Monday, February 13, 2012

Chalet Shenanigans - Chapter 9

 Cows Are One Thing, But Stone Martens are Something Else Entirely

The chalet continues to present me with one little surprise after another.  Not long after the cow episode, I was awoken in the night by a terrible racket somewhere up in the rafters.  I stumbled out of bed in my tights, sweat pants, two pairs of socks, camisole and sweat shirt, which is what I wear to bed here in the Alps because it is freakin’ freezing, and went exploring to see what fresh, new Hell had invaded the homestead.

OK, walk along with me here.  It’s dark.  It’s like, 2 a.m.  The noises are outside, thank God, because me and all of my nighttime attire, to which I had added a cozy pair of slippers and a down jacket, are inside.  Really, it sounds like something is gallivanting around and around the house, up above the level of my 5 foot 4 inch head.  It actually sounds like WHATEVER THE HECK THIS THING OR THINGS IS/ARE are using the decorative woodwork as a racetrack.

Quick like a bunny, I scamper back into the bedroom to wake Mr. Big.

Me:  Dude!  Wake up!  Chalet Ruisselet is under attack!

Mr. Big:  Hhhrrrmph.

Me:  Seriously, you need to get up.

Mr. Big:  Have these alleged attackers actually breached the ramparts?

Me:  Well, no.  But disaster is imminent!

He never even opened his eyes.  Knight in Shining Armor, indeed.  More like Knight in Snuggly Bedding.

I then proceeded to stalk the nocturnal intruders from window to window, but my only actual sighting was a bushy tail when it flashed around the kitchen window.

Ah, I thought to myself.  They are just squirrels.  Big, noisy, Alpine squirrels.  So, I went back to bed.

At first light, I was outside in the snow looking for tracks.  Of which there were many.  An alarming number.  And, they were kind of big.  Bigger than say, squirrels.  I pointed them out to Mr. Big but he was not impressed.  Trailing Spouse, he said, you live in the mountains where there is, by nature, a wide variety of flora and fauna.  Apparently you saw some fauna.  Get over it.

I made eye contact three nights later.  Directly outside the glass bedroom doors, playing around like they were at Chuck E. Cheese, were two weasel-like creatures with long, bushy tails.  I screamed like a girl and jumped up on the bed.

Y’all.  You know your husband is completely immune to your charms when you are jumping on his head and carrying on about vermin and he does not even roll over.  I guess we know who will end up defending whom if a serial killer ever breaks in.

Eventually, after my hissy fit, I climbed off the bed and ran into the dining room to consult The God of All Wisdom, i.e. Google.  I typed in “weasel-like Alpine native mammal”.  The very first link had an image of MY thing.  I screamed again.  Aaaaak!  That’s it!  What is that thing!

Mind you, it’s 3 a.m., I’m sitting at my dining room table and I’m talking to myself.  Y’all, I have a Stone Marten infestation.  And, get this, they are living down under the house where I made them a nice, cozy habitat of imploded fireplace stones!  Remember?!  Yeah, I did this to my own self.  Apparently, unbeknownst to me, I inadvertently constructed the Taj Mahal for Stone Martens.

Just now, at 9:17 p.m., I can hear them.  They come out at dusk and play around for about 5 hours and eat random birds, mice, small French children, whatever.  They skip around my rafters and run along my balconies and romp through my yard and then they crawl back up under my house and go to bed.  Yes.  That is what they do.  Google it.

I took some pictures yesterday of their tracks on my deck and of what I like to call The Stone Marten SuperHighway, which is the area of my yard right outside the Stone Marten Taj Mahal.  However.  Their days are numbered.  The God of All Wisdom has told me that mothballs work a treat for an infestation of “Le Martre”.  Now I just have to memorize the word for mothballs in French so I can go to the store,  buy some and annihilate these suckers.  Mr. Big owes me, uh, big.

Update:  After checking every home improvement/hardware/general store in two countries for my “boules de naphtaline”, I was finally told by some kind soul in the pesticide aisle, that my “boules” are only available in, wait for it, the Pharmacie.  Well, of course they are.  Why didn’t I think of that?  If full-strength bleach is a controlled substance, it makes sense that mothballs are considered a weapon of mass destruction and are not safe to be just left sitting around on any old shelf where the general public can easily get their hands on them.

I wonder if I will need a prescription to buy my little balls-o’-death?  We will soon find out because I was going to the Pharmacie today anyway for something for my HEADACHE which continues to worsen because I am on my THIRD DAY without running water.

Yes, the pipes at the chalet are frozen.  We are having a freak cold spell.  The temperature hasn’t risen above zero in two weeks.  I have been carrying big buckets of snow inside the house to melt so I can flush the toilets.  Just this morning, I inadvertently filled the coffeemaker with the bottle of water that has gas in it, (which actually tastes kind of good—I may be onto something here).

Anyway, I called Mr. Big in Jedda two days ago to tell him of my dilemma and to solicit solution ideas.

ME:  Hi, Mr. Big.  Whatcha doin’?

BIG:  I’m having dinner with the Sheik at his palace watching his harem dance and feed me grapes by hand.

ME:  That’s nice, honey.  My pipes are frozen.

BIG:  I do not think there is a safe answer to that remark.

Long story short, he recommended that I follow the water pipe from the furnace room into the crawl space, find the frozen section under the house and blow-dry it.  Apparently the dancing girls had befuddled Mr. Big’s brain because he forgot completely that the CRAWL SPACE is also known as THE STONE MARTEN TAJ MAHAL.

Like there was a chance in Hell that I was going up under the house armed with nothing but a blow dryer.  I will flush toilets with snow water until the spring thaw before I will go into that crawl space.

A call to the plumber in the valley resulted in a smug, French chuckle and a “we’ll put you on the list” sort of attitude because, apparently, everyone in a vast swath across Europe is in the same dilemma.  There are no showers happening in Europe right now, people.  Can you imagine what everyone will smell like by Sunday?  Oh, wait. . .

1 comment:

  1. This is very funny. The irony that you created the stone martens' home is especially amusing. I'm not sure how I found your site, but have been reading for a bit now and really enjoy your retelling of your adventures. Thanks for the smile today.