Thursday, March 15, 2007

Rest In Peace, #02-2007

Ah, yes...complain about no pictures, then something nice and picture-worthy happens…

We live in an old house. Old houses have many, many issues – one of which is “settling.” Our main house was built in 1871, and as best we can guess the back addition was built about 50 years later, with our laundry room extension not too long after that. Different parts of the house have settled differently over time, leaving gaps where walls and floor meet in some places. Our foundation work halted the extreme settling, but we still have to work on cleaning up all of the inside issues - cracked drywall, baseboards, and such.

In addition, we have a completely dirt basement. The stone foundation (reinforced with concrete and rebar now, thank you very much) stops about shoulder height if you’re standing in the basement – everything else is dirt. You’re in a big dirt hole. The only things down there are shelves we don’t use, beer that we’re aging, the furnace, the water heater, and spiders. Lots of spiders. I’m still not convinced that no one is buried down there (it has the creepy one-lightbulb-in-the-middle-of-the-room-horror-movie-lighting), and if you can get past the insulation we’ve shoved in different places, you’ll get a peek at our groundhog’s den.

So it comes as no surprise that a house with gaps over a dirty hole in the earth should have critters once in a while.

My first experience was right after we moved – it was the summer of 2001, and I hadn’t yet found a job. I was enjoying my domestic lifestyle and was happily doing laundry, when I turned around to find a little gray mouse on top of the laundry door frame, pretty freaked out and just staring at me. I pride myself in not being girly, but I went EEEEK and ran out of the room, called my husband, then hung my head in shame as he laughed at me.

I pulled myself together, went back in the laundry room, and the little fellow was still there. Hmmm. How to get a mouse off the door. I know – I’ll just knock him off the ledge, into the bathroom trash can, then take him outside.

That’s when I learned the little boogers can jump.

Picture it – me, trying to keep a mouse no bigger than my thumb in a trash can by waving the can around, banging the mouse against the sides, throwing off his trajectory enough until I could get him outside. But I did it, the dizzy mouse scampered away, and I was a happy girl once again.

In later mouse episodes (and yes, there have been a few over the years), I have gone from covering them with tupperware bowls to grabbing them with my hands. Yes, I know, vermin-germs-filthy-nasty – whatevs. They’re little mice. You catch them. You wash your hands really well. Plus, I know they don’t live in the house. How do I know, you ask?

Because we have cats. Four large, scary cats – who, after the first couple of run-ins with mice, dusted off their natural instincts and became Protectors of the Home. They don’t eat them – they don’t even mean to kill them. They just want to PLAY. Once, Otis and Dobby were PLAYING with one and pushed it off the top step, onto the hardwood floor 10 feet below. They ran down, looked at it, pawed it, then looked at me as if to say, “Sorry Mom – I broke it.”

When a poor, unsuspecting mouse finds its way into the house, all of the cats hone in on the rustling and don’t leave their post until it ends badly for the critter. We get a few each year – mainly when some drastic weather changes are in the air (like yesterday was almost 70 degrees, and tomorrow we’re getting snow) and they go looking for warmth or food. Then they find that they’ve ended up in a special Mouse Hell from which there is no escape.

So this morning, I realized something was amiss when none of the cats were in bed with me. Chilly morning + no cats in bed = something has their attention. Then I heard the jingle of Otis’s collar as he and Dobby were playing outside the bedroom door.

Wait a sec. Otis hates Dobby. Goddammit.

Turn on light – see cats look up, and notice the little gray something in Otis’s mouth.

“Dammit, Otis – why’d you have to bring him up here???”

Otis (with muffled speech): “But Mom – aren’t you proud of me? I’m King of the Jungle!”

Dobby: “Hey – I helped, dude!”

And thus begins my morning. Waking up to the 2nd mouse of 2007 (the first one was in January).

I bet everyone wants to come visit now, eh?

EDITED TO ADD: That's a fist-full of Kleenex upon which the poor guy is finally resting. Not sheets, as it appears in my hastily-cropped sickos...


Eric K. said...

Since I have 2 Cats of my own, I can TOTALLY relate to how they react when there is something to "play" with in the house! And that whole "no cats in bed = something's up" scenario, too! I was ROFL while I read this (at work, nonetheless)!

Lorena said...

I will still come to visit, but your declaration of spiders will certainly keep me out of the basement. Ick.

Pamarooni said...

Sherrie had a mouse in her house recently. She swept it out into the cold with a broom. Then the mouse got up on its paws and looks in the sliding glass door as if to say, "Come on, let me back in. It's cold out here!"