Get a house in the suburbs they said. An ivy-covered cottage with mature trees just north of the hills.
That way you’ll get to experience all of the flora and fauna the area has to offer, they said. So much better than the concrete jungle of mid-city they said.
So, we did.
We listened to “them”.
And for almost twenty years it’s been exactly as advertised—idyllic—(except for that July a few years back when the coyotes ate my two Siamese cats). I can honestly say that put quite a damper on my summer. Still, we have managed to co-exist with nature in a very cordial and symbiotic way.
I leave past-its-prime fruit out for the squirrels so they’ll leave my bird feeder alone; we tolerate the enormous spider webs that are mysteriously woven overnight in high traffic areas and happen to always be at face level. There’s nothing like walking outside in the early dawn hours with a cup of coffee and becoming entangled in a giant, sticky, web that entraps you like a mummy and leaves you batting at your hair—wondering where the damn spider went.
But like I said; we co-exist.
Well, except for the crows. My husband wants to shoot them because they’re colossal pains-in-the-asses whose poops are ruining the paint on our cars. I fight for their right to occupy our giant tree in the front but it pisses me off too. The sheer volume and size of their shit attacks are hard to fathom. I had one last week, the size of a serving platter, that blotted out the entire driver’s side of my windshield. And it was purple. Wtf?
Nevertheless, I won’t allow him to kill them although I’m pretty sure he’s already had target practice with a few.
But only the ones that laugh at him. Crows laugh you know.
At your dog.
At your poor choices in cargo shorts.
But you wouldn’t know that unless you live in the suburbs.
Aside from that; things have been quiet. That is, until this year, or as we like to call it: The Year The Wild Kingdom Took Over.
Lest you label me a complainer—I will first tell you some things I love about living amongst nature.
I love the squirrels, they’re chatty and cute and they hide peanuts in my flower pots… Yipppeeee.
I love the birds. They sing and crap joyfully while building their nests in the drawers of the outside potting table where I keep the clippers and the tiny garden spade—so I can’t get to them until the babies are hatched and raised and go off to college.
I love all the spiders and their cobwebs (which I learned recently are abandoned spider webs that have dust bunnies stuck to them) but I already said that.
I love the hummingbirds who actually come up to my face and make their cute little brrrrrrrrrr sound while I’m watering.
Ok. I’m done.
This year has been the year of the skunk and now, as of late, the year of the raccoon—and I don’t mean I’ve gone schizophrenic on the Chinese calendar.
We have captured and released three skunks after our beautiful but stupid boxer, Ruby, got skunked four times.
It has cost us the equivalent of a monthly car payment for an exterminator to wait them out and once caught, have them relocated to a more hospitable zip code.
But who needs money anyway?
Once those little rascals went bye-bye we mistakenly let down our guard thinking that the worst was over.
Until last week when twice Ruby and I were woken up by the smell of skunk. Again.
One of my friends joked that the skunks are hitchhiking back to our house because they miss us. I had her killed.
This week there hasn’t been any skunk stench. Nope. Just the terrifying screaming that accompanies Raccoon Fight Club which has started promptly at 2 am, two mornings in a row. The sound was so loud and horrific I’m certain that if he were anywhere in the vicinity the smell was scared right off the skunk.
“It’s just a cat”, my husband mumbled in his sleep the first night. “Yeah, if a cat was as big as a dog and screamed like someone was murdering its children”, I replied. To add to the ambiance this fight had a cheering crowd like it was a championship prizefight in Las Vegas. The rats who inhabit the fence that’s covered with Bougainvillea like it’s rent controlled apartments were squealing their little hearts out.
Oh, the rats? Haven’t I mentioned them yet? Oh, pardon me. Yeah. Our house is a veritable torture museum obstacle course of mouse traps that are set…everywhere. Apparently, all of Studio City is infested with rats.
They say it’s all the ivy and mature trees.
Anyway…After fifteen minutes of cowering in the corner with Ruby, it all finally stopped. The screaming, the squealing, and our whimpering.
Last night it started again only this time it was so loud and ferocious I could have sworn they were inside the house. Ruby and I jumped into each other’s arms, shaking like leaves. It even woke up my husband and forced him to put on pants. You don’t want to do that in the middle of the night. You don’t want to make my husband put on his pants because then he means business—and somebody’s gonna pay.
I heard him grab the giant industrial flashlight that occupies valuable real estate on his nightstand. I hate that thing, It’s ugly AF, weighs a ton, and you could perform surgery with the wattage that fucker gives off. The thing doubles as a weapon that instantly turns night—to day.
He opened the door to the backyard and the screaming didn’t even miss a beat. I wondered how any of our neighbors could sleep through this horror movie nightmare. They must be looking to us to end the madness.
After another ten minutes of relentless screaming from the raccoons with the rats cheering loudly in the background and —I’d had enough.
Someone had to do something! I left the safe embrace of my cowardly dog and barefooted my way out the door to the deck on the far side of the yard. I could see the glaring beam of light shining from the flashlight on the other side of the lawn where my husband was
It seems he had bestowed stadium lighting upon Raccoon Fight Club which caused the rats to cheer even louder!
“It’s two raccoons”, he whisper-yelled over in my direction. I could barely hear him over the commotion.
But I know they heard me, those two raccoons, yet, whatever they were fighting about overrode their fear of two humans.
And a dog.
As an aside: Were’s the memo that goes out to the wildlife in the neighborhood that lets them know that our house is probably not a good idea for staging Fight Club because —it has a DOG. A little brown dog that will…right.
Anyway, this next section sums up our marital partnership in five or six sentences. Maybe it will sound familiar to you?
“I’m hosing ‘um!”, I yelled over to my hero who was shining his beam of light right on them like it was the Super Bowl. Meanwhile, the raccoons gave not one shit. They just kept on with the scream fighting. So I turned the hose on full strength and blasted them with everything I had.
I think for a minute they thought it was part of the half-time show. But Lord have mercy it shut them the hell up.
“They’re gone”, he informed me. “Good idea”, he added as he turned off the klieg light they can see from space.
”Uh, yeah, I know”, I muttered under my breath as I wound the hose back up—stood for a moment like Wonder Woman—and went back to bed.
Being the woo-woo, California knucklehead that I am, I saged the entire yard this morning concentrating on that corner, which I’m convinced is a portal to the mouth of hell.
Hmmmmm…I wonder… how much is it going to cost us to trap and relocate two raccoons? They are definitely meaner than the skunks. Hear that? I’m starting to miss the damn skunks!
I think I’ll start a Go Fund Me Page.