Thursday, July 8, 2010

Am I a woman or a mouse?

Owning a home on your own can be so daunting at times. I don't have stellar home repair skills, and, while I've tried to develop some on my own, I really think I'm a "show me" type of learner. For example, just after Christmas, I decided I was going to learn to use the electric drill. The drill is also known as the power tool that scares me crazy. Nonetheless, I read everything I could online, got out my new bits, got out Mr. Drill, and started on my first drilling project. I was going to hang the new curtain rod above my sink. I followed instructions (with a reassuring phone call in the middle to my cousin-in-law Patrick), and -- hot dog! -- got that rod up there. Hung the curtain, put away all the tools. Job well done.

An hour later, the entire thing fell down.
Yes, fine, I WILL try again (I swear, even though it's now been six months...), but this gives you an indication of the kind of frustration I feel about home ownership. And about being alone to handle everything that comes with it.

So, imagine if you will, the upset, the anguish, the unholy angst I suffered when I was invaded by mice last fall. I am not only an extraordinarily clean housekeeper and a germaphobic, but I am deathly, horribly afraid of mice. I can't watch Ben and Jerry, and even Mickey freaks me out a bit. Real mice? We're talking tears, anxiety attacks, and the inability to sleep. Cape Cod Pest Pros to the rescue. Thank you, Dan and company!

The pest company cleaned out the mice, but I was left with fear. Stark fear. I-don't-want=to-go-to-the-cellar-even-though-the-washer-and-dryer-are-down-there fear. Fear that lasted all winter long, through the spring, and into the present. 

The saga got even better in February. That's when I went to the basement to find that I'd been hit with a buzzing blizzard of big fat flies on the wall above my dehumidifier. I swatted and sprayed until they were gone, but who knew what had caused a fly attack in the middle of winter?
Well, finally I figured it out. It would seem that an errant mouse had eaten the pest poison and been attracted to the water in the dehumidifer. Made sense, right? Unfortunately, there was NO WAY I was going to check it out.

Summer began, and with it the famous Massachusetts humidity (Cape Cod weather goes like this: January, February, March, March, March, March, BAM! -- JULY!). My basement was humid and wet to the point of water glistening on the cement walls. It was time to turn on the dehumidifier. One problem...there was a mouse in there.

I put it off. Then put it off again. When I ran downstairs to get a roll of paper towels, the sheets of paper felt damp and limp. Still, I just couldn't confront the dead mouse floating in the water of my dehumidifier.

That's when I read a post by the inspirational Donna, the capable directress of one of my favorite blogs, Funky Junk Interiors.

Gitter Done, my muse told us. Take that project, that chore, that whatever it is you've been procrastinating on doing, and gosh, darn it, do it. And Donna even demonstrated her own "Gitter Done" project, just to show she meant it. Later that day, I went downstairs to do the laundry, and came back up with the basket still in my hands. It was really, really wet down there.

Maybe it's time to gitter done.

The next morning, I reread Donna's exhortations again. Gitter done. Gitter done. Git it off your mind and gitter done

"Okay, Donna," I decided on my drive home after work. "I'm gonna do it!" Yes, I was going to take my courage in hand, and confront that slimy, nasty dead mouse, clean it out, and get my dehumidifier going.

At home, I changed into my grubbiest clothing, donned an enormous pair of Big Bird yellow rubber gloves, and headed down to the basement.

My heart was pounding hard.

"You're strong, you're brave. You can do this," I said into the dank, dark air of the basement.

I squatted in front of the dehumidifier. I was shaking a little, but I took a deep breath, grabbed hold of the water reservoir, and prepared to come face to face with the mouse. One big pull....and there it was.

No mouse.

I repeat,


So do you know what this means?

I'm sorry to say that it means that all the terror, all the worry, all the big, fat, sobbing tears were

All. Over. Nothing.

I know this is a strange and long Gitter Done entry. But it's taught me something very important about myself and what I can do. I hope that I've learned once and for all that it's utterly futile to dread something which turns out to be far more horrible in my imagination than it can ever be in real life.

And I've especially learned that I have to stop being so intimidated by small things -- and even big things -- that I don't think I can do. Nothing in this ridiculous incident hurt me except my own foolish, scaredy-cat self. And when I finally took myself in hand, and acted, I earned myself not just an end to my worry, but a certain sense of pride, too. Okay, it's a rather pathetic pride, but it's pride. And, by the way, I got something else out of this silly little saga.

A dry cellar.

FJI's Gitter Done! challenge


  1. (wildly clapping with a standing ovation here!!)

    Oh gosh.. what a great story! And finale to boot. And you're a writer too! (squeal!) I'm so glad you took on the challenge. I'm with spiders like you're with mice so I GET IT.

    Well done this episode. Dare I even assume you may knock another dread off your list for the next event?!? :)


  2. Awesome! What a great story of courage and woman-ess and stark reality. I could relate, I really could, but I am not a sole homeowner... mice aren't my department (thank goodness). A+ on your "Gitter Done"!

  3. Great story Judith, so glad you over came your fear. Gotter Done!!!

  4. YEAH!!!! Good for you!!! I am do what i am not sure but i am inspired!!! LOL

  5. OMG, I laughed my fanny off with this. I could truly feel all the pain and agony you went thru, and just imagaine you with your big yellow gloves. You are hilarious!

  6. Wonderful post!!! I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. I can totally relate with your story and everytime something like this happens to me I could kick myself for wasting time and energy..which we all know is very precious these days. I look at it this way...the next time I start to get into the same mindset, I think back and it snaps me right out of my worry and I tackle it head on. It has made me stronger and a better person. Thanks again for sharing a great story!!!

  7. Diana Rohini LaVigneJuly 10, 2010 at 12:43 PM

    Thanks for sharing the story! Very entertaining.

  8. OMGosh! I sooo feel your pain! I live in the woods of Tennessee and we have just this year (after 10 of bein here) got mice. Bad. Our kitchen is divided in half by a wall. The one side is called "the backside" of the kitchen. The Backside is where we have floor to ceiling (almost) shelves for food storage. The cat likes to hang out back there- no-one will bug her (she's a snobby manx), and as we found do the mice. The attic is exposed up at the top (this room is unfinished). well, I had (yes had) a box full of packages of macaroni noodles. 30 or so. The mice ate through 16 bags of noodles. 16! Most of which were completely empty! UGH! Now no-one goes back there without a flashlight (no lights back there) or we just say forget it and wait til the next day! We are such a bunch of wimps! My mice were consistently being caught on top of the fridge. A friend told me they were going behind and under to get to the drip pan down there. OH GROSS! We seem to have gotten rid of them for now. wish me luck! Now for the fleas they seem to have brought with them........

  9. Hi Jude, I just found you from BNOTP, and I am going to be your newest follower. This post SO speaks to me, except my fear is that something else is in my basement and it begins with s and rhymes with rake--see, I can't even write it!!! I'll consider your "gitter done" plan! We just returned from the Cape--have spent LOTS of time there over the years and as we were floating in the gentle water of Brewster my hubby actually said he would like to retire to the Cape! One of my dreams. I know from working and living there in summers about the humidity and I'm sure I will have a different attitude about tourists if I ever get to be a real native:) Come see my post on a Cape Cod table which I did for Susan's TTh. Looking forward to many more interesting ideas from you! Linda


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