I haven’t posted much in the last week and guess what? I haven’t written much either.

My mum was in town Monday through Thursday. We spent all day Tuesday running errands and shopping and driving through traffic.

Wednesday was the two younger kids’ first day of school, which lasted for two hours, 8:00 to 10:00. I had asked Child Two to confirm those hours and she had told me 8:00 to 9:00, so I spent an hour in the waiting in the schoolyard. After school, Child Three went over to a friend and I took Child Two to exchange a video game. I spent the afternoon trying to hustle work and doing some household errands until I had to pick up Child Three.

I went to a meeting of baseball and T-ball coaches, until I grew suspicious that I was either in the wrong place or there on the wrong day. After half an hour spent browsing Mark Furman’s book on the OJ case, I went back home to discover I was early by a week. Elvi later came home that night from Winnipeg.

Elvi and I spent Thursday morning at the bank. We got an equity loan to pay for the kids’ school, so that while I may have to work until I’m 82, at least I don’t have to pull the kids out of their schools and away from their friends. My mum and her husband spent the rest of Thursday afternoon with us before heading down to Toronto to visit my sister and that evening we set aside to spend with some friends in town from Oregon.

Friday, Child One and I picked up our Oregon friends then met Elvi for lunch around noon. We went to Bistro Olivieri, located inside a bookstore on Cote-des-Neiges. The atmosphere and decor were wonderful, but that’s not going to be enough to make me go back. Our food took an hour to show up, and that was salads, a pasta dish, and one piece of fish. The staff completely forgot about the lamb shank I ordered. By the time the waiter (I think he was the manager, too) told me my dish was next on the list, everyone else had finished eating. He graciously wrapped it up to go and didn’t charge us for it, but that just shouldn’t happen at those prices. The food was decent, but $13 is a lot to spend on a standard salad with a two-inch by two-inch square of goat cheese. My lamb, once I ate it at home, was good but nothing spectacular.

Friday night, my father and his wife showed up and we ate at home with them. We have friends who moved to PEI in June and have come back to Montreal to visit. They are staying with us and showed up late last night: two adults, two boys, and a Lab.

And here’s where the story gets interesting. Thanks for hanging on so far.

I was playing some Wii (one of the Medal of Honor series) while waiting for our guests to show up. Child One was watching me on the coach, amazed by my l33t sniper skills. I saw an animal I thought was one of her chinchillas run from a china hutch to behind the piano. I told her she must have left open a door to a chinchilla cage, but she went to check and found all four chinchillas present and accounted for.

Uh oh.

Just then, our guests showed up. Their Lab went straight for the piano, sniffing and pawing at it. Our dog, or should I write “dog”, remained oblivious. The alpha male among the guests (not the Lab) spotted the rogue varmint behind the piano. The creature ran out from behind the piano by the end table under which the “dog” hides out and disappeared. I assumed it went under the hide-a-bed couch, so I pulled it away from the wall.

I found more evidence of an invader on the floor that used to be under the couch. There was chinchilla-like poop and a handful of dog food. I pulled the cushions of the couch to open the bed up and expose the floor beneath it. When I pulled the bed out, it sounded like I’d won a slot-machine jackpot as dog food cascaded out the bottom of the back of the couch onto the floor. By the time it stopped, there must have been two pounds of it.

The varmint also reappeared, spotted by me and Child One. It ran for a corner of the room and disappeared somehow. There’s only a wooden table and no exits there. I think it may have escaped detection and run into the bottom of a nearby comfy chair.

The hide-a-bed mattress had wads of coach stuffing on it, and some more dog food. We cleaned up the mess but never found the elusive beast.

The creature was four to five inches long. I thought it was battleship gray and fuzzy, but Child One says it was gray-brown and sleek. I saw no tail; Child One says she saw a three or four-inch furry tail. If we trust our observations, we’ve discovered a new species to the region. If we trust parsimony, we have a rat living in our couch, either a black rat or a younger/smaller brown/Norway rat.

Child Two wants to keep it as a pet. I’m off to look for rat traps. With all the animals we have, some loose, rat poison isn’t a wise choice. I did seem to eliminate our mice with traps; let’s hope I can do the same with the rat.

Oh, and for some reason, our guests all slept in the basement.

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