Patti the Dragon Slayer

Source of photo: EliteColumn

I was minding my own business, just brushing my teeth, when I heard it. An unusual crinkly sound coming from the direction of the washer and dryer, just a few feet away.

Having experienced a few traumas in my life, I am pretty much perpetually on alert. And I tend to have a very good sense of where my folks and my critters are when I am in the house. I knew our cat, Maggie, was fast asleep in our bedroom upstairs and I knew our dog, Buddy, was lying on the floor at my husband’s side, in the living room. Besides me, our many plants, one wayward fly and perhaps a few house spiders, there was nothing else alive in the house: certainly nothing big enough to make that much of a ruckus.

“Did you hear that?!” I called, alarmed. My husband remained on the couch as he answered in the negative.

Fully watchful now, I heard the strange, papery crinkling again. “There!” I called, in greater alarm. “There it is, again!” By this time, I had slowly and carefully approached the washer and dryer, holding my toothbrush defensively in front of me. My husband, who is never ‘on alert’ as I am, and whose hearing is not nearly as keen, answered for the second time (rather indifferently, I thought) that he still hadn’t heard anything amiss.

I was right in front of the dryer now, peering intently at the floor, when I heard the rustling for a third time – much louder now – and watched in horror as the whole dryer vent heaved violently back and forth.

There was something alive in there.

I am never the best person in a crisis and my definition of ‘crisis’ is likely much more all-encompassing than most folks. My brain switched suddenly and inexplicably to French (we lived in Québec – a French province – for over 30 years).

“There’s something in the tuyau (*)!!!” I called frantically.

“In the what???” answered my bewildered husband from the living room.

“The tuyau! There’s something in the tuyau!!!” My brain finally found the word. “The dryer vent! There’s something big and alive in the dryer vent!”

“Well, turn on the dryer then,” answered my infuriatingly calm husband, still on the couch. “It’s likely a squirrel. That’ll scare it out.” For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how he could be so calm in the middle of what was clearly A Terrible Crisis.

You turn it on!” I called, not quite hysterically, as I scurried toward the cellar, where I carefully checked and then banged on every inch of the pipe leading to the exterior dryer vent. If there was anything still in there, I had scared it to death: not a sound came from any part of it.

Not at all reassured by that thought, I headed outside to peer under our deck at the outside vent cover. I could barely see it: in their infinite wisdom, whoever installed it originally thought it would make sense to place it far under our low front porch. It is very gloomy under there: the only member of our family who has ever ventured underneath is our cat.

Neither my husband or I have any real skills when it comes to carpentry and generally fixing things, but as I (very slightly) excel at all things manual around the house, the responsibility for fixing this Terrible Crisis fell to me. After peering intently into the murky void under our little deck for several long moments, I got up, brushed off my knees and announced with authority: “We have to go and buy a new dryer vent.”

My husband thought this could all wait until the next day (it was raining really hard) but I was adamant: something alive and fairly big had gotten into that vent and I would not rest until I had resolved the problem.

Like, immediately.

With a resigned sigh, my husband more-or-less good-naturedly accompanied me to the hardware store, where I made him stand forever as I peered at every dryer vent available (you would be surprised at how many different models there are) and carefully read the instructions on each one. After a great deal of pensive thought (and what my husband qualified as a lot of unnecessary talk about the merits and foibles of each and every model), we finally purchased a vent similar to the one in the attached photo and rushed home to end this Terrible Crisis once and for all (well, I rushed: I must say that my husband was not nearly as concerned by the mysterious intruder as I was).

Source: Famco Dryer vents

There are a few additional things the reader should be aware of, at this point:

  1. The opening to get under the deck was way too small for my husband to crawl through;
  2. While I have made my peace with spiders and greatly appreciate the work they do at keeping pests out of my home; while I no longer kill spiders; I really do not like the thought of a spider crawling on me. Honestly, I would rather encounter a rat than a spider.
  3. There were a lot of cobwebs under there.
  4. Like, an awful lot…

I knew it was going to be cramped and I knew I wouldn’t be able to run away if something crawled on me. While the grown-up part of me knew that in the grand scheme of things, this wasn’t that much of a big deal, at the moment that I dropped to my belly and started wiggling plank-like through that opening, I nonetheless needed all my courage.

I had had the foresight to put a tarp down – and push it forward as I advanced – so I wouldn’t be crawling on the dirt (and other creepy crawlies – I could only imagine what all those cobwebs said about the sumptuous feasts the spiders were enjoying under there). With my husband’s help, I also dragged the vacuum cleaner behind me, and I carried a small plastic bag that held a small broom to clear away the cobwebs, three types of screwdrivers (to unscrew the old dryer vent) and my phone – to use as a flashlight.

“Don’t leave me!” I called plaintively to my husband, as my feet disappeared under the deck.

It wasn’t nearly so bad once I was fully under. I found that I could get on all fours (my husband would never have been able to do that) and I only actually saw one large spider, who seemed just as anxious to get away from me as I was of him.

In short order, I removed the old vent; realised that all it needed was a good cleaning (the flapper was stuck in the ‘open’ position because of too much dryer lint); handed it out to my husband to clean while I vacuumed the vent as far as the hose would go; screwed everything back in place and gathered up all the loose dryer lint on the ground along with a bunch of very old cobwebs.

“Do you realise we just saved, like, a whole lot of money and our reputations???” I called out happily to my husband. “Not only will we be able to return the new vent we didn’t need after all, but imagine if we’d had to call a handy person for this!!! Had we not gone to the hardware store and known what a dryer vent looked like?? I would never have dared to do this if we hadn’t figured out how these things work, first! They’d have laughed us right out of town!!!” (and in a small town like ours, that is a very real possibility)

Okay, I admit, my title was a tad misleading. I did not slay a dragon. I don’t think I even slayed a spider.

But I emerged – filthy and covered in cobwebs – from that dark, dank space, feeling like Wonder Woman. No, like Godzilla.

There’s nothing like overcoming one of your most primal fears to make you feel like the Queen of the World.

For the record: we will be cleaning the vent regularly now: but in cold weather, when the spiders are dormant.

And when the day comes that we have to replace our deck, we will be adding a trap door.

Patti the Dragon Slayer, at your service…

(*) French for ‘pipe’ or ‘vent’

Patti Moore Wilson/©




Author: Patti Moore Wilson, wednesdayschild2

I write what I feel. And I rarely know exactly what I feel until I write. I have lived long enough to have known many joys and many sorrows. I have made many mistakes; I have forgiven myself for a few… I have learned that there are lessons in every step of this journey, if we only take the time to pay attention… I hope you will feel free to pick and choose the stories that resonate for you…

19 thoughts on “Patti the Dragon Slayer”

  1. I commend you for your ascension to slayer status. Personally, I would take a spider over a rat. That’s only because every night I go into the garage to turn off an outdoor light, the spider world offers up its latest “champion” to take me on. This has given me a higher confidence level facing off against them. May your dryer vent always be free of critters as well as lint.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I humbly take a bow in thanks, kind sir (I admit that I did a pretty NON-humble victory dance – and a double fist pump – when I emerged 🤓). And yes, spiders sure are creepy – ESPECIALLY in the country, where they take on truly mythical status. But they do an awesome job at keeping OTHER creepy-crawlies at bay so I generally leave them alone unless they plant themselves somewhere where I have no choice 😬

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I thought of this post when I drove by a newly-decorated house this morning. It had a giant foam spider that was big enough to cover 3/4 of the front door. I too am willing to stay in my lane when it comes to spiders. My agreement with them is if they enter the house they are fair game, but I let them play as they will outside. 🕷🕸

        Liked by 1 person

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