Saturday, January 19, 2013

Of Mice and Me

The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often awry
 (from Robert Burns' To a Mouse)

     Neither Robert Burns nor John Steinbeck be I, but I do converse with mice; well, ok, I just yell at them in language that is perhaps, not so poetic or prose-like.
       Following on from my previous post "Falderal and Fa La La", I am happy to report that the meeces have departed my humble abode.  However, they left far many more gifts than I had first realized.  I have spent many recent days relocating the contents of two rooms from upstairs (not finished with that yet) to downstairs in preparation for some internal demolition in the coming weeks (Favorite Oldest Daughter is coming to tear down the wall that separates the two rooms, yikes).  I have also tried to make space upstairs and down for estimators to come in to measure for some new windows and electrical work. 

      The downstairs work was more painstaking in some ways because of keeping areas clear to walk around in and of having to vacuum and scrub down areas where the little beasties left evidence of their habitation.  Thankfully, I had gotten it all done - except for some more relocating of stuff - and today was the day I was going to put extra blankets and pillows into those plastic bags that the air is vacuumed from for more compact storage, rearrange some things in my sewing area and get started on birthday gifts for my soon-to-be 8 year old triplet nephews.  Surprise, surprise surprise...
       I put several blankets in one large plastic vacuum cube and then remembered some quilts and blankets I have in a high-boy dresser downstairs.  I decided to put them all together and free up the drawer space.  I can pile the storage bags and cubes on the closet floor downstairs.  When I pulled a quilt out of one of the upper drawers, I was shocked to see leftover lentil bits and other unmistakeable leavings.  Guess who had come to dinner?  Of course you realize that I had to go through all drawers, remove all contents (carefully cleaned and folded summer clothes, et al), take the drawers upstairs and outside to shake out, wipe out, disinfect, and load up the laundry room floor.  Then I went through the closet and after thinking many angry thoughts in blue, I started to empty hanging shelving (inexpensive cloth and flimsy bowed cardboard) most of which I have just thrown in the trash.  It's time to rethink storage!   

      I did have a moment to laugh.  The exterminator distributed lots of material in the attic and in sealed containers on the main floor and in the basement.  It consisted of green bricks of bait designed to drive them out of the house by a fierce thirst.  I found a very seriously gnawed green crayon in one of the drawers.  Fascinating - can mice see in color?  SO, a breath, and then forward momentum.    

      OH WELL!  There is good news.  In the midst of relocating the contents of two rooms I have also been culling and clearing.  Certainly this was not the day I had planned to do more of that but it has been a liberation of sorts.  Much more is going out for trash or recycle than I had planned (say thank you to mother, children o' mine), much more will follow.  No sewing today but far less stuff in the house.  Ah, there's the dryer load.  Stay tuned, one charming friend suggests my meeces will return some day.  OH YEAH?  Well, I have the exterminator on speed dial....

      Anyone want a high-boy dresser? 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Falderal and Fa La La

       'Twas the 8th Night of Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring except that damned mouse...and its happy little companions.  I had discovered very slight evidence of its presence when I returned in October from my two months' stay in Virginia.  I went online to figure out the best course of immediate action knowing full well that an exterminator was the likely conclusion.  But in the midst of returning home to all sorts of errands and busy-ness, making an appointment to hurry up and wait for an estimate and later treatment was not appealing and besides, there was only the tiniest bit of, um, indication of possibly maybe perhaps a small problem (I can hear you whispering "denial" at me).  I was also getting ready to be away again for several weeks over Thanksgiving and Favorite Oldest Granddaughter's 8th birthday.  

       I scrubbed everything down with an ammonia solution in some places and a solution of oil of peppermint in others (per internet instructions).  Then I went to the hardware store and bought some sort of pouch thingies that were supposed to  repel and drive the little hummers away. I distributed them around in the place where I had seen the wee little gift it left on the kitchen counter and in several places downstairs in the finished basement.  In so doing I discovered a long forgotten plastic bag of foil wrapped chocolates that I had used to decorate a Christmas cake two years ago.  There had been maybe half a dozen pieces left in the package on the metal shelving unit.  That had been shredded to nearly powder so I cleaned that up as well and made certain (I thought) that everything else was bagged, cannistered, and otherwise protected. 
Off to New York went I.
       Home again and all was well, mostly.  No gifts on the kitchen counter and all else seemed normal.  I have been in this house for four years and other than the cricket army that arrived two years ago (a new door fixed that), I have had no serious issues with any other critters.  On with the the march toward Christmas!  Did I imagine that noise in the attic?
       After unpacking and taking the luggage to its place in a closet downstairs I happened to notice one of the packets designed to chase the meeces away had been nibbled.  So much for repellant! Upon further investigation, there was a smattering of little gifts around the sink in the laundry room.  I checked the shelving where I keep canned goods (and the previously mentioned but now gone chocolate) and nothing seemed amiss.  ("SEEMED" - might that be a clue of continuing denial?)

 OF COURSE the little creatures have been plotting in the attic!  More gifts on the counter upstairs in the morning, more scrubbing and a call to the exterminator - which was actually me leaving a message for a return call.  Christmas was approaching - family arriving at my sister's for the weekend before Christmas kept me running and busy for days ahead and during.  It occurred to me on the Saturday before Christmas that I hadn't heard back from the vermin-ridder.  But, no more counter gifts appeared after the again thorough cleaning and the faint creaking in the attic of course was just the wind.  More busy-ness - films to see, dinners out to enjoy, the New Year was approaching.

       On the 8th Day of Christmas the New Year brought to me, a new way of watching my tv!  I had purchased several streaming devices and began to install them.  The cost of cable service (mine is actually fiber optic) was growing in inverse proportion to my interest in and relevance of real time programming.  With advice and demonstration from Favorite Oldest Son-in-Law in New York who has NO cable, only internet tv with an impressive but intimidating array of program options, I decided to follow suit - partially.  It was also helpful of 8 year old granddaughter to explain and demonstrate how it all worked! I successfully installed said devices, though far from the breadth and depth of Favorite Oldest Daughter's house, and removed two of three cable boxes for return (and therefore reducing monthly costs).  I am keeping one for those rare moments I want to watch broadcast tv.  Except for completely cutting off all my internet service in the house for about two hours and scrambling to try different wire plug in configurations until I restored it, I managed to hook up all the devices with only a small cloud of  #$%&@!!* for which, thankfully, no younger ears were available to experience.  Ah, to settle in for a quiet evening of old UK tv episodes, a glass of wine, and the faintly discernible windy creaking in the attic which became significantly louder into the night.  Hmmm, I think I have to now call it scurrying! THEN camest the morning...

       LOTS of gifts in the kitchen and downstairs - oh, those two bags I meant to move off the shelving, one with adzuki beans and one with lentils - but then, they'd been there all this time and not bothered - it's quite fascinating to discover how far those beans can travel.  OH NO - it appears that my little housemates were doing lines of coffee having discovered how to get at the coffee pods in the dispenser and nibble holes in the bottom. It is well past time to make another call!  Found another company who answered the call quickly and

      eviction proceedings commence early on the morrow.  Color my housemates soon to be GONE.  And by then, an Epiphany!