Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Brenda's Mom, Are You Out There?

This morning, just as he was leaving for work, Christopher discovered mice poop in our Ziploc/aluminum foil/Saran Wrap drawer in the kitchen. It was unmistakable, because a friend had warned us that it looks like brown rice, only....not. So there you have it. I subsequently found more mice poop in our potholder/cheese grater/cookie cutter/measuring cups drawer. (What? Don't you organize YOUR kitchen drawers this way?)

The worst part about this is wondering how long it's been there without us noticing it. I mean, it's something you notice when you have reason to be on the alert for mice poop, you know? So I can't help but wonder how long we have had mice running around amongst our measuring cups, and there I was, blithely pulling open the drawer and yanking them out and making muffins. Or whatever. OK, there are many worst parts about all this, and that's only one of them. Another is, how are they getting into the kitchen drawers and, relatedly, how in the world are we going to seal off their access if we can't even figure out what it is? Yet another is, are they also getting into our cabinets where we keep our dishes and silverware and into our pantry cupboard where we keep ALL our non-refrigerated food?

People, I am not exaggerating when I say that I have spent all day so far walking around gagging. I never gag. If I didn't know better (trust me), I'd suspect early pregnancy, I am gagging so much, and thinking about gagging so much, and thinking about gagging so much that I actually make myself gag. The mouse in the closet? Bad enough. Truly: very, very bad. BUT! The mouse in our kitchen, on our food-related items, possibly in our food and dishes? ARGH! I'm gagging. I am so repulsed that I cannot bring myself to go near the sink, where Christopher rashly dumped all the loose Ziplocs from the drawer after he discovered the mouse evidence. I cannot bring myself to move them, so I have been unable to wash up the breakfast and lunch dishes. Now, believe me, I am aware that LEAVING DIRTY DISHES piled around your kitchen, complete with food remnants, is probably NOT HELPING THE MOUSE SITUATION. And yet, I am powerless to overcome the irony. I am too busy gagging. I did attempt to mouse-proof some food in the pantry, but all I could bring myself to do was seal the bag of malted milk balls my father-in-law brought for me yesterday in a Tupperware. Because are you kidding me? You have to take care of the most important things first. After that, however, I had to close the pantry and walk away, because the thought of a mouse gorging on our snack foods or snacking on our pasta and bread caused an internal, and then an external, gag attack.

Not long ago I came downstairs after putting Julia down for her nap and discovered our cat, Sabine, hunched ominously near the foot of the stove. You know, the crack between the bottom of the stove and the floor? Yeah, down there. I suddenly had a faint recollection that I'd seen her crouched there a couple of other times in the last few days. (I'm brilliant, I know. It took mouse poop in the Ziploc drawer in order for me to put two and two together: mouse in house, cat stalking something in the kitchen....hmmmm, whatever could it mean?) At any rate, Sabine was her usual unhelpful self, and after a few minutes of peering under the stove she retired to the couch. Meanwhile, I have already accepted the fact that I will be unable to ever again open the drawer at the bottom of the stove where we keep the skillets. Sorry! Cooking is over. I just can't do it.

Several years ago, when we still lived in Minneapolis, we had some friends who discovered a mouse running through the kitchen of their lovely old Southwest Minneapolis house the same week they brought their newborn son home from the hospital. The mouse was seen actually traversing the plates, running over the counter and, I believe, diving onto a nearby couch. I believe there was also something about it being in the toaster. What I remember for sure is that new-mom Brenda told her husband, "You take care of this!", grabbed the baby, and moved to her sister's house for a week. I think they hired an exterminator. They also hired her mother--actually paid her--to come over and scour every inch of the kitchen and every possession in it. And they threw the toaster away. (But not before Eric tried to put it in the Goodwill pile and Brenda was forced to argue that, come on, it doesn't matter if someone is downtrodden or appliance-less or low-income or whatever, and is shopping at the thrift store: no one deserves a MOUSE TOASTER. No, Eric, not even if they didn't even HAVE a toaster before.)

You know, I'm really, really tired. It's been 5-1/2 straight months of nowhere near a full night's sleep. It's hard to be energetic and patient and creative and fun all day, taking care of two wee ones on so little sleep. It's hard to be stuck in the house because it's too cold to go out and there's no place to walk to from where we live. It's hard to take care of a toddler and an infant, nurse every two hours, and also keep the house clean and do all the cooking. It's hard to be worried about money all the time. It's hard to go days at a time without talking to even one other adult during the workday. It's hard to be constantly changing diapers and wiping spit-up and cleaning pasta sauce out of the carpet.

I'm really, really tired. And I just....I don't want mice in my house.


Question said...

I'm so sorry. I don't blame you for not touching anything. We had a horrible mouse problem this summer. I still do not enter the basement room where they apparently lived. John (who won't kill anything) live trapped over 200 mice and took them far away before we stopped catching them. And, the recommendation to block all holes is ridiculous. Can you imagine trying to find every tiny hole along the foundation of the house?

Shan said...

Exactly. Totally impossible. Your sympathy makes me feel better, though. So thanks, seriously. :)

Christopher said...

200 MICE? Oh, my god. That makes my skin crawl just thinking about it. Your husband is a saint, Q. I'm going with deadly force, myself: three traps are deployed now, and I'ma buy more at the next sign of trouble. (The nice thing about a newish house like our place is that the foundation is pretty tight, as are the exterior and shared walls. Finding and stopping up the gaps with steel wool hasn't been too hard - thogh of course I might be missing some spots...)

Jordan said...

Wait a, I hate little critters in my house as much as the next person, believe me! But is that true, that someone didn't give their toaster to goodwill because a mouse had touched it?? This little story has come to mind many times since I read it - it seems a wee bit dramatic! I mean, you can put on some gloves and clean stuff that a mouse touched - I think if someone in need ever heard that a family not only gave away but *didn't donate* their perfectly good appliance because a mouse touched it, they'd be appalled.

But it's the first time I've felt like I'm not the most critter-phobic woman in the world! ;-)

Shan said...

Well, to be fair to these friends, the mouse was actually INSIDE the toaster, and popped up from one of the slots. Would you really want to use that toaster after that? I don't see how one would really be able to disinfect the inside of a toaster slot, and I sure wouldn't want my bread to touch a place where mice paws ran....

Jordan said...

I admit it. It wouldn't occur to me not to use the toaster again. I'd get in there with a sponge and clean it out, let it dry overnight, and pop the ole raisin bread in it in the morning! I'd be afraid to go anywhere near the kitchen by myself for days on end, probably be jumpy for months, but I'd use the toaster again. Is that weird?

We stayed in a big old country house in Massachusetts last summer that was packed with mice - I mean, in the middle of the day they'd scamper across the kitchen counter and traipse over the griddle (they were used to having the run of the place), but we made pancakes there the next day - it wasn't even a topic of conversation among that houseful of urbanites. Maybe that's unusual, I don't know. It didn't occur to me!

Shan said...

Um......more power to you?

I think it was more that it didn't seem like a toaster was something you could submerge in soapy water and wash. After all, they didn't throw away anything else in the kitchen that the mouse had merely run across!

Anyway, it was just a funny story. At the time, we all laughed about it pretty hard in the telling. Now that I have mice running around my kitchen and two babies to keep safe and healthy, it's a little less funny.