Unwanted Gifts, Ahead by a Whisker

slinky on the desk

Slinky lounging on my desk

I’m ready to pull my hair out, but I’m having a hot cup of tea instead. I’m trying to sooth my nerves. A curled up Slinky sits next to me on the desk and the leaves outside my window are finally turning orange. Breathe, Alys, breathe.

We have a standing joke that when my husband travels on long business trips, something in the house breaks.  I think of myself as capable in a crisis, but computers and home appliances are generally outside of my purview.  He left town late Thursday, and on Friday the dishwasher stopped working. Initially, I refused to believe it. It was one of those weeks. I played with the buttons, hoping it was just the light. Next I went outside and checked the fuse box. All appeared to be in order, but I reset it anyway and came back inside. No luck. I got down on my knees to see if the machine came unplugged. Isn’t it nice when it’s something that obvious? That’s when I saw the frayed cord. Chewed, actually. Did I mention the unwanted gift?

mouse looking round

Mouse doing his Butterball turkey impression

Mouse (a cat) likes to catch rats (alive and well) and bring them in the house. The cat flap is now firmly closed and any open door carefully monitored. You know what they say about hindsight. Mouse brought us a gift anyway, and it’s alive and well, living in a little condo formerly known as my under-sink cabinet. There is a small hole to allow the hose and plug to the dishwasher to pass under the sink. The other side of the cabinet has a similar opening for a water pipe. For a week  now, the rat has been passing between the two holes, but firmly out of reach.  My oldest son made a humane rat trap based on internet research, but the rat apparently has a Ph.D. and refused to fall for it. We tried two different containers, baited with delicious peanut butter and crackers but to no avail.  We put down a ‘test cracker’ to be sure he was still coming around and that cracker disappeared.  Clever rodent.

Last night I found a small, humane trap online at Home Depot. I stopped by the local store this morning, but it isn’t in stock. The smaller size is only available online. The store clerk, a kind and helpful man, tried to order it for me three times using my credit card. The system kept sending a message that the account number and address didn’t match. Of course they did, but we reentered it again and again to no avail.  After several more attempts using two different credit cards and finally PayPal, the annoying message persisted.

Back home I called around, still hoping to get my hands on a small, humane trap in town. The Humane Society doesn’t sell them, and the traps available at Lowe’s and Home Depot are for larger animals.  Desperate to get my hands on a trap, I called the Home Depot 800 number and explained the problem. She said I would have to call my financial institution to clear the hold on my account.

I called my credit union and they told me I didn’t have a hold on my account. I logged on to see if there was  a problem with the first credit card I tried using and found four separate charges to Home Depot, each for one dollar.

target home depot screen capture

Pending transactions?

Don’t worry, the tea is helping and I still have most of my hair. I’m trying to breathe in and out with the rhythm of the cat. Breathe…breathe…breathe.

I made a note of Target’s 800 number and gave them a call. I pushed numbers and pound signs and cycled through the proffered choices. A recorded voice told me my balance, the date of my last payment, my recent charges…pretty much everything but what to do about those charges and how to make my card work again.

The game’s not over yet, but I’m sitting on the bench for a spell. I don’t know the current score, but I’m pretty sure the rat is ahead by more than a whisker.

44 thoughts on “Unwanted Gifts, Ahead by a Whisker

  1. Oh my word!! A rodent chewing through the wires is a big deal. Catching that rodent a bigger deal. I feel your anxiety and am taking some breaths for you as well. I think I’d be hyperventilating about now. And not feeling very humane. Please keep us posted.

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  2. Oh Alys….I feel your frustration. While I was still an Army wife we would joke about this phenomenon. ….the Post would empty of men, we would have a couple of peaceful days and then the car would have a flat tire…..the next door neighbor would have two down with chicken pox, and a ball would crack the living room window……Thankfully, we had each other and AAA…….you have your friends too.

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  3. Oh my giddy aunt! I know you are dealing with a lot right now and this has to be the final straw! Them rats are pesky things and do not give up their nice warm apartments easily!
    I know because once I had a rat take up residence in the top of a dishwasher. AND that rat was also brought inside by a cat. AND that cat was also a cat that had chosen to move in with us. AND he was also white. Moreover the rat had first of all been brought to me in my bedroom and into my bed by said cat who was quite surprised that I wasn’t happy with his gift!

    I left the front door open all night, having constructed a passage way that guided the rat out the front door and thought that was the end of that.

    Sometime later I discovered that a corner of the carpet had been lifted and the underlay torn out. I blamed the cats – we had three at the time. But the carpet continued to be interfered with, always at night and the underlay, a kind of fibrous material, was being torn out and slowly disappearing.

    I didn’t use my dish washer very often but one day loaded it up and turned it on and a way into the cycle the most foul aroma wafted through the house. We pulled the dishwasher out and investigated and could see nothing. A few days later I ran it again, mainly to see if it still smelled – why, yes it did. We pulled it out again and this time saw some of the missing underlay hanging out of a gap at the top of the machine, between the outer cabinet and the inner workings.

    Long story short – the rat had found a most cosy apartment and wasn’t about to leave. The dish washer was destroyed in the process of eviction and the rat who was a particularly mean and unlikable fellow hissed and swore at us the whole time. With the cats circling we finally heaved the entire dish washer out the back door and rolled it down a hill. The rat leapt out and was last seen being pursued by three cats racing into the bush [forest if outside of NZ]

    I hope you have an easier time of it – But in the meantime, just remember that when it is over and done with it will make such a good story to dine out on! 🙂 xoxo

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  4. Sounds like all the planets have aligned for a rare week of craziness. Thank goodness for cute kitties and “yes”, butterball indeed, LOL. Mr Mouse looks like his legs are really short.

