So our refrigerator door has a dent. Here’s how it got there.

This post contains a little profanity. I know it seems silly to warn about it here when my books contain a little profanity, but I just didn’t want to offend anyone when I’m speaking as myself. I’m including profanity here so you get the full scope of the situation.

Last year, my husband and I had a mouse problem. It took weeks to solve, and scared the crap our of our babysitter, but we got rid of them using sticky traps, snap traps, and lots of alcohol. (The drinking kind.)

(Side note: mice are strongly attracted to sugar cookies. Our babysitter at the time wore “Warm Vanilla Sugar” body spray from Bath & Body Works. The mice were ALWAYS out when she was around.)

Since last year, we haven’t seen a trace of the mice. We thought we’d gotten rid of them forever.

Well, Monday night, I went to make a salad. I love avocados, so I typically buy a bag of them at the store every weekend. You can’t keep avocados in the refrigerator (they go wonky), so they were sitting on the counter. When I picked up an avocado, it had a few tiny chunks missing. So did the rest of them. And the bag was torn.

I said to my husband, “I think we have a mouse again.”

We had a few glue traps left from last year, the small, mouse-sized kind, which are about the size of a deck of cards. I put four of them on the counter, with an avocado in the middle of them.

That night, my husband, who wasn’t feeling well, took a dose of Nyquil and went to bed. I wrote a chapter and went to bed.

Around 10:30pm, I heard, “Scratch-scratch-scratch” from the kitchen. I whisper shouted, “MIKE!”

My poor, Nyquiled husband sat up all groggy. “What? What is it?”

I said, ” Listen.”

Scratch scratch scratch.

There was clearly something on our counter.

We both got up and headed out to the kitchen. I was behind Mike. He said, “Holy. Shit.”

Then I saw what he saw. I saw a big brown furry back. ON. MY. KITCHEN. COUNTER. Emphasis on big.

It wasn’t a mouse. It was a RAT.

ON MY KITCHEN COUNTER.

Now, I don’t know about you guys, but I’m kind of a freak about my kitchen. (The rest of the house, not so much.) I regularly bleach my counters and my sink. I’m anal about food spoilage and unsanitary cooking conditions. I regularly throw out food that’s close to its date or even looks SLIGHTLY weird.

It’s a miracle I didn’t start screaming.

Honestly, it’s a miracle I didn’t start spraying IT with bleach. (That’s what I do to stinkbugs.)

So back to the rat on the counter. Not only is it on my counter, but those little glue traps aren’t trapping it, they’re just pissing it off. It’s also tangled up under the cord for my phone. Mike is trying to get some trash bags so he can get it into one, yelling, “GET ME A BOX. I NEED A BOX.”

Where the F am I going to get a box at 10:30 at night? There was a cooler in the corner of our dining room, one of those red plastic Playmate ones, so I open it and give it to him, thinking he can get the rat into it and slam the lid. So with one hand holding the cooler, and the other holding a plastic trash bag, my husband tries to get the thing into the cooler.

Remember the Nyquil? Not exactly conducive to sharp thinking skills or rapid movement.

The rat doesn’t end up in the cooler OR in the trash bag.

Instead, it bites my husband on the hand. ON. THE. HAND.

So now my husband is yelling, and I’m panicking, saying, “Ohmygod, did it bite you? Are you okay? Did it bite you?”

And he’s saying, “Yes. It bit me. It bit me.”

And there’s blood. All over the place.

AND THE RAT IS STILL ON THE EFFING COUNTER.

So Mike starts yelling that he needs a box. I run upstairs to find one. Upstairs is our finished attic. There are no boxes up there. I know this because we just cleaned it out a few weeks ago. I have no idea why I ran that way, instead of down to the basement, where we have about fifty plastic boxes holding toys. I could have dumped one of those in about half a second.

While I’m upstairs, I start hearing all these crashing sounds. I think my husband is attacking it with a frying pan (which was sitting right on the stove, which also probably would have been a good idea), but no. He’s trying to keep it from getting off the counter.

And then it falls off the counter, and it bolts under the dishwasher.

Now my husband, who is generally a temperate man, yells, “FUCK!” and throws the cooler as hard as he could. He threw it so hard that it flew over the cooking island and hit the refrigerator.

He threw it so hard that a few days later, I noticed the dent and said, “What do you think the refrigerator door ran into?” And Mike said, deadpan, “A cooler.”

So now it’s like 10:40pm. My husband is bleeding from his hand. There’s a rat under our dishwasher. My five-year-old is crying, wanting to know what’s going on. I’m trying to call my mom, a night nurse, to ask her what to do. I then call the ER, and ask them what to do. (Side trivia: rats typically don’t carry rabies, a lot of bleeding is actually a good thing, because it helps flush bacteria from the wound, and while my husband didn’t have to go to the ER right then, a tetanus shot would be a good idea.)

Once we eliminated the immediate worry — the rat bite — we still had to figure out what to do about the rat under the dishwasher.

There was no way I was going back to sleep. My reasoning: if a rat could climb onto a counter, it could climb into a crib or a bed. (All of our bedrooms are on the ground floor.)

So at 11:20pm, I got in my car and drove to the grocery store, and purchased every glue trap and snap trap that they had. I laid them out all over the kitchen to prevent that thing from escaping from the kitchen. Then we went to bed.

2am: we hear it again: scratch-scratch-scratch.

This time, it’s one of the glue traps by the refrigerator. It’s not the big rat.

It’s a baby rat.

O.

M.

G.

My husband got rid of it. The next day, I was on the phone to Orkin so fast it would make your head spin. I didn’t care how much it cost, we wanted someone to come out to the house and fix the problem. A guy came that night. (Side note: I cannot say enough good things about Orkin’s service. This gentleman was at our house for three hours, and did a tremendous amount of work sealing holes and patching areas that could provide access.)

