Coffee heat rising

Rat Wars: The Battle of the Runway

Have you ever seen anything so cute?

Mwa ha ha!!!!  

Just in from today’s engagement in the Rat Wars.

This should be good…I hope.

Well. It’ll be good if it works.


And ohhh yeah: I’m pretty sure it will work.

The trick will be to make Ruby mind her own business…except, o’course, harassing Rattie IS her business. Few things does Ruby enjoy more than chasing Rattie at a full-out, dead run.

So Rattie — being a rat, as roof rats in general are — likes to move around on her personal Rat Superhighway. This is a track fairly close to cover, so that the li’l critter can zip along within steps of shrubbery, woodwork, or whatever she can get under in the event of a cat, a hawk, or a corgi. Or if need be, she can climb straight up the side of the block wall. {Yes, they really are amazing little critters!}

Unless it’s a corgi…

She’s been living under the fake-wood decking on the west side — with, I presume, a fair number of her progeny, boyfriends, and whatnot. By way of getting from her castle to the citrus trees, she trots along the footing of the west (solid block) wall. Once at the building’s corner, she can zip under the nearest orange tree, and voilà! Fine dining in a leafy hotel suite!

This morning I take into my furry little head to stuff vast quantities of steel wool into all the cracks and crevices around that decking, then block entry further by setting rocks and bricks along the facings where those packed cracks exist.

Ratty has dug a grand entrance for herself on the north side of the thing, and really, all the way around there are places where I believe she can wiggle under there and squirm back out.

One of these gateways opens almost directly onto the Rat Runway, conveniently enough for Rattie.

Whilst in the process of doing this little project — it is so hot and wet out there that even that little bit of effort results in water pouring off your forehead and flooding your glasses — it occurs to me that I could make Rattie real sick and possibly even kill her simply by sprinkling the Rat Runway with diatomaceous earth (we humans know that as DE, right?).

This stuff is not good for you, for your cat, for your dog, or — interestingly enough — for your pet rats. If swallowed, it rips up  your (or their) innards. Breathing it’s not good for anyone, either.

If I were to sprinkle a skiff of DE along the Rat Runway, she would inevitably trot through it and get it all over her little paws and her fur. When she licks it off: RiP, Rattie.

Hence, said Trick: to keep Ruby away from it.

That will mean not letting her go out there unattended.

However, within the next few days it will rain — we are, after all, coming up on high monsoon season, July & August. One good storm will wash the stuff into the ground. But until then, Rattie will have plenty of time to get it all over herself and track it into the nest.

At any rate, I do have some low wire garden fencing, which I can set in the quarter-minus parallel to the Rat Highway but some feet away from it, so she doesn’t realize what’s up but Ruby can’t get into the layer of DE. That will blockade Ruby from getting very close to the DE Trail.

There are, I figure, several other steps one can take to repel Rattie.

Sprinkling a skiff of DE under those cat’s-claw vines, for example. But to do that, I’ll have to come up with some fencing that can be run all along the base of those plants, so as to keep Ruby out of the stuff.


This project is one that will consist of several smaller projects, any one of which will drain all of a given day’s energy.

Bizarrer and Bizarrer

Rain, lightning, and thunder…. This, after a 118-degree day!

Even for Arizona, that is weird.

The sky alternated between sprinkling and pouring all morning. Seriously: I’ve never seen weather like this here. Upwards of 118 for a whole day; then the next morning we wake up to overcast skies, then rain by about 9 a.m. Temps in the upper 70s. And now? It’s pouring.

It hasn’t rained like this in a good year, maybe more.

That nothwithstanding, Gerardo’s crew shoveled out most of the debris, and Gerardo himself reprogrammed the watering system, in hopes of cutting the bill below $275. That remains to be seen, o’course, but at least we made a swipe at it.

So while they’re outdoors banging around, I’m sitting in the house and cripes!

Something falls down the chimney!

Rattie? Another bird? It quit scrabbling around, so I suspect it is Rattie, who can climb up the brickwork with her agile little paws. Bird could be too terrorized, though to keep kickin’, though. Ohhhh moan! Just ONE moment of peace, pleeeze!}

So now, with 118 degrees on the way, all the windows & doors are open, the flu open, the fireplace screen open….ohhhh gawd. That’s going to jack up the AC bill into the stratosphere.

