RDP Thursday

I had a disturbing and rather depressing (brief) conversation with the exterminator a couple of days ago. He happily reported that we had killed (poisoned … yes … we poisoned them because we tried all the nice ways of getting them to move on and they came right back) as well as the big carpenter ants. It doesn’t mean we won’t get more mice or more ants because we live in the woods. It’s a package deal. You get to live in Hobbiton, but you also get the critters who live in the woods.

I mumbled about living in a more civilized location and he pointed out that I’d just be exchanging ants for cockroaches and mice for rats, which didn’t sound like all that great either.

MY kind of mouse

I remember when we lived on Beacon Hill — yes, snobby little Beacon Hill — and we had the worst, biggest, healthiest cockroaches you have ever seen. They came with the 300 years old house and I swear they had been living there for all 300 years, too. We had all our things gassed in the moving truck so we wouldn’t take them with us to the new house.

We got two healthy young cockroaches in the donuts from Dunkin’ Donuts, so we killed the roaches and stopped buying donuts. I think we totally lost all taste for donuts at that point.

We had plenty of ants when we lived in Boston, but no rats or mice. Ants are ubiquitous: no matter where you live, the ants will find you. On the other hand, we also had cats and I suspect they took care of the other problem.

When we moved out of Boston into the country, we merely exchanged critter for other critters.  Our conversation, the exterminator and me, moved on from what kind of critters were going to take up residence in our house to how likely we were to get into a nuclear war. He was an unenthusiastic Trump guy and to my amazement, we had a relatively civilized conversation. He wasn’t trying to convert me and I wasn’t trying to convince him. He pointed out that in such an event, ONLY the cockroaches would survive.

You can’t kill roaches.

When Garry worked at Channel 7, they suffered from rats. Big, mean hairy rats from the docks. The station was pretty close to the water. The rats used to walk calmly up the marble steps, slide under the door and ramble on into the station. It was a bit breath-taking. They weren’t afraid of any of the people watching them stroll up the steps, all our mouths literally hanging open.

Garry knew about the rats, but he said the two-legged ones were really worse than the four-legged ones and sometimes, he had trouble telling the difference.

In the spring, I’ll have to sign up again with the exterminators. It is one of the unavoidable things about living in the country. If you ignore the critters, they multiply and eventually, you realize that you are but one, while they are many. Rich or poor, if you live in the country, things that live out in the wild will want to share your warm and cozy home.

Pick your exterminator with care and remember, you cannot rehome mice. They always come back.


Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Trees

I live amidst the trees. Sometimes, I think the trees live amidst us, too. The bug and mouse guy was here yesterday and reported that we have fewer than maybe a dozen still active mice and no visible bugs, except for a mosquito he found in our bedroom.

I said that mosquitoes are just one of those things, but what are those things that keep coming out of the drain and he said they were “drain bugs.”

I said “they don’t seem to do anything” and he said, “mostly, bugs don’t do anything.” I’m not sure how to feel about that.

Under the stars

But meanwhile, he pointed out that we live in the woods, so we’re going to have mice because the amount of room they need to climb under a door is about the width of a dime.


I said I sympathized with their desire to find a warm place for the winter, but not here. And he said, “This is the place they are looking for.”

Proudly announcing, we are the winter spa for mice.



We started out humanely. Traps to take them out to the woods without hurting them.

They strolled back inside as soon as they were let go. It was obvious our kindness was not reciprocated.

We gave up nice and put out real traps. We knocked off a few dozen mice, but enough survived (they only need to have two) to proliferate. They set up housekeeping in the walls and under floors. By the time we were inspected this year, there were hundreds of them hiding. Everywhere.

So much for Mr. and Mrs. Nice Guy. It was time for open warfare.

Unfortunately, Bonnie and Gibbs lack Divot’s devotion to vermin killing.

We declared war. We eliminated them in the attic and on the floor where we live, but they still have found hiding places in the basement. We may never be entirely free of them, but at least we can keep the numbers down. They make an awful mess of the house if you let them.

