Thursday, May 22, 2008

This and That

B. asked me to blog about my "special day". That "special day" was a week ago, on the 15th, when I turned 29 again for the nth time. Funny, thing, B., that day wasn't too special at all. When you get to be my age, you want your birthday to come with as little fanfare (but as much money and gifts) as possible.

So, instead of focusing too much on my not-so-special day, I'll give you a run down on what happened during my not-so-special week.

Let's start with Dim vs. the Squirrels.

As I mentioned previously, I'm in an all-out war with the squirrels in my neighborhood over birdseed. I like to feed my feathered friends, but end up spending an assload of money on food that ultimately ends up in the bellies of these fuzzy-tailed rats. I finally found a baffle to attach to the shepherd's hook where the feeder is and, since then, they have had a devil of a time getting at the seed. That's good, right? Well, not entirely.

Now, they need to search for alternative sources of food. Which reminds me, by the way, don't squirrels squirrel away nuts and acorns and shit like that? Why are they eating birdfood? Jesus, the vermin have a friggin VERB named after them and they are hardly holding up their end of the bargain when it comes to word origins. There is a plethora of acorns in my yard. Eat them.

No, now, they decide they want suet.

So, lately I found my two suet baskets knocked off their hooks and on the ground open empty. Which baffles me, because I am a human being with opposable thumbs and I have a terrible time getting those fucking contraptions open to load in more grub, but apparently, the squirrels in my 'hood spend a lot of time working the Playstation and have superior opposable thumb skills.

I filled the cages again in the hopes that this was a one time deal. Next morning, I awake to find one suet container again, on the ground and empty. That's good news, right? Only one on the ground?

Not exactly.

The other one. Is MISSING. Completely gone. Ripped from its chain and vanished into thin air. Nowhere to be found. Now, I'm starting to worry that the serial killer who left me a headless mouse over the winter is involved.

I figure it is the squirrels again. Or a raccoon. Or a Yeti, or something, but whatever it is, I have the superior brain power and no suet stealer is going to outwit me.

So, I spend a couple of extra clams and buy a sturdier suet container. This one doesn't have chain links that can be pried apart and the latch to open it is really a bitch to work. Perfect.

Next morning, the indestructable new suet feeder is on the ground, open, and empty. I have a coniption.

I go to the local hardware store and I buy an industrial strength grappling hook that I attach to the suet container and then to the shepherd's hook directly. Then, I bought a padlock. Yes, a padlock. With keys and everything. And I put the lock around the door of the suet container, so only a person with a key (or a bobby pin) can get into it. I am the only one who knows where the key is. If the sons of bitches break into it this time, I'll swear they have hidden surveillance cameras in the house.

Now, let's move onto Dim vs. The Mouse.

As you know, we had a mouse in the house, which we caught, but we also had an elusive one in our garage that was wily enough to outwit my ingenious attempts to catch him.

So, I go to the local Lowes to buy a few mouse traps. I pass on the glue ones. I really hate it when I step in gum, so I can only imagine what this might be like for the mouse. Not to mention, my garage isn't exactly the most seal-tight carport in the world (hence, the presence of the mouse in the first place). In fact, during the fall, we actually have to RAKE our garage because of all the leaves that blow in. I didn't want all sorts of tumbleweeds and shit getting stuck on these stupid glue pads.

I wasn't going to buy the traditional traps either because I really didn't want to deal with snapped necks. OK, truthfully, I didn't get them because I was scared of tripping it myself while trying to set it and having it snare my thumb and having that one digit that makes me superior to the squirrels turn a hundred shades of crimson and swell to 50 times its normal size like it does in the cartoons.

So, I went with a humane catch and release trap. Pretty cleverly designed, you put an attractive on the rear door and when the mouse enters the trap, its weight acts like a see saw and the front door closes him in. Easy to set, easy to see if it caught something. I pick this one.

I get it home and read the Ikea-esque instructions on how to set it up. It literally takes me a half hour to figure out. The instructions have 2 steps. Step 1 is take it out of the box. Step 2 shows it all set up with a cartoon mouse with it's ass hanging out of the trap. I'm befuddled.

I finally figure it out and start looking for the mouse pheromones or whatever only to find that the shit is not included. Nice. So now, I am smearing peanut butter on the trap door and cursing whoever made these friggin things.

I set two traps out in the garage.

Next morning, I go out and I'll de dipped, but I caught it. I pick the trap up and start walking out toward the woods. I drop the trap on the lawn by mistake. The trap doesn't open, but the mouse inside experiences a fall comparable to one of us being thrown off the Empire State Building.

I walk pretty far into the woods and open the trap, expecting the mouse to haul ass, stopping to thank me for not making it sticky, or breaking his neck, before scurrying off to never bother me again.

Only nothing comes out.

So, I start shaking the trap trying to get it out.

Finally, I see a tail and the hind legs, so I grab the thing (yes, I was wearing gloves), and help it out. The frigging thing is COVERED in peanut butter and traumatized so much that you would have thought I subjected him to naked pictures of Bea Arthur while he was in there.

