We moved Memorial Day weekend. Packed the truck Saturday, drove Sunday, and arrived late Memorial Day evening. We unloaded all of our belongings into the outbuildings the next day, and spent the next week living in a hotel, and trying to figure out where to start.
The first thing at the very top of our list turned out to be the termites. Evidently they are quite common in this area, especially for older houses - so it wasn't all that surprising that the little critters had begun munching on our house after sitting empty for a few years. It was vital that we put a stop to them as quickly as possible.
The way to get rid of termites involves sealing off the entire house with a massive tent, and then pumping the tent full of toxic termite-destroying gas. The termite man just happens to live around the corner from us, and upon meeting him, I found him strangely reminiscent of General Lee. He had a short white mustache and beard, and he talked with a very slow Southern drawl (sometimes foregoing the occasional 'r') and for someone so pesticidal, he really couldn't have had a kinder disposition.
|(So maybe he looked less like Robert E. Lee, |
and more like Robert Duvall portraying Robert E. Lee...)
We left the neighborhood for the 24 hours that were needed, but not before stopping by the old house - just to see what it looked like completely draped in big black tarps. It was definitely something to see. The next morning, we received a heart-sinking phone call from General Lee (or at least his termite-killing doppelgänger). Evidently the neighbor right behind us had pinned a note to the tent, stating that she was missing a few cats, and a litter of kittens. She believed that they might be under the house, and requested that we bring the bodies to her if we found any...
Later that day, the tent came off, and true to our fears - there was indeed a cat under the house. Thankfully only one, and no sign of kittens, but we had killed a cat. (Thankfully the kittens turned out to be safe elsewhere.) The termite man was truly devastated - he said he hadn't slept at all the night before, he felt so awful about it. But, he placed the said cat's remains in a bag behind the garage, and forgot about delivering it by the time he went home. So that sad task was left to my dad and brother. They dreaded it... "Hi, we're your new neighbors - here's your dead cat" was not at all our planned introduction. But, by the time Dad dug a hole, and Joe found a suitable box, and "Patches" was given a proper burial - we had two very special new friends.
The cat's owner is a very sweet middle-aged lady who lives with her mother who is halfway through her 80's. She is truly the neighborhood patron of feral cats, and has gradually tamed many of them. Thankfully she still had numerous other ones about, but Patches had been a special favorite. Since then, she as well as her mother (who likes to be called "Bit") have become some of our dearest, most treasured friends. They are such a blessing to us. We never know when Bit will show up at our backdoor with her walker for a visit.
And that's how termites, General Lee, and poor Patches all had a hand in introducing us to our backyard neighbors. The little guy didn't die in vain.