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Terez Mertes

Christmas Bells

December 23, 2009 at 6:23 PM

 

When buying Christmas candy this year, I included a personal favorite of mine, those little bell-shaped chocolates with slivers of Butterfingers mixed in. They’re so festive and seductive in their gold, red and green foil wrappings, I couldn’t resist sampling one (okay, two) before hiding them in the attic that night. The next day, while wrapping Christmas gifts, I felt a hankering for just one more. I unlocked the attic, stumbled among the empty boxes and discarded junk until I found the bag I’d hidden.

The bag was empty.

I shuffled around more, thinking that maybe I’d found last year’s depleted bag, because a bag full of Christmas bells just can’t disappear. But searching produced nothing else. I crumpled the empty bag in my hand, marched downstairs and thrust it at my husband. His blank expression proved his innocence.

“Twelve hours ago, this bag was full,” I insisted. “I’d only taken two.” 

He shrugged in a bemused fashion. “I had no idea you’d bought them.”

“That’s because I hid them.”

We mulled over this puzzle and agreed there was no way our son could have gotten into the attic in the past twelve hours, nine of which he’d spent sleeping. We trooped back upstairs and into the attic to further investigate.

Five minutes later I found a clue: a few tiny, black pellets, in the white plastic sack the bag of bells had been sitting in. Closer inspection revealed a hole in one corner of the bag, shredded by tiny masticating jaws.

Mice.

Which means that, in the course of one night, the mice had silently removed the bells, every last one of them. Twenty-two, perhaps.

Even faced with such incriminating evidence, no other possible explanation, I could hardly wrap my mind around it. I visualized those mice, a line of busily working creatures, like ants. Did they carry them in their paws while walking? Drag them behind them? Create some little sleigh-like transporting device? I felt like an unwitting character in a Nutcracker production, the oblivious adult who sleeps while the mice, having sprung to giant proportions, wage noisy war against the life-sized toy soldiers in the living room.

The mice won. Big time.

I should be sort of creeped out. We’ve heard mice in the house before, scratching around. We’ve trapped them (humanely, I promise) and released them far from our house. But that was a year ago. No noises since then. These bell-stealers we definitely have not heard. Even now, fortified by chocolate, they are not making any noise as they move about in the attic, the eaves, the house’s invisible nooks and crannies.

I imagine those mice right now, huddled silently around this towering pile of gold, red and green bells, staring awestruck at this enormous treasure that will sustain them for a long time to come. A Christmas gift they hadn’t expected, one I certainly hadn’t planned to give.  

Darned if it doesn’t give me that warm Christmas feeling.


From Tom Holzman
Posted on December 23, 2009 at 6:38 PM

Terez - Mice like to come indoors, especially when the temperature outside falls.  Who can blame them?  Which means that you have to take certain precautions, . . . .  It is good that you have the attitude you do towards them.  I would be creeped out. 

Happy holidays and New Year!  We all look forward to another year of your wonderful blogs.


From Terez Mertes
Posted on December 23, 2009 at 6:53 PM

 >Mice like to come indoors, especially when the temperature outside falls. 

How do they get in? And do you suppose they come and go, then? I can't help but wonder if the mice we released, the previous year, came back. My dad used to trap chipmunks from our yard and release them a block away, by a creek. But he started spray-painting their tails under a suspicion that the same ones were returning. ("Let's go back to that place where the guy sets out peanut butter for us, and then gives us a free ride down to the creek afterward!")

Thanks for the reply, Tom - always fun to blog when people reply!


From Tom Holzman
Posted on December 23, 2009 at 7:24 PM

My experience is that they come and go depending on the weather.  Maybe the same ones.  They can get in almost anywhere since they are quite small.  All it takes is one entry point.


From Anne Horvath
Posted on December 23, 2009 at 8:11 PM

Uh, don't you have a cat?


From Stephen Brivati
Posted on December 23, 2009 at 8:16 PM

 Isn`t a cat going to steal twice as much chocolate?


From Anne Horvath
Posted on December 23, 2009 at 8:13 PM

We evidently had something rather large living under a living room dormer window this fall.  I was puzzled when Grey Cat started staring at the wall, two inches from his nose, for hours at a time.  Grey Cat is not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but when Black Cat started obsessing too, I knew something was up.

