This morning I woke up to a couple of maggots falling on my head.
Since I moved into my cabin, I have had one or two rats entering into the ceiling where the insulation is and possibly nesting. Frequently I have heard them scuttling about, scratching, gnawing, and occasionally squealing with antagonism at another. It is usually only one at a time, and I have thrown the sides of my clenched fist banging against the ceiling to scare them and hopefully either shoo them away or just shut them up from fright. And that was usually when I noticed much upheaval of accumulated rat droppings on the other side of the plywood where they were living.
The ceiling has two 1.5x1m (aprox.) sheets of plywood over the room, a narrow skylight with two PC sheets doubled over top of each other, and directly above the bed two narrow half sheets of plywood covering that end.
About a month ago, after waiting for a sunny weekend, I ripped the corrugated iron roofing off the bed end and found lots of droppings that I cleaned up, but couldn't find any obvious entry points for the rat to get in from the outside, only pathways into that area from the other area. Two weeks ago, I attacked the other side pulling off the roofing and again, finding no rats but many rat droppings. But this time, after doing some research, I sprinkled the insulation and general area with pepper, paprika, and oregano to use as deterrents while also dropping some rat poison in one of it's travel paths, and down where some of the insulation was.
I think the deterrent worked, as there was no more scuttling in that larger area of ceiling, but over the bed, the rat came back. Last night I heard a rat scurrying about, but then went quiet. This morning the maggots came to visit. Now, let me be clear, I expected there to be a dead rat up there: when the weather did heat up in the afternoon the last few days, I did start smelling the distinct stench of decomposition. So, I knew that at some point I would need to get back up and clean it out. This morning was that point. Three maggots at 7:30 AM, up I got, checked my hair - clean; checked the bed - a few more maggots; cleaned these up, got a bucket and put it beneath the plywood gaps in the ceiling where I suspected they had fallen from, and began getting the tools together to go back onto the roof and pull off the roofing.
This is what I found:
Yay! Dead rat. Urggh! Dead rat and maggots. (I thought rats were supposed to go outside to die?)
While pulling the infected insulation out and shoving it into a big black rubbish bag, my flatmate/tenant seemed to only care about the minuscule fibers missing the bag and falling on the ground, or drifting through the air. That got me a bit pissed off since having rats in the flatmate's ceiling seems to be the least of her concerns and I replied quite angrily "right now I'm a little bit more concerned with dead rats and maggots in my ceiling." After I got it cleaned out and vacuumed I said that there will need to be new insulation placed in because I've thrown it all out. She said she'd get it herself instead of telling the landlord.
But why not tell the landlord since it's his property, his housing responsibility?
"I just don't want him to be too concerned about what's happening here, especially with repairs, otherwise it might tip his decision to finally sell the property."
This has been her concern for some time I think, and should he sell, we are all out with nowhere to go: I return to a car that isn't running, potentially back to Tūranganui-a-Kiwa to live with my parents if I can't find a place as cheap as this to rent. With no current car running (mine stopped working about two months ago), returning to living in a car isn't much of an option: I could sleep in it on the side of the road outside the house, I guess!
So currently, I live in a cabin that the tenant doesn't want to contact the landlord about fixing for fear that he'll decide to sell. This property with the potential for vegetable gardening has become her home, the house is her home, and the village we live in has become her home. I understand that dilemma for her, but I do feel at times there is a lack of compassion and concern for her fellow flatmates.
If this cabin is to remain my home, then I am going need to fix it myself and block up every potential entry point for a rat to enter in through. It's not something I can rely on a landlord for, or the tenancy holder. It is my home, my responsibility.
The 26th begins this tale of the last days of July. Come into the passenger's seat here with me, listen to the wind bow the trees, truck suspensions grunting over potholes, rapids winding downriver settling the storm; and the ticking of time as feet point upwards perched between door and window.
I have you here in my heart. A thought, a happiness long past. We shared days in the sun, cuddled for warmth during rain, joked about opinions and rational assumptions.
But numb are the laughs. Dying days for ghosts.
I sit by the fireside, coffee and poached eggs, morning light drifts between trees. I wonder: Is this the end? All I have to look forward to - collecting wood, drying it over ashes, washing dishes in the river, reading a book when mind and body are too tired for anything else.
Or will spring raise the spirits up and remember feet are for walking, the pen is for writing, the mind is for thinking? Is today just a dead day?
I have you here in my heart. Sleep wants me to forget, light all I can see. I awake to me, as I have always been.
What is it about the salty sea breeze, lapping waves, rusted chains? These things that set me at ease? Glistening sun across ocean bays, harbouring yachts, crustacean homes on weathered rocks. So far away the horizon speaks of unknowns, eternal dreams, far from the pat of feet across concrete walkways travelling a pondering mind forward. Always forward.
My mother is the daughter of a fisherman; My grandfather, in his later life, made nets. I remember visiting the sheds once in Gisborne where they all hung up and he was there trawling through used nets looking for holes to repair; I see his worn and sunburnt Italian hands knitting the nylon materials through knots and patterns he held in his mind. I remember his laughter and joy, the good spirits he held in his heart up to his last days. These are all the merits I see in my mother. Her love never dies.
I have been drawn to the ocean for years. Songs I've written would occasionally feature stories about ocean life throughout my years as a songwriter: 'The Pirate's Flesh', 'Diamond Betrayal', 'Dullfish Angler', "Daddy never came home...", and 'Seafarer' are some of the songs that feature heavily the force of the ocean in the lives of men, and sometimes the impact on family. The Blessing's 'Hurricane Room' from their debut album Prince of the Deep Water has been one of the 'great songs' of my life, a tale about travelling coastlines, the oceans, and the colourful characters and situations around that; not so much a 'tale', but a travelogue of experiences through imagery, and a chorus that pleads "I sing my misappropriation song for lovers land-locked far too long."
Yet, I am not an ocean dweller. Nor do I see myself becoming one. The ocean has fascinated me, occupied my mind; perhaps will remain the greatest force of nature untameable by humans. Winds scour the earth, we harness them for power; fires scorch and destroy land and houses, we use it to keep our houses warm; mass oceans of salty water filled with life, we dump our garbage into, trawl nets to feed the masses... But the ocean will have the last say. When the winds become too destructive and carry too many storms for us to inhabit ground level, will we burrow into the grounds, or will we finally seek refuge by sinking into the watery depths?
Clouds are low here in Nelson. They fascinate me too. Crawling across surrounding hilltops, resting in the crevices, the slopes and valleys; I have never seen such low cloud cover before. This morning it covers all of the Tasman bay, hanging just above us all. If we climbed one of those hills opposite the bay, as we got to the top we'd walk straight into the cloud cover. Today's forecast was for sunshine.
My river campsite calls me. The river is a pathway to the ocean. Maybe I will walk the pathway only, return to the boulders and stones, the scavenged dry wood; and be content there, be at ease there, be at peace there. Far from the maddening crowds, the traffic cues and horns, the forced conversations, the deserted conversations; the desire to only know those in an immediate circle and leave others to perish with the vultures. The city has no desire to nourish, nor those entrapped inside it; the individual must break free if they are to be true to themselves, true to their human nature; true to acceptance, trusting, supportive, and loving.
Some updates to keep me updated.