Thursday, September 2, 2010
This is what I'm going for.
Last night I was just finishing dinner—chicken pot pie, salad, and apple slices—when I heard scratching and gnawing inside one of my cupboards. The cupboard I keep my Starbucks coffee and Wildflower iced tea in.
Now they’re trying to screw with my caffeine intake. Bastards.
Listening to the little scratchy-scratchy sounds gave me a stomach ache and I didn't want to open the cupboard to inspect it, lest a mice might dive bomb me right at face level, and you all know what that would do to me.
Put me right in the asylum. Just hand me my straight jacket now.
I tried to call my husband who was supposedly on his way home, but he didn’t answer. Twice. I finally called my neighbor to come check it out since I couldn’t take the anxiety anymore. He did some inspecting and the long and the short of it is, found no mice. But they are still alive and well in my kitchen walls somewhere, probably with a paw full of poo to throw at me given the opportunity.
I can’t tell you how many people have suggested we get a cat. Just today my mother even brought it up.
“Well, what you need is a cat,” she said.
“I’ve considered that, but how do I know I’m going to get a mouser and not just a cat who likes to tinker around with them like stuffed toys?” I replied.
“You know, cats learn those things from their mother. If the mother cat teaches the kittens how to do it, then they’ll chase the mice,” she added helpfully. It always comes back to the mother doesn't it?
Fabulous. So she’s saying I need to scour the alleys looking for a street cat with street smarts, whose mother showed them the finer points of catching and killing rodents? Do you think the people at the MSPCA have the vitaes for the strays in their shelter, filed by personality habits and specialized skills? I’m pretty sure that most cats these days are from the genetic line of the washing-mittens-and-eating-pie type. Meow meow meow.
Perhaps I should just purchase a mouse at the pet store and secretly release it in various cat cages and see what the felines do. A little like an interview or performance evaluation. Chases mouse? Check. Catches mouse? Check. Kills mouse? Nope. Just bats it with paw and licks it. Move on to cat option #2. It’s times like these when it would be helpful if animals could talk, or if those space-age dog collars from the movie UP! were a reality. Then assessing whether a cat was up to the job would simply be a matter of questions.
“So, Tom, tell me about your past work experience.”
Tom: “Well, I used to work down on the west side of town,” he drawls with thick Italian accent, “right behind Jim’s Big Barbeque. To date I’ve captured, killed and disposed of (glances at slash marks on his furry forearm) 253 rodents of all sizes.”
I’d hire him on the spot, that Tom. Even if he was a chain smoker and had a penchant for licking himself.
But you can’t know until you’ve taken the cat home, got the darned thing acclimated to your home, and seen him in action. It’s a huge risk. That, and my husband and I are in a pretty good place. We get along well. We're jovial (mostly). We even have conversations. That this coincides with the death of my other cat two years ago is pure coincidence I'm sure. But I'm a little worried that bringing a new cat into the home would turn our topics of conversation towards, "Did you notice it smells like cat piss downstairs?" or "When's the last time you changed that litter box?" or "There's cat hair all over my workshirts." Am I ready to potentially sacrifice my spousal relationship to appease my germ-a-phobic, controlling, type-A nature?
If I find a new piece of mouse poo I am.
If anyone out there knows of a cat whose mother did her due diligence to the breed and taught the thing how to be a mouser, feel free to contact me. If I like the cat and it works out, I promise to reward you with a special treat: probably something I baked in my kitchen.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
[If you’re just tuning in, I highly recommend reading the blog below first. (The Clock Struck One.) You don’t have to, but the story is funnier from the beginning. Just sayin’.]
I wake up on day two of my Germ Nightmare, (after having spent the night dreaming that I moved into a dorm room at ASU only to find that I had to slay a Troll, kill the snake that was wrapped around my legs and in my shoes—while I was wearing them—and fight off other hideous monstrosities in order to live there…honestly I have no idea what made me dream about that…) and I gently check in the cupboard to see if there are any rodent carcasses lying about.
Nope. But the bait is gone on one of them. Dammit.
Which gives me no amount of pleasure or comfort knowing that the mice are still running through my cupboards and pilfering the bait off the traps while giving me the finger.
I continue to clean the kitchen, pulling out the oven, disinfecting the sides of the stove where all the food spills, vacuuming behind the appliances checking for more mouse poop, and generally dismantling the kitchen area while trying to purge it of mouse feces. It was a beautiful day.
My husband got home later that evening, checked the traps that were in the cupboard, and we crossed our fingers and said a little prayer that the traps would work this time. (Maybe I was the only one praying come to think of it.)
Around 11:00 p.m. my SIL, BIL, and I were in the kitchen/living room talking when my BIL, who is leaning against the counter and facing the fireplace, starts pointing and shrieking at the wall behind me.
