I find that no matter how long I live overseas I am learning. Some days I learn from others; be it books, internet searches, or people with more knowledge. Other days I learn from experience. Yesterday I learned from both. A lesson that not just taught me about a fact of life, but reminded me of something about myself.
It has been hot here on the island. Handsome is visiting his parents. M2 is back in school this week after having three weeks off due to case numbers increasing. M3 is out of school for the summer. We had dinner plans to meet friends from out of town. So since I did not have to cook I decided I had time to water the house plants.
This plant had a hole right in the middle of the pot. So did another one. These two plants sit on the top of a six foot shelf on either side of our TV cabinet. So, I did what any one of you would do. I got a stool and armed with my security type flashlight. (You know the long handle ones that are super durable) and checked out the crime scene. It was a mess. There was dirt and plant leaves strewn all over the shelf. I could not imagine what would do this, so I got out my phone and searched in the “Land of the Net”. You will not believe this. Or maybe you already know. But, rodents can dig in house plants to hide their food.
A rodent digging in my HOUSE plants. There is a possibility I have a rodent in the HOUSE again! You see last time my husband was gone for a period of time we had a rodent in the house.
At this point I only have speculation and no hard evidence, so with about 45 minutes before we are to leave I decide to investigate a bit more. I moved one of the shelves out from the wall. There on the floor was the evidence of poo, but that is not all. Out of the corner of my eye I see the end of a tail scurry out of sight.
I scream. M3 screams. M2 giggles as I pull her away from the potential new crime scene.
That is hard evidence.
We have less then 45 minutes to get rid of this rodent before we need to leave.
Rising Action: (Oh, yes this gets better…)
M2 changes her tune from giggling to screaming. Her Duplos are all over the floor in front of the TV. While I take all the breakable things off of the shelves and move the TV to a safer place, M2 picks up her Duplos and takes them to her room. Seriously, the fastest I have ever seen her pick up her toys.
M3 becomes the “gate keeper” to keep M2 in her room while I let in our amazing rodent killing dog, Marley! Marley is half Lab and half mountain dog- so a medium sized dog. She enters excited to be let in the house. But, quick to be on top of the scent, she darts behind the TV cabinet with her tail wagging back and forth. She begins pawing. I look at the clock and think we have half an hour or less until we need to leave.
I grab a broom ready to hit the rodent if it should come out. “Come on Marley, get that thing.”
Marley barks and scratches more. She is moving the cabinets out of the way like a machine. I’m glad that I moved all the breakables. “Is this such a good idea? What if she does get it, then what?”
I hear M2 voice my thoughts, “What if she gets it, Mom? Won’t that be gross?” I look behind me and M2 is now standing on a chair. I hear M3 giggling again. She is now sitting in the rocking chair in her undies trying to put on her shorts. Apparently she was so scared she had a an accident and was changing her clothes, but didn’t want to miss the action.
“This is almost a circus,” I think.
The rodent which I am now naming Ralph, must understand my look on my face because just then he races out from under the cabinet. I watch in slow motion as he stretches with each leap as if running the 100 meter sprint and he sees the red ribbon at the end.
We all scream. Ralph finds safety under the yet to be installed oven. When I say oven, I mean full size American oven. Marley continues to scratch by the cabinet…maybe she isn’t such a genius after all.
I look at the clock. Twenty minutes before we are to leave. I pull out the oven from the wall expecting it to run out like those oversized roaches do, but no Ralph. He is smart. He has crawled into the hole in the back, I think. I call Marley to sniff it out and sure enough, she again gets excited and whines.
I have fifteen minutes before we are to meet our friends outside to drive to the restaurant. M2 is pulling up her shorts. M3 is off of the chair. We cannot leave Ralph. I decide to go to the store to buy some sticky rodent traps to place around the oven in hopes that Ralph will jump on the gooey mess thinking it is a fun game while we are having dinner.
The girls are to stand watch to make sure it doesn’t go anywhere else.
At the store Handsome calls and the friends send me a message to let me know they have arrived. I give him the rundown as I speed walk up and down the aisles looking for the traps. I’m probably yelling at him on the phone, poor guy, asking him where the crazy things are located.
I buy three sets. That is six sticky traps. Think 8×10 picture frame with a super sticky substance where the photo should go. Surely this will work. As I’m paying I text my friends to tell them what is going on and that we would be ready in fifteen minutes. The cashier smiles in acknowledgement that I have a problem. I’m not sure if she is talking about Ralph or the fact that maybe a glass of something is needed to calm that poor foreign lady down. Either way, I nod in agreement and head home.
At home, I welcome our friends and show them where to park. I wonder what they think of me. I thank God for that time I ate at their house and seemed calm and normal, because I am pretty sure I am not calm and normal right now. But, no time to worry about that.
In the house, I place all six traps around the oven while M3 prepares the live trap. M2 is suppose to be putting on her shoes. “Suppose” is the key word here – she doesn’t, but after a few words and looks we get our stuff together, say a prayer and shut the door.
Supper was a great distraction for us all. Laughs and good food. We even had mango ice – I felt we needed to celebrate catching Ralph.
Is it a good idea to ever celebrate early?
We got home. Turned on the lights to find.
Empty traps. All seven empty.
Handsome calls again to check on us. I am at a loss. Do we just go to bed? The girls are nervous. Do we go to a friend’s house? Handsome talks me through it and I become a robot. I follow his instructions.
I put all the sticky traps in a safe place and let Marley back in to see if she can smell the rodent (I had to take his name away at this point) inside the oven. She wags her tails and whines. Love that dog.
In robot fashion, I put the traps in strategic places suggested by Handsome. Have I said that I love this guy and miss him?
We turn off the lights. I text a friend to pray. (Yes, yes I did pray that the Lord would have the little creature he made get into a trap).
I close the hallway door and use the dining room chair to block it shut. I get M2 ready for bed. I read a little and then sleep. I dream that I catch the rodent along with many of his cousins. “Oh, please let there not be more.”
When the sun rose the next day. I said a prayer and quietly took away the chair holding the hallway door shut. I found my flashlight and shined it into the kitchen. One. Two. Three. Four traps empty. I went to the other door and there it was on a sticky trap.
I sighed relief and then groaned as I knew I was going to have to bag it and put it outside.
Learning by experience has not always been the easiest of lessons, but ones that I have remembered the best. Yes, I learned that rodents can dig in house plants, but I was also reminded of something else about myself.
I am bound and stressed by Time. Go back and notice how often I note how much more time we had before we needed to be at the next thing. And maybe you can sense that I am getting more frazzled as time goes by. I notice this too in other areas of my life. I am more focused on the task instead of the relationship. My family notices it too.
This lesson comes up often as living overseas puts a stress on Time. It always takes more time to do things. And just when I think I have Mastered it, an uninvited guest comes into our home at just the right time for me to see that I still have work to do.
A work in progress. That is what I am.