How To Build a Better Mouse Trap

It’s 6:30 PM and I’m all alone in the studio.  Sort of.

After being gone for almost 2 weeks, with most of my colleagues still away taking a short European holiday, I am back in Chicago rehearsing and putting the finishing touches on Lee Hyla’s rockin’ tour de force for bass clarinet and baritone saxophone We Speak Etruscan. It crazy-fun and has been kicking my ass for weeks.  It hurts so good.

Several months ago, after being away for a long holiday, we returned to find that our case of quinoa (yes, we have a suitcase filled with 50 pounds of quinoa in our studio, we’re a new music group after all.) had been discovered by a (now potentially really obese) mouse.  It had gnawed through one of the inner bags and feasted upon the delights within leaving a trail piles of grain dust and mouse excrement in its wake.  There was also a box of chocolates we received as a gift on our meeting table which had been ripped to shreds and emptied of its precious cargo, an open package of crackers with…surprise…no crackers in it in the kitchen area, several mostly-empty Coke cans on the floor and a bucket of dirty dishes next to the fridge. When I found this, I enjoyed a brief inner tantrum, cursing the unsanitary conditions of the studio and general lackadaisical approach to cleanliness.

I cleaned up the mess as best I could, bleached all surfaces which may have been trod upon by the critter’s dirty claws or subject to its…leavings.  Swept, vacuumed, air-freshened, washed the dishes, discarded partially consumed human-food and secured that which had been spared.

After this, things got better.  Dishes were no longer left in the bucket overnight, food was sealed and put away, trash was removed before it escaped the confines of its bin, spills were wiped up.  For months, there was no sign of our cohabitant.  It was lovely, but all good things must come to an end.

I came to the studio today to practice and rehearse and saw a pile of pistachio shells on the floor in the kitchen area.  (insert mini-tantrum here) Near the pile, a bucket of dirty dishes.  (the viscosity of my blood increases as my hate gland secretes its inky blackness into my veins) On the counter an open bag of pistachios with a trail of partially eaten chocolates leading to a bowl of candy ringed with that which was most certainly NOT long grain brown rice.  (full on fury of disgust)

PistachiosBucketNutsTrailCandyGrrr

I cleaned up the mess as best I could, bleached all surfaces which may have been trod upon by the critter’s dirty claws or subject to its…leavings.  Swept, vacuumed, air-freshened, washed the dishes, discarded partially consumed human-food and secured that which had been spared.

Rehearsal went well, we played a successful and convincing performance of “Etruscan” for the composer.  Happy day.

Until 6:15 PM when I am quietly sanding some new reeds.  I hear a “tink” from the kitchen area.  Under the din of the heating system I think nothing of it until a few minutes later, “tink.” I head to the kitchen and look around.  Nothing.  Back to reed profiling.

“Tink.”

“Tink”

I look under the mixing/recording desk and see…

Shells

I’m quite certain those shells weren’t there after I swept the floor just hours before.  As I slowly stood from this investigation, my gaze (and face) passed by the opened back end of the electronics rack above where the shells had been found.  To my delight and surprise (read: horror and disgust) I found myself staring into the beady black eyes of our brown-furred uninvited guest.  Inside this dark and complicated box, he had built for himself a comfortable home of wires, shredded wrappers, dung and…pistachio shells.

When he noticed me, he retreated deep within the component rack and I went to work, pulling out the cables and instruction manuals before reattaching the lids to the case and turning it up on its end trapping the lil’ fella inside.

Mouse trap

As I write, I can hear his pestilent little claws scratching to find an escape.  Not gonna happen little one.  We’re going to go on a holiday of our own, perhaps to a lovely field or a nearby dumpster.  You’ll have all the pistachios you can eat there.  I’ll even through in some dried mango.  Buon appetito, little guy.

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