The Divine Banner/Mouse Debacle

Tales from the ranch…

I had a brilliant idea yesterday that went horrible awry.

If you’re like me and you’ve had a couple of kids, you might want to hit the potty before you read further because I know I would’ve appreciated the warning before what happened yesterday…happened.

The new house is finished, and I was knee deep in sorting through all the stuff in my husband’s office. At one time, we shared his workspace, which was next to our house. During the year I wrote in his office, I accumulated several Divine Creek Ranch book series banners from conventions I’d attended. They were beautiful, colorful, and most importantly—expensive, so they didn’t just get thrown out after the cons were over. They were designed to be reused if necessary, and okay, I’ll be honest, I’d have a hard time throwing them away. They’re part of my history. I’m sentimental that way.

So they’ve been in the office for two to three years.

Did I mention we live out in the country, surrounded by gorgeous ranches and verdant pastureland?


Yesterday, I’m getting my FlyLady groove on. The bed is made, my swish-and-swipe is a distant memory, I’ve got a bag in hand and doing the 15-thing-fling. I’m going through boxes of his office stuff, trashing what we no longer need and organizing the rest, and I get to those banners in their handy paper tubes. They need to be moved into my office because as it happens, I do have a small, private event coming up where they’d provide festive color. My brilliant idea, right?

I was standing in the living room, while Juliet (my teenaged daughter) was making her breakfast, and my son, (fondly known online as Brattley) was playing Minecraft on his Kindle. They are my witnesses that this really happened.

I picked up the first tube, which was missing one of its end caps, and I’m jimmying with the part of the banner that had unrolled a bit and come out of the tube. I hate disorganized things and that just bugged me. So I held the tube and I gave the section pooching out a gentle pop to get it to go back inside the tube. It didn’t budge.

What happened next still gives me chills and makes my stomach wobble.

I gave that tube another, less gentle, swat and the other end cap popped off.

I gasp in horror as my formerly vanilla jasmine-scented living room is filled with the most incredibly roguish odor.

Looking down, I realize the inner part of that end cap is covered in fur and other…stuff. And it’s on my floor. *shudder*

Screaming ensues.

Juliet: “What is that?! Ohmygawdisitalive?!”

Me: “Open the back door!” *gagging*

Brattley (thinks he is in trouble because he is the ‘King of Gross’ in our house) : “What did I do?”

Me: “Nothing, just open the back door! Now!”

Juliet is doing the ‘girlie hopping up and down while flapping her hands dance’ and I’m SO not helping because I’m still screaming and flapping my hands as well.

Brattley is the only one who has it together.

He sets aside the Kindle, cautiously approaches the tube/banner/object of utter foulness, which by this point has extended itself to about seven or eight feet, and negotiates passage out the back door. At this point, I’m thanking God the dogs are penned up because they would’ve been all over that mess.

Back in the Rainier living room, I’m struggling with the urge to be sick, trying to keep my mature adult exterior intact for the sake of my kids, while sincerely wanting to do my own version of the gross-me-out-hop-up-and-down-and-flap-my-hands dance.

There’s no describing that stench. In my house. My sanctuary. My haven–now defiled.

I don’t want to look too close at the furry detritus from the tube as I mourn the loss of that banner. It was pretty and pricey–and now it’s garbage.

Brattley comes back in, his eyes filled with the dark glee only the mother of a thirteen-year-old boy can understand. “It was a mouse, I think.” He goes on to expound about the critter but I’ll save you the details.

I still have a mess to deal with. I have to act. Adults act in this situations, I keep telling myself. There’s no telling when Mr R will be back and that can’t sit there all day because we all know Juliet and Brattley aren’t going to clean it up, not to my satisfaction (disposing of mess, scouring, scrubbing, and bleaching the living room floor). I wonder briefly if they rent flame throwers.

I surmise that the little critter had decided the long sturdy tube would make a perfect hidey-hole and he’d set up housekeeping. During a subsequent tidy-up of the office, Mr. R must’ve relocated the banner tube so it stood upright in a corner, thus trapping its inhabitant.

I vaguely recall Mr. R. complaining about an odor out there but we’d assumed a varmint had died under the office. We live out in the country and stuff like that happens. Unless someone is willing to crawl under the pier and beam foundation to investigate, it’s staying there until nature takes its course. The odor eventually faded into memory.

