Holidays

The Tale of the Christmas Bat

Author’s Note: Before I begin, I would like to say that I have nothing but love and respect for the participants in this adventure. They are all kind-hearted, intelligent people, despite how they may appear in this story. You’ll have to trust me on this.

Author’s Note, Part 2: The following story really creates more questions than answers. There’s nothing I can do about that, but I apologize for it in advance.

The Tale of the Christmas Bat

This year, Hubby and I traveled to Maryland to visit his family for Christmas. We arrived at 11pm on the 22nd, hung out with his mom and brother for a bit, then went to bed. At that point, everything in his mom’s beautiful, two-story home seemed perfectly normal.

The next morning, Hubby got up before I did and went downstairs for breakfast, where his mom greeted him by saying, “I lost your bat.”

???

The following conversation ensued:

Hubby’s Mom: “I lost your bat.”
Hubby: …
Hubby’s Mom: “I lost your bat!”
Hubby: “Um… what?”
Hubby’s Mom: “I lost your bat. I poked it with a yard stick and it fell on the floor clicking and hissing but then I lost it.”
Hubby: “You poked… wait, something fell… wait, what?”
Hubby’s Mom: “I LOST YOUR BAT. I took it up to your bathroom to get you back but it flew back down here and I lost it.”
Hubby: …
Hubby’s Mom: “I lost your bat.”
Hubby: “Uh, Mom? I think you have a bat in your house.”
Hubby’s Mom: …
Hubby: “Mom! You have a BAT in your HOUSE!”
Hubby’s Mom: …

If you’re confused, you’re not alone. Allow me to back up.

When Hubby’s Mom got up on the 23rd, she saw her cat staring at a bat stuck to the top of her kitchen cabinet, and she automatically jumped to the conclusion that her sons were playing a joke on her. She poked the bat with a yard stick, and it fell on the floor, where it hissed and opened and closed its claws. She still thought it was a toy, so she picked it up with an oven mitt, carried it upstairs, and put it on the toilet in our bathroom. A few minutes later, the bat flew out of the bathroom, flapped its way back downstairs, and made a couple of loops around the dining room before disappearing from sight, and Hubby’s Mom still thought it was a toy.

The woman is no dummy, I assure you. But she can be a bit stubborn. Another Christmas, she gave me an adorable penguin necklace and said, “I got it for you because I know how much you love the movie Happy Feet.” When I confessed that I’d never actually seen Happy Feet, she tried to convince me that I had and that Hubby told her I loved it, until finally Hubby’s Brother chimed in that it was actually his ex-girlfriend who loved the movie, at which point there was an awkward silence, and I said, “Um, well, I love the necklace. Thanks.” Anyway, you can see why it was difficult for Hubby’s Mom to accept the fact that she had a real live bat in her house, especially after she had CARRIED IT AROUND.

By this time, the arguing, screaming, and hysterical laughing had woken both me and Hubby’s Brother, and we joined in the HUNT FOR THE BAT.

Hubby’s Mom’s house is two stories, plus a basement. It has four bedrooms, three bathrooms, two living areas, a dining room, a kitchen, and a sunroom. And a bat. Somewhere. Now that she knew the thing was real, Hubby’s Mom was freaking out about it. She wanted that thing OUT OF HER HOUSE before the rest of the family showed up for Christmas Eve.

While we looked high and low, poking around in every nook and cranny, the conversation went something like this:

Hubby’s Mom: “I CANNOT HAVE A BAT IN MY HOUSE AT CHRISTMAS!”
Me: “Hahahahahahahaha!”
Hubby’s Brother: “Why didn’t you just throw it outside when you picked it up?”
Hubby’s Mom: “Because I thought it was fake! I thought you all were playing a joke on me!”
Me: “Hahahahahahahaha!”
Hubby: “Why would you think we would put a fake bat on your kitchen cabinet?”
Hubby’s Mom: “Remember ten years ago and when you and your brother snuck downstairs on Christmas Eve and put that giant nutcracker by the Christmas tree?”
Hubby’s Brother: “THAT’S NOT THE SAME THING AT ALL!”
Me: “Hahahahahahahaha!”

batcollage

One of these creatures was in Hubby’s Mom’s house. One was not.

There was no sign of the bat, which, based on Hubby’s Mom’s description and my Google searches, we concluded was probably a Little Brown Bat. While we all stood around in various states of bafflement (Hubby & Hubby’s Brother), frustration (Hubby’s Mom), and amusement (me) wondering where the bat could be, Hubby’s Mom’s cat calmly walked into the dining room, jumped onto a low wall separating the dining room from the entryway, stood on his hind legs, and stretched his front paws up a decorative column.

Hmm…, we all thought.

A ladder and a flashlight later, and yep, the cat was right. One corner of the hollow column had a hole in it, and the bat was nestled cozily inside.

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Comfy little brown bat

Now we knew where the bat was, but still didn’t know how to safely escort it from the premises.

We tried:

  • Asking it nicely.
  • Threatening it.
  • Banging on the column.
  • Bribing it with (false) promises of bags of mosquitoes.
  • Taping a garbage bag around the hole and waiting for it to fly out into the bag and get stuck there.
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Ineffective homemade bat trap

Twenty-four hours later, on Christmas Eve, we still had a bat, only now there were five more people in the house to stare it and wonder aloud why it had come and when it might leave. Eventually we read online that the bat might be finding a place to hibernate, and Hubby’s Mom was having none of that. She couldn’t deal with the bat for one more day, much less until spring, so decisions were made, plans were formed, and coat hangers were bent into non-pokey, bat-removing shapes.

