Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A mouse in the house

Last night, I am sitting at the kitchen table watching Idol with Becky while I'm simultaneously working on the laptop. Out of the corner of my eye, I see a dark flash run FAST from the laundry room to the fireplace, right down the corner of the wall. I only saw a flash of darkness, but I knew what it was instantly. Darn! We had a mouse in the house.

Years ago, when we first moved in, we had to reclaim our house from the field mice that had chosen to live in the field our house was built on. They certainly must have considered us squatters in their space. Becky was reluctant to kill the mice, so encouraged me to buy humane traps. Sure, no problem.

The traps were little acrylic boxes with spring loaded doors that you baited with peanut butter. They worked great. I would set three of them out in the basement, and every morning, I would find each one filled with a mouse. Every morning, I would release the mouse in the backyard, reset the traps, and repeat the process.

This went on for six or so days, and about 18 mice. I decided there was no way I had 18 mice in my house (I would have noticed the piles of scat). In vain, I tried to seal all the doors, windows, cracks, etc. But I think mice have a teleportation ability, or else they can squeeze through the tiniest of cracks. I reset the traps, but this time, released the mice down by the creek, over 100 yards away from the house. You could practically hear the little footsteps racing me back up the hill to the basement door. I had had enough.

I bought three of the traditional snap-shut spring-loaded traps. Within 2 days, I had caught four mice, and never again had a problem with mice in the house.

There were the occasional signs of mice in the garage (which is a separate building from our house): nibbled birdseed, scat along the walls, nesting materials from paper and lint.

Of the many times I'd seen mice in the garage, I would occasionally trap them, but it was a tough battle to keep up with them. One spring, when I had a large mulch pile in the driveway, I noticed a six foot black king snake resting in the sun on the mulch pile. The snake had four distinct mouse-sized lumps in his belly, each spaced a few inches apart. I looked gratefully at the snake saying, "You, sir, are welcome to stay!" I may not like mice, but I am perfectly fine with snakes.

So, returning to last night, I see this mouse run down the wall, behind the sofa, from the laundry room to the fireplace. I am instantly creeped out. Becky saw nothing. She's sewing and paying zero attention and seems disturbingly unphased. I, however, am like the black lady in the Tom and Jerry cartoons, practically hysterical, wanting to mount the nearest chair and grab my broom.

Then I see the mouse flash across the other wall, from the fireplace to the TV cabinet. So I run out to the garage, grab the traps, bait them, and set them strategically around the room. I am somewhat concerned now about leaving the traps out in the living space, especially with our curious boys and a pug. I don't want any of them to get hurt. But they've all gone to bed, so it's safe for the time being to lay out the traps.

Nothing happens, American Idol finishes, and Becky goes upstairs and climbs in bed, totally unconcerned. (Must be because she was raised on a farm. Or she was playing macho.) I'm just finishing things up on the computer, when the darn mouse runs out from under the chair Becky was sitting in, right out into the open!

I start stomping like a crazed Irish dancer. I missed it, of course, but pumping with adrenaline, I'm in no shape to go to bed. I recheck the traps, have thoughts of the mouse climbing the stairs and running all over me during the night, and mount the stairs for bed.

After brushing my teeth and getting into bed, my thoughts are filled with bubonic plague and hanta virus. I finally fall asleep. It's a restless sleep, though. At midnight, I imagine or dream or think I hear a trap snap, and finding it likely that I've caught the mouse, I sleep a little deeper and more peacefully.

In the morning, I awake at 4:30 and go downstairs to check the traps. Dang-it!! They're all unsprung, and the peanut butter hasn't even been touched. That stinkin' mouse is still at large!

This means war! Jihad! I have declared a fatwah on the mouse!

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