Monthly Archives: September 2016

Of Mouse and Man


Update: The mouse saga continues. Yesterday afternoon, while my older brother (visiting for a few days) sat at the kitchen table with mom, kibitzing, he suddenly noted, “There’s a mouse.”

This was one of the small grays, not the mutant we turned out of the house the other day. It had apparently decided, in the middle of the day, to stroll through the kitchen and slake its thirst at the cat’s water fountain.

greedymouseYou grow too bold, sir.

Though I wasn’t there to witness, I’m told there was quite a scramble, with my brother leaping to his feet (more or less; he has a bad back) and the two cats belatedly feigning indignation at the intrusion. The creature was pursued into my mom’s bedroom, where it disappeared under the bed, followed by both cats. And then …

Peep's attitude toward mouse catching is a little ... lackadaisical.

Peep’s attitude toward mouse catching is a little … lackadaisical.

Nothing happened. That is to say, the cats didn’t catch the mouse and Peep, who seems to be over the whole “my job is to catch vermin” thing, eventually wandered off to nap in his favorite sunny spot in the middle bedroom. Remington, God bless him, maintained a patient vigil, staring intently at the narrow crack between the bottom bureau drawer and the floor.

tomcat mouse trapIt was at about this juncture that I came home from work and got the report. Mom had in the meantime secured a new sort of trap that is purported to be less likely to kill, maim or poison the non-mouse mammals in the household. It’s called the Tomcat Spin Trap. It bears an illustration of a black cat stealthily stalking a rodent in exactly the same way that my cats don’t. The label promises, “Kills quickly. No mess.” Sounds good. Well, not good. But less horrible than other methods.

However, the sole review on the website I consulted about these things stated,

“I set two of these traps over a week ago to catch a mouse in the basement, where I sleep. As of yet, nothing. I have even seen the mouse walk through the little tunnel and hit the boomerang coil– nothing! It could be that it’s because this is a tiny field mouse instead of a bigger sized one & its weight won’t set off the coil, but this product is ineffective, imo.”

Hm. That’s discouraging. On the other hand, it might be entertaining to watch the little guy walk through the tunnel.

Early in the evening, while my bro and I were outside, there was Another Incident. Specifically, Remington finally flushed the mouse out from wherever he was hiding in mom’s bedroom. Mom reports that Remington, ultimately joined by a half-hearted Peep, chased the thing down the hall to my bedroom, where it was stymied by a closed door. So there the pitiful varmint was, literally trapped in a corner with two cats mere inches away. There was no escape.

And yet …

It escaped. This time into the middle bedroom. Both of the cats followed, and mom slammed the door shut behind the trio. She then stuffed towels into the crack at the bottom of the door and waited outside for sounds of carnage from within.


All was deadly silent inside the room. My brother sneaked a peek a couple of times and reported the cats were under the futon, doing nothing at all to justify their continued employment here. At bedtime we finally rousted the cats out and placed ALL of the quick and tidy mouse-killing devices in the room, then pulled the door shut. Sadly, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, our nearly 60-year-old house is out of plumb, with the result that no door in the entire place actually latches closed. When the cats were inside the room, this wasn’t a problem; the door opens inward. But now that they were outside, and the mouse (presumably) still within, both Rem and Peep suddenly developed an overpowering determination to Get In There and Kill That Thing.

Some way had to be found to keep them from nosing the door open and letting the mouse escape as they stumbled and blundered around, looking in every direction but where the mouse was. Mom and Kev eventually MacGyvered a set-up consisting of electrical tape stretched from the doorknob to the door frame, the ostensible purpose of which was to hold the door in a closed position. God bless them for trying.

In the morning we found the door pushed open, all the Tomcats untriggered and the cats no longer interested in anything having to do with the middle bedroom. Clearly our foe had escaped again.

As I left for work, I heard my mother express what we’re all feeling by this time. “That damned mouse is smarter than all of us.”

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Wagon, Ho!

Wagon, Ho!Though confirmed in my spinsterhood, I have always conceded that men are good for at least four things: startin’ (things with small engines, which often involves pulling hard on cords); fixin’ (the same small engines, which crap out with maddening frequency, often while sitting unmolested in a shed); totin’ (heavy stuff, like bags of compost) and killin’ (snakes, spiders, bats, etc.)

Admittedly, none of the men in my own genetic line excel in any of these areas. They all have bad backs, no mechanical proficiency and are at least as afraid of vermin as I am. Still, I cling to the fantasy of the heroic male who can handle these tasks for which I am physically, emotionally or intellectually unequipped.

