We knew that our first home was going to be a fixer-upper — exactly what we wanted. The fact that our kitchen — for whatever reason — has shingles on the top cabinets or even that the bathroom downstairs has two doors didn’t bug my husband and me.
Evidence that the previous owners smoked inside the house — cigarette butts in the upstairs bathroom — didn’t scare us away from our Cape Cod. Nor did the sketchy looking, and potentially dangerous, wiring in the upstairs guest bedroom’s closet. And our house is potentially haunted. You know, the usual stuff.
It was a risk we were willing to take, and upfront, these issues were going to be relatively easy to fix over the years.
But no one told me, as a new house owner, we’d also deal with whatever else came with the house: mice. Lots of ‘em.
It all began last year mid-summer, just shy of a couple of months after moving in.
“So don’t be mad,” my husband exhaled from the kitchen, “we got mice.”
“What do you mean we have mice? My house has mice?!”
“Oh yeah,” he said. “Just found droppings in the kitchen. And I think you meant to say our house.”
“IN. THE. KITCHEN!” I’m not sure if the right emotion was anger or fear or disgust or if all three, but clearly, I wasn’t taking the news well.
“Relax, it’s like you’ve never had mice in your house. We had them all the time in the country,” he said.
I’m not from the country, I reminded him while looking through all the disinfectants in my cleaning cupboard. If there’s one thing I know about mice, it’s that they poop — a lot. I began to search where else they’d been and from all the cartoons I’d seen in my life, I knew they’d be behind the fridge. I pulled it away from the wall and shined my phone light on the floor.
OH NO. There was an ungodly amount of droppings. I began to spray whatever cleaning supplies I had to clean up the mess. At this point, I was seeing red.
He sighed again, more in the defeat of his wife losing her marbles over a few mice. “I’ll stop by and get some traps after work.”
And so he did. There was a landmine of snap traps out in the kitchen and it made our kitchen faintly smell like peanut butter for the following days. Then, we waited — SNAP!
“That didn’t take much,” he said as he stepped up from his recliner.
Curious to see this mouse that’d defecated all over my kitchen floor and God knows where else, I stepped into the kitchen with him.
His little limp body was on the snap trap and instead of seeing red or feeling disgusted or fearful of this pest, I felt guilty.
“Oh no,” I whispered.
“Are you crying?” asked my husband.
“No …” I said. But I was. The poor tiny mouse was probably just trying to get food for its family, I thought, and here we were, murdering the breadwinner of a family. A lifetime of mouse cartoons doomed me — I mean, I cried watching Pixar’s “Ratatouille” as an adult.
“Yeah, you are,” he said. “I feel bad, too. We’ll get some live traps tomorrow.”
And so we did. Again, we filled the kitchen with live traps. More of a motel situation rather than a landmine of death traps. We even bought a bigger mousetrap for our attic — that one is more of a hotel where up to 10 mice can be caught.
For a while, the mice kept coming in — one or two or even three at a time. Instead of witnessing a murder in cold blood, we took out the family to a place in the fields. (Which, by the way, there’s no clear answer on how to get rid of mice ethically and humanely. Dropping them off, they’ll die because they’re away from their home; glue traps cause them to chew and gnaw at themselves, plus the glue irritates their skin; and snap traps can fail causing them more pain. That’s a dilemma I’ve been dealing with, but that’s for another column.)
It seemed like, after dropping off at least three dozen mice out in the country, the numbers dropped. Significantly — nearly down to zero. There were a couple of babies early spring, but that was it.
We were in the clear, I thought. Under control.
That was until a few weeks ago, I saw a brown shadow speed past me in the middle of the night, bypassing the live trap in the kitchen.
Here we go again ...
Diana Rojo-Garcia can be reached at email@example.com.