Furtive footfalls in the night…

This is my punishment for procrastination. Procrastination is my kryptonite.

I happened to be awake at 2am for unrelated reasons when I heard a faint metallic clang – and I knew right away where it came from.


Last October I had to fish a massive mouse nest out of the bedroom heater and evict a mother and at least two babies out into the cold and snow. I swore that when Spring came, I would cover the outside vent with plastic and duct tape.

I didn’t forget that vow, I just kept putting it off. Last night I was served notice of the consequences of my sloth.

Yeah, she was in there, too, hyperventilating in the vent pipe. Couldn’t get a picture of her.


Fortunately she didn’t have time to get a lot of work done. All this material is from outside: I don’t know where she found it but I recognize the material – it’s from the old camo net that served as top cover on the Fortress of Attitude, now long shut down.

I got as much of it as I could out of the firebox, and then…


Turned on the gas, lit the pilot flame…


…and fired up the furnace. See if she stays in the vent through that.

And when that’s had plenty of time to take effect – and the stink from burning nest disperses…

I’ll do what I should have done a month ago: Wrap the vent in plastic and duct tape till next autumn.

Speaking of nighttime footsteps, furtive and otherwise…


I got back to sleep, then overslept. At least in someone’s opinion.


Tobie can walk silently as a cat. Or he can walk like a herd of horses. Guess which he chooses, when the sky gets light but Uncle Joel isn’t stirring?

The first part of every morning is all about Tobie, as is right and proper. Food and a quick walkie to take care of physical necessities. Then I may have my own breakfast if I don’t take too long, and then it’s time for the proper morning walkie.


I would add “weather permitting.”


Tobie would not agree, but in extreme weather I’ve been known to cancel the whole thing. On perfect mornings like this one, toward the end he tries to share the opinion that I’m taking the walkie to extremes. But whether or not we agree on how it is conducted, we usually agree that it needs to happen before any other business of the day – like cleaning mouse nests out of furnaces.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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15 Responses to Furtive footfalls in the night…

  1. Ben says:

    Could you somehow wrap that vent in hardware cloth and be done with it?

  2. Joel says:

    Y’know, that’s not a bad idea.

  3. Mike says:

    Ben had a great idea. If you get hardware cloth, just remember the mesh needs to be less than a quarter of an inch or the mice will get in. I learned this the hard way a few years ago.

    Good luck…

  4. paulb says:

    Give them a hole and sooner or later they will be in.

  5. Whatever says:

    I’ve read your blog for several years now. I still cringe at the pics of Arizona. Lived there 7 years and even though I was raised in high desert country I just did not care for that desert. I live a hermit-y life, only now in the green mountains of Idaho. To each his own.

  6. Malatrope says:

    Whatever, I also am in the “green mountains of Idaho”, but let us be honest to the other readers of this blog! They are only green in the spring. In fact, I’ve renamed the seasons here. We do have four very distinct ones here on the Camas Prairie: White, Green, Yellow, and Brown.

    White is the longest.

  7. buckeyebob says:

    Rats and mice freak me out . I go buy another half dozen cats from my friend in the capital city if ever I see one not dead and properly chewed up. She traps them ,neuters/spays , worms , vaccinates , and delivers for $5 a hit . Mean assed spitting , scratching , biting abused city kitties . In 6 months I’ll have them purring on my lap . Did I mention I hate meeces ?

  8. Joel says:

    We do have four very distinct ones here on the Camas Prairie: White, Green, Yellow, and Brown.

    😀 I often say we only have four seasons here in the high desert: Too hot, too cold, too windy, too wet.

  9. Spud says:

    I’ve lived in both , the high desert of Arizona and forty years of my life in Idaho too.
    Both are too dry for me and too cold !
    I much prefer the endless summer of Floriduh. With intermittent spring time during winter.

  10. Malatrope says:

    Spud, I lived in Florida for 12 years. It is too hot, too humid, too buggy, too moldy, too stenchy, too homogenous, and too infested with the Northeast for my taste. Without change, there is no life. And in Florida, one gets used to sameness to the extent that a four foot rise in the road counts as a “hill”, and a two degree drop in the morning temperature means a blizzard is coming. No, thanks!

  11. Joel says:

    [Florida] is too hot, too humid, too buggy, too moldy, too stenchy, …

    Oh god yes. I spent much of my childhood in southern Florida. My favorite brother lives there still. He likes it. I refuse to visit.

    The old joke “it’s a dry heat” makes perfect sense to me. I hate the humidity, the bugs, the fact that everything smells like rot all the time…

  12. Whatever says:

    Malatrope where I live in Idaho the mountains are covered in pines, firs, and cedars which are green all year. The birch and aspen add a nice touch of green in the summer too. No matter the time of year or the direction you gaze, your eyes light on green. Yeah, it’s got white from the snow because we have winter here, but not like the winters in northern Nevada and Wyoming. I will take cold over heat and humidity ANY day. Also the stench of the dirt that smelled like mildew during and right after the monsoons in Arizona was disgusting. I’ll take the sweet smell of freshly turned, thawed out dirt in the spring up here any day. Oh, and did I mention spiders used to alarm me until I had to deal with the creepie crawlies in Arizona? Besides, the best way to enjoy a bowl of chili or stew or homemade chicken and noodles is on a fearsome winter day, snugged up to the fire. 😜
    Like I said, to each their own.

  13. Whatever says:

    I will say, in all fairness, I did enjoy fresh pecans, amazing Mexican food, the fact that quite a lot of the local cafes actually made good, strong sun tea and served that instead of hideous instant iced tea, and I did come to enjoy ocotillo cactus, and the town of Tombstone. 😄

  14. Whatever says:

    Spud, I live in North Idaho so dry is not an issue for me, lol.

  15. Spud says:

    [Florida] is too hot, too humid, too buggy, too moldy, too stenchy, …
    Yeah it certainly has those features lol

    I was stationed at Ft. Huachuca for a couple years, so know that climate .
    Have relatives Lewiston, Lapwei and Kamiah area so know that area well too.

    Old age and broken body just won’t tolerate the cold tho…

    Nothing like having a giant palmetto bug crawl over your face in the middle of the night lol

To the stake with the heretic!