Have you ever had one of those days when you’re just minding your own business, sitting on the sofa and whammo, something weird happens? Well, I have. The other day that was exactly what happened when I began to hear weird sounds coming from inside the fireplace chimney. Those weird sounds reminded me of an incident that happened maybe 20 years ago when we came home from holidays to a bit of a horrific scene that was a bit reminiscent of a Quentin Tarantino movie, or maybe even a Walt Disney Movie, (why yes Bambi, your mom has been murdered by hunters, time to grow up!)
On this particular day many years ago, we came home to find that some poor, stupid young bird had blundered down the chimney and right into our living room. Of course, that probably wouldn’t have been too bad for the little avian invader except that we have a cat. The feline protector that owned us at the time was named Chenille and she took her duties to us and the cat community very seriously indeed. So seriously that she considered all of our personal property dispensable when it comes to repelling invaders, what a ruckus that must have been! Lamps knocked over, something like that movie with the famous song, “we are Siamese, if you please, and even if you don’t please.”
I imagine the poor bird must have eventually surrendered to thirst or hunger and tried to swoop in and sample the cats water or food dish that was being replenished often by my wife’s sister (in case you were wondering) and with a quick pounce that was the end of that, squab a’ la carte, with little left over!
So the other day when I heard the sounds of what could only be a bird in the chimney, I glanced around for our latest fuzzy wonder, Mischief, or Missy as we call her when she is occasionally being good. No cat bungler in sight, so I sat back to listen and wonder why it is that chimney cap designers and wasp trap designers share the same tricks designed to trap inside whatever happened to blunder in.
After a few minutes of flapping around sounds, all went quiet, “good, I thought, this particular birdy is a bit smarter than the last intruder, no need for heroics on my part. No breaking out of the ladder, no rappelling down the confined space in my Santa suit, no embarrassing reindeer messes on the roof-tops, what a relief.”
I didn’t give it another thought…….until the next day.
My wife, Rose got up a bit earlier than I did that morning and practically the first thing she said to me was, “can you do something? Missy has been trying to get into the fireplace all morning, she knocked over the fireplace screen and she thinks there is something in the fireplace.”
“What do you need me for? Was my inner response, "why is it my job to kill the big hairy spiders that occasionally crawl out of the drain and to deal with whatever is caught in the chimney? Don't we live in an enlightened society (sort of)?" Then why does she get all, “somebody help me, you’re so big and strong and handsome, please do something, there’s a ferocious weasel trapped in the chimney and you learned all about how to deal with that in pre-marital counseling or boy scouts or something, right honey?”
Of course, I’m not so dumb that I would say anything like that out loud, no sir’ee, Mrs. Petry didn’t raise me to be so foolish. So what I actually said was, “of course, I’ll take care of it.” And that’s what I did, I proceeded to take charge, making life or death snap decisions like I was born to it!
“Ok, I’m going to open the patio door, we’ll put the fireplace screen here, blocking the way so it doesn’t go further into the house, Rose, you stand here and don’t let it get past you. Ok, all ready, I’ll open the damper and see what happens.”
I grabbed the handle of the damper and gritting my teeth, gave it my best Chuck Norris move. Wham, a giant cloud of soot and ash billowed out of the chimney……along with a very sooty, bedraggled, startled looking little sparrow. He, or she, took one very quick look around, didn’t like what it saw and flew straight out the patio door. Crisis averted, yay, Mr. Dad saves the day.
A second later and floompph, another cloud of soot and ash, and another very sooty, bedraggled, startled looking little sparrow, looking very much like a sort of befuddled looking miniature crow. That didn’t last long though and then it was, zoom zoom zoom, right out the window after his buddy.
“What is this, a convention?” I thought to myself. “Any more of you up there?”
Rose and I looked at each other and laughed out loud, “that was weird, she said. I think Mischief saved the lives of those birds!”
A sparrow takes a bath in our backyard pond.
It thought about that, if she rescued those birds, I imagine it was quite by accident, because if they were here right now, and even covered in soot and ash, I think she would gobble them up in a second, very much like Sylvester the cat and Tweety bird.
As I reached up to close the damper again, my eye was drawn to a broken tile on the hearth, “oh no, I put those tiles in myself 20 years ago, now one is broken, great!”
Angry, of course not, (ha ha) I wasn't angry, just disappointed that I was going to have to replace one tile for sure and if I know my wife, and I do, probably all of the tiles, and the mantle, and the trim, and I suppose this would be a good time to repaint the walls and scrape off that icky popcorn ceiling and build a garage!
“Might as well just move and get it over with.”
"Huh?" she said, for some reason she wasn't following my train of thought!
Well, first things first, “let’s clean up this mess” she suggested, shrugging her shoulders. Soon the dustpan and the vacuum were busily employed cleaning up ash and after a few minutes I noticed my lovely wife had gone a bit quiet.
“What’s wrong honey?” I innocently enquired.
“I have a confession to make, don’t be mad at Missy, she didn’t break the tile.”
“Oh, this should be interesting,” I thought to myself.
“I broke the tile a couple of months ago when I was cleaning the mantle, I knocked over the mirror and when I tried to grab it, I knocked the plant off the mantle and the pot crashed down and broke the tile.”
“That’s why that Catch Phrase game sat there for a month and then I went out and bought a basket and set it over the broken tile, I was trying to find the right time to tell you.”
“LUCY, you’ve got some ‘splainin to do!” No wait, I’m not Ricky Ricardo and my wife is not Lucille ball and our lives are not the “I Love Lucy’ show in spite of the many similarities.
It was then that I had a little bit of a deja ‘vu moment that reminded me of a time when this same wife, (I’ve only had the one) told me a few years ago that she had been backing out of a driveway and we now had a nice fresh scrape down the side of the car. “How had I responded that time?” I asked myself. And then I remembered and knew just what to say.“Don’t worry honey, I like my car (or in this case tile) but I LOVE YOU!”