Bats in the Belfry

Dear Millie,

I’ve never liked our fireplace.  From the realtor pictures and even the video tour, I didn’t really take any notice, except that the chimney impressively swept from floor to vaulted second story ceiling.  When we walked into the house to tour it for the first time, however, it was nearly a deal-breaker for me.  It’s visible from the front door, and with the plaster around it crumbling, the ghastly brass trim everywhere…it just looked dumpy.  Unfortunately, fixes for that sort of thing takes know-how and/or money, neither of which we have in excess.

The first winter we lived here, we decided to try out the fireplace for some ambience.  Gordon cleaned out the ashes (including, sadly, a dead little bird) and built a lovely fire.  Being desert-dwellers, neither of us knew whether we needed to have the chimney cleaned (I still don’t know), so we’ve only built a couple of fires in there.  Thank goodness for central heating, I say!

During the summer, Gordon and I were up after the children had all gone to bed.  We were watching Netflix on the sofa directly across from the fireplace, when we heard weird screeching sounds coming from the inside of the chimney.  Bats??  Blast!

We immediately turned to the internet and things quickly felt very dark and desperate indeed.

Over the next few nights, we kept hearing the screeching sound after the kids were all in bed.  We filled out an online request to have someone come take a peek and do some bat removal and also clean our chimney.  Now that I’m telling you about this, I realize we never did hear back from anyone about it.  Huh.

A few days later, we were outside at dusk when Gordon noticed birds flying around the top of our chimney.  I couldn’t hear them, but according to him, they made the same screeching sound we’d heard.  Yay for not being bats!

But, that also meant the top of our ginormous chimney was not capped and that anything could (and did) just come right on down the chimney.  The kids didn’t seem bothered (easier access for Santa and bigger toys!), but I didn’t like the idea that we had a family of birds nesting inside our chimney.

Meanwhile, the brick along the outside porch and walkway had been crumbling.  Gordon also wanted to see about putting egress windows in the basement and getting a quote for finishing it all up down there.  We lucked out finding a great contractor and we got quotes for all sorts of things.  I think we’ll be seeing him often through the years.  The brick out front is repaired and now we’ve moved on to the business of chimneys and fireplaces.

I didn’t even know there was such a thing, but I’m practically giddy about getting a fireplace with a remote!  We’re having it converted to gas, and I hope that’s a good thing because I wouldn’t know either way.  I’m glad to know we won’t be starting fires in our chimney and that all the bats (or birds) in our belfry will soon be evicted.

Well.  Maybe.

Yesterday after church, a couple stopped to talk with me.  Their adult daughter is Vanessa’s teacher in primary.  The parent couple have Kyle in their class.  They were joking about his unflappable character and then the mom said that Vanessa’s teacher said Vanessa is…”interesting.”  I laughed and she continued that her daughter has concerns about her, but was worried about approaching me about them.  Apparently, Vanessa often talks to characters who aren’t there.  I burst out laughing!  They were a little startled by my response, but I told them there was nothing to worry about.  When I got home, I asked Vanessa if she talks to invisible people at church.  She acted like she had no idea what I was talking about.  Then when Gordon and I were sitting with her, she started turning her head to the side and saying, “Shut it, Ferb!” And, “Not now, Plankton!”  We laughed so hard!

Instead of people realizing she’s trying to get attention, they’re convinced she’s got bees in her bonnet, bats in her belfry, and knots in her noodle!*

Hope you are the same.

Love,

Grace

*(Thank you to The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Manus Pinkwater for this lovely combination of crazy-talk.)

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