Christmas war

Christmas season started three days ago. It's normally the time when I plant some wheat grains in saucers covered with cotton, and watch them grom through december, an ubiquitous tradition in South France, and a lovely excuse to have some extra plants growing around the house. This time, however, the bag with wheat grains is still sitting on the table, because on the 4th of December, the first day of holiday season, another pressing concern arose. War was declared in the household.

On mice.

I probably mentionned already that most of the buildings in the city centre are very old. Meaning, they date from the time when bricks were not that widely available, and so the walls are made of a variety of materials, ranging from the odd clay brick, to twigs, to mud, and probably lots of other things we don't suspect. It's great for insulation and rather picturesque when you have to replace a door, and it also makes an excellent home for mice, who can burrow as they please. As a result, cohabitation between mice and humans is more or less forced on us. We usually adjust; we store foor in boxes and get used to chasing the occasional rodent across the room, some people poison them, and life goes on. We even gave them cute names: Colette, Ginette, Georgette and the like, to keep things peaceful. My boyfriend and I don't use poison; I've seen a mouse die from it once, and that's not something we wish to inflict on a living creature unless it's us or it. We don't use traps that kill them either. We trap them in a little box, then release them in the park, where they can have a nice time adjusting back to the local food chain and buying weed from the local dealers (a large proportion of the population in that area), and everyone is happy.

That is, everyone was happy until recently. For some reason, they've figured out that they shouldn't go eat the piece of chocolate at the bottom of that little box. We tried installing an ultrasound repulsive. They got used to it. It started getting really uncomfortable when we realised that everytime we closed the curtains, there was a fair chance of a mouse cascading down and racing to the nearest cover (I don't know why they love curtains so much, but they certainly do). Hygiene was becoming a concern. And on Tuesday, on the very first day of the holiday season, the best day to declare a truce, they instead chose to overstep the final boundary.

Those beasts just squarely shat on my piano. On the keys. Right on the single spot on the house that never, ever has food on it.

Now that was just too much. I can't even imagine what nusiness they may have had crawling under the piano cover and leaving their presents there except pure spite. Enough was enough: I bought a large jar of plaster, and for the past three days, I've been flinging the whole flat upside down to find and fill in every little hole they might crawl through. Which is enough of a maddening task to make one completely paranoid. Mice can crawl through holes of any size. If you think "That's just too small, even for a mouse", you're underestimating them, period. So plastering took a while. Eventually, though, I think I managed to make the flat perfectly airtight.

There's only one problem left. I made it so airtight that a single mouse was trapped inside. It's been giving us hell for the past two nights. Today, when I plastered the last of the little holes, it tumbled straight on my back and careened behing the guirar recess. So I took away the guitars and it took refuge in the cupboard. I shook the cupboard and tried to scare it with the vacuum cleaner, but I couldn't see where it went.

Here we are now, sitting amid an ungodly mess, listening to the squeak of the ultrasound device and freezing because the door is wide open, as we tried to frighten it into getting the hell out of our flat and never bothering us again. So far, we have no idea where it is. The war is still ongoing. I hope we'll win before Christmas.


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