My MouseHunt

MouseHuntI know that I’ve mentioned my recent mouse experiences here, but not necessarily in a blog post. This whole thing happened perhaps a month ago. I walked into the bathroom in the middle of the night and I saw something skitter across the floor. I figured it was a mouse, but it could also have been a really big beetle — probably Prionus californicus. Well, about a week later, I walked into the kitchen, and I saw a little mouse walking along the wall and jumping behind the oven. Now, I am a friend of the rodent family, but having a mouse inside my house is not a great thing.

I decided that I should do something about it. James seemed to think that I could not kill this interloper. But that is not as easy an assumption as one might think. I used to rent this trailer on seven very steep acres in southern Washington. I finally had to move out because it was under constant assault from wildlife — most especially mice, who came by the dozens each night defecating and otherwise destroying the place. I put out death traps each night. It was war!

But the situation here is rather different. It is not a war — just a single mouse who clearly got trapped inside the house. I even think I know how it happened. We allowed the backyard to get thoroughly overgrown. And during one of our many hot spells, I had a door, which leads directly into the backyard, open for a while. She must have come in at that time. So I feel responsible. But also, she isn’t doing any damage. I haven’t noticed even the smallest evidence of scat. So live and let live. Or almost, because I’ve made a point of leaving out food scraps and water — at least until I can figure out what to do with her.

Thus far, the only thing I have done is to rent MouseHunt. I remembered really liking the film when I first saw it. And it is a charming film. The slapstick is a bit much for me. But it is a funny film. What I think I most liked about it — and still do — is the denouement. It’s just perfect, even though it doesn’t actually make sense — it just ties a few strings (I kill myself!) together.

I remember reading a review of the film by Roger Ebert and being very disappointed. Ebert claimed that its critical flaw is that the viewer doesn’t know who they are supposed to root for. Apart from being an arbitrary criterion, it’s very clear who you are supposed to root for. After eating an enormous round of Gouda cheese — Roughly 100 times its size — the mouse goes to bed in a little sardine can with a blanket. If that isn’t enough of a clue that you are supposed to root for the mouse, I don’t know what is.

While watching it this time, I kept thinking, “That mouse is just like Jack Sparrow — but better looking!” And when I looked up the film on Wikipedia, I noticed that it was directed by Gore Verbinski, who also directed the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films. Although it works in a different way. Both characters were written to be members of the Bugs Bunny archetype. That was explicitly stated by Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio, who wrote all the Pirates films. And I’m sure that Adam Rifkin, who wrote MouseHunt would say the same thing.

As for my mouse, I fear she may be dead. She has certainly been quiet of late. Of course, she’s always been very polite, so it’s hard to say. She looked quite healthy when I saw her. Living in the house off our scraps ought to be a pretty good living. But lonely, I fear. That may push me to action beyond movie renting.

Conclusion?

Well, a couple of days have passed since I wrote that. And I started to see scat. I realized that I had to act. So I went to the store and got two traps. I got a larger one that I was very hopeful about, the Multi-Catch Live Mouse Trap. And I picked up a Tomcat Live Catch Mouse Trap, but I didn’t think much of it. So when I got up this morning, I checked the big trap: nothing. But the Tomcat was closed. So I picked it up and it felt empty. Still, I took it outside and opened the backdoor of the trap…

And there she was! I tipped her out onto the ground and she raced away — fast. The instructions on the box indicated that I should release the mouse two miles away. I didn’t do that. I released her in the front yard. I am still under the impression that we don’t have an infestation, but just a lone mouse who got trapped inside. But I still plan to set the traps out for a few more nights and to be on the lookout for scat. But the adventure appears to be complete.

55 replies on “My MouseHunt

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Look James, you are famous! Can I have your autograph? *snickers*

    I am glad the mouse was okay and is off to live her life with another mouse. But so much for moving in with her in an attempt to escape Arizona.

    • Frank Moraes says:

      Afterwards, I thought maybe I should have gotten a cage and took care of her. But she’ll probably be fine.

