Along with the building work, both at our house and on the neighbouring plot (they are starting to dig a borehole right on our boundary today - noisy work) - we got a new springer spaniel puppy.
The timing is not great. The bits of the house that we can still use are starting to look a little squalid. There's mould growing on our temporary kitchen wall. In every available corner there is (chewable) 'stuff' heaped up in an ad hoc fashion. I'm getting to the end of my patience with the noise, the chaos, the dust. It's getting cold in Nairobi (winter has come early) - the sky is grey - matching the cement screed floors, plastered walls, piles of hardcore. I wonder if the house will ever look pretty - my husband says that all the grey reminds him of a prison cell.
New puppy - 2 months old and extremely needy
However, the kids are (needless to say) delighted with the new addition to the family and spent the whole weekend gamboling around with the puppy in the garden. Her arrival has cheered us all up.. but if only she would sleep at night! Last night she was howling at the bottom of the stairs from10pm (for 1.5 hours), then at 2.45am (for 1 hour) - waking the traumatised kids up x3 times on a school night. Our eldest has a piano exam today.
As if they weren't already traumatised....
On Sunday morning we had another new arrival (connected with the squalid state of our house). Accessing our bathroom means going through a new room that has a rough cement floor, is full of building materials, it's pitch dark at night and there are open/unglazed windows with only bars there. Unbeknownst to me, on Saturday night, an unwanted visitor came into the sitting room through a door that was left open when my husband headed off 'on safari' to have a bath.
On reflection, I thought I heard an unexplained clatter in the room (while holding a sleeping puppy on my lap and watching TV) but at the time, thought nothing of it.
The scene of the crime...
6am Monday morning:
"Daddy there's a rat in the sitting room!" - our 9 year old daughter exclaimed. They were standing by our temporary outdoor sink. (pictured above)
My husband was more concerned with clearing up puppy mess and sorting out puppy breakfast. I was in bed, trying to catch up on lost sleep (after all, the puppy was his idea)
"What? I don't understand what you are saying?" He said to my daughter. "I can't even hear you. A what?"
"Dad, I don't know exactly if it's a rat or a mouse - but look, it's right there! In our sitting room! There, at the window!"
"What on earth?" my husband says, (or words to that effect), when he finally looks up.
And there he or she is, looking back at a shocked pair of faces that are outside looking in - bold as brass, happily posing for photographs - from right inside the house!
My husband's video clip voiceover goes something like; "There's a rat in ma kitchen what am a gonna do?"
"Love" my husband calls up to me, "there's a rat in the sitting room!"
"I don't want to know!" I reply, "In fact I'm going back to sleep."
He comes upstairs with a cup of tea a little time after.
"I want today to be over." I say. Sundays can be a little harder work for me than the other days of the week..
"What, already?" he replies. "But you're not even up yet?"
"Happy father's day by the way..." I say. He laughs - ironically..
Much later, I find evidence of the rat's night time activities in the sitting room - rat poo, a gnawed wooden drawer, a gnawed piece of wrapping paper. I think about the fact that rats have fleas. I wonder if it's still in the house, or whether it has gone back into the garden; ideally out through an open window.
In the evening we decide to put down rat traps just in case. Just before putting them down, I poke my head into the now out-of-bounds room (I mourn my TV supper) and to my horror, witness a black blur streak across the carpet. My husband sets to work on the traps and snaps his fingers twice. We put some hard cheese in place on the cheap-but-effective 100 bob traps.
Half an hour later, while hiding in the kitchen, I hear a promising snap. I can't believe our luck. I cajole my husband out of the bath and into the living room (I'm not going in there) to have a look. The cheese has gone but there's no sign of any rat. We've basically given him a delicious supper. I guess that will save him from snacking on the chest of drawers, I say... Grr.
In the morning, we notice that the cheese on the second trap is dotted with ratty tooth marks (as if to taunt us) but the cheese is still in place and there's no dead rat in evidence.