How much could one little mouse do? A lot. This weekend became a mouse-centric weekend at my house and led me over a bumpy road of lessons and a heck of a lot of laughter and humility along the way. Let me set the scene…
Friday night while we were making dinner, we went into the garage to get something from a shelf. We store some overflow, non-perishable pantry items out there like cans, boxed pasta, etc. Perplexed by a white powder that we saw we picked up a five pound bag of flour only to realize that it was chewed through by a mouse and if you looked a few shelves down you could see white powder with mouse droppings. Fabulous. So I picked up the bag of flour to throw it out only to realize it had eaten a fifty-cent piece size hole in the other side. Whoosh a puffy flour cloud everywhere. Sigh… We threw it out and decided we’d deal with it Saturday morning. Why ruin an evening of great red wine and grilled steak over this, right?
Saturday morning we awoke to find both our cats staring at the heating vent like they were watching reality TV (well, in a way they were, only better!). Guess the little critter zips in and out of the heating vent too. So we decide to start tackling and cleaning the garage from this mouse affair. All I can say is – how is it possible for one little furry critter to do so darn much damage? Oh we had to clean nine shelves and pull everything out. To make matters worse, it got into a box of old cat toys and apparently was ripping apart an orange feather for bedding. I just have images of this little drag queen mouse running amuck along and between the shelves because there were orange feathers EVERYWHERE.
So we’re cleaning, sorting, and throwing a heck of a lot of things out (an open box of pasta is a lot less appealing knowing there was even a mouse anywhere even if it wasn’t in that particular box). We discovered the rascal must have been pissed that its flour was gone so it ate its way through the bag of penne we had purchased for company on Saturday. What’s worse is several hours later and a few shelves to the left we discovered the mouse dragged an entire pound of penne one noodle at a time and buried it in a blanket and car rugs. This dude was busy. We only purchased the pasta 24 hours earlier, so the lesson that stands out to me here is – never doubt that with the right amount of energy and mouse-like determination that you can accomplish far more than you ever dreamed of in a short amount of time. Focus and persistence with an end goal in mind, and the kingdom can be yours!
At this point several hours have passed, definitely not what we had planned for Saturday. So I head to Home Depot to get a mouse trap and to the store to replace the eaten penne. Now I just cannot harm critters. I escort spiders from my home in a paper cup. I lead flies to open windows. I just cannot take my Dad’s advice that “the only good mouse is a dead mouse.” What an education in pest warfare did I receive at the store. There are the neck snapping kind of traps, the poisons, and all kinds of things. You can literally buy a trap with glue on which a mouse gets stuck and then writhes in pain until you throw it out. I mean who actually thinks this glue thing is ok? It pains me to think of it. Thankfully the second store employee who helped me actually helped me find a live, catch-and-release trap. Whew. I was literally beside myself because there was no way I could fathom killing it and then having to dispose of its body. It was only doing what it instinctively needed – hey it is warm in that garage, let’s go there!
So, after about three hours or so of cleaning, tossing, and vacuuming, we got about the business of a temporary solution to plugging up a tiny hole near our HVAC system where the mouse is likely getting in (note – we thought we had this solved in September when we cleaned out from a mouse in the corner of the garage). Behold the beauty of this duct-tape solution. The long-term plan for next weekend is foam insulation.
So, this gets just a little bit better. I’ll spare you the other comedy of errors from the remainder of the afternoon (which includes things like dropping the cast iron deck thingy on my toe and locking ourselves out of our house) all before company was due to arrive. Rest assured before bed I set the trap with a glob of organic peanut butter in it, and put it near where the frenzy of flour and feathers occurred.
Sunday morning, I pick up the trap but think there is no mouse in there (doesn’t feel heavier, nothing is making a sound). So I prepare for the bike ride I am leading and am talking to my Dad on the phone. For whatever reason I decide (while still on the phone) to pick up the trap again and open the edge. Well, bonzai! A little nose peeks out and the mouse jumps out of the box and onto the garage floor scurrying to a hiding spot. Instantaneously I scream on the top of my lungs “AAAHAAAAHAAAAAAHHH!” Right into my father’s ear. Now you have to understand, I am not a screamer. I don’t scream at amusement parks, I don’t scream at horror flicks. I generally don’t scream in the “Eek I am scared” way. But this one – startled the heck out of me! Kim comes running and the comedy of errors begins again. I call my Dad back and he just says “Why did you open the trap IN the garage? You wouldn’t have this problem if you just killed it.” I think “yeah yeah yeah… ” And immediately say, my mother was right “Oh that daughter of mine, so highly intelligent, but not always very bright.”
Next lesson – pay attention to details and expect success. If I was expecting success in the trap, I would’ve gone outside with it (DUH).
So once again last night we baited the trap (more peanut butter)…and this morning we took the little trap outside, opened the lid…and… cutest little nose poking out again, and this time I had to tilt the trap for it to scurry off under a bush. So, hopefully the little one will survive (only one-quarter of mice that are born do) but either way I know I did my part.
As we read a bit about mouse in the book “Animal Speak” by Ted Andrews… a few more lessons emerged. The include:
- Attention to detail and fastidiousness (where do you need to pay attention to details more? where are you neglecting something?)
- Are you missing what is right in front of you?
- Is there something obvious you need to address?
- Are your energies scattered? Do you need to bring more focus to them? (or conversely are you so focused on details that you are missing the forest from the trees?)
These are all great questions that showed themselves to me this weekend through the power of one (oh I hope it was just one!) little mouse.
12-06-2010 Update: Guess who returned? Late last week Mr. Mouse came back in the house and infiltrated part of the kitchen and the garage. This time… linguine his passion. That said, he didn’t get very far with those long noodles suddenly realizing penne were more his size. After a lot more cleaning…and a lot more peppermint oil, this morning we captured the little bugger once again. THIS time we drove him in his little “live catch” trap about 5 miles from our home to a park and released him there. Hopefully he will find more bliss there (or at least carry forth his lessons to another family). Here’s to hoping this ends our mouse sagas for a while!