Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Things That Go Scratch In the Night

Normally, I am the last one up in our house.  Most nights, you can find me sitting at the dining room table, where I have the laptop with a heater turned on, browsing the web, replying to emails, working on some project, or otherwise just waisting time on the internet.  From my seat, I can hear all the doors open, and my children moving around.  Its a good place to sit, most of the time.

However, it not only lets me hear my kids, but also anything else that goes scratch in the night.  

We have a lot of little wild life around us.  We do live in a more rural than urban area.  We have about a billion squirrels that live in our front and back yards.  We have the most beautiful birds like robins, cardinals, and blue jays, that will just land somewhere in our yard so that you can watch them.  We have found a turtle, and often see neighborhood pets out who have gotten loose.  Once, a horse even made its way into our front yard.  No.  Really.  It is actually really great for The Littlest One.  She loves to watch the animals.  So far, squirrels and birds are her favorites.  After all, the horse doesn't wander by every day or that would be her favorite for sure.  
With all of those animals, you often hear things running across the roof.  It is a little weird at first, but you get used to it.  Occasionally, a bird or squirrel wanders onto our screened in back porch somehow, and we have to help them out.  Little things like that are no big deal.  What is a big deal, though, is when those little animals make their way inside our home.  

I'm not sure if I've posted about this before, but I HATE mice.  Hate them.  Can't handle them.  It isn't so much a fear, but the fact that they gross me out beyond all belief.  Just looking at one makes me want to bleach my entire body.  If I know a mouse touched something, I throw it away.  No amount of washing will ever take that knowledge out of my head.  

Late, late one night, right after we moved in, a saw a little tiny mouse run across my kitchen floor while I was sitting in my dining room seat at night.  I freaked out.  The next morning, my husband caught it and took care of it.  It took me days to calm down, though.  We also called our a pest control guy, the one who explain how deer hunting worked to me, to make sure the problem was taken care of.  I wouldn't open up the cabinet under my kitchen sink, where it had been hiding, without being totally prepared to jump and run for quite a while.  Eventually, though, it did get better.  I even keep just a couple of things under there now, at the front of the cabinet where I can easily grab them, of course.  

Then, last night, it happened again.  

I was sitting in my chair and I heard something.  At first, I thought it was one of The Girls stirring, and that I was about to see one walk in and tell me they couldn't sleep, didn't feel well, etc.  No one came in, though.  I kept working.  Then I heard it again.  This time, I realized it was more of a scratching sound.  I got up, walking into the kitchen quietly and listened.  There was total silence.  Just when I thought I was imagining things, I heard a very distinctive claw on wood sound of scratching from INSIDE one of my cabinets.  I immediately flew to my bedroom, not caring that The Littlest One was asleep in there, and begged my husband to come to my rescue again.  I told him there was an animal in the house and he had to come.  Had to.  He started to laugh and somehow sign at the same time, but he got up.  
He came in and heard nothing.  He opened the cabinet under the sink, scene of the last crime, and saw nothing.  He checked under the drawer where the last offender had also lived, and saw nothing.  He hit the cabinet, and nothing moved.  He hit the cabinet harder and still nothing moved.  
He told me I was imagining things and went back to bed.  
I knew what I heard.  
I left the room to close the computer, after all, there was no way I was sitting in there by myself anymore last night.  
Then, I tiptoed as well and as quietly as someone of my age and size can still do back into the kitchen, and I didn't move.  It took a few minutes, and I heard something again.
I knew I wasn't crazy.  At least not in this instance.  
I took about one tiptoe step a minute until I got the the kitchen sink.  I could hear it.  
My husband heard me trying to be stealthy, and he came back in to tell me to give up.  
I restated my case.  This time, he got out a flashlight.  We opened the cabinet again.  In the back of the cabinet under the sink is a big hole, larger than a softball, where someone who has no real know how of anything construction related tried to cut a hole for the pipes.  The hole goes all the way into the sub floor and makes a great little hiding spot.  That was where we found him.  My animal was a tiny field mouse.  He was little and gray, and freaked me the hell out.
I started backing away, but not slowly all while yelping "I told you!"
The field mouse was stuck to a sticky trap we had left in there from the last time.  He was still very much alive, though.  After a lot of poking fun at me, and a little bit of discussion about how the mouse needed to go or I was, he ask for the cheapest set of long barbecue tongs we had.  I didn't even flinch.  I told there where they were, because they were located in close proximity to the now diseased cabinet, and nearly started to cry.  Not for the animal, but because I knew he was going to carry that thing though my house, and I was terrified he would try to torture me with it.  
Instead, he got a bag, got the mouse out, and carried the whole thing outside.  I have no idea where he put it, or what he did with it from there, and i don't want to know.  
The tongs are in the trash, where they will stay.
I just can't handle the mice.

Today, I will be going out for more traps, lots of bleach, and new BBQ tongs.  It will take a long time before I can open that cabinet again, without flinching instinctively   I will be checking for scratching sounds for days when I first walk into the kitchen.  Ugg..

I suppose, if there is any upside to this at all, after all the cleaning today, my kitchen will be sparkling clean, even if it will all smell like bleach.