I left him and the poor guy wasn't in great shape, but maybe he made it. If he did, I'm sure I'll find him in my garage again pretty soon.

In terms of things on my actual birthday, nothing much happened. I worked from home as I usually do on Thursdays. I cleaned the house because it was due. Xteen came home from work and went to her Tai Chi class, which I think is Chinese for "Expensive hobby where we make round eye do goofy things in srow motion so people think something wrong in the head like Corky in Rife Goes On." And before you get all pissy over this, all I have to say is "'s just a joke." (Please note: by "relax", I really mean "relax"...not "lelax", which would make sense in horrible stereotype, but, alas, isn't a real word.)

Xteen comes home from Slow Motion Kung Fu, which I guess will work if your attacker moves equally briskly. Xteen attempts to combat my skepticism by asking me to lunge at her. I quarter-heartedly make some sort of aggresive, yet ambivalent, move toward her which she emphatically thwarts with a half-speed karate chop. I bow in concession and tell her to paint the fence, Daniel-san.

Then, we eat leftovers for dinner.

Over the weekend, I did get my birthday dinner at a restaurant of my choosing, which was very good. Only problem is that this feast came immediately upon the heels of six hours of mulching the yard.

Which brings me to Dim vs. the Honest and Forgetful Mulch Guy.

We ordered this mulch a couple of weeks ago. The dude said that if he didn't deliver it by Wednesday, to call and remind him. Wednesday night I come home, no mulch. So Thursday morning, I call him and said he would be here within the hour. Eight seconds after that, he calls back and says something came up and he'll be a little while. 5:00 rolls mulch. I called him back and he said he forgot. But, he'll deliver it on Friday.

Friday, we come home guessed it. No mulch. I call him back and he again admits to forgetting, prefacing it with, "Look, I'm not gonna lie to you and make something up...I forgot." At this point, I almost told him that you might want to contemplate the benefits of a little white lie when honesty only exposes your ineptitude.

But Saturday, we have mulch! And a back ache. I'm getting old.

- Dim.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

There's a Mouse in the House

No, unfortunately, this isn't a post about me writing a Dr. Seuss-esque children's book. Besides, that son of a bitch already stole my idea of a title (There's Wocket in My Pocket (and I'm Happy to See You)) for an adult-themed novel I had. Damn you, Theodor Geisel!

This, rather, is a post about a story about our house. Which I just recently told Jenny G. didn't have any stories and I was more than happy with that. Because stories means pain for Dim and I have to deal with that enough concerning our automobiles. I certainly didn't want to drag our domicile into the vortex of suck. But, alas, I must.

Rewind about a year ago. We had just moved into the house. I came home one day to find a small, recently-deceased mouse on the floor of our garage. Being a good Italian, I did what any good Italian would do. I deduced that this mouse was probably out drinking with some wise guy mice who decided he needed to be whacked (with good reason, no doubt), so they got him good and liquored up before beating the ever-living mousesnot out of him and they dumped him in my garage. Fair enough. I've seen enough movies to know that they needed a "cleaner", so I wrapped the body up in some Saran wrap, threw it in my trunk, drove into the heart of the nearest state park, and buried the bastard somewhere that it will take archeologists to find. Hell, ain't the first hole I ever dug.

I figured that was the last of my mouse problem. But considering we live pretty much out in the boonies and our back yard is mostly woods, you never can tell. My next piece of evidence concerning the presence of a vermin in my garage came last summer when I found bags of birdseed completely shredded and seed strewn all over the place. At first I thought, "I gotta bring these bags back to Home Depot and return them! They spontaneously shredded and spilled everything out! What a rip-off!" Then it dawned on me...vermin.

So, we packed all the birdseed in impenatrable tin canisters which once housed Christmastime peanut brittle which was impenatrable by teeth. Funny how it works out like that.

Fast forward to a couple of months ago. During a thaw, I noticed another mouse body, this time on our deck, right near the sliding door. This mouse body was different not in what it had, but in what it was lacking: a head. Now, I knew this wasn't a mob hit. That level of mutilation usually doesn't happen with wisemice. This was something far more nefarious, especially since we don't have a cat. My first thought, thanks to Court TV, was that a Jeffrey Dahmer-in-the-making dropped it off outside the house while he was casing it. So, I did what any even-keeled person would do: I put yellow tape all around the deck and called the police to report a crime scene.

"There's a headless mouse on my deck."

"Why are you calling us?"

"Uhh. Hello? Headless. Mouse. On my deck."

"Do you have a cat?"

"Of course not."

"There's not much we can do about this."

"Well, fine, but if you get a call down the road and find my head in a freezer and some kid heating up my spleen in a crock pot, I certainly hope you remember this conversation."

I didn't think much about mice again until we bought some suet for the bird feeder and, since it was all wrapped in plastic, I figured it was safe to store in the garage. Sure enough, in a day or two, something chewed through it. Vermin, I deduced. Vermin.

So now I store the suet in the impenatrable Christmastime peanut brittle canister. Take that!

