Monday, March 31, 2008

"Excuse me, where are the condiments?"

aWe have Ratatouille the movie going on over here. Just with mice, instead of rats.

They were here before we moved in, of that I am certain. These little buggers are wily and comfortable in their home, let me assure you. They would like to thank us for the new spongey carpet and the easy-scurry floorboards too.

I hadn't really been one to have an opinion on mice either way. We only saw two, if that, inside the last place. Then again, we did have Rusty, mouse hunter *picture a mostly white cat with paws on his hips.... and a cape* for most of the years we were there.

Rusty was hilarious. We lived next to market garden fields and often, you would see Russ (in his younger years) in the reserve adjacent to our home, just stalking in the grass. He would often come up trumps, with the tiniest, sweetest little field mice. Sometimes, Steve and I would deliberately cramp Rusty's style and we'd heckle him, like stage parents, from our front yard whenever we saw him creeping in the grass. I myself did not like him catching live bait unless it was in the house and, well, I guess he was just pungent enough to keep them right away from indoors because we never heard scurrying in the walls or saw any kind of rodent whatsoever - it was actually only after he died in 2005 that we realised how good he had been, for it was then that we began to have regular resident rats in the walls, the big river rat kind *shudder* not just sweet little mice, we'd get rid of one lot and another lot would move in - and I guess it was obviously in his nature to go hunt. So to see him catch things outside was too much for my conscience and I would try to distract him. The most fun way was the said 'stage parent' method.

We'd amuse ourselves with, "Oh, Russ! HI! Hi Rusty!!!" and waving madly at the cat, who for all the world actually looked like a very embarrassed teenager being waved to by his mother from the crowd while he was up on stage doing his breakdance routine. Unfortunately for Rusty, he was not the most camouflaged of cats there ever was and his gleaming, gorgeous white coat, daubed here and there with ginger that faded and greyed as he reached elderly years, would stand out like a fluorescent beacon in the tall grassy field. "He hasn't got a hope of winning," we'd say quietly, without moving our lips (you know, in case he saw us), much like the parents of the shockingly bad breakdancer would say, "but at least he's giving it a go."

God I loved Russell. He was such a funny companion.

Aaaaanywho, back to the present. Yesterday, we moved the food out of the pantry and stacked in boxes where it has to stay for the next couple of days. Oh. My. God. My new kitchen comes TOMORROW!!!! by the way. So once it is in, that'll fix a couple of the most obvious holes in the walls and floors. At present, I can see daylight through several places in the kitchen, so really, our house is just like an extension of Mousevegas right now. We've effectively built them a three bedroom, two bathroom extension. And I was awoken this morning by rustling in the kitchen and then I heard a packet of "something" drop to the floor (turns out, it was one of those little two packs of sesame snaps. Gone now. Dragged excitedly back to the den, no doubt. The motherload!). Steve snuck out before me, switched the light on and caught two of the little buggers, mid-chew. They scampered. He reckons he had them cornered. Yeah, right. I think they were just louder than usual because they're pissed we've moved our their food. And just when they had finished their stocktake of the pantry too.

Steve is trying to break the mouse "issewe" to me gently. He will mention casually in passing that he saw one, but he'll do it several days after the event. And I can tell he's been itching to let me in on the latest sighting of Mickey because he'll do the most unrelated "by the way" you ever heard.

Take yesterday, for example. I said, "Well I guess I'd better vacuum in here" (the lounge) and he said very excitedly, "Yeah there was a mouse in here the other night... *cue my look of worry* were asleep on the couch *wry grin moving across his face as he saw my look of disappointment that there are now mice in any room of the house they please* ...and it went running along the wall, stopped at the fireplace and just sat there." Great. Juuuuust great. Did you get it a chequered blankie to put over its knees and a copy of Little Women to read while it sat by the fire, I wanted to ask His Smugness. I know he secretly gets off on the fact that I am not enjoying our little dark and furry night visitors.

To make myself feel better, this morning I let Pepper come in and scare the life outta the little buggers. I imagined them cowering just the other side of the floorboards and walls, not daring to make a noise. Like the Von Trapps in the convent cemetery. Of course, in reality, all Pep did was bump into a few things (hey, she's old and her eyes are cloudy) and pant and puff excitedly as she huffed around the shelled-out kitchen. She didn't even sniff anything. I took her right over to the sliver of a gap between the floor and wall where I saw one diner scurry through this morning and nothing. Didn't even raise a whisker of excitement on her. She was just happy to be in. The dogs are not allowed inside the main part of the house - so don't tell Steve I let her in, shhh - and I thought that the sudden animal sounds in their ceiling might show the mice that we're serious because we've called in a hitdog to "take care of business" for us.

So. Please tell me. If you've had a mouse problem (I use that word ever so gently, it really ought to say infestation) what have been your successful stories of keeping them out? I can't use traps, let it be known. Just can't. I actually have a problem even with the "kind" live traps, the ones where you then have to take Ol' Mousey to a previously arranged destination for a drive-by drop-off. You are going to think I am a push-over, but I just can't bear the responsibility of removing the patriarch of a mouse community, or a baby from its mother, or... or... oh shuddup, I just can't separate them, 'kay?

And now I must go. The rodents on table 5 need more sauce.

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