Monday, February 23, 2009

I haven’t abandoned you! Really! It’s just that this week has been beyond hectic!

Having a new puppy in the house is a lot like having a new baby, especially in the sleep department. Puddin’ is still getting up in the wee hours, but it seems to be more related to being cold than anything else. She gets out of her bed to go potty and the tile floors are really cold at 5 am, so she comes to the bathroom door and whimpers for rescue. Most mornings she is shivering when I open the door for her, and she snuggles down with me in the bed and goes right back to sleep. But it still interrupts my sleep. So on top of everything else, I am walking around sleep-deprived and not a little punchy!

We live near a vlei, so vermin are a fact of life here. The insects here are huge and more aggressive than I am accustomed to…when was the last time you had a 2 inch long cockroach run AT you in broad daylight?? we have an exterminator come out every six months and spray, which has worked out very well. Since my allergy to cats has gone out of control, we can’t keep a mouser, which is how I kept my mouse population to zero in California, so we occasionally have to deal with mice. Until last week, some Rattex…a kind of poison pellet…in a plastic feeding contraption was working fine. We’d put some out when we found mouse droppings and in a day or two a dead mouse would present itself for disposal. The good news was that they seemed to prefer nesting in my study, which is not actually inside the house, so they never got into the kitchen. The bad news is that they didn’t stay there.

Early last week Thandiswe made a loaf of bread and put it on the counter on a rack to cool, a kitchen towel draped over it. When she came back later to bag the bread, she removed the towel and found the crust on one side had been chewed away! We quickly mobilized and filled and distributed the Rattex feeders, expecting the problem to be resolved quickly. No such luck.

Over the course of the next few days a plastic bread bag was chewed through and more bread eaten, the Rattex feeders pushed around…one flipped up on end, another actually pushed off the kitchen counter…and I actually surprised the creature as it climbed up the cord from behind the refrigerator! I didn’t see it, but the sounds were unmistakeable. I switched to a more serious bait…one feed and death! the packet advertised…but Mr. Mouse simply wouldn’t succumb. Finally, in frustration, I called my bug guy, Han, and asked if he could help. He hurried over and put out some poisoned grain and some little gel cakes, cautioned me to keep the dogs away from it, and then made the pronouncement I, in the back of my mind, was dreading. There were no droppings around, despite nearly a week of infestation and multiple feedings…he thought it was not a mouse, but a rat!

A rat! OMG! My personal take on things is that having mice in your house can be a thing caused by outside circumstances rather than unclean personal habits…drought will drive field mice into nearby neighbourhoods, construction on nearby sites will do the same. But rats are for people who are dirty and low rent and living in decaying neighbourhoods. OK…it’s irrational, I know, but I have a greater horror of harbouring a rat than a mouse, and now I am one of those low-rent people with a rat in her house!!

So, two days later, Thandiswe is cleaning the kitchen and calls me out. The refrigerator badly needed a cleaning…it had that funky “something in the back of the fridge is past its sell-by date” smell, so I set her to work cleaning and deodorizing it. She had finished the cleaning but the smell lingered, She took out the trash but still the smell lingered. She removed the spare oven rack from beside the refrigerator and peered into the narrow gap and called me. Sure enough, there, between the fridge and the cupboard was a dead rat, stinking up the place, Gross! Gross! Gross!

So, chasing after a puppy and trying to paper train it is a full time job. Hubby, dear man that he is, allows me free reign in training and disciplining Puddin’ while he takes a strong hand in entertaining her, For Valentine’s Day he decided to take us both out to dinner at our favourite tapas restaurant, as they have outside seating in a lovely courtyard with a fountain. I dressed her in the new harness I had made for her, packed her in her puppy purse, and we headed out for our 7 pm…just dusk…reservation. She was a little darling! She slept through most of it but when she was awake, she sat in my lap and took little bites of chicken from my fingers.

We got home about 9:15 and while Hubby prepared to pill the old dog (who is now on a daily dose of Prednisone), I headed for the bathroom to put Puddin’ down on her puddle pad. She is very good about not going in her tote bag. I put my purse on the kitchen counter, took two steps towards the bedroom and stopped, Something was amiss. Suddenly, I realized that I was looking at the back of our big screen TV standing in the hallway leading to the bedroom! We were interrupting a burglary!!

They didn’t get away with much…two watches, a camera, two laptops, and some gold and silver hoop earrings, a few other small items. They didn’t get the TVs or entertainment system, sound system, or the expensive jewellery. But they totally ransacked the house…we don’t think they had gotten to the kitchen yet, as it looked normal…dumping out the contents of all the cupboards and closets in what we think was a search for a safe. Sorry, dudes…that was pried out of the wall by the 2005 thieves and never replaced.

We called our security company and the police, but we couldn’t figure out how they got in! We have burglar bars over every window in the house that can be opened, The patio is surrounded by decorative iron fencing, making it look like a gazebo, but protecting the vulnerable sets of French doors. None of the bars were damaged, none of the doors were broken in…we could not figure out how they got into the house.

Hubby walked around outside with the security people, torches (flashlights) in hand while I went upstairs to figure out how they got to the big TV…there is a heavy-duty decorative iron gate at the top of the stairs and I was afraid I might have forgotten to close it last time I was up there. Our discoveries were shocking.

Hubby and the security guard found the point of entry…the thieves had actually removed a fixed window pane from the frame by chipping out the putty holding the glass in place. They removed the glass and set it aside and then crawled into the house (the window was at ground level, one of several in a column of windows from floor to ceiling) on their bellies like the snakes they are. Through this window they were able to hand out small items like the laptops, but they couldn’t get the big screen TV out this way. There is evidence that they tried to break the burglar bars on the window immediately above their access point, as the metal is slightly bent and there are gouge marks on the window frame. We suspect their intent was to remove those bars, break the wood crossbar, and create an opening through which the big screen could pass.

My discovery was that I had, indeed, closed and locked the upstairs gate: they had broken the lock. When my ironmonger, Davey, came the next day to survey the damage and measure us up for new, improved burglar bars, he took the lock out of its case and took it to a locksmith to get a replacement. The locksmith said that the thieves could only have done this damage to the lock with a chisel and heavy hammer, and that they had obviously worked on it for quite some time. So, these guys came with house breaking tools…not a couple of kids just getting into mischief.

We obviously interrupted them…the bedroom TV was unplugged and removed from its armoire and standing on the bedroom floor next to the breached window, its remote apparently pocketed as we cannot find it. The big screen was on the floor in the downstairs hallway rather than on its stand in the upstairs lounge: its remote was found in our downstairs bedroom, on the bookcase near the bed. My guess is that one of them was working on a way to get the bars off the bedroom window to permit egress of the big screen, the other one was sitting on Hubby’s side of the bed (the remote was found on the bookcase there) rifling through the odds and ends of stuff he keeps there, looking for valuables.

Interestingly, they opened his jewellery box and took two watches, but left four behind: two old collectable watches (one an Omega), a Citizen and a Seiko. They also ignored two pairs of cufflinks, one of them Mont Blanc. The didn’t touch a drawer full of DVDs or a stack of CDs. They took cheap ($7 to $90 in value) earrings and left behind a charm bracelet watch with a diamond set in the face and trendy, chunky sterling silver jewellery. We believe we interrupted them, as they were obviously still working on a way to get the big screen out, but I find myself wondering if they were pros or just chancers…they had pro tools and got in like pros, but obviously did not recognize items of significant value and took stuff of little or no value.

We have numerous windows that do not have bars over them because they are fixed windows…now Hubby is nervous that these guys will come back to finish the job we interrupted. They know what is in here, they know where it is, and they know how to get in. Until Davey gets the new bars installed (which will protect those windows as well) and new, improved locks for the security gates, the house has to be occupied at all times. So, I’ve been a little preoccupied these last few days and not paying proper attention to the blog.

Hopefully, things will be back on an even keel again soon.

Oh…in the midst of all of this Hubby announced that we may have to move to Johannesburg in the next few months, so I also have had estate agents and rental agents out to look at our house, and been poring over the web looking for suitable accommodation in Joburg.

Life is never boring in this place!!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comments welcome! Anonymous comments are enabled as a courtesy for people who are not members of Blogger. They are not enabled to allow people to leave gratuitously rude comments, and such comments will not be published. Disagreement will not sink your comment, but disagreeable disagreement will.