The problem with old houses on steep hills is that they keep on shifting. Like an old lady sitting crookedly on a slanted chair, weight shifts take place often and are unpredictable. Oh, and irreversible too. We innocently thought that tilted floors are nothing more than a quirky addition to an already quirky house. And we kinda liked that.
It should’ve been a short sweet story, but short stories can leave you wanting more. In this case, they left us wanting less… You’ll see why.
We moved into this little house on the hill two months ago. We painted dark walls and revived cherry-stained floors, we transformed a mouse-ridden shed into an acceptable storage space (as long as we use waterproof containers) and managed to create a brilliant indoor garden. Truly so, as all plants are a captivating green, not to mention their air-purifying qualities which adds peace of mind to occasionally weary inhabitants.
Weary not by default, but by circumstance.
It all started one late evening. The boys were in bed sleeping and we adults were planning the deeds of next day, mostly related to interior decorating. You know those calm, slow-paced evening hours when tiredness gives in to the promise of sweet sleep… and when pointing to an empty wall with a ‘what if’ hanging in the air reveals a small critter with black beady eyes… I froze. I love every living creature and such, always have, but the case of man vs. mice is still up for debate.
It was a tough reality to subscribe to. Interior decorating went the way of the dodo and we started planning around the mouse issue. I felt slightly endeared towards it as memories of a free-range gerbil we used to have a while ago surfaced, sending waves of compassion through my brain. I named the mouse Florence and decided to never kill it.
Don’t judge, we all have our weak spots. Mine relates to how I tend to various creatures. Been doing so since I was little. But Florence was a different story. She was not meek you see; quite daring instead. Small and quick, she went through low-level cupboards and the tell-tale sign was… well, the droppings. A big no.
We decided on humane trapping and the next morning we had Florence in a bucket and ready to join the great outdoors. We drove far enough from home, said goodbye, the boys did too, sighed, and left a hunk of cheese (mouse-size) and an apple core as survival rations until she would find her way around.
And no, we did not know for certain whether she was a girl. And we thought she was a lonely mouse. Not really.
The tell-tale droppings continued and a second mouse was trapped humanely. Unfortunately, this one had some Olympic qualities and managed to clear the bucket space we had offered in preparation for outdoor release.
That’s when the word on the humane trapping got out and the mice smartened up, avoiding the said trap. At the same time, they trampled over my desk, and once I got to see a grey curious face staring at me from between the succulent plants. A juicy story indeed.
I called to my husband and a short, wordless exchange was all it took. I came to the realization that this could no longer be a story of humane removal of mice. After reading a few more than explanatory pages of possible diseases rodents can impart to human roommates, we opted to part ways with the murine population the old fashioned way. In came the traps. Yep, the snappy ones.
We are as of last night, nine mice less than we were a week ago. Onwards we go!
Movie watching got a new meaning. Usually, we barely have time or energy to watch any, but now that the mouse issue has to be solved, we occasionally sit and watch, and the traps go ‘snap!’ in the meantime. It sounds cruel, unless you have, at least once, woken up to mouse tracks all over your kitchen.
For those with a rich imagination though, I will ask that you use it sparingly when it comes to trapped rodents. I am not for any kind of animal torture but this is a ‘we have to’ situation as little boy is threatened by asthma when in the presence of certain furry critters.
It’s a no brainer, mice lose from the start. So there you have it.
Life in an old house is nothing short of spectacular as you can see. Worth the experience though, mice and old sewer systems included. Oh yes, that is also presently happening, but that will be the next story in the series “Stories from an old house” because we know there will be more. Hold that thought, the plumber just arrived…