2005 – Divot

We have not won the war, but we never stop fighting. The weapons are out, the battle-lines drawn. They have us on sheer number, but we have better weaponry. They are losing, but they will never entirely lose because a mouse can sneak in through an amazingly small space.

Back when we had Divot, our first Norwich Terrier, she used to kill the mice by the dozens and pile them up by the foot of my desk. She thoroughly enjoyed the hunt and the kill. I’m pretty sure I didn’t fully appreciate her efforts. Oh Divot, we could use you these days. I hope you are happily hunting in the hills over the bridge.


I used to know a guy who lived in a little house along a canal on the south shore of Long Island. He had a lot of mice. He also smoked a lot of pot. When he was cleaning his pot, he used to leave it out in the lid of a box — like the lid to a shoe box. He would sift the seeds to one side and put the smoke-worthy stuff on the other side.

After a while, he began to notice when he got up in the morning, the seeds were gone. The mice had come and eaten them. All of them. Eventually, he stopped cleaning the pot and just left it there. The mice did an amazing job, taking every single seed and most of the twigs, too.

His mice became really super cool and laid back … except for the fighting.

The most relaxed mice ever seen. Friendly in a sleepy way. One day, he opened his dresser and there was a whole family of mice sleeping soundly in his underwear. They didn’t run away or try to hide. All they wanted were more marijuana seeds.

After a while, he began to notice that a lot of mice were missing a leg or their tail … or an eye. Mice fight to kill, so body parts were going missing at an alarming rate. Apparently a diet made up of predominantly hemp seed was increasing their territoriality.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

We therefore concluded a life lived entirely on hemp seed might not be the best choice for a rodent’s diet. Given the high casualty rate among his rodent clan, he decided it was time to call in the pest controllers and have them remove the mouse population.

He also stopped leaving his stashes for the mice to eat.



Every night for the past week, after the television goes off and the bedroom is quiet, I hear it. A scratchy, scrabbly noise. Mice in the walls? Always on the far wall,  the outside wall. I hear it for just a few moments, then it’s gone. Is it the continued settling of the house? I want it to be the old house creaking. Our home is getting on in years. 

I should get up and investigate though I doubt I’d see anything. In any case, I don’t look. I don’t really want to know. It’s one more thing to deal with and I hate it. It means killing creatures who in their own habitat are harmless … but in my house, make a God awful mess. Don’t tell me about HavAHeart traps. Been there, done that. We’ve caught them, escorted them outside to the woods and seen them scamper right back in. They aren’t that smart. They don’t get the point.

So this wouldn’t be the first time we’ve been invaded, not by any means. No matter how much you seal the house, those little field mice creep in through the tiniest cracks. You wouldn’t believe anything larger than a bug could get in through such a small hole, but every year, when the temperature drops, mice decide our warm house is a better place than the cold out-of-doors. Who could blame them? I sympathize. I do. After all, I prefer the warm house, but it is our house. They are not invited.

MiceArrivingIf you’ve never been invaded by mice, you cannot imagine what a mess they make. They gnaw through plastic boxes that are supposed to protect your possessions from rodents. They leave their droppings everywhere and your house gets that “mousey” smell. Not a good smell. They get into your food cupboards, chew through boxes and bags. They eat your wiring (fire!!) and tear up your insulation. When they get into your car — how do they do that? — they eat the gaskets and the wires and everything else. They used to tear up the inside of my teepee, ripping open pillows to get at the stuffing which they used for nesting material. The bobcat did less damage.

So that noise … it could be mice. It has been, in the past.

We won’t use poison. Poison leaves them to die in the walls where they rot. Nasty. The terriers — especially Bonnie who is young enough so she ought to like hunting — should be taking care of this problem. For some reason, mice don’t attract her. She loves rats and will attack them vigorously (I’ve seen her do it). We have rats around here, but it’s  mice that set up housekeeping. Every year. Like clockwork.

And now, there’s that noise … again.