me in the piazza

I'm a writer, publishing both as SJ Rozan and, with Carlos Dews, as Sam Cabot. (I'm Sam, he's Cabot.) Here you can find links to my almost-daily blog posts, including the Saturday haiku I've been doing for years. BUT the blog itself has moved to my website. If you go on over there you can subscribe and you'll never miss a post. (Miss a post! A scary thought!) Also, I'll be teaching a writing workshop in Italy this summer -- come join us!
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Me vs. Mouse

Can you believe it? I, your local jock and sports devotee, was the last to know: The S.O.B. Cat, reigning Golden Paws champion and Mice-In-One-Day record holder for the entire building, has apparently retired. Not that he's quit mousing cold turkey. Like an athelete who ends his pro career but still gets a kick out of tossing a ball around, he'll will stare into what he believes to be a mousehole for ten- and fifteen-minute stretches. But then he'll get up and walk away, re-organizing himself in a central position on the down quilt and paying no attention whatsoever to any rustlings or even squeaks that may drift into his snoozing semi-consciousness. A marked change from the old days, I can tell you, when he would leave one mouse hole only to stalk another, when the sound of a sheet of paper falling from the desk would send him bounding over to secure the perimeter, when the deceased varmint count could be trusted to climb and the counters to remain mouse-free.

This retirement would be unwelcome at any time, but our building, on account of the emptying-out of the brownstone next door (there was a little divorce problem a year ago, and somehow until now no one got the house) is in the middle of a mouse invasion. Usually, because the S.O.B. smells like a cat, this apartment is no mouse's first choice. In multi-mouse circumstances, though, some rodent always tries to muscle in. In the past, that's been that mouse's worst, and last, decision; but with the retirement of Old Mousebane, evidence of mouse has been both seen and heard around here for a week now. Until two nights ago, when I came home to find a mouse IN THE DISHDRAINER, assiduously munch on a plastic bag that had been washed after it carried raisins home, but apparently not washed well enough.

Obviously, it's now up to me. So yesterday I bought supplies, hauled them home, and spent all morning mouse proofing the joint. No traps, because it would be just like the S.O.B. to get his paw caught in one; and anywhere he can't reach, I can't either, and have you ever had a dead mouse slowly rot somewhere you can't get at it? I have, and yecch. (That one, he caught and lost but had dealt a death blow; but that was in his prime.) So no traps, and no poison, because it would also not be beyond this cat to eat a poisoned mouse. What, then?

Caulk in every gap big enough for a mouse, and small enough for caulk. Steel wool in every gap too big for caulk; and, in gaps too big to stuff steel wool into, double-sided tape to hold it. And then, the crowning touch, and pay attention, those of you in rodent-infested households: peppermint tea! Mice, I was told, hate the smell of peppermint. You brew up some strong peppermint tea, let it cool, decant it into a spray bottle, and spritz the mouse paths. If a varmint finds its way through your defenses it will screech to a halt at your invisible shield, turn and run the other way. I was skeptical, but it looks like it works! Peppermint tea -- which doesn't smell to the human nose as far as I can tell, once it's dry -- is a mouse repellent. Will wonders never cease? So we seem to be mouse-free around here, and the S.O.B. can snore away, resting on his well-earned laurels.

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