It’s been an interesting week, but then every week is interesting around here. Sometimes I wish things were less interesting. I remained upstairs at night, ignoring the creatures that are living, if living is the right word, beneath my house. Since I didn’t go to them, they came to me. For three days I was under a squirrel attack.
I spotted the first one early in the week while walking through the TV room toward Sherry’s office. I glanced over at the gas-fired stove in the fireplace and there was a squirrel spread-eagled on the glass inside staring at me, tail twitching. I almost had a heart attack. It wasn’t that I particularly fear squirrels, but those of you who read these pages know I have a hell of a lot of them and they behave in very unusual ways. I believe I referred to them as Piranha squirrels, standing at attention in my backyard at night, eyes gleaming, waiting for me to step outside so they could strip the flesh from my bones.
I had no idea how this creature ended up in the heater, but the obvious answer was it came down the chimney, even though I thought the heater was self contained and only vented through a small pipe. One thing I did know was I needed to get it out of the house before Sherry saw it because she was definitely going to freak if she stumbled over it. I’m going to try and keep this squirrel saga short, so bear with me.
I went to the mudroom and got my heavy leather gloves and a broom. When I got back to the TV room the squirrel was sitting in the middle of the rug looking at me, tail still twitching. I gave it a whack with the broom, and it ran back under the heater and inside. I drove to Home Depot and bought a small Have-A-Heart trap, set it up in front of the heater and went to the kitchen to eat lunch. In five minutes I had caught a squirrel. I finished my sandwich then released it back out into the back yard and called a chimney sweep to come check the cap on the chimney. Let’s cut this thing short. The next morning I came downstairs and Sweetie, the cat, was sitting a foot away from a cute little baby squirrel. Neither of them seemed particularly frightened of each other. I got an old towel, threw it over the baby squirrel, carried it outside and turned it loose.
The next morning there was a full-grown squirrel sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor looking at me. After chasing the animal behind the refrigerator I got my trap and set it up. For three hours I could hear the squirrel banging around behind the stove, but no luck with the trap. After awhile, the squirrel came out and sat up on one of the stove burners, just looking at me. I got my towel and we went on a merry chase resulting in the breaking of a treasured tea pot. Eventually I got him/her in the towel and took him/her outside.
Clearly, I had to do something.
Aside from the chimney squirrel, I think they were coming in through a hole somewhere in the floor of the house, probably under the kitchen, maybe behind the stove. If I could find the hole, I could patch it; no more squirrels in the house. Unless these were spirit squirrels sent by the demon child, which was a possibility, but not one I wanted to entertain. At least not yet.
I was going to have to conquer my fears and make a foray under the house. I geared up like Rambo: long sleeve shirt, old jeans tucked into heavy socks, world’s brightest flashlight, cell phone to call for help on and take pictures with. (Because many of you have been writing asking to see some pictures, saying you were having trouble envisioning the scenes as I report them.) Fair enough. Two birds with one stone: look for squirrel entry points and snap some photos to put up here. Also I wanted to see if I could find the two dig sites the crawlspace inspector had been so snotty about last week.
I went and got Mark. His job was to drag me out from under the house if I got into trouble, or at least call the fire department to come rescue me. We briefly entertained the notion of tying a rope around my ankles so he could drag me out himself, but it seemed kind of crazy. After all, it was the middle of the afternoon, not three AM in the morning. The worst that could get me was the bugs. I sprayed myself with a heavy layer of bug repellent.
Rather than cut straight to the crawlspace scene, I’m going to start at the beginning and give you a tour of the various places I’ve been talking about. So gather around, children, pay close attention…
This is the Daisy Lynch house.
It has a large front lawn and big back yard, almost a full acre. The smallish addition to the left of the front is the room where Sherry has her office, and the floor where I first saw the light through the floorboards and where I can hear the digging at night. Here’s a closer look at this feature.
Note the chimney on the left of this room. I think this may be one of the keys to the mystery of the house. If you were to walk around the house on the side where the chimney is you would come to the main access to the crawlspace and the larger area where the furnace resides, beneath the house.
The thing about the chimney is, several months after we moved in I was looking out the window in the upstairs bedroom at the chimney when I realized that although there was a fireplace in almost every room of the house, there was none in Sherry’s office. The wall where the fireplace should have been was completely blank. What was the chimney there for?
If you go down the steps into the “basement” area…
The chimney should open up on the right of the floor around the corner, except it doesn’t. Whatever was originally there has been bricked up.
If you turn to the right at the bottom of the steps you are faced with this wall which I believe was the first room to be built and part of the foundation. It’s obvious that it’s very old. The (unseen) bricked up fireplace is to your right.
If you look to the left of the last picture and climb under various joists and ductwork you will face another of the original stonework walls and this view into the actual crawlspace beneath the house. The pillar on the right is one of the oldest. It’s not a cinder block, those are very large stones that have been carved from, well, stone.
If you were to (carefully) step backwards this is what you would see. More of the old wall built around this odd semi-underground room. You can stand upright with your head into the insulation in this area. This is the light that is turned on and off by some entity that I have not yet identified. I can see this light through the floorboards in Sherry’s office at night, when it is on.
This is going on longer than I intended, so I’m going to break it up into two posts. Next week I’ll show you the pictures I took when I climbed into the crawlspace on the other side of the house, looking for squirrel entry sites.
Here a picture of the baby squirrel I caught.
And here’s another picture I took. Just for fun.
Any questions? I can take more pictures if there’s anything you want to see in particular. Make sure you tune in next week because I’m including a picture taken at 3:00AM of the old ghostbuster himself as he sets off in the night looking for trouble.