I had just gone to the tortilleria and purchased a half kilo of freshly made corn tortillas. There’s nothing like fresh tortillas right from the grill; warm, aromatic and pliable they are amazingly delicious. Toasty tortillas evoke the same comfort-food feeling as eating hot biscuits right from the oven. My 6” wide by 1” high stack was carefully wrapped in thin waxed paper and placed in a plastic bag. We ate some for dinner and I placed them on the counter overnight...
The following day I noticed a few tiny bits of shredded plastic and paper on the counter. Weird, I don’t remember catching that baggie on anything sharp. Hmmm…must have come from a grocery bag or something else. I clean it up.
Flash back to a couple days earlier… I had noticed a couple tiny apple-seed-sized black bits on the counter. Hmmm…they must be apple seeds or maybe crusty bits from the bottom core of an apple or maybe a piece of the rind from cutting an avocado. Eh. Whatever. I paper-towel it away and don’t even give it another thought. (The denial starts here.)
Flash forward to tortilla night #2. I open the pack again for more dinner tortillas to pair with some chili. I notice a dime-size half-moon divot punched down along the height of the entire stack. What the heck? Hmmm…I don’t THINK it came like that. But maybe it did. I must not have noticed before. Or maybe I punched my thumbnail down through it accidentally. (Denial is evident here… or just pure irrationality).
We EAT some of those tortillas. Oh, yeeeessss. We do.
I must have done some higher mathematics in my sleep because immediately upon waking I had a sinking feeling. I knew. Finally, after all those signs, I put one and two and three together…and four actually. Rolling over on my side, I stared at Brian, pausing before I spit it out. I didn’t relish admitting my latent insight.
Me: “Honey, I think we have a mouse.”
Me: “Let me ‘splain.” I go through my 3 signs and ponder the probable 4th.
Brian: “Wait. You made me eat tortillas that a MOUSE ate?!!!”
Me: Sigh. (Of course he has to focus in like a laser on THAT one.)
How could I NOT connect all those obvious dots!? Quite simple, Watson. Denial is a wondrous thing. Seriously? I deferred to the potential that my thumbnail carved through the entire stack and I didn’t remember that? We love to watch the TV series “Elementary” - Sherlock Holmes would be absolutely appalled by my pitiable deduction skills.
My midnight calculation triggered recollection of a couple Ziploc baggies that may have borne tiny ragged holes. I just assumed I had yanked them out of the cupboard too forcefully. It’s entirely plausible. I have multitudes of packaged food products double-bagged into Ziploc baggies. But the plastic can tear when you are constantly shoving them aside or removing to get at other items.
That day, we cleared out my food cupboards, checking each item. Low and behold, I found a ripped bag of pita chips, a leaking soft-pack of spaghetti sauce, torn powdered milk and an oatmeal pouch, all enclosed in barely-nibbled-through Ziplocs. Top that off with more “apple seeds”. Crap. Literally. That’s multiple proofs…we have a mouse. Or, God forbid, mice plural.
How does one come to acquire a mouse aboard?
It would not be difficult for a mouse to push under our draped screen door. And it most likely just strolled on up the dockline like a tightrope. Or scrambled up the fenders. Maybe even got dropped off by a hawk from above. Either way, mice can wreak hellacious havoc. If they don’t enjoy your food, count yourself lucky if they merely have a taste for clothing or linens. Plowing through expensive sails and cushions are not unheard of; even plastic water tanks and hoses are not off limits.
But they are especially known for eating through wires - the plastic sheathing makes for good nesting material apparently. If left unchecked, one tiny little guy could absolutely destroy a boat. We heard one such story of a cruiser who unwittingly left his sailboat for six months with a stowaway inside; he had to rewire the boat upon return – took months. Those cute little Feivels and Ratatouilles are not to be trifled with...
Now, I had been pretty compulsive about putting grains and such in airtight plastic bins, worried more about cockroaches. My OXO sealed bins are for cereal, rice, quinoa, brown sugar and couscous; I’ve got a few Ball’s glass canning jars for oatmeal and pecans and candies; I’ve got Lock & Locks for everything else from flour, sugar and coffee to open crackers, chips and cookies. Bay leaves in all, these have worked perfectly so far.
But…I had a TON of pre-packaged items like Knorr rice and pasta meals, single-size tunafish and spaghetti sauce pouches, Chilorio (shredded meat) and black bean soft-paks; chips and saltine crackers and Oreos are staples. But all this STUFF takes up lots of ROOM, room I don’t HAVE. If I had to place EVERYthing in bins I couldn’t fit as much! I had been storing such packets in Ziplocs to keep out bugs and allow better use of space. I thought it would be enough protection; but even packets made of heavy-duty aluminum lined plastics are not impervious to sharp teeth. Sigh. No more.
We immediately headed to the store and while I raided their lockable containers aisle, Brian stalked the mouse trap section. Once home, I crammed as much product as possible into my new massive pile of airtight bins. Alas, it wasn’t enough. Round 2…back to the store for more bins. I STILL had to give a few items away! I am now the container queen. Nearly every single food item, other than canned goods, are now encased in one form of bin or another. I can’t store nearly as much, but my foodstuffs are mouse-free. And I probably didn’t need all that food anyway. New motto: Hoard less, shop more.
Meanwhile, we set two standard mouse traps: one in an open cupboard and another on top of our engine lid. One with peanut butter; one with cheddar cheese. We also put out several little hand-made aluminum foil dishes of Raid pellets. The following night at about 1am… SNAP! Brian got up and gallantly got rid of the poor little guy so I didn’t have to witness the carnage. Awww…I know, he’s the best!
We set out the traps again for a couple days but luckily, there was only one. Which trap did Mighty Mouse go for? Cheddar cheese, of course! A mouse after my own heart.