I connected the printer to the newly configured wireless connection. In the past, whenever we had trouble with that, we’d call, “Daddy!” and he’d take care of it. I didn’t think I’d know the first thing about how to do that. But I figured it out.
I woke up this morning and felt alone. It felt like I was down a road, and he was left behind. I didn’t feel sad, but I felt so solitary.
When the rat guy “saw” Geoffrey but didn’t catch him, I went upstairs and sat on a stool that I’m giving away to the thrift shop. I was gobsmacked. The rat was right! there! Why didn’t he get it?! I stayed there while rat guy did his things downstairs. He stopped by to chat on the way out. I did not get off the stool. I felt like a damsel in distress, as the hero moves on to the next emergency, pleading to him to stay and help. Why isn’t he catching this rat? Because they don’t catch rats; they poison them. Why hasn’t it worked yet? It’s been so long! Inside, I was wailing, Please! Please don’t go yet! but in real life I was perched on a stool, engaged in a q & a about the vagaries of professional pest control.
But he left, and I did what I’ve been doing, which is to live my life with a rat in the wall.
The pain periodically hits like a wave. It mounts, it scrapes everything out from my insides, leaving me hollow, then it bangs at the side of my head. At lunchtime, I found myself waking. I must have just slept once the wave hit today. It’s such a merciful way to get through it.
Daughter seemed a little off tonight. I thought she was mad at me for the “weird” way I drop her off early and pick her up late, avoiding as many parents and pick-up traffic as possible. But, no, just before bed she unfurled a monologue of everything that’s wrong with her new school year. She remembers preschool, when she could go home for lunch (with her dad, natch, left unsaid). She gets tired at school now and remembers there was naptime in kindergarten, and she would doze right off, because she didn’t have anything in her brain then. Now she has all these thoughts. I caught my breath. What does she think about? Horses, mostly. She wills herself to dream about horses, and she wonders how she can own a horse.
Did she want to sleep with me tonight? You bet she did. We snuggled up, heads touching, and I willed all her sadness to come into me. I would take it all from her if I could. She fell asleep. Tears streamed down my cheeks (but quietly). Then I heard a dog bark. Could the rat be roaming this early?
This damn rat pulls out my grief and hands it to me. It pulls and pulls, making me feel the unraveling, viscerally.
While doing laundry on Friday morning, I spotted a hole in the ceiling over the laundry tub. The ceiling there is low, made of strips of solid wood. A decent hole was chewed out, with insulation hanging out.
I called my guy. He couldn’t make it until Monday. I affixed a poison stick to a glue trap, stuck the stick up the hole, and duct taped the trap to the outside of the ceiling. The next morning, the glue trap was hanging by a few strips of duct tape, and the poison stick was gone, presumably dragged up into the ceiling space with Geoffrey.
Pest guy made it here this morning. The good news is that he’s not seeing signs of an infestation. While he reloaded the bait box, I used the opportunity to bring some things to go downstairs. I’m standing at the bottom of the steps. He’s kneeling in front his bait stash when I hear him say, “There he is.”
His flashlight traced a path up the wall. He was just kneeling there, smiling.
“What are you gonna do?” I asked, backing up the stairs.
“There’s nothing I can do.”
Ends up he was watching Geoffrey scramble up the inside the wall. He could see the impressions of his feet.
If Geoffrey had been outside the wall, he would have “stomped him.” I take some small comfort in that.
Oh, and no charge for the visit. I had a 30 day guarantee. Geoffrey will be wary of the bait box for a few days, so, I’ve just got to wait. There are clean kitchen cloths in the dryer. We may have to switch to paper towels for a while. No comfort in any of that.
The plumber came to take the fill valve out. His visit couldn’t have lasted more than 5 minutes. He didn’t make me feel dumb for wrestling with the old fill valve. He said, “Let me show you a little tip,” and showed me how the top of the fill valve comes off, so you can just slide off the old one and slide in a new one without taking the whole thing out of the toilet. He hung around to make sure the toilet filled and wasn’t leaking from my futile efforts and noted, “Hey, this is the good old wall mount toilet.” We chatted about Crane toilets and I boasted that my husband found a replacement seat in the same seafoam green, from Crane Co. It was like seizing a chance for a little tribute, because that toilet seat replacement is kind of quietly awesome.
