Produced on October 4, 15, and Nov. 2nd 2019 in NE Portland, ORby Carmen M.
“Jake is one of those hard-to-find contractors that takes pride in their work, provides excellent customer service, and offers services at a reasonable price. Thorough, personable, and professional. Highly recommend him.” – Carmen’s five star Thumbtack review.
Chapter 1: The Proposal/Intro to Wilderness Security Guide
For those who don’t know, Wilderness Security Guide is a customer service character. Guide helps the humans of Portland, Oregon mark their home territories better, so her wild creature friends don’t misread The Action and assume their territories are open for business.
She’s been talking with the roof rats of NE Portland for many years. The conversation isn’t in English. Guide speaks to the rats and translates for our customers using the lost (or just unexplored) universal language we at Storysold call The Action.
For example, a homeowner tells Wilderness Guide that the rats in his attic aren’t welcome there, and she translates that into The Actionby setting traps along their foraging routes.
Rats aren’t dumb. They aren’t like “Alack, what is this odd, baffling object that has suddenly landed in our space! What’ll we do, Pa?” They explore new objects in their territory all the time. If they don’t get Guide’s message and move after they loose some of their kin, the reply from the rats is clear. The reply is, “Fuck off. This is our home.”
October 4, 2019 Guide and her human host Jake pulled into the driveway of Carmen’s home ready for whatever came next. At first read, Carmen’s territory appeared intentional: clean, recently remodeled, set with just the right amount of wilderness to beautify it.
Carmen introduced herself. And then she introduced her roof rat. She and her boyfriend had already engaged the beast in The Actionby foaming an entry point above the porch and fixing some hardware cloth along the edge of their attic storage space nearest the gutter line.
After Guide had Jake clamor atop the porch to get a better view, she saw the damage done by the rat. It had scratched a well-worn path onto the roof as well as the cables near the old hole.
“Looks more like a squirrel,” was Guide’s first impression. “Those nutheads aren’t as elegant as roof rats. They scratch the crap out of everything.”
“I saw it. Eye to eye,” Carmen replied. Guide didn’t doubt that the human had shared a moment with a roof rat in the attic. She had seen what she’d seen, so the next step was to track and discover why that rat wanted back into her old entry point bad enough to scratch cable wires.
It was a mystery for sure. But it was a lot less of a mystery after Guide did her thing and read Carmen’s home from her Bird’s Eye Perspective.
In spite of a (hopefully only ignorant and not money grubbing) Pest Control Operator’s attempt to stuff exclusion clothe along the gutter line, it was clear that no one had made an effort to draw a strong territorial line for the wilderness creatures to read in shock and awe.
“You shouldn’t be so hard on our new customer, Guide,” Jake said as they climbed down the ladder. “Most of us (humans) are too absorbed in the wonders of our civilization to play our parts in The Wilderness. Even Pest Control Operators often fail to think about how their actions engage the creatures of our urban wilderness…”
“Did you say something, human?” Guide replied to her host as she knocked on Carmen’s door—prepared to give her The Business.
After some jangled conversational detours by Jake, Guide finally found her focus. “The nuts of it is this,” Guide began her classic wilderness security report like a journalist. “The new main entry point is two feet from where you foamed the old entry point. If I fix that, the next new entry point will likely be two feet further down the gutter line. I need your pledge of human resources and permission to do what needs to be done here; namely, spend anywhere from 6 to 10 hours repairing all the gaps and holes along your gutter and roof. That’s what is needed for you to send my wild creature friends the roof rats a clear message that your territory is not open for nesting, especially that neat little void you have between your gutter and the attic spaces along the edge of your upstairs bedroom…My friends the roof rats have been spoiled here in NE Portland with all the impoverished territories they ever wanted. It’s high time they return to their old way of life, build their nests in their tree branch penthouses outdoors, and reclaim their old name as the tree rat.”
Then Guide showed Carmen exactly what she planned to do:
Action #1 – Use long thin pieces of metal flashing to exclude the gaps along the gutter lines on both sides of territory. The driveway side has about four feet worth of possible entry points. The activity side has about twenty feet worth of possible and active entry points.
(a) Most of the gaps on the driveway side are slight—just big enough for Guide to classify it as possible entry points >
(b) this action would also include the exclusion of the active entry point >
Action #2 – Use foam and metal flashing to exclude the gutter lines, gaps, and holes on the back eve-things >
(a) the dark gap shown there is not a likely entry point, but it’s big enough to serve as an entry point for a rodent in desperate need of shelter >
(b) the hole in corner there has a lot more potential, as well as the gap The Other Guy tried to exclude (question mark/look of confusion) >
Action #3 – (no photos, sorry) I will exclude the gap on top right side of porch (if facing it), which leads directly into wall void as well as the small rat hole on the corner beautified by the maple.
Action #4 – Guide will hunt and trap any offenders who do not “get it” and persist in the belief that your home is a “good tree” to nest in.
** All actions listed here will continue for up to a year if needed. That means, I will come back and make it right if you see any sort of rodent in your attic spaces or home within a year of the end of our service.
