Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Home Sweet Home

A few days before I moved into my house, I stopped by to check out the paint job. Tommy was so excited by the new neighborhood, he didn’t even notice the lizard in the window (outside, thankfully).
Things changed on April 1, my first day in the house.

Juanita and her two helpers were in the kitchen cleaning. I heard a scream. Juanita called out my name. Exhausted (the move was hell), I stumbled toward them. I stood outside the doorway, afraid of what I'd see. Juanita stared at me expectantly.

In any crisis, a leader must emerge. I saw that lizard clinging to the wall between the microwave and the stove and squealed like a little girl.

The next few minutes were filled with mayhem. We tried to coax the lizard into a bucket but it wouldn't budge. I'd opened the side door for the lizard's escape path, but Tommy charged in scaring the señoritas. When I turned away, the lizard somehow flew across the kitchen and ended up under the refrigerator.

I moved the fridge. The lizard scurried across the floor into the garage. Tommy pounced on him.

I screamed at Tommy as I hit him on the behind with a broom (not a proud moment, but believe me, it didn't phase him).

In two seconds he had the lizard in his mouth. He shook it with abandon until half of it flew across the room into a pile of junk. The other half got sucked into his mouth as if it were a spaghetti noodle.

The predator and his prey. Nature is cruel.

Later, the lizard fiasco behind us, Juanita called me into the bathroom. Water seeped out from the bottom of the toilet. Two inches of dirty water filled the tub.

Damn. I knew I had sewer issues but I didn't think I'd have to call a plumber my first day in the house. One had just cleaned the pipes two weeks ago. I arranged for him to come the next morning.

"You can use the toilet, but don't flush." 

I hadn't yet returned the keys, so that night I went to my old place, leaving Tommy tied to the front tree. The electricity had already been turned off but I knew my way to the bathroom.

The next morning I woke up early and drove to Starbucks to do my business. Then I went home to meet Mike the Plumber.

Mike had the sewer pipes cleared in no time. What a relief. Can you imagine living without working toilets?

Plumbers are unsung heroes. Tommy agrees as he marvels at the functioning flush.


  1. I can't tell you how much you made me laugh. There's a healthy gecko population inside my home, but I've had to learn to toughen up and accept nature's way, as Ella has learned how to catch them. I figure they'll have to adapt or perish. {I say that in a far more cavalier fashion than I really do feel, but I console myself that she'll never be outside to catch a bird...} As for the loo situation, I'd have gone elsewhere, too. But it looks like such a fine loo now that it's fixed.

  2. you are cracking me up too. you should post more!!
    i feel bad for the lizard, a little, but i'm also glad that tommy had a chance to live out his wild-dog dreams in your new house. congrats, and i'm keeping my fingers crossed for continued clarity of plumbing :)

  3. Hysterical. But you'd better get used to the lizards and Tommy's new favorite appetizer. (My boxer can never eat just one.) Also, on hot days they'll crawl into the dog's waterbowl which still makes me jump.

    (Hope you don't need this advice, but there are toilets up at Farnsworth Park.)

  4. Are these anoles? That's what we have in Florida, maybe they're not as big as California lizards? I'm glad you got the plumbing situation cleared up, that's a basic human need, right up there with dark chocolate and fuzzy blankets.

  5. Poor lizard! But now that Tommy has a taste, I imagine your house will become and remain lizard-free.

    This reminds me of an apartment and a cat I had in college. I taught Trapper what fun the cockroaches were and where they were getting in. No more cockroaches.

    A lizard has set up house in our garage. He will remain healthy, as Boz has little interest.

  6. Sue! This story is right up my alley with the half-eaten lizard and non-working toilet...this sounds like a Lizzie story...although I would have just picked up the Lizard...I actually had a little Alligator Lizard for a pet once. Anyway, you have been properly hazed during your initiation to your new home...maybe you're done now! Home, sweet, home! Gotta love the Tommy Boy! He makes it all so interesting!

  7. Hi Susan Lamb:
    This is one of my favorites because you are so good at building the story with fantastic suspense! Poor little lizard. I love how Tommy causes so much commotion. Gotta love it honey. We are all so happy that you have a new house right in Pasadena too. It is awesome. Love you be over as soon as we can for a cup of tea.
    Love your stories so much.
    Much Love,

  8. Half a lizard, huh? Just a little snack between meals, I guess. Poor you! Poor your bladder! Glad all is better.

  9. I'm still laughing.

    The story, and especially the photo of Tommy admiring the toilet, wonderful!

    Congratulations--and welcome to home ownership.

  10. This is so funny, I can just picture it. Girl, you just crack me up!!!

    aaaah to be able to flush the toilet...here's to simple pleasures.

  11. Oh Shell, does Ella really catch your geckos? Actually, if Tommy hadn't caught that lizard
    Frieda or Ramona surely would have. Poor creatures. It is nature's way.

    loveandleash, I feel bad for the lizard too. Terrible he was sacrificed solely to indulge Tommy's wild pleasures.

    Hiker, Altadena lizards don't stand a chance with Phoebe and Tommy in the 'hood. As for
    toilets... Farnsworth Park, of course! Next time.

    Paula, I had to google anoles. California lizards don't have that neon green skin; they're more of a brownish hue. And the
    lizards here are MUCH bigger. They're GIANT! No, not really. I'm just a wimp.

