Friday, May 27, 2016

Waging a War

I've had quite the week. Not only did I get a book finished and turned in and provided input on the cover design (oh, it's going to be gorgeous), but I've fought and won a battle in my house. Here is the epic tale (which my Facebook followers have already heard, in pieces).

Before I went on my trip, I got the downstairs part of my house cleaned. The kitchen, especially, was scrubbed down, with the counters decluttered and disinfected and the floor mopped. I was very proud of maintaining this upon my return, cleaning up after cooking and having it spotless again every night before I went to bed.

And then I got up Saturday morning to find the shredded remains of a Hershey's Kiss wrapper on my countertop, along with some suspiciously sparkly mouse droppings (it must have eaten as much foil as it shredded).

Well, right there we had two capital offenses: stealing my chocolate and messing up my clean kitchen. After I put the chocolate in a safe location and scrubbed the counters with disinfectant, I found that I still had a mousetrap lying around. My Hindu neighbors may try to catch and release copperheads rather than killing them, but I figure that letting a mouse go is only inflicting it on someone else and letting it multiply (since they don't do that neuter and release thing for mice that they do with feral cats). Killing the mice quickly and mercifully lowers the population so they don't get so hungry they invade houses and eat chocolate. So, that night before I went to bed, I set the trap. I found the corpse of my slain foe the next morning. Success! I scrubbed and disinfected the counters again and figured I was good.

Until I found more (less sparkly) evidence of rodent incursion the next morning. More cleaning ensued. When I went shopping Wednesday, I bought more traps and set them that night. This is where it gets ugly.

I'd braced myself to enter the kitchen the next morning and find a dead mouse, since that's why I set the traps in the first place. I'll admit to being a bit squeamish, so since the traps are cheap, I don't bother with trying to empty them. I just put my hands in the plastic sleeves the newspapers come in and scoop the whole trap into a bag so I don't have to touch anything. But when I went to pick up this trap, it moved. The mouse was still alive! It was at an odd angle, so the trap must have triggered before it was in the right position, and it was pretty large, so the trap may not have been strong enough to kill it quickly. Still in the trap, it was skittering all over my kitchen.

I really wasn't sure what to do. I suspected the injury from the trap was eventually going to be fatal, so releasing it outside wasn't an option. I wasn't sure I was up to killing it directly. It reminded me of a scenario presented at that lecture on the psychology of good and evil I went to a few weeks ago, where people were willing to do something that led to the death of one person in order to save many, but they weren't willing to directly kill one person, even to save many. I may set a trap, but then it's on the mouse for being greedy and falling into it. I wasn't sure what to do after that to put it out of its misery. I settled for putting a stack of newspapers on top. Eventually, it got quiet, and I scooped the newspapers and what was under them into the trash and took the trash to the dumpster. Then I scrubbed and disinfected the counter and floor.

To cap it all, one of the pieces of music used in ballet class last night was "Ben," that love song to a rat. I had a massive giggle fit at the barre.

This morning, the trap I'd set last night was empty, and my counters and floor were clean. I'm going to keep a trap set for a few more days until I'm sure they've either gone away or I've got them all. This is great incentive to keep my kitchen spotless, with nothing out that even resembles food.

I've lived here for nearly 18 years, and last year was the first time I've ever had a mouse. It may have something to do with the wet weather and the flooding. I've also heard that exterminators talking about higher populations because of the mild winter. Whatever the case, stealing my chocolate will only lead to death. I feel kind of like the Brave Little Tailor, with his "Seven at one blow" belt. I need a t-shirt that says "I killed the last individual who took my chocolate."

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