me: it was coming from inside the wall. I went over, pounded and heard the creature (I was sure it was a rat) scurry away.
When HOB and Evan came home from the movies, I informed them that we had a CODE RED. "A rat!" I announced in a tone of voice keyed precisely to produce swift and immediate action in the males. Instead, they both told me it was just the wind and the tree branches.
Sonny Boy arrived home. I welcomed him with open arms and told him about the possible rat in the wall. HOB told him it was my imagination. Welcome Home Sonny Boy. Happy Spring Break. Your parents have had a tense conversation within the first three minutes of your arrival. Now, sweet dreams in the the cat-food, urine-laced, new-car-smell Rat Room!
The next morning the college student was up at 7:00. I went out to find him, bleary-eyed on the couch. "The rat is real. The rat is very real," is all he could say. Apparently the rat was a morning rat, and had awakened Sonny Boy around 4:00am.
I called for an "All Hands on Deck" approach to the situation. HOB went to the attic and set traps, put out poison and he cut down most of the ficus tree which he believed was the rat's dream bridge to the house in some way. (Personally, I think he just wanted to use his seldom-used chain saw. He had never liked that tree in the first place.)
Throughout the week he was here, I hounded Sonny Boy for a daily "Rat Report." I would have preferred a written report in the form resembling a seismograph noting the movement and the intensity of movement on a minute by minute basis, but all I got was a verbal report, and then only a sentence or two. He noted the scratching was still there, but becoming less frequent. I sent HOB up to the attic to check on the traps. He called it his "Snap, Crackle, Pop" report. Alas, no action in the traps. By the end of Sonny Boy's visit he reported very faint movement.
My hope is the rat is now on its way to Rat Heaven. Something tells me we'll know in a day or so....
Oh, and surprisingly Sonny Boy announced that he plans to stay near his college this summer and won't be coming home to stay. Hummmm..... Wonder why not?
We'll miss him, but, hey, that frees up the guest room!
Who wants to be Betty's Next Guest?