Monday, August 13, 2012

The mighty termite hunter

"It could be worse," he said, pointing his powerful flashlight into the hole cut in the floor. "It could be so much worse."

Today I met the Indiana Jones of Toronto termite hunters - Richard. My new hero. He is the creme de la creme of his kind, so much so that he's on the Pest Management Advisory Council of Canada. You didn't know there was such a thing, did you? Well, now you do. And Richard is their termite guy.

So here's the thing - decades ago, we cleverly built a cedar deck on the back of our house, tilted slightly toward the foundations. Perfect for termites, who have built mud tunnels through the damp wood, and up into the walls and ceiling of the back bedroom, the roof of which was not properly ventilated and so nice and damp and welcoming. For years, as I slept tranquilly in my little bed, a joyous termite fest was going on just above and beside me. Creepy!

The very, very good news is that they are not in the foundations, and they are not in the structural beams. Richard told me that one of my close neighbours had to spend more than $50,000 when it was discovered that her house, the same vintage as mine - 1879 - was built on wooden foundations that had been completely chewed through. Richard has seen walls ready to fall down from the damage these minuscule insects can inflict - and, by the way, that includes condos built a few years ago. They love blue insulation, it turns out. "Downtown Toronto is Ground Zero for termite damage," said Richard. "But your house is solid."

The roof still needs to be stripped and rebuilt, the walls and ceiling of my bedroom too, then Richard comes to inflict his death rays, and then when the house is beginning to recover, we need to rip out the deck and replace it with stone or brick. Anything but wood.

"We're thinking of a reality TV show," said Richard. "Termite Hunters." A fascinating new world opens up - Pestworld. Listening to John the carpenter/plumber and Richard talk joists and grading and beams was like watching astrophysicists discuss Higgs-Bosun. My friends, if you need a termite man, if you need a great plumber/carpenter, just ask. As I said before, my two handymen are both John, with one son Johnnie, and now Termite Richard joins Roofer Richard. There's a Kevin working here too. So my house is in the strong, skilful hands of John, John, Johnnie, Richard, Richard, and Kevin - the best of the best.

As all this was going on, a little old grey poodle wandered into my front yard and stood, trembling from head to tail. I brought him in and called the number on his collar, but there was no answer. Then Johnnie remembered seeing him on the steps a few houses away, so we took him home. They hadn't even noticed he was gone.

Truly, Lord, I do not need a dog in the midst of all this. Thanks for thinking of me, though.

P.S. I happened to catch a tiny bit of a TV interview with Mr. Republican and his new running mate, Mr. Ur-Republican. It made me ill. I believe in the presence of evil, and I do think such wilful mendacity and such cold self-righteous blindness to the human condition is evil. The "Star" had an article about their good chances for winning, and on the same page, a piece about the cutting off of rhinoceros horns in Africa. I had to turn the page quickly. Can't face it, don't want to think about it, makes me sick.

Then I laughed. The fact is that we stupid human beings don't matter a damn. When we're all dust, when we've consumed ourselves right off the face of the earth, who will take over? Now I know the answer. Termites.


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