Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Three blind mice

"She cut off their tails with a carving knife, you've never seen such a sight in your life!"

The gruesome tale I'm about to tell not only created an underlying kinship between the farmers wife and myself, she then became my hero as well. She was calm, cool and collected. She didn't scream, jump on a chair and call for her husband (who obviously hadn't performed his "protector-like" duties by making sure there were no holes in the house... which is something that could lead to an entirely different discussion). No, this wonderful, quick thinking woman, who was being chased by three disgusting, albeit blind, mice grabbed the nearest deadly weapon in view and with such accurate precision cut off their tails. What an empowering story!

Although my tale didn't have as gory an ending, justice was just as sweet. About a month ago the seasonal cold was being passed around the office. I tried my hardest to hold my breath from the moment I walked through the doors in the morning, until the moment I walked out them at night to save me from the germs floating in the air. Needless to say, I was very unsuccessful at that. One of those evenings as I arrived home, my throat was a bit sore. "Here we go," I thought as I was cursing my co-workers, "guess it's my go round." So, as I was pouring a few drops of my grandmother's wonderful herbal remedy, thieves oil, into some water I noticed a bag of spaghetti noodles I had set on the counter had a hole in it. "Well that's a waste," I said as I threw away the bag. I then was off to bed.

My throat was on fire that night. I laid tossing and turning in my bed for hours, along with getting up frequently to try everything imaginable to coat my throat. Around 5am, as I laid awake in my bed, I heard a rustling noise which appeared to be coming from my kitchen. Three things ran through my head at that time. A) Who's in my house with me?, B) I did lock the door, right? and C) Man, I wish I had a bat.

I quietly tip-toed out of my bed, peered around my door, and quickly flipped on my light. To my horror I watched as a shocked mouse fled from the bag of cereal it was eating and hid behind two large jars that sit on the counter. "ARG!," I exclaimed. A nasty mouse was running with it's filthy feet all over my counters and eating the cereal I had laid out the night before to take with me to work! This meant war. A totally uninvited creature who was infecting my sanctuary with it's nasty body deserved to die, I reasoned. I thought of grabbing a knife, or a hammer, but decided against it since I didn't have the patience -or enough bottles of Lysol- to clean up mouse blood from my counters.

I grabbed a glass bottle, in hopes of trapping him in there. As I pushed aside the jars he was hiding behind I noticed I needed a spaghetti sauce bottle instead, since the opening would be a bit bigger. When I went to grab another bottle, the mouse made a mad dash to freedom - running across the counters, jumping over the sink, sprinting over the stove top and then was out of sight when he reached the washing machine. I was fuming- "I keep a clean house," I mumbled, "it has no right... my heart's beating a mile a minute... stupid mouse... how dare he... I feel like crap... why my house... one way or another he's going to die!" My lack of sleep didn't help the situation at all.

I set about sanitizing my counters and hopped on the internet in search of brutal home-made ways of killing a mouse that deserves such a death after what it put me through. Either there is no such way to kill a mouse, or people of the internet world are much nicer than I am, because all I could find were humane ways of disposing of such nasty creatures. "What is wrong with the world?," I thought, "What's next? Humane ways of disposing of roaches??" Unable to do much more without mouse traps or poison, I left for work.

My colleagues laughed when I told them the story of my living nightmare. "Welcome to Amsterdam," they chimed. I heard things like, "it's common in winter for mice to come indoors, are you sure it's a mouse and not a rat, -and- you should get a cat." "It's not a rat!," I exclaimed, "and I'm allergic to cats."

My throat got worse during the course of the day, and within a 5 minute time period, my voice all but disappeared. Since I was virtually useless at work, due to no voice, I left a bit early. On my way home I bought 5 mouse traps at the pet store. The lady at the counter stated that it was the day of the mouse trap and that they were selling like wildfire. Then to add to the comforting words she already gave me, she smiled and stated "the mouse infestation is only going to get worse as it continues to get colder outside." Finding no humor in her words I thought "these better work... otherwise I'm buying a shotgun." Before arriving home I bought 2 more traps and a few boxes of poison at a general hardware store.

That night was just as sleepless, since my cold had worsened. Again, around 5am I heard noises, but I couldn't pinpoint where the sound was coming from. After a few minutes of listening, it dawned on me that the creature was inside my dresser drawer where I kept my food storage. I was beyond outraged at this point. I felt so violated. As I opened the bottom drawer where the food was kept the mouse scurried out and hid itself under my bed. I spent the next 30 minutes cleaning out my drawer, salvaging canned goods and whatever wasn't torn into.

