Monday, March 4, 2013

Of Mice and Men

The Homeowner and I have been dealing with a rat infestation.

Ok, so it's not really an infestation - we've caught like 5 or 6 - and they aren't rats, they're mice.  Nevertheless, they are disgusting and even just one is one too many.

I absolutely cannot deal with rodents of any sort.  Mice, rats, hamsters, and/or guinea pigs are all vile creatures. Everything about them disgusts me, from their beady little eyes to their weird claw-ish feet.  Plus, they are all sneaky and carry diseases.  No joke, I almost have a panic attack and physically shut down in the presence of these monsters.  Call it a phobia if you wish.

Our problem with these foul things started a couple of months ago.  I was sitting on the couch watching television, when I heard a rustling in the kitchen.  I glanced up just in time to see a stealthy shadow pass across the counter top.  Thinking I may be hallucinating, I shrugged it off.  The Homeowner and I are neat and tidy people, surely a mouse had not moved in.  I went back to minding my own business when something scurried across the living room rug, just mere inches from my feet, and darted underneath the entertainment center.  With lightning quick reflexes, I jumped up onto the couch, pulling my appendages out of harm's way, and through text message, demanded that The Homeowner come home at once to kill this small beast.

At first, The Homeowner did not believe me, but I was finally able to compile enough evidence that showed a need to invest in some traps.  Initially, we were winning the war.  In just a few days we had caught four of the filthy things.  Each mouse causality was a victory and an adrenaline rush.  Of course, I made The Homeowner clean up the carnage.  Even in death, I couldn't bear to look at their beady eyes caught underneath the icy cold metal of the trap with flecks of peanut butter stuck to their pathetic whiskers.  

Weeks had passed and the set traps started to collect dust.  We hit the battle lines hard and had proven to be victorious.  We had gone almost a month without a mouse murder.  I figured that since the weather had warmed slightly and so many had fallen during the winter, that perhaps the remaining critters had gotten wise and moved on.  The Homeowner and I let our guard down, and pay back would be a bitch.

This past Saturday, I was suddenly jostled out of a peaceful slumber by The Homeowner.  Apparently he heard quite a rustling noise in the kitchen and had assumed it was me preparing a late night snack.  However, after quite some time and finally realizing Jambo and I were tucked snugly in bed, The Homeowner went to investigate.  The scene in the kitchen was nothing I'd like to relive, but I'll be strong and describe it anyway.

Stuck in the trap was the fattest mouse I had ever seen.  This beast really could have been a rat.  It was much more than a mouse.  This hulk of a thing had actually managed to move the trap and itself out from underneath the bar cart in the kitchen and made it out into the open next to the refrigerator.  Somehow it managed it travel about 16ish inches from the trap's original location.

The worst was not yet over.

The mouse was actually still alive.  The trap did not snap down and break its tiny little neck, causing a quick and painless death, but instead it merely caught the mouse's paws.  The mouse was alive and its beady eyes were piercing into my soul.  Every breath of the mouse rang in my ears, and I was convinced it was summoning its mouse-friends and in moments the entire house would be under attack.

The Homeowner and I were completely beside ourselves, and I was rendered essentially useless.  Before I knew it, I was in full on panic mode...I was quickly getting hot, sweaty, and anxious.  I feared the mouse breaking loose and making a made dash across the floor to savagely attack my feet.   We needed to get the mouse, preferably dead, out of the house.  From the top of a chair, I offered a couple of solutions to The Homeowner; he could grab a hammer and just quickly give the mouse a whack, or he could put a Tupperware container over the mouse and the trap and starve the mouse of oxygen, causing it to suffocate.  He didn't care for either of these options and insisted I hold open a shopping bag, and while using a dustpan, he would scoop the mouse into the bag and throw the whole thing into the trash.

