Saturday, October 31, 2009

The creature, unmasked

The other day I wrote about scary words coming from my basement.

Today it was scary sounds.

The Terminix man was here, making a racket. Pound pound pound. Chip, chip. Then, the sound of wood chips falling down. Maddie lay on her bed, her ears up. She looked anxiously at me, then to the basement door, then back to me.

The man's name was Gordon Barnes. Sounded to me like a character out of Hemingway. Terminix was supposed to send someone last week. I waited the three-hour window, but they stood me up. I didn't care. I didn't want to see them anyway, until every night I remembered the reason I had called.

The creature runs around in my walls and in my ceiling every night. It scratches, claws, scuttles. It is so loud that it wakes me up. I imagine a huge claw coming through the ceiling or a scary creature falling through. My friend Karen said it actually happened to a friend of hers: A raccoon fell through her ceiling. Thanks, Karen.

After the creature woke me up the other night, I decided to call Terminix again. We all need our sleep, especially those with health issues. Gordon Barnes called and said he'd be over.

First stop, the attic. He said he found mouse droppings and even one dead mouse. Although there is no attic over my bedroom, he said there is a vent through which mice could travel. So the creature is probably a mouse or mice. I asked him what he did with the dead one. "Left it up there. It's dead anyway," he said. "Ummmm, do you think you could get it for me?" I asked. He guessed he could, and he went up and brought it down in a bag.

Maddie went over to examine the Terminix guy's measuring
wheel. For back-up, she brought her teddy bear.

Next stop, the basement. The basement is unfinished, with big old tree trunks and ancient beams the major supports. Anyone who goes down there sees trouble. There is evidence of old powder post beetle and termite damage. Sure enough, Gordon came up triumphantly waving a piece of rotten wood showing the lines made by termites and the holes bored by powder post beetles.

"If you've never been treated, you really should be," he said, explaining that although he didn't see any evidence of present activity, you never know when there could be some. "I'm sure it's been treated at some time," I said. Yes, but...he went back to "If you've never been treated" and I said the same thing I said before. He still had that piece of rotten wood in his hand. I was getting itchy.

When he went outside to measure the house, I fished through some papers, and, miraculously, found the piece of paper saying Terminix had treated for powder post beetles in 2006. Ah ha! When I told him, he was surprised that they hadn't followed through with their promised yearly inspections. These are things I just don't remember to think about. So he said never mind about treating again and he will check in with the office about why they haven't followed through.

Anyway, he wants to charge $450 for a service contract that basically amounts to setting mousetraps now and spraying for bugs in the spring and summer. They do not come and reset the traps, although they will pick them up and throw them away. Sounds like a lot of money for not much.

Anyone want to come over and have a mouse-trap-setting party? I will supply coffee and dessert. It will be so much fun! Come on over, and I'll let you paint my picket fence if you give me an apple.

He also thinks I should treat for the non-existent termites ($1,281) and get the attic insulated with insulation made of boric acid, which repels pests and mice ($700, price negotiable.) He said I'm probably losing 30 percent of my heat through that attic. I'm thinking about doing the insulation, but I'm not excited about the termite treatment.

They use an insecticide called Termidor to get the termites. I asked Gordon for more information and he gave me a raft of papers. I am going to take it to Dana-Farber with me on Monday. Sounds pretty yukky to me...and like money I don't want to spend for something that's not there.

In the meantime, at least I know that my creature is only a mouse. Still, if it falls out of the ceiling before the mouse traps get set, I bet that Susie will hear me scream all the way in Australia.


Nelle said...

My old house was on a two acre property that was across the street from a field and backed a farm. I had lots of field mice over the years. I set traps and I hated it but kept thinking about the germs that I shouldn't be around. Is it possible that some friend could empty these for you? If I were closer I would do it. The Terminix guy wanted to set glue traps and I felt they were not as humane and overpriced. I did have a termite infestation and instead of having the house sprayed, I had feeding stations set in the ground around the perimeter of my house. Very expensive and they were monitored monthly. IF you have termites you usually see evidence such as a swarm I think. Good luck with all of the unwelcome invaders.

Anonymous said...

Oh the picture of the mouse was adorable but still I would not want to share my home while immuosuppressed with a rodent.

Thanks for the sweet update and keep on going and living life.

Diane said...

We've had the Terminix people on a regular basis and I believe it has saved us in the long run in terms of possible serious damage to the house. We've also had numerous pests and rodents (hornets nest, mice, a rat or two, and many bats) and the guys who come over to set the traps, or close up holes in the foundation or roof, are well worth it from my perspective.

Baldylocks said...

I just wanted to pop in and say hi. I also had AML and have had a bone marrow transplant from my brother. I was quite surprised to hear of you and that you've had 3 transplants. That's absolutely amazing.

Anonymous said...

I have an idea: get a cat! No chemicals and Maddie would have a live-in friend!

donna said...

I mistakenly didn't sign my comment about getting a cat. Sorry. (A new kitty would be cute!)

PJ said...

The cat is actually your best bet but they also pose disease problems. A kitten would be nice for Maddie.

We have lots of critters here but my husband doesn't mind dealing with traps. I think they have "box" traps that spare you the gory details. May make it easier to get a friend to periodically remove them.

Lori said...

Well, having just read your last 2 blogs, I can identify with the preceding one. We just put in a new high efficiency heating system last week because when we also turned on the heat, nothing happened. Bay State Gas came here too and this was the result. I'm glad that your outcome was much less costly than ours, as it threw my husband for a loop!
As for teaching you Yiddush, I can supplement Deb's vocabulary whenever the description applies. Some words just pop into my mind when I least expect them and seem to be the perfect language for many situations! Keep up your positive vibes and get out for walks as often as you can so you can take a break from household necessities.

Anonymous said...

I had a mouse problem a few years back, and found the inexpensive old fashioned spring-based mouse traps to be most effective, as well as humane. Set them on top of a section of newspaper, so when the job is done, you or whoever can just roll up the newspaper and not have to touch anything. A dollop of peanut butter makes a nice fragrant lure, or cheese. Good luck!
Katie (Diane's friend)

Pat Fox said...

I have been following your blog for sometime now. My 26 year old son has been battling Lymphoblastic Lymphoma for 2 1/2 years now, with his bone marrow transplant 11 months ago. You have been an inspiration to us.

As far as your mice problems, I have to agree with a few other comments - that is to get a cat, as long as you can get someone to clean the litter box for you. I was always a dog person until my daughter begged for a cat. We got our cat from the local animal shelter and then took her to the vet to get spayed and shots. Total cost after vet was $200. Our cat is very dog-like. Loves to play - fetch and peek-a-boo and is very cuddly.
Good luck