Are You Superstitious ?

IMG_2186I can remember my childhood as if it was yesterday.  I grew up on a farm and amongst many happy memories of life there are also many recollections of my adventures with mice, furry little creatures that obviously go hand in hand when there is plenty of grain lying around – not just in the huge barns where it was stored, but also in the feed-bins for the cattle and horses. However, what I could never manage to do was to come to terms with their existence. They terrified me as a child and they continue to do so today. There is a certain scream, that I have apparently perfected, that Roddy knows so well. It can  mean only one thing, that there is a mouse in the house and life is going to take on a very sharp downward spiral.

IMG_2188It is a scream he has come to dread. Since we have been together, for over twenty years, we have lived in several different homes in the countryside, in several different countries and there have always been many rendezvous with mice.  My poor dear husband knows that until the victim is found, disposed of, and he has made absolutely sure that there will be no more in the house, his life will be utterly miserable. I have been known to leap on chairs and tables, anything to avoid being anywhere near the tiny creatures. On one famous occasion ‘the scream’ caused a painter to fall off a ladder, thankfully without harm.

At this point I should add that this week I do not have any photos of mice! Instead I have far more calming images from the past week – here and there – of matters that have made me smile, simple snapshots from being out and about that speak for themselves. I have had a few justifiable reasons to vacate the premises while Roddy turned into a swat team member and crawled throughout the house on kneepads, armed with a large torch.

P7730295P7730294P7730291A couple of weeks ago we were eating outdoors; the meal had lasted several hours as is often the way during the summer, as we had friends staying and the mood was festive, the night air warm, and the conversation lively. Somehow we got onto the subject of mice and I proudly said that this was the first house we had ever lived in outside of a city that had never had any mice. Thanks to our fabulous two cats, I added – the two that we had pretty much rescued as tiny kittens not long after we moved here.

I did wonder at the time if I had just jinxed everything and that perhaps I should never have shared my good fortune. Looking back now, I realise the moment I boasted that we were mouse-free was a moment when I should have kept quiet.

P7730303A week later and I was in our bedroom upstairs, it was mid-morning. I cannot even remember what I went in there for, but I saw Rory, one of our cats, blissfully asleep on our bed; he’d found a respite from the sun and the heat of the day, and amongst a tangle of sheets he was happily snoozing. I wandered over to give him a stroke and sat on the bed beside him. At that moment a movement caught my eye and there it was, A MOUSE! How the heck had it got into our bedroom and why was it in there? It ran at breakneck speed from my dressing-area into the airing cupboard and I froze momentarily. Rory continued to sleep. Then I found all the courage I could muster and walked past the airing cupboard and out of the door until I reached the top of the stairs where I yelled “Roddy!!!” in THAT voice – the one that he knows too well, the one that says there is a mouse in the house! There was a dreadful silence from the bowels of the house as time stood still, small birds stopped singing and the trees froze in the wind. Two minutes later he had downed tools and was scurrying to the local farmers store to buy traps. The airing cupboard was emptied, but not a trace was found. Our bed became a mountain of bed linen and towels, and that night I slept in the guest bedroom downstairs!

IMG_2172Slowly the days passed as summer continued to weave its magical spell; there were trips to the beach and plenty more long languid meals outdoors. The mouse was slowly forgotten, it was neither caught nor seen again.

Last weekend we had a full house, Izzi was over from London, and Millie home from University.

IMG_2316IMG_2360 2I moved back into our bedroom and normal life resumed. Or did it? I always had one eye on the airing cupboard whenever I was in the room. Then just as I truly began to relax, three days ago, I was standing at my dressing table spraying myself with a waft of perfume to start the day when the damned beast ran from under the table and narrowly missed my foot by less than an inch. This time the scream did not wait until I had reached the stairs, I yelled instantly and as I did so I glanced at the bed. Guess who was snoring gently? Rory the cat. The very one who I boast is such a good mouser!!

So I am back in the spare bedroom and once again our airing cupboard has been emptied all over our bedroom. Of course, there is also no sign of any further rodent life. No droppings, no hints or clues that they exist, and all of Roddy’s tricks and ruses have been to no avail.

