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Runaway from home? Look who moves in!

The baby squirrel sat unsure about what to do on the futon in my downstairs bedroom.

“Really?  You are cute, but what are you doing here?”  I asked as I walked into my house after being away for a week.

A few seconds later I saw something run past the top of the stairs.  I put down my suitcase, closed the door to the downstairs bedroom and hesitantly walked up the flight of steps.  Good, no squirrel.  However, I did notice that the wood trim around my sliding glass door to the deck was now shredded to splinters. I even saw what looked like blood on the window.

Since I didn’t see any other squirrels, I thought that maybe that shadow had been nothing.  I ventured into my bedroom and sure enough, there was the mommy.  This is one of those moments when I REALLY miss my husband.  He would have dealt with this – somehow.  Instead it was only me.  I carefully opened the windows and doors, all over my house.  Then I ran next door to see Harry, my 10 pound Yorkshire Terrier, who had spent the past week with neighbors and his best girlfriend, 100 pound Black Lab Luna.

I was definitely a little freaked out by the scene and was hopeful that the squirrel family would figure out how to get out, and leave.  I stayed at my neighbor’s house for the duration of the hockey game, then quiet bravely took Harry back to my house. I checked around the house and did not see any sign of small furry gray rodents with large tails, so I cuddled up with my puppy and fell asleep in my own bed.

The next day I discovered where this all started. I have 2 fireplaces in my home that I do not even use.  The one on the lower level has a glass door.  I never pay much attention to that fireplace because I have never used it.  Apparently over time, the flue must have opened and not only was I probably losing heat from this space, but the family of squirrels had moved it.

I did call my homeowners insurance to see if they would cover any of the damages.  My deductible is very high and I was also told that my insurance doesn’t cover rodents.

Squirrels are considered rodents.

I didn’t need to hire an exterminator since they were already gone.

I made some phone calls this week.  It is time to fix things on my own.  Basically that means for me, making some phone calls and hoping they can help me without me going broke.

I started with the chimney cleaner.  He was appalled.  Not at the fireplace chimney which he said was fine, despite the nest at the bottom.  It was the boiler chimney that had major water damage and other stuff going on.  He made it seem like my house was about to blow up.  Well, I just had a friend who lost her whole house in a fire which started in a chimney so I decided to believe this man and pay to get this fixed.

I will work on fixing a few things like the splintered sliding glass door, loose siding and rotting deck.  There is always the option of selling the house and moving into something newer and smaller.  I must weigh the pros and cons as I move forward here.

I like my beach community, neighbors, commute to work and location.  My boys will be coming home in a few weeks for the summer and we have family visiting as well.  For the time being, I have confidence I can do this and am thankful that I can still afford to be in my home.

I finally tackled my closet this afternoon.  I emptied all the items and rehung them on new slender felted hangers.  I organized my wardrobe by length and color.  I filled 3 bags of my clothes to donate.  I even cleaned out Mike’s dresser and decided my summer clothes would be handy in those spaces.  I was finally OK with it.  My method of going through his closet has been to gradually donate or give his stuff away.  At this point in time I understand that he will not be needing them anymore.

The reality is that I chose to spend time in my closet so I wouldn’t have to deal with cleaning up the fireplace with the squirrel nest.  I know there are no critters in there but it still scares me a bit.  I am thinking of maybe hiring a teenager.  They like to make money, right? What would you do?


At the age of 51 I unexpectedly became a widow. For the first 6 months after my husband died, I was in shock and numb. I journaled and with the help of friends, family and therapists was able to get back to living my old life, even if it is now very different. Before I was married, I had spent a semester in England and backpacked around Europe. My husband and I moved from New York to California for 8 years and started a family. Travelling took a back seat to raising a family and going to work everyday. Since the loss of my husband I have visited a lot of places with family and friends and took a solo trip to Thailand. I am enjoying sharing my stories and adventures as well as some of my insights to how I am traveling the path of being a widow. I hope to share my stories and adventures as well as some thoughts on being a middle aged widow. While I have some great experiences traveling to Thailand and cruising to Central America, some of my adventures involve a trip to see a Broadway show in nearby Manhattan and a shopping trip at Bed, Bath and Beyond. If I can inspire anyone to go out and continue to live a good life that would be my greatest accomplishment.

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54 Responses

  1. I think I would have run screaming from the house.

    Reading about how you’ve been cleaning out your beloved husband’s closet, reminds me of my mom, after my dad died. She didn’t get rid of all of Dad’s clothes. And when she died in 2010, my sisters and I had to clear out both of our parents’ clothing. There are no easy answers. You do what you feel able to do and the rest will sort itself out. There’s no deadline on grief.

  2. Cousin John says:

    this reminds me of the time we had a very mad raccoon stuck in our chimney in BowMar. Our scared golden retriever discovered it as it was screeching just above the flu in the fireplace!. We had to hire a varmint catcher. He put a cage on the top of the chimney with some Kentucky fried chicken as bait. The next morning we had the raccoon in the cage. And the guy drove it away and released it “into the wild”.

