Friday afternoon, the kids were at a birthday party and I was basking in the glory of having crossed every item off my to-do list. I was feeling pretty good about myself; maybe even a bit smug. I was wiping off the kitchen countertop and opened the cupboard underneath the sink to throw something in the garbage, when I saw something strange. At first I thought I had spilled coffee grounds, but no. No, I always take the little compost bucket out of the cupboard when I throw the coffee grounds away. I moved the compost bucket, and saw more strange black things. My stomach gave a lurch and I googled "mouse droppings."
That smug, happy feeling dissipated instantly. I took everything out of the cupboard, grabbed the bleach, and started cleaning. I had only a few minutes before picking up the children from the party, so I piled the garbage bags, rags, sponges, garbage pail and compost back under the now bleachy-clean sink cupboard. After returning home, I called my husband in a semi-panic, and as I did so I opened up the lazy susan where I keep the flour, oatmeal, and other baking needs. "OH MY GOD" I screamed into the phone. "THEY'RE IN HERE TOO!" I immediately hung up the phone, threw out the open bag of oatmeal, and bleached that cupboard as well. My husband was working on something "more major" than a "mouse" and so it would be a while before he was home.
Now, I'm a feminist. I shovel snow in the winter, I have been known to clean the gutters, a few weeks ago I even got on a ladder and pulled the decorative scarecrows out of the garage loft. But mice? No. I did what any girl would do in my situation: I called my parents. My dad answered the phone, and in response to his normal salutation I began shrieking that there was a MOUSE in the HOUSE and it was in the CUPBOARD and AIEEEEEEEE. My dad listened for a few minutes, then said what all dads say when faced with hysterical daughters: "Here, I'll let you talk to your mother." Within thirty minutes my dad was at my house, setting up traps under the sink and in the lazy susan: two snap traps and one "mouse inn".
At this point I felt like burning the whole house to the ground, or maybe having a stroke, but on the advice of my husband I poured myself a glass of wine, ready to prepare dinner. SHAKY, but ready to make dinner. Then, I heard it. I looked under the sink and the little door to the "mouse inn" was closed. AIEEEEEE. Mice mice MICE. Not two minutes after that, I heard a loud bang against the front window. A large smear, studded with feathers, was on the glass, and a bird lay motionless in the front garden. Mouse under the sink. Dead bird in the front garden. Possibly more mice in the house - who knows? I am not a catastrophizer. Normally, I can roll with the punches. But at this point I basically felt I was being overrun by vermin and there was a dead bird in the front yard and I couldn't take it anymore. THE MICE COULD BE ANYWHERE, I thought. At that point, I broke. I started sobbing. I sobbed while making dinner. I sobbed while the children ate - I couldn't eat. I cried so much that Mark begged me to please stop being so sad and Jake said Mom, we can get the mice, the mice are small, it's okay, Mom. I just cried and cried while cleaning up the children's dinner. The children fled downstairs to the safety of their video games while I cried. Two hours of crying later, my husband came home.
Husband: You have GOT to pull yourself together.
Me: *ceaseless sobbing*
Husband: It's just a MOUSE. Look, I stopped at Canadian Tire. I bought all these traps.
Husband: You're letting yourself get all worked up. You need to pull yourself together!
Me: *gulping, choking, sobbing* I think there's a mouse under the sink.
At that point, my husband threw the "mouse inn" directly into the garbage, along with the dead bird. I hardly slept at all on Friday night. I kept hearing things. My husband kept telling me that I was "letting myself" get "all worked up" but it turns out I was right. Because Saturday morning I slowly opened the cupboard to find all the bait gone but no mice in the traps. There was apparently a mouse party, with droppings on top of the compost container, and in the lazy susan, a similarly stripped mouse trap, holes in the bags of chia and quinoa, and NO DEAD MICE.
Later my mother commented that maybe the mice were vegan, and my friend Lyn thought that next thing you know they would be into the nutritional yeast. FORTUNATELY the nutritional yeast is kept in a glass mason jar, so that was safe, but as for the rest, well.
It turns out the traps my dad had brought over were not working - obviously - and so my husband started setting up the variety of traps that he had bought: old fashioned snap traps, poisonous bait ones, and the humane catch-and-release kind. Just as a foreshadowing, I will inform you that the humane traps were also the least effective.
While he was setting traps, I went out and bought mason jars and stainless steel containers, and the rest of my day was spent putting all foodstuffs into such containers. The upside of this gross event is that I have super clean and organized cupboards now.
My husband went back to the office, leaving me to take the kids to karate. At this point I was nearly insane with lack of sleep, fretting about the Hanta virus, and the (probably ridiculous) thought that I would one day open up my sweater drawer to find a horde of mice nesting there. After karate I gingerly opened the cupboard to discover that the only thing grosser than no mouse in the trap is to find a mouse in the trap. My husband was a good three hours from coming home and so after I heaved for a few minutes I called my parents - again - and my dad came over with his thick leather gloves to deal with the aftermath. Dads and their daughters, am I right? I was awash in gratitude as my dad reset the trap, and it wasn't five minutes after he left when I heard a snap. And I use this as a cautionary tale for those of you sensitive people, like me. If you hear a snap, don't think that the trap just "went off" "by itself". I opened the cupboard to see a writhing, twitching mouse. At that point I just went to lie down, feeling like I was having a nervous breakdown.
I'm happy to say that after my husband came home, there were a few more "snaps", and he sealed around the dryer vent where we think the problem originated. There haven't been any more issues since Saturday; the cupboards are still clean and smelling festively of bleach and peppermint oil - the latter of which is apparently a mouse deterrent.
So, that was my weekend. Well, not all of it was misery and desperation. There was also this:
The boys got their yellow belts! They're so proud and so am I. A bright (yellow) spot in an otherwise vermin-ridden weekend.