      • Elizabeth says:

        She probably will be back. She has you pegged as food giver.

        • Frank Moraes says:

          Maybe. But she seemed thrilled to escape the trap. If she comes back, I know her weakness: peanut butter!

          • Elizabeth says:

            Wouldn’t you be bored after spending the night in an empty box?
            And with all of the peanut butter eaten too!

            • Frank Moraes says:

              Interestingly, she didn’t eat that much peanut butter. I was surprised at that. She was probably too afraid to eat. I’m sorry about that. But there wasn’t really a better option.

              • Elizabeth says:

                Not like she would understand you even if you explained it to her. I have tried to explain things to mice before and they just squeak at me and look adorable.

                • Frank Moraes says:

                  They have major ADHD. That’s why rats are pets and mice are not. Mice are just going at 100 mph all the time. And if you have a problem with rats as pets, I dare you to watch a video of a rat getting a bath.

                  • Elizabeth says:

                    A dear friend of mine had her rat at the local political office during last months of 2014’s election because as the coordinated campaign director she was practically living in the office. After hours when I would sneak in to help with non-communication work she would let the little darling run around. It didn’t bother me much however I am sure I would be standing on whatever hoverboard I could find if a sewer rat had shown up while squeaking myself.

                    • Frank Moraes says:

                      Yeah, sewer rats are like the bikers of the rat world. (Actually, they’re just wild. But smart.)

                    • Elizabeth says:

                      Yes rats are intelligent and they probably would be snickering at me for trying to hide from them.

                    • Frank Moraes says:

                      Rats don’t snicker; they guffaw.

  2. James Fillmore says:

    This is practically a separate post on “Where Liberals Should Move,” but I enjoyed typing it in TextEdit. Upsides/downsides of various relocation sites:

    California: Great governor. Very progressive on environmental law. Gay-friendliest state in US. Super diverse population.

    Downsides: Rich white people who have immigrants raise their kids and rail against immigration. Extreme social competition to be the richest, most successful, and most humblebraggy about it. “You know, my pool is larger than yours . . . but I don’t care about those things or my company jet, I’m laid back.”

    Why To Move There: If you speak Spanish, you can live around nice people.

    Austin, TX: Food! Music! Liberals!

    Downsides: Rest of Texas, a state where political corruption is considered performance art. Men who show off personalized belt buckles. Tornadoes; lots of tornadoes. Expect more tornadoes in the future.

    Why To Move There: If you are from another part of Texas, don’t want to completely abandon family/friends, and wish to remain comparatively sane.

    Pacific Northwest: Quirky! Weed is legal. So’s assisted suicide (best law nobody’s talking about.) Perfect climate, not too hot, not too cold. Scenery = magnificent, you’ll never run out of place to visit.

    Downsides: Expensive as hell (we could also lump Colorado in, here — they have the worst traffic jams in America to boot.) The quirk comes with a price — if you’re just a regular schmo doing a regular job, everyone looks down on you. It’s very snobby about very strange things, and has absolutely no sense of humor about itself. The cable show “Portlandia” has gotten several seasons of episodes making fun of how utterly humorless Northwesterners are. They really don’t see how they’re being silly.

    Why To Move There: If you’re not from there, it’s great. If you grew up there, it’s impossible to avoid running into people who wonder “why didn’t that person amount to anything?”

    New York: It’s fucking NYC, baby! The greatest city in America. Architecture, diversity, every minute feels vibrant and exciting. One block of NYC has more secrets and stories than most entire cities. Brooklynites have the funniest accents and tell the best stories you’ll ever hear.

    Downsides: Worst income inequality in America. Did I mention that the Northwest and Colorado were expensive? Fuggit about it. NYC is “the city that never sleeps” because nobody can afford to sleep, you need two jobs, preferably one paying under-the-table cash.

    Why To Move There: If you live on inherited money. Or if you’re 23 & great-looking with a reasonable-sized brain. NYC is hookup sex heaven for attractive young people who can string complete sentences together. (If one is 23 & great-looking and a numbskull, move to LA.)

