Saturday, November 10, 2012


Mice were supposed to stay in Tchad.  Or stay in the field.  Or the basement.  Or even the kitchen.  But certainly not in my bedroom and MOST DEFINITELY not on my face. 

However, I guess no one told them yet, so this morning I get awoken to scurrying feet on my hair and face and found myself catapulting through the air and landing on my feet on the other side of the room.  Although it is encouraging to note that my fight or flight mechanisms are most certainly intact AND that I a very agile and fast mover, it is NOT the way I wanted to start my day. 

I guess you could say I have a phobia.  An irrational and unreasonable fear.  One I thought I was well on my way to conquering.  I always took great comfort in reminding myself that "mice are more scared of you than you are of them...." and I have been repeating that but to no avail.  Apparently, Alaskan mice are a different breed of fearless.  Alaskan mice are in a category all there own, and I find myself longing for the days of Tchadian rat invasions. 

When I had a resident rat in my hut in Tchad, I was at least safe in my zip up bug tent - and I fixed that problem with black market poison and duct tape seal on the door.  I felt proud of myself for that one and did quite a bit of bragging about my duct tape seal job.  Also - the critters over there have at least a holy and approptiate dose of fear - probably because they see their relatives grilling on the open cookfires and getting mixed up in sauces and eaten by smacking Tchadian lips. 

THESE mice, however, have been sheltered.  They haven't been exposed to the rest of the world.  They haven't had their twin sister eaten for dinner and chased with a shovel or dozens of little hands.  These mice, well, they just don't know whats coming to them. 

But I am in town, I have arrived, and the mice are going DOWN! 

it all started yesterday morning.  I was sitting at the kitchen table - having a zen morning - hot cup of coffee and admiring the mountains and congratulating myself on how productive i was going to be that day.  I was writing a to do list with a red marker - being all organized and had great visions of getting out of my funk and being productive.  I even added items that were pretty much already done just so I could cross them out.  And things I was about to do.  Anyway. 

So I'm sitting there and I see flashes of liquid brown reflecting through the water jugs under the counter area.  No, it can't be.  I immediately put my feet up on the other chair just in case and reminded myself not to panic and breath deeply.  It wasn't a mouse, it couldn't be, just the light reflecting off the shimmering feathers of an unknown bird and hitting the water jugs just right.  right?  right.  Okay, deep breath.  Then a flash again.  uh oh.  nope.  still in denial. 

But then there was no denying - for (dun dun dun.....creepy movie music...) at that VERY MOMENT a fat little mouse had the audacity to come out into the open and venture onto the kitchen tile.  it hit me like a thousand screams (500 of which i was participating in) THERE IS A MOUSE.  in the kitchen.  A mouse.  In the kitchen.  And I am also in the kitchen.  Alone in the kitchen. 

First thought - I need a man.  But no, no fierce hunter, fisherman, or any rugged individual of the sort to be found in the house.  Must remedy that.  Second thought - I need to call a man.  Third thought - no!!!  no man!!!  You are a strong, powerful, amazing, brilliant, tough, independent, now Alaskan woman!  Alaskan women don't need men.  Alaskan women kill their own mice.  Alaskan women don't run screaming from creatures that are scared of them....... mice are more scared of you than you are of them..... mice are more scared of you than you are of them.....okay.  deep breath. 

I'm still sitting rooted to my chair, my feet safely up.  What to do?  this is serious.  Put boots on.  Okay.  deep breath.  STOMP STOMP on the floor.  The mouse skitters back.  ok, good.  So boots.  and not just any boots.  oh no. Xtra Tuff boots.  Because, obviously, since I am living in a house on a ridge all by myself for an Alaskan winter, that makes me EXTRA tough.  and awesome.  and fierce.  okay, just keep telling yourself that. 

I don't need a man.  nope.  I'll call my friend.  So I call Liz, ever practical and willing to give sage advice in such serious matters.  We make a game plan.  The trash has got to go.  Except there is a problem - my 4 buckets of recycling and the trash can are in the VERY spot that the mouse disappeared into.  Approach the trash can?  unthinkable.  Luckily, there were some heavy snow boots in reach.  score.  STOMP STOMP STOMP.  I'm coming (except I was still several broom lengths away.  Be scared little mouse. 

