Of mouses and me

Ed Smith
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"Five Tricks to Use on Your Mouse."

That headline caught my eye at once. I know the younger generation(s) are rapidly leaving me behind. Actually, I'm not sure where any of us are anymore. Have they jumped in front of me, or have I jumped behind them?

These are not just semantics, you know, and I'm not playing word games. It's all very confusing.

To illustrate: a wife called her husband at his office one very cold winter's morning.

"I have a problem," she said. "Windows seem to be frozen. What can I do?"

"OK," he replied, "pour a kettle of hot water over them. That should do it."

A few minutes later she called back.

"I did what you suggested," she said, "and now the computer is screwed up."

I know that's a spousal gap as opposed to a generation gap, but the two have a lot in common. Perhaps it's both. Perhaps these two have a May-December marriage where communication is often challenging.

As I say, that headline did grab me. We have never had only one mouse, not even as a pet. They come in groups or droves or pods or whatever the correct term is. We once had an estimated five dozen in our house at one time — true as the light . They called it an infestation.

Try as we might, we could not get rid of them. Tried all the recommended methodologies but none worked. Finally, Other Half issued an ultimatum: "Either they go or I go." I think that was after one ran across her face in bed one night. In vain I protested that it was me being gentle, but it didn't wash. "That was a mouse," she all but shouted, "not a rat."

That last comment could possibly be explained by the fact that she had been urging me to do something about the mice problem for some time — something that worked.

We were telling her sister who lives on a farm in the Annapolis Valley about it one day. She told us they, too, had had hordes of the friendly little creatures on the farm until they tried a particular brand of rat poison. If we liked, they could send us down a sample to see how it worked on Newfoundland mice.

I said I thought our species might be a lot tougher than the Maritime breed. But sure, we'll take some.

Some time later, we got a box in the mail the size of a cornflakes box pretty much full of evil-looking green pellets. On the premise that it would take more to kill ours than theirs, I sprinkled a goodly portion of the stuff around the basement, sent our large dog abroad for a month and waited.

To make a long story short, we never saw any trace of one little varmint again. Not even a corpus delicti, or as we would have thought of it at the time, a delicious corpse.

True, all the evil green stuff was gone after the first night and that may have caused them to self-destruct. That was 30 years ago.

I was really interested in the tricks we could use on our mouse just in case we had a return visitation, and given the fact that I considered myself an expert in eradicating them from the surface of the Earth. First of all, I thought I should review what I already knew.

The simplest trick for catching mice is the age-old method of taking a simple mousetrap, putting a piece of cheese on the release mechanism for the spring-trap, and letting them kill themselves. Several things wrong with that. The first is that that trap has been around so long the mice probably learn all about it in mice kindergarten. Second, the trap has a tendency to spring shut while you're baiting it and maiming your fingers.

There are now many different kinds of mousetraps available at Costco. You can examine them while waiting to be filled up with your cheap gas. They have them down there in sets, suitable for Christmas presents.

One is shaped like a small round box with several little holes around the sides for your little friend to stick his or her head in through, and then the guillotine falls. Actually, the spring affair is much messier than the guillotine. The advantage to this type in both instances is that you can dispatch several of the little critters over one night.

In bold contradiction to both these types of mouse destruction is your old-fashioned corn broom. Curlers used to use them to sweep the ice in front of the rocks. They'd make a marvelous slap-slap sound as opposed to today's obnoxious "Harder! Harder!! Harder!!!" when screamed by a loud, particularly excitable woman curler. Corn brooms are still in use in some quarters for sweeping the floor without any of the accompanying sound effects.

I have seen corn brooms used for slaughtering mice on occasion, should the gospel truth. Someone will yell, "I just saw a mouse go under the Chesterfield", and someone else will grab the broom, kept handy for that purpose, stand up on the Chesterfield and wait for the animal to reemerge. They got the idea from seeing Inuit standing over a seal breathing hole in the ice with a harpoon. When the mouse comes out to breathe they/she whacks it with the broom. Can be quite gruesome.

Turned out that original headline had to do with the kind of mouse that runs around a pad near your computer. I can be forgiven for not recognizing that fact immediately (which I did not) because I don't use one of those things. My program is voice-activated, which has its own set of joys and privileges (sarcastic comment), well-known to the editors who have to suffer through my various writings each week.

God bless them, one and all.

Ed Smith is an author who lives in Springdale.  His email address is edsmith@nf.sympatico.ca.

Organizations: Costco

Geographic location: Annapolis Valley, Newfoundland, Springdale

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