I was up late Halloween night, and heard several big thumps, and a lot of scurrying.  It sounded big, and I guessed 'possum, or raccoon.  Probably 'possum.

But before the Critter Control guys could get out to trap it, I had a new roof installed, and the hammering noise must have frightened it away.  There has been no wall-staring for a couple of months now.

 

So, I and the feline portion of this household would like to wish you, your Dear Husband, your charming offspring, and various domesticated and wild pets, a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

(A Ring-A-Ding-Ding)


From Tom Holzman
Posted on December 23, 2009 at 8:30 PM

Terez - one thing I neglected to mention is the possibility that the goodies will give your mice advanced arteriosclerosis and get rid of them that way.

I have to dissent slightly from Anne's comment about the utility of cats.  We had a Siamese who showed no interest at all in mice or even cats who approached her territory.

 


From Terez Mertes
Posted on December 23, 2009 at 9:03 PM

 > Isn`t a cat going to steal twice as much chocolate?

So THAT'S where the rest of the house candy has been going! And that look on his face afterward? Bored innocence? Yeah, right.

Anne - yes, my cat noticed the goings on last year. It was quite funny, actually. He'd be staring, unmoving, as if he were watching TV or something. But, that said, he still didn't react as much as he had as a younger cat, where he actually stalked and killed a mouse his first six months in the house.

Weirdly, last year, the mice were getting into the cabinet where we kept the cat food. I learned to recognize the sound of the rustling inside the cat food bag. And the cat would just look at me, like "aren't you going to do something about that?" I'd had a very unnerving wake-up at 4:15am one morning a week prior, where I came down to make a cup of tea and feed the cat. Pulled out the bag, stuck my arm into it to scoop up a serving, and a mouse inside ran UP my arm and leapt to the floor. Boy. Ask me how that felt at 4:15am, me half-asleep. Needless to say, I didn't need that cup of tea to wake me further. But the cat didn't even try to chase the mouse. (Stupid me - I opened the door to the garage and the mouse shot out. Probably got right back into the house through a garage tunnel. Heading right back to the cat food. Yes, we finally moved the cat food. After we'd trapped another mouse that way, releasing it down the hill from our house.)


From Terez Mertes
Posted on December 23, 2009 at 9:13 PM

 >Grey Cat is not the brightest bulb in the chandelier

Loved this. : )


From Terez Mertes
Posted on December 23, 2009 at 9:15 PM

 >Terez - one thing I neglected to mention is the possibility that the goodies will give your mice advanced arteriosclerosis and get rid of them that way.

Yesssssss!


From Anne Horvath
Posted on December 23, 2009 at 9:44 PM

4:15am?  Wow.  Are we up that early to practice our scales?


From Stephen Brivati
Posted on December 23, 2009 at 11:13 PM

Greetings,

Tom is right.   My cat shows utter disinterest when confronted by either a larger predator or a smaller predatee (or vice versa)  His usually reaction is to go to sleep on the spot.  This is either indicative of his mastery of Aikido I referrred to in a previous blog, or something to do with having had his goolies chopped off.

Cheers,

Buri


From Terez Mertes
Posted on December 24, 2009 at 12:29 AM

 >This is either indicative of his mastery of Aikido I referrred to in a previous blog, or something to do with having had his goolies chopped off.

: )

Anne - 4:30am, I've discovered, is the best time to torture my characters. Not my family. 


From Anne Horvath
Posted on December 24, 2009 at 2:09 AM

4:30 am to write, eh?  And you wondered in your last blog why your characters were back-talking and grouchy.  At 4:30 am, who wouldn't be!

(Insert smiley face here)

Actually, your dedication is admirable.  As is your stamina.

And as for house cats and their ability or motivation, not all are slackers.  Mine had great fun last month cornering a hapless lizard, which I rescued and freed.  If you'd like to borrow one, just let me know.  Cat, that is, not lizard.  The lizard is outside on the deck...


