I haven't started writing Justice chapter 18, although I have plotted out the chapter and written a bunch of notes for it. I know I can achieve anywhere from 300 to two thousand words a day once I finally get going on it.
Until recently, I had a family of incredibly noisy squirrels living in my ceiling. I was quite afraid that they were rats for a while there, but in my experience, rats tend not to be nearly as rambunctious as these unseen creatures were being. I don't know whether they were play-fighting or beating the stuffing out of each other, but the noise was enough to wake my husband and I from a deep sleep in the middle of the night. Every night, to be precise. Fluffy, being Fluffy, was scared by the constant scufflings and scramblings, and whenever the squirrels were having one of their frequent pitched family battles, he would stand in the kitchen, shoulders hunched defensively while staring at the ceiling with eyes as big as saucers. I have to confess that I did the same thing on more than one occasion. I was half expecting a whirling ball of squabbling squirrel-parts to come crashing through the ceiling at any moment. My husband opined that the noise seemed to indicate an animal bigger than squirrels. He thought the thudding footfalls seemed to be coming from a creature as heavy as a dog. He wondered if it could be raccoons, but I disagreed. We have lots of urban raccoons around these parts, and if I leave my kitchen door open during the summer, raccoons seem to take it as an invitation to stroll in and help themselves to foodstuffs from my pantry. I've met a lot of raccoons and I've observed that, like rats, they are not a particularly boisterous species, although they can be bold little thugs.
One night, during some particularly violent ceiling hi-jinks, I heard loud vibrating growling sounds, accompanied by distressed squeaks. I figured it was a big squirrel asserting his dominance over a smaller squirrel who was presumably crying uncle in the hopes of not being dashed against the wall yet again. To my great relief I was able to find a squirrel making those exact sounds on Youtube. Whew! Up until then, you see, I still had a two percent fear lurking in the back of my mind that there was a colony of rats-- BIG rats-- up inside my ceiling, biding their time until their numbers were sufficient to stage a bloody three a.m. coup that would end in my husband and I being found dead in our bed.
I called the exterminator and explained to him that I wanted him to make the squirrels go away, but not if it involved killing them or hurting them in any way. He went up on my roof and found the hole they had chewed to gain access. He then installed a kind of one-way door that allows squirrels to get out but not to get back in again. Almost immediately, the squirrel-brawling was brought to a halt. It was so nice to be able to sleep through the night again, and not to have to explain the situation to stunned-looking visitors who obviously expected the ceiling joists to crack at any moment, and bring a hail of squirrels down upon us all.
My husband, big softie that he is, felt sorry for the squirrels, as they had just been rendered homeless. "They probably have all their winter nuts up there!" he exclaimed. "How are they going to find another home now that winter is almost here?"
I just folded my arms and refused to be swayed by his misplaced compassion. This is the same guy that scolds me for killing wasps and once expressed sympathy for the rats I killed because, and I quote, "They just want to be warm, and have a home and food for their children like everybody else!" I retorted that the rats shouldn't have chewed holes in bags of rice and pasta and pooed everywhere, and as for the squirrels, I wouldn't have minded letting them live in the ceiling if they had been better tenants and kept the partying down to a dull roar instead of the downright alarming cacophony that they seemed to expect us not to notice.
So, the squirrels have been evicted and all is well! Unless they chew a hole in the one-way door and start holding the squirrel equivalent of Ultimate Fighting Championships in my ceiling again...