All Critters Great And Small

We live in a 115-year old home, which means occasionally, we get a critter or two in the house. They rarely come into our living area, being mostly confined to cupboards or in between the walls where they’re pretty quickly discernible and easily caught in live traps then relocated. This past week though has been a disturbing combination of visible and invisible creatures, and I place the blame fully on Kate who, reveling in the joy of her Veterinary Technician program, is like a young, female Dr. Doolittle:

Kate: I just learned how to restrain a dog using the Lateral Recumbency method. Watch. C’mere, Atlas.
Atlas: I don’t think so.
Me: Let her do it. You’ll be fine.
Atlas: Okay, but NOBODY is cutting my nails.
Me: I promise….is he restrained now?
Kate (holding him): Yes.
Me: Ken, get the nail clippers!
Atlas: Betrayed once again!!

Don’t feel sorry for him—I distracted him by feeding him treats while Kate performed the nail-ectomy. And then last Friday, she came home for the weekend super-excited and waving around a…

Me: Is that a vial of…blood?!
Kate: Horse blood. I drew it myself.
Me: I thought you hated horses.
Kate: Not any more.
Me: Well, just don’t use it for any rituals.

Just to clarify, she drew the blood as part of a practical class–the instructor asked for a volunteer so she put her hand up, determined to get over her fear of horses. And while we’re super proud of her, her enthusiasm seems to be radiating out into the animal world because we’re becoming a haven for tiny creatures. Last weekend, we invited the family over to celebrate my parents’ 60th anniversary, so I decided to get fancy and pull out a nice tablecloth. But when I went into the sideboard in the living room where I keep them, I was puzzled by the presence of what looked like red peanut skins. I dug a little deeper and found more skins, and then some peanuts. And while the old sideboard doesn’t have a back panel, it’s still pretty close to the wall, and it’s an absolute mystery to me how a squirrel could have been sitting in there eating peanuts without anyone noticing. And how long was it in my house? Was it still here, hiding somewhere? And more importantly, where the hell did it get the peanuts from? Ken had other ideas:

Ken: It was probably a chipmunk. I think we would have noticed a squirrel.
Me: And you don’t think I would have noticed a CHIPMUNK carrying a grocery bag full of peanuts into the sideboard? And where did it go?! Was it waiting behind the kitchen island for me to open the door and it rushed out when I wasn’t looking?

Then things got worse. Kate called to us from her bedroom saying that she could hear loud scrabbling sounds in her bedroom ceiling, so Ken and I went up into the attic to investigate. We didn’t find anything, but when we came back down, she told us that while we were up there, a mouse had come through the very tiny hole in her ceiling where her internet cable came in. It climbed half-way down, then saw her and hightailed it back up into the ceiling. It was hard to believe that anything could have squeezed through that hole, but Ken shoved some steel wool into the opening as a deterrent. In the meantime, I went into the guest bedroom next door to discover to my horror, a singular piece of mouse poop right in the middle of the guest bed quilt. I shook my hand at the ceiling and cried out, “This means war!”

So Ken set up the live traps, and I couldn’t wait to catch the little sh*t that shat on the bed. And when we checked the next morning, sure enough, there in the trap was…the most adorable little baby mouse I’d ever seen. It had big ears, and big eyes, and tiny little feet…

Kate: Awww…
Me (sigh): We can’t keep it.
Kate: But—
Me: Take it out to the field. Fare thee well, Peanut.

But as everyone knows, there’s never just ONE mouse, and I’ve been busy designing tiny Hallowe’en costumes, so the trap is still set up, and every day I check it, but so far, no luck. Darn.

And just to make the week even more disappointing, the church across the street is up for sale, so the local Heritage Society asked Ken to come over and take pictures when they opened the time capsule that had been in the church’s cornerstone since 1876. I was intrigued and immediately wrote a short story about a church group that opened a time capsule only to discover it contained, among other things, a severed finger that was apparently put in there to save the town from ruin. So, as you can imagine, I marched over on Tuesday, breathless with anticipation, along with Ken and a group of Heritage Society members. The local stonemason was on hand with a bunch of tools, and the cornerstone was finally pulled out and the time capsule extricated. We all crowded around to see the contents, and let me tell you that I wasn’t the only one who was let down. I mean, I wasn’t REALLY expecting a severed finger or whatnot, but the only things in it were a decayed annual report from 1876 that was falling apart, and a few old coins. And I know I wasn’t the only one who sighed, said, “Meh”, and left. Darn.

