Okay ratsies. It. Is. On.

I understand that when you move to the city, you lose some of the suburban/natural feel. Not as many trees. Fewer deer romping about (eating your hosta). Tiny backyards backing to ooky gutters or alleyways.

I thought I was down with the rats. Can’t beat ’em, can’t legally blow up every vacant building that serves as their headquarters.

But today. Oh today. Today they went too far. This is My Garden y’all. No admittance.

image
Yes, that's a rat hole. Not a sinkhole.

My garden has been besmirched. Dammit.

My tulips look tilted. What kind of urban Caddyshack BS is this?

Growl.

I plop a brick into your hole, sirs. And also, Ni!

The Midnight Crapper

Well, I’ve got to sneak in to keep from tooin’,
And I’m bound to keep on poopin’.
And I’ve got one more fence to clear now,
But I’m not gonna let ’em catch me, no,
Not gonna let ’em catch the Midnight Crapper.

I love my fence backyard.  So does ZoeB.  But we’re not the only ones; for the past few weeks, every time I head out in the early morning I’ve seen…presents.    No, not alongside the garden.  Not under the deck.  Not even by the gate.  Right in the middle of the yard, as if to say Tada!

No, I haven’t stepped in any of ’em yet.  And no, I won’t post any pictures — you’re welcome, Internet — but let’s just say I’ve gotten more than a little perturbed by the whole mess.  ZoeB doesn’t seem interested in these prezzies, thank goodness.  It could be because she’s so excited to be outside, it could be because she’s almost 10 and her sense of smell is going.  But I have noticed she’s starting to sit by various places near the fence, staring at it as if to dare it to crap.

I can only assume that that’s where The Midnight Crapper sneaks in, under cover of darkness.  It’s either that, or s/he pops up on top of the fence and then hops down.  No seriously, I’ve seen cats around here do that, bouncing from a lower fence to a higher one…and it’s pretty awesome, except when there’s poop in my yard.

I’ve smooshed mulch under the cracks between fence & ground, hoping that’ll keep the yard free of bombs.  And every time I clear out a gift, I use a little shovel that is now reserved just for that purpose and wing it over the fence onto Red’s backyard. Y’know, for the junkies.

It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

This one day? At bedbug camp?

Today was Day One of Baltimore City’s Bed Bug Response Program, and I decided to hit their Kick-Off chatfest.  Why?  Because tiny little things the size of apple seeds scare the crap out of me.  There, I said it.  It’s not pretty, but I own it.

And what did we learn today, kiddies?

* Bed bugs don’t spread disease, though if you strike the Motherlode of bug bites and have a compromised immune system (because you’re a kid, or older, or have an illness/medication schedule that does that to you) the bites could get infected.

* These little suckers can hide/squirm into and out of cracks the thickness of a credit card.  But as Integrated Pest Management Program Manager/total cutie Michael Boeck said today, they don’t fly or jump, they crawl.  So?  Caulk, stat! (And it’s official: I need to start dating again.  Just sayin’.)

* This problem has been ramping up since ’06, and as you might expect things in Bed-Bug-Land have exploded before.  And been beaten before.  Take that, tiny creepy things!

* Foggers & bombs?  Only piss ’em off.  Okay, not really.  But since said creepy things can hide in credit-card tinyspaces?  They only cause Le Bug of Bedness to scatter.  Like, all over your house.  Uh, ew.

Baltimore City’s main line on bed bugs?  Don’t Panic.  (I think every time they say that Douglas Adams gets a nickle.)  They don’t spread disease and we’ve kicked their butts before?  Sounds like little mini Al Qaeda to me.  What?

If you want to know more about bed bugs (and I know you do), here’s the official 411 from Baltimore City.  Throwing in this B’more City Health Department link too, just for kicks.

What else is new?

1) New plant!  After reading about houseplants you (meaning black-thumb-having me) can’t kill, I fell in love with a little Haworthias Fasciata I saw at Home Depot’s $1.98 mini-plant section.

2) Red may be going into foreclosure!!!  As much as I hate celebrating someone else’s bad luck, since this person has had absolutely no interest in maintaining this property?  I can only hope that it does indeed hit auction and get snapped up by someone who will rehab it.  In fact, I saw a couple of local home-rehab guys scope the place out.  Fingers crossed!!!

3) Dreaming of a new, better ManCave!  I’ve tried to live with what I’ve got, but since right now I can’t do hardwoods in the main room or fence the backyard?  And since TV prices are slated to go waaaaay down later this year?  I may go for it.  Or I may just try to get the built-ins built-in and deal with my perfectly good, still working  very well Samsung that I already have (but that is nom-ing valuable ManCave floorspace).

