11 January 2007

Mice Like Spaghetti, But Find it Hard to Access

I have several draft posts started--the G-for-Granola post that Pilgrim/Heretic gave me, a post on weight and eating--and then a few more drafting in my head, on motivation (how to motivate a child, how to motivate faculty, and really, is it possible to motivate someone else and is it counterproductive to even frame the issue that way), and thoughts on death (remarks for my predecessor's memorial service, Curious Girl's recent questions about death).

But all these topics get pushed aside for tonight so that I can bring you the breaking news from the natural kingdom, er, the basement: mice like spaghetti.

I realize I run the risk of scaring away Moreena in taking up this subject, but a blogger can't always stick with the safe subjects, right? We've had mice in our basement since sometime late in our renovation project. For a while last winter the cats were killing them and leaving them in the downstairs hallway, something Curious Girl was, well, curious about. "Look! I want to see!" she would say, as I tried to clean them up without getting too close and without somehow implying that her enthusiasm for the dead rodent was something to be changed. If she wasn't scared of the dead mouse, why make her so? Still, I was happy when the cats seemed to put an end to the mouse population.

But then it turned out that the mice had simply learned to stay in the basement, or at least on the landing down to the basement, where we have an old bookcase serving as a pantry. We've learned, over time, what not to store there: mice will eat Halloween candy (they liked butterfingers best), and goldfish. Tonight I discovered that they also like spaghetti, uncooked. They had apparently worked a system for rooting the spaghetti strand by strand out of the container to nibble. I was impressed by their industriousness even as I was rather grossed out.

So I removed the package and said to Politica, "Should we throw it all out?" "Of course not," she said. "We'll be cooking it in boiling water. It'll be fine." I had meant, should we throw the whole package away, but she was telling me that we didn't even need to throw away the package that the mice had been nibbling in. I pitched the mouse-opened package anyway, but stored the rest of it in a kitchen cabinet, having more rationally determined that since the packages weren't opened, the food inside was fine.

So tell me, am I overzealous in pitching the opened package or is Politica oversomethingorother in being willing to keep it?

18 comments:

PPB said...

ew. just ew.
I don't mind mice. But stuff they've been nibbling on? ew.

susan said...

OK, so here's the recent conversation here:

me: "Let's check the computer and see who's left a comment to agree with me."
Politica, laughing: said something funny but neither of us can quote it. It's late.
me: reads ppb's comment triumphantly.
Politica: "But they hadn't eaten the OTHER pieces that were left! I wasn't suggesting we eat the part that the mouse had actually nibbled."

I'm still unpersuaded. I can't argue with ppb on this one: ew.

Not to stifle any other folks out there who might wish to comment in another vein, of course. Politica will read those triumphantly.

~profgrrrrl~ said...

A vote for pitching. Who knows what germs they harbor. Gah! :)

Genevieve said...

Yuck yuck yuck. Pitch the package they were nibbling in, whether or not they'd nibbled each individual piece left in the package.

What Now? said...

I'm definitely in favor of pitching the opened container.

We had mice in our basement as well (perhaps this is inevitable?), and at one point I got so grossed out by all the droppings that I pitched food packages they had shat upon even if they hadn't opened the pacakge. That is, the food inside was clearly untouched, but my purity boundaries were violated. I just couldn't take the grossness!

Shelli said...

two words - "black plague."
OK - and germs.

Pilgrim/Heretic said...

OK, I'm sticking up for Politica. :) Mice germs probably aren't half as bad as most of the stuff we touch during an average day, and she's right about the boiling water. (The photo cracks me up!)

liz said...

Out. Outoutoutoutout.

And put everything into air-tight containers.

timna said...

We're dealing with mice daily (or nightly). We've never seen or heard them, but they've left their signs in our kitchen -- one corner only. All food is out of there. I went for tossing any box of cereal that looked nibbled on. Heck I threw out the hotpad that looked frayed by mouse.

They get caught about 50% of the time for us. We set out traps with peanut butter and some mornings we have dead mouse, some mornings no peanut butter. They must have been most frustrated when we were in Israel and I thought I'd cleaned out the traps (I left them closed on purpose, I didn't want dead mice, esp not long-dead mice, on return). But no, I'd closed them full of peanut butter and there was poop surrounding the traps when we got back.

sigh.

Phantom Scribbler said...

Is it possible to vote for both opinions? Because the easily grossed out part of me votes for "toss," but the part of me which is physically pained to see waste wonders if it couldn't still be eaten. As far as the plague goes, that's only endemic in New Mexico, as far as I know. Hantavirus is more of a concern, but you're more likely to get that from the droppings than from the boiled spaghetti. So What Now? wasn't being as irrational as she might have thought...

jo(e) said...

To me, the issue wouldn't be about whether or not to pitch the food. It would be arguing about which person was going to scrub the shelves to get rid of any droppings, hair, or urine. Because that's the stuff that carries disease, isn't it?

We had mice in our last house, and I had to store food in tin or glass containers ....

Arwen said...

I believe both of you are within the bounds of reason. Unreason: throwing away everything in the pantry, the pantry shelf itself, and refusing to set foot in the basement ever again.
Unreason: suggesting that mouse-urine infused pasta would be a delicacy worth developing a taste for with food well soaked in effluvia.

So I vote for both of you, too. What would I do? I don't know. When the weevils burst their way out of my whole wheat flour bag and spread throughout my baking & spices cupboard, I had to restrain myself from torching the kitchen. In my defense, I was pregnant.

Politica said...

I'd like to thank Pilgrim/Heretic, Phantom, and Arwen for their kind words on my behalf. And for those of you so completely skeeved out by mice nibbles that you'd toss out non-nibbled food, I have one word for you. Eggs. I bet you touch them almost everyday. Consider a) where they come from and b) what disease-laden little buggers they are....

BTW, I cleaned all the shelving (and wore gloves while doing so.)

Oh, and in fairness to Susan, I literally jumped onto a kitchen counter the first time I saw something that I thought *might* have been a spider in the kitchen and made Susan track it down and kill it. Our rule is that she handles the spiders and I handle the other wee beasties. That said, my definition of spider is now somewhat broader than the standard one....

Passing on a word from Susan: she'd like to thank her loyal commenters for their tact in responding to our rodent-based disagreement. Ditto, says I.

liz said...

My out vote was mostly 'cause they have a tendency to pee on what they haven't eaten yet. If it's sealed, keep it. Unsealed, out.

And, yeah, I eat eggs, but I don't eat the shells. And, um, does anyone else wash their eggs before they crack 'em open?

LilySea said...

Pitch away!

I want to hear the one on motivating others. I myself have some thoughts on that as teacher and parent, so I'd love you to start the yammering on the topic.

LilySea said...

P.S.

Because (if Politica needs motivating--har har) mice have no urinary sphincters and they just dribble as they go about their business. Where mice have been, mouse pee will BE.

Arwen said...

I just noted that your picture appears to contain the very same artichoke hearts I possess. I found this to be vaguely thrilling, for no reason that I can fathom. I bet our toothbrushes look similar, too.

Rev Dr Mom said...

And I just bought the same ginger soy broth--don't know what I'll use it for, but it sounded good.

And I would pitch.

When I was about 9 we were living in a woodsy place and we had a real mouse problem. My mom put out d-con pellets and they kept disappearing but we kept having mice. When my mother opened the fold out couch one day she found it full of d-con pellets. The mice had hidden them without eating them. Ick.

Looking forward to your post on motivation--if you could motivate my 15 yo it would be a miracle.