Sunday, March 23, 2008

Part Two of Things That Go Bump (and Crash) in the Night

This is Part Two of the previous post "Things That Go Bump in the Night."

With two cats who like to wrestle occasionally, crashing sounds are not all that unusual at my house. Benny was here for the long weekend and Raven was visiting from next door, and cat-chasing can be a very amusing game when bolstered by your best friend. So when we heard the crash, we scarcely reacted, assuming that one of them ran clumsily into a door while in chase-mode. The only problem with that scenario was that both dogs were playing quietly, right here with each other. Hmmm, what could have happened up there? Three seconds into pondering this, a series of hisses, spits, growls and yowls assaulted our ears. My cats play-fight with each other a lot, but they never react like that. I rushed to investigate.

I headed upstairs to a continued chorus of angry cat sounds. Near the top of the steps, both cats had their backs to me and were staring fixedly toward my bedroom. Their tails were enormous, as cat tails get when felines are extremely angry or fearful. A split-second later, a third bushy tail rushed past them from my bedroom into my son's room. I let out a short string of mild to moderate expletives, and yelled downstairs to Frank that the raccoon was in the house.

My mind reeled as I tried to figure out how she could have gotten inside from the attic. While ascending the stairs and shooing the cats, and the now curious dogs away, I surmised that this desperate creature must have seen how K brought her babies through the small door in the ceiling of my closet, and summoned up her maternal strength to lift it out of place and follow their scent. I knew that wasn't logical because according to K, she had already seen her babies on the roof right by the newly-built, one-way exit. She had also supposedly escaped the attic at that time and she really couldn't lift that door, so none of this made any sense. But what else could it be?

I rounded the corner and stole a quick glance into my bedroom. A long string of moderate to censor-worthy expletives escaped my mouth as I looked up to see this gaping, dripping hole above my nightstand.

Frank was soon behind me, helping me to assess this situation, deter cats and dogs from approaching the raccoon in Alex's room and to shut doors to the other rooms so that we could isolate her as much as possible. At one point she ran back into my room where I have a balcony, and Frank suggested trying to usher her safely to the exit where she could then easily climb to the roof to reunite with her babies. The poor mom was in ultra panic mode (not unlike myself) and ran back to Alex's room where she climbed up on his bed, scurried along his headboard, up onto his desk, toward the window. And there she stayed, entangled in the Venetian blinds.

The poor thing was terrified. I went back to my cold, dripping bedroom. A growing heap of wet insulation, crumbled drywall and plaster chunks littered the nightstand, floor and bed, and the wall lamp was twisted off to the side like a badly-crippled limb. Following Frank's suggestion, I placed a bucket under the hole to minimize further damage.

I located my phone and the phone number for the wildlife removal service who guaranteed their work for a full year. This had been a full seven hours. Surely they'd send someone out to help immediately.

I spoke to a most unhelpful person. I could practically hear him scratching his head when I told him that I had a raccoon in the house and a hole in my ceiling. He asked for my location and determined that he didn't have anyone in my area right now and that the soonest he could get someone out here would be the following morning.

"Tomorrow? ARE YOU KIDDING ME???" My panic increased, as did the volume of my voice. I knew that because I looked up a couple of times to see Frank giving me the "tone it down" signal with his hands. At the same time, the guy on the phone was also telling me to calm down, try to forget about if for now and just deal with it tomorrow. Once again, I explained that I didn't just have a raccoon isolated in my attic anymore, but that she's clinging to the blinds in my son's room.

I expressed very clearly that I needed him to send someone out here immediately. He repeated that he would have someone come out in the morning. I tried one last time. "I have a RACCOON in my HOUSE. She's scared, her babies are alone on the roof (this is where I blew it for K. It slipped out before I could think clearly. I'm so sorry.). This HAS to be taken care of tonight. You advertise 24/7 service." Once again, he repeated that he couldn't do anything until morning. I asked for his name and he told me "That's not important." I tried to let him know that it was going to become important, but at that point he hung up on me.

I was livid, worried and totally unsure of what to do next. I did not want to further traumatize the raccoon. I didn't want to call in anyone that wouldn't also take her life and her babies lives into careful consideration. I was afraid for any of us to try to handle her ourselves. My son Alex was going to come home soon to find a raccoon in his bedroom and my older son Jeffrey was about to arrive home for the long Easter weekend. My ceiling continued to drip, and drop chunks of insulation, drywall and other debris. There was a raccoon clinging to the blinds and four hungry babies in a bucket on my roof. And then my head exploded.