But none of that helps the fact that I have a situation I have to deal with.

I suck it up. I find the broom but the dustpan is MIA. When I was growing up, we made-do a lot. If there was no dustpan we used paper, cardboard, whatever flat, disposable item we had for a dustpan. My brilliant solution—because we are coming to my second brilliant idea–is to get a couple of pieces of 12×12 card stock from my scrapbook supplies. I’ll improvise my own dustpan, damn it!

I sweep the mess up, noting unwillingly that the mouse had an excellent diet and gastrointestinal health and that I may just have to burn the house down because EW! *shudder*

I get it all on the paper and realize that it’s also stuck in my brand new broom.

I take a break to find the Maalox and get a gulp of fresh air. At least it’s a beautiful day.

I lift the paper, containing the nasty fur-encrusted end cap, the mouse poops, and other heinous ick, and carefully make my way to the back door because I plan to ditch the mess directly into the dumpster.

In the home stretch, I cruise carefully down the long back porch, hit the corner on the carport where the dumpster is located, and realize I’ve forgotten a vital fact.

It’s windy, like really windy.

Yes. See this is why I warned you to pee first, and go ahead and set your coffee cup down now.

The wind took that flimsy piece of card stock, bent it backward, and flipped all that shit right at me. It got on me. On me. ON ME!!!

I’m a country girl, through and through. I’ve grown up living most of my life in a rural setting and critters in places they shouldn’t be is a fact of life. But not much prepares you for a full frontal assault of dead mouse doo-doo.

images06V895X9 In solidarity, the dogs joined me as I flipped out. My one saving grace was that they were the only witnesses. I barely repressed the urge to strip nekkid right there on the carport.

Five minutes later, Mr. R rolls up in his work truck, looking all tidy and head-to-toe denim-sexy. From the shower, I explain what happened as I remove two layers of epidermis, and he denies my request to burn the clothes I had been wearing.

There is a happy ending to this story, though. The banners in question (turned out there were two in that tube) were misprints that we’d replaced. We’d just never pitched them out. So, I have my banners, and a somewhat funny mouse tale to share with you.

My creative and irreplaceable personal assistant, Lily Castle, confirmed my experience was not only blog-worthy but also book-worthy. So in the future, if you ever read a scene from one of my books about an unfortunate heroine who has an encounter with a post mortem pest, you’ll be in-the-know about how it came to be. Seize the day, baby!

Posted in: Home & Family


  1. Ah Heather – I feel for you. In that moment when the wind caught the “urghhh” and put it all over you… And feeling for the poor mouse. Still – better a dead mouse in the tube than a live one in your cupboards. My worst moment was opening the dry food stuffs cupboard door and “scramble, scarper!” a mouse ran out! I think the house is still ringing from my scream two years later! So – well done for surviving, so pleased that you didn’t lose your precious banners and make lemonade from it! Mmmm – now which heroine should have it happen to her?… Or – why be sexist about this; hero?

  2. I am truly and sincerely sorry that this happened to you. That being said, BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Oh my god!!!! That is so awful, but so funny!! ((Hugs))…but only now that you changed your gut-garb…..**snicker**

  3. OMG, that was so funny, sorry you had to go through that, but thanks for the laugh. However, am I the only one who feels for the poor mouse?

    1. Thanks MC! And no, I definitely felt for it, too, trapped in that tube with no one the wiser. That’s life in the country. 🙂

  4. Absolutely Brilliant! Well not for you lmao! But as a reader I was howling my friend. So glad that this made the blog and yes although vile is definitely book worthy! Cannot wait to see this in one of your amazing stories xoxo

  5. I’m so glad there are other people like my family out there. I’d have been scared stiff seeing a real mouse. Thanks for telling us this

  6. LOL that was too funny, but I do get the reaction, I would have done the same. We all have our phobias, then kids come along and we have to act like we are not freaking out, meanwhile on the inside we are EEEEEKing out. Thanks for the giggles, looking forward to reading the scene you come up with in one of the future books.