This morning, one of the snap traps from the back basement caught the big rat.

I’m not naive. I know there may be more. But I feel like we’re closer to solving the problem.

This is the most horrifying event since we’ve moved into this house. Merry Christmas, right?

What’s the most horrifying thing you’ve ever found in your house?

(By the way, the contest is still going on! Have you entered? Scroll down to the next post.)

Demonstrating Strength

On my desk at work, I have this little list printed out. I got it from Seth Godin’s blog, but I can’t seem to find the entry again, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

The list is titled “Demonstrating strength.”

The first thing on the list is, “Apologize.”

I love that.

The funny thing about apologies is that they seem to represent weakness. You’re admitting a failure, not only to yourself, but to someone else.

But they don’t really represent weakness. It takes a lot of guts to apologize. To genuinely apologize. How much gumption does it take to BS about something? To throw someone else under the bus? To make up a little white lie about why something wasn’t done, or why you acted the way you did?

I’ve been thinking about apologies a lot lately, especially since we’ve had this roofing problem in my house for YEARS. We’ve paid one roofing company $4,000 to replace our roof, then another $4,000 to repair our roof, and we’re still having a leaking issue. The insurance company sent out a new guy who gave us a quote to rebuild the back section of our roof for a third time — for another $2,000.

I called the original roofing company. What did I have to lose, right?

I wasn’t a bitch. I didn’t go in screaming at the owner. I just said, “Hey, we’ve paid you guys $8,000, and our roof is still leaking. Can you do anything?”

She came out yesterday to figure out the problem. She agrees that we need a flat roof system instead of the shingles they originally installed. It would have cost more money for them to originally install a flat roof system, but you know what she told me yesterday?

She apologized.

And then said they’re going to rebuild the back roof. For free.

That took strength. And money. It cost her something.

But you know what? It’s going to earn them a customer for life. And a considerable amount of word-of-mouth.

A heck of a lot better than a little white lie, huh?

~~

The Power of a Good Story

I’m going to talk about music, and if you’re like me, you glaze over when other people talk about music, but stick with me. I won’t submit you to a rundown of my favorite songs or any crap like that. I won’t even make you watch the videos in this blog. I’ll give you a summary. Okay? Okay.

Besides. This is about storytelling.

This is exactly what my truck looked like. Same color and all.

When I was 22, I bought an extended cab, long bed, Dodge Ram 2500 diesel pickup truck.

I thought it would help me pick up men.

No, seriously, I bought it to tow a horse trailer. Most guys seemed kind of intimidated. Personally, I was kind of intimidated myself, but I was an independent woman, and damn it, that was my truck.

I loved my truck. At the time I bought it, I was dating a bail enforcement agent (read: bounty hunter), and he said, “If you’re going to drive a truck like this, you need to start listening to country music.”

Now, at the time, I was solidly a Top 40’s kinda girl. Dance music, rock music, I listened to it all. Even now, if it’s in the top 10 on iTunes, there’s a good chance it’s in my collection. (I’m in love with “Blow” by Ke$ha and “The Cave” by Little Lion Men right now.)

Anyway. Back then, country music? I’d rather put a bullet in my head.

But I programmed a station on my radio, and every now and again, I’d listen.

Before long, I was hooked.

Now this was in the heyday of country music. It was 2000, and Toby Keith and The Dixie Chicks were tearing up the charts. For you kids out there, this was when crossover started happening. You think Taylor Swift invented songs that worked for pop and country? Nuh-uh. Thank Shania Twain for that.

I’m digressing.

You know what I loved about country music? Almost all the songs told a story.

A lot of regular songs tell a story, too. But they usually tell a love story, and it’s usually pretty basic. Guy is hot for girl. Girl misses boy. Yadda yadda.

Country songs tell a story. 

Here’s a good one:
(And look, the video is hokey. It’s country. And it was 10 years ago. But watch for the story.)

Okay, if you’re like me, and you can’t get videos at work, or you’re strongly opposed to country music, or you just want me to get on with the frigging blog already, here’s what the song’s about.

A woman breaks down on the side of the road. A guy named Joe stops to help her, and when she offers to pay him, he basically says, “You don’t owe me a thing. I’ve been there, too. Don’t let the chain of love end with you.”

So a few miles down the road, the lady stops at a cafe, where the poor waitress is 8 months pregnant. The lady thinks about the guy’s good deed and leaves her a $100 tip, with a note that says the same thing, “You don’t owe me a thing…”

And then, the waitress goes home, climbs in bed with her husband (whoa — this sounds like it’s going to be dirty when I write it out like this), taps him on the shoulder and says, “Everything’s going to be all right. I love you, Joe.”

GET IT?? It’s the guy who first helped the woman with her tire.

Now that’s good storytelling, and it’s done in less than five minutes.

There’s a lesson there, I think.

Here are some more great storytelling songs:

This one is about a guy in prison who figures out that if he gets the warden’s dog some *ahem* action every night, when he decides to run, the dog will go looking for his lady-love, and won’t chase him:

Here’s a great power video about a guy getting beaten down and finally rising up to be a badass. (And let me tell you, I had SUCH the crush on Toby Keith when I was 22.)

What about you guys? Do you have any good songs that tell a story? Any good songs that aren’t country music?

And, OMG, I just watched that video again, and that crush? Still there.

Remember when Cobus Potgieter stopped by the blog and just about stopped my heart at the same time? Well, if Toby Keith wants to stop by, I sure wouldn’t cry about it.

~

Guess what this is?

Is it ironic that this came while I was working on the sequel? Or just appropriate?

Also, please free to judge me on my dining room table. I told you my house usually looks like it belongs on an episode of Hoarders.

All right, really, it’s not that bad.

Usually.