Thursday, May 15, 2008
OMG Evil Groundhog
It began, as berserkery so often does, with a plumbing disaster. I got back from walking the dogs to find that young M had missed the bus, which is no longer, alas, a thing of note but rather the norm. So I proceeded with the normal morning routine, which involved, that morning, the careful placement in the vegetable garden of my new anti-groundhog devices: these three electric eye things that react to motion with, first, a beep beep beep noise and flashing light, secondly, with a whoop whoop whoop siren and more insistent flashing light and, finally, with the firing of two small rubber tipped darts at the intruder. This, young M & I felt, would deter even our groundhog, who seems to be unfazed by the mylar pinwheels that now line the whole garden (let me tell you, my garden is a thing of beauty and a joy forever) and the big fish pinwheel in the middle. "That groundhog is brave," commented young M, "I saw him chase that big orange cat right into its house yesterday."
"What?" I said, "Groundhogs don't chase cats."
"This one does," said young M darkly. "Chased it right up onto the porch." And we both stood there for a moment, looking at the neighbor's porch. A cloud went over the sun. A raven crowed. Dark laughter emanated from the earth. Or something like that.
After the bugging of the garden was complete, I was having a cup of coffee and a smoke on the deck when young M came out to tell me that the toilet was clogged again. The toilet has been an increasing problem and, well, yesterday morning? That was a real problem. So for an hour we plunged and bailed and mopped and poured a whole bottle of Drano down the damn thing (I'll omit the shouting and the smell and, oh god, you really don't want to know about the soaking of the hands in bleach and the coffee can) until finally I snapped and took young M to school and myself to work, where I greeted everyone by telling them that I probably wouldn't be there long. Then I called my landlord and eventually a nice lady called me back since it turns out my landlord is out of town and, being Southern, we first went through everyone we knew in common and then turned to the fascinating subject of plumbers. She told me one would come and to be ready to leave at any moment and I said fine and told everyone at the office to come and get me immediately for any phone calls.
Then I dealt with totally insane printer issues and equally totally insane and much scarier database issues. The fucking thing went AWOL for a while. I mean the whole database. And then half of it was missing, and oh god oh god, it was bad and I had to smoke several cigarettes in the courtyard and contemplate spending the rest of my career rebuilding the database from a variety of Excel spreadsheets, etc., and then the landlord's factotum called and I had to immediately go home and see the plumber.
I got home and A was already there, wondering why there was no toilet and what had happened to the Brita pitcher and why the computer didn't work. I haven't yet mentioned that my home computer is completely fucked up by every piece of spyware known to mankind (thank you, Limewire! Young M should have listened to me!) and I was planning this elaborate reinstallation of Windows if I could find the original discs which, of course, might have long since been eaten, literally. The plumber was also there and he plumbed away while A & I removed the spyware from the garden so it wouldn't get rained on, which demonstration of said spyware cracked her right up, by the way, particularly the whoop-whoop and the darts. Then the plumber explained to us both that the toilet was really totally fucked and also, why was there a brick in the tank? "There's always a brick in the tank," I said blankly, which made both A and the plumber laugh hysterically, since, apparently, in normal toilets in normal houses that aren't lived in by hippies or poor people this is not de rigeur (who knew?) and then A left and the plumber left and I found the original XP disc and started the reinstallation process on the computer. All was well.
Until I went into the bathroom to discover 2 inches of water on the floor and a nice steady drip running from the tank, whereupon I called my put upon out of town landlord since I had neglected to get his assistant's phone number and he called her and she called me and then she called the plumber and then said he was on his way back and so I started gathering laundry and all that good stuff. Eventually the plumber returned, expressing surprise and claiming innocence, like, hey! Wacky coincidence that this should have worked its way loose right after I was here! Yeah! I said, making a mental note to tell my landlord not to pay him for the second visit. Then the plumber left and I started gathering laundry again from young M's room.
At which point a portal to Hell opened up in the backyard and the damned started screaming at the top of their lungs. Or at least that's what it sounded like. I dropped the laundry and ran out on the deck where I saw that the groundhog had dug his way up under the dog fence and was now in the dog part of the yard, where he was backed up against the fence while Theo barked insanely and half tried to attack and half tried to make friends. The groundhog was reared up on his hind legs shrieking and menacing the dog with his giant teeth and claws - dude has a reach on him, let me tell you, much more than you would think from that little stumpy body, which, by the way, is not all that stumpy since he easily came up past my knees at full height - and all in all it was kind of like a scene from what might happen if Beatrix Potter and Tim Burton did too many bad drugs one night and made a movie out of Mrs. Tiggywinkle. Django, meanwhile, was completely terrified and didn't know what to do so he was running in circles, torn between getting into the house and under my bed as fast as possible and saving his friend Theo from the Monster, which was difficult since he clearly had no interest in getting anywhere near the Monster. Since it looked like the groundhog might eviscerate Theo, who was not backing down, I grabbed the broomstick and went off the deck, shrieking at the top of my lungs. I couldn't bring myself to get close enough in any sense, physical, moral or emotional, to beat the groundhog to death with the broomstick so I just ran around in circles like Django, screaming. That was helpful. I'm sure the entire neighborhood heard me shouting "THEO! RIGHT NOW! HERE! NOW!" which I did about a hundred times until, amazingly enough, probably at the point where I was actually going to faint, it worked and Theo came to me.
I put the dogs in the house and went back out on the deck with the broomstick and the groundhog did this whole little, "C'mere! I'll fight ya! I'll kill ya all!" routine and I shouted at him over the deck, to wit, "You fucking moron groundhog! You are pretty stupid! What kind of self respecting groundhog would dig his way INTO A YARD WHERE TWO BIG DOGS HAVE SPENT MOST OF THEIR TIME FOR OVER A YEAR? Ot-nay oo-tay ight-bray, groundhog!" That shattered his calm and he dug his way back under the fence and hightailed it back to the burrow, which this is a picture of. He doesn't look as scary in the picture as he did in real life, believe me. And I gave up all my plans to be good and peaceful and quietly sit in the laundromat reading a bad novel and called S and met her at the Westville to drink a couple of beers because not only was my nerve shattered, but my throat was actually sore from shrieking.
So yesterday was beyond insane. You should really see me act the whole thing out in person - I can recreate that groundhog like you would not believe, complete with menacing teeth and claws and groundhog noises of doom. Seriously, it's a work of art. I showed young M immediately after it happened and then I showed S at the Westville and they were most appreciative. I might yet film this but in the meantime I'm happy to report that I did get the laundry done and went to bed at like 8:30 and my computer (remember the computer? 3 hours of Windows XP reinstallation = Epic Fail) is now safely in the hands of the kind people at Charlotte Street Computers.
And the groundhog wars are temporarily at a pause. Although I have ideas. Oh yes I do.