From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on December 24, 2009 at 2:42 AM

For many animals, including domestic pets, chocolate (cafeine) is deadly at medium-high dose. They could possibly pass away (poor things) and it would solve your problem...  Funny Tom that you talk about artherosclerosis because I had domestic mice as pets and they really really tend to become obese at the minute they have something to eat.  The vet said that even with normal quantity of food, they almost always become obese. Mine didn't die because of heart problems but because of diabetes (very common in rodents).  At the end of their life, they became blind, and lost all their weight to become just skin and bones + drank water anormally.  The worst part was that since they were very fat at the start, they lasted very long (for months...)  and we ended up by taking them to the vet to put them asleep because they lasted forever in this terrible condition...   When you see the effect of obesity/diabetes on your beloved mice pets and know these deseases are similar with human, it really makes you eat even healthier...

But still a little chocolate at Christmas is compulsory... when the mice don't eat it!

Good luck Terez!

Anne-Marie

 


From Stephen Brivati
Posted on December 24, 2009 at 3:24 AM

Greetings,

have you tried playing them the Rodent Caprices? It`s usually enough to scare them away.

Cheers,

Buri


From Terez Mertes
Posted on December 24, 2009 at 4:27 AM

Finally, a mouse expert! Thanks for your comments and stories, Anne-Marie. Maybe I haven't heard them since b/c they're too fat (or complacent) too move.

And Buri, anything I play will be likely to scare the mice away. But I like the sound of "rodent caprices." Do you suppose there's a YouTube recording? : ) 

Anne, you crack me up, as always.


From Terez Mertes
Posted on December 24, 2009 at 4:32 AM

 Okay, I couldn't resist. I Googled "rodent caprices."

Dang. I thought anything could be found on YouTube. Anyone interested in writing up a little music? Improvising and taping/uploading it? The audience would be huge; it's a musical phenomenon just waiting to happen. I just have this feeling...


From Stephen Brivati
Posted on December 24, 2009 at 5:09 AM

something by Ratmaninoff perhaps?


From Terez Mertes
Posted on December 24, 2009 at 2:30 PM

 >something by Ratmaninoff perhaps?

That could turn out to be catastrophic. ; )

Maybe there's some appropriate Hadyn chamber music. ("Haydn in the Attic," or "Hadyn in a Small, Enclosed Space."

Got it. Mouzart's "Eine Kleine Nacht Schokolade."


From Anne Horvath
Posted on December 24, 2009 at 3:14 PM

www.youtube.com/watch


From Terez Mertes
Posted on December 24, 2009 at 4:04 PM

 I knew I could count on you, Anne. : )

Except, dang, they just showed the record playing. I was looking for some live rodent action. Little mice in tuxes and white shirts, nicely grouped on stage for a choral arrangement. Please work on this...


From Terez Mertes
Posted on December 24, 2009 at 4:09 PM

 Wait... I got one. Really not the mood I was looking for in the least, but it is a mouse singing. And it's rather scary. 

www.youtube.com/watch


From Anne Horvath
Posted on December 24, 2009 at 4:15 PM

Fine...(huff huff huff)

Not a song, but if you want to mess with their mice brains next year, you could plant some of these in the attic:

www.youtube.com/watch


From Terez Mertes
Posted on December 24, 2009 at 4:20 PM

 OMG that's so funny! Cannibalism!!

This thread is so degenerating. Here's another one to plunge it further.

And hey! There IS classical music, at 42 seconds. A must-watch. www.youtube.com/watch

 

And here's one of the cat who KNOWS there are mice above him in the attic. www.youtube.com/watch


From Terez Mertes
Posted on December 24, 2009 at 4:32 PM

 My son contributed this one just now: www.youtube.com/watch

And now I'm CRACKING UP because this is the Google ad appearing above my blog:

Mice Tips

Learn How to Diagnose and Combat Your Rodent Problem at d-CON®.


From Anne Horvath
Posted on December 24, 2009 at 5:12 PM

OK, here it is.  No cats, no mice, no cannibalism, but it is my all-time favorite Christmas video to watch.  And after this year, I know I can use a good Christmas cry:

www.youtube.com/watch

 


From Terez Mertes
Posted on December 24, 2009 at 5:30 PM

 Hey, didn't you post that link last year? Or maybe Pauline did? Yes, very seasonally-appropriate, very hankie-dampening. I always loved Judy Garland.


