Saturday, April 08, 2006

Stuff: News of Fresh Disasters

So, where have I been? I've been banging my head against various aspects of real life, and not finishing as many books as I'd like -- though I have several going at once right now. I must post soon about Jared Diamond's excellent Collapse, which I finished recently. I also intend to do more photoblogging as well.

For the moment, though, I have some News of a Fresh Disaster*.

You'll remember the rat adventure we had at Christmas. After that expensive experience, we stopped up all the rat holes we could find with steel wool and flooded the garage with mothballs. (We didn't want to put down poison, as many people in our neighbourhood let their cats out at night).

Unfortunately, we missed a rat hole that was behind some garage clutter. So a week ago Thursday we get into the car, turn the key, and GRRND GRRND GRRND GRRND -- that same not-good sound from Christmas Eve hits our ears again. It's quite a memorable sound, like walnuts in a blender.

So, we backed the car out and popped the hood. The first thing I spotted was a quarter of a bagel. Sliced, with cream cheese. On top of the engine. There was no doubt about it being rats again.

There was insulation missing from the battery cables again, but no other damage was visible. No blood on the floor this time, either. So we called CAA again, to get the car to the (now closed) dealership. I biked down to drop the keys off and fill out the problem form.

The car was ready the next day. Fortunately, the repairs were only about 10% as expensive as the Christmas ones, about $130. The invoice told the story quite well, we thought:

Malfunction

So we are now rat-proofing the garage. Whoever did the current landscaping in our backyard was not too bright -- they piled the soil in some raised gardens right up against the wooden siding, leading to serious rot. The rats didn't have to chew their way into the garage, they could just push the rotten wood out of the way.

We've razed the raised gardens and pulled out all the junk (rat-eaten or otherwise) out of the garage ($766 to get it hauled away by 1-800-Got-Junk). We've filled all the spaces between the studs in the garage walls with cement and sheet metal. After two weekends of work, we can finally put the car back where it belongs.

Interesting discoveries included a well-tunneled painting drop-cloth (the tunneling was interesting, the stench was not), and many bones -- too big to be rat bones. I think they're chicken bones, stolen from our garbage.

In the process of doing all this, we've also discovered that the somewhat shaky fences in our yard are shake because most of the fence posts have rotted away at ground level. They're basically supported by the garage at one end and the house at the other. Anyone know how much 25 metres of privacy fence costs to install?

* The "Tales of Fresh Disasters" line comes from an old Beyond the Fringe routine called "The Aftermyth of War", about life during WWII. "Every night the BBC would bring us news of fresh disasters." -- cut to BBC voice -- "This is Alvar Liddel with news of fresh disasters."

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