A Mouse in the House and a Bat in the Bedroom

scaredThere is evidence of a mouse in my pantry. I hope it’s just a mouse and not mice. Or worse, a squirrel. I’m pretty confident that it’s not a bat.

I loathe mice. Loathe them. More embarrassingly, I’m afraid of them. I think it’s the surprise of the scurry factor – a startle and a cringe. Since they arrive each year about this time, I’ve come a long way. A long time ago, I lived in a rental house that had a mouse. A mouse so brazen, he or she would pop its head up from the burner, saunter across the counter and dip into the dishwater for a drink – the same dishwater that I’d had my hands in nanoseconds before. I was so unnerved by this mouse that I moved into a motel until The Ex could offer proof the evil creature was dead.

I would prefer to have snakes in the house over mice. Snakes are cool and they eat mice. The brief period of time I did have a snake camping out in my home, the vermin problem was nonexistent. Worse than mice are squirrels. Those creatures are nothing but big mice with a flamboyant tail and damaging incisors.

squirrel-eating-acornI’ve had squirrels in the house. I found pockets of acorn stash here and there. It took quite a bit of money and perseverance to evict the squirrels. I was pert near ready for the insane asylum by the time that problem got solved. To my credit, I guess, I did not move into a motel. Like I said, I’ve come a long way.

There was the summer of the possum that wanted to sashay about my family room. I put an end to that pretty quickly. And then there was Willy’s Toad. I wasn’t fond of the toad either – that startle factor again.

Yes, I do have cats. But they’re decorator cats good for nothing but draping themselves across the furniture and looking good. It would no more occur to them to chase the mouse, bite the mouse, kill the mouse, eat the mouse than it does to me.

decorator catMe? I put out rat poison in ramekins strategically placed. It works like a charm. It should be just the matter of a day or so before my new tenant is no longer with me. I used to catch and release them, but then I discovered it was less than 12 hours before they were back in the house. Now I kill the suckers. I’m not generally a poison kind of person, but I do, yes I do, loathe mice.

Life in the barn can be exciting given that I live in the midst of a forest. All kinds of creatures lurk about. The barn is a little more airtight than it used to be, but there are still lots of nooks and crannies where they can get in. However, it’s ever so much better than it was The Night of the Bat.

Picture this: I’m lying in bed next to The Ex in that peaceful nirvana between wide awake and deep sleep. It’s been a brutally hot day. But now it’s midnight and the unairconditioned house is cooling off. To call it a house is a ridiculous overstatement. At that point, the barn was still very much a barn. We had walls upstairs, but the only room with a door was the bathroom. Bear that in mind, it’s important.

batI am just about to drift off. In the process of rolling over, I discover there’s a hot, furry something sleeping on the sheet draped across my belly.

I do what any sane person would do. I brushed it off, leapt out of bed while shrieking while something, later established as a bat, darted and swooped about the bedroom. The Ex was a light sleeper, but even if he wasn’t, my screaming would have easily woken him.

Chef Boy ‘R Mine was a wee thing and I woke him with banshee cries. I did what any mother would do, I took off at run, snatched the kid out of the crib, and made a run for the bathroom. The last glimpse I had of The Ex was he, completely nude, running about the bedroom with a tennis racquet. I have no idea why we had a tennis racquet in the bedroom. (But a few years later, he would use the same racquet to stand in the yard, swinging it to and fro, muttering Cicada Anyone? as we suffered through the 17 year locusts. I’m not sure the racquet was ever used for its intended purpose.)

punkin with ducksI cowered in the bathroom cradling the now crying child. Through the door we could hear The Ex yell, “Die you [expletive deleted], die!” and the sound of the racquet slamming against walls, floors, furniture. The battle raged for quite a while. Both the child and I calmed down. We sat there in companionable silence listening to the mayhem, curses, and racquet whacks. Occasionally, we startled at a particularly forceful whack.

Finally, there was silence. I heard The Ex go down the stairs. I heard him come up the stairs. I heard some scraping. “It’s dead, you can come out now.” And there he was: naked, sweaty, flustered, a little disoriented and holding a dustpan with a dead bat in it.