Hubby, who had the longest arms of anyone present, climbed up on the ladder, removed the plastic bag, reached into the hole with the coat hanger, and gently nudged the bat. The bat did not move. However, it did squeak, hiss, and bite the coat hanger. Hubby nudged it less gently. There was more hissing and biting and squeaking (but this time the squeaking was from me). Finally, after four attempts, the bat became fed up with Hubby’s poking and decided to leave. He/She flew out of the hole, around the dining room, and into the family room where it landed on the wall above the fire place. We moved the ladder, and Hubby climbed up. Wearing two oven mitts, he grabbed the bat with a towel, carried it outside, and set it free, to much applause from the rest of us (and probably a few curses from the bat). Then we all washed our hands for several minutes.

The end.

(P.S. I told you it would leave you with questions. You were warned.)

(P.P.S. Could anyone point me in the direction of a really realistic remote-controlled bat? Asking for a friend…)

img_20161224_115559-1

The Christmas Bat, shortly before his/her departure

Things I am thankful for this holiday season:

  • I am thankful that Hubby’s Mom’s cats are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations.
  • I am thankful that Hubby’s Mom used an oven mitt to pick up the bat even when she thought the bat was a toy.
  • I am thankful that Hubby’s Mom did not decide to get us back for our “clever prank” by throwing the “toy bat” on us while we were sleeping.
  • I am thankful that everyone survived the visit from the Christmas bat, including the Christmas bat.
  • I am thankful that, this Christmas, my husband’s family actually seemed weirder than mine.

********** DISCLAIMER **********

NEVER TOUCH A BAT! Many bats carry rabies, which is a horrible, fatal disease and a terrible Christmas gift. If you find a bat in your house, you should definitely call a professional to deal with it rather than setting up homemade traps and ruining oven mitts. We Juettners were lucky and stayed out of harm’s way, but I do not condone our methods. Please don’t be like us. Stay safe. Also, I’m typing this added disclaimer on my phone, so any typos are most likely the result of clumsy thumbs and not early onset rabies, so please don’t worry.

 

The Night Before Deadline

TheDesk

 

The Night Before Deadline

‘Twas the night before deadline, and all over my desk
not a character stirred—the manuscript was a mess.
The computer was on, the cursor was blinking
in hopes that a plotline would soon enter my thinking.

The coffee cups were empty, the blogs had been read,
yet nothing—no nothing!—danced in my head.
I’d just poured the wine and sat down in my chair,
lamenting the fact that life’s so unfair

when suddenly in the back of my mind came a spark,
a tiny dim flame that lit up the dark.
Away to the keyboard I flew like a bat,
toppling my wine and disturbing the cat.

The monitor glowed with a whiteness so bright,
illuminating a screen empty of type
when my desperate eyes, full of repentance,
saw letters and words and even a sentence!

With such clever language and the skill to enthuse,
I knew in a moment it must be my muse.
At eighty words per minute, her ideas arrived,
and she crafted and molded them, brought them alive

with similes and metaphors and unique turns of phrase,
without tropes or adverbs, nor worn out clichés.
From exposition to denouement,
she filled my story with suspense and awe.

When the last word was written, the document saved,
I thanked my muse and decided to be brave.
“Please,” I said, “will you show yourself?
I’ve no idea if you’re human or elf.”

“I yearn to behold the face of the being
who inspires the writing I do that’s worth reading.”
There was a jingling sound, a flash and a shimmer,
and the air in the room seemed to get thinner.

For only a moment, my vision was blurred,
then on my desk perched a girl like a bird.
Her fingers were pencils, her toes were erasers,
her teeth, when she smiled, were sharper than razors,

perfect for cutting unneeded description
and murdering darlings with flawless precision.
Her feathery hair was purple and long,
and her delicate wings were the color of song.

She wore loose-fitting clothing with numerous pockets;
around her neck, hung trinkets and lockets.
Her colorful pants were rolled up to the knees
and ornamented with stitched memories.

She wiggled her nose and winked one green eye,
then stretched out her wings and started to fly.
“Wait!” I called, finally finding my voice,
“Can’t you stay? Must you go? Is there no other choice?”

“Think of the work I could do in a year
if only you stayed by my side, always near.”
She blew me a kiss and tickled the cat,
and said, “Silly writer, where’s the fun in that?”

Then, with the jingle bell laugh of a sprite,
my muse fluttered out into the dark night,
but I heard her whisper as she took to the skies,
“Now that it’s written, don’t forget to revise!”

© Carie Juettner, 2015

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HAPPY HOLIDAYS to all the writers out there! :)

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[Remember– if you comment on my blog posts between now and December 31, 2015, you’ll be entered to win my book giveaway!]

Christmas Songs for Writers

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1. The First Novel
2. O Holy Plot
3. All I Want for Christmas is Muse
4. Revisin’ Around the Christmas Tree
5. It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Fiction
6. The Twelve Years of Revising
7. God Rest Ye Weary Typing Hands
8. Go Pitch It at a Conference
9. Do You Read What I Read?
10. Away in a Memoir
11. What Typo is This?
12. Carol of the Blogs
13. Hark! The Herald Agents Sing!
14. Deck the Halls with Rejection Letters
15. O Come All Ye Readers
16. Let it Sell! Let it Sell! Let it Sell!

Oh how I wish these songs actually existed. I’d totally buy that CD. :)

Happy Holidays, and Happy Writing!

[Don’t forget– if you comment on my blog posts between now and December 31, 2015, you’ll be entered to win my book giveaway!]