I just love a happy ending

I really thought I’d nailed this whole pest control thing. I solved the mouse, nay mice, in the car problem with a thorough cleaning and scented dryer sheets.

About a week ago, I discovered mouse turds on the kitchen counter. No problem at all. We’ve been here before. I set a trap.

The next morning, the peanut butter had been licked from the trap, with a little pile of mouse poop next to it, mocking me. The trap had not snapped.

I set it again, this time with almond butter, since that’s what we’ve been eating. Oh my gawd, is it delicious. I just want to eat a whole jar of it with a spoon. (Incidentally, we don’t pay $17.99 for it.  Fred Meyer sells it for $3.99)

The next morning, the trap was licked clean.

I set a second trap and tried to position the two strategically so the mouse couldn’t get to one without snapping the other. Upon the advice of a coworker, I replaced the almond butter with cheese. For two more nights, the mouse nibbled the bait from the trap and left taunting little turds beside it.

Last weekend, we awoke in the night for whatever reason, and I saw that cheese had been nibbled from only one of the traps. I moved an electronic trap, which so far has never caught a mouse, next to the two traps in a formation I was sure would lure the mouse to his snappy demise.

A short while later, we heard a great clang.

“Go get it, go get,” I told Rob.

“No, no, it’s freshly dead,” he said.  “You have to let the rigor set in.”

“Go look at it, go look at it,” I told him.

From the kitchen, I heard, “Aaah, Kari, come here, come here, come here!”

Evidently, the mouse had been lying on his back, looking dead, when it and the trap suddenly started scooting back behind the oven. I wondered later if the mouse had a buddy who was trying to save him.

When I arrived, I saw the trap turned over, with a little tail sticking out. I checked back later and I couldn’t see the tail. I reached for the trap which had a little foot in it, but when I pulled, the little leg stretched, and then the mouse was gone behind the oven.

A few more nights of cat and mouse went by and last night, Isis woke me up acting very strangely. She wasn’t whining, but I could tell she was really freaked out about something. I’m highly attuned to this dog; I knew a trap had snapped.

Indeed, one of the traps was upside-down on the stove top. The other was nowhere to be found. Rob pulled out the oven this morning and didn’t see anything.

I resigned myself to get a glue trap. Sure it’s unseemly and inhumane to have to deal with a live mouse stuck to one of those things, but enough is enough. It’s him or me.

However, they didn’t have glue traps at the store. At the very least, I decided we (and by we, I mean Rob) should climb behind the oven and fill the space around the gas line with that expanding foam stuff. No more mice will get in and eventually I’ll get a glue trap and the ninja mouse can die a slow, painful death.

As it turned out, Rob hadn’t looked carefully enough this morning, because when we pulled the oven out, the little sucker was just hanging out by the hole in the floor, with a trap stuck to his tail. (You can see how the trap blends with the color of the floor.)

This was no ordinary mouse. He either really deserved to live, or really deserved to die.

We chose life, and set him free in our neighbor’s yard.

His right hind leg looks a little funky. I wonder if that’s the one that I pulled the other day. He’s probably not long for the woods anyway, but at least I didn’t kill him.

My flagging cedar

We have a long driveway. One of my favorite features about my house (literally, one of my favorite things, I’ve said it out loud more than a few times) is that the branches of two cedar trees on either side of the driveway converge to create a canopy over the driveway. This creates shade, cooling the house, and obscures the view of our house from the street, creating privacy.

Also, it’s pretty.

Since it is one of my most favorite things, you would think I’d have a picture of it in its glory, but I do not. Here it is during last winter’s snowstorm, seen from the street.

Here it is today, seen from the front porch.

The other day, I noticed that some of the branches had turned brown all the way up to the top of this 50-foot-or-taller tree. Seemingly overnight. Surely I would have noticed if this were gradual, I look at those branches every day.