I’ve learned an appreciation of bats since then and feel bad that this one ended up dead. While working at the university, I often shared my office with a lost bat. The maintenance crew would come and shoo it out and I would go back to working alone. I’ve come a long way. I’m glad there’s not a bat in my house, but I really loathe mice. Those suckers are going to die and I will show no remorse.

A Proper Vacation

toes in the sandI just returned from my first proper vacation in five years. By proper, I mean a vacation in which I do a lot of sitting around at a beach with umbrella drinks.  This vacation was the First Annual Mother Daughter Beach Trip to North Myrtle Beach, SC.  I had a whole week with my mother – something I’ll treasure for always.  And we do it again next year!

The drive down was uneventful.  We arrived a day before our check-in at the condo, so we stayed in a seedy motel on the beach.  It was glorious that first night on the beach sitting in the dark and watching the phosphorescent surf.  After the long drive, I slept like a dead person.

010We stayed in a 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo at a Wyndham resort. We unpacked suitcases and put clothes in the drawers and closets.  We shopped for food.  We had board games.  We set the timer on the coffee pot so we’d have coffee when we woke.  We flippin’ moved in.  It was wonderful.

The condo was luxurious – granite countertops, walk in showers, a large soaking tub.  It was equipped with everything we needed including a washer and dryer.  We were on the 9th floor and although we were not ocean front (long story), the view was fabulous.  While I would never give up my barn, there’s something to be said for smaller living spaces – they’re a whole lot easier to keep clean and organized.

029Left to my own devices, I would have sat on the beach each of the 8 days we were there and stared at the ocean until I was fried to a crisp. Mom is more of a get out and do things kind of chick.  So we ran up and down Highway 17 eating and shopping and visiting a sculpture garden.  The garden is truly a marvel and I had a lot of fun with the camera there.  I have still not properly learned to use the camera.  But it’s on my to-do list.  You know, that list of mine that is in volumes.

We did a fair amount of shopping.  I bought a dress that I have no idea where I’m going to wear it other than next year’s beach trip.  Honestly, does a 55 year old need a strapless blue and white striped sun dress?  No.  But what’s need got to do with it.

toes on the balconyBut each day started and ended with me drinking coffee or wine on the balcony. The balcony and I fused.  I was one with the balcony.  The ocean breeze, the scent of salt water, the sounds of the waves, the tightness of my sun-kissed skin.  It would take about 5 minutes on the balcony for me to become all zen.

One afternoon we had a rousing game of Scrabble.  We didn’t keep score, but I think Mom won.  She had longer, more interesting words.  I was too zen to give the game my full attention.  The glass of wine probably didn’t help much either.

I do miss that balcony.

mamas artBetween balcony sessions and running up and down Highway 17, I sat on the beach in my blue sand chair. On the beach, it took me about 2 minutes to be all zen.  There is nothing like planting one’s butt in a low chair with feet in the surf for chilling out.  I was a puddle of ooze with no more ambition, aside from procuring the occasional umbrella drink, than the sand on the beach.  One day I watched dolphins cavort.  Another I watched toddlers cavort.  I was struck, as I always am, by the joy children find on the seashore.  I need grandbabies to take to the beach.  (Do you hear me, Chef Boy ‘R Mine?)

first breakfastWhile we did procure groceries, we ate out a lot. One morning for breakfast, I had a steamer of crab legs and shrimp.  Another breakfast involved fish tacos and a Hurricane in a souvenir glass.  One day we had banana splits (bodacious banana splits) for lunch.  We had dinner in a dive bar and the fish was so fresh, I swear they went out and caught it while I was eating my sushi appetizer.

I went to bed early, slept late and usually managed a nap. We had rain one day and I tucked into a good book while listening to the roar of the surf and raindrops on the patio door.

jeansIt was all good. All of it.  It was the vacation I sorely needed after the past few years and I savored every moment.  I have my commemorative Christmas ornaments to mark the occasion and I have memories of quality time with my mother.  I can highly recommend a proper vacation!

I’m having trouble reorienting to real life. My house is a mess.  The suitcase is still sitting in the kitchen. The puppy missed me and spends a lot of time on my lap.  It’s been hard to motivate to do much more than what is absolutely necessary.  But today I have a fire in my belly to tackle this house – I want it as zen as I feel.  So off I go to clean and declutter and deal with the suitcase.