    Vermont: Bernie Sanders is from there. It must be good.

    Downsides: I hear it’s very farm-y. I honestly know nothing about Vermont.

    Why To Move There: Bernie. Or if you’re looking to run an organic cheese dairy.

    Minnesota: Liberal in a non-pushy way. You can be a gay rights activist who eats at locavore restaurants and religiously attends experimental theater productions . . . but you probably still join your redneck uncle for karaoke at the VFW every month. And you definitely go with your grandma for the church basement bingo / fish-fry. Everyone does this.

    Downsides: Everybody’s related to everybody; people from Minnesota do move, but they always move back. Scenery = nonexistent. Well, Duluth is kinda pretty. But it’s even colder than the Twin Cities. AND DID I MENTION THE COLD? Get used to 40 straight days where the high temp is negative Farenheit, because that’s gonna happen. You will walk out your door in a happy mood and start crying, not because you’re sad, but because -20 makes your eyes water involuntarily. Add wind chill to -20 and it’s a whole new circle of hell.

    Why To Move There: Prince rocks. So does MST3K. Those were my reasons. I have no other excuse.

    • Frank Moraes says:

      You are forgetting Prop 8 in California. But it’s an interesting rant. Why didn’t you send it to me? I’d post it — and properly format it.

      • James Fillmore says:

        Sorry — I didn’t imagine it’d be as fun to type as it was. I was unspooling after a week of looking into how baseball stadiums treat temps. And I failed on that, which is depressing.

        I should have sent it to you! I was just enjoying typing random opinions. Usually I try to find verifications for things, which is hard. Typing opinions is more fun. Sorry I did it here.

        If you found it funny, you can always edit/add to it. Looking at it, I hate it and I’m ashamed I junked up somebody’s blog with it. But the idea — “Where Liberals Should Move” — isn’t completely terrible.

        • Frank Moraes says:

          Too much work! Those are the kind of articles that can grow and grow.

          There might be a career in that. Do you know David Cay Johnston and his work on what a con sports stadiums are? You could build on that, going into all the terrible jobs they create.

          • Elizabeth says:

            Yes, please do as Frank suggests.

          • James Fillmore says:

            Yup, I knew it was too long as I was typing it. It was just fun to type,

            Johnston is Serious Writing. And I’m miles away from that. Doesn’t mean it’s unattainable. I think in the last year I’ve gone from D+ to C-, and I’m pleased with that. But trying to unravel the Twins temp pay story, realizing I was looking down blind alleys, and relying on B+ writers to get it told right, put me in my place as far as where I am right now. I’m not giving up, just realizing how far it is between where I am and where I’d like to be.

            The major difference is how difficult the research is. I thought if you checked every library book out about a subject, that’s research. Uh-uh. You have to be clever and creative about research, finding things library books didn’t find. Clever/creative have never been adjectives that describe me. “Stubborn/ornery” is more like it. Tell me the task is simple but too difficult, I’ll do it just to prove you wrong. Tell me the task requires inventive thinking, well, I’m lost.

            Blah blah. I do like Johnston, haven’t read him in a while, good rec.

            • Frank Moraes says:

              I’m not sure just how clever you need to be. But you need to be bold. I think you need to talk to some of the workers. You might post something on a bulletin board asking for information. And you might hang out before some games and see if you can talk to some of the workers. Remember: no one is great until they are.

              • James Fillmore says:

                Happily there are better writers on the case!

                In the end, those Twins employees are getting the temp companies to stop breaking state law. Nobody else in Minneapolis is getting shit, the proposed laws helping workers are all but dead now. But at least the Twins employees learned a valuable lesson about collective action. It’s really how things get done.

                Totally unrelated — but not really. I was reading a book about Hurricane Sandy, that hit New York. State officials told everyone to evacuate. But not people in nursing homes/group homes. They were told to “shelter in place.”

                See the misstep, here? Most staff evacuated. The residents didn’t.

                So who came to the rescue of those people “sheltering in place” without adequate staffing, without delivery of their medications, without power to run the machines that kept them alive?