“AHHHHH!! Ahhhhhh!!!” he yells. He’s yelling and pointing and gagging a little I think, and I’m starting to freak out because I’m not sure what he’s looking at behind me—a couple of glances didn’t reveal anything—and I’m wondering if he’s seeing an otherworldly specter, the grim reaper or maybe Jesus himself, and while he’s still yelling and pointing, I turn around long enough to see it…..
…a mouse that has popped out of a tiny hole between our mantel and the slate bricks of our fireplace and is now running along the fireplace, down onto the floor and into the floorboard heaters in the living room. I’d have rather seen Jesus.
I’m not sure at what point I found myself sitting on the edge of my hutch with my feet ontop of the couch, but I do recall that I also started yelling for my husband, repeatedly calling his name with terror and immediacy in my voice, and I keep calling and calling and calling him, and I think “Where the hell is that husband of mine…is he outside?” because aren’t husbands supposed to come running when they hear their wife is in distress and screaming their name? Where’s my knight in cotton shorts when I need him?
But no, he isn’t outside, and he comes sauntering, sauntering I tell you, up the stairs and into the living room, like I always yell his name in fits of shock and panic and it’s no big deal that screaming wife who is sitting on the hutch with her feet on the back of the couch because she frequently has fits similar to these and why hurry.
“Did you see a mouse?” he says all casual-like; tones reminiscent of “did you get the mail,” or “pass the salt,” or “have you seen my wallet?” Like we see mice in our house every day. No. Big. Deal.
My husband is not an alarmist by the same measures that I am a germ-a-phobe, which is probably a good checks-and-balances system in our union, but I was kind of hoping that he’d locate the sucker, look for it, capture it, dispose of it, in front of me and before I decided to go to bed that night, just so I could rest peacefully and with the budding illusion that perhaps the only mouse responsible for all that crap in the cupboards was dead. But he didn’t.
He nonchalantly got another mouse trap, baited it with peanut butter, and placed it on the floor in the living room near the baseboard heater where the thing disappeared.
“Aren’t you going to look for it any more than that?” I asked incredulously.
“Nope,” was his reply.
To say I was crestfallen is an understatement…but whatever I was feeling (a mixture of horror, anger, helplessness to name a few) one thing was certain: you can be damned sure I wasn’t going to be sleeping on the couch—where I had slept the night before because of snoring and company. I took the master bed. If my husband wasn’t going to find the mouse then he could sleep in the same room with it, a few feet away from it, and listen to the trap snap in the middle of the night all by his lonesome. Not me folks.
The next morning I awoke to whispers of good news. My SIL asked me, “Did you hear that we had caught the mouse?”
“Which one?” I asked.
“The one in the cupboard,” she said. “We heard the trap go off while we were talking. I cleaned out your cupboards with bleach and everything.”
“What about the one in the living room?” I inquired.
“I think the mouse we caught in the cupboards was the same one. I think he ran down the heaters and around to the kitchen. I’m sure that’s the only one.”
Now, I think I’d like to marry my SIL. Here is a woman who knows exactly how to lie to me, what illusions to feed me, so I can carry on with living in my house and cooking in my kitchen without fear and panic. She knows that I know there is more than one mouse, and that clearly it wasn’t the one in the living room; she knows I’m no idiot, and yet, she doesn’t make me feel stupid for my phobias, she just lies to me in order to help keep the pathways in my brain moving and not frozen. That, and she cleaned the cupboards with bleach. Because using a flame thrower to get rid of dead mouse germs is just too dangerous and pure acid is simply too strong; but she understands me enough (and she is such a good housekeeper herself) to know that bleach will do the trick and make me feel better. She is a smart, smart woman. My husband could really stand to take a pointer or two from her on how to handle me. Bless her bless her bless her.
I approach the living room couch, where my husband is curled up in blankets, and glance over at the trap that was set on the floor—and there lies dead mouse #2. Feet straight up in the air and still. That’s just how I like my mice….four legs in the air and on their backs. PETA people best stand back, because I’ll argue this with you till my death.
A check of the traps in the garage reveal another dead rodent—to bring the death total to three. And a few days ago, another trap in the garage caught mouse #4. Four dead within four days. There is still a baited trap in the cupboard which hasn’t seen any more action since its first body, but we’re leaving it there (along with a few more in the garage) to make sure we’ve caught all the pooping culprits before boarding up the cupboards and sealing holes. Nothing’s worse than mouse carcass in the walls I’ve been told. I’m happy to take their word for it.
And now? Well, the kitchen is really, really clean. During this event I purged many cupboard items I didn’t need, didn’t use, and simply served to collect rodent crap. I’ve cleaned behind my stove as well as the sides of the stove. I’ve vacuumed above my oven, and next to my fridge. Oh, and I get to buy a new toaster. Whoop Whoop. I may never store my cookie sheets and baking pans under the stove again (you can’t properly seal up a stove drawer) and there is a good chance that the plastic bin that currently houses those objects will become our newest piece of kitchen furniture. I’m okay with that. All I know is that the next mouse I see better be dead, or on TV being chased by an idiot cat.