4) Kitteh pictures!

Updates: grout, garden and general rat-ness

Well, Fourth of July has come and gone, and I’m back home and in the thick of things.  Y’know, house-like things.  A few updates, just to keep things straight/shine a bit of happy light:

* Kitchen ceiling leak, aka Grout/caulk in the bathroom: Yeah, looks like the kitchen ceiling leakage is caused by grout.  Well, specifically grout that was supposed to be caulk.  Because if you put grout around the tub where it meets the tile?  The grout will crackle.  And the crackles?  Let water in (bear in mind that grout is kinda porous to begin with), so silicone caulk is much more waterproof.  The only downside?  Caulk tends to get moldy and mildew-y, so it has to be replaced every few years.  So, buh-bye grout, hello caulk!  And hello painting the kitchen ceiling, but that’s gonna be a while in the future.  Mostly because with all the recessed lighting in the house?  Ceiling painting will be a bear.  So why put off ’til tomorrow what you can postpone til much, much later?  (All apologies to Mssr. Twain.)

I thought about doing this myself, and even bought all the implements of destruction and doom (grout saw, caulk gun, razor-thingy).  But as I sat on the edge of my upstairs tub wailing away at the grout With Extreme Prejudice, I realized something.  I had absolutely no stinking idea what I was doing.  Better to call in a pro, if only for the re-do.  Caulking is easy enough I’d think; my dad used to do it every few years.  Did the research, called for the estimates, and it looks like it’ll get done for under 200 clams.  Not bad.  Now I wonder if I should have him fix the nicks in the downstairs tub’s enamel.  And there’s a question of the cracked grout in the corners of the tubs….  A woman’s work of calling someone to fix stuff for her is never done.  (Though I’d bet that corner grout thing’d be a snap.  Sureitwould.)

* Garden-ness: Being away for a week during the 100+ days of death left me with a couple of plants that were D.O.-My-A.  No more dahlia, no more weird plant I didn’t know but took because the girl at the walkathon asked me to.  With two of the big-girl pots freed up, I re-planted the lavender and the sage.  The lavender got a big pot because I’m hoping it’ll just explode into huge smells-good wonderfulness.  The sage got a big pot because it’s friggin’ huge now!  I need to make something sage-y soon.  Perhaps a crap-ton of sausage?  Perhaps reading a recipe book for more ideas than just sausage?  I did make pesto from the basil, and even though I had no pine nuts or parm, I used walnuts and anchovies (what?  They’re delicious.  Stop looking at me like that.)  And I saw that it was good.  Next up?  Waiting for IKEA to put their hay-uge pots on sale so I can snag one and put it out front near the mailbox.  Fill it with a mini evergreen or somesuch.  Tomorrow, tomorrow.

I do have a bit of help in the garden though.  The praying mantis has stuck around, as they tend to do, thankfully!  She really had no choice, since apparently I’d brought her inside when I dragged a few plants in from the deck before I went on vacay.  She’s gotten a bit bigger — now a whopping 1&1/2 inches! — and I put her back outside where she can feast on buggies to her hearts delight.  I found her because I heard an obnoxiously loud fly buzzing, and then bleating.  Didn’t know flies could bleat?  Seriously, they can, if they’ve been snagged by a mantis.  Hopefully I’ll have more pics of her as she gets bigger, but for now, just the one:

Ms Mantis
Ms Mantis, with her fly snack

*Rats, and their ratty ratness: Okay, so the squeaking squicked me out double-quick.  Seriously, I expected one of those massive cow-sized rats from Graveyard Shift to come crashing through the walls screaming “feed me Seymour!”  And yes, I know I have my mythologies all tangled up, but it shows you how messed up I was at the time.  But the next day, after the plumber gave me the tip on the bath/grout leakage, I almost literally ran into a guy on the street that was getting out of his truck as I was getting into my car.  And guess what he does for a living?  A’yup.  Exterminator.  He’d been called out to 1177 and let me bend his ear for about 30 minutes on all things rat.  He even showed me some green pellet-doggy treat looking things that I could buy that would “just kill ’em”.  Dead rats in the walls is another horror I’d like to not deal with, but hey.  If the folks two doors down are doing it, why don’t I jump off the cliff too?  Well, because they’ve already gone and done it.  There hasn’t been a peep, cheep, scritch or skitter since I’ve been back.  (Knock on drywall.)

Plus, I met my across-the-street neighbor as she was leaving that same morning, and she said she bought one of those plug-in rat repellents.  And the weird thing is, it worked.  They sound über-cheesy and seem like they wouldn’t work if your very life depended upon ’em (see: Graveyard Shift, again), but she’s had good luck with the one that “has -erator at the end”.  Maybe a bit of research to find it wouldn’t be a bad thing.  Just in case.