Since I had left one of my drawers cracked open, it gave him easy access to the food. But he managed to leave feces all over my clothing in the process... which provided me with 2 days worth of laundry to take care of. Once I was done with the temporary mouse proofing of my food, it was nearly 7am. I was feeling tired, achy, and all around horrible so I called in sick. I grabbed the pillows from off my bed, wrapped myself in a blanket and fell asleep on the couch, because there was absolutely no way I was going to be in the same room as that... thing.

That afternoon I bought a tupperware tub and placed my food storage there, then piled heavy objects on top to make sure the mouse wouldn't be able to squeeze it's way between the lid and tub. I also learned that my upstairs neighbors were trying to get rid of not just one, but two mice in their house. My neighbor proceeded to tell me that he never had mice problems until my landlord bought cats, which chased the mice upstairs. "Why??," I thought "Why didn't my landlord tell me he had mouse infestation problems when I first moved in? I could have started mouse proofing the house then."

Later that evening as I was talking to my mom, who initially thought I was my little brother's friend due to my hoarse voice, I heard scratching noises coming from my bedroom. "I bet he's trying to dig a hole into your mattress," my mom quipped. "Not funny!" I replied while running into my bedroom to beat it out of my mattress if it actually happened to be in there. Gratefully, by the time I was ready for bed I saw it running along the baseboard of my kitchen, so I knew it was no longer in my bedroom.

The next morning I noticed he was eating the food off the traps without them detonating. This was one sneaky little bugger. When I related my dilemma to anyone who would listen, one of the missionaries said she had a mouse in her house when she lived in NYC. She told me they filled all their holes with insulation foam, and never saw the mouse again. Brilliant! I ran to the corner paint store and bought a can. I used up the can on what I thought were all the holes in my house. "There," I sighed, "if he's in, he can't get out and will die."

A few days went by and I hadn't seen him, although paranoia seemed to get the better of me and I was jumping at every sound I heard in my house. I knew he was in the house somewhere. One week from the first mouse spotting, one of my co-workers came to my house to install a light fixture in my bathroom. As I'd pause at times to focus on a noise I'd just heard, he'd insist: "Claire, it's not the mouse, calm down." But once he left I noticed one of the mouse traps had shifted. I knew neither my co-worker nor I was near the trap. It only meant one thing... I was not paranoid after all.

Not even 30 minutes later I heard the most blessed sound: SNAP! "JUSTICE," I cried, "sweet, sweet justice!" I could have shed tears of joy. I started dancing around my apartment in the sheer excitement of it all. After a few minutes, and once I was sure he was good and dead, I went to see my victim. It definitely wasn't the same mouse I had previously seen. The mouse I found dead in a trap was a baby. Which meant: there were more of them! Ugh. I had visions of my entire house filled with a mouse colony, soon to be unable to step on the floors because it'd be covered in mice.

"No," I demanded, "this has to stop here and now!" Now actually turned into 2 days later, which was the first time I could get more insulation foam. The following night, however, my upstairs neighbor and her two boys came down to chat. I asked her about their mouse problem, and told her I had bought insulation foam which in the end I was hoping would work. She agreed it was a smart idea, but said the mice didn't bother her since she wasn't scared of them. (Oh, I wasn't scared of them either... but they sure as heck bothered me!) She said she grew up in Amsterdam, so was used to them at a young age. She said she remembers her parents pointing to a mouse under the table and saying "oh look honey, there's a mouse eating the crumbs you dropped, now we don't have to vacuum." I choked back a gasp and forced out a laugh instead. Although, I'm sure my facial expression said it all.

It's now been a few weeks since I went over my house the second time with insulation foam. I discovered that there was a few inch gap between the back of my cabinets and the wall, so I made sure to fill it up nice and tight. I haven't seen a mouse since then. Granted, I'm still a bit paranoid, running into the kitchen when I hear a sound. Or waking up with a start at 2am, like today, when I heard scratching noises... which ended up being hail tapping the window.

My hope is that he's gone forever, and that the insulation foam is doing it's job at keeping the mice at bay. But I'm not about to test it by leaving anything out on the counter, that's for sure!

1 comment:

ReL said...

That's dispicable! Mice are gross, whether they bother someone or not they are vermin and carry diseases. I sure hope that foam is doing its job and you don't have to see any more mice.