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Have you ever wondered what an animal control professional like me does when he crosses paths with a wild animal acting strangely? Most likely you haven’t thought about it. But, if you have a minute, I’ll tell you a story about the large animal I encountered in the forest before the recent storms—and what I did about it.

I was hiking on a trail in broad daylight when I suddenly heard the swish, swish, swish of a big animal running on pine needles. Turning to look, I saw a bear running for the safety of the forest. That was a good thing. But bears come out at sundown and that was hours away. What was the animal doing? Curious, I followed its path and watched it for a short while. Then I started thinking.

“A bear out in daylight isn’t normal,” I thought, “and that animal could be sick or injured. Bear attacks are rare, but you never know. Better get away from this situation.” I headed in the opposite direction of the gentle giant, looking back every so often. Luckily, it didn’t follow me.

Our forest is a marvelous place to hike, bike and enjoy, but it’s not an amusement park and wild animals aren’t actors dressed in costumes. I advise everyone to maintain a healthy sense of respect when crossing paths with bears, coyotes, raccoons or, heaven forbid, a mountain lion. Wild animals don’t play by human rules. (Though a few humans play by wild animal rules, unfortunately.)

So what does an animal professional do when he crosses paths with a wild animal? He does exactly what most wild animals do when they cross paths with a human: quickly move away from danger.

Great minds, I’d like to think, run away alike.

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Hello, reader, how was your Thanksgiving? I hope yours was great because I spent mine getting mice out of my parent’s crawl space. So, after spending the summer battling pests, I ended up battling pests on my first vacation in months. You can always count on mice to ruin a good time.

Speaking of mice, have you ever noticed how dumb they are? We humans have been trapping them for millennia and you’d think that a Spartacus mouse would have risen up by now, but nope, they just keep bumbling into our traps. (Which means that one Kirk Douglas mouse missed his chance to get an Oscar and that’s just wrong.)

Mind you, incited by a fearless leader, a mouse army would be formidable. Imagine heading to your kitchen for a late night pumpernickel with muenster sandwich when suddenly you feel pinpricks in your ankles. You look down and see a platoon of mice shooting teeny arrows. You shoo them off with a broom and they retreat into your crawl space where their secret army base is located. I imagine they’d have walkie-talkies, but I’m not certain on that point.

I am certain, however, that the mouse rebels would have barracks and canteens that serve cheap grain alcohol made in tiny toilets, like prison hooch. Fights would break out and blood would spill. Lady mice of ill repute would be hanging around, wearing sparkly high heels and showing furry cleavage. I don’t know if I’d be fascinated by that or just plain disgusted.

Hey homeowners, are drunken soldier mice singing lewd songs in your crawl space? Are they running amok during your holiday celebrations? Then call Home Defenders and we’ll put down that rebellion like those Roman legions of old. Hail, Caesar! (Sure, he had his faults, but at least he was a human being.)

Finally, let me say this: Hurry up, Christmas, I need a vacation now!

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“Hey, look at that,” a gardener said to me, pointing up at a yellow blob of dried foam in the home’s eave where two roof lines met. “That stuff is worthless for keeping rats out of attics.”

“Not if you combine it with other materials to produce a greater effect— that’s called synergy,” I said. “By the way, I put that foam there.”

 “Oh, well, you know your business,” he said.

The “stuff” in question is that expanding polyurethane foam sold at hardware stores. I rarely use it to seal rodents out of homes, mainly because critters can chew through it like a kid through cotton candy, but also because it’s ugly. I’d offered to paint the foam black, but the homeowner shrugged his shoulders and said, “The Queen’s not coming for tea & crumpets. Just leave it the way it is.”

In the hands of an experienced pest professional, that foam can be a valuable tool. On this job, I’d first sealed the rodent entry hole where the two roof lines met with steel wool and wire mesh, then applied the foam over that. Why did I put the foam over the steel wool and wire? Because that vulnerable area is hard to inspect and if rats try to chew or dig their way back in, I’ll see the crumbly mess. In other words, the foam is an early warning light. 

