I don’t know if I should even tell this story but here goes.
You think that a cat stealing the odd diamond is a big problem? Ha!
I had a studio/ wood & metal shop in the boonies of British Columbia
about 32 years ago - It was not very fancy - a temporary venue until
I got the Real Thing built. The studio was in a large-ish old
garage-sized building. Rough and ready. There were exposed studs and
joists, exposed paper-backed fibreglas insulation, wood stove for
heat etc, but it was what I had. I also had a pack rat in the attic.
Pack rats love shiny things like, for example, jeweler’s pliers and
other small tools. They also like salty things like, for example,
the wooden handles of hammers and whatever else has soaked up a bit
of perspiration. And they like fibreglas insulation which they
carefully strip away from the paper backing and transport to the
attic where they make hay bale-sized nests out of it, nicely
furnished with all the things a pack rat needs like, for example,
needle-nosed pliers etc.
The beast’s thieving antics, the isolation, and my un-evolved
spiritual development at the time was maybe all getting me a little
crazy. While I worked I could hear the rat’s wee footsies scratching
on the other side of the insulation between the ceiling joists. I
could actually see the paper wiggling as he cruised along just above
my head, separated from Justice by only the thickness of the paper
vapour barrier. Resentful of his thievery, of the droppings on my
workbench, of the degradation of my insulation, I used the time that
a more balanced person might take for coffee breaks and I stalked him
with various deadly implements, striking at or piercing the vapour
barrier where I saw him move - until it was full of holes- but all
to no avail. He got away every time. Nor could a trap catch the wily
Skip to some months later when I was about to build a full-sized,
permanent, respectable workshop onto the small shop and move out of
the temporary quarters. There was a very large cottonwood tree next
to the old shop which was a menace. At least 3 feet diameter at
breast height. These trees are not long-lived themselves and, even
while still standing, have a habit of dropping heavy branches in
windstorms,or just at a whim. It had to go before I could risk
building the new shop under it. To make things even trickier, the
tree was leaning the wrong way, towards the old shop. Some
engineering was required.
Block and tackle was rigged high up the trunk and secured to sturdy
fir tree nearby so as to pull in the right direction - away from the
shop and building site. A pocket cut into the base of the tree and
a hydraulic jack readied to be inserted under the back-cut so as to
push in the right direction. Numerous wedges etc. The pickup truck
standing by with engine running and hooked up via a snatch block to
the block and tackle, keeping a good tension on the line and safely
out of the planned trajectory of the fall. Earnest young man sitting
in the pickup, ready to hit the gas and give the big pull when I
hollered “GO!” All was ready. I revved up the chainsaw. I made
the undercut. I started the back cut. In went the wedges. I made the
back cut deeper. In went the jack and I pumped like mad until I
thought the cylinder would burst. I beat the wedges deeper and
deeper, following the chainsaw bar into the tree. Deeper and deeper.
That tree did not want to budge. Finally when there was hardly a
hinge left on the stump it started to move. “GO!” I hollered and my
trusty helper popped the clutch, stalled the engine, jumped out of
the truck and ran for his life as I watched the cable go slack and
the tree majestically fall sideways right across the ridge of the old
shop. There was an ENORMOUS crash filled with sounds that the best
Hollywood sound-effects man would have a hard time orchestrating.
Breaking glass, splintering wood, the clatter of innumerable objects
within the shop falling and breaking. A great cloud of dust arose and
my poor wife came rushing out of the house, about 200 feet away,
sure that I must be dead. No such luck. I was untouched, if a bit
stunned, and I stepped into her line of sight to reassure her. The
trunk of the cottonwood fell across the shop roof, neatly separating
it along the ridge and each half of the roof had slid down off its
respective wall onto the ground. The crown of the tree reached
across and beyond the shop and, like a giant hand swatting a
mosquito, had utterly flattened my very new woodshed, so new that I
hadn’t even put any wood into it. Its aluminum roof, quite
expensive, was crumpled like an aluminum foil sandwich wrapper -
I slowly walked around the disaster, surveying the wreckage, and
there, thrown clear of it all, lying on his back, with a single
ruby-like drop of blood oozing out the corner of his mouth, lay the
pack rat - stone dead. " I GOT YOU, YOU #$%^&*&^%$ !" I hollered.
“I finally got you!” I never laughed so hard in my life.
Let me say that I and my shop and all my collection within it
survived better than I could have hoped for in those first moments of
shock. The new shop was built in good order and all was well in the
end. The only lingering after-effects of the disaster was that some
country wag had put the story about the Valley that I was some kind
of an expert at rodent control and so every once in a while some
victim of their wit would call me up to inquire innocently if I could
come and help them get rid of some mice, rats,or whatever. I learned
to ask whether they had a good chainsaw handy or should I bring my
By the way - I have 5 cats but I don’t let them in my shop. They
have their own drawbacks in the shop deportment department.
Marty in Victoria BC - where I still laugh.