[The little birds are called oxpeckers. It's fun to say oxpecker. Call the next person who annoys you an oxpecker.]
My house has gone from empty to crowded in a day.
A houseful of paying tenants, the board of trustees of a nonprofit corporation will be here this afternoon, seven or eight of them.
Last night here in the little apartment on the side of the house, I heard some noises in the kitchen coming from inside one of the cabinets. I banged on the cabinet door ferociously with a toilet plunger which made an awful racket outside and probably even more so inside. Probably enough to make whoever was inside cower but not enough to make her leave.
I was all bark and no bite because I was not about to confront a large rat fighting for its life while holding only a plastic toilet plunger (Me, not the rat. Rats do not use toilet plungers.) Instead I left two large blocks of poisoned bait out on the floor. I doubted the rat could get them since it was inside the cabinet and the blocks were outside. But I was not about to open the cabinet.
Apparently Christmas came early this year. I did not see Amahl but there were definitely night visitors. This morning both blocks were gone. I had expected them to be nibbled on. These blocks were four inches long and two inches square. The rat, assuming it was a rat and not something else, carried them away. Both of them.
I have no door on the kitchen doorway. Which means that if the thing can walk around in the kitchen it can walk around in the rest of the house. Including my bedroom. Everyone has heard horror stories of rats biting babies in the slums. Which means they bite sleeping people, if the stories are true.
So poisoning the bastards - rats come in families not in ones - is a matter of getting them before they get me. This is starting to feel like a darker episode of Wild Kingdom, the one where the lion actually catches the wildebeest. Who knew suburban life would involve a life-and-death struggle with the local wildlife? Who gnu indeed.
Here are some scenes of life in El Cerrito: