The problem with having two dogs, a cat, two ferrets and 11 hamsters is that cleaning up for visitors is a bit of an event. And things don’t always go as planned.
Last Thursday, my dad drove from Grand Rapids to our house in Haslett to take us out for dinner. The house was vacuumed, one bathroom cleaned and the place didn’t smell too barn-like except for one hamster cage. We’d already cleaned the other hamster cages, the start of which involves removing the hamster from its cage and putting it in a separate container for a few minutes.
Cage cleaning usually doesn’t take very long.
And usually in no time, the hamster or hamsters are back in their cage where they belong.
But last Thursday, we had a bit of a problem with one of the hamster cages. Three male hamsters were holed up in this captain’s nook or side container or whatever you want to call it, and that same plastic container was where the bad smell from their cage was coming from. As luck would have it, Dad walked in the door the moment we were trying to entice the male hamsters out of the container so we could finish cleaning. You might say Dad got a real nice whiff of hamster upon his arrival.
Dad then got to witness Mark and me both trying to talk three male hamsters into coming out of a stinky container. This was followed by Mark gently shaking the container, followed by one swear word and then, finally, the emergence of one hamster after another from the container. Finally, we cleaned up, returned the hamsters and sat down for a few minutes at the kitchen table to chat for a few minutes before going out to dinner. Moments after sitting down, I happened to look up at the ceiling and saw this.
And then I saw this.
In fact, there were 50-60 caterpillars crawling around on our dining room ceiling.
While I went off to get the vacuum cleaner, Mark stepped onto a chair and tried to remove a caterpillar from the ceiling with his hand. When the first caterpillar fell onto the floor, he said, “Oops. Not sure where that one went.” Then, without looking for the first one, he extracted another caterpillar and dropped it into the fish tank for his beloved discus fish. He went back up on the chair to extract one more bit of “living protein” for his discus fish before sitting down at the kitchen table.
“About the one you dropped on the floor?” I asked.
“Oh, he’ll crawl his way to the wall and up the ceiling and then we’ll get him.”
That idea seemed somehow unpleasant to me, so I got on my hands and knees and searched for the caterpillar without success. Then I sucked the remaining caterpillars off the ceiling one by one with the crevice tool. This took a good ten minutes, during which time Mark identified the source of the caterpillars: a 50-pound bag of sunflower seeds on the floor by our deck door. I had moved the bag inside because when I’d kept the seeds in a garbage can on the deck a raccoon kept knocking the lid off with a bang in the wee hours of the morning. The sunflower seed bag looked like this on the outside . . .
. . . And it looked like this on the inside.
I took the sunflower seed bag and put it in the garbage can outside, raccoon lid banging be darned.
With that, we could think of nothing else entertaining to gross Dad out, so we headed to a nearby Mexican restaurant. We’d just sat down when Dad pointed out some decorative beige dashes on the wall that he said looked a bit like the caterpillars on our ceiling. How lovely. When our food arrived Dad pointed out how the Mexican rice also looked caterpillar-like, too.
We had a nice dinner in spite of everything and headed home. Now, Dad is a rather meticulous guy when it comes to things like lawns and cars, and I’m quite certain that even considering my house cleaning failures, he was even more freaked out by the state of my car windshield as we headed home in the setting sun.
I was feeling low as an earthworm when we arrived home and sat down for some after dinner coffee. Mark had just taken his first sip when he noticed that one of the discus fish in the big tank was picking on another discus fish. This is not behavior Mark tolerates in his discus fish, so he grabbed a net and chased the bad discus fish around and around the tank, knocking over plants and stirring up the water. After several minutes, Mark nabbed the bad fish, placed it in a Ziploc bag and placed it in the Bad Fish Tank to acclimate. For those that haven’t followed the blog, the Bad Fish Tank already held a bad discus fish and numerous bad tetras.
With the bad discus fish separated from the good, Dad said it was time for him to go, so we stepped outside to see him off. I’d just gotten Little Dipper hooked up to her outside line and was about to hook Dusty up to his, when I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. I lunged for Dusty’s collar just as he lunged forward to run after the the neighbor’s two Labrador retrievers, trotting by without their leashes. Dusty apparently took exception to being surprised by two dogs off their leashes and he barked and growled like no other time before. I had to pick him and put him inside the house where he continued barking and clawed against the door as if rabid.
An hour later, I called my dad to make sure he got home and to thank him for dinner. I told him I was sorry about the hamster smell, the caterpillars on our ceiling, the bad state of my windshield, our discus fish fighting, and Dusty going crazy. His response: “I just consider that to be a normal visit at your house.”