GALLOPIN’ GRANDMA: Summer Visitors

By on June 28, 2016

Who invited these people anyway?

It’s 1920 and Grandma’s relatives have come for a visit... Grandma threw them out. If they come to your house, call the cops. (Photo: Gallopin’ Grandma)

It’s 1920 and Grandma’s relatives have come for a visit… Grandma threw them out. If they come to your house, call the cops. (Photo: Gallopin’ Grandma)

JACKSON HOLE, WY – It’s the time of the year again when spring has sprung and summer has arrived and with it that seasonal nightmare known as “people who come to visit.” If you live any place that’s fun, you will most likely be slammed by a stampede of relatives, friends, friends of friends, old roommates and people you don’t even know. They will arrive, suitcases in hand, expecting to be wined, dined, entertained and housed at your expense of course. Don’t be surprised if a tour bus drives up and everyone gets off.

I happen to live in a fun area, but I have very few relatives and none that want to have anything to do with me, so it’s not a problem. My friend, LaWanda, in my hometown of Corn Cob, Iowa, has a summer cottage (shack) on scenic Lake LaMud. Every summer her mother-in-law arrives and launches a barrage of complaints about the sand, the bugs, the food, her daughter-in-law, and the rising damp. The fact that she’s at a lake eludes her. LaWanda says one more crab and she’s out. I told her to put the old biddy on an ice floe and send her floating away, but there are no ice floes on Lake LaMud in the summer.

When I was growing up in Corn Cob, not a known fun site, we had very few visitors, but my father had a couple of relatives who thought it would be great fun to show up unannounced and shout, “Surprise, we’re here!” My mother would shout, “Surprise, get out!” She was not a gracious hostess.

My mother’s allergy to visitors was due to her childhood in the wilds of Nebraska. Her parents were missionaries who thought it was their Christian duty to take in every loser who came to their door. The rescued fallen would move in, eat everyone out of house and home and politely lift their feet while my grandmother scrubbed the floor on her hands and knees. There were times when my mother woke up to find strangers in bed with her, that is, when she wasn’t sleeping on a couple of chairs because one of the saved was sleeping in her bed. There is a poem that goes, “Let me live by the side of the road and be a friend to man.”

My mother said, to hell with that.

We did have a rather surprising and uninvited guest at our house this summer. My daughter comes from Arizona every summer and parks her car in front of the house. About five or six weeks after she came I heard her hollering that a cat was climbing into her engine. She said she saw a tail hanging out but I thought the neighborhood cats weren’t adventurous enough to climb inside the engine.

The next day a neighbor called to say a strange creature was crawling out from under her car and it had a fuzzy tail. After we stopped screaming and screeching, we decided it was not a cougar or grizzly bear, but a pack rat, or Pachius Ratticus. They love to live in car motors and eat the wiring. We found a nest on top of the battery containing cactus blossoms, which meant that Ratticus had come all the way from Arizona, probably for the weather.

After screaming some more, we put out a live trap baited with peanut butter but all we caught was Frank, the cross-eyed cat from across the street. We then assembled more lethal options, but someone suggested Irish Spring soap. We didn’t have to give him a bath but pack rats don’t like the smell. We shoved a couple of bars into the motor, and after a couple of screeches and “holy craps” the rat packed up and moved out.

We don’t know where he went and I never did see him, which was OK because I would still be screaming and running, probably crossing the state line by now. LaWanda tossed her mother-in-law out after she complained about sand in the food for the last time. If you happen to see a crabby old lady and furry rat thumbing a ride on I-15, don’t stop. Just throw some Irish Spring soap at them and keep going. PJH

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