43 thoughts on “All Critters Great And Small

  1. Wow, you’d think that the townspeople would have put something a bit more interesting in the time-capsule. A couple of pictures of the church being built, picture of church members and pastor at the time, a hymn book, something else but some old coins and a report. Creatures in your house huh? Well at least it’s not a wolf statue in the neighbor’s yard that comes to life at midnight every day. Although I’m curious to know what happened to Sir Wolfhausen…lmao.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Old coins can be quite interesting, and I have some Canadian ones with Queen Victoria on them. Still that doesn’t seem very creative for a time capsule and it says something about how little people of that time thought things would change. It’s sort of like in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein where the years given are “17–” because no one thought a decade or so would make a difference. And now we see someone talking on a flip phone and we point and laugh.
    I’m kind of hung up on the horse blood, though. I’m slightly disappointed Kate won’t be using it in any rituals but why was she carrying around a vial of it anyway? Isn’t the point of drawing it to run tests or something? If she’s not using it for anything the horse might like it back.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, these coins had Queen Victoria on them too, but not enough to save the church from being sold. As for Kate, I’ve updated the post to clarify that it was part of a class teaching them to draw blood while keeping the animal calm. She brought it home to show us that she’d volunteered to do it, and gotten over her fear of standing too close to a horse:-)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You reference a gothic horror story and then don’t deliver? Justice!

    Someone had previously opened the capsule and taken the good stuff, including the teeth of a sacrificial horse, a cross dipped in the horse’s blood, an vial full of dried gall-ink mixed with blood, and a testament signed by the builders, “Whosoever disturbs this sacred building shall suffer the NightMare of everlasting torment.”

    Liked by 3 people

  4. It’s mice. They can squeeze thru any home, however tiny. Said by sb who’s seen more mice in her life that she’d like to remember. (Don’t make me say where I last saw one.)

    As for horses, they say the best way to overcome a fear is to confront it. Riding classes?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I live in a very urban area and we have all kinds of critters that like to try and get in. At the moment, we have a bird nest in our fireplace. The cats sit in front of it enthralled all day. I’m glad you caught it too!

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  6. Loved this one! You making tiny outfits for the mice? I can just imagine! Guess you can always get a little cage like a Habitrail for one.
    As for the church, it would have been cool to find an old Hymnal or even a Missilette or the notes for a service.

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  7. Whatever the critter was that was in your linen drawer (I’m opting for ‘mice’ for my own guess), I’m glad they hadn’t nested in there and baby mice didn’t pop out at you. 😯 My mother had that happen once, the mother mouse had gotten in a sealed plastic garbage can full of dog kibble (they can squeeze in some very very small openings), and decided it was a nifty place to build her nest. Imagine everyone’s rude surprise when Ma got a scoopful of kibble out of the can, and took half the family away with it. Ma hated mice and screamed so loud, we thought she was being murdered! You could hear the mama mouse trying to leap out of the can and thunking her head on the lid, which Ma had slammed down after the surprise. But I think you’d have smelled something if it was mice that were feasting on peanuts in your drawer. Because they do poop, involuntarily apparently, and copiously. Yeah. I’m not fond, but I wouldn’t scream if I saw one either.

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  8. Those mice can squeeze through very tiny spaces, Suzanne. I had a years-long battle with winged mice (bats) and we had a gang of rodents getting inside through our dryer vent. The best solution… is to figure out how they’re getting in and plug/caulk the holes. Otherwise, they’ll just keep a-comin’. And congrats to Kate on her enthusiasm. Poor Atlas. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  9. You’re brave! I would have bolted at the first time hearing scrabbling anywhere in the house. One of our cats once brought in a squirrel through the cat flap and I literally got in my car and left my husband to deal with it!

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  10. Yeah, a few months ago, I spied a mouse making a dash from our kitchen to our old-school NYC radiator (behind which was a hole that presumably led to all sorts of secret passageways within the walls). It was pure luck I was looking in that direction at that moment and saw it, because there was no other evidence to suggest its presence. So, we got the building to send an exterminator and that resolved the problem.

    Time capsules are super-disappointing, aren’t they? It’s Al Capone’s vault redux. Some boxes are better left unopened because there’s more value in the mystery of what they might contain than what they actually contain, as evidenced by the short story this episode inspired you to write. Can’t wait to read it!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. That’s it? That’s what was in the time capsule? I’m sure the annual report might hold some gems for historians, but sheesh!

    As for the unwanted Peanut-Hoarding Visitor… The last place I worked, a squirrel was using the warehouse to hide its ill-gotten gain. It also became quite brazen and would merely glance at us when we tried to shoo it away. When someone caught him shoving a french fry in a box, it was War. Out came the live trap, the squirrel was taken away…only to return 2 weeks later, that clever little scamp.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Just the idea of unearthing a time capsule is super cool to me!!! Critters on the other hand….not so much. I remember standing in the kitchen with one of my sister’s friends (I was probably about 12 and she was 17), when all of a sudden she shrieked and started shaking her foot and then bolted out of the kitchen. Apparently a mouse ran across her foot it its little paw got caught in her stocking. I think my critter shyness may have started there.

    Liked by 1 person

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