The thing that goes 'bump' in the night

Friday, December 11, 2009

When you aren't a homeowner, people are always saying what an outstanding investment buying a home can be.

"Why would you want to pay rent? You're just throwing away your money."

You know what they fail to mention? They don't throw in all the reasons owning a home can be a royal pain in the rear end. In your first months of homeownership, you're bound to come across at least two or three kinds of stupidity.

The problem is, in your old life, you never thought about the problems, you just called the landlord.

For us, it's been a temperamental furnace (my personal nemesis) and the animal who resides in -- or at least makes nightly visits to -- our crawl space.

It became an issue several weeks ago when Cole and I heard something rattling the ductwork. I expect mice and even tolerate the fact that there may be rats, but this was no small rodent.

The mind raced. Could it be another possum? We did have the dying one in the yard a few months back. What about a foul-tempered raccoon who was squatting before we moved in? He wouldn't like us muscling in on his turf.

I settled on the hope that it was a cat. That seemed way less threatening, even though I'm not allergic to raccoons.

A visit from an exterminator revealed we did, indeed, have mice, and the intruder was likely a cat. Our feline friend was likely just enjoying the feast.

Our exterminator also found the vent where the furry intruder was likely making his entrance. This point of entry would have to be blocked.

Now, the thought of crawling under the house with the possibility of a ticked off animal in my way wasn't too appealing. Scenes of King Arthur and his knights battling the killer bunny rabbit leapt into my head.

The only problem was, I did not possess the Holy Hand Grenade.

I had been told by a good authority, "When you go into a crawl space, take something to stab with." While I know this was sound advice, it just wasn't an area into which I was prepared to venture.

So instead of going under the house to replace the vent properly, I chose a temporary roadblock. I thought my problem was solved with the creative use of some window screening, a piece of landscaping fence and some dowel rods.

It did work -- for about a week.

That's when our old friend got mad and tore his way through my piece of American ingenuity. The thing that goes "bump" in the night had returned.

My next solution was to buy four cinder blocks and stack them in front of the vent. The problem became evident much more quickly this time: I had blocked his way OUT of the house this time, not his way in.

I've since freed him, and I think he is now blocked out. I don't believe this is the end of our saga, tough.

Let's hope my cat/raccoon/possum/please-God-not-a-skunk understands it's now officially on. He may continue to make a fool of me, but I'm going to make him work at doing so.

I'm more than willing to play the Generals to his Globetrotters.

Jared Jernagan is the assistant editor of the Banner Graphic. He can be reached via e-mail at jjernagan@bannergraphic.com