This reminds me, by the light of dawn, that I’ve got to call the city and demand an explanation for the $275 water bill. They, of course, will give me a runaround. I asked Gerardo to check the irrigation system, but rather little seems to have come of that. He thinks the problem is that we have the system set to come on too often. Could be…except we haven’t changed it in several years, and I’ve never been presented with a TWO HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FIVE-DOLLAR water bill.

The irrigation system IS pricey, but it’s probably better than turning on a sprinkler and then wandering off and forgetting it. The main reason mine is so high is that I have a lot of potted plants. These, in the summertime, have to be watered EVERY day: and that’s non-negotiable. Forget once — just once — and any plant in a pot is stone dead.

No sound from the chimney critter. Godlmighty, it’s too hot to have doors hanging open!

Hmmmm…. I figure if a bird had gotten caught in the flu when I opened it to try to get her out, she’d be flapping around. Hmmmm… What to do, what to do? Think I’ll close the doors back up, since she doesn’t seem inclined to avail her self. If she comes out, then I’ll open the place back up. It is just TOOOOO hot for this bidness.

The fires, speaking of the (soon to be former) wildlife, continue to rage across the state. One of them is closing in on a pretty cabin built by my now late friends, Jean and Jerry. The house, which they built shortly before Jerry retired, overlooks a meadow but backs right onto the forest. I remember their remarking that if there was ever a fire, it would be the end of that place.

They’re both gone now. I assume the kids inherited it, and surely at least one of their twin boys must be living there.

Gerardo’s crew showed up at the Funny Farm shortly after Pool Dude left.

Good thing I flang myself in the drink and did the water exercises for the arm as soon as I rolled out of the sack this morning!

But yeah: get the pool all cleaned up, and here’s our boys blowering dirt and palm-tree blossoms all around. 😀

§ § §

Finally got a call back from the Contrapest folks — this is the outfit marketing birth control drugs as rat control. As feared, what they really want to do is sell you a regular service, for some spectacular fee.

Not so much, fellas…

Here we find, at Wildlife Research (a scientific journal), the following utterance: “The challenge for effective fertility control of small rodents in the field is the wide-scale delivery of an antifertility treatment to founders at the beginning of the breeding season and to fertile immigrants that are recruited into the population, which otherwise contribute to the reproductive output at the population level. Future research efforts should focus on species-specific techniques and on agents that can be effectively delivered via bait.”

Uh huh. This appears to mean “You have toi put a whole bunch of the contraceptive product out, and you have to put it out at the beginning of the animals’ breeding season and keep it out throughout the season.” Okayyyy… A roof rat’s lifespan is about a year (during which time she can easily spawn 40 pups…). So presumably you’d have to keep putting this stuff out for…how long? Looks suspiciously like “forever” to me.

Y’know what I think?

Yeah. I think there’s a better way, and that better way is spelled M-A-N-X  C-A-T.

Now to get said cat. Train it not to wipe a corgi off the face of the planet (and train the corgi not to try to eat the cat). And set it up in luxurious digs in the backyard. Hmmm… Apparently the critters can be trained to coexist with your dog. Alas, however, a certain dawg has been trained to chase off cats. Hm. I’d have to figure out how to get the dog acclimated to the cat, and vice versa.

Another variety that’s apparently Hell on Rats is the Savannah cat. It’s a half-wild breed, though…and illegal to own in some parts.

§ § §

Eventually it develops that our critter in the chimney is (mercifully!) NOT a rat, but a little dove. A terrorized little bird.

FINALLY get her out by turning off the air-conditioning (that was nice, in 118-degree heat), opening all the doors (no windows in that part of the house), opening up the fireplace screen, and laying low. It takes her awhile, but eventually the solution dawns on her little bird brain, and she makes her way to the back door, where she hunkers down on the stoop. There I set a jar lid with some water in it (in fact, birds don’t drink a lot of water: they get most of their H2O needs in the food they ingest), scatter a handful of seed across the back patio, and got the Hell out of her way. And it works: eventually she recovered enough to return to her backyard haunt.

Poor li’l bird!