There was no way in Hell that I could hold open a bag while he attempted to throw a mouse into it.  We were two grown men, panicking over a mouse.  I was in such a state of shock that I couldn't even wake Jambo up to help me.  So many irrational fears were rushing through my mind.

At one point, The Homeowner tried to pick up the trap, but the mouse moved and we both ran screaming from the kitchen.

Finally, The Homeowner realized that I was useless in this battle, and if we were going to win, he would have to take action on his own.  He manned up, and in one swift motion, scooped up the mouse, put him the plastic bag, and threw the plastic bag out onto the front porch.

Great.  Now we had a live mouse, barely stuck in a trap, inside of a plastic bag, out on the front porch.  This creature could now summon all of its outdoor rodent friends.

Through a miracle, I was able to talk myself off of the chair and get back into bed.  All the while, Jambo remained asleep, completely unaware of the tragedy unfolding just feet away.  I was barely able to sleep that night, and it did not even get cold enough for the bagged mouse on the porch to freeze to death.

Once the sun rose, I was ready to face my fears - somewhat.  I marched out to the porch, and using an incredibly long golf umbrella that had been left at the house, I slowly slid the tip through one of the bag handles.  The bag opened just enough, and I got a glimpse of it's creepy little eye...peering straight up at me.  I didn't let this bother me, I needed to be strong.  In my sweat pants, slippers, and grandpa cardigan, I ran across the lawn with the bag hanging off the end of the umbrella.  I quickly threw up the garbage can's lid and slipped the bag down inside.  Then using the umbrella again, I pushed one of the garbage bags onto the mouse bag just to ensure he couldn't get out.  To further guarantee the mouse's demise, I triumphantly slammed the garbage can lid down, and frankly justice will be mine.      

Friday, March 1, 2013

Rack 'Em.

I could spend just about every weekend in an antique shop or at the flea market.  I have no problem perusing through old junk, with the hopes that I'll find an amazing piece that is screaming to be taken home and collect even more dust in my house.  I take all the knowledge I have gathered from American Pickers and Pawn Stars and pretend as though I know the historical context of whatever item has caught my eye.

One day, a couple of weeks ago, I got this crazy idea firmly planted into my head that I needed to fill a clear glass container with a set of billiard balls.  The balls couldn't just be any set of billiard balls though, they needed to be a set from an antique store or flea market.  I wanted them to be faded and worn with dents and bumps and the residue of chalk.

I did a little bit of research on Etsy and Craigslist, but I did not find any promising leads, plus I really wanted to scavenge to find the perfect set.  Just days after Jambo's hospital stint, we plotted out our route to hit up the four antique stores that the Boro has to offer.  Jambo may have been on his death bed just days prior, but I was hell bent on making this vision become a reality.  I needed vintage billiard balls in a class container, displayed on somewhere in my bedroom.  Please do not question my rationale or reasoning.

Unbeknownst to me, Murfreesboro actually has incredible antique stores.  Since there isn't much else to do there, Jambo and I have begun frequenting these shops whenever I have to fulfill a crazy, off the wall whim.

So I loaded Jambo up, insulin and all, we were off!  I was on a mission and there would be no stopping me.

We entered the first shop, and I was immediately blindsided/incredibly distracted by the room full of amazing vintage Christmas things.  Glass ornaments, silver tinsel trees, bottlebrush trees, Putz village pieces, winking Santa mugs, red and gold punch bowls with etched holly trims.  There was just so much to look at, lust over, and wish for.  I wanted all of it, every single thing.  Jambo had to quickly reel me back in before I whipped out the Visa card and went on a charging frenzy.  After all, Christmas is over with and we needed to find pool balls, not holiday decorations.

