Saturday, April 23, 2011

Davy Crockett is Alive and Well and Living in Thornhill

I realize it's April but we need to backtrack to early March....just for a couple of minutes. MO's birthday was coming up and we were planning a nice evening out for dinner to his choice of restaurant. The week prior to MO turning 23 we received an unexpected and uninvited guest at our home. Steve and I were asleep and awoke to the sounds of small animal feet running back and forth above us. My first fear was that something made it's way into the attic. In the past 23 years we have had numerous houseguests including chipmunks, squirrels, skunks, field mice, and birds. Steve has no fear of any outdoor or indoor creepy crawlers or wild animals so he was dispatched to investigate what was causing all the racket above our heads. He climbed out onto the roof with his ladder. Poked his head over the top shingles to see if his premonition was right....he guessed it was squirrels running around but instead was met with the stare of a very young racoon who had somehow made his way up to the top of our roof and would not come down. Steves suggestion was to just leave it alone and "eventually" it would get hungry and make it's way back to the neighbourhood garbage cans. Day one passed. Day two passed and "eventually" turned into 6 days. We nicknamed him Rocky Raccoon and each day he would sit and stare at me when I left for work and each night he would run around the roof like a mishugana (Yiddish Definition: crazy person). Mid week I made a conscious decision to call the Ministry of Natural Resources to inquire about our options with Mr. Rocky. They informed me that there was nothing they could do unless the animal was on the ground. Now I'm thinking like this....if the freakin animal was on the ground why would I be calling you? There were only two ways to bring Rocky down.

1. Shoot, drop and roll - Not humane
2. Trap and drop - very humane

I googled "raccoon removal" and found a company called SWAT Raccoon Services. Although I didn't need a SWAT team to remove the little guy we needed some kind of intervention so I dialed.....

"Hello? this SWAT RACCOON?" I asked.
"Yes ma'am....this is Trapper John at your can I help ya".
"Yes..Um.....I have a smallish raccoon that has been on my roof for almost a week now...what are your suggestions"? I ask.
"Well little lady...I reckon ya might need my help but I would suggest you just leave the wee fella there...he will come down eventually". He answered.
"Eventually? My husband said the same thing.What exactly is the timeline definition for "eventually"? I ask.
"Give it a couple more days and then give Trapper John a holler back if it ain't comin down", he replied.

I took his advice and watched Rocky walk back and forth for another two days. At this stage of the game I became worried  as to how he was going to survive without food. He had plenty of water because of the amount of snow on the roof but what about his junk food diet? I tossed and turned at night, not able to sleep thinking about little RR. He was all alone at night...his mum probably had no idea where he ended up and he was most likely starving to DEATH on my roof. Did I need this? No. The next day I asked Steve to do something. He volunteered to check out Home Depot for Wildlife traps. You have to understand my husband. If Steve thinks  he can do it himself....he will do it himself. How? He watches insanely stupid shows on TV and learns how to do what no Jew would do. Not so insane and not so stupid when it comes to saving me money but nonetheless when Trauma in the ER is one of the shows of choice would you want him sewing your left leg back on for you? Hmmmmm....

After watching, Survivorman, Steve can definitely survive in the wilderness for at least a week by eating insects and bark.  After watching Holmes on Homes, Steve has learned how to pour a foundation, repair weeping tiles and scope plumbing with an underground camera. I have witnessed him do some really weird things in the past 12  years. He can build. He can cook. He can even sew. He has eaten chocolate covered crickets and sampled the cat treats.

And then there is my favorite show...Billy the Exterminator. Billy is a studded cowboy punk style dude who makes his living annihilating unwanted creatures from your home. To be quite honest, there is something very attractive about a man who can wrestle alligators off your front lawn and vacuum cockroaches out of the crevices of your walls. So watching and absorbing the tricks of the trade, Steve has no qualms about venturing out to conquer these types of tasks around the house. I'm one lucky girl.

I arrived home to prepare for our night out for MO's birthday. There was RR in  his usual place on top of the roof waving at me. Inside the house was a large white box which contained a good sized trap for Rocky. Steve put the trap together, ventured out on the roof and took a can of tuna with him to lure RR in. When he returned he stated that by 5 p.m. Rocky should be secured in the trap..."just you wait and see". So we waited and saw nothing but Rocky staring at our car as we departed for dinner. So much for the 5 p.m. checkout time.