To be continued over here (sorry!)...


Dianne said...

"and then my head exploded"

You are so calm and so caring for these sweet intruders. I can't wait to find out what happens next!

I want to come there and help clean up and care for everyone - racoons and dogs and cats and people.

Hang in there! Perhaps there will be an Easter miracle.

the Bag Lady said...

Oh, Hilary! What a mess...

That poor mamma - she looks terrified, clinging to the blinds.

I'm dying to know what happened next... and I have to go away this afternoon for the day...

Reb said...

So, not only do you have to clean up the damage from the ceiling, but the mess from your head exploding? Damn woman, what a Easter to remember!

The poor momma raccoon looks so scared up there! Poor babies trapped outside in the cold.

I hope everything works out!

Episode blogging - who'da thunk!

Cath said...

Well you didn't make us wait too long for part 2 so I hope you won't torture us re part 3!
She looks absolutely terrified the poor thing. It made me gasp out loud when I scrolled down to that first photo. And those poor babies...
I hope you did find out who you were talking to on the phone and complained in the strongest terms!
I hope the raccoon didn't do too much damage in the end. Very wise not to tackle her yourself - she'd have your hand. Although I have to admit to thinking to myself "I wonder if I can find some very thick pruning gloves and scarves and stuff..." I also wonder if Mum is with the babies and this might be dad... do raccoons stay as a family?
Sorry . Long comment again! You got me hooked! lol

Phyllis E said...

OMG, Cuzzie!!

What a story. I have to ask, though. How did you manage to find the time and mental "cool" to reach for the camera and grab that fantastic shot of Mama?

And who picked up the pieces of your head?

Waiting eagerly for the 3rd installment.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I am clinging to the edge of my seat . . . much the same way the raccoon is cling to the blinds. Wha' happened?!

Jo said...

Oh you poor dear! I wish I could help! What a terrible mess, Hil...I think you're handling it so well & with so much compassion for the little critters. The man you spoke to on the phone was a prat!

Sending you positive thoughts & hopes that this will be resolved soon...then you can have a nice drink with friends who can help you chuckle over this.

Crabby McSlacker said...

I was so excited to see that I was going to get to hear the end of the story before I took off on our trip...

Dang it.

But what a gripping story, with amazing photos to accompany it! I will have to find internet somewhere in order to read the exciting conclusion which I hope is coming soon!

It's so cool you have photographs of it all. Most riveting.

Frank Baron said...

Holy Moley!

This is exciting! And I'm fairly sure I know what happens next!


Hilary said...

Thanks Dianne... you're too sweet. I'm glad you stopped by. :) Thanks for the encouragement.

Hi Baggie, I was pretty busy for the day myself but I'll have Part Three posted very soon now.

Reb, the momma raccoon was pretty scared but she's a tough little critter. This was indeed a memorable weekend.

Hi Cath. I'm glad you're hooked! Part three is going to be posted within a couple of hours. I gasped too.. frequently, and I'll bet with more choice words than you did! ;) At one point, Frank came upstairs wearing my oven mits, ready to grab the mom by the scruff of the neck. Ummm, no! The racoon was definitely the mother. I learned that raccoons push the dad out sometime after mating but before nesting.

Hey cuzzie Phyl. Well I had plenty of time to take photos. She was clinging to the blinds for at least an hour before all was resolved. As for the pieces of my head, I believe Mr. Smirnoff helped with that. ;)

Hi Jenn, sorry to leave you with a cliff-hanger/seat-clinger. Part three is coming up real soon! Thanks for reading. :)

Thanks so much, Jo. I've managed to reach the chuckle stage and almost immediately reached the drinks stage. ;) I'm even mostly over the guy on the phone.. kinda.. sorta.. ish.

Thanks Crabby. It's still early for you on the west coast, so maybe you'll have the chance to peek in before you leave. I hope you have a very safe trip to your new home in Massachusetts. Keep in touch if and when you can.

Frank, yes I know.. I know. You're glad you were there because this way you won't have to hear about it on the phone for days.. I know! :P :) I'm glad you were there. :)

Tink said...

Holy shit. That's crazy!

Hilary said...

• Ya think, Tink? ;)