When one lives in an older home, things happen. Boards creak, drafts occur and cobwebs appear out of nowhere.
Sometimes there even are unexpected guests. Seasonal, mind you, but still.
In the summertime when it’s warm, it’s best to be on the constant lookout for spiders and other creepy crawlies. I’m sure I’ve mentioned before how much I do not like spiders.
In the wintertime, however, the guests are a little harder to dispatch and often a bit more wily – even with our beloved cats around.
Although we live in an older part of McHenry, we still seem to offer an enticing shelter to the city’s resident field mouse population. Or at least one or two a winter.
This past week, our most recent “guest” decided to go from slight annoyance to immediate evictee. The fatal blunder? Practically running across my feet as I strolled down our hallway one morning. I can’t say I made the cliché “Eek” noise, but I’m pretty sure there was some sort of startled sound. This creature was too small and too fast to be my cat, Harriet.
Speaking of Harriet, she was nowhere to be found. What’s with that?
A few years back, when Harriet was joined by our first cat, Hooper, who has since died, we had quite the mouse-hunting team. What they lacked in effectiveness, they made up for in creativity.
For instance, there was the time that I awoke to the sound of scuffling in our bedroom. Trying to figure out what was going on, I noticed a small object flying in the air and Hooper chasing after it.
My first thought was one of their ball toys. Only this was not hot pink, lime green or yellow.
I soon came to find out what it was when she flung said object onto the bed. Imagine my surprise when it started moving toward me. This time I’m pretty sure I made the “Eek” noise and scrambled off the bed as fast as I could.
Another time and another year, I was sitting on our couch, which faces the hallway. I happened to look up as Harriet was strutting by with something in her mouth. I’m pretty sure it was making a squeaking noise. Oh, how nice, she has a squeak toy.
Wait a minute … we don’t have any squeak toys, I thought to myself as I jumped off the couch to follow her.
Sure enough, another unwanted
houseguest. Where did she take it? Our bedroom, again.
Then there was the time that still gives me the willies when I think about it.
This one also is courtesy of Miss Harriet. She must have cornered a mouse somewhere in the house and was so proud of herself that she felt the need to bring it to me.
This was about the time when she would routinely play with her ball toys and bring them to me to throw off the bed for her to chase.
Most of the time I was half-asleep and somehow found a way to accommodate her need to play at 4 a.m.
Anyway, this particular time I went to grab what I thought was the toy.
Only it squished.
Needless to say I woke up in a hurry. This one wasn’t moving, but still. Ick.
These days, Harriet seems to have no interest in mouse-hunting adventures. She’s an old lady, like a lot of us over here. That, or this year’s model of mouse paid her off; I can’t be sure.
What I am sure of is that I knew it had been hanging around for a while. I’d been meaning to set a trap or two, but I just didn’t get around to it. I hate those things.
Unfortunately for the mouse, however, it sort of forced the issue with its bold move across my feet. It headed – where else? – to our bedroom, where my husband took care of it after we chased it around for a while.
After it was all over, Harriet sauntered in. Nice of her to finally show up after the fact.
Then again, she seems to have a taste these days for all things fish.
Maybe that’s the problem. Mice, I’d imagine, don’t taste like fish. Not that I’m willing to find out for sure.
• Joan Oliver is a former Northwest Herald assistant news editor. She has been associated with the Northwest Herald since 1990. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.