Monday, November 20, 2006

Of Mice and Men

OK, we have mice. We have mice every winter. We live out near the country (real honest-to-crap “feed your family” type cornfields are like a street and a half away), we don’t have a cat (don’t get me started), and our house is 45 years old or so, so the mouse pathways in and out are probably pretty well-established and either beyond my line of sight or beyond my ability to bend over and crawl around and search for.

We tried blue poison, but with a dog around, well, let’s just say the results can be icky. We tried those wire traps, but wound up throwing a bunch of them away, since none of us could stand to, er, disentangle. So, now we have reusable mousetraps. They have a big red X on the top of them, as if to say “Don’t stick your finger in here, Stupid!”

I am a vermin avoider, so the task of baiting the traps is always up to someone else. Also, removing the deceased is up to someone else, too. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of being a vermin avoider is that I have hypersensitive hearing and Super Person sight (when it comes to vermin), and I am always the first person to either hear them or spot them. I have to take my glasses off to knit socks, but somehow my eyeballs work fast enough to see not only where the mice have come from, but also where they have gone.

One year we had a baby mole in the house. I’m not kidding. It’s not like we have dirt floors or something way too organic like that, so I have no idea how the damned thing got in the house. I was the one who spotted it, scampering hell-fer-leather around the living room, early one Saturday morning. The dog was second to notice it, and between me yelling about moles in the damned house, and the dog barking and attempting to dig through the couch to get to it, leaping onto and over furniture in a mad mole chase, things got loud in a hurry.

The dog was in a hunting frenzy, I was waving plastic leftover ice cream buckets, yelling at the dog, and trying to beat him to the mole, the kids were still in their nighties, jumping and squealing, and my husband came thundering downstairs in his undershorts, waving his arms and yelling his usual manly refrain of “What the Hell’s going on around here?”

“A mole! A mole!” I yelled, whilst beating my plastic buckets together, attempting to distract the dog. “Eyeeew! Icky! How did a mole get in?” asked all of the kids, not quite together. “ARFARFARF” yodeled the dog, while leaping in 3-foot high arcs and bouncing in circles. “What the F***?” yelled hubs. “How can a g*dd*mned mole be in the g*dd*mned house? Are you all completely g*dd*mned nuts? I need pants,” he said, and stomped back upstairs.

I finally realized that I and my buckets were not doing much good, so I herded the kids back to their rooms and told them they needed to be dressed and brush their hair before I’d let them chase the mole. I left the dog on mole patrol and put my buckets down in the kitchen, poured a cup of coffee for my pants-seeking spouse and one for myself, then went back to the living room to make sure the mole didn’t head up the one step between the living room and the rest of the house.

Hubs came downstairs, clothed, gave me a truly nasty look, and accepted his coffee. “What the hell do you mean, there’s a mole in here?” he asked over the sound of the dog barking gleefully at the mole it had trapped under a cabinet. “There’s a mole,” I said, “under the cabinet. I think it’s a baby mole.”

“How the hell [notice that hubs’ vocabulary has a certain consistency when he’s ticked off] can it be a mole; and if it IS a mole, how can you tell it’s a baby mole?” he asked.

“It has a snout, not much of a tail that I could see, and it’s mole-shaped and smallish,” I replied.

“It’s probably a mouse,” he said.

“If it were a mouse, it would be a rat at that size,” I replied.

“Bet it’s a mouse,” he responded.

“Bet a dollar it’s a mole,” I said, “and I hope you help the dog catch it soon.”

“Where are those buckets?” he asked, “They looked about right for catching it.”

I brought in the buckets, and between the dog’s enthusiastic help, my guarding the step, and hub’s endeavors, he caught it. It was a mole. He made sure to show it to the kids before he snuck over to the nasty neighbor’s back yard and let it loose.

So, anyway, back to current vermin. They’re in the kitchen because they’re not stupid, despite the implications of the big, red X on the reusable trap. The people food is in there, the bird and his flung bits are in there, the dog food is in there; it’s a mouse Wal-Mart in my damned kitchen.

We’ve caught two, thankfully, and this morning when I came downstairs to make coffee in the dark, I heard a clonking noise. Since the parrot usually clicks his beak at me or chirps something sweet at me, I didn’t really think much about it; I figured he was bumping into some toy. The clonking continued.

After I got the coffeemaker loaded up and perking, I realized the clonking was closer to me than Hawthorne, and I had a feeling. There was enough light for me to see a few things, and I started looking. Well, there was a very annoyed mouse, in the reusable trap, thumping around on the top of the stove. The clonking was from when he would bang the trap against the covered grease can I have on the stove, and he was whacking the trap against it and fumbling all over the stove to get loose. I turned on the stove light and he froze, looking at me. I looked back. We stared for a while. He won. I had to go to the dining room for my penalty. He continued clonking once I was gone.

I realized that he might clonk his way loose, and while, if it were possible to just lead him from the house and establish a suitable home for him in the wild, I would, but that’s not the way things work. He’d just come back, breed, and so forth. So, I got a dishtowel, another handy plastic bucket, and a wooden spoon I’ve been thinking of throwing out (I don’t like the length) and managed to get him in the bucket. I put the bucket on my car hood in the garage, covered it with the towel, and weighted the towel down with the spoon.

Once hubs came down, and I clued him in, he said he’d been putting the trap on the backsplash near the stove, which has been successful. I was glad to hear it because I was kind of wondering how the mouse dragged himself and his headgear all the way to the stove in search of something against which to clonk.

So, everything except the reusable trap is now gone. Um, except, there was a Noise in the tablecloth cabinet after everyone else had left this morning…

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