As we enjoyed our celebration at Baton Rouge, I couldn't help but think of Rocky. What happens if he didn't enter the trap? Maybe he was already too weak to make his way over to the can of tuna? With the candles blown and the bill paid, we anxiously rushed home to see if the Trapper trapped the trappee. What we found was this...a dark shadow hovering on the roof in it's regular spot, staring down at us...laughing. Rocky had us in the palm of his hands...he was mocking our indignation for his lack of cooperation. Our goal was to ensure his safe removal from our roof. If we had no other choice we would have to succumb to calling Trapper John while Trapper Steve made his way back to Home Depot with the trap. Just as we were about to give up, YO left to go out to his friend's house. As he backed out of the driveway the headlights from the car shone up to the roof - there inside the trap was a shadow - Rocky had checked IN.

It was time for Trapper Steve AKA - Stevey Crockett to commence the balance of the mission. Comparable to the Chilean minors rescue, he and YO took to the roof with flashlights and baseball bats. The lights were to assist in seeing what they were doing without falling off roof ....the baseball bats were to protect themselves from the 2 pound animal in the trap. Although the weather had made a turn for the worse, we all witnessed this miraculous event.

I doned my coat, couldn't find my hat so I wrapped my scarf around my head burka-style and watched Rocky as he was gently being lowered to the ground via the trap held  by electrical wire. There he was looking frightened and hungry, somewhat like all my children do on daily basis. I couldn't tell if he was afraid of the trap or confused as to who I was in my disguise. Steve and YO were elated that they accomplished the feat of getting Rocky off the roof. They carefully placed the trap in the trunk of my car and proceeded with the transfer. He was being moved to another place in the neighbourhood....far from my roof...and back to his lifestyle which included a diet of garbage and dodging cars. Each time I come home from work I gaze up at my roof. I miss ya Rocky but at least you left me with one fond memory...of the two nars that were your friends...

Stevey and YOey Crockett...Kings of the Wild Frontier

Friday, April 22, 2011

Searching for Shirley Booth

Hello ! Where have I been?...My excuse this time for not writing for exactly four months.... None. Okay, so maybe I have been a bit busy but that's not reason enough to keep you up to date. So what has happened since last I penned a blog? Lots. Remember DCL (Denise Cleaning Lady)? She was with us for 3 years. One cold and windy Friday I arrived home to find "foot shaped keychain" on the table with NO attached farewell note. I was the happiest person on earth.

Why? It all comes down to do you "divorce" a cleaning lady when their title virtually is an oxcymoron? In simple terms... they don't clean. It's not that easy. There are factors that surround hiring someone to come into your home on a weekly basis who intertwine with your most personal belongings. There is also a trust that comes with having a stranger touch "your shit". We are fortunate enough to have the means to hire an external party to take care of our home. This is one luxury I can't seem to do without. You see...I hate cleaning but I love CLEAN. I also seem to sustain an injury when I try to clean. Last week I vacuumed and pulled my back out. As it is hazardous to my health to perform cleaning duties I'm opting to have someone else step in. So what happened after life with DCL? I went on a search....a search for Hazel (Shirley Booth). A cleaning lady extraordinaire circa 1961 for the house that contains my grown children who love living in our hotel.

Step one: post an ad on Facebook
Step two: interview the prospective HSB's (Hazel-Shirley Booths)
Step three: give HSB your "foot keychain"
Step four: Pray that HSB shows up on "your day"

Hazel (1) showed up on a snowy day in early December. There is always house training involved on the first day. Hazel (1) was a small woman (from Italy) whose sister worked across the street from our home. She arrived in a gold chevy blazer which was a nice touch. This is the first Hazel that had her own wheels. No need to pick her up at the bus stop and no excuses that there was no subway service on "my day". She was interviewed by FO, MO and YO and it seemed that they were compatible. I toured the house with her, showed her where all the cleaning supplies were and promptly left the house in her hands for the next 2 months. What transpired over those 8 weeks was this....her payment was left on the kitchen table....she arrived in the morning to retrieve it and left 3 hours later with lots o cash in her pocket. What she did in-between the retrieval and the departure could only be described as this... SFA (Sweet F'K All). How did we know this? Well, for instance there was dirt on top of dirt which made everything around the dirt look dirty. Hazel (1) was asked to return her "foot key" and the search was on again. Shirley? Where are you?

