18 January 2009
Adventures in vermin
I have lain awake most nights this week, listening to scurrying and surreptitious chewing in my house. I seem to have conquered the continuous ant onslaught (cinnamon on window ledges discourages them – plus sticky tack to plug up their little entry holes). But how the mice have returned in force and volume. On Wed night, I heard little footsteps scuffling around in the papers in my bedroom, so I grabbed my headlamp and fumbled around to turn it on. This is a much longer process than it used to be – I should be able to flick it on with a touch of a button, but somehow that mechanism has gotten stuck in the “on” position so the only way to turn it off is to take a battery out. So when I’ve finished my reading in bed, I take one battery out and try to place the lamp with its floating AAA battery is a “safe place” where I would be likely to be able to easily recover and re-illuminate it. This tactic rarely works. Triple A batteries are tiny and amazingly adept escape artists. The headlamp itself often gets lost in the tangle of sheets, pillows and mosquito net that is a result of my tossing and turning on hot nights. Once I find the pieces I then have to fit the battery in the right way around, with barely dexterous sleep-drunk fingers.
So, awoken by the tippety-tap of vermin, I fumbled around picking up the pieces and finally succeed in lighting up a frighteningly distorted shadow of large antennae by the side wall of my room. Instantly awake, I rip open the mosquito net, slip on my flip-flops and move closer to investigate, a shudder involuntarily running down my spine.
I identify cockroachus maximus disgustingus and accordingly throw the book at him – and miss. He scurries out of reach and I decide not to freak out and just go back to bed, carefully tucking the net around me.
I kept my ears perked, but was eventually pulled under in unconsciousness until I felt a little flutter on my knee, propped up on a pillow, instantly my body surged with adrenaline and I leapt up, reaching for the crank flashlight I’d brought into bed with me after my unsuccessful initial hunt. I swept the beam around my bed, searching for the offending ant or mosquito. Not finding anything, I took a deep breath to calm my pounding heart and adjusted my sheet to settle back down. As the folds in the sheet flattened, the culprit was revealed: Monsieur Cockroach had found the bed. Suppressing a girly scream, I grabbed a book and pushed it down on the bug. Unfortunately foam mattresses don’t provide much resistance so I’d succeeded in immobilizing but not killing my attacker. Like a good homo sapien, I quickly scanned the area for another, more effective tool and grabbed a pillowcase, shielding my hand, to pick up Monsieur le Roach and crush him. Then I threw the pillowcase out of bed as far as I could and let the involuntary shudders wave down my back and arms for a bit as I meticulously tucked in the net perfectly and searched the whole bed for any other unwelcome visitors. Then I tried to sleep.
The next night, my ears already extra-sensitized to creeping and crawling, I heard something coming from near the window. Having a full arsenal in bed with me this time around: heavy book, headlamp, crank flashlight and bug spray, I quickly trained the light toward the window. I didn’t see anything so I turned off the light and almost instantly the scratching started up again, I look up, a faint blueish glow from the window giving just enough light to see a silhouette darting around – tail, nose – definitely a mouse, but I couldn’t quite tell whether it was inside or outside. I got out of bed, trying to think of some way to get rid of the thing. I lifted my flashlight and the little mouse stopped, looking up at me with big scared eyes and little pink floppy ears. How could I kill this cute thing?
I chased it around a little, by tapping surfaces near it. I have no idea what I was trying to accomplish – keep in mind this was my second sleepless night in a row). Finally I decided a brilliant plan – drop it into a bucket of water! My toilet-flushing bucket was handy, so I pulled it under the window and clapped a plastic bowl over the mouse, slowly dragging the bowl along the screen in the window, pulling the mouse further down until it no longer had screen to hold onto and would drop right into the bucket. This could have gone all kinds of wrong. But luckily, the mouse did fall right into the bucket with a soft plop. The soaked vermin tried to climb the walls of the bucket, but couldn’t. Of course, the water level was just low enough that he was able to stand and keep his head above water. Floppy pink ears are even cuter when wet. I couldn’t bring myself to deliberately drown the mouse so instead I gingerly picked up the bucket, unlocked my front door to walk out into the yard and throw the whole watery mess out with a sudden jerk and scampered back quickly back to the house, where I made myself a chamomile tea and tried to stop shivering.
New Year’s Resolution: get a cat and wear earplugs at night