Chapter 2: Gutter Exclusion Day
As soon as the coffee hit Jake’s belly that morning, he began to engage Guide in The Question of The Day. The roof trap checking service they did earlier that week had shown some activity. One trap, near the cables, had been tripped—and a chunk of fur had been left behind. Jake was sold on the fanciful notion that losing a chunk of flesh would be enough to send the rat on its way. Guide didn’t agree. She knew her friends better than that.
Soon after they pulled in the driveway, they checked the traps. No signs of activity were present. Even the “free” peanut butter in the box was left untouched.
“Ha!” Jake laughed. “I told you so!”
“Whatever human…I’m still not convinced our conflict here is over.”
While the debate raged on, the teammates worked together to put their new gutter exclusion plan in action. They found a piece of flashing at The Home Depot they hoped would fit perfectly in the space between the wood sheathing and the gutter nails. In gutter exclusions in days past, they used shorter sections. It worked, but it wasn’t as beautiful.
And they cared about beautiful, or at least as beautiful as closing off gaps in gutter lines can be…
Even Guide had to admit the new piece did the trick! The only problem was that the gap between the sheathing and the metal lip varied throughout; as well as the space between the nail and the plywood sheathing.
“No biggie,” Jake smiled. “I’m an old pro with the tin snips.”
The team was having so much fun snipping, banging, and screwing they decided to shore up the strength of the whole territorial line on the active side of the house. Strength is good, and it looks better.
All the way to the end…
When that side was done, they moved back to the front where Guide set her mind to protecting the cables and excluding the other gaps they’d found up there before. The “squirrel shield” was a creative act, but a solid one.
The other spots on the porch included the gap above the squirrel shield:
And the small hole in the maple tree corner:
And that’s when Guide discovered that she was right. The bag marker they had put in the gap on the right side eve (if you’re facing porch) had signs of activity. It’d been scratched by some desperate creature.
“See,” Guide said. “I told you so.”
“I suppose you still think it’s a squirrel…”
“Yup,” Guide replied as she excluded every gap around the gap shown in the photo. “A normal sized roof rat could squeeze through that gap. Why would it scratch at it…if it could fit?”
“Maybe it’s a fat roof rat,” Jake offered. “Like the one we bagged yesterday in Battleground. That thing was so big it made our rat traps look like play toys. It probably ate our bait with the spring on its neck, then pulled its head out when it had licked our plate clean.”
“Maybe,” Guide replied doubtfully. Then she reset her marker and set two traps in front of the hole. “What is it with you and big rats anyway? Why don’t you get all ‘hoorah’ macho proud when we bag little ones?”
“Like the five teenagers we killed last week?”
“Yes…Aren’t their lives worth the remembrance?”
Jake climbed down the latter and brushed the branches out of his ass for the tenth time that morning. “I don’t know,” he said as he began to clean up their mess. “It’s always sad when something new dies.”
The other side seemed like it would be easier without having to dance with the branches, and it was for the first 6 foot section in the middle:
Up to that point the metal—the pounding, snipping, and bending—had been sailing along smoothly. Then the team put in the final strip from the gaps two-thirds the way down the driveway to the end. The strip seemed to fit in well enough, but (unlike the others) this one had a very small (like 2 cm) gap that refused to be bent and tucked under. It would have been fine, but Jake thought it was “ugly,” so he broke out the roofing tar and duct tap to make damned sure it was shut.
And The After shot:
“It’s still ugly,” Guide said with a laugh.
“We’re trying to keep the wilderness out…not paint a Picasso.”
“Then why did you care about that ‘ugly’ gap in the first place?”
“Well…uh…ugly duct tape is better than an ugly gap…That’s why.”
The dialogue rolled on like that for about an hour. Finally, Guide realized it for what it was. They needed to eat, and the eggplant and squash pizza in the truck was just what they needed to help them power to The End.
Thanks to Farmer Emily’s veggie pizzas, the eve exclusions went well. The gaps were the Other Guy had stuffed exclusion cloth now were covered by cold, hard, metal flashing and foam.
After they cleaned up and tried unsuccessfully to call a lead (we always get a little weird on the phone after 8 hours of alone time), Jake turned to his teammate and asked, “Well, Guide, what’s next?”
“We wait,” Guide smiled. “And then we’ll have the proof we need to give the ‘all clear’ with confidence…and seal up that squirrel scratching post.”
“Do you ever get tired of being right?”
“If I knew I was right…I’d seal up that gap right now.”
“So what you’re saying is…” Jake smiled. “The roof rat could be fat.”
Chapter 3: The Exciting Conclusion
A few weeks later, team Storysold: Pest Control climbed back onto the roof above Carmen’s porch to check the last entrypoint. The traps hadn’t been touched, and the bag o’ bait in the eve void was untouched as well.
“Big rat,” Jake said as he fashioned a custom piece of metal.
“Squirrel,” Guide laughed. And they worked together to shield the entry point. Moral was high. It was the last act in their exclusion plan, and they both felt that feeling that brought them to Carmen’s front door in The Beginning of their adventure.
After all, what is victory if not the completion of a plan gone right?
If you want to read more about Wilderness Security Guide’s adventures in wilderness enforcement, order your homemade one-of-a-kind copy of The Living City today for $65. Just text Bookmaker Jake at 971-337-4037. Don’t worry about the money. He’ll send you a bill 🙂