    On the safe side, I’d actually would unplug a frayed cord hon. Those kinds of things can cause fires. I already do not enjoy shopping at Home Depot, so that would have been so frustrating. The Home Depot here is so big, it takes forever to wander around and find things. When you do find help, they’re very nice but the employees seem few and far between. I prefer our local Home Hardware. They’re small family owned operations and they’ll order you just about anything you need. Jim even had them order my aqua bike. Had you considered calling a pest control company to see if any of them use humane traps? Just thinking of their poo’s in the house is enough to unsettle your nerves. I hope Mike’s home soon so he can help. Good for you to try and manage it on your own Alys, enjoy your lovely tea! xoxox

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    • Mouse is definitely taking on some winter padding. His fur has gotten so thick, too.

      As soon as I saw the frayed cord I unplugged it as I too worried about a fire on top of everything else. I check under the sink several times a day to be sure he doesn’t nibble on the garbage disposal cord.

      Home Depot here is much the same. Big, sprawling and sparsely employed. Since it’s such an odd item, I wasn’t sure the smaller stores would have them, but you know it is possible. Good point. We don’t really have any privately owned stores anymore, sad to say. Orchard Supply Hardware was recently purchased by Lowe’s after filing for bankruptcy. They just can’t compete.

      I didn’t think about calling a pest control company. That too is a great idea. I’m so glad you logged on with these tips. I’m going to check right now.

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          • Exactly! My snake expert (yes, I had to find one) said that the snake come in for the food (rodents) and then can’t get back out. My rodent entrance was the dryer vent to the outdoors.

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            • Ah. So have you sealed everything up for the winter?

              Of course in my case the cat brought the rat in through the door. I can only blame myself. The cat flap is on permanent shutdown. I don’t want to go through this again.

              The other problem is the torn corner of our screen door. It’s been repaired and replaced, but then someone walks into it and the screening gets loose. It’s another problem to address, though less so this time of year. Have a good, snake-free, weekend.

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    • Such excellent practical advice Boomdee – why didn’t we all think of a pest control company? And quite frankly humane – shumane! Just get it out before it eats everything and pees and poos everywhere!! But bless you Alys for your wonderful, wonderful heart! 🙂

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  5. Hi, So you’re not planning to adopt a pet rat any time soon? My sister has a rat which has been living in her house for almost a year now. ‘Monkey’ was brought home by her eldest daughter from a student placement at a regional zoo. Lily decided that Fate had taken a hand when she discovered the rat had escaped from its cage where it was being held before it became food for one of the raptors, or reptiles or Tasmanian devils. So she brought it home much to her mother’s delight (not!).

    ‘Monkey’ now lives a life of rat luxury getting to hang out with its large friend,’Stormageddon’, the guinea pig and being fed peanut butter from the tips of Lily’s finger tips.

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  6. Ever since Mr Snail went to work away from home 10 weeks ago, I have had things going wrong… the shower, then (separate incident) the ceiling switch for the shower, gale force winds nearly destroying the fence, hens sleeping in the hedge on a wild night because their house door had blown closed… and finally this week, the opening window in the greenhouse being ripped off (no idea how that happened). I also had a mobile phone billing issue that ended up being resolved by a call to a very helpful lady in India. So far I haven’t had credit card problems… perhaps those are next.
    I really hope that you manage to deal with the rat before any more damage is done… at this stage ‘humane’ would be becoming less appealing to me!

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  7. Well, I haven’t been troubled by rats, but, like you, I am feeling the need to breathe, breathe, breathe……Question? Why aren’t dishwashers made rat proof? That would be a good selling point. Forget about energy stars; let’s have rat proof certification!

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  8. Oh you poor thing Alys. I also find tea helps in such situations. He sounds like a clever fella. We had a dormouse in our kitchen last summer. I was half awake putting my coffee on one morning and saw his bushy tail flash along the top of the kitchen cupboards! We dismantled the whole cabinet, twice, and filled in the disused air vent he had found his way through, but we still hear him behind the wall sometimes…. he clearly lives in a niche getting in and out through the vent opening outside – on the roof, too high for us to reach! His entry to the kitchen is definitely closed off now though! Good luck with all the associated problems that have cropped up. Hope hubby can help when he returns too!

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    • Thanks so much for understanding, Cathy. They say closing off access is always the best deterrent, but as you say, not always practical. I’ve ordered a humane trap and expect it soon. Meanwhile, not a peep in the last 24 hours and untouched piece of pear. Hard to know what to think. Meanwhile, I’m trying to get out an appliance repair person, not easy as we go into a holiday week. xox

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  9. sorry..pressed send by accident…But yes disaster strikes when husbands disapper ;0) Remedy indeed: a deep breath, a cup of tea, analyzing the options, choose best, problem solved, receive rewards from grateful sons and husbands!

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  10. Problems like these are not catastrophic but they are so distressing, time consuming (physically and mentally), and take focus off of other things.
    Sending calming thoughts to go along with that tea, and good luck in getting this resolved!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Looks like rats and mice are all the news at the moment – my next door neighbour has had a terrible problem recently. Some vermin were camping out in my daughter’s Wendy house but I think they have gone now…. Hope you get everything sorted, anyway!

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  12. Pingback: The Unexpected | Gardening Nirvana

  13. Pingback: A Rat With a Ph.D. | Gardening Nirvana

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