§ § §

Yes, I do need to get a screen thing up there on the top of the chimney. Asked Gerardo if he would put one up there. He agreed, but reluctantly. I think today I’ll call and see if I can find a chimney guy to install one.

Pool Dude shoots in and out. The chlorine shortage is causing quite a problem for folks who are in the pool maintenance bidness. A lot of stores just don’t have it, and those that do are charging piratical rates. Not surprisingly…but still…

Part of Pool Dude’s problem is that he’s too damn nice. Case in point: He’s got some broad who owes him SIX HUNDRED BUCKS (!!!!). Has he raised Hell and put a block under it? Ohhhhh noooo…. Holy sh!t.

A$k, and ye shall re¢eive.

One of those damnfool days…all the way around

LOL! Have you ever noticed that some days, no matter WHAT it is you need to do, you can’t get there from here? 😀 Whatever it is, it has to be done the hard way.

This (o’course, by damn!)  is never your fault. It’s always…

  • The nitwit in front of you who apparently never took driving lessons…or if he did, he’s forgotten every smidgeon of whatever little he learned.
  • Inanimate objects of all kinds that decide to break, crap out, or blow up…all on the same day.
  • Laziness come back to bite you.
  • Bureaucracy run amok.
  • God’s twisted sense of humor…

You do have to allow that She seems to find some very strange things hopelessly funny…

Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong…

Oh well. I got back in the house by 2 p.m., when Gerardo had threatened to show up. Acquired a package of very acceptable sushi at AJ’s, and, more to the point, a six-pack of Kiltlifter, of which I am about to finish off the first third…

There is nothing like a beer!
Nothing in this world…

The watering system, I will lay money on it (and indeed am about to do so, big-time), has got something wrong with it. The hateful City gouged me $275 for water, and nothing much was going on last month. This suggests that somewhere in this (rather flimsy) irrigation system that Richard installed many a year ago (and that Gerardo reviles), something is leaking.

I can’t find a leak. So have asked Gerardo to come over and see what he can figure out.

Yes. Gerardo profoundly disapproves of Richard’s excuse for workmanship. But on the other hand, I’ve been in this house for a good 15 years. Really…how long CAN you expect cheap plastic pipes to last?

Something is busted. I do not know how we are going to find that something. But the bank account is flush and I’m silently thinking that if Gerardo can’t find whatever TF is wrong with the thing, I will stand back and let him install a new system. Beeeee-caauuse…between you and me and the lamp-post, I suspect Gerardo can do about a 110% better job than Richard did at the height of his landscaping-dude powers. Richard was a smart dude and a good man…but Gerardo outdoes Richard in those categories and probably in every other category except skill at playing mariachi music.

The only way I can MAKE myself work in 115-degree heat is to generate endless to-do lists. These work well enough to beat you into line…assuming you condescend to read the lists.

About half the state, speaking of 115-degree heat, is burning up. Stand in my back yard and face any direction you please. Every way but (maybe) due south, flames are rising and residents are fleeing.

Meanwhile, the locals’ brains also seem to be burning up… WHERE do these people come from???

Whereas lunacy seems to me to be a forgiveable thing (a person can’t help being crazy…can they?), raving stupidity…well, not so much. Understand: it is NOT an exaggeration to say temps are upwards of 115 degrees here, and we have this sorta antic: A flatland tourister takes it into her head to hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon in 120-degree heat. Not surprisingly, she never has an opportunity to hike out…

Holy sh!t. Do you have a clue how LONG the trails into the Canyon are, how steep they are, and how hot as Hell it is down there at this time of year? The South Kaibab Trail, which is the bunny trail starting a the resort on the South Rim, descends 4,860 feet over 6.3 miles…meaning it also ascends 4,860 feet, if you have any designs on getting out of the place. What in the name of God possesses people?

Try to imagine what 120 degrees must feel like.

Forest fire image: The Rim Fire in the Stanislaus National Forest, California. U.S. Forest Service photo.


The Rattie Rondeaux

Hi, there!

She’s b-a-a-a-a-c-k!

Actually, Rattie’s back along with a fair number of relatives.

