The two, peanut butter-loaded mouse traps that I put in the brick farmhouse’s old-fashioned back porch last night were nowhere to be seen. Arnie, my husband was in the house. I yelled, “Honey, did you get rid of the mouse traps I put out here yesterday?”
Arnie’s bellowed answer, “No I didn’t” made me closely examine the green indoor-outdoor carpet. The traps were gone, and there wasn’t even an oily smear left behind on the artificial grass.
Yesterday, I’d noticed chew marks on the outdoor toys stored in a box below one of the porch windows. Today, the toys looked even worse. I assumed mice were doing the damage. Our farmhouse had a long history of rodent visitors.
My husband stepped into the porch with a half-eaten sandwich in his hands. He looked in the toy box and exclaimed, “Mice can’t do that kind of damage! I think a rat has been getting into the porch.”
I wanted to scream. A rat had been in this sweet, old, friendly porch? I looked around at the green floor, the brick house wall and the peach-colored walls around the four windows. Next to the toy box was a graduated stand with flourishing house plants. In a low voice I shared my plan of action, “Everything in this porch gets thrown out!”
Shaking his head, Arnie cautioned, “First things first. Catch the rat…or rats.”
Picturing dozens of rats in my porch, I wailed, “How are they getting in?”
Before taking another bite of his sandwich, Arnie asked, “Have you looked at the porch foundation lately? The cinder blocks are cracked. I’ve got to do something about that, or soon we’ll have rats inside the house!”
The next day after work I asked for a rat trap at the hardware store. They gave me a big chunk of wood outfitted with a heavy-duty spring. It looked like a regular mouse trap on steroids. I loaded it with a slice of bologna that evening as my 9 year and 13-year-old daughters watched. Tammie asked, “What do you think happened to the two mousetraps that disappeared?”
That was a good question. I looked up at my youngest daughter and said, “I have a mental picture of the rat running off wearing the traps as earrings.”
The next morning, we found a very large dead rat in the trap.
That afternoon when I came home from work, the back porch was pulled off the house and Arnie was using a big machine to dig a deep hole next to the house. I screeched in shock over the noise, “What are you doing?”
My husband turned off the machine to happily inform me, “I’m building a new entryway to the house. It’ll have a basement under it.” There wasn’t much I could say in answer. He had never mentioned this would be his solution to our rat problem. But that was typical. Arnie Richardson’s normal was to always do unexpected things.
With the porch missing and a deep hole in its place was a big problem for me. The washer and dryer were in the basement. The only way to get down there now was out the dining room door with its sudden drop to the basement level. Arnie helpfully provided a ladder.
One night after work later that week, I had to do laundry. Arnie, the girls and I were at the dining room table eating supper when I realized it was time to switch loads. Excusing myself, I opened the dining room door, disappeared down into the muddy pit. Moments later, I came back up the ladder carrying a basket of freshly dried clothing.
When my head was level with the dining room floor, I tossed the basket up into the room with a loud grunt. Arnie glanced over his shoulder at me and said, “Oh, look girls! The beast from down below is crawling into the room.” Truly feeling like a scaly beast crawling up from its lair in the dungeon, I gave my best growl as I clambered into the room.
Arnie always accused me of having a strange sense of humor. Since I always enjoyed the goofy things he said and did too, I suspect his sense of humor was also a tad bit off!
Love and miss you, big guy! xoxo