The real secret to keeping rodents out of homes is creativity, cut and dried. If you hear scratching or running sounds in your walls or ceilings, you likely have rats or mice, so call us today for a free estimate. We’ll block the critters out and turn your home into a canvas by Picasso—a dab of steel wool here, a brush stroke of wire mesh there, and, for the pièce de résistance, a polyurethane cherry on top. Voila!

Buckingham Palace, here I come. 

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Boy, birds sure have fun flying in the sky, don’t they? What a life.

I’m on vacation in Yosemite National Park, taking a break from catching rats and removing dead raccoons from crawl spaces. I’m sitting on a sandy beach at Mirror Lake, watching two ravens fly high in the sky, riding the thermals. They’re playing a game where they glide effortlessly for a short spell, then fold their wings and dive bomb at a high speed, only to spread their wings and slowly circle back to where they started. After one bird finishes, the other follows. As far as I can tell, the pair are playing just for the fun of it. The simple pleasures in life are best.

As I look at the faces of the people around me, I see I’m the only one enjoying the poor man’s show of aeronautic mastery. Oh well, there are lots of grand sights in Yosemite, there’s no denying that.

Speaking of birds, do you know which ones do the most damage to mountain homes? Most homeowners know that woodpeckers are public enemy number one. If the flying hammer drills are targeting your home, call us today and we’ll find a solution to the noise pollution. The sooner you act, the better. A stitch in time saves nine—or a thousand!

Birds aren’t the only creatures wired for play. For there’s a rat catcher sitting on a sandy beach in Yosemite, wondering how he can use this raven sighting in his next article. Writing from scratch, just for fun, he starts with the opening line, then moves to the body of the work. That’s easy, because it’s all about the birds. Gaining steam, he dive bombs through the ad, then thinks up the closing paragraph that ties it all together. Basking in the glow and riding the thermals, the title just pops into his head out of the clear blue sky. She’s a winner, as usual. The best things in life are free.

Just ask any rich man.

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I just received an email from a reader commenting on my recent adventure dragging a dead raccoon from a crawl space. He wanted more stories about my “real man job.” Your wish is my command.

Just weeks ago, I had to exterminate a yellow jacket nest in a home’s wall void. My workers usually do that, but the customer needed help ASAP and my guys were booked. I asked my pest manager Gilberto for the power duster with the six-foot extension we use to inject insecticide dust into wall voids. He said it was broken. 

“How do you get rid of wasps?” I asked. “We just put on a bee suit and inject wasp freeze right into the entry hole,” he said nonchalantly.

“Don’t they attack you?” I asked. “Sure,” he answered, “but the suit protects us.”

“That’s still nuts!” I said. “What if they somehow get into the suit?”

Having no other options, I borrowed Gilberto’s suit. Arriving at the home, I saw yellow jackets going in and out of a marble sized woodpecker hole twelve feet up on the exterior siding. I nervously donned the clunky suit, grabbed a can of wasp freeze, then set up my ladder. “This is crazy!” I thought.

But the time had come. I climbed the ladder and jammed the wasp freeze into the hole and let ‘er rip. Sure enough, a few guardian wasps had seen me climbing the ladder and went on the attack. Then more wasps returning from the field joined the fray—I could hear their “thump-thump-thump” as they probed the suit for a flaw. My heart was racing. I quickly finished the job and hurried down the ladder—four out of five doctors recommend not fighting wasps while on a ladder. But the suit had worked. Whew!

I’ve never considered my work to be a “real man job,” but I appreciate the thought. This is your local manly guy, signing off and on his way to order a new power duster with the six-foot extension!

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Shh, readers, can I please have quiet… I’m hiking on a trail, eyeball to eyeball with a very cute animal and I don’t want to scare her off. She’s perched on a dogwood branch five feet from my face, looking right at me… her eyes are hypnotic… now she’s swiveling her head to the right, something has evidently caught her eye… she doesn’t seem afraid… seconds are ticking by but time is standing still… I hope she stays… now she’s turning her head back to me… our eyes are locked again. Hello, gorgeous. Oh no, she just flew off. Her wings didn’t make a sound. Whoooaahhh, today’s my lucky day!