From Laurie Niles
Posted on December 24, 2009 at 8:40 PM

This all makes me think of the Nutcracker as well...

My daughter has a little book; it's basically an adaptation of E.T.A. Hoffmann's original story, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, in all its 19th century glory. The ballet makes much more sense after reading it (the ballet never made ANY sense to me before, as a story), but the reason I bring it up is that the depiction of the mice is so vivid; it left me quite creeped-out. The mice are such a part of her normal, every day life -- or at least such a regular part of her nighttime soundscape -- that of course she dreams about mice, of course they grow to gigantic proportions. Eeeeek!

 


From Anne Horvath
Posted on December 24, 2009 at 8:47 PM

I might have linked to it last year, or maybe it was Pauline.  Her taste is almost as fabulous as mine...

Not Christmas, but your son, or your cat, might enjoy this instructional video:

www.youtube.com/watch

And now, I have to go get ready for a Christmas party.  One of the upticks to the recession is instead of having a Christmas Eve gig, I get to go to a party, and eat, drink, and be merry.  (Smile)


From SAM MIHAILOFF
Posted on December 24, 2009 at 9:55 PM

 We’ve trapped them (humanely, I promise) and released them far from our house

problem with that is they communicate with all their friends and offer them free lodging at the nice violin person's home; music & chocolate

THEY COME BACK WITH THEIR PALS


From Terez Mertes
Posted on December 24, 2009 at 10:52 PM

 Sam - AAAAUUUUUGGGGHHHH!

Then again, we have a new cat this year, 6 months old. I think she'd have much more fun with the mice neighbors. Maybe that will be her Christmas gift.

 


From Terez Mertes
Posted on December 24, 2009 at 10:54 PM

 Anne - awwwwww, Tom and Jerry. I haven't watched one of those in ages. What fun - thanks for the link.

Laurie - I picked up the E.T.A. Hoffman book a few weeks back and put it back, figuring my son wouldn't be interested, but now that you describe it, I'm interested in it for ME! Yes, my situation seemed very Nutcracker-ish! Quite fun, in that respect, as I danced in Nutcracker for years.


From Terez Mertes
Posted on December 24, 2009 at 11:00 PM

 Waaaah! The Tom and Jerry YouTube video has just been removed. There one minute, gone the next (just as I dragged my son in to watch it). That's kind of freaky.

It's just like the chocolate bells.

OMG. It's the mice. They've caught on. They've taken over cyberspace.

Run!!!!


From Rosalind Porter
Posted on December 27, 2009 at 2:28 AM

More singing mice, but these ones actually clean up things and I'm sure they would be much too polite to eat your chocolate...  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COmKmFjhG5o    I guarantee you won't get this tune out of your head for days and days and days.  This and other wonderful BBC children's tv programmes back in the late 60s and early 70s were one way in which I got hooked on music.

As for your mouse.   It reminded me of the time when I was practising violin one evening in my apartment in Vienna, when suddenly a mouse ran over my foot...   I can remember screaming and hopping around the room trying not to drop violin and bow.  Next day, I have to confess I made a trip to the store and the acquisition of a small box of sweet smelling granules labelled "Rattengift"...   I couldn't handle live traps I'm afraid.


From Terez Mertes
Posted on December 27, 2009 at 4:49 AM

 Oh, Rosalind, that's the CUTEST little clip/link. That fits the mood so well for this image of those little mice in my head. And your story -- mouse runs over shoe -- made me laugh. So reminiscent of the mouse running up my arm. And, mind you, normally I'm not squeamish about critters. (Only flying cockroaches.) It's when you're caught off guard, tho.

You're right - that little tune is going to stay in my head. It's going over and over in my head as we speak. (Um, type...)


From Terez Mertes
Posted on December 27, 2009 at 4:54 AM

 >I made a trip to the store and the acquisition of a small box of sweet smelling granules labelled "Rattengift.

OMG, how creepy that that translates into rat poison. Is that a weird German translation, or just great irony? : /  Love these little quirks of the German language...

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