Your print delivery is late because…
Everyone has unexpected circumstances that hamper production and we are no exception. We exhaust all possible means to deliver prints by their due date and no excuse is a good one for failing…except this one.
Recently we had to endure the emotional trauma of being visited by a nighttime intruder…a burglar…a vandal…a masked marauder. As if this is not enough the culprit over stayed his welcome and took up residence. Did I mention the scoundrel had beady eyes and and a great dentist?
Our facility is comprised of several buildings which used to be Clemente's bus depot and restaurant in the 1950's and 60's. Our sprawling 2500 square foot estate consists of the Clemente's house, which was moved 200 yards from the highway, several bus washes and a maintenance garage. The compound is very close to a small patch of woods, so we are no strangers to encounters with the local fauna.
Deer, groundhogs, rabbits, squirrels, vultures, crows and the occasional fer-rel cat are residents of our patch of suburbia. Except for the occasional snake, all have remained at a comfortable viewing distance…outdoors.
Creature encounters indoors have been limited to jousting with stink bugs using the business end of a ball point pen. Oh… there are the mice which I catch using all the skill and cunning of a 17th century fur trapper. Of course I have the modern advantage of the "sticky" trap. Sticky traps are convenient if you place them in the middle of the floor. Placing them where mice actually travel entails re-enacting a scene in which Curley mistakes fly paper for an ordinary sheet of writing paper. Ah-woo-woo-woo-woo-woo.
All this brings me to the saga of the great Procyon lotor roundup of 2010, an event that will undoubtedly be recorded in the annals of Qoro history as epic. It all started with what seemed to be an innocent act of vandalism.
About a week ago, the area we store framing material, packaging materials and also coat our prints in, was invaded overnight by an anonymous critter. The initial appearance lead me to believe that a squirrel tried to mail an overnight package. Bits of foam, bubble wrap and cardboard were strewn about on the floor. A tentative inspection of the area lead me to believe that the offending culprit had departed.
Two days later I opened the shop door to reveal an area that was obviously the target of one or two concussion grenades. Debris was everywhere and worse than that was the sound of scratching scurrying feet and an alarmed chattering that could only belong to the voice box of one, ahrah-koon-em. The dreaded varmint that stars in Alogonquin tales of mythological mischief. I practically slammed the door on my own nose while back pedaling at a rate that sprinters would envy.
Now I am not exactly a neophyte when it comes to removing medium sized critters from human dwellings. As a gullible and clumsy teenager I was charged with the task of removing a skunk from our barn. Advice from a local farmer and stand up comic entailed accosting the striped intruder with the jet spray from a garden hose. Ironically, skunks or at least this particular skunk detested being sprayed and ran about frantically in an attempt to avoid the water. Caution, while trying to wrangle a frenzied skunk out of an open barn door using the watering technique it is important to pay close attention to your hose. A kink in the line that unexpectedly interrupts the flow of water may result in permanent harm to your olfactory senses.
More recently I had employed the straw broom method for removal of a possum from my garage. Basically this method uses the same technique that one would use to gently sweep a hairy ten pound sack of baking potatoes from under your bed. It is important to note that other cleaning implements are not as effective. I have yet to read an informative article on how to remove a possum from a shop vac hose.
Even with the vast amount of experience I possess in the area of unwanted critter removal I was not prepared to match wits with an animal capable of removing my eyebrows. (No matter what pencil you use, drawn in eyebrows always give you that "surprised" look.) I decided to wait for reinforcements, preferably someone who had never heard the horrific tales about the cornering of hairy wild animals.
As luck would have it our framer Rodney Pratt arrived on the scene. With two of us searching my chances of being the primary focus of a critter attack was cut by 50 percent so we proceeded to the storage area. Of course the flashlight I was using to inspect some of the darker areas behaved as a typical flashlight does in important circumstances and dimmed itself to an indiscernible orange glow. I became very preoccupied with shaking the light. (The unspoken rule when dealing with a finicky flashlight is to shake it, resulting in a temporary brightening which diminishes the moment you aim the flashlight at a target. Then repeat as necessary) In my case it was necessary to repeat the procedure until Rodney located the secret hide-out of the midnight marauder.
