the lastest salvo in the rodent war
February 17, 2004
So this morning, as I'm sitting here beavering away in front of the machine, I notice a weird metallic clanging from the heating vent behind me just as the heater kicks on. Odd, I thought, then (mostly) forgot about it.
Until the dining room smoke detector started shrieking, that is, and the house filled with a strange smokey smell. No actual smoke, far as I could tell, just the smell, which was reminiscent of a bug slowly charring in a halogen lamp. I leap from my chair. Then the basement smoke alarm goes off. Still, no smoke just that smell.
After a minute of running around, I figure out that it would be a good idea to turn off the heat, which I do. I go into the basement, where I open up what I could of the furnace, which seems fine to me. (A note, here: I'm a writer, not an HVAC technician. This is a good thing.)
So I call the spouse. After a brief round of furnace Jeopardy, he decides to come home.
It dawns on me, suddenly, that Mooch had been acting strangely (that is--more strange than usual) all morning. He spent his a.m. lounging on the office heating vent while staring down it, something that he never, ever has done before. Like the weird clanging noise, I filed it away and (mostly) forgot about it.
Scott comes home. I tell him about Mooch's (relative) weirdness. We come to the conclusion that he's probably dropped a toy down the vent, hence the clanging, then the smell. Still, it would be better to remove it, just in case it should catch on fire or emit toxic fumes or something.
You might be able to see where this is going.
Scott descends into the basement. (Another note: our basement is best enjoyed by folks under 4'11". Scott and I are both taller than that. By a lot.) More clanging ensues.
"It's a toy mouse," he calls from the basement. "Wait, no, it smells too organic for that." "Organic" is his word. But he's right.
Problem is, he can't see into the heat exchanger very well, given the ductwork and the low clearance. We try to remember where we have a small mirror. I lament that this is one of the few times that it would be great if I wore make-up regularly enough that I carried a compact. The Diva's room is searched and a book with an attached mirror is found.
It turns out to not be needed. I follow Scott back into the basement, bash my head on a duct corner and contort myself in front of the tiny hatchway into the belly of the furnace. I'm just enough shorter than Scott that I can get a better angle on what is stuck in there. It is a nicely charred mouse.
Old salad tongs are located. I try to remove said barbecued vermin, but just push it deeper, past the point where we can reach it with the tongs. Scott dashes up the stairs and returns with a pointed stick (at this point, imagine reading that with a Monty Python cant to the words, which is exactly how Scott said it. Giggling occurs.)
The mouse is jabbed at with the pointed stick. No luck. It can be speared, but we just seem to be pushing it further into a spot we can't get to without taking the entire furnace apart. It is, at least, no longer on the parts of the thing that get very, very hot, which should end the burning meat odor. Which is something.
During the mouse-poking, I have the brilliant idea of pulling the filter out to see if I could get to the crispy critter that way. The answer would be no. However, I did find the fairly fresh remains, uncooked, of yet another mouse, one who had clearly chewed through the filter and had been decapitated by a turbine or something. You don't want to know what it looked like.
Through all of this, Mooch sat at the top of the basement steps and watched us with rapt (for a cat) enthusiasm. Near as we can figure, he injured a mouse, which either scampered or was dropped down the office vent. If something more sinister happened, I'd prefer to be kept in the dark.
So--for those keeping score, Mooch is no longer useless. Not all that helpful, granted, but not useless.
When I houseshared we had three cats, one, a ginger stray called Horris, was the weirdest cat I have ever come across. Used to sit facing corners, for ages, purring.
He also used to sit very close to you, but never on you, and stare, purring.
One night I came from the living room into the kitchen to make a cuppa and something caught my eye. Horris. Sat on the cooker, a mouse on the floor, toes up with a little blood around it. Next to Horris was a miniature mickey mouse hat. He'd bitten off the top of it's skull so a little cap, ears and all was made. He sat there staring and purring.
ps. If the skull of the mouse had been empty I would have moved.
Posted by: rob | February 18, 2004 at 04:50 AM
Yeeg, rob. You win. Whatever happened to Horris?
Posted by: Adrienne | February 18, 2004 at 11:37 AM
Our house was part of a terrace that had a rear garden, the terrace was a quad, hence all rear gardens connected. One of the lads noticed a pensioner waving insanely at him one afternoon. It turned out that Horris was her cat and had just been slumming. His 'owner' used to put out his food everyday anyway, bleeder was getting double portions. When the house split up he had to find another bunch of suckers to by his cat food. He was laughing at us the entire time; but that's what cats do I suppose.
Posted by: rob | February 19, 2004 at 12:58 PM
have you had any more rodent barbecues?
Posted by: rob | February 19, 2004 at 01:00 PM
Not yet--but the day is still young.
Posted by: Adrienne | February 19, 2004 at 02:57 PM