  3. Laurie Sanders-Donnelly says:

    Tough stuff, all the way around. Congrats on another successful adventure away from home! Love the stories of your adventures. Yes, a teenager would love the job of helping you; but save non essential things for your sons, should they be willing. So impressed that you are able to let go of clothes that others no longer need.

  4. Unfortunately, some workmen take advantage of single women. I hope you always get at least three bids before signing a contract to have work done. It’s sad, but true, that not everyone is honest. In addition – I’m not saying that it is true in your case – but insurance companies will often say “no” when actually things are covered, and hope you will go away. I’m glad you were able to get rid of your squirrels without too much problem.

  5. Addie says:

    Can’t chimney man get rid of the nest?

  6. Great post. I enjoyed reading your blog. I want to let you know that I nominated you for the Blogger Recognition Award. Here’s a link to the post nominating you and the instructions for nominating others. You are awesome and deserve it! http://savingchamps.com/blogger-recognition-award-nomination-savingchamps/

    Lorna at savingchamps.com

  7. cedar51 says:


  8. Bernie Hollywood says:

    Enjoyed the squirrel story. Had a chipmunk in my bedroom in the middle of the night , it scared me to death. Left the doors open and he went on his merry way .

  9. Christie Tarver says:

    Very good! Better than a howler monkey! My husband loved the read on Blue Spirit!!!!! So good to be home…. Christie

    Sent from my iPhone


  10. Amber says:

    Eek! My daughter would love a pet squirrel. I personally would not want any in my home though.

    You reminded me that I need to tackle my closet. It’s a mess.

  11. I would hire a teenager as well. I’m too scary, I like squirrels just not in my home. I would be so scared that something is going to jump out at me 🙁

  12. Oh man. Living in Australia, I’ve never seen a squirrel – they look adorable in the photos I’ve seen though! I’m sorry about the addition damage to your boiler chimney – how annoying. Good luck in all of your renovations – sounds like you’ve got a fair bit to do, ugh. Definitely find a teenager to help you. 😛

    Christie’s Take on Life. xx

  13. Ravi says:

    Way to go..Victory lies after fear is overcome:)

  14. chelf says:

    Oh whow, what an experience. They are cute without a doubt but they are considered rodents indeed.

  15. Gelli says:

    It’s really hard to do things on your own especially if you’ve been with somebody for a long time. He will always be your half, but it’s glad to know how you managed it well. You can ask your neighbors if they know someone who fixes those kind of stuff. Take care!

  16. Inbode says:

    Husband’s sometime give a real hard time to wives! But, hats off to you lovely ladies! Keep going!

  17. All this sounds so overwhelming. I am glad you hung in there and got some of the stuff sorted. If you manage to get a dedicated teen to work for you, I say go for it 🙂

  18. Sienna Hart says:

    Aww so cute though! Good luck with everything!

  19. yukti77 says:

    Very imaginative and creative language used in your story

  20. Well, it seems that you handled that in a calm and collective way! That would have totally freaked me out. Regarding hiring help, I would first check with family members (nieces, nephews, etc). If I hired a teenager, I’d probably go with a fearless female over a male.

  21. Crandiva says:

    The squirrel makes this story cute but I can feel the absence of your husband from how you describe things that need to get done around the house and throwing away his old clothes.

  22. What a fun/overwhelming story! It’s funny in writing, but I’m sure I would have left the house running right away! Best of luck in your repairs!

  23. That is absolutely adorable, but I can imagine rather annoying as well! Have you tried the local animal charity? They may be able to help relocate the nest.

  24. Sushmita Thakare Jain says:

    Great post dear, we have a lot of squirrels out here in our Building garden, and you reminded me of the time when I had moved new here after my marriage and had tough time handling them, haha
    Thanks for revoking the memories 🙂

  25. realmofvibes says:

    I am glad to hear the squirrels are gone. I can’t imagine cleaning out the closet and drawers…you are such a strong woman. <3

  26. Michelle says:

    I enjoyed reading your blog and think you can help a lot of people going through the same thing.

  27. toastycritic says:

    Squirrels in the home would be a bit scary for sure. Glad you got some cleaning done.

  28. Nina says:

    Teenagers always love making money, so I’m sure you could find one. That sounds like quite an adventure! I would be frightened myself.

  29. Celine says:

    This article is so true. I think so many people can relate.

  30. thehouseturnedhome says:

    That is a lot to take on at once, and you do it beautifully! I’m glad that you were able to deal with the squirrel situation.

  1. May 1, 2017

    […] food is edible in my refrigerator.  My garage scares me after finding squirrels in the fireplace, I’m not sure what could be living out there. I am no longer deserving of […]

  2. November 10, 2017

    […] Runaway from home? Look who moves in! […]

  3. January 29, 2018

    […] The battle of the squirrels continues but after the damage they did to my house last spring once the babies arrived, I am determined to be proactive. Being a homeowner is great. As a widow I suddenly have to make all these decisions on my own. I can use Google and friends to figure out the best approach. Sometimes you can get a recommendation from a friend. It’s great when that works out, but sometimes it doesn’t. Anyway, I’ll be investing a bit of money to insure Squirrel Babes in Springtime does not have a return performance in my home. http://runawaywidow.com/2017/04/22/runaway-from-home-look-who-moves-in/ […]

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