I was alerted to the discovery when Rodney executed the perfect back pedaling maneuver accompanied by the word…HELLLLOOO! The word is obviously the appropriate word for this circumstance because Rodney's attire was not accessorized by any large furry broaches. "What is it", I whispered. "Ears, eyes, brown", Rodney replied.
By gingerly moving several packing boxes and aiming the now fully charged flashlight into the area we could provoke the little masked monster to peer around at us. The eyes, ears and brown were all assembled to create a furry, fat and fully disinterested raccoon. Instead of attacking it seemed to expend an inordinate amount of energy on staying awake. Our first response was to open the garage door, in case the now snoring rodent decided to leave.
Everything I have read about raccoons states that they are indigenous to America. Don't you believe it, raccoons can not understand a single word of plain English. Every attempt to reason with the animal brought responses that included blank stares, grooming, scratching or returning to sleep. Even when the entire English language was reduced to the single word, shoooo! the response was the same.
Maybe the presentation of the entire conversation through a door opened 4 inches wide was the problem. Since Kathy had now joined in the great raccoon removal project you would think that the sight of a totem pole constructed entirely of 3 sets of human eyes, noses and mouths would have at least evoked a snicker. Had the raccoon made a sudden movement the ensuing mayhem would have resembled a clip from an old black and white keystone cops movie, but judging by the comatose nature of sleeping beauty, movement would only be encouraged by the application of several thousand watts.
We retreated from the shop to peruse the world wide web under the topic "raccoon removal". The SPCA and other such organizations do not participate in raccoon removal festivities. Those who do advertise such a service require a fee slightly less than the purchase of a new luxury car. So despite all of the warnings against "Do it yourself" endeavors, we opted for that choice. Our secret weapon, the home remedy of…mothballs!
Now I envisioned some sort of mothball projection device that would allow me launch those little round balls at high velocity to pelt the raccoon and drive it away, but the article claimed that raccoons had an aversion to the mothball scent and merely sprinkling them around would suffice. Our plan…wait until the raccoon went bar hopping, clean most of the packing boxes from the room, sprinkle a liberal amount of mothballs in the area and return the following day to find the area clear of all fuzzy inhabitants.
The first thing to greet us when we returned the following day was the light smell of mothballs wafting through the air at the front of our shop. Ahh… brings back the fond memories of exploring Grandma's attic as a kid. As we progressed through the shop the odor increased in strength until I was pretty certain that an entire platoon of grannies were bivouacked in our shop. When we opened the door to our shop, I actually saw a cloud of paradichlorobenzene gas accompany the breeze into our studio. Peering through a stream of tears with our shirts pulled up over our noses we saw our furry friend contentedly sleeping in a box full of bubble wrap a mere foot outside the door. For one brief instant I thought it had to be dead but the gentle rhythm of breathing was apparent. This raccoon was not only deaf but nasally challenged as well.
With the bitter taste of mothball failure still lingering on our tongues we decided enough is enough. We had to take action immediately to get those mothballs out of the area. Aside from the high probability of asphyxiation, the raccoon was the only thing standing (sleeping) in the way of accomplishing our dire task.
Everything we had read about our quarry, the raccoon not the mothballs, suggested that cornering the animal could provoke a less than desirable response, but no one completely defined what a racoon's idea of cornering is. Armed with this knowledge or lack there of, we formed a new more aggressive plan. First employ the element of surprise…kick over the box. Second poke at him until he was convinced that running out the open back door was a good idea. The poking implement of choice was a ten foot long section of stretcher bar.
We executed the plan with all the practiced expertise of a polished Marine drill team and the surprised raccoon ran…to a corner. No… all is not lost because behind a 5 gallon bucket of paint, our toothy mammal had installed his own version of a pet door. Brandishing our favorite raccoon poking implements we persuaded our fuzzy friend that the great outdoors offered a much better environment for napping and he exited. He did try to offer a little carpentry advice as we constructed a more secure wall but the constant poking disgusted him and he left in a huff.
So I apologize for any delay in the delivery of your prints, but as you can see it was unavoidable. By the way, Does anyone have a good home remedy for removing the fine scent of mothballs?
Treetop Bandit, by Susan Yoder