After M’hijito and I enjoyed a frenzy of setting out traps for our li’l rattie pals, I lapsed into a puddle of laziness. To begin with, setting those traps is a nuisance of the first water.

Well. Okay. Of the second water. But it’s still a nuisance.

In the second place, the traps catch more birds than they do funny-looking little scavengers.

And in the third place, the real nuisance of the first water is inflicted on my son, who volunteered to come up here and drown the captives… This is something he does not enjoy and something I would evade by taking the critter out to the desert and dropping her off to be served up as a coyote dinner.

My son thinks the latter scheme is horrific…not because he cares whether the rat suffers (he’s developed quite a loathing for the poor critters) but because he figures if you drop the beast off in the boondocks, it soon will show up in someone else’s attic.

Okay. That makes sense, in the social responsibility department. I guess. But…IMHO the local coyotes, raccoons, and foxes will take care of the critters before they make it back to a human settlement. WhatEVER…obviously, my son being the owner of the male voice, he obtains the cooperation of the lesser beasts around him. While his back isn’t turned, anyway…

So anyway, it’s been some weeks since I’ve hassled with the annoying rat traps. Plenty of time for Rattie to produce several generations of new and fertile offspring.

Where’s that Harris hawk when you need him?

Prob’ly not a rat…

Rattie (along with, one expects, her tribe) has taken up residence under the westside deck. And…oh, this is amazing: she has become as tame as a cat. No kidding. Rattie is not alarmed by the dog, a born-and-bred ratter. And more to the point, she is not in the least afraid of the human. She just strolls right by. If you could understand Rattese, you would hear her saying “Good day! How are you and where’s the bananas?”

Ruminating upon this state of affairs, we discover that someone — here in Arizona, wouldn’tcha know — has developed a rat bait that is NOT a poison but instead functions a Rat Contraceptive.

This marvel, then, will eventually beat back the Rat Population without killing your dog, the neighbor’s cat, or your flock of half-domesticated white-wing doves.

Of course, aside from Rattie’s propensity for chewing on electric wires, spectacular fertility is THE problem with roof rats. These little beasts could easily cover the earth with their kind, given a few months and freedom from predators and pestering humans.

So you set out contraceptive-laced bait for the little critters. It takes awhile. But after a few weeks, every rat that comes near your yard, your trees, or your attic is sterile!  Presto: managed extinction!

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Well, this outfit is closed on Saturday and they don’t offer their product through Amazon (because, obviously, they want to inveigle you into signing up for some expensive recurring services). Apparently, though, this is a strategy that has been contemplated for awhile. If you could buy birth control pills over the counter, you might even be able to use the human drug for the purpose.

But that’s not an option, far’s I can see.

So whilst waiting for the weekend to pass, I resurrected the neglected rat traps:

Two: near the favorite dugout entrances to the space under the deck.

One: next to the Rat Runway along the house’s west wall.

Two: innocuously set next to the Rat’s Nest Vines along the backyard’s alley wall.

O’course, all it takes is for the Rat Tribe to see just one of their compatriots struggling to get out of such a trap for the rest of them to figure out that they must stay away from the things.

At any rate, the Rat Birth Control scheme doesn’t sound real promising. But on the other hand, it can’t hurt to try. It has the advantage that it’s (supposedly) not poisonous to dogs, cats, and birds. And you may be sure that it has the disadvantage that if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.

For the nonce, though, any rats that get caught in the traps will find themselves infesting the Other World. Next week we’ll find out if we can get our paws on the Rat Contraceptive.


Real Estate Through the Roof: Right up with the cop helicopters

Seven a.m. and it’s hotter than a two-dollah cookstove out there. Around 100 degrees, headed for 115. And humid: 21% just now.

Speaking of the loony tunes entailed in living in Phoenix, lookit THIS.

$585,000 for THAT? A tiny little out-of-date bungalow, built in 1941, no pool, fake grass(!!) or else plain dirt, in one of the noisiest parts of the city: 1700 square feet including the guest house(!!). For less than that (by far), you could buy a palatial apartment in my friends’ high-rise right on Central Avenue, with a view of the entire East Valley from Camelback to the South Mountains.