A friend of mine at work suggested that I try their "Hazel". She illustrated her attributes by stating that she is not only a "Hazel" but she runs her own "Hazel" cleaning company - business cards and all. I called to book a "house assessment"....yes...she had to do an initial assessment of the house BEFORE she would agree to take on the task of becoming Hazel (2). She hailed from Venezuela and arrived in a large blue van equipped with a host of cleaning supplies. Hazel (2) A.K.A. Princess Grace - Columbian Drug Runner and Housekeeping Services. When she arrived at the house she informed me that she doesn't work alone. She has a team of expert "runners" that assist her with the tasks at hand. As she walked briskly through the house opening and closing closet doors, kitchen cupboards and shower doors she mumbled heavily accented words out loud. From what I could make out she was saying..."Jesus, my Lord - Oh my G-d". She then stated that DCL and Hazel (1) were obviously not cleaning the house they were just coming in to steal the money I had left for them on my kitchen table each week. Was she wrong about that? No.

She sat down at my table and opened her client book (yes...Hazel (2) came with a day planner). "HMMMM WELLA FEERSTA I HADDA CLEAN HA DA HOWZ AND ORGANEYZ AND DEN I COME HA BACK AND WE CLEAN HA HAGAIN TO MAKE HA NICE ON THE WEEKLY. Did you get that? Okay...first organize and then clean on a weekly basis. How much is THE ORGANEYZ I ask?


At this point STEVEHA almost passed OUT as he was leaning near the STOVEHA but I ignored him and was willing to hand over the CASHA. I was so excited to have the house cleaned and organized by "experts" it was a treat that was long overdue. SHIRLEY (The Columbian) BOOTHA had finally arrived to CHANGE HA my life HA.

She scheduled me in for Friday and gave us strict instructions to clear out any items that were of no use before she began her magical mystery tour through our home. Friday arrived and YO was the only one home to greet the TEAM of RUNNERS as they began their day. They rang the bell, he opened the door and they knocked him out of the way as they entered the house.

This was the scene decribed by YO via blackberry messenger:

YO: "Mom"?
MOM: "Yes baby"
YO: "Mom, there are three Columbians running through our house raping our rooms"
MOM: "Pardon"?
YO: "Mom, I don't know what they are doing but it looks like the contents of each room are being emptied into bags".
MOM: " You must relax....they are cleaning and organizing...just wait...I am sure you will be very surprised as to how wonderful the results will be".
YO: "Uh...okay...but I am scared to be here with them".
MOM: "Why"?
YO: "Well, they look sketch and one of them is a guy"
MOM: "Stop worrying...I am going back to work...speak soon, love you"

One hour later.....
YO: "Mom"?
MOM: "Yes"?
YO: "Mommy...come home"
MOM: "Why"?
YO: "You will see why when you come home"
MOM: "What"?
YO: "Just come home...I don't think you will like it".
MOM: "What won't I like"
YO: "Stuff"
MOM: "What stuff"
YO: "Stuff that is moved"
MOM: "Moved where"
YO: "Just come home"
MOM: " need to chill...I will be home around 5 and I'm bringing food...don't want to mess up the kitchen".
YO: "Okay...see you soon...but hurry".

At this point it is 5 p.m. Steve has arrived home from work and I get a call from him as I am walking to my car. "When are you coming home"? he asks. "I will be there soon honey, is everything okay"? I answer. "NO!" he replies. "What do you mean NO...what happened?" I ask. "You will see when you get here", he answers. 