You may wonder why I am telling you this story. Well, most of the time when I am not in our bedroom I actually find it rather funny, and yesterday, as I was riding my bike through the village, a mouse crossed the road and ran right under my wheel, I swerved violently and ended up semi crashed against a wall. On the opposite side of the road was a handsome white cat who sat watching the entire scene with a bemused look on his face. What is it about the cats in our village?

P7730279P7730301So did I really jinx the whole thing, am I superstitious? Yes and No. It’s true I have been known to wear the same outfit to sporting events just because someone won the first time I wore it, so therefore it will be laundered and worn the next time and so forth. To the extent that last year a friend visiting actually asked if I had any other t-shirts!

But I like to think I am not too bad, I can walk under a ladder without hesitation. Friday the 13th holds no fear and black cats crossing my path are no cause for concern. But I always knock on wood, I never put shoes on the table, open an umbrella indoors or see a magpie without chanting “good morning Mr Magpie, how’s your wife today” or better still seeing a pair and making a wish.IMG_3345

P7730284This morning, my hand held magnifying mirror fell out of its casing and crashed to the floor in the bathroom, just as I was applying mascara! I reached down to pick it up with much trepidation. Incredibly it hadn’t broken. Would this have brought me seven years bad luck? Or perhaps it will bring me seven years of good fortune as it stayed intact. Wouldn’t that be a nice thought. Having retrieved it off the floor I came downstairs, casting a wayward glance at the airing cupboard door I should add in case you know who was scurrying across the floor, set to leave me panic-stricken once more.

Back in safe territory on the ground floor and making focaccia in the kitchen, I was chatting to a friend who had just stopped by. I felt something in my back pocket and reached to take out whatever it was, thinking I must have washed them with some paper accidently left in the pocket. I hadn’t worn them for several weeks if not more. I was astounded to pull out a crinkled, well laundered 20 euro note and then as I unfolded it to realise it wasn’t one, but three, sixty euros in total.

IMG_3351So perhaps the mirror staying intact was good luck. Did I really jinx the mouse episodes by voicing my good fortune at having had none in this house (until after this fateful night) ?

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Are we all, are you, just a little superstitious ?

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23 thoughts on “Are You Superstitious ?

  • Congratulations on your good fortune, money wise. The mouse had Nothing to do with it. I am probably as paranoid as you about mice. Yuck!!!

  • What an amusing post! 😉
    I can hardly understand your fear of mice, being a land girl and living in a land of bounty of all things ‘paysan & bucolic’…. What’s the matter with you – you woman of no fears (otherwise than mice)?!
    I am extremely untouched by superstition and having owned three houses, all of them old, had I had any notions of being scared by scurrying, light-footing, undesired 4-6-8 footers, I knew I had to get rid of them quickly. But I admit that I have some trepidation of spiders, from a certain size…. It’s not that I fear them, it’s more that I don’t feel good around them – but I do catch them and dispose of them in the surrounding nature. We did have a very late snail ‘pest’ in our veranda; it must have been my religiously regular watering during the summer and the first day it wasn’t firing hot they all must have emerged in their hundreds. Plants with fronds of 2m length were nibbled left and right and in the middle so badly, that I had to clip them back as I never had to do in all the 10+yrs we live here. I won’t tell Roddy what I did with some of the snails…. or he won’t greet me anymore. Most of them I threw out for the birds to feast on, but some…. oh well….
    How grown up your first born has become! Having never seen her ‘life’ I scrolled through the pics and thought I KNOW THAT WOMAN but who is she until I read on and realised that it’s Izzi….. Oh the joy of having her back for a weekend. I have another friend whose daughter is working (for 6 months) in England and when I asked her this week if her daughter will be back soon, she sighed and said: They are so happy with her, they have asked if she would like to stay on and she said YES, OUI….
    Bisous to you all, hope to write a mail soon – I’m ‘snowed under’ not with snowflakes but stuff to do.

