Last week, I offered my Confessions of a Pack Rat. Today I offer this… my vindication! What you see below is an amalgamation of a branch of an aspen tree, a trunk of pine, and a few feet of old twine that I had not thrown away (you know, just in case).
The aspen branch was cut from our back yard because it was grating on the patio roof. I really like aspen, so I decided to keep it. I remember thinking as I propped it against the wall in our shed/workshop… (To maintain a clear conscience, I have to call it a shed because no real work actually gets done in there very often!) Anyway, I remember thinking, “I should strip this and sand it down into some kind of club. Yeah, it’s the perfect size for a club. Not quite stout enough for a bat, but it’ll make a nice club.” I’m not kidding. That is actually what I was thinking when I made the decision to not put the branch in the yard waste bin. For the record, I’ve never stripped & sanded anything into anything in my entire life. Though I have whittled a stick down to a nice pile of wood shavings a time or two!
So… on to the pine trunk. It was the first Christmas tree we bought in this house. Ok, maybe not the first, but it was several years ago. Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure it was the first. As the decorations came off (a couple weeks too late) and the dry needles made their way out the door (and into the carpet) an idea sparked in my innermost synapses! With all the branches off, this thing would be as straight as an arrow! No, it was way too big for one arrow – maybe a spear or a javelin… I decided to strip off all the branches and keep the trunk. I thought, if I could do this for a few years, I’d have several trunks to fashion together into some kind of artistic endeavor. Maybe a cross or a tipi frame for the back yard. What kid wouldn’t want a tipi to play in, right? Or an arsenal of spears and javelins… Right…
As for the twine… No story here. I think my dad shipped something to the kids a couple years ago and tied the box up with it just for fun. Wherever it came from, it was tucked away in a little nook in our laundry room. And on Monday, it was just what I needed. For this:
Last weekend, as I headed out of town for Winter White Wash, an annual ski trip I enjoy with our students, a squirrel decided to take up residence in our chimney! Why he would do this, I’ll never know, but needless to say, once the shock of his rapid descent wore off, our furry little intruder was slapped in his chubby little cheeks with the fact that our chimney is incredibly clean and smooth tin and there was no way out! (It really is clean, I was sort of amazed…) Since I was a couple hundred miles away, his banging and scuffling in search of escape didn’t bother me at all, but LuAnn felt it best to make sure the squirrel ceased and desisted before he just deceased-ed!
So Monday I was tasked with the job of getting the squirrel out of the chimney. The flue was shut, so he couldn’t get down into the fireplace, which is a little unfortunate, since that sort of deranged mammalian aquarium would’ve been at least a little entertaining. I thought about lighting a fire, but no amount of motivation would have changed the fact that there was nothing for the squirrel to sink his claws into in an attempt to flee. Plus, if I lit the fire, I’d have to open the flue a little bit to let the smoke out, also opening the slight possibility that the squirrel could get in. The thought of flaming squirrel tearing around our living room was enough to keep that idea at the bottom of the ‘things to try’ list. (Hey, have you ever tried to get sooty squirrel tracks off the walls!)
I thought about lowering down a little bucket and raising him to safety, but wasn’t sure how I’d get him to climb in and stay there. Plus, if I did get him to the top, I’m stuck with a deranged squirrel in my face as I precariously dangle on the edge of the roof! No thanks. I tried unsuccessfully a couple times to snare him with a thin rope, but that would have resulted in the same fur in the face dilemma as the bucket so it’s probably for the best that that didn’t work out.
I finally settled on some sort of “ladder” I could leave in the chimney for him to climb out on his own. Obviously, I don’t have a little squirrel sized chimney ladder, but I was confident that I could come up with something. When I was a kid I received a lot of specialized training in gadget making via MacGyver and the A-Team. (Which also explains why a few possible solutions revolved around turning our chimney into the world’s first flaming squirrel cannon! Could those guys blow stuff up, or what!?)
So I tied the branch and the trunk together with the twine to make the escape route you see above. I lowered it down into the chimney (which almost made the squirrel go as berserk as he did when I dangled a flashlight in his face!) and left it there overnight. 24 hours later, the squirrel is gone, no doubt bragging to all his wire-line buddies about his harrowing escape from the tunnel of death without a hint of gratitude.
Ungrateful little nutbag jerk.