                This will make you smile. It was Occupy Wall Street.

                Yeah. Those same people who’d staged a meaningless protest that accomplished nothing and didn’t have a focused agenda and blah blah. Sandy happened. Somebody heard about how vulnerable adults were abandoned and the OWS people got on it. They saved hundreds of lives.

                So even failed protests have a point, if people learn to work together.

                • Frank Moraes says:

                  Think about all that’s going on in Minnesota and remember that it’s a liberal state. I’m constantly amazed by that here in California.

                  I remember reading about that. Occupy Wall Street helped a lot of people when Red Cross was not. I guess the Tea Party was too busy looking for Obama’s birth certificate in Hawaii.

                  • James Fillmore says:

                    People are rediscovering how to work together; that if you bitch at your temp employer by yourself, you’ll get nowhere, but if 100 of you complain together, you might get a parent company to cave because they fear bad PR.

                    For decades we paid our union dues and let them do the bitching for us. Well, those days are over. Maybe unions come back, maybe they don’t. We need collective action in whatever form we can find.

                    The BlackLivesMatter people had a protest at the State Fair — which in Minnesota is like Christmas, Eid-Al-Fatr, and Hanukkah combined. It’s the single most sacred local festival. And BlackLivesMatter did a protest which basically served to piss lots of people off.

                    That’s not the point! The point is they learned to work together! Time’s passed, nobody remembers who annoyed whom at the State Fair. But the people who were in that protest remember it was scary to get out of their boxes to work together . . . and also surprisingly fun.

                    I’m not an optimist, I think we’re all doomed . . . but this is happening. People are doing it. Not often enough, I fear. It’s going on, though.

                    • Elizabeth says:

                      There is a sense of coming back together but the question is will it last? Change is hard and it takes thousands of hours of fruitless effort and most people are not used to failing time and time again.

                      It can happen though.

                    • Frank Moraes says:

                      Any many ways, things are getting better. But on the level of workers, I don’t know. The rich have gotten really good at protecting their short-term interests. I’m more hopeful for Black Lives Matter.

                  • Elizabeth says:

                    And they found it! But since most of them have no idea what an original certificate of live birth looks and it lacked the words “OBAMA WAS BORN IN KENYA” so they had to keep looking.

                    • Frank Moraes says:

                      Any birth certificate or newspaper announcement could be faked. Thus, if you are certain that he was born in Kenya, the only thing that will settle the matter is proof that he was born in Kenya. Anything else can be dismissed.

    • Elizabeth says:

      This is a very thorough list. If I move, and I do want to, I am going home. Home to me is Chula Vista’s mean streets (okay, just small and crowded.) Where I rode my bike down to the local marina and ate pickles in a paper cup and sat on the rocks wishing there was an actual beach to play on. Where the field trips were to places like Silver Strand beach or to the Living Coast Discovery Center where you could pet sting rays without the stings. The place I first learned to play jai alai while my dad flew his kites in one of his endless hobbies in the blustery wind.

      The light there is different then the light here, not as harsh and unforgiving. It may not have as much rain as say Oregon does but when it does it is marvelous. And it always has the ocean that was ever present in the background. I can always go and stand in the water while just being.

      • James Fillmore says:

        Just avoid Minnesota like the plague. You’d like the politics fine. I’m not lying about the cold.

        When I first moved here, it got down to like, 20 above or so, and I called my mom to complain. She grew up in Wisconsin, I thought she’d sympathize; 20 is pretty cold. She did an evil laugh (which I miss, she’s dead now.) “The day will come when you think 0 is warm.”

        I doubted this. It is entirely true. 0 is warm.

        Sounds like Cali’s the place for you! Beware the rich white people!

  3. "the younger sister" says:

    I am so glad you got human traps and so glad for the happy ending! If you get the kind that immediately kill the rodents it’s cruel, of course, to the rodent. If you feed it poison, this would cause a painful, slow death for, not only the rodent, but maybe an unfortunate predator who eats him or her. Most people don’t think about this when they leave out poison.

