Monday, September 08, 2008

The anthropomorphism, it's getting a bit much

I love animals. Love them. I was conditioned early by the likes of Beatrix Potter, "The Wind in the Willows," "Stuart Little" and "Charlotte's Web"...the list goes on. When I would write stories as a child, the characters were almost always mice or rabbits because humans are just so boring.

So the other day when I came home to find a note on the counter from Darren that said: "Alice--don't open the patio door" and I looked and found this little guy, I was not troubled at all.

Yes, that's a bat (please ignore the unwashed state of my window). He had somehow wedged himself in between the screen and the glass doors. Bats are fascinating little creatures who echo-locate and eat mosquitoes, so I'm all for them. I predicted that if we left the screen door open and the patio door closed, as soon as dusk rolled around he would make his way out of there. I was right, and it was so cool to watch him figure that out.

My cordiality toward bats did not extend however, to a few nights later around midnight when I was completely asleep and Darren was sitting up next to me, working on his laptop. He shook me awake. "There's a bat in our room." I opened my eyes to see it swooping by, shrieked, and dived under the covers. Darren was now out of bed and positioning himself around the room, trying to figure out how to corner the bat. He said, "You've got to get me something to capture this thing with." All I could think of was a) how very hot and airless it is completely submerged under blankets and b) close-up pictures I'd seen of vampire bats flying out of caves with their teeth bared. "I can't," I whimpered. "You have to or I'm not going to be able to get him. You'll be fine," he answered. "Where exactly is the bat right now so I'll know when I race out of the room?" I asked in my muffled voice. "Well," he said carefully, "Right now he's actually lying on my side of the bed. Next to you."

Everything is a blur after that, and my heart might have stopped for a few seconds. But...I got the essentials tools, and Darren removed the bat, setting him free out on the front porch. Now each night I do a careful bat check.

The girls are currently in love with Jim Aylesworth's Book of Bedtime Stories. One story, Elaine's favorite, is called "Two Terrible Frights." She positions herself on my lap and commands, "Read dat book about da liddle girl and da mousie." It's a nice story about a little girl mouse who goes upstairs for a bedtime snack and a little girl who goes downstairs for a bedtime snack. When the little girl turns on the kitchen light, click, and they catch sight of each other, the little girl says, "eeek!" and the little mouse says, "squeak!" and they both take off running and have to be comforted by their mothers. The girls and I like to play it in parts, and Lucy will sometimes correct me and say, "No, Mom, you read that line in the wrong voice." I guess everyone's a critic.

We have so much fun with it that it might surprise you to know that the other day while standing at the kitchen counter, checking my email, I was somewhat less than thrilled when a baby mouse ran over my foot. My bare foot. That had no shoe or sock on it. A mouse. A live mouse. In my kitchen. And you know baby mice don't usually come in singles.

Y'all. I 'bout platzed. The fact that the only words I can find to describe this event are Southern and Yiddish, neither of which I am fluent in, should somehow convey my level of distress. I didn't hear if the little mouse went squeak, but let me tell you: this little girl definitely went "EEEKK!"

I don't know what I'm going to do. I love my house so so so much. And I'd like to think of it, you know, like the house where Raggedy Ann lives--and she and the other dolls sneak out of the nursery and raid the kitchen for supplies for the poor starving mouse family since Marcella's mother keeps her kitchen so clean. (I keep my kitchen so clean too! I promise! I do!) But...people. What am I gonna do? There are bats and mice in my house. Vermin. Varmints. Should I get a cat? A DOG? (Because you know I want to.)

I will tell you this: if I see Templeton any time? I'm outta there until further notice.


Ann-Marie said...

I can't believe the first bat didn't scare you! Last night I found a cricket in our house, and I had to kill it (since Brett's such a girl) - I almost hyperventilated I was so freaked out. As for the other bat experience, you are a much braver soul than I!

As for the mouse, (ewww...the bare foot thing made me cringe in empathy) just remember they get in sometimes - it just happens - it happened to our whole neighborhood one year and freaked us all out! Don't feel bad or blame yourself!!! Remind me to tell you about the time I found one on our KITCHEN COUNTER! Eww..

And lastly, just an option- there are humane traps available where you can easily catch a mouse using a cracker and peanut butter and release him/her back out into the wild. That's what we did - it's a lot easier on the conscience of us animal lovers.

Melanie said...

Eek! I'm no good with animals in our home - unless their pets of course. The whole bat thing is too freaky to do more than just shiver. If I didn't tell you before - I'm uber impressed that you were able to help Darren when it was right next to you. Sooo scary! The mice - oh my - I still have cringe worthy memories of the first mouse I ever encountered and then several years later the last one I've encountered. The first one was walking towards me (I was sick on the couch with mono) and as I fervently prayed that the mouse would somehow stop moving towards me it dropped dead right there in our living room. The last time is a bit more disturbing - we had to set out traps because they were so prevalent in the townhouse the first year and this mouse was not going without a fight so all we heard was a mouse-pitched scream and 'clack, clack, clack,' along with some shuffling across the kitchen floor. Super ick! It was disgusting - luckily Scott can handle the disgusting better than me so I didn't have to touch it myself. My Aunt Ellen once picked up a mouse by its tail and put it out into her backyard (think rural) while my Uncle Don was standing atop the kitchen table with my brother and me. :) I'm with Ann-Marie - this is no reflection on you or the cleanliness of the house - if anything you have such a comfy cozy pad it's making all walks of life wanting in on the good-times vibe.

Alice said...

Aww, thanks girls. You both have made me feel much better. I was really like, "Where have I gone wrong?!"

Becky said...

EEEWW!! You are braver than I, my friend. But yes, things just get in. It isn't you. Did I tell you about the time a mouse got into our apartment on the church property and ate my last Cadbury Creme Egg? It was my last one, I tell you! I was saving it for a special occasion. Scott, typically, didn't believe me when I walked into the kitchen and found the wrapper on the floor cracked open like an egg and said to him, "Someone ate my CC Egg!!!" He was like, "No. You ate it and just forgot." Now, first of all, I would not eat my last CC Egg without reason (they are sacred), and second, I would not crack open the wrapper and throw it on the floor! Really! As I was dialing Kathi to see if she ate it, I saw the egg in question in the corner of the kitchen. It was gnawed with little tooth marks. Yuck! We caught mouse culprits #1 (mama mousie) and #2 (baby mousie)--b/c, yes, they never eat alone--with sticky traps. Scott put them in a trash bag outside for the night with the intent to set them free in the wild the next morning. Yeah, well, something got them first. Food chain and all. I hope whatever it was enjoyed those mice because I didn't get to enjoy any more CC Eggs until the following Easter. (Isn't that brilliant marketing?! I buy more of those eggs at Easter than I ever would if they were available all year. It's an act of desperation.)

Mae said...

There is one thought about getting a cat. We had a cat for years. In Guelph our cat was very good at catching the odd mouse that got into the house. About once a year, in the fall, one or two would get in the basement. One morning we got up and the cat had placed a dead one on Jack's bedside table. How thankful I was that he hadn't put it on mine. I might have had a heart attack. They are very proud of themselves and want to show it to you.

Jill said...

I have horrible memories of the first house I remember living in as a child. I remember coming home from church on a Sunday evening and finding multiple bats flying around in our house. My mom & dad shut us in a 'bat-free' room and caught the bats with tennis rackets....oh, the joys of wildlife :) glad you survived and I'll pray that they don't migrate northeast to these parts!!!! Yikes!