I receive the excellent advice to throw the snowboots and hit the trashcan.  and the buckets.  That way it is safe to approach.  See, I told you Liz was a regular shaman.  I throw the snow boots, perfectly hitting the trash can and respective buckets and re-affirming that not only am I a tough Alaskan chick, I have true grit and good aim.  Score. 

So, hoping that the mouse is running scared, in a serious of shrieking hysterical maneuver (giving a play by play to my staunch supporter over the phone) I approach the trash can and finally get it and all the buckets out of the mouse zone.  Okay.  Sigh of relief.  Make mental note to wear boots at all time from now on. 

So i head to town, roll into save you more, and buy mouse traps.  I have never bought mouse traps in my life.  I have never looked for them, purchased them, peanut buttered them, or set them.  But I'm tough.  I'll figure it out.  Nothing can stop me.  I buy 4 sinister looking traps, natural peanut butter,  and a box of poison for good measure.  These purchases make me feel much better and after receiving some friendly advice from the lady at the checkout about plugging the holes in the house with steel wool - I head back up to do battle. 

As i type this - one is on the counter.  SHUDDER.  running over the silverware.  double shudder.  I haven't eaten all day - my appetite is GONE. 

so - I arrive back at the house with my new cache of weapons.....and try to read the very detailed instructions on the mousetrap.  Well, they don't help AT all.  Setting a mouse trap is definitely more complicated than their little one step process.  I keep trying and almost snap my fingers off.  My resolve to be a do-it-your-selfer is rapidly waning as the (OKAY AT THIS VERY MOMENT I HEAR STIRRINGS IN THE BEDROOM.  NOT EVEN MY BED IS SAFE!!!) little sucker AGAIN starts walking around the kitchen like he owns the place. 

So, I call my dad.  He's an Alaskan, from Juneau, once a Viking warrior mouse killer back in the day, and I know he will have some good advice for me even though there won't be a side of sympathy with that.  So I call him fairly frantic at this point, and like the wonderful father he is, looks up the trap online, and guides to a video of someone setting the trap.  Better, but still, the fingers in the video made it look SO EASY. 

So, i try, and I set and I snap and narrowly escape destruction and finally get one set.  I feel SO proud of myself.  I set a mouse trap.  I am going to kill him.  No doubt.  I am assured by my father that it will do the trick and go to bed with a heavily peanut buttered trap on the base of the counter top. 

I keep sneaking out to see if its sprung.  No.  What is that mouse's problem?  so I grab a bag of dried fruit and go to the bed, which seems to be the safest place. 

Big mistake. 

So - I wake up to mouse on face and in hair and find myself on the other side of the room shaking and shuddering.  Like cold icy gut wrenching shudders simply racking me.  This cannot be happening.  I did not just have a mouse IN MY BED.  my safety zone has just shrunk to nothing.  I get booted up and stomp STOMP into the kitchen to check the trap.  Nothing. 
But the peanut butter is gone. 

I test it with scissors.  It snaps.  Apparently i put on too much peanut butter and it wasn't sensitive enough. Who knew setting mouse traps took skill and agility?  And i have a smart mouse.  As i contemplate this problem, I SEE ANOTHER ONE!  larger this time, running around between the potatoes and the bananas on the counter, ON THE COUNTER.  in broad daylight.  AND ITS NOT THE SAME MOUSE.  this one is longer, leaner, and meaner.  The one yesterday was almost loveable, very round and cozy.  THEN out from under the counter comes a baby mouse.  So i now have three.  a family.  A rapidly multiplying family.

And its just too much.  I'm not that tough.  I put my feet on the chair and call my dad in tears.  I start crying about the mouse, and the one mouse and the 2 mice, and he says, yes, yes, in a wise old been there done that killed that tone.  He tells me war stories of going up hunting to these old abandoned cabins and how they would set whats he termed an "Alaskan mouse trap" and nab 20 of them in one night. 
I start to feel better.  I also will set an Alaskan mouse trap.  I also will kill mice.  I will also be a tough warrior like my father. 

