Long time no blog. Not that I haven't been busy. I could talk about the fab apple salad I had at a Thai place. (I'll post the recipe some day.) Or the night when I wanted to make masaman curry and I discovered that I had every Thai curry paste you can buy in the U.S. except masaman curry. (So I made panang curry instead.) See, for the last several months I'd go into an Asian grocery store thinking "I'm out of curry paste" and I'd agonize over which curry I was out of (because I never wrote it down) and finally grab a tub of some curry, but it was never THE curry that I was actually out of. So I have multiple tubs of every other kind of Thai curry paste yet no masaman. But really, I want to talk about mice.
You see, that's my New Year's resolution: find a solution to the mouse problem.
I have mice. Too many mice. I know it's futile to try to get rid of all mice in a 150+ year old house, but if I could only keep them away from the kitchen. Away from the stove. Away from my drawers of kitchen utensils. I've tried traps. I don't think it's possible to buy enough traps to get all my mice, and my local store has been out of traps for weeks and weeks. (I suspect a major mouse invasion is going on across Southeast Michigan.) I've tried those silly things you plug in the walls that emit high-pitched noises that are supposed to drive mice crazy. They work for only a very short time, then the mice acclimatize to the sound. I had a major breakthrough when I moved the cat food out of the kitchen and into the middle of the dining room. The mice now have to cross a much larger open area to get to the cat food, which puts them at a much higher risk of getting caught by my cats. My seventeen year old cats. Okay, they are a spry seventeen, but they are still seventeen and I suspect their yearly take in mice is not what it was a few years ago.
Let me step backwards in time a bit. We've always had mice, but they had only been noticeable when their carcases turned up. (Thanks to the cats.) But in the last year they became much more problematic, finding ways into drawers and the stove. Yuck. Then one day I was cleaning out a large cupboard. I had a box with a lot of old, delicate glassware in it. I opened the box and discovered that the box was full of cat food. The d*mn mice were hoarding the cat food. They filled the box and all the glassware with catfood. I wish I had taken a picture, because at the time, while I was exploding in anger at this discovery, another part of me was laughing. I had to wash all that glassware. Some very beautiful delicate old juice glasses, trendy bar glasses from the 50s or 60s, and other weird stuff. And of course I broke a glass.
So I moved the cat food away from its kitchen nook that gave the mice such easy access to walls and cupboards for cover. Genius. Sheer genius. Until Joe suggested that wouldn't it be funny to sit down someday at the piano, tap a few keys, and hear "crunch crunch". So I peered behind the piano, and sure enough there was a brand new cat food stash. I cleaned that out and moved the cat food yet farther away from anything. I have yet to find any more cat food stashes. (And, no, I'm not switching 17 year old cats used to having 24/7 access to food to set feeding times.)
While I seem to have made the cat food more inaccessible to the mice, which I hope is putting some serious population pressure on them, I haven't yet thwarted them from exploring the kitchen stove and drawers. My current strategy is peppermint oil. (Not extract, but full strength oil.) Mice are supposed to be allergic to peppermint oil. I have cotton balls with drops of peppermint oil on them in my drawers and other places where the mice frequent. It seems to work -- mostly. I have to remember to refresh the cotton balls so the smell stays strong. Some days the kitchen smells all "fresh and tingly". I'm going to make my own peppermint scented cleaning liquid that I'll use to wipe down the counters. I think I'm on to something here. I only hope that the mice can't acclimatize to peppermint oil.