Mice in the Farmhouse

We live in an old farmhouse. I am accustomed to seeing the occasional mouse in the basement. To hearing the occasional mouse in the ceiling. To finding occasional mousey evidence in the form of chewed-through birdseed bags in the entryway.

I am not accustomed to mice running full speed across the living room floor directly at my feet. Or to seeing them skitter across the counter behind the kitchen sink. Or to hearing them have an all-out clan war in my bedroom in the middle of the night.

Something has happened in the mousey kingdom between last night and the night before and I wish it would end.

We did not hear them going "vroom, vroom, vroooom."

They were not, to our knowledge, riding motorcycles.

We had not seen or heard a mouse for several months. In fact, aside from when they attempted to move into the house last fall before the impending winter, there has not been a problem. Of course, last fall we trapped two a day for a week, so perhaps that properly reduced the population. Still, for months, there was nothing.

And then, last night. I do not know if there were many or just a couple that were crazed, but a mouse was running back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, working up the courage to … DASH … directly at our feet. We both yelped. Then we heard it (or another?) in the entry way. Then we went to bed. Then we heard things clinking in the kitchen. Then we heard them fighting behind our dresser. And running across the bedroom floor. And squeaking under the bed. I didn’t get much sleep last night.

The first thing I did this morning was check to see if there had been a full moon last night. No dice. Can’t blame it on the moon. Then I did a quick Google search to see if there was such a thing as catnip for mice. No results. My theory of a mouse Saturnalia or Bacchanalia was groundless.

No after-party evidence was found.

No after-party evidence was found.

In fact, the only thing that changed between last night and the night before was that my husband did a little work on the chimney. In the process, some debris fell down the wall. Did we crush their home? Do we have a mischief of mice looking for new lodging? More urgently, are they preparing revenge?

I’m a Resident, and I’m Here to Help!

Our lack of publication may be summarized in three sentences: The editor is in grad school.  The three-year-old is feral.  And the author…well… He embarked on one of those leisurely quests through the medical establishment–a quest wherein a great many tests are conducted to discover nothing about him is uniquely wrong, excepting the ever-present cynicism and the sheep-themed website.

To date, I’m told, there is no cure for either.

That established, allow me to share what I have learned over the course of my long absence: most notably, that I am not an anesthesiologist.

Well… not usually, anyway.

Directions: Use to forget troubles. Side effects may include new troubles.

Directions: Use to forget troubles. Side effects may include new troubles.

And because I am not an anesthesiologist, and because I’m given to understand that most anesthesiologists don’t need to measure things in fifths, I’m loathe to offer advice to a member of that profession.  That said, recent experience compels me to offer a few words of advice to the dear, dear resident physician tasked with removing some of the more terrifying moles* from my chest.

(*And just so we’re clear, “mole” is being used in this instance to refer to a smallish skin blotch that has made its home on my epidermis and not a smallish, garden-dwelling mammal that somehow got lost and made its home in my wazoo.  This is an important distinction, and I’m trusting that the removal of the latter would not be trusted to a lowly resident–or, at the very least, not the resident who removed my moles for reasons which are about to become very obvious.)

Because my moles are legion…and because I foolishly told the resident to take off whatever she wanted…and because said resident was either enthusiastic, sadistic, or both…I was awarded ample opportunity to observe, review, and come to an understanding of the process. If I might be pardoned a moment of medical oversimplification, it can be summarized thusly:

1. Numb the area.

2. Check to make sure the area is actually numb.

3. Remove the mole with an insanely scary looking knife.

Actual picture of resident with scalpel

Actual picture of resident with scalpel

That established, let’s talk about the importance of step two–i.e., the one that simultaneously differentiates this procedure from the plot of a B-grade horror film and keeps the screams of your patient from echoing down the halls.  The resident attending to me struggled with step two.  She struggled mightily.  She had a scalpel, a needle’s worth of anesthesia, and God as her co-pilot.  Based on her actions, I assume that she assumed her needle was magic–that its touch could do no wrong.  The idea that it might numb an area a quarter inch to the right of the spot intended, consequently, was simply unthinkable.

