Saturday, September 7, 2013

Microcebus Murinus at Bear Cave

...and, Happy Saturday, fellow castaways!

I trust your week was fruitful, if not downright peachy.

I missed last week's post, because the Keith family had to get away. It was the first family vacation we've had in almost twenty years, believe it or not. We seem to have hit a point where all the medical specialists in Western Lower Michigan are comfortably making their car payments, so it was our turn to have some family time that didn't involve surgical waiting rooms or a massive, multicolored wire medusa stuck to someone's head after a sleepless night. So we took to it with Gusto.

We rented a cottage at a camp resort about an hour and a half away (little steps, people, little steps!) and settled in for a week of fishing, boating, and out-of-touch-with-all-electronics leisure.

And got what IT specialists refer to as "an undocumented feature.".

Maxwell showed up on the third day, eager to meet the new residents of the Manager's House (what the resort called our cottage. Long story, but it used to be the resort manager's house, several owners ago. Okay, I guess it wasn't such a long story, but there you go. It was a nice little place with two bedrooms and a pull-out sofa in the living room that had this bar--) *One hundred medieval soldiers on nearest hilltop scream, "Get on with it!*

Okay, so there was this mouse. A little gray rat-bag of a mouse that at least had the decency to not run over someone's face in their sleep, or gnaw through our Pop-Tart boxes before he showed up (albeit late on Wednesday night, without even bothering to knock. Oh, the nerve).

What is it about mice that draws them to females of our species? What is it about their timing that makes them always show up when the man of the house is engaged in manly functions not related to having immediate freedom of movement? O Mouse, must you rob Man even of his dignity? I was deeply involved with such a movement-restricting manly activity when an unearthly shriek was heard coming from the kitchen area of the house (the kitchen? Seriously? How stereotypical. This mouse obviously had no imagination).

Okay, so I had maybe this one shred of malicious glee, imagining the ages-old war erupting on the other side of the bathroom door with one micro-bear and three females of my species. Then I shook myself-- from my reverie (where was your mind?) and thoroughly washed my hands before dashing bravely into the living quarters, where my wife was perched screaming on a dining chair as my daughters dashed from refuge to vain refuge in various corners while this tiny gray shadow dashed furiously from corner to corner, under the couch, behind various appliances, and in general trying to cover as many square feet as it could at one time, with my gallant and courageous sons in hot pursuit, heaving shoes, fishing lures, and kitchen utensils in a manner that would have made George S. Patton cringe in terror. Where's a timed artillery barrage when you really need it?

With a battle cry handed down from father to son since the days my ancestors swung claymores and charged into action wearing kilts (not little dresses! Although they immobilized the enemy into helpless fits of laughter just before being hacked into little bits by claymore-wielding ancestors), I bellowed our traditional Nya-a-a-a-a-a-rgh!!! (c)  before wading into the fray.

The enemy was under the stove. My spinning rod was fit with a Hula-Popper. It was the perfect combination of floppy bits, metal hooks and tiny ends that would surely drag the fugitive into the open where it could be dispatched with authority and determination. Although, as I swept the weapon under the stove, I wondered where I would get a kilt with which to immobilize the creature by helpless fits of laughter before performing the dreadful deed. I am a traditionalist, after all.

After several minutes of fruitless mouse-fishing, I came to the conclusion the creature had chosen a tactical withdrawal, at least for the evening. We settled in for the long haul, switching sides on the living room floor (I would take the side closer to the kitchen). The kiddos settled into their beds on either end of the cottage, and the rest of the night passed in a tenuous state of detente.

The next day, we explained through sleep-starved lips at the camp store our exploits of the previous evening. The staff set us up with appropriate anti-cebus weaponry, and we set about laying out our ambuscades. With much-practiced hands (I grew up in Rodent Central, after all), I supplemented each bait tray with a smear of chunky peanut butter (Mice love peanut butter. Everybody loves peanut butter. Anyone who doesn't love peanut butter is a weirdo) and set them in various strategic locations, most notably beside the stove (The last place Maxwell was seen). After spending the daylight hours engaged in various leisure activities (Be jealous. Be very jealous), we retired for the evening.

Sometime in the night, our older daughter grunted and swatted at her face, thinking maybe Maxwell had just made a guerrilla raid on the residence. This triggered an instantaneous response from her sister, who raised the alert with a series of blood-curdling screams emitted in that frequency range and amplitude reserved for sonic weapons. In other words, from over in their room there arose such a clatter I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter. I promptly tripped over three fishing poles, a tackle box and three life preservers before stumbling into the room and clotheslining myself on a canoe paddle stretched across the doorway.

After determining the absence of threat, I assured the girls Maxwell would be more interested in the kitchen than the bedrooms, and spent the rest of the night in restless anxiety.

Sometime between the false alarm and the dawn creeping up over the eastern horixzon, however, Maxwell Mouse met his maker. We were almost sorry to see him thus undone, but what can you say. It's a war, son; no one comes out clean. The rest of the week remained largely uneventful, much to our relief. I think we actually slept the next night or two.

So what what do you do to relax?


  1. What do I do relax? Try to find and read posts like these. Mr. Keith, I could stop laughing. Thank you for posting.

  2. To relax, we spend a week walking around Disney World at a high rate of speed for 12 - 16 hours/day, trying to see and do everything. Your vacation sounds almost as relaxing as mine. Great post!

  3. Still giggling. So many fantastic lines in this post. You done good, Mr. K. We had many encounters in the middle of the night when our cat would catch a mouse, bring it indoors, and play with it in the bedroom hallway. Screaming daughters, barking dog, angry know. Been there, done that. As far as relaxing, I take a walk through the neighborhood. Thanks for starting off this rainy Monday with humor and fun!