We finished moving in on a Friday, spent one exhausted, dreamless night amongst the unopened boxes. The next day we went back to the house we’d been renting to clean it. On Sunday we moved our horses to a new barn. On Monday, the Bacon Provider left on a business trip.
After that I groped along in the fog of opening boxes, walking the dogs, finding a grocery store, and opening more boxes. I found the general store in town and bought toilet brushes, picture hooks, a plunger, and birdseed for the feeder.
In my desire to pack well, with children’s books in boxes with other children’s books, kitchen gadgets packed with kitchen gadgets, purses with purses, as I wished, I didn’t do a good job of labeling, and some boxes still had writing on them from previous moves. So despite my efforts to be able to unpack in an organized fashion, it’s been really haphazard. I’m opening boxes labeled with names my children no longer call themselves, or no label at all.
I dreamed strange dreams. I dreamed they added ultimate Frisbee as an Olympic sport and the refs wore jetpacks, and my oldest son had to teach them the rules. Then I dreamed he invented drone refs, and had a PhD in sports psychology, but gave it up to be an arborist.
Mrs. Gardenwinkle took good care of this house but there are a few little things to fix, in between setting up electricity and fuel oil and propane and garbage service. The doorbell isn’t working. There is a thing, a piece of hardware that holds a shutter open, shaped like an “S,” that I didn’t know the name of, so I spent an afternoon finding the name of the thing, measuring the thing, and ordering a new one of those things. It’s called a shutter dog. One is missing from one of the shutters on the window outside my bedroom. When the wind blows the shutter closes, and it, too, startled me in the night. I dreamed and dreamed.
I woke around 4:50 a.m. each day all the next week, wondering where I was, and unable to figure it out quickly enough so I could go back to sleep. I made the habit of watching the sun rise from the big window in my new bedroom, the one with the ivy lattice wallpaper.
Our house in Seattle, which was largely perfect, had English ivy growing around the foundation on two sides (having been killed completely by peeing dogs on the third side). Dealing with that ivy was probably my most rage-inducing chore; it wanted to climb the house or work its way under the siding, and I spend many hours picking it off the house with my fingers. It was full of dead leaves and spiders and sometimes litter, and tangledy, and took most of an afternoon to trim it back, at least four times a year. So my official position is that I am against English Ivy, as a principle. But in my new house in Bedhead Hills there is English ivy on the wallpaper in my bedroom, and it reminds me of my grandmother, my mother’s mother, who had ivy in her yard and on her needlepointed pillows. So, though I am looking forward to replacing it, I am enjoying it while it’s still here, that ivy wallpaper. It’s like being someone’s guest someplace, to wake up surrounded by someone else’s distinct taste. And it makes me think of my grandma.
That next weekend the Bacon Provider was back in town, and I woke up in the middle of the night to see a man standing on the windowsill of my bedroom. It was my husband, banging on the ceiling. I used strong language. He said we had squirrels.
The next morning, we went out to see, and we certainly had something; something made holes in the siding above our bedroom. Those holes were not there when I saw the house in mid-September, or went through the property with the inspector in late-September, or did a walk-through with the real estate agents the day before closing, in mid-October. Those were new holes. Those holes hadn’t been there earlier in the week when I walked the dogs around the house. I called a company specializing in handling wildlife pest management. They sent a guy over on Monday. He said, “You don’t got Squirrels. You gots woodpeckers.”
He went on to explain that he could put a gel in the holes and if we left it there for six weeks the woodpeckers would not come back. “It don’t hurt the woodpeckers. It scares them,” he said. “But they might go to another spot. They might make holes in your whole house.”
He told me to get rid of Mrs. Gardenwinkle’s bird feeder. And that today’s visit would be $300.
I stood and watched him climb a ladder, and spread “woodpecker gel” in all the holes. Then he answered his phone and talked for a while, his head hard on the left, trapping the phone between his ear and his shoulder.
Later when I did some online research, I read that the woodpecker gel is bad for the birds, because it gets stuck on their feathers and makes it hard for them to keep warm. Various woodpecker-repelling strategies include a plastic owl (which they become accustomed to after a couple of days) and lengths of loose, shiny tape that move and flicker in the wind. And I was encouraged to feed the woodpeckers; they aren’t going anywhere anyway.
The Bacon Provider felt that the woodpeckers provided a service to us, performing their own, more thorough inspection and revealing a couple of rotten pieces of siding. I made the case that I have a pressing need for my own owl, which can live in a special box we put on the roof, and hunt in our woods. I believe that my owl, semi-tame but mostly wild, will keep the woodpeckers off the house, and the nightmares away as well.