It’s sundown and I’m on a trail behind Rim High School. I had just entered a low canopy of dogwood trees when I saw the flutter of wings over my left shoulder. I saw the silhouette of a bird landing on a branch in front of me and voila, there she was, resplendent as Marilyn Monroe at the Oscars. 

Ladies and gentlemen, she’s the femme fatale of the forest, may I present the pygmy owl. (Hold the applause please, she might come back.)

Hey homeowners, are pygmy owls and other predators not keeping your home rodent free? Then call us Home Defenders and we’ll swoop over for a free evaluation. Sure, we’re a team of butt ugly bug guys, but in our line of work, beauty doesn’t matter—we’re just good at what we do. (“Hey, man, speak for yourself!” say my employees.)

Well, that was a fun sighting—only in the mountains. I’ll be hiking in Big Bear tomorrow and who knows what I’ll see. And if you thought I drew out the suspense today, wait until I see a mountain lion. That’ll be a two-part article! (Unless he eats me for dinner.)

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What’s it like getting a dead raccoon from a crawl space? Nasty, very nasty.  

A customer called me, saying, “Mike, there’s a horrendous odor in my home. Help!” I jumped in my truck, dreading what I’d find. Arriving at the cabin, I saw the crawl space door hanging loosely by one hinge. Well, so much for all those articles I’ve written imploring people to check for openings around their home’s foundation. I put on a respirator, grabbed a flashlight, plastic trash bag and a small shovel, and headed into the crawl space.

Lying on my belly, I twisted and contorted my way into the low labyrinth of heating ducts and big rocks, kicking up dust in my wake. Halfway through, I slipped off my respirator and sniffed the air. The smell was stronger. I lifted my head to put the respirator back on and impaled my skull on a nail sticking through the subfloor. Ouch! Good thing my tetanus shots are up to date. Inching to the farthest corner of the crawl space—thanks, Murphy’s Law—I finally saw it. Lady luck was on my side. In some sense.

But the dead animal, host to hundreds of maggots, wasn’t leaving without a fight. Still lying on my belly, I used my left hand for balance while I used my right to shovel the decaying animal into the plastic bag. That’s harder than it sounds, but maybe that sounds hard enough. As I got the corpse on the shovel, even wearing my respirator, the stench was intense. Miraculously, I managed to wedge the animal into the bag. Mission accomplished! I would have breathed a sigh of relief, but I was holding my breath.

Ten grueling minutes later, dragging my prize behind, I crawled back into the California sunshine. Thankfully, no one saw me gagging and coughing up dust. I was just doing my job, defending homes from Mother Nature’s army of furry invaders. I was just a professional exterminator.

That’s a good thing to be.

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(Due to space constraints, we now join this “mind trip” already in progress.) Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Mike Nolan and I’ll be your captain on this journey to the center of creative mind.  We’re almost ready to get going, so please fasten your crash harnesses and put on your oxygen masks. While you’re waiting, here are some common questions about the trip:

>>What do I need for this conceptual journey? All you need is my book, A Rat Catcher’s Guide to Creative Inspiration.

>>What will we find at the center of creative mind? Well, it’s a world that changes constantly, but here’s what I expect we’ll see: mice eat cats as bats play along; nectar gathers bees in clouds of birdsong. Adults lie low, children hold the power—they go to bed at such ungodly hours! Pleasure is forever, while pain is unknown. (Except in the wheat fields, where sweet corn is grown.) There’s ginger bee stingers, and burgundy bird calls—imagine the circus, the madness of it all!

>>What if I get lost in your neural clusters and can’t find my way back to my own? Don’t worry, at the end of the book I lay down a path, much like the Yellow Brick Road, so you’ll have no trouble finding your back way home. (Warning: keep moving, don’t dawdle in the wheat fields.)

  What folks are saying about the book:

  • If you’ve ever wanted to see what happens when a man doggedly insists on marching to the beat of his own drum, then read this book —Popular Fads and Trends Blogzine
  • I say, this book makes a fine coaster for a cup of tea, which may be an Assam of India, or perhaps a Darjeeling, which is equally lovely, if I may say so myself —The March Hare (overheard talking to Alice)

A Rat Catcher’s Guide to Creative Inspiration is available on Amazon. Creative inspiration is available wherever children play.