Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Stinky Mice and Urban Legends

I have great news! The mice are gone! Hoo-ray! Yeah! and Hallelujah!

But there's still a problem. Nothing is ever easy.

I'm sure you've all heard that if you use poison the mice will die where they can't be reached and start stinking. I've heard it too. I've also heard that's an urban legend because mouse poison causes extreme dehydration, which means they are, well, dry, when they pass on, therefore not stinky. I've also heard that that is an urban legend. So basically I wasn't sure, but I did know I was desperate and my sticky traps weren't doing the trick.

Here's what an authoritative web site had to say on the issue:

"If you treat for mice, what will happen to the mice?It is an urban legend that once rodents consume rodent bait, “they will go outside in search of water.” This is a blatant lie that the majority of the pest control industry has fed homeowners. Unfortunately, the rodent will die wherever the bait takes effect. Usually this will be in their nesting area, since that is where they spend the majority of their time. This leads to the next frequently asked question . . . If a mouse dies inside my house, will it “smell”?There are a lot of factors involved in whether a dead mouse will emit an odor. These include body content, humidity, temperature and several other factors. In most cases, a dead mouse will not even be noticed by the resident. In a worse case scenario, the smell will only last for a day or so."

So let's think about this, the factors of whether there will be a smell: body content, I have no idea except that my mice didn't seem to be eating much of anything; humidity, we live in a desert; temperature, it's sub-zero frozen wasteland these days; and several other factors. Hmmm, don't know any other factors, so I must be safe in using the bait. Right?

Wrong. Worse case scenerio a day or so of stink? I don't think so.

We are now on about day ten of the most putrid, disgusting, non-living stink in the basement. It's not too bad at first, but when sitting on the couch, if you turn your head to the left, or worse, lie down, oh my, the eyes start to water. You have to cover your nose. And then you just can't take it.

Any day now it's going to go away. Unless I rip the wall apart with my bare hands first. But I guess I shouldn't be surprised, since apparently it was an entire village of mice I was dealing with, which is the only explanation I have - there is a heaping pile a mice corpses behind my wall. That dreadful image of a mouse holocaust is probably the only thing keeping me from ripping the wall apart. That and the promise of "a day or so" of stink.

Does anyone know how long a SO is?

The Sprained Ankle that Is...and Other Mysteries

My eight-year-old son wrote a back-to-school essay earlier this year entitled, "The broken toe that wasn't." He's his momma's boy, isn't he? It was a story about an injury he had this summer involving a stubbed toe on a water slide. I ignored it for a couple of days, until the said toe became disgustingly infected. I broke down and took him to the doctor, who took an x-ray and determined it was also broken. I saw the x-ray myself. It was an obvious break, clear as day, even to my totally untrained eye. They rigged him up with the most adorable little walking boot you ever saw, and I tried not to feel guilty about waiting two days to take him to the doctor.

Then two days after that I got a call from the doctor saying that the radiologist thought it was just a shadow. She wasn't convinced, so she suggested we play it by ear and remove the boot when he was comfortable. Well he wasn't ready right then, but he was sooner than one would suspect for a break. So we'll apparently never know.

But I do know about his latest injury - an ankle sprain. It is a true and real sprain, I promise, despite the fact that at any given moment of the day he can be caught running, jumping, bouncing, springing, frolicking...you get the idea. These events are inevitably followed by an "Ouch! My ankle!" But it doesn't slow him down. He'll stop, feel it, and is off again. I keep hollering "Sit down!" "Put your foot up!" "Stop jumping up and down!" Seriously now, should I REALLY have to say that? One would think he's faking.

Except that a couple times a day he comes to me and says "Mom! Look, my ankle's getting huge!"

And yes, it is getting huger by the minute.

I think he's proud of it - the bigger the better. I'm sure he shows it off at school.

I'm fairly certain the authorities would frown on any attempts to tie him down, or drug him, but I'm not sure how else I'm going to let that poor ankle heal. If only the doctor would call and tell me the swelling is just a shadow...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Domestic Genius

I've been thinking about my mom today, and the time that she made a cobbler for the family. I can't remember if it was a plum or a cherry cobbler--I'm kind of thinking it was plum, although cherry makes more sense--either way the fruit had pits that didn't get removed before baking. It looked delicious, and we all dug in enthusiastically, until coming upon the errant pits. We teased the poor woman mercilessly. I like to think it was my older sisters, they were like that. But I'm sure I chimed in. And it still comes up from time-to-time, "Do you remember the cobbler mom made?"

But no more. I will not mention it, think of it, or laugh about it again. You can probably guess why, but I'll tell you anyway.

Yesterday we got home from church a little later than expected. It was almost three and we hadn't eaten since breakfast. I had started a roast before we left, but hadn't prepared anything to go with it. I put some brown rice in a rice steamer and dashed off to change out of my dress before coming back to make some muffins, gravy, and a salad. Quite the meal I would say. But the kids all pitched in, and we got it done in less than an hour.

I remember at some point peeking at the rice, while on the phone, and wondering why the water was so brown. It was brown rice though, so I didn't give it more than a passing thought. Finally the other food was ready, Rob had made it home, the table was set, so I checked to make sure the rice was done.

It looked strangely like something else...like...maybe...wheat berries?

Yes, we had steamed wheat berries to go with our roast and gravy.

