Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Birds

"Enough is enough!"

I was on my fourth dryer cycle, and my clothes were still damp.  I was tired of the bird poop on the front step, so I made my decision:  The bird's nest in the outside dryer vent had to go.  We'd been more than patient. The nest had been there since early spring. We left it alone throughout May and June because we heard lots cheeping.  But after a while the cheeping stopped. Surely, by now, they'd be gone.

I couldn't use our regular ladder because the space under the overhang was too low, and and the ground was uneven on the grass beneath the vent.  So, I decided to use the kitchen step ladder.

Then, I look around for an extraction tool.  Just for the record, I am not a handi-woman.  I'm sure that somewhere there's a dedicated tool, some he-man device, designed specifically for doing this job. It ranks right up there with adult things you're supposed to know and be responsible for, even though no one ever taught you.

So, lacking this mysterious tool, I had to be creative.

My first choice was a long-handled tongs that we use for outdoor grilling (about once every three years), so I started with that. The step ladder, I found, was a little too short, so I added a cement block on top as a booster.

Well, the tongs kept locking, and I had a hard time maneuvering it in the narrow space under the vent flap.  I needed something different.  So, I thrashed around in the garage for a while and thought about using a discarded snow brush.  I also considered constructing a tool from a broom handle and one of the ceiling bicycle hooks. (Years ago the hooks installed by the previous owners failed, and one of the bikes came crashing down.  The bike was damaged and almost damaged my spouse as well!)

Back to task.  Finally, I settled on the multi-purpose coat hanger.  (Can also be used for cooking s'mores or hotdogs, opening locked car doors (with engines running), and as a duct-taped extension for a feather duster.)  From my closet I located the most pathetic-looking hanger, untwisted the hook end, and bent the rest of it into an L shape.

Climbing up onto my step stool, I perched on the cement block in some unnamed modern dance pose:  Core tight, lower body grounded, upper body spiraled, off center, and lengthened.  (Thank God for modern dance.)

I rattled my hanger around in the vent, yanked on the tightly-woven nest and extracted a few strands.  As things go, the angle of my reach and the direction of the wind caused dirt and several loose particles to fall into my right eye.  So, I stopped and climbed down to take care of that.

In the bathroom I grabbed a bottle of natural tears - too late - found out it was contact solution.  After rinsing several times until it stopped stinging, I went back and moved the step ladder so that I was now upwind of the nest with my one red eye.

The coat hanger went in deep and, OMG, there's someone still living here!  The inhabitant left in a flurry. I sent my apologies but figured there were plenty of feathered friends nearby that could take in an evicted bird.

So then I was using both tools, the hanger and the tongs, alternately.  The nest came out in chunks - pieces of twigs, bits of insulation, feathers, dirt.  Not just a nest, but an extra long condo, complete with a built-in sauna.  No wonder they didn't want to move out.

When I was done, I looked down at the ground, and among all the bird droppings I saw half of a bloody egg.  OMG, OMG, I just aborted a bird egg! With a coat hanger and BBQ tongs!  I suddenly had visions of avian rights protesters showing up at my door with picket signs. Or worse, I'd become the subject of some weird movie:  Revenge of the Birds or the classic Hitchcock horror (You know the one - with the famous attic scene.  My family watched the movie every year, and being a kid,
I always got sent out of the room when that scene came up. Years later, I saw the entire movie and remembered everything except that one part. Of course, now, I would never forget it.)  Ackkkk!

So, after many deep breaths, I put my tools away, stowed my step ladder, and washed off the front step.

My clothes are dry now.