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Last Sunday night I was roasting chiles in the kitchen. Now, you're thinking, yeah right, you liar, you were making frozen pizza, but you'd be wrong. Like idiots, we had been to the farmers' market in Minneapolis and got a mess o' Anaheim chiles after John said the words "green chile stew" which melted any resolve I had to not, not, ever, no, go to the Minneapolis farmers' market this year because we already belong to a CSA farm here and have more produce than we can handle although, admittedly, not chiles (and we grow chiles in the backyard, but admittedly, not Anaheims this year).

We had big plans to do a 2-day State Fair experience, but pupped out on Morning 2 and decided instead to go to the farmer's market because, as I pointed out in the last paragraph, we are idiots. Not only did I get a mess o' green chiles, but a mess o' sweet red bells too because hey, they freeze well and we use them in everything. I was using my little kitchen torch for the Anaheims and the jalapenos I would put in the stew, but had 3 of 4 burners on the stove cranked up for doing the big bells. Noisy. So when I turned it off, there it was for me to hear.

Squeak. Whirly squeak. Pause, squeak-squeak. Coming from the basement.

The whole reason I got married was in case there was ever a bat in the house. And even though John had a slight fever and was lying down upstairs with West Nile virus or whatever, he got up to get some water and I notified him of his impending task. The way I did this was to scream like a girl about a bat in the basement and run like a girl up to my office and shut the door like a girl and not come out like a girl until he came upstairs to give me a progress report: the bat was in the dryer, having apparently entered through the dryer vent on the outside of the house, and yes, he would put a screen on it ASAP but not on Sunday of Labor Day weekend so just forget it and stop screaming like a girl, it's just a bat.

I went back to my chile project and he went back to the basement, determined that the bat was not in the dryer proper but in the long pipe vent leading to the outside of the house, and experimentally turned the dryer on for a half second, to see if maybe the thing would fly back out with some encouragement. Then he ate some toast and went back to bed (John, not the bat ... that I know of.)

The next morning, I made buttermilk blueberry pancakes for breakfast (I'm not stupid, I know how to hold up my end of this marriage thing since I don't have bat killing skills) and John went to the basement and tentatively turned on the dryer.

Thump. Like a freaking tennis ball. Thump.

He went back upstairs and looked for the box of latex gloves I use for seeding habaneros (chiles, bats, chiles, bats, yes I realize there is a theme here, however lame) and said, "I think I killed it." My response was to scream and run in circles, cranked up now to Extreme Girl. John asked why I was reacting worse to "There's a dead bat in the dryer" than if he'd said, "There's a serial killer in the basement." I pointed out that if there were a serial killer in the basement, a person could call the cops and they'd come right over and be all "Are you okay?"; the only person who'd answer a 9-1-1 call about a bat would be some pie-eyed underemployed Naturalist who'd come over two days later in his 1987 Subaru station wagon with a kayak strapped on top and tell you that bats are our friends because they eat mosquitos, and ask if you'd like to sign up for his community education class on building bat houses for your yard.

I went to the store, shaking my fist at the bat (okay, the idea of a bat) in the rear view mirror. When I came back with stuff I didn't need (actually, I needed flour and eggs and limes, because I was going to make green chile stew and jalapeno cornbread and homemade salsa and probably also pot those starter plants I keep saying I'm going to pot that are all over the dining room floor and whatever else to even the score of me not killing bats on a long weekend and making John do it.

John had good news and bad news. Good news: it wasn't a bat, it was a chipmunk. Bad news: it wasn't a bat, it was a chipmunk. Solved was the mystery of why the critter didn't "fly back out." Newly unsolved was the mystery of why the chipmunk jumped into the dryer vent, although I suspect he or she thought it was yet another bird feeder challenge.

And a philosophical conundrum: John noted that his disgust and revulsion had been replaced by compassion and sadness, and why? Because bats are bats and chipmunks are big-eyed cartoon cuteness in a striped jumpsuit and a tail? Because of the vampire thing? What? Both animals carry germs and possibly worse. And only one of them is useful, friend to man, essential gear in the wheels of the ecosystem, etc., and it ain't the chipmunk. Bats eat mosquitos; chipmunks eat sunflower seeds meant for birds, bury them in the ground and forget about them, repeat as necessary, and then die. A chipmunk has nothing to put on his resume except Cuteness. But here we were, all "Awwwwww...." over its grisly death via major appliance.

What if Count Drakul had taken the form of a chipmunk, now that would be something.
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