I have long since lost track of the day of the week, and the great events that must be taking place in the world we left behind are as illusory as events from a future century. It is not so much that we are going back in time as time seems circular, and past and future have lost meaning….In these mountains we have fallen behind history.
Peter Matthiessen, The Snow Leopard
Matthiessen loses track of time in Nepal, on a journey that becomes his Buddhist path. I get it, this living in the moment because everything else has fallen away. I’ve lost my past–I know I have memories but they are locked behind a door–and I can’t make any sense of what I do know of my past, anyway. The future is just too horrible a chasm to even seriously entertain. There is only now. So I’m living in the moment without any of the mindfulness or meditative experience to get me here. I feel outside time, without any of the enlightenment that comes with that.
I feel like the kids and I just tumbled out and landed here, like we are shipwrecked, but nevertheless here we are, duly equipped. One day I pulled away from a parallel parking space in town, and I thought, “How did I get here?” not to that parking space, but to this town. Why do I live here? Why is this my home? I actually had to walk through the story–grad school, interview, moved here, daughter was born here, etc.
My body retains the memories. Today I drove the kids 45 minutes to get their annual school shoes at the lovely little old-fashioned shoe store that we’ve been going to for years. I know that we do that, so I did it. When we pulled into the tiny parking lot–a few spaces behind an old house–I barked, “Get out. Close the door. Wait for me.” Then I cried. I wailed. I didn’t even know why, except the pain came rising and I let it out. I dried my eyes and the kids got fitted for shoes. As I looked at their old shoes next to their new shoes, I muttered, “They got so big,” and know I’d said that, every time.
I had 10 minutes before my therapy appointment to navigate the university-related construction and pop into the pharmacy to pick up the photo I’d ordered online. But the machine was out, so the picture wasn’t ready. Drats!
So I returned later, picked up the photo, dropped it into the Do Not Bend envelope and into the mailbox. It will be sent to the Wall of Heroes, a tribute to organ donors in the trauma center ICU where my husband died and donated.
Well, I got that done.
I was all set to install the new fill valve in the toilet, but I can’t get the old one out. After pulling and twisting and taking a break from it, then pulling and twisting some more, I decided to call a plumber.
One of the plumbers in town is still offended by the rejection of his bid for a job by a prior owner of this house. We learned this a few years ago, during a cold spell, when husband had to deal with rejected plumber’s complaining while we trembled upstairs. I can’t remember which is the rejected plumber and which isn’t. I called the other plumber. I hope.
We made our fifth trip to the dump this morning. I shudder at my contribution to the landfill this summer, but it had to be done. There was just so much madness left behind.
Daughter came with me, as she has for most of these trips, to lend a hand as needed. We are quiet on these early morning rides. We try to get there soon after the dump opens at 7am. She wore tights under Bermuda shorts, rain boots, and a slicker. It wasn’t raining.
On the way home we stopped at a bakery for locally-made donuts. We sprang for the custard-filled today. A little, unspoken celebration of the last trip to the dump.
I was ready to conduct internet research to figure out how to unscrew the globe when daughter called, “I did it!”
But now there’s a nut we can’t loosen to get to the lightbulb. Each of us perched precariously on the stairs and working through the stairway slats, I held the globe while she went at it. She held while I went at it. The nut would not budge. I paused and noted, “This is a job for the handyman.” Note to self: hire the handyman.
But there are some problems that small appliances can solve. That there is my new Bissell carpet cleaner. I loaded it up with Nature’s Miracle (with Enzyme Action!) and it lifted the dog urine smells from numerous carpet tiles. That beats my old method of tossing the tiles onto the balcony, tossing this or that cleaning solution on them, scrubbing them, sunning them, picking them up hours later to the same old, terrible, horrible, very bad smell.
I then turned to my fancy Dyson vacuum and cleaned out the pee-encrusted baking soda that it has been faithfully suctioning up for the last few weeks. I took off one part, cleaned it, took off another, cleaned it. I kept doing that until all that was left of my fancy Dyson vacuum was a stick atop a motor while the parts dried on the counter. It looks like Robert Patrick at the end of Terminator II.