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My sister texted me in the morning: I hear something. I think there’s a squirrel in the basement. Then she left for work.

My workshop is in the basement of a residential house where my sister lives. It is what makes my job viable -- while it is not glamorous it works. And, the overhead is low. No pun intended.

When I got to the house, I also heard something. It was the sound of voices. Really loud voices coming from the basement. Huh, I thought. Odd. But squirrels don't talk, so I went down stairs slowly, not sure exactly what to expect.

To enter my workspace, one walks down a flight of stairs and continues along a hallway. There one turns a corner and voila! A shoe shop snuggled into half a basement. This morning when I turned the corner my eyes went directly to my business table, there there was a large squirrel sitting at the keyboard. The computer was on, and the course of the voices I had heard. The squirrel turned to look at me, we made eye contact, and with a flick of its tail, I screamed and started clapping.

Clapping is my way to draw attention, startle, or otherwise intervene in a dangerous situation. It is involuntary. It is not cute. I don’t know where it comes from, but whenever I am startled, or wish to startle someone or something I start clapping vigorously.

So, I screamed and clapped my way up the stairs, slamming the door behind me. Oh my god — a squirrel in my workshop! A full sized squirrel with a fluffy flicking tail sitting at my computer. Shit. What do I do with this situation.

In the total absence of any squirrel culling ideas, I decided that it was a great morning to catch up on emails, update my website, and work on my plan for the next few months. Ordering supplies? Check. Responding to emails? Check. Sending on notes to distributors? Check. Making supply lists for classes? Check. Ok, what other business can I do from my laptop upstairs? I was, possibly for the first time since I started my business, all caught up.

No more avoiding the situation downstairs, so I put on a hat and jacket, and tucked my jeans into my socks. I didn’t want to squirrel to get inside my clothes. I pulled on running shoes incase I needed to dodge, chase, corner, or escape. I opened the door to the basement. Silence. I slowly tiptoed down the stairs, my body angled, trying to sense the squirrel. Nothing. I got to the bottom of the stairs. Nothing. I turned the corner into the workshop. Nothing. I stood there for a moment assessing. Thread ok. Sewing machine, fine. Cutting table, a mess, but my mess. Shoes in progress, untouched. Computer table, a mess. What that my mess or the squirrels? I couldn’t remember. I looked over to the window. The fan was tipped over and there was a tear in the screen. Well, now we know how the squirrel got in. Did it also get out? I stood perfectly still listening and trying to sense the squirrel. Nothing.

Slowly I walked over to the computer. It was dark, the voices silenced. There were little black dots all over the table. For a moment I thought it was black rice and was confused, then I realized: squirrel poop. That little fucker pooped on my keyboard. Gross. Then, I realized that because the computer had been on when the squirrel was sitting there, I could trace what it had done. Sure enough, it had been listening to a podcast. The name of the podcast: Becoming Batman.

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Hark Weber
Handmade Shoes

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