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*
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.
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!