So, the other night, Xteen and I were coming home from somewhere and as I pulled the car into the garage, we saw it. A mouse on the ledge of the garage looking right at us. As we pulled in, the thing hauled ass behind some extra shingles and despite me poking all corners of the garage with a broom in a less-than-masculine manner, the freaking mouse never showed it's head or headless body again. Xteen and I convinced ourselves that it went out the same way it came in.

Last night was a good night. We got a lot of stuff done around the house, cooked a good dinner, and for a change, I didn't feel exhausted afterward. Around 10:00, Xteen says to me, "Mind if I go watch my soap?" Which is fine with me, since I am watching the Sox. But the thing I don't understand is why chicks always refer to the soap opera they watch as THEIR soap. "What's your soap?" "Oooh, look at the time...I have to go watch my soap." What the hell is that all about? You never hear guys say, "I'm going downstairs. My porno is on." I don't get it.

Anyway, Xteen retires to the bedroom to watch the soap she apparently owns and I'm finishing off a glass of wine and noodling on the guitar while watching my Red Sox beat the Tigers. Then, I hear something fall in the kitchen.

I don't think much of it, because we had just washed dishes and arranged them to dry in a Jenga-like construction, things all leaning on each other, so sometimes things settle and noises are heard. No biggie. But after a few minutes, I decide to check it out anyway, just to make sure nothing broke.

I walk into the kitchen and I can't seem to find anything that would have made that noise. I look and look and finally notice that a small, carved bird thingy fell off the kitchen window ledge onto the counter. Odd. I put it back.

And am then face-to-face with what I think is a fake mouse.

I yell to Xteen, "Hey! Did you put a fake mouse in the kitchen??"


"Come here! Did you put a fake mouse in the kitchen??"

Keep in mind that Xteen works with kids so concept of her having a fake mouse, while still pretty fucking wacky, isn't out of the realm of responsibility.

"No. A fake mouse? No."

"Come here."

She tears herself away from "her soap" and tentatively walks into the kitchen with me.

"There's a mouse on the ledge. The thing is frozen...hasn't moved."

Up close, it also had what looked like those fake ruby eyes that mouse figurines have, which is why I thought it was fake. Well, that, and its complete lack of movement.

Xteen couldn't see the mouse off the bat and wanted to start putting on lights and moving shit around, which I didn't think was a good idea. Once I finally pointed it out, she freaked out a little and then we sat there and stared at it for like 10 minutes like it was a Sukoku puzzle. We had no idea what to do with the friggin thing.

So, finally, our plan consisted of grabbing a humongous collander, a salad spinner, a soup ladle, and two Tupperware containers. I have no idea what the plan outside of collecting this shit was supposed to be.

There we stood, staring down this petrified mouse, equally petrified and arguing over who was going to do what. Xteen didn't want to approach the mouse and attempt to catch it it and was also apprehensive about being the goalie for when I attempted to catch the mouse, failed miserably, and have the thing thing give us the finger and jump off the counter and scurry on the floor. And since I am still weeks away from figuring out how to clone myself for such a situation, we were in a quandry.

A rock, paper, scissors game didn't quite work because we kept bumping up the qualifiers:

"OK, best 3 out of 5"

"Best 4 out of 7"

"Best 12 out of 23"

Finally, I grabbed the small Tupperware container (the little guy was only a couple of inches long and like my boy David Cook on American Idol, almost all head.) I approach the mouse and attempt to catch him in the container. Xteen immediately has sympathy pains: "He's cute! Don't hurt it!" Uhh..

The mouse sees me coming and decides to completely spazz out, rapidly running between the two window casings like a pinball. I try reasoning with him: "Dude, quit being an idiot and get in there!"

Then I come up with a brilliant idea:

"Xteen, get me some cheese."

I've seen enough Tom and Jerry cartoons to know this is a perfect plan.

So, I put a little bit of cheese in the container and the mouse looks at me as if to say, "Seriously, dude, cheese? How stereotypical," before completely spazzing out again.

Xteen descends on him with the large Tupperware container and a slab of swiss that would choke a rhinocerous and, between the two of us, we manage to get him in the bigger container (with the goliath piece of cheese) and get the lid on. At this point, our nerves are a little shot and Xteen comes up with this nugget of brilliance:

"Let him out far away from the house."

"Like Cleveland? Seriously, I was going to let him go in the living room. Good thing you said something."

"Don't hurt him...and leave the cheese with him in case he wants it."


So, I go out to the end of my driveway where there is this rock wall and I open up the container. The little dude takes off like a wingless bat out of hell across the street and into the neighbor's yard. The ingrate didn't even take the slab of cheese. Granted, it was like 8 times its body weight, but still. My hospitality should be appreciated.

I walk back in the house and that's that. Though now, we are completely freaked out. The thing could have been in the house for 2 weeks or 5 minutes...we have no way of knowing. Though I would think we would have crossed paths with it if it was around for awhile. So, we need to disinfect the entire house I would think and pray we don't see another one.

Otherwise, we'll have to take a trip to the nearest Bed, Bath, and Beyond so I can pick up more mouse catching equipment.

- Dim.
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