As angry and scared as I am, I am trying to remember some people have mice as pets! And that I am bigger than the mouse! These exclamations aren't really helping, but it's time for me to woman up and deal with it. With any challenge we first have to assess the situation and then figure out how to solve the problem. I really wish I hadn't seen evidence of the mouse and that I could just go on with unpacking my mountains of boxes. (Just like people who tune out climate change because they have so many other worries in their lives.) But now I know, so I have to act. Not only can mice wreak havoc on electrical wires, they are carriers of hantavirus (I had never heard of it, either).

Here it goes: My first order of business will be to call Eric and whine. Once I've gotten that out of my system, I'll leave a message for the exterminator and see if he can schedule an appointment for Monday. Then, I have to make unpacking the kitchen and sealing up all of my food a priority. I will likely stick everything in the fridge until I have a better storage system figured out. After that, I'll be forced to scrape all the snow off my car and head to the eco-friendly pet store to pick up humane mousetraps that will keep the furry one (ones?!) alive. This is not because I actually care about the mouse (my apologies to lovers of all creatures great and small) but because it's easy to make this choice. Because I have no desire to deal with this mouse (dead or alive), I will have to figure out how to bribe my new neighbor Tony into retrieving said mouse and releasing it into a field far, far away. (If there is more than one, I am going to flip out.) Those with ovaries of steel can opt for a DIY mousetrap that lets you get cozy with the rodents.

In the long-term, I have yet another compelling reason to seal up cracks with steel wool (mice can allegedly squeeze through spaces less than 1/4-inch thick) and make sure all food and trash are impenetrable. It is a complete contradiction for me to put poison in my home, but I am also going to wipe down everything with a bleach solution because the Centers for Disease Control have introduced into my life the fear of hantavirus. I talked about bleach in my last post on cleaning supplies. Though I am unhappy to be using something that conflicts with my values, I know that bleach serves a good purpose in small concentrations. I will be re-cleaning surfaces with eco-friendly cleaner once the bleach is applied so the toxins don't linger on my kitchen surfaces.

I guess the good news is I now have a very good reason to get a cat. I'll tweet eco-friendly pet information @SimranSethi once I have her.

Your disgruntled—but determined—homeowner,


P.S. Read how this situation was resolved in Part 2.

Simran Sethi is an award-winning journalist and associate professor at the University of Kansas School of Journalism and Mass Communications. For more information on Sethi, visit


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