As a spinster, however, I am forced to find girlish workarounds for these high-testosterone tasks. (Though my own testosterone levels are rising with incipient menopause, my manification has not yet translated into super strength or manly courage; mostly, I’m just getting hairier.)

Some tasks I am able to hire out, like lawn mowing – an exercise in frustration that inevitably led to tears and age (see startin’ and fixin’ categories above). Other challenges can be handled by simply running away from them (see my post about why I can never set foot in the backyard again).

My biggest remaining hurdle is totin’. If I were a man, I would have a pick-up truck, a type of conveyance that seems as much a distinguishing feature of the gender as their anatomical equipage. As a girly girl with a smallish income and only lady equipage, I drive a tiny car instead of a big truck. Thus, my totin’ capability is limited to how much I can fit into the back end of my Kia Soul. It leads to such inconveniences as having to construct a backyard patio 20 bricks at a time, as that’s the limit my jalopy can handle in one trip from the building center.

An avid gardener has much need of totin’ capacity, though. There are bags of mulch and compost to be toted in, and vast quantities of “yard waste” (weeds, for you non-agriculturalists) to be toted out. It is for this reason that I have long pined for a wagon.

This vehicle, though useful and adorable, is not the wagon I'm looking for.

This vehicle, though useful and adorable, is not the wagon I’m looking for.

By wagon, I refer not to the familiar red Radio Flyer of childhood (what does that name mean, anyway?), nor the horse-drawn buckboards of bygone days (although that would be kind of awesome). I’m talking about a little, four-sided trailer that can be pulled behind my little, four-sided Kia. My yearning acquired new urgency earlier this summer when I impulsively had a trailer hitch put on my car for an absurdly exorbitant price (Note to self: learn welding). Now there was no reason – indeed, no excuse – not to procure a wagon to pull behind Little Red.

Actually, there remained ONE impediment: I am poor. In one of those great mysteries of life I’ll never understand, it seems that every.single.person on the planet is able to afford nice things except for me. I began to take note of the multitude of trailers I encounter on a daily basis: pulled behind autos and even (talk about gluttony) pickup trucks; parked beside driveways; languishing in muddy pastures. The neighbor across the street has no fewer than FOUR trailers of varying sizes occupying a large chunk of his backyard, the selfish bastard.

To be honest, I began to foment a deep, gnawing bitterness toward a world in which a hard-working, law-abiding, middle-aged spinster cannot afford even a tiny wagon. (Is this the kind of injustice that The Donald vows to rectify?)

Then, this past weekend, my mom and I spent some time weeding. After accumulating a wheelbarrowful of refuse destined for the already mountainous pile of debris at the back of the property (a foul, no-man’s land we’ve dubbed Snake Haven), my mother suddenly declared, “We need a trailer.”

My new baby, Max

My new baby, Max

Off we went to the home improvement store, where I filled out an application for a store credit card (ka-ching!). The first, and likely last, pay-later purchase was Big Max, an adorable 4×8 trailer. I don’t want to undermine my new baby’s self-esteem, but he’s really more of a Mini Max. That makes him perfect for me and Little Red. It was love at first sight. Like all my relationships, however, Max and I have already experienced some bumps on the road – literally. After getting hitched up and heading proudly out of the parking lot, we made it about a mile when there was suddenly a terrific clatter and grinding noise from behind. I pulled over and discovered that the hitch installed at great price had come loose (full disclosure: it was an operator error situation), and Max’s tongue now dragged on the asphalt.

Well, that can’t be good.

Dramatic recreation of my trailer hitch failure.

Dramatic recreation of my trailer hitch failure.

I proceeded to stomp around mad a minute or two, re-install the hitch and hook Max back up and then we were on our way again … slowly … because I was disinclined to have my brand-new-and-not-even-paid-for trailer end up in a crumpled pile of debris in a ditch. (I’d have to just abandon him there, because there are snakes in ditches. I don’t do snakes, even for Baby Max. It’s perhaps just as well I’ve never reproduced.)

At last I got Maxi safely installed in a niche between the tomato patch and a honeysuckle bush, where he is likely to grow old and decrepit like the rest of the occupants of the Mohror Estate. Though he was purchased specifically as a mobile weed receptacle, he’s so new and pretty that I find it hard to dirty him up. Perhaps instead I’ll paint him some bright color and declare him “garden décor.”

That works.


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