Monday, November 21, 2011

Why I Did Not Get Out In A Boat Last Weekend, Or, I Draw The Line At The Occupation Of My Closet.

Lovely weekend, the one just passed. Probably a little too breezy for the likes of me to go sailing, but a paddle would've been great. However, after a crazed week of forecast production at work, the apartment really did need some attention.

Especially the closet.

Which has been occupied.


The picture above shows the end of Sunday afternoon's project. My place has great closets for an NYC apartment. No walk-ins, but four, count 'em, four, all reasonably capacious. When my folks first saw my place, you could hear an echo in all of them - I'd been living with roommates for years & to have an entire 900 square feet to fill up all by myself? Unbelievable. However, my folks introduced me to the First Law of Closet Stuff-o-dynamics, that being "The quantity of stuff you own and want to put in a closet increases in direct proportion to the amount of closet space available". I thought I'd be immune to this because I'm just not an acquisitive person (I used to be, LOVED buying tsotskes when I was younger but a string of years during which the space I could actually call "MINE" was a 10x10 room with one tiny closet broke me of that), but somehow, of course, they were right. Couldn't even tell you exactly what's in them. The basics of course - coats in the coat closet, linens in the linen closet, clothes in the clothes closet - but then there's all the other stuff. Does run to themes (shoes in one, gear in another, etc.) but a precise enumeration of the contents? Couldn't give you one.

But a little while ago, I realized with dismay that whatever all was in this one (which was clothes, with supplementary use as a combination archives/garden shed), there were now mice too. Who made up that thing about quiet as a mouse? 'Tis cow puckies, it is. They scuffle, they squeal, they scramble, they gnaw, and they do NOT go away, much though you hope they might if you just pretend you're not hearing them with enough conviction. Really, I bear no personal animosity towards the smaller of the bare-tailed tribes - rats would freak me out but I had a couple of pet mice when I was a kid, cute little animals, loved a good Cheerio, they'd run up to the front of the cage to take the treat from my fingers, then they'd sit up holding the cheerio in their front paws and nom nom nom nom nom (although we did not know to call it "nom nom nom"ing in those distant days when phones had wires, computers used cards and the first LOLcat was nothing more than a succession of sparkles in several generations of tomcats' eyes) - oooh, da cute!

Not so cute squealing and scampering and dropping their little pathogenic poopies in my closet though.

So, Sunday, after going to a Mass which was said in honor of an old friend's father, then to brunch with some of her family, I headed for home and the unpleasant chore that awaited me there. Ugh.

Stopped at the hardware store for dust masks, gloves, and...

The heavy artillery.

These things are expensive as mousetraps go - but I actually got this because the first time I ever had a mouse problem, (in my 2nd apartment, which was in a sort of run-down older building on the Upper East Side) it was with a veritable Houdini of a mouse who repeatedly licked a spring trap completely clean of peanut butter. Without really thinking, I went back down to the local hardware store & bought the next alternative on the mouse control rack - which was a glue trap. Man, talk about cruel. The mouse thought I was running a feeding station with all the spring traps covered in tasty peanut butter & was stuck to the baited glue trap and screaming five minutes after I set it. . I think I may actually have been apologizing to the mouse as I frantically looked around looking for some way to kill it - finally grabbed a newspaper, rolled it up tight and put as fast an end as I could to things with a good hard swat. Awful! That experience left me feeling like traditional traps were ineffective & glue traps were horrible (and bait, they'll carry away & cache somewhere else - really not safe for apartments, I don't know how far they'd take it but I'm not going to gamble that they aren't going to take it somewhere a neighbor's baby might find it). Next time I had a mouse problem (this apartment , I saw one of these & got it even though it was expensive, and it actually worked really well.

Lost that one 'cause TQ had a big mouse problem when he moved to Brooklyn and I loaned it to him & his dog Bella got to it & broke off the lid to get to the PB. Lucky for her, it's designed that the power cuts off when the lid is opened!

Armed & dangerous, I headed for home & worked through the unpleasant business of clearing out the closet. They'd been busy in there. Aside from the less sanitary stuff, they'd made snow out of a piece of styrofoam packing material, and glittery confetti out of...AHA. A Luna Bar wrapper. Doubtless fell out of a pocket after a hike or a paddle & that was what drew them in the first place.

There was some stuff that I just had to bag up & throw away without looking through it. Figured if it had been sitting in the closet for 8 years and I hadn't thought of it, let alone gone looking for it, whatever it was, I would probably never miss it.

The rodent activity had been concentrated in one area, though, and I did take the time to sort through a couple of boxes that weren't fouled.

And that actually turned out to be the payoff. Way back when, when my Grandma and Daddy Fred were still living in the home in Basking Ridge where they'd lived since my mom was a little girl (and that was only a few blocks from where they'd lived before that), I used to love rummaging through the boxes and chests of old toys & books & things they had in the storage areas of the old place. This wasn't quite as good - but I'm not sure when the last time I'd gone through some of these boxes was, they may even just have gone from the closet in the old place to the closet in the new place, and there were some fun surprises in there.

Here were my 3 favorites:

1. The wrapper from one of my favorite wedding favors ever. Heather is a cousin and this came wrapped around the chocolate bars that we all took home. Chocolate's gone (thank goodness, or the mice would've gotten this too), but I kept the wrapper - just too cute to throw away. Shared it with Heather & Keith on Facebook - they loved that I still had this around.

2. A set of headshots taken in Walla Walla's Pioneer Park. One of my friends was the photographer, I think we were getting ready for the...was it URTA's? Unified Regional Theatre Auditions? Something like that? Anyways, there were a bunch, this one was my favorite. Rockin' the 80's shoulderpads, fer suuure, but a pretty good picture of me twenty-some-odd years ago.

And then 3 - and it's funny, I'd put all 3 of these up on Facebook & everybody loved the headshot, but this pencil sketch I did of Mistie, the Sheltie I had when I was a kid, was my favorite. I don't remember when I drew it, but I must have taken some time with it and I did a pretty good job of catching her sweet and attentive expression. Wish I'd taken a few minutes to find an unlined piece of paper!

Have to liberate a few of my old pictures of her next time I end up at my folks' new place - I only have one here (not counting the scan of the one where I dressed here up in my marching band uniform) and that's one of my senior portraits from high school, which I don't like very much. Loved stumbling across this sketch.

And the end result of the cleaning? Well, so far so good. I left the trap in there, nothing so far, haven't heard a squeak or a scurry, and I'm wondering if the thorough clearing out & vacuuming was enough to discourage them. I'll get some steel wool to plug the hole. Won't declare victory until I haven't heard anything (or caught anything) for a couple of weeks, but I'm hopeful.


Baydog said...

Who's the babe with the scarf? You remind me so much of my beautiful sister.

Pandabonium said...

Wow, great photograph. "You Oughta Be In Pictures".

If it didn't work out, you could always have the exterminator gig as a backup.

bonnie said...

Awww, thanks guys!

clairesgarden said...

I'm trying to clean out stuff, so I can have less clutter. it funny the things you find stored that you haven't looked at or needed for years yet still have a hard time letting go of.
youngest cat came in one day with a mouse and let it go... lots of chasing and got it in a carton and let it go outside again... where she may have gone after it again.

clairesgarden said...
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PeconicPuffin said...

I've had good luck with gluetraps (haven't needed them in awhile for mice, but they work great for crickets!)

Beware of mice wearing protective equipment.