    • James Fillmore says:

      You are utterly correct. Don’t kill the mice! Unless it’s war, in which case, kill the mice. Thing is in such a war you take it personally and the mice don’t. It’s like fighting with your computer, I’m gonna win, goddamnit! And the software doesn’t care, but you do.

      • Elizabeth says:

        Isn’t that how you can win a war even if the odds are stacked against you though?

        • James Fillmore says:

          Surely. Downloading updates/plugins, or spending hours with IT guys on the phone, is equivalent to Mel in “Braveheart” screaming “freedom!”

          But I do get what you’re saying.

      • Frank Moraes says:

        The effort — futile I soon figured out — is that you can’t kill off those who are inclined to invade. I simply lived in a huge field of field mice. They came in randomly. I was not meant to live in the country. And that was but one of many horrible things about it.

    • Frank Moraes says:

      Since I don’t think death is such a bad thing, I don’t necessarily mind killing mice. The big problem is that kill traps don’t necessarily work right. (Glue paper and poison are of course terrible.) In a case like this, it is clear: you don’t have to kill it. I was surprised how well the trap worked. I once had a rat that got trapped in my house. The trap was useless but we eventually were able to chase the rat outside. It didn’t want to be inside — it just got trapped. I’m pretty sure that’s the same thing here.

      • James Fillmore says:

        Well, yeah, if you can kill it with a quick death-snap, that’s fine. Glue traps are really cruel, though. Also unfortunately the most effective.

        • Frank Moraes says:

          Yeah, what the hell is with the glue traps?! You’d have to be a psychopath to use those! We got through last night with no mice, so I’m more sure we just had the one mouse. I kind of miss her now. I hope she’s partying with her friends.

          I have been wondering recently if it is possible to potty train a rat. If so, I might get one. They really are great pets. It could sleep on my lap while I write.

            • Frank Moraes says:

              I figured someone might dig up an article. I’ll give it serious thought.

              • Elizabeth says:

                My friend’s rat was very well behaved and never went anywhere but her cage.

                • Frank Moraes says:

                  I once had a rat foisted on me, who I named Barton (after the movie Barton Fink). I had no cage, so he basically life on me for months. (I even took him on a couple of commercial flights.) Finally, I got a box for him. And he hung around there. If they don’t have to go out and find food, they seem to be homebodies. One of my concerns is that Barton got a really bad tumor and had to be euthanized. He was 3 years old, and that’s about how long rats live. But it’s sad.

                  • Elizabeth says:

                    That must have been fun taking through security. But it is sad that they only live with us a brief time.

                    • Frank Moraes says:

                      I wouldn’t be able to get away with it now, I assume. But he loved hanging out in the left sleeve of my jacket.

                    • Elizabeth says:

                      “Sir, is that a rat in your pocket or a weirdly animated C-4 bomb?”

    • paintedjaguar says:

      HUMAN TRAPS!!?

      Unnnn… I’m afraid I won’t be able to make it for that Thanksgiving dinner party after all, Frank… have to wash my hair… err… visit a sick relative… sorry?

      • Frank Moraes says:

        Yes, I saw the typo too. Be nice!

        • paintedjaguar says:

          Speaking of such, do you know why WordPress and others don’t make provision for editing comments? I’ve never heard anyone say.

          • Elizabeth says:

            I usually go with they are evil.

          • Frank Moraes says:

            I suspect because it adds a lot of overhead. There probably are plugins for that. I know there is one (They use something similar at New York magazine), where you can edit your comment for about 5 minutes. I haven’t never thought about it here because if someone really blows the formatting, I will generally fix it. Is it something you want?

            • paintedjaguar says:

              Not strongly enough to put you to any trouble, no. Although it is ironic that at the moment I can’t seem to produce two words without a typo.

              • Frank Moraes says:

                It’s no effort. My only concern is extra server load. But I’ll look into it. Or maybe better would be a preview feature.

  4. […] now over two months since I wrote, My MouseHunt. In that article, I told the story of the mouse who had gotten into my house and how I trapped her […]

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