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Amanda Farquharson is a fine artist from Dundas, Ontario. Her work is cheerful, colourful, bright, and explores themes of nature, family, animals, and memory.

Norman The Barking Squirrel

Norman The Barking Squirrel

Norman the Barking Squirrel Adventure

Stayed at Jay's two nights ago. Let me just preface this post by saying that I got completely attacked by a swarm of mosquitos that bit right through all my clothing and had super poisonous venom that has manifested in welts all over my body that are the size of a baby's fist. So yeah. Read this with an imagined extreme itchiness and you will begin to understand how insane I felt as all this was happening.

Jay heard noises in the basement that sounded like metal clanging and ran downstairs to see what the cats had gotten into. They had their curious little faces smushed against the fireplace window. So Jay comes upstairs and says to me "There is a squirrel in the fireplace."

I did what any sane girl would do which is nod and go back to my email.

He didn't move.



"Do you need me to help you?"

Nod.So we trek downstairs. The Squirrel (I named him Norman, so I shall henceforth refer to him thusly) is inside the fireplace barking at the cats who are screeching back. (Well, Lucy was screeching, Mocha looked terrified and kind of confused - which is her norm. I am not totally sure that she knew there was something in the fireplace. She might have just been sitting there because Lucy was.)

So we try putting a garbage bag around the door and opening it, hoping Norman will rush into the garbage bag in excitement and we can carry him outside. Nothing happens.

We try variations of the same plan involving boxes, bigger bags, bags of other colours and transparencies, banging on the fireplace. When Jason went upstairs and there were no witnesses I tried stroking the fireplace, dancing and singing Mariah Carey but none of those worked either.

We decide that Norman wants to just run straight outside so we block off all the doors except the ones leading outside and open the door.

Norman (the lazy, snivelling coward) moves further back into the fireplace and resumes barking.

We decide that if Lucy can't get Norman to move, nothing can. So we let her loose. I thought she would be all ferocious but when he didn't want to play she just lay down on the floor and begged for belly rubs. Norman barked.

Turns out I have a "No Belly Rubs Unless You Make Norman Move" Rule. Who knew?

So we shut the fireplace and go upstairs to "Google Stuff" which is Jay's favourite way to solve any problem. I tweeted, which is my favourite way of avoiding problems.

Google suggested putting a rope down the chimney and letting Norman climb out himself but for various reasons, this didn't work. Watching Jay climb the satellite tower to the roof and throw rope around was amusing, though. Thanks, Google.

He ends up calling animal control and they suggest coming to pick up a trap. For some reason, before we leave, Jay wants to tape massive sheets of plastic across the entire room (like they do to quarantine asbestos) to both keep Lucy out and keep Norman in. I obviously love him but in this moment I had the exact look on my face that Ellen has for Clark Griswald in National Lampoon.

We leave Norman barking and drive to this place which is COMPLETELY EFFING CRAZY. Like I wasn't already completely freaking out because I am ITCHY and we are LATE and I am in the middle of NOWHERE with not enough After-Bite on the planet to make my legs look like they don't have mutant growths on them. Now there is a BARKING SQUIRREL in the fireplace and we are at a completely deserted kennel/sheep farm/car mechanic/hay storage/animal control center staffed by lady who keeps accusing us of "Not driving straight over" and looks like she expects me to pick up this massive rotting animal trap that has chicken feathers glued to it all over with the poo of other animals.

Of course, I smiled politely, looked the cage up and down and said "This looks like a job for Jay." and walked away.

Jay seemed fine about picking it up and loading the trap into the trunk until he asked if he could wash his hands and the lady laughed in his face. Germs are not really Jay's thing. He put half a bottle of hand sanitizer on and when we got back to his house he Lysol Wiped every single thing he had touched. Twice. I think he was going to Lysol me too, but I ran and hid in the bathroom where there is normal soap.

We were afraid that Norman would maybe die since Google told us that squirrels can die after 24 hours of no water so Jay put a water container and some Norman Food in the trap and set the trap right in front of the fireplace. We taped the plastic right around the entire room so everything was sealed and drove to Toronto.

I was tweeting this throughout the process and my mom emailed me with these key helpful tips:

  1. He doesn't look very happy in the ashes, perhaps I should start a Save The Norman campaign, perhaps battlements should be raised with clear signs pointing the way out?
  2. Do NOT feed him oatmeal.
  3. If you decide to keep him in the fireplace, do you think he would like a nice picture of fish for his abode?  I could keep an eye out for one!
  4. Squirrels eat plastic wrap.
  5. I bet squirrels don't swim.
Thank you, mom. So helpful. All of those. NOT. Especially the fish painting. Like I want another, miniature one.
So now we wait. I will keep you posted on what happens with Norman. But I bet that, like Geoffrey the Squirrel, we will see Norman again.  (Geoffrey the Squirrel is another post entirely. We are good friends.)

On a side note, I tried drawing without outlines. I like it, what do the rest of you think? I need to fine-tune it a wee bit, but I think there is potential here... potential in that I like that Cartoon Amanda has lips...

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