I was scouring every corner of the shop.  Like most antique stores, there wasn't any rhyme or reason as to how things were merchandised.  My set of balls could easily be tucked alongside some mint in the box Holiday Barbie dolls or the iced tea pitcher and tumbler set that is straight off the set of The Help.  I was completely in the trenches looking through every nook and cranny, and double checking to make sure I hadn't missed anything.  Jambo probably thought I was a lunatic, but suddenly he let out the most delighted squeal.  There's nothing like a big black man squealing like an Asian school girl at a Hello Kitty convention.  He had stumbled into a cabinet - literally stumbled into it as antique stores are packed full and Jambo is a big guy- and on the bottom shelf was a box of the most perfect pool balls.  They were exactly what I had been hoping for.  The whites had faded to a pale yellow, the colors were vibrant but aged, and there were specks of blue chalk dust from games played.  Score!

Box 'em up, I was sold!

However, there was one small hitch.  The 8 ball was missing.  I knew I had gotten too lucky by finding a set in the first store I had ventured into.  Now came the decision making.  Do I buy an almost complete set with the hopes I would be able to find a lone 8 ball?  These balls were being sold individually, so surely somewhere out there an 8 ball would be sold singly?  But who bought just the 8 ball, what does one do with just one 8 ball?  So many questions were rushing through my mind, but I needed to think fast.  I opted to purchase the almost complete set and would take my chances.

Jambo and left the store and headed on, this mission was not yet complete.  Plus, I still needed a container, bucket, or jar to display them all in.

Just as luck would have it, there was another antique store tucked right behind the first one.  I didn't bother asking the sales associate if she knew of an 8 ball on the property, I wanted to find it for myself.  Once again I went to stealth mode.  I was scouring, scavenging, and hunting.  This time I wouldn't let any Christmas decor distract my focus.

After just minutes I heard yet another delighted squeal.  Jambo's luck struck again, and he had found an 8 ball!  Sitting amongst fishing lures was one 8 ball and one cue ball.  Well I already had a cue, I just needed the 8.  I tracked the sales associate back down so she could unlock the display case for me, and she was quite full of questions.  What would I do with just one 8 ball, and why didn't I want the cue ball too?

Well lady, don't worry about it, and why are you selling just one 8 ball and one cue ball in the first place?!

I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, my set would soon be complete, and it only took about 40 minutes total.  The inquisitive broad had to call her manager to see how much she could even sell the 8 ball for because there wasn't a  price on it.  I told her that I had just bought an entire set for $1.50 a ball from the shop next door, and as it turned out, both shops are owned by the same person anyway.  This 8 ball should only be $1.50 too!  Suddenly this felt like a pyramid scheme.  After what seemed like hours, she said she could sell the ball for $5.

$5.00 whole dollars for ONE ball!?  Highway robbery.

I needed this 8 ball and I had been far too lucky to find it so quickly.  I didn't even bother to haggle, and being the gentleman that he is, Jambo foot the bill.

A box of balls.

With his hawk eye precision, Jambo found the coveted treasures in no time.  To add to that, he didn't seem to have much of a problem being dragged along on my quest for such a ridiculous item.

I figured finding the set of balls would be the difficult part and that I wouldn't have much of an issue finding the container to display them in.  Boy, was I wrong.  My lack of being able to estimate the volume of a jar coupled with my inability to accurately determine just how large of an opening was necessary for a billiard ball to pass through made for quite a wild goose chase.

Jambo and I searched through the remaining two antique stores, as well as Pier One, World Market, Target, TJ Maxx and Marshall's to find the right size and shape.  After several purchases, trials, returns, and exchanges, I was finally able to find an apothecary style canister that worked perfectly!  It took just over a half an hour to find the balls but took about 2 hours to find the holder.  Then it was onto the really difficult part; arranging the balls just right so that not too many solids or stripes were together, and so that the solid and its corresponding stripe weren't touching, and even so that not too many warm or cool colors had ganged up... after another hour or so, the vision in my head was now a reality.

Jambo was a trooper.  He trekked around with me to find some vintage billiard balls that hold no significance beyond just my wanting them, just days after a serious health scare, and frankly I won on the snap.

The finished product.