Thousands of small, red ants swarmed over a dish turning the white into a vibrating mass of red. Some left the main huddle to seek out more crumbs on their own, while others marched in lines over a newspaper from last week, onto a clear plastic box of dehydrated greenbeans, and around the edge of the table following an invisible path.

I was unsure where to put my paperwork with the table so very occupied. I considered smashing my binder down onto the table crushing the adventurous crew that dared to split from the main gang on the bowl and sweeping the bodies onto the dirty carpet. I could transport the bowl and its many passengers to the sink and rinse the entire thing with scalding hot water.

In a few strategic moves I could exterminate the entire colony.

Nah, I shook my head. Live and let live, I decided, especially when in a client’s home. I left my blood lust in the car with the windows cracked just a bit so it could properly breathe.

A woman sat across from me, watching me through sightless eyes with amusement.

The ants were no bother to her.

I completed the paperwork on my lap and did not mention her visitors.

There was no need.

“A pity beyond all telling is hid at the heart of love.” W.B. Yeats


Mice in Fall

Traps have been clacking shut on the little heads of mice all over the Midwest this week.

It’s getting to be cold and blustery outside and the little buggers have thin fur coats.  Who could blame them for moving inside to keep warm?  Of course they bring all of their mousey children, aunts, uncles, friends and acquaintances.  No one wants to be left behind, especially since the cool fall winds are blowing in with every intention of overstaying their welcome.

Simply put, there isn’t enough room for all of us and all of them to peacefully reside inside of homes and apartments.  Yet, I still feel that it’s terrible to set out a tasty piece of cheddar cheese on the edge of a snap trap at a time when it’s hard for a mouse to get a decent meal.  Who or what hungry creature could resist such a bright and inviting little snack?

Just this weekend, I was tempted to pull a piece of cheese off of a trap at a friend’s house where he was certain that he had detected “the smell of rodent” in his garage.  By the next morning, he proudly announced that his suspicions were correct; he had trapped a fresh mouse.

Today, I went into a home that was known for bugs, but not mice.  As I stood (for fear of sitting) interviewing the occupants, a sudden movement caught my attention.  A few minutes earlier, the sight of roaches crawling across the floor and walls had caused me to stop mid-sentence until I could regain my thoughts.  This was something bigger and furrier.

Glancing back in the direction of the movement, I lost my concentration again as a big, fat adult mouse scurried across the floor.  It ran right to the dog’s silver food dish and started helping itself to the puppy chow.  The rodent must have sensed my eyes on its grey back because it turned and looked directly at me, dropped its nugget and ran off back into the secret tunnels through the walls.

I asked the residents of the home, who were both sitting in broken down recliners mostly watching tv, “So do you have any problems with mice or bugs?”

The woman replied, “Oh sure, there’s just a few mice running around in here.  We’re going to get some traps and that should take care of them.”

Nodding my head, I moved down the list, while I wanted to say, “Don’t worry, it’s not just you.  Everyone on this street has a problem with pests: rats, bugs, lazy relatives.  What matters is how you deal with the pests and traps are a great start.” Image


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