So, I set out to assemble the trap.  Essentially, he explains, you get a bucket.  okay.  check.  a tin can with holes drilled on each  end.  an opened up and stretched out coat hanger.  Drill holes in either side of the bucket, thread the hanger through with the can spinning easily in the middle.  Put water in the bottom of the bucket.  Slather can with peanut butter.  Makes sure it spins well.  Set bucket on chair.  Make ramp from counter to bucket just out of reach of peanut butter.  Mice go down ramp, jump onto can, and go spinning into the water!

Yes.  I can do this.  I pound and flatten coat hanger.  I make holes in bucket with hot nail.  I thread the whole thing through.  It spins like a dream.  I now have to make pumpkin cookies out of can contents if I ever reclaim my counters.  I go out to the shed and get a "ramp."  I prop it up.  I fill it with water.  I put peanut butter on the can.  I am prepared.  I am ready.  I have my toughness back.  Who needs men?  not this girl......

So, now, the time is right now, and I am sitting on the bed.  My Alaskan moue trap is set up.  I have 2 traps set.  I have at least 3 mice to kill.  I had to retreat to the bed because the lean mean one was being too bold and having his way with the counter, the silverware, the pots.  really, how am i supposed to eat?  I got in the bedroom, and heard more scurrying.  I am considering relocating to the tub - placing a chair in the tub and typing there.  Instead I am sitting not leaning back on the bed.  my back hurts.  I am tough. 

I heard 2 crashes/noises coming from the kitchen.  Did I get lucky?  I feel like it couldn't have been that easy.  More likely the family is having a freeforall with the frying pan.  Going to boot up and check it out........ be cont........



  1. Uggggggggggg. Sorry to hear of your battle, Janna. When Dad and I lived in the Gilbert Islands the people there wouldn't touch a mouse. They told us very gravely that if you killed one, the others would come to you in revenge! This, too, shall pass. Hang in there xo

  2. Kudos for figuring out how to drill the bucket holes with a hot nail! I've got some other tricks up my sleeve if we need to use them. Dad

  3. If you've seen a baby, you have many more: babies come in litters! Set multiple traps (way more than you think you have of mice). Buy large heavy plastic boxes with fitted tops (like from a Walmart=do they have something similar where you are?) to put things into to preserve from mice. Everything can go in these, from dishes, to bedding, to keep mice out of your stuff. Mice pee a constant trail so wherever they walk, you have to wash (including your bed). Put foodstuffs in glass/metal containers or refrigerator. Get rid of trash often and put it where it won't attract them to you. Don't take any food to the bedroom! It is hard to come by, but if you have trouble with blood and guts squishing out of traps, set the traps onto a newspaper or inside large paper sacks. I have done this and then you just throw trap, dead mouse away in the bag for easy clean up! Use gloves if you have to deal with dry mouse poop etc. Mice can carry hanta virus. We have had some good luck by plugging in (all over the place!) some of those "sound" mouse repellers, but they must be in practically every plug-in (worth it to me!). If you still have trouble after that, GET A CAT! You'll find it easier to deal with them, by far, than mice! But get a mouser(not a baby, siamese are known for mousing, but others are good also, ask around). Good luck! P.S. Make sure the holes are plugged up. You can get an expanding foam type of product at hardware that you spray in and it expands and hardens to fill in holes around pipes, a vent cover for the dryer, etc. so you don't get more. This is not a new problem to that cabin, but if you fill in the holes, maybe you'll be a lot better off than anybody before you! My sympathies.

  4. I feel your pain, but thanks for making the story SO FUNNY! My advice: BLEACH. Not to kill the mice, but to clean the surfaces they have contaminated. There is a reason Grandma Riederer's hands always smelled like bleach....

  5. You have brought a smile, grin and giggle to my day. You'll do just fine in the North Country, my girl! Thankfully, I've never had to deal with them! A man around the house or yard or even in town is great to have as a friend! Employ one, if needed!
    Thanks for the story! Keep up your courage ... it's mid-November ... only a bit over a month until days begin getting LONGER!!! Then, it's downhill until Spring! Blessings, Janna!

  6. Oh no!! It gave me the heebie jeebies just reading about it. I remember your dad's high-tech mouse destruction system in Idaho. Hope it works for you dear. Love, Eli.