Tag Archives: basement

Facing A Fear

Facing a fear.  It’s something we all hate to do because it’s so uncomfortable.  And yet, when we do face fear head-on, it brings an incredible sense of achievement, right?  Well, my brother and I faced one together many years ago that you may find interesting.

You might remember that I grew up with many a family card game of Progressive Rummy happening at my Grandma & Grandpa’s house.  My Grandma had a sister who everyone called “Aunt Shorty”.  For good reason, too, since she was all of about 4 feet 8 inches tall.  But her side of the family loved Progressive Rummy just as much as ours did.

My Dad had a cousin (Aunt Shorty’s son) named Bud.  Yup…..Bud.  He was a pretty laid back guy who took everything in stride.  He and his wife, Barb, lived a couple of hours away from us, so we occasionally drove over and visited.  When we did, the evening inevitably ended with the four adults playing cards late into the evening.  Since Bud and Barb didn’t have any kids, my bother and I were left to fend for ourselves for entertainment.

We were young enough at the time that we usually had pajamas with us to change into.  We eventually were laid down to sleep while the adults played on.  One night, however, after we already had our PJs on, we got bored while the adults were bantering back and forth.  We hadn’t brought anything of any real interest to keep our attention, so we looked around for something that qualified.

Then one of us saw the basement door.  We had been down in the basement earlier that evening for some reason (can’t possibly remember what that was at this point).  It was a big basement, mostly finished, with plenty of space to walk around.  I got this crazy notion that we should take turns going into the basement without the light on.

The goal was to walk (not run) the complete circle around the perimeter of the basement and back up the stairs without getting scared.  We decided we would keep the light on at the top of the stairs.  That way, with the door cracked about six inches, enough light shown down into the basement that we could just make out where we were going.

Because of two factors–me being the older brother and that this stupid idea originated with the same–I went first.  Once I got to the bottom of the basement stairs, I could hardly see a thing.  No sounds could be heard.  Just my own quick gasps for air as I fought the urge to hyper-ventilate while skirting the edges of the basement perimeter.  Shadows lurked here and there, some possibly moving in my peripheral vision, but I was determined to set the example for all to follow.  As I made my way back around to the bottom of the stairs, the desire to leap three stairs at a time was overwhelming.  I fought it back, though, and “calmly” climbed the stairs to light and the safety of my parents.

Then my brother went down.  He came back rather quickly, in my opinion, but stated for the record that he didn’t run and wasn’t scared.  So I went down again and tried to go even slower this time.  The thought of something lunging from behind to drag me back into the shadowy depths of the basement was there the whole time I climbed the stairs to victory.  But I did it!  We went back and forth with that journey into darkness for quite a while.  At least we did until the adults realized what we were doing and Uncle Bud put a kibosh on the whole thing.

So what’s your fear?  Can you take steps to face it?  Even baby steps? It’s worth the exhilaration you feel when you’ve taken steps to kick it in the teeth.  Try it!  You’ll like it.

Rats In The Basement

At one point in our house in Bath, we had rats in the basement.  (Did your skin just crawl?  I just got a shiver up my spine thinking about it.)  As you probably know already, there are lots of memories I’ve already shared with you about that place.  But this is a new one that came to mind recently.

The basement of that house was unfinished.  The foundation was there, of course, along with a cement floor.  But the internal walls that kept the dirt at bay under the house only rose high enough to keep it there.  (This was an old house that had been added onto over the years and the basement showed this gradual increase in space.)  It actually provided for a wonderfully cool basement in the summer.

We didn’t give it much thought at the time, but apparently there was a family of rats next door in the neighbor’s barn.  They very rudely saw this as an opportunity to infiltrate our cool basement with the unfinished walls and make it their new home.  Unfinished walls made for excellent hiding places, so they took to it pretty quick.

I was the discoverer of these new tenants when I went down into the basement one day.  As I turned on the light in the main section of it, I saw the flick of a very large tail of something very large itself.  I could see that some behemoth of a creature on top of one of the unfinished walls had literally turned tail and scampered back into the shadows.  I immediately reported this incident to the powers-that-be (namely my Dad).  Then I waited anxiously to see what justice would be meted to these vile and uninvited guests.

It didn’t take my Dad long to come up with a plan.  He borrowed a “live trap” from his brother and set it up in the basement at night.  He then proceeded to catch these rats one by one and dispose of them each morning.  The first rat he caught was absolutely huge!  Then each one got smaller and smaller (I think there was a total of four).  How did he get rid of them?, I wondered.  Well, shortly after this all began, I noticed that a fifty-five gallon rain barrel had appeared outside on the back porch.  And it was filled to the brim with water.  Upon asking my Dad about this, I found out what was happening to the rats.

I could picture this scenario unfolding in my head:  My Dad goes down into the basement and sees that his nefarious efforts to catch a rat have been successful.  With suspenseful music playing in the background, he and the rat look at each other.  The rats shifty eyes lock with my Dad’s as they size each other up.  Dad picks up the trap and the music increases in intensity as he begins the rat’s walk of death.  The rat tries to throw itself into the sides of the trap to break free, but to no avail.  It then lashes out at the handle of the trap to bite Dad’s hand, but that doesn’t work either.  It screeches out in exasperation as Dad exits the back of the house to where the barrel of water is.  The rat sees that its end is near and cowers in a corner of the trap.  Dad sets the trap down and takes the top of the barrel off, exposing the water inside.  The music reaches a climax as he picks the trap up, opens the door and…..

I’ll spare you those details.  Dad drowned every one of those rats.  I hate animal cruelty, but when it comes to rats….well, let’s just say that I would have given that rat the same steely gaze that my Dad probably did.  After this, we all continued to live in Bath happily ever after.  Until we moved, that is.