  • I have a similar story with my husband who was staying alone in our mountain house. One night he though he felt something running over him in bed, but ignored it. The next day he was in the living room and watched a mouse run up the stone fireplace and into the upstairs master. Apparently, the mouse did not enjoy having the human company in its big master bedroom. Like you, my husband moved to a guest room.

  • This early Friday morning with the news of hurricane Florence the only thing on tv I picked up my iPad and see a post from Our French Oasis which I immediately opened. I am still laughing. The picture of the sleeping cat with its arm covering it eyes so that mice won’t get its attention is hilarious. I’m not one bit superstitious but mice, rats, whatever they are or become are not something to play with. If you’ve ever had salmonella from one you will NEVER forget it. Mine came about because our city poisoned an empty lot next door and the varmint drank out of my small goldfish pond killing all of the fish and sickening me because I determined to empty the pond to find the offending rat who was not there but had left saliva and at least one droplet made it to my mouth as I splashed around in the pond looking for the thing. A week long hospital stay and a heart issue that will be with me forever was the result of the only visit I’ve even had of this creature. Hope your fat cat decided to do his or her job and eradicates your home of the unwanted visitor.

  • Loved this post. It put a smile on my face. I can relate. Just this early morning, while still dark, I was going to pick up what looked like a scrunchy from the bedroom floor. Something stopped me. IT WAS A BAT. I screeched. My poor husband, still asleep, jumped out of bed, threw a bath towel on top of it and took it out to the balcony…may still be there.

  • My story is slightly different. While we were in France last year, our neighbours looked after our house, picked up mail, etc. As we live in a rural setting we have a small mouse trap…in case. When we returned home they mentioned that everything was fine, and no little creatures were found. However, my husband while turning the water connection back on and retrieving valuables that we had secured, suddenly called me to come downstairs. The tone of his voice indicated that I probably should run….the opposite direction. Of course I asked if it was really necessary. He said yes. So down the stairs I go – feeling like five years old – he is poking at something….I’m ready to scream that scream. Our – DEAR NEIGHBOURS – had got a huge plastic rat, and attached a mouse trap to it. They were waiting to hear the result of their little joke. We said nothing for a few days. Many expletives and much laughter later…. We smiled and said we would get even…. Maybe in their fridge or sometime when they are having a party, place the creature in a completely inappropriate place. Oh yes, we will get even…
    As ever
    Ali xxx

  • I never thought about it. There are just things you don’t do….
    Such as don’t use the word “never”…God will prove you wrong. Don’t jinx something by saying it…it might just happen. I find now that you mention it, I guess I am.
    In any case, I hope the mouse is found and dispatched….how awful!

  • That was a fun read, I would definitely squeal at a mouse but im not really superstitious. This summer I have had two incidents with birds. One was a fledgling sparrow deciding to land on my head on its first flight (I was sat just near the nest) then another day while sat in the same spot a dead baby pigeon was either kicked out or dropped from above and landed right near my chair. I expect you can guess my response on both occasions. My bad back was forgotten as i fled the scene!!

  • So, out of the corner of my eye I see movement – the back end of a mouse is hanging forlornly out of the brass grille on my gas fireplace. Spasmodic twitching indicates life present. No idea how long it had been there due to indifferent Summer housekeeping but it is clearly firmly stuck and while the fire is off the pilot light is not – so it is warm! As usual on these occasions husband is MIA so I remove grille and transport it, complete with passenger out to lawn. Mouse looks at me despairingly, clearly exhausted from ordeal. I realize its back end presents as somewhat swollen so easy extrication unlikely. Lightbulb moment – get the Pam out and spray. One bedraggled mouse finally slithers free with a helping hand and plops onto the grass.I am flushed with victory, mouse just lies there looking bedraggled and pathetic. Husband comes home, views scene with usual incredulity reserved for my animal rescue adventures, singularly unmoved by the pathos of it all; this due in part to losing war currently being fought with tunnelling chipmunk brigade encamped under front steps. All rodents accordingly viewed with same acute disfavor. Dire warnings about Hantavirus, Typhus, Plague etc. I say karma will get him and move mouse to shady area for rest and recovery. Gone by morning. I like to think it survived to join the legion that move indoors each winter and run around in my walls but given the racoon family and other predators who roam my yard by night, who knows? Mr. suggests heartlessly that I should have added garlic to the Pam as our racoons are demonstrably dedicated gourmands.This country girl clearly not afraid of mice but does have severe coulrophobia.