Real estate prices have gone bonkers here. Here’s a bargain: 395 grand to live in 1500 square feet in the middle of Drug Dealer Central. Hoooly mackerel! I wouldn’t get out of my car in that area.

Here in the’Hood, they’re asking $519,000 for an 1839 s.f. house cattycorner up the street from the Funny Farm. That’s just insane. The upshot of it is going to be that property taxes soon will go so high here I won’t be able to afford to stay in this house much longer.

They’ve done a lot of fix-up on that house, clearly with an eye to selling it. Interestingly, I haven’t seen a lot of workmen over there — ever. So he must be pretty handy: presumably they redid the 1970s kitchen themselves, turning it into the latest in stainless and granite.

I’m thinking I should replace the Mexican tile countertops in the kitchen here. Put in slabs of granite. Mexican tile is wildly out of date now, plus it has a crack in one place.


…or maybe not…


Pool Dude showed up about 7:30. Along about then a cop copter starts circling frantically over Upper Richistan. This continues all the time he’s working.

Out of curiosity, we call up the neighborhood Facebook page:

Does anyone know why the police have 11th Ave between Wunderland and Larry’s Lane blocked off? I hope all is well with our neighbors..

Alyssa L: Oh no! I hope everyone is ok too

Donnie DS: There are looking for a man that ran into that block. There were 2 men suspected of assault. They have one in custody already.

Reply: Donnie DS thank you. My husband just spoke with the officers and confirmed the same. The officer said they are looking for someone. While there the police were searching the backpack of the one suspect and found a gun. Police said to remain vigilant. They have brought in a K-9 unit so hopefully they find him quickly.

    • Reply: Laurie L I wish the police would have given you a description so we could possibly assist.

Reply: Carrie B Hispanic Male, Blue shirt, tattoos

Bj U: seems like they’ve got him surrounded in the Donleys’ yard, i can hear them yelling orders

Reply: Bj U I hope so. The officer just told me they may need to be coming into my yard and to have everyone inside doors locked

Reply: Bj U he just told me they’re finishing up.

AC W: My husband was the one involved in the assault. Here’s a picture he took beforehand. He’s still with the police, but this is what he texted me.

“He asked me what I was looking at them and I said I wanted to see where they were going. So he stopped in front of me and told me he’d stay right where he wanted. Then he pulled the handle of the gun up from his waistband. I hit him w my coffee cup and knocked him down. Then his buddy jumped me, and I fought him off as best I could. They took off eastbound on Larry’s Lane and I chased them as far as the firefighter’s house. Then I banged on his door and asked him to call 911.”

AC W: Oh gosh! Hope you’re okay! Glad the police are out in force. Praying for everyone’s safety!!!

Reply: Emily P Glad you guys are okay.

Reply: Wendy R WOW! hope they find them. how scary!! Is your husband ok?

Reply:  AC W He is fine. Just a little scratched up. Apparently the other guys are a bit more beat up. They have one suspect and the gun. The other guy is completely surrounded.

Wendy R Go Phx.PD!

AC W such a scary situation! Glad they have the guys!

Reply: AC W glad your husband is ok. Thankful he is out there looking-after our neighborhood, just hoping something like this doesn’t happen again!

Reply Sid C: AC W glad he’s fine . Thank him from the neighborhood for us. RP sticking together.

[And so on….]

Holy sh!t. Ruby and I were over there about an hour earlier: Upper Richistan is our favorite doggy-walk venue.

See why one of my mottos is “Over my dead body”?

Pool Dude was here throughout the episode.

{sigh} I prob’ly should have gone back to the Hidey-Hole and retrieved my father’s .38. But with PD here, I figured things were probably as OK as they were gonna get. Besides which, you know and I know that Pool Dude undoubtedly does not wander around people’s backyards without resources. And I’m dead sure he can shoot straighter than I can.

Think of that. People are willing to pay upwards of 500 grand (upwards of a million, over in Upper Richistan) to live in…THIS place????

A Dog and Her Burglar

So today I spent vast numbers of hours trying to clean up the mess that is my pile of unpaid bills and adapt to the CU’s horrible wondrous new website.