That’s about all the new stuff.  Everything else is same-old, same-old.  The place is still pretty humid, though the big-arse LG dehumidifier is doing it’s thing (I have to dump the bucket again, which just means it’s getting to bizniz).  It runs just about non-stop to keep the pad at around 60-65% humidity.  I’ve given up on the 35-50% as a sort of Holy Grail.  But humidity or no, I’m thinking it’s time to paint the basement.  Lawd help me.  It’s gotta be done though.

Oh, one last thing: a friend forwarded this link to me and I must share it.  Because it’s fan-tastic.  Behold the glory that is Maillardville Manor’s mud room!

Rats in the walls. Friggin’ great.

So, catching up on my DVR…and midway into Top Chef: Washington DC, I hear it.

Squeaking.  Clawing.  Scratching.

Rats.

And they’re not over on Red’s side.  They’re on the side with an actual, honest-to-God neighbor.  Who, I’m sure, is just as happy as I am at the prospect of rats invading our homes.

Really, REALLY reconsidering getting a cat right now; how can I get a cat if there’s a serious possibility that rats could come into my house and cause him or her harm.

Shit.

Why did I move to Baltimore in the first place?  Why???

I’ll tell you.

I did it because my ex-bf told me I’m “a city girl”.  That the city is where I’m most comfortable.  So, instead of looking at places much further out but in the contry/”deep suburbs”, instead of holding on and trying to figure out if this city is truly a good fit, and figuring that if I didn’t buy something Right Now I’d miss my chance again, as I had back in 2000?  I decided to pop for a Balmer city row house.  (Not that he was entirely incorrect; I am a city girl in that I do love walking around DC more than anything.  As anyone would with their hometown.)  I know, I’m an idiot.  Still?  I do think my pad is awesome looking, and much more than I’d expected.  But…yeah.  So?

So now I get worry about my safety, rats in the walls and a crime/murder rate that is astronomical.  That’s on top of the usual problems homeowners face, like having to deal with contractors because the house needs tweaking and general homesick-ness.  And to top it all off?  I’m still far enough away that I don’t see my friends as much as I’d like.

Moving someplace very far away is very tempting right about now.  Someplace further away from mayhem, further away from rats (or at least where they keep to places like barns and such.)  Got 2 1/2 more years to go ’til I repay the Obama money though.

‘Til then?  Rats in the walls and a vacant, crumbling, collapsing building next door that the City could care less about fixing, tearing down or even condemning and citing the owner that ain’t doing squat.

Not wowing me right now, Baltimore.

Millions and millions of millipedes

Well, maybe not millions, but it does make for a groovy post title.

Anyway, I do love me some millipedes.  They’re awfully cute, kinda slow-moving and don’t seem to do much harm.  Still, after seeing them pitter-pat all through the basement?  I figured I’d do a bit of research on ’em, just in case.

From the info on the ‘net (and as you know, if it’s on the interwebs It’s True), millipedes don’t cause problems.  I’ll double-check with one of the keepers the next time I’m at the Invert House for a volunteer shift, but that sounds good to me!

A few links for house-n-home-n-millipedes:

http://www.getridofthings.com/get-rid-of-millipedes.htm — GREAT article, written by a guy who, like me, likes the little critters You don’t have a whole lot to fear from millipedes. For most people they are more of an annoyance than anything, especially if you have a ton of them around.”

http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/housingandclothing/DK1023.html — another really good article, with info on sowbugs and centipedes as well.  They are not harmful to food, clothes, furniture, or other items within homes, although just their presence can be disturbing. Their preferred habitat is moist, decaying leaf litter or other organic material found around building foundations. When they are found outdoors, we consider them a beneficial group of animals.”

http://www.walterreeves.com/insects_animals/article.phtml?cat=21&id=400 — Gardening In Georgia, more tips on control “I have had a millipede problem for about 4 years, every spring/summer for the past 4 they have invaded my space. Just for grins this year I sprinkled a 4 inch wide band of Sevin dust around the entire perimeter of the house. After a couple of days there were thousands of dead millipedes. We still the occassional one but we did have some success fighting the little nuisances.”

http://doyourownpestcontrol.com/millipede.htm — As with the other articles, this one says to keep stuff in and around the house dry (since millipedes die quickly without a suitably damp environment).  Water lawns in the am, clean out damp mulch, spray around the perimeter of the house…a lot of common-sense stuff that is easy enough to remember.

But I’m putting it all here anyway.  Y’know, just in case I forget.