I rush into OPA - a fast food Greek chain to pick up our take-out souvlaki dinners and throw the bags in the trunk as I peel out of the parking lot to make my way home to my newly reorganized house. As I approach the driveway and open the garage door I notice seven ( yes, 7) green garbage bags placed beside the recycling boxes. What could they have possible put in those bags that was either constituted as garbage or recycling? I ignored them for the time being and entered the house, purse in one hand, souvlaki dinners in the other. As I stepped in I was greeted by 3 out of 4 raving maniacs. Two of the maniacs I had given birth to and one I was married to. The other biological child (MO) was tucked away in his room. I will explain why later. Maniac (1) - Steve was just running down the stairs to inform me that the "CDR'S" (Columbian Drug Runners) had completely torn apart our room and closet. They had touched HIS clothes and moved them to different locations inside the closet. Places that were not convenient for Maniac (1) to reach. He had spent the last 45 minutes reorganizing the reorganized cupboard and was shvitzing (sweating) like a toreador in a bullring. Enter Maniac (2) - YO. He is holding a garbage bag filled with odds and sods from his room. Considering his room is always the tidiest it was hard to imagine that there were enough odds and sods to fill a bag. He looked devasted as he reached inside only to find shards to broken glass. Glass later identified to be from a picture frame with held a photo of him and his grandfather on a fishing trip. When Princess Grace was asked about the glass she denied breaking anything of the sort. Enter Maniac (3) - FO. FO was frantically looking for his stuff. What stuff? Just stuff. Stuff that was tossed out of his room and placed in the garage. I threw the souvlaki dinners on the counter and went to the garage to haul in the seven bags from the mystery tour. As I laid out newspapers on the floor in the living room and emptied each bag onto to the floor this is what I discovered:

Prescription Drugs
Chachkas (Yiddish Term for: Trinkets)
Non-Perishable Food Items
and other Stuff (mostly FO'S) (Specifically his religious (holy) t-shirt that he wears night and day while he plays video games, sleeps, eats and does general tasks around the house) It can only be described as a shirt with a collar hanging on by a thread and two armpit holes that provide for air conditioning...comfy and fashion forward for a 24 year old single guy.

As we organized our belongings again and searched for items that had disappeared or were displaced I figured out what the motive is behind Princess Grace Housekeeping and (Drug Runners). They come, they organize, they come back and remove the reorganized material and ship it to their relatives in Venezuela.
And the question remained...was the house clean after they left? Here's the answer, it was cleaned - CLEANED OUT. We are still looking for items that have been misplaced, displaced or need to be replaced. YO was right. We were victims of house raping. Enter MO. Rembember he was the only one to not earn one of those Maniac titles? MO is clever. Very very clever. He had watched HOME ALONE a few too many times. His plan worked flawlessly by barricading all his personal belongs inside his cupboard with his golf bag. When the Runners arrived in his room all that they were able to do was dust.

It was time to search for Shirley Booth again.

I put an APB (All Points Bulletin) out in the community. I stalked bus stops for exiting passengers who looked like potential Hazels. I called my bosses wife to inquire about her Hazel. She came through for me. What I wasn't expecting was HAZEL the RUSSIAN direct from Moskow via Bathurst and Steeles. Okay so it was worth a try...I was desperate and my back was starting to hurt again just looking at the vacuum cleaner. Hazel (3) started out on a good note. She arrived on my doorstep smelling like cigarettes and Final Net extra hold hairspray. I was praying that Hazel (3) the Russian would not be using any flammable products while cleaning. Day one was not too bad. She managed to clean the newly reorganized house without any issues....with the exception of Nikki and Tiffany. The following week I received a phone call from H(3)R.

The conversation went like this:
"YES H(3)R"?

and so she did, for another two weeks while in my house she tried anything she could to accidently lose the cats. During the day she would open all the doors and windows (to air out the house) in the middle of winter. Either they would freeze or they would escape. That was her masterplan. Along with her masterplan of getting rid of our pets she also became forgetful. She FORGOT to clean.

Two weeks ago she informed YO that she was going on vacation to the DR (Dominican Republic). Hazel (3) Russian returned last Monday...only to find that the cats were still both alive. I returned home to find my "foot key" on my stairs. No note, no goodbyes, only an explanation.....H(3)R was not returning due to a severe allergy to the cats and CLEANING.

I'm still longing and searching for Shirley Booth.....but I think I found her at Bagel World. I hired a Phillipino Ex-Nanny who charges more than the Columbian Drug Running Team. She works by the hour and stays for too many. I made a decision with Hazel (4), when I do make the move to give her a key I'm replacing the chain. Perhaps one in the shape of a boot?

 It will have the same effect at departure time. One way or another one of us will get the boot.