I need to point out that we store our brown rice and our wheat berries in the very same type of container. And I was in a hurry. And I was hungry.

Pathetic excuses I know. Hopefully the kids will let me live it down eventually.

Meanwhile I'm in the market for cooked wheat berry recipes. It's surprising how few there are.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Car Wars

Well my theory was proven incorrect. What a shock. As it turns out, the mice did not make a suicide pact and throw themselves under my daughter's car tires. The rust-colored fluid was not mouse blood. You could knock me over with a feather - it was rusty coolant, disbursed after a "rear freeze plug" blew out. Apparently it (the plug) does that, the noble little thing, to save the motor when it is at risk of freezing to death. And as grateful as I am to that little freeze plug for dying as a martyr to save the car's engine, I would appreciate it more if would have planted itself in a more convenient location - since replacing the $10 plug is going to cost $500 in labor just to get to the darn thing. And of course without it, the car overheats after about 2 miles. Which it did on the same day that a belt broke on our other vehicle. I was driving my daughter home from flute lessons and all of a sudden there was a horrendous noise, followed by a burning smell. Drove straight to the auto repair place where they made the diagnosis - then swapped it out four hours later for the next dead auto. I've already got another car in the driveway that is up for sale because it won't pass inspection and isn't worth the investment it would take to get it there. I'm hoping someone who likes to tinker with cars will want it. Then last night my husband called (he's out town) and told me that one of his coworkers wants to buy our van - our only operating vehicle at the moment. Which would be great - since after 21 years of mommy-hood I'm ready to downsize from a van to a sedan. But if I sell the van now I have to go find a replacement - and I've already got all these other cars that need to be replaced. I'm starting to feel like a used-car salesman. And I just don't have the time since I'm busy being a mouse warrior. And not a very good one at that. What a life. Better go - I have so many things to conquer.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Rodent Wars

A couple of weeks back, I started to notice the tell-tale signs of a mouse invasion. I tossed out several sticky-pads, (they've added a great new touch by the way - medicine that helps them sleep! Which is sooo much better than the days when an angry mouse, hopelessly stuck in place, throws a hissy fit in the middle of the night and wakes up the house, filled with easy-to-put-into-hysterics women and teen girls...but I digress...)

Within a short amount of time the traps had snared two drowsy mice. After that they stayed empty, and I hoped the problem was over, although I admit I was too busy to notice, despite my daughter's insistence that they could still hear them at night. ("You just think you can hear them!") All that wishful thinking came to an abrupt end on New Year's Eve. My husband took my son to a Jazz game, and my girls and I loaded plates with every kind of fattening food imaginable and settled in for four hours of "Gone with the Wind."

Our mice, however, planned a more lively new year's event. As we sat on the basement couch watching our movie, they partied just above us, somewhere between the basement ceiling and main story floor. And when I say partied, I mean it. They ran, skipped, galloped, danced, and and tangoed back and forth, back and forth. I envisioned roller coasters, ferris wheels, rock bands, and a couple of high-rise condominiums. I don't know how many. I don't even want to guess. A lot. A lot more than should be in a single house.

So New Years Day for me was the start of "The Hunt". I'm told that mice generally stay within 10 to 15 feet of a food source, so the key is to find their food source, clean it up, and lay the traps there. But the area they were holding their carnival in was nowhere near any food source. I did discover, though, a cabinet with a discarded (and empty) bag of Chex Mix, and enough mouse poop to fertilize a garden. It was more like 30 feet from their siting, but close enough. I cleaned it up, and, out of desperation, put actual poison in its place. I generally won't use the stuff, but desperate times and all that...

Sadly, there was no sign of a nibble on those traps, or any other traps, by the next day, so I got truly desperate. I cleaned every cupboard and room that could potentially have any food anywhere near it. My kitchen and office both look like a bomb went off. Any food items in eatable packaging has been stored in plastic bins. I have about 100 traps scattered from one corner of the house to the next, all empty and untouched. Nothing. Nada.

I'm thinking those mice must have had a hot dog stand at the carnival, cause they're not eating my food. One of my girls suggested that they're cannibals. I don't know. Maybe.

So here's the wierdest thing. And I'm NOT making this up. Yesterday, my 8-year-old got home from school, and informed me (I had my head in the office closet, searching for mouse poop) that there was a trail of blood in the driveway. Seeing as how he's an 8-year-old boy, I was skeptical, but of course I went to investigate. There was a trail, but it looked more like rust than blood. It went all the way up the driveway, and ended at my daughter's car, which had just returned home after a day at the high school. There was no puddle of anything under the car, but both right-side tires were wet with the red stuff, which did smell oddly blood-like. And a scan with a flash-light at the under-side of the car did show what could be described as a small, non-descriptive, hairy blob just behind the front tire. We searched the road, and discovered the trail went on a long ways, but there was no sign of road kill anywhere. When we returned from our search, we realized that the car was making the entire garage smell like raw hamburger.

So here's my theory. The mice (highly-intelligent little buggers) saw that they were up against a crazed maniac, gave up, fled the house, and threw themselves under the first car tire they came across, leaving nothing but a rust-colored trail of liquid in their wake.

I know you think that's crazy. I think that's crazy. But since my traps - every single one - were still empty and neglected yet again this morning, that's the only logical conclusion I can come to.

Just in case though, I'm out to buy more traps...