  7. Oh that did suck majorly however, it also made me laugh and smile. Thank you for brightening my day.
    I would cackle to death, if it turns up in one of your awesome books. lol

  8. Heather Thanks for the warning…OMG I swear I laughed so hard b/c I could picture it happening. I hate mice, and the one time I was up close and personal with one was as a teenager when they got in our house from the field across the road. They met the broom (just like the mouse singing “I believe in Miracles) as I screamed and everyone else hit chairs. “BRAVA” Mrs. Rainier! Even though you wish “Mr.” was home sound like you handled it well. Thanks again for the laugh, I really needed it!!

  9. Oh my, I was laughing so hard. Sorry. I have a several phobias. One is mice. The others are snakes and frogs. That would really gross me out.

  10. I just loved that story because now I know it just doesn’t happen to me alone. Thanks Heather.

  11. I’m seriously out of breath and tired now from laughing so hard! I definitely appreciate the warning…my iced tea would have been spraying out of my mouth everywhere! Heather, you are an incredibly talented author. With your words, I could picture the entire adventure.

    And like Morgan said….that Mr. R. is one smart feller! 🙂

  12. You are much cooler under duress than I would be! I would have ripped the clothes off and maybe even thrown up. At least you are able to laugh about it now. And the house has been broken in.
    This is definitely book worthy! Milk it for all it’s got!

    1. LOL Stacey, believe me, the urge to rip off my clothes was nearly overpowering. I’m just glad my mouth was closed when that gust of wind hit me. 😀

  13. Oh, my! I don’t know who I’m proudest of–you, for dealing with the retched retchedness, or Mr. R, for not laughing out loud.

    Of course you’re both very intelligent people.

    Thanks so much for the laugh, Heather! And hugs to you for the trauma.

    1. Thanks, Morgan! I was most thrilled that I came out of the experience with something blog-worthy 😀

  14. That was too funny. I grew up on a farm, yeah some of the stuff you see, smell or get on you!!!!!

  15. OMG Heather. I’m still dying with laughter here. I do agree that if Tabitha ever gets her own book, this would be a perfect fit for her to deal with. They always say “write what you know” and boy does this ever fit that bill. 😉

  16. Thank you for the warning! I would have stripped right there and called a bio-hazard team to come rid me and the house of contamination. I can never find the stupid dustpan. I always end up using a magazine or junk mail flyer. I swear my husband hides it! My dog once ate a little lizard (EW!) Then she crawled into my lap and regurgitated it all over me. I washed my clothes three times before I would wear them again.

  17. Last night must have been the night for zombie mice…So my schedule needed to be switched around and this led to my sleep being all messed up. My brain is a little baffled, I’ll admit….so when I hear romping all over I didn’t piece it immediately together. It seems that Kay Eltzroth’s cats thought that Auntie Lisa needed some feeding, so they brought me some dead mice. Now before you get all huffy Shelia Love, I realize this is – in their world – a gesture of caring. In my world however, not so much. Also, the tossing of said mouse, then pouncing…then throwing it onto something…and pouncing lessens the appetite. It does get me ruffled, and causes some excitement among the pups. Did I mention that it’s 2am? I carefully make my way out of bed to remove the offering. It turns out that yelling at cats, even using their first, newly created middle, and last names is not effective as a deterrent when dealing with felines. I have quickly discovered at this early morning time, that the cats growl. Apparently I may have the offering, but the pups may not. Now we have a game. Pups yapping excitedly (and loudly to those familiar with Bella), growling cats playing the advanced version of keep-away, and me, cautiously negotiating my way to find a long-handled scoop. I say this with all the love in my heart Kay – on the next trip to NC, the cats are going…albeit inside a carrier, or duct-taped to the roof, yowling merrily along the way. I’m gonna need some Ativan or a vacation to survive this.

  18. That is funny. It’s a very good thing you can laugh about it now. I’m grossed out at laughing at the same time.

  19. Oh My God Heather!!! You are the best writer! I could picture all of that happening, like a movie!! So funny! I would have been screaming at the top of my lungs! Well the new house has been broken in.

  20. I laughed so hard I give myself a headache, you poor dear. Maybe if Tabitha Lester gets her book it could be some Karma for her. I really do love your Divine Creek Ranch Series. and I was so happy PresleyAnn Woodward got her story. Cherrs and best wishes from Lexington, Kentucky.

  21. ROFLMAO!! It was a good thing you warned me about going pee and putting my beverage down! What a great story!! I am glad you survived and can laugh about it now!!

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