"You can make anything by writing."

-- C. S. Lewis

Monday, February 22, 2016

Our Mouse

It’s now been three nights in a row that our bold little mouse friend has decided to join us in whatever room we’re in. It doesn’t matter that the TV and lights are on. It doesn’t matter that we’re talking or laughing. He must think we sound friendly. Or, better yet (and disturbingly!), he knows that where we are, there’s (more than likely) food.

In fact, on Saturday evening (also known as Night 2), we spent the better part of an hour watching the little guy run from under the sofa to underneath the ottoman to under the sofa to the middle of the carpet, all while I sat a mere three feet away on the chaise lounge. (This was before I watched a startling YouTube video about how high mice can jump, mind you.) Ryley watched from her safe perch on the stairs, while Ryan retreated to stand on the exercise equipment  in the corner so his feet would be off the ground. Finally he set a wooden snap trap right in the middle of the carpeted area, and we waited. But though he sniffed at it, the mouse was not interested. We literally watched him poke around our carpet, sniffing madly and feasting happily. He was actually kind of cute up close—not nearly as menacing as the mice are when I picture them collectively in my head. Apparently there were just too many goodies, even though I had thoroughly vacuumed earlier in the day. Eventually we sent a sleepy Ryley off to bed while Ryan and I continued the vigil, not wanting to lose track of the mouse’s location. But then, he started moving toward the stairs, darting out from behind the couch and then back under, out and back, out and back, out and back. Ryan, who had moved to the stairs by this point, slowly backed up a couple steps, not sure what the little dude’s intentions were. All of a sudden, the mouse got up his nerve and, like a flash, leapt up to the bottom stair, disappearing into an open space under the second step.

Ryan took off to the grocery store while I stood watch, and he came back with a package of glue traps, which he laid out all along the step where the mouse had disappeared. Then, he got busy refreshing our existing snap traps throughout the house with drops of peanut oil. But after accidentally setting off a trap which caused him to spill peanut oil on our end table and then stepping on the forgotten glue traps on the stair no less than three times in his travels up and down (and having to pry them off his shoe each time), his poor nerves were shot! It was almost midnight by this time, and the mouse was obviously somewhere in the depths of our house walls, having had his fill on our family crumb collection. So we went to bed.

There was no sign of mice yesterday for the majority of the day until alas, as we were watching Downton Abbey in bed last night, I thought I saw something skitter from the bathroom door to underneath our arm chair.

“I think I just saw something,” I told Ryan. “Maybe not. It could have been my glasses. Probably my glasses, actually.”

He sat up. “No, you probably did see something.”

You have to understand that since our first bout with mice back in October, our eyes have been constantly searching for movement, for signs of droppings, for activity on existing traps. We’ve seen things moving out of the corner of our eyes…heard creaking and crunching…only to realize it was the sunlight reflecting off the brass finish of the fireplace, or our dog chewing her bone next to the running dishwasher.

And for a few months, we lived in peace. We did not catch a mouse from November 14 until February 14…long enough to feel like the problem was solved. So we had become confident that our mouse prevention methods were working…peppermint oil in the diffuser, sonic nightlights, snap traps in a lot of hidden corners, glue traps along walls, gaps closed as much as possible, collection boxes placed outside the house to lure them before they even got inside… We had exterminators out twice, but they did nothing. None of their traps caught anything. Ryan voiced several times that with our experience, he and I know more about the habits of mice than the incompetent kids that exterminators hire. The exterminators are charlatans, he says. Snake oil salesmen and such. We originally caught 14 mice with our methods; they caught none.

But after the dual-mouse Valentine’s Day Slaughter in our laundry room, we were jumpy again. For three months, we’d learned to tell ourselves it’s nothing. But suddenly it’s wasn’t “nothing” anymore.
I paused our TV show, and as we sat on the bed, we watched as the mouse reappeared from behind a laundry basket and ran to the hallway, apparently taking cover behind a small table we have at the end of the hall. We couldn’t prove where he went. But after looking the table over with a flashlight, we thought it must have crossed the hall into our office. So we wedged the office door shut (hoping to trap him in there with the snap trap) and Ryley’s bedroom door too, and placed heavy books in front to block any cracks. Sure, there are probably access points all over our house that we haven’t discovered yet; closing doors most likely makes no difference. But it sure makes us sleep better thinking we’ve kept it from running out in the open, from room to room, using our house as an amusement park or carnival in the dark dead of night (think, Templeton the Rat).

“Tonight I want to go to bed early,” Ryan said this morning. “Before—“

And we said this part in unison: “the mouse makes his nightly appearance.”

We’ve set the traps. Ryan’s even put out poison blocks for them to nibble on. AND, he ordered 10 more traps (of amazing design!) from Amazon, arriving Wednesday. We’ve made a “no food in the family room rule.” We’re literally doing everything we can. My poor husband goes to bed thinking about mice, he dreams about mice, and he wakes up “on-edge,” ready to go check the traps, like Pa Ingalls did in the Big Woods. His competitive nature has come out in full force, and he is angry with the little boogers. He’s constantly researching how to outsmart them, outthink them, kill them….to the point that he wished he had a BB gun that night we watched it snacking out in the open.

As I tried to explain to Ryley this morning, we know there’s a mouse (or mice) running loose in the house. There’s no reason to be afraid. The most awful thing about it is the element of surprise and not knowing exactly where it is and where we’ll see it next. It won’t hurt us. It’s not like it’s going to jump in our laps and bite us.

Even so. Though we haven’t seen neither hide nor hair of him, tonight we are in bed earlier than normal, trying to get to sleep before any mouse drama has a chance to begin. Because once it’s begun, it’s a whole “thing.”

If we lie flat, we can’t see the floor, right? So.

As I was reading the beginning of my blog to Ryan just now, he suddenly sat up and looked anxiously around – a mannerism I’m become familiar with.

“What? Do you see something?” I asked.

“I’m just looking. I felt this vibe….It would be just like ‘our mouse’ to be listening to you reading about him and just prance in here because he can.”

And with that, I think I’ll lie down flat and try to forget about Templeton and the fair carnival in the dead of night. :-) Eventually one of our traps will trip him up. It's got to.