Since I moved into my patio home, I have had several close encounters of the critter kind. Some of you may remember my first introduction to the neighborhood was when I discovered a mouse had set up housekeeping in my pantry. I had never lived with a mouse before and it was a brand-new experience.
I tried in the sincerest way to communicate to it that I did not desire a roommate or a pet, and it would be best if it just moved on, which it did, under my dishwasher. Obviously, it must have been one of those bionic mice that can change shapes and flatten themselves out at will. It’s pretty narrow under that dishwasher. There were futile attempts to extract it, including running the dishwasher on high temperature wash and dry, swipes with a fly swatter, and intermittent squirts of Raid (please don’t tell the ASCPA). I never saw it again.
For at least two years I was mouse-free, until that fateful day when I picked up a stack of recycled grocery bags in my garage and tossed them into the backseat of my car. That night after dinner at the home of my friend, T., I climbed back into my car, cranked up the engine, and found myself staring into the big brown eyes of a mouse that was sitting on top of my steering wheel. I’ll bet you didn’t know that mice could scream. I’m pretty sure it did, but it was hard to tell as I was squealing at the top of my lungs.
I jumped from the car, ran in the house, and relayed my horrible experience. Absolutely no one believed me. When I begged my friends to search my car and help me be sure the mouse was gone, they laughed. Of course, when they finally came outside, it was gone. Credibility: zero.
The snake was another story. One day I opened the door to my multi-purpose closet, which is home to a gazillion craft supplies, old photos, Super 8 tapes, a vacuum cleaner, gift wrap, half a dozen door wreaths and who knows what else is in there. When I turned on the light, I saw 12 inches of a long black tail slither out of sight. I slammed the door, added a barricade of two gallon jugs of floor cleaner and a throw rug, and ran for help. My wonderful neighbor, Ken and his wife, Lynn, fearlessly captured the 4-foot snake using only a bath towel. I believe that technique must be one he learned as an airline pilot. You hardly ever see snakes on planes.
You may have heard that my neighborhood is a sanctuary for lizards. They are everywhere! Yesterday, I opened my pantry only to see a big, fat green lizard on the floor. My first impulse is generally, “Where is my fly swatter?” But my sister had recently given me a lecture about the positive benefits of having a robust lizard population. She also believes lizards are fun and make good playmates. In that spirit, I reached down and gently grasped the lizard by its stomach and headed for the back door, when it reached around and sunk its teeth into my thumb. My sister says lizards don’t have teeth; then this one had incredibly sharp gums.
I don’t know what critters are lurking about my ‘hood just waiting for me to leave a door ajar or a window open, but I’m keeping my fly swatter handy along with a gallon of commercial-grade Raid.