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Rodents, Roaches, Reptiles and Resilience

By Donna Fentanes

Well, here we are in the east East Bay. We’ve rented a nice four bedroom house. Not a place I thought I’d ever live, but, alas, here is where He has led us. And Amen to that.

I knew I’d be facing torrid temperatures, but I was confident in all of the AC systems at work and at home. I knew I may be facing adverse attitudes from children about the extreme relocation; however, our new place has had surprisingly nice blessings. My son has found a very sweet girlfriend who lives down the street, and my youngest is pretty happy at the local high school. I’m close enough to all my grandchildren and see them on a regular basis. My job is not only challenging but also pays well. My desire to move northward yet remains. That I will rest in the Lord’s hands, rather than wrest it from His hands, which is normally my modus operandi.

However, what I did not consider — what I did not even anticipate, nor even think about — was the indigenous creature population of this region. I thought maybe roaches and was kinda worried because I’m not the greatest housekeeper, but rats, reptiles, little ants that bite?? Yikes! The roaches over here are giant and will play dead for a second, but if you move, they scurry away to some nearby hideout. Only a few have come into the house; they mostly stay outside or in the garage. An agreed détente.

When I first looked at the house, I noticed some rodent activity. I brought my concerns to the property manager, and she assured me that steps were being taken to mitigate the problem. Because I was so excited to be able to afford a four-bedroom house and finally have my own room, I took a step of faith and signed the lease agreement. First night, though, we had visitors. I saw the evidence the next morning. I called the property manager right away, and she sent the exterminator. Problem solved, right?

The rodents had been gnawing under the kitchen cabinets, and one night — the first night I was all alone — I went into the kitchen late for some warm milk and I heard the gnawing. Ugh! I texted my daughter and asked if I could come over there to Martinez, since I was a big wimp. She responded that everyone was asleep. So, instead of disrupting my oldest’s household, I manned up and put on my Éowyn face. Éowyn wouldn’t be scared of some rats. She fricking faced the Nazgûl. I can do this, and I did. I called the property management the next day, and for now, our problem has been abated.

I am a jumpy kinda person, much like the hare I relate to. Well, I have a friend who keeps me on my toes. His name is Frankie, and he is a lizard who lives in the front yard. His mission in life is to see how high I can jump when coming from the car. I don’t even walk on the walkway anymore becaause he has taken over like he owns the place. Come on, Frankie, give me a break! Evidently, Frankie has friends.

Rats, roaches, even lizards are creatures I am sort of familiar with. What I never imagined, never anticipated, were rattlesnakes. Yep, a rattlesnake. Right at the start of shelter in place, I came home for lunch one very warm Friday. Work had been stressful as the district and our office were managing how to do school in the new normal. I parked my car, got out, did the Frankie dance and, voila, there’s a snake at the front door. Whattt!!!??? I looked close and heard a little rattle. A rattlesnake, are you kidding me?? I immediately called the girls and told them not to open the door. I called the property manager, but no response. I texted people. One colleague said to call animal control, which I did. While waiting in the 90+ degree heat for animal control, Frankie came out to taunt me. Not a good time, Frankie. Give me a break!

I texted my boss, and told him I wasn't coming back that day. I waited over two hours for animal control’s 45-second visit, during which time he grabbed the snake, bucketed it and went along his merry way. I went inside and, no doubt, ate carbs and watched movies for the rest of the weekend. I don’t even really remember.

These creatures sure have wreaked havoc on my nervous system, but I am acclimating to this new environment. I’m mindful now that when I go into the garage I may run into a bug or two. I’m not ignorant that I must co-exist with my geography and its inhabitants, so I have developed some resilience and am not so jumpy anymore. If I see a roach, I don’t scream or call for my son, I grab the broom and sweep it outside or pick up a handy bazooka and blast it into eternity. When I go into the backyard, I don’t anticipate seeing deer like I did at the old house or a little bunny, but dead rats or, perhaps, a lion, tiger or bear. Oh my!

— Donna Fentanes

Donna Fentanes is a mom of many kids who is also a blogger, self-published writer and novice photographer.

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