With a little internet research, I came to the conclusion that this was called “flagging” and is either:
  • The normal result of an extremely hot dry spell, combined with a few nicks to the trunk caused by construction vehicles over the past 10 months. The brown branches will blow out in the fall and winter, and the tree will “resume its healthy appearance.” (from http://pep.wsu.edu/hortsense/), or
  • A sign the tree is dying because construction vehicles have repeatedly driven over the roots and banged into the trunk. The tree may survive, but will “never look good again, with lots of dead branches and gaps in the crown.” (from UBC Botanical Garden forums)

To look at the trunk, yes, it would appear that this tree has suffered some abuse. I’m not too happy with the construction folks who dinged up my tree.

Someone on the UBC forum corrected me to say this is Thuja plicata, not a cedar, but we here in the Pacific Northwest call that a western redcedar, even though it’s technically a cypress. Deal with it.

Someone else said, “Driving over the roots of a tree (and running into its trunk) are a way to kill it.” Yeah, well, that makes me look like a big idiot, doesn’t it?

This tree has probably been here for a hundred years. A driveway was built on top of its roots. Could our little backyard construction project be killing it?

Mouse House

Apparently, mouse invaders have a schedule. At this same time last year,** we discovered mouse turds and murdered two mice. After we found the second mouse, I got an ultrasonic, electoromagnetic magic forcefield.

I assumed it worked, since we didn’t have another mouse for an entire year!

However, last night I was turning off the lights before bed and I heard a noise that almost sounded like a leak in the walls. (It was raining and we have new, noisy LeafGuard gutters.) I went into the kitchen, turned on the light, and it stopped. I woke up Rob and we listened as it started up again, and identified it as a critter in the pantry.

We have so much opened food in there, cereal boxes, etc. Not to mention paper oatmeal packets and foil-wrapped granola bars, which apparently mice can chew through, because one had been nibbled on. Rob, with broom in hand ready to whack, pulled out some of the boxes of cereal and discovered droppings. We couldn’t find the mouse but we set traps. It hadn’t been caught as of this morning. I can’t wait to go home and check the traps!

I also ordered another ultrasonic, electromagnetic force field, just in case it helps to plug one in closer to the pantry.

**This is a reminder of the advantages of regular blogging. I have easily accessible documentation of the last incident. I had completely forgotten it happened the day of the Super Bowl … and even thought it might have been more than a year ago.

Monkey man

If you don’t follow SYTYCD (Canada or otherwise), surely you’d like to hear the latest on my dog.

While we were in California for Thanksgiving, Isis tore the legs off of one of the first toys we ever got her. A stuffed monkey with stretchy legs we cleverly named “Monkey Man.” Rob got it for her while Isis and I were still in California (also for Thanksgiving).

She tears apart most toys, sometimes within minutes of putting her mouth on them. (The pink leopard ring is still intact, though, Aunt Louise. She loves it.) So we weren’t troubled by the dismemberment of Monkey Man. He was 2 years old, which is a long time in dog toy years.

This morning I was watching Isis on the petcam. She looked like she was licking her feet, but then I noticed something between her paws. The red smile was the giveaway. It was a sock monkey I made in 2004 from a kit given to me as a going away present three jobs ago.

That monkey, along with an E.T. doll from Quin and a teddy bear named Stanley that was given to me in 1996, had been perched on top of the couch since well before Isis adopted it as her bed.

Oh look, here’s a picture of Sock Monkey dangling provocatively over her head. Clearly, she used a lot of will power to resist him until now.

Somehow, she has always been able to tell the difference between toys she is meant to devour, and my fuzzy slippers, for example, or our beloved Hot Diggity Dogs. Oh sure, there’s been the odd confusion over a cat-shaped Halloween pillow and the feather-stuffed couch, but mostly.

Isn’t it strange, though, that she only messed with Sock Monkey after she’d murdered Monkey Man? Like, she recognizes that it’s a monkey and therefore she should be allowed to eat it.

I saw her tugging on the legs, but couldn’t tell how bad the damage was. Probably pretty extensive, since his construction was rather flimsy. I called in for reinforcements, and watched on the petcam as Rob’s mom moved the monkey, E.T. and Stanley out of harm’s way.

Here she is keeping an eye on the construction workers.