Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Rats are back!

There is a real estate rule of thumb that you don’t want to put a lot of money into a house that will make it vastly different (more valuable) than the surrounding houses. Of course, my parents don’t make decisions based on rational thinking, so they sold the home they had in the Bay Area for 30+ years and bought this monstrosity here a few years back. Their Retirement Home. Complete with stairs that rival the Winchester Mystery House, an architectural design that makes it impossible to heat and cool efficiently, and to make it really, really special, it is on a narrow little road right off the frontage road of Interstate 80. The noise is constant, day and night. Just down the street is a major freeway exit, with its requisite multiple gas stations (I count 6), fast food entities, and other miscellaneous businesses that tend to cluster around freeway exits. Nothing remotely resembling a neighborhood. The road we are on is narrow, as I said, without sidewalks or a shoulder of any kind, and features a ditch on both sides that some of the homes have installed a pipe and covered. Most of the other houses are “modest” as they say. The neighbors think of my parents’ house as the Big House. When my parents first moved in, they held an Open House each Christmas for a couple years, acting like the newly landed lords of the manor, but instead of bonding with their neighbors it simply provided a way for the neighbors to satisfy their curiosity by poking around. When I moved in with my baby I squelched the idea. It was gross. No one misses it.

All of this would be bad enough, but just after my parents moved in, the little house next door went through an unofficial change of ownership. The hillbilly (their word, not mine) who had lived there ended up letting someone they were somehow related to move in and that cracker proceeded to “remodel.” What was once a little, slightly run down house on a weed filled lot now looks like what is left after a cyclone hits. The house and adjacent outbuilding are partially covered with plastic tarps. There is some chicken wire surrounding the porch. Huge piles of what looks like a combination of construction debris, garbage, tree branches, discarded parts and old broken appliances, odds and ends of lumber and cardboard boxes, and lots of unrecognizable junk fills the lot. The weeds have grown and there are bare patches of dirt and gravel, too, and – yes, litter (fast food wrappers, crap like that) strewn everywhere. M calls it the Trash House. Twice in the past, rats from next door have found their way into this house. Big rats. Aggressive Big Rats.

They are back.

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