Should I be scared?

I live in an old house, and like a lot of old houses, it has it’s problems. Doors are rarely square, so when there is a sudden shift in humidity, they can tend to bind. Windows are problematical at keeping out winds. And one thing that can be truly disturbing, it seems to be impossible to close the place up well enough to keep mice out.

To be sitting up, late at night, trying to write, and hear the skittering of tiny feet in the wall is a singularly distracting thing…topped only by seeing one of them scampering across the floor in the same situation. So I set out traps to try to catch them, old-fashioned spring-loaded ‘snapper’ traps that aren’t designed to take mice alive. They work surprisingly well, and are hard beat, or to ‘pick’ without tripping. So when I started setting a trap in the basement to try to make sure there were no mice down there, I thought I’d be getting a few mice, but no mysteries.

Then, the trap began to lose its bait…and not once, but several times.

I tried working the bait into the lever, trying to make it harder to pilfer, but that did nothing more than extend the time it took for it to be picked clean. So I knew I had either a very smart or a very determined mouse on my hands.

Then, last Monday, I went down to check to see if the trap had been tripped, or if it was without bait again…and couldn’t find the trap. It wasn’t lying nearby with a dead mouse in it. It hadn’t been tripped by some object (or animal) and lying nearby either.

It was just…gone.

So now I have a conundrum: am I faced with an extremely smart mouse, a larger animal that’s managed to sneak into my residence and drag off my trap…or is something else going on? Should I begin worrying about ‘things that go bump in the night’?

The cold season starts

Northern Illinois is no stranger to cold weather. It’s one of our seasons (along with ‘just right’, ‘too hot!’ and ‘damn, I *hate* leaves’), and we have all manner of ways to mark the beginning of the cold season. First day when it’s too cold outside to stay out without a coat. First hard freeze. First time you have to turn the furnace on.

One event that truly marks the beginning of the cold season is the first accumulating snowfall. This can happen as early as Halloween, but then it’s usually just enough to turn the lawn white overnight. So far this year, we’ve had no snowfall at all, at least none that’s reached the surface…until today.

It wasn’t really a surprise. After all, the weather people had been predicting we’d not only get an accumulating snowfall, but a couple of inches of it, for a couple of days before the event.

But boy, did they get that amount prediction wrong!

When I got out of bed this morning, we already had a couple of inches on the ground, and it continued to snow, with only brief respites, through the whole day. It finally tapered off to just the occasional snow shower about sunset (or what the clock insisted sunset would be, we having seen nothing of that orb today). By that time, I had somewhere around six inches of snow on the ground (measured by that infallible device known as the top of my winter boots!) and the temperatures were preparing to drop.

We were fortunate that there was virtually no wind with the snow, or there would be chest-high drifts all over the place, but it is a rude awakening. Tomorrow morning, I’ll go ‘earn’ my breakfast by shoveling the sidewalks off (I don’t shovel during a storm, as it’s a waste of effort, and there are predictions that we might get further snow showers overnight), but one thing is perfectly clear:

So the cold season is here, and we can either deal with it, or run away and hide some place warm…and I’m not worth squat at running.