    Petrea, yet another reason to love cats. I believe they were originally domesticated to get rid of insects.

    Boz is more civilized than Tommy.

    Kari, I've had many laughs from Big Carl, so I'm glad to return the favor.

    Liz, I wish you lived with me so you could handle all the lizard rescues. Next time I see one in the house I will try to channel your lizard love and deliver it safely to the outside world.

    Kristen, I have such fond memories of drinking
    tea with you in your kitchen. When are you coming to Altadena so we can share a cup in my kitchen?

  12. Susan, I have paw-mesh screens on the deck and Ella climbs up them lightening fast. I saved one twice in the same night but she somehow caught him yet again the following evening {I guess his reflexes were on the decline by then!!} and it was all too much for him the third time. I could only sniffle apologetically and say, "Sorry little guy, there's only so much I can do..."

  13. Margaret, thankfully things are better: no more toilet issues, no more lizard snacks.

    Thanks, Jean. It makes me happy to have made you laugh.

    thedogrescuers, next time you're here, let's toast to the simple pleasures.

    Shell, you made a valiant effort to save that poor gecko. I feel bad Ella got it, but I can't help being impressed with her hunting skills.

  14. I guess the one on the window is the one that got away.

    Your description of the the half a lizard in flight produced a visual. Like toothpaste flying out of the tube. Ug! was it still moving (like the tail?) I want all the gruesome details.

    I've been without plumbing more then once. A bucket and a big backyard. Whats the problem?

    Great yarn and lucky you to have a tiled bathroom. Were still working on the fallen retaining wall but the floor tiles are done in the kitchen and bathroom.

    btw: I have a kind of similar post I did with Tova involving a bird and video (the bird lived) if I can find it I'll send it to you.

  15. PA, it was gruesome! For those of you who don't want the gruesome details, stop reading.

    I saw it fly across the room and at first thought it was still alive - until I saw the thing flailing in Tommy's mouth (yes, the tail). The top half lay on the floor, belly up by the pile of junk. Poor lizard. What a way to go.

    I won't lie: I considered the bucket and backyard and would have resorted to it if I had to.

    Glad to hear you're making progress on the house. When's that big party?

    On to FB to see more of dear Tova.

  16. I moved into my new place in fall, so this is the first time I'm clearing out the beds for spring. I found a tiny lizard under some of the leaves, so I rebuilt his little home.

    It's the ants that are worrying me -- they're all over the lamb's ears in the terraced border. I don't mind if they stay there, but they better not think of the house as their spa!

    I have a cranky downstairs toilet that has to be fixed, but, fortunately, the upstairs one is working.

    Tommy is adorable. I have cats at this point, but when I buy a place, I'll get a dog or two.

  17. Devon, welcome! Thanks for stopping by. Good that you discovered a tiny lizard in a flower bed rather than the bed where you sleep, which is what I first thought.

    Ants used to invade my former home. A trail of pepper got rid of them.

    "I have cats at this point, but when I buy a place, I'll get a dog or two." I used to say the same thing, but Tommy came first and motivated me to get the house. Crazy but true.

  18. lol...sounds like a normal night in our lives. ;-)

    as to the "without working plumbing" question...I'm sure Tommy can tell you, lift a leg and viola, you're done, right? eh, so, as I get older, it has been mentioned (by someone I'm married to), that we're not getting younger and squatting in the yard isn't as fun as it once was, despite what Tommy might tell you. A few years back the only working toilet in the house stopped working. A plastic garbage bag in a 5 gallon bucket with a lid made life a little easier until morning.

  19. Trish, we do what we have to do, don't we? I'll keep your anecdote in mind the next time I'm without a working toilet. But I hope it won't be anytime soon.

  20. We've had water issues here for over a week and for the 1st 48 hrs, were without water of any kind. They've since "fixed" the water main leak near us, but it was a hellish few days there. I understand the miracle of water now :)

  21. Home sweet home! Daisy and Roscoe are forever chasing Lizards in the back yard, but they never manage to catch them. I have "relocated" several from the house, they are always grateful.

  22. We have a fixer upper, too - so many adventures (mostly of the disgusting variety). I have to say, though, I'll take a couple of lizards any day over the rat community that lives under our garage (until we get around to the garage demo-rebuild phase of our 90 year renovation plan). The day after we closed, we came to the new place to start prepping it for move-in. That's when Téa caught her first rat in our overgrown weed garden. It was a while before she was allowed to give kisses again, though I think worth the trade off from her perspective.

  23. ForPetsSake, access to clean, running water really is a miracle. And a gift. Of course too much water can also be a curse. Whatever your water issues were, I hope they're behind you now.

    daisydog, I knew the cats and dogs in your world were lucky but now we can add lizards to the list. You're an animal rescuer of all kinds.

    Oh, T2. Téa caught a rat?! You put my lizard tale to shame.

  24. Oh the poor lizard... I love lizards! :-) But I guess that's the way it goes... the bigger and stronger wins in nature! :-)

  25. Hi daisy, welcome! I'm going to learn to love lizards. I swear I am.

  26. I also had a 1-eared dog at 1 time. Thks for your comment, SC. Now I can move on!

  27. Cafe, now that you've commented I can move on as well!

  28. Patrizzi, I am going to take you up on that offer. Lizard alert! I can already see the look of horror on Tommy's face...