And to her credit, she might have also been an ex-gunslinger, if the speed of her draw with that knife of hers was any indication.  By the time my rather vocal protest to the effect that we had omitted step two (and in the course of doing so uncovered some glaring shortcomings in the execution of step one) registered, she was already showing me my own mole with the giddy delight of someone who doesn’t grasp why someone else might not want to see recently severed portions of their own anatomy.

I’m thinking she needed a button.  Something to the effect of, “I’m a resident, and I’m here to help!”

Ready, Willing, and Unable

Misanthropy is a wonderful thing.  When you stop caring about others, and by extension what they think about you, your morning routine steadily slims down to nothing.  I used to shave my face.  Now, I have a beard.  I used to comb my hair.  Now, I buzz it short.  I persist in bathing, but only because it dissuades the chiggers from taking up residence in the aforementioned facial mass. I am completely unable to fasten a necktie, and contrary to what I have been routinely told, this has yet to have any substantial negative impact on my life’s trajectory.  Then again, I majored in English, a field where the code of professional dress oscillates back and forth between this:

beat poet with beret

And this:

mcdonald's employee

(The moment of oscillation generally occurs upon realizing the beret isn’t edible.)

Be that as it may, all of the above I offer not to prove that I am lazy and/or unpleasant, which I undoubtedly am.  Rather, it is my feeble attempt to solicit pity on behalf of the individual who, in a staggering underestimation of my incompetence, invited me to stand up in his wedding – conditional on my willingness to wear a bowtie.

Or, as turned out to be the case, conditional on my ability to wear a bowtie.  Now, my neck is not abnormal in any way, shape, or form – it is soft, supple, and fits comfortably into the palms of most serial killers.  On its annual performance review, it receives generally high marks and consistently exceeds expectations in terms of keeping my head aloft.  My hands, however…  I swear to god, I do not know what is wrong with that department.  To date, they’ve proven to be useful for exactly two things – opening beer and inputting the thirty lives code for Contra.

the code

So when it came time to turn this:

untied bowtie

Into this:

bowtie tied

I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when I ended up with something closer to this:

The Mummy

So, it was time for plan B – swearing and alcohol.  Neither fundamentally altered the state of the bowtie, but I felt a lot !@#$in’ better.

Plan C then – YouTube.

The first video I encountered was titled, and I quote, “If you watch only one video on how to tie a bowtie, watch this one,” which I foolishly selected.  In truth, I wanted to watch zero videos on how to tie a bowtie but was propelled onward by some perverse combination of obligation and inebriation.  Suffice it to say, the video did not take because, at the three-minute mark, they had not made it around to even starting to tie the bowtie, and I had lost interest.

Lost interest, in this context, is code for “passed out.”

When I came to, wiped the drool off my keyboard, and remembered what the hell this mass of paisley was half-assedly wrapped around my neck, I realized it was time to get serious.  So, returning to YouTube, I pulled this bad boy up and resolved to watch it.

However, I quickly determined that ten solid minutes of video instruction from a gentleman with an English accent was above my pay grade, which, as we established earlier in this piece, is approximately minimum wage.  Two minutes in, and it rapidly became apparent I might die of old age before we concoct some form of knot, let alone anything that resembled a properly fastened tie.  That and I was bothered because the entirety of the video appeared to be of his neck.  After a couple minutes, one starts to wonder whether you are watching his Adam’s apple or if his Adam’s apple is watching you.  That and Rule 34 of the internet dictates neck fetishism is a thing, and somewhere there are websites featuring content we won’t speculate about linking back to this video.  Returning to the point, the only thing the video managed to prove was that this old guy who pointed a camera at his neck could tie a bowtie, whereas I – still – could not.

This pretty much takes us to plan D – text groom until he marvels at what a loser he asked to stand up in his wedding and delivers the bowtie pre-tied.

It wasn’t exactly a glorious victory for misanthropy.  Then again, they seldom are.