At one point…well, I wanted to sit on the bed to do this project, partly so I could put my feet up and partly because the bedroom is one of the coolest rooms in the house. Upshot of this strategy: at one point the bed was PILED with stacks and stacks of file folders and loose papers and unopened envelopes my gawd!!!! It took hours to plow through all that stuff, and I’m still not done. I’ve still got to figure out the auto-pays, of course. Plus there are a bunch of unexplained pieces of paper whose significance remains to be explored. Plus of course with this new system I can’t see anything at a glance. So in the future, every time I pay a bill I’m gonna have to make myself remember to scribble PAID on the piece of paper.

I’m thinking what I may have to do, actually, is go back to paying routine bills with paper checks. PITA, but at least the bills can be paid, even if your beloved computer is offline. I’ve always suspected that relying on bank or CU websites to make your financial transactions is a bad idea. But…inertia always wins. Once you get started doing that, your inclination is to keep doing it.

uh oh…..

Yeah…just when everything is making you want to BITE, what could possibly take the cake by way of ending the day?

Got any guesses?

…got fruit?…

Well. Of course: Rattie! It looks suspiciously like she’s decided walk right in and set right down.

We hear a bunch of rustling and scuttling of little clawed feet. At first I think WTF is that dog doing? Then I realize she’s doing nothing: she’s snoozing in her nest in the back bathroom.

I wake her up, telling her that Rattie is in the house. Ruby is pretty well trained now to chase rats, which she apparently thinks are sleazy-looking cats. But…

Ruby, my fierce little ratter, thinks it’s a burglar. This killer dog is terrorized! 

So I’m the first to figure it’s not much of a burglar. Get out to the front of the house, whence the rustling emanates, and find…no burglar. If the scuttling of little claws is not Ruby, then who else could it be?

Yeah: Rattie, o’course.

Set four cage-style rat traps in the family room, dining room, and living room, baited with some agèd grapes and li’l bites of cheese.

Retreat to the bedroom to wait.

Forthwith: scuttle scuttle scuttle!

“It’s RATTIE, Ruby! Let’s GET’ER!!!”

Ruby demurs.

I carry her out to the front of the house. She’s actually, hevvin help us, shivering.

I’ve always needed a ratter that shakes in terror when confronted with a rat… 😀

Put dog down. Dog flees to the back bathroom, hides behind the toilet.

Walk back out there and look around. No rat. Hm.

Scuffle scuffle…from the family room…from the fireplace. Ah! Rattie must have gotten in by falling down the chimney!

Explore. Peek behind the fire screen…and…and…

There inside the fireplace is a tiny little dove!

It’s a ground dove. It must have slipped and fallen down the chimney while it was scavenging at the seed feeder.

Take a lid from a wide-mouthed jar, pour a little water into it, and set it in there.

She ain’t innarested.

Is she too badly wounded to move around?

Nope…turn away and she takes off, flapping frantically in a desperate frenzy. She makes it to the kitchen. I open the kitchen door and also the sliding door. Not innarested.

Now she’s come to light atop the stove. I put a few seeds up there for her — she lets me get so close that if I were a whole lot faster than I am, I could grab her. Put the water thing on the counter. Shut off the AC (it’s effin 103 right this minute), as dusk fades toward (hot!!!!) darkness. Open the kitchen door, the patio door, and the west side door. Walk in and out the kitchen door, hoping that a bird is smart enough to realize that if a human can walk through an opening, said bird can fly through it.

Assuming it hasn’t injured itself so badly it can’t fly.

Well, we know she was able to get on top of the counter where the stove is. So she can’t be completely crippled.

It is, however, getting too dark already for a diurnal bird to navigate. So one doubts that she’ll bestir herself to go out. And if she does, her chances of survivng the night are…somewhat diminished.

Think o’ that, though… I have a watchdog that’s afraid of a six-inch-long bird.

Liberty Wildlife opens on Sunday, believe it or not. 8 a.m. So if she doesn’t get her birdly act together enough to slip out the back door pretty quick, I’ll call them in the morning and maybe will be able to get someone to help catch her. Or at least take her in, if I can catch her.


Ground dove image: Columbina passerina -near Salton Sea, California, USA-8.jpg. Created: 2 February 2011. Alan Vernon Common Ground dove (Columbina passerina) Uploaded by Snowmanradio . Wikipedia.