a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Of Mice and Women

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Of Mice and Women

SUMMARY: Boost finds a mouse but we can't catch it. Plums are pretty much gone and I'm glad. In a barely related story, menopause is now hip.

Three evenings ago, while I was (as usual) at the computer, Boost started her "Alert! Something is weird and out of place!" bark, except this time it was in the kitchen, not the yard, and she was staring at the microwave. I couldn't figure out what it might be. There was nothing out of place--the cover was off the toaster, but it often is; there was a loaf of bread on the counter but it had been there for a week; the lid was off the teakettle but I doubted that she could even see that.

So I went back to work and, a couple of minutes later, the alarm-barker went off again. I walked along the counter, touching stuff, to see whether she seemed particularly interested in anything, but nooo--as soon as I came into the room, she just went into "Hi, mom!" mode instead of helping me figure out what her britches were in a bunch about, which is what she usually does on an alarm-bark.

Back to the computer. Another alarm-bark. This time I picked her up and walked her along next to the counter so that she could see what was there. She seemed intrigued at the idea of being able to see what was there and felt inclined for a real close look, but nothing along the lines of cautious worry that she exhibits for other causes of alarm.

So I put her down, and she's looking at me cheerily, and Tika is buzzing around noisily at all the commotion, and I'm standing there, leaning on the counter, asking The Booster what on earth she's going on about, when of a sudden I think I hear something in the cabinet next to me. Just the tiniest of whispery sounds, and gone again. I managed to get the dogs into down-stays so that their jangling and toenails didn't interfere, and stood there and listened. After a minute, there it was again, a teeny whisper. Mouse in the wall? With all the rodents we've had around lately, it could be. And then came the distinct (but very quiet) sound of tiny toothers chewing cellophane.

I stepped to the front of the cabinet (the one over the microwave, which on the counter) and yanked open the door. Silence. I scanned the shelves. There was a package of spaghetti on the bottom shelf, in cellophane. I reached in and started to move it, and Zam Zoom! A little furry body plunged past me out of the cabinet, across the microwave, onto the counter, across the stove, and down the gap next to the fridge, all in the time I was still trying to form the thought "Eek!" and coming down out of the air.

Now, I am not an eeky person and I am not afraid of rodents. But from a still, silent cabinet, having a creature launch itself at you abruptly is more than startling.

Meanwhile, the dogs are watching me curiously (my body having hidden the cabinet from their view and the rest of the activity up out of their sight). I told Boost she was a good girl and went exploring. Sure enough, mouse droppings under the sink. (There seems to be some unwritten mousey law that, when invading a kitchen, you must deposit droppings beneath the sink.) I cleaned all that out and put mousetraps there and between the fridge and the stove. To no avail, apparently.

Which brings us to plums.

It has been plum season for about the last 3 weeks.I've harvested and eaten as many as I could, gave quite a few away, made two separate batches of plum sorbet (mmmMMM! but it still uses only a handful of plums), and picked up zillions from the ground day after day and tossed their squashed bodies into the compost bins.

This, however, is where I keenly feel Jake's absence. He was a profligate plum eater, and as you might imagine, this worked wonders for loosening up his intestinal fortitude. And he had the most luxurious petticoats on his back legs and long silky hair on his tail, and in plum season I spent a prodigious amount of time hosing him down and letting him out in the middle of night to answer the call of the bowels.

This year, there's no Jake, and the current dogs seem far less enamoured of the purple fruit. Except that in the last few days, Boost seems to have discovered the joys of decaying plummage. So now I've been letting *her* out in the middle of the night.

Last night, it was twice, and the second time, I couldn't get back to sleep. Lying there comfortably, thinking about nothing in particular, but wide awake. (With the occasional hot flash to keep me entertained kicking off the sheets and pulling them back up again.) I finally got up and went downstairs to settle at my favorite putting-my-brain-to-sleep station at the kitchen table. Made myself a nice hot chocolate and started a crossword puzzle. The dogs, of course, had gone back upstairs to bed and by all accounts were quite comfy there.

Then, out of my peripheral vision, I detected motion. Glanced to one side just fast enough to see a mouse vanish under the fridge. I cursed silently and went back to my crossword. A few minutes later, the dang thing skittered from the fridge to under the stove. A few minutes later, it skittered from there back along the wall.

OK, this was NOT relaxing. And why wasn't the dang thing kindly throwing himself upon the mercy of the mousetraps? And what could I do about it in the meantime? I debated getting the dogs and trying to chase the mouse out from under something, but who knows where he'd be by the time I came downstairs, and even if I could convince the dogs to take part and I could flush him out, I figured that my renter/housemate might not appreciate my efforts at 3 in the morning. So, unrelaxed, I returned to bed.

I did, eventually, fall asleep, along about dawn. The dogs let me sleep til 9, which is very late for me (but there's the warped benefit of letting them out in the middle of the night--they were prepared to hold anything further until much later in the day). At which point I got up, enjoyed a liesurely breakfast while reading the paper, and was amused to see (just a few days after posting my Cold Flashes blog) an article saying that it's now apparently the cool factor to be in menopause and suffering from hot flashes. And how, even 5 years ago, no one ever talked about them in public (well, I know that's not strictly true), but now women yak about them to anyone and turn them into social clubs, so that nonmenopausal women feel left out in the cold (so to speak). And, perish the thought, hot flashing women even BLOG PUBLICLY about these previously very personal issues! The nerve!

But, if those left-out-feeling women are looking for something else to do with their time while us in the In crowd are putting on our fleece sweater, taking it off, putting it on, taking it off, they're welcome to come by and clean up old rotting plums from my garden and herd the mice out of my kitchen so I can have a good night's sleep.


  1. We had a mouse in the kitchen a couple months ago. I actually saw it once scurry from under the dishwasher to the refrigerator and back. I subsequently found some droppings on a plate in the china cabinet. And then apparently it died somewhere under the dishwasher. There is no way this humble homeowner can move a dishwasher with all it's plumbing and connections, apart from being built in under the counter. So we had to live with the smell of decomposing little rodent for a little while. And then one day it was gone. I would like to think that one of it's relatives took it away for a nice burial, but I suppose it's dessicated bones are just wiped clean at this point and no longer smell.

    I will send you Ray. He will clear your yard of plums in no time, get good a sick and never miss a beat.

  2. I have a cat that brings live mice into the house then sits on them. Cody on the other hand is great at flushing out mice but has yet to catch one. I've had pretty good luck with globs of peanut butter in a live trap and I get the added bonus of chasing my squeamish husband around the house with the captured mouse.

  3. Peanut butter is what I've used in the spring-loaded traps. Usually it works. Guess I'll try cheese for a more traditional last meal.