  • Thanks for the smiles, Susan. I’m the same as you are with mice except that my dread is having a lizard in the house. As much as enjoy watching and photographing them when they’re outdoors, they must never cross my threshold. If on happens to gain surreptitiously gain entry, I will not rest until hubby has found it and turfed it out through the door. I don’t know whether my screams match yours though. I’m guessing not quite. 😅

  • Not a big fan of mice but my cats are. Don’t like lizards. I don’t walk under ladders or put shoes on the table, just in case ……

  • not to alarm you or anything, but when you see one mouse there are often others. If you set out a trap they often learn to avoid it; maybe the bold ones get caught but their cautious friends learn. What we’ve done is set up a bunch of traps; 6+ in a bunch of places. The more the better. Don’t set them at first until the bait is being eaten and then one nite set them all…

  • * laughter* You would not have liked to stay with me when I had a two-storey upside-down house in a beautiful Northern Rivers community in NSW a few years back 🙂 ! Uneven slate floors did not allow doors to the outside to be quite tight at the bottom. Well, Australia oft has field mouse plagues . . .they move over in waves of thousands, stay awhile and disappear. That year was bad. I had about 9-10 traps going at once and it was a fulltime job during an 16-18 hour day removing the ‘dead uns’ and putting more bait on for the next ! Used meat as was ignorant how much they love peanut butter. Was OK: friends totted up I killed about 2000 + indoors in the ten days they just would not leave . . .but remember clearing my bedroom out one night ere ‘mouseproofing’ it, pulling my doona back and finding pink newborns in a layer about a meter square . . . that was gross: swore like a trooper and considered sleeping at a safer friend’s – knew I would not be back if I did so, so stuck it out. Just one problem: the mice brought in a plethora of poisonous snakes and some of them decided to have their babies indoors !! That was scarey !!! Solution: three gfs brought their dogs in and let them loose and . . . oh, poor babies !!! Was glad when it was over: made the biggest bonfire of the corpses . . . Here and now: there would not be a winter night when 2-3 would not seek warmth indoors . . . as long as they stay on the floor OK . . . 🙂 ! – swear when I step on one going to the WC at night . . . otherwise live and let live . . .and I do not open an umbrella indoors . . otherwise: cool !!!!

  • I feel your pain.I am petrified of mice. I cannot see they get into our condo, but two have but I caught them in a trap baited with crackers and peanut butterMy husband put it in a plastic bag,I threw it in the trunk of the car with the intention of throwing it into the dumpster. Was in a hurry and forgot it was there and went to church.on a visit after church to my grandsons I remembered it. He got it out and said this must be a church mouse as it was still wiggling in the tied up bag. A silly story but a true on. I am a little superstitious. Good luck in catching the beast. From Ontario, Canada.

  • Superstition or coincidence? I read your mouse story yesterday and this morning while we sat at the breakfast table, I heard the mousetrap under the kitchen sink go off 🙁. When we first saw evidence of mice in this old house, we saw that they were getting in through the tiniest space between the wall and the water pipe where it comes in under the sink. I immediately wanted my husband to seal it up but he said “no, they will just find another place to get in.” He baited a trap and put it right near the pipe and now mice immediately get caught as they come in. They don’t get to run around anywhere. We have caught a few over the years, but never had any anywhere else in the house. Hope it stays that way!!

  • So far only long-dead mice at my house, which Jacques has found in the garden and presented as gifts. I didn’t scram, exactly, at least I don’t think so.

    In my experience, a well-fed cat will only go for easy kills. I’m wondering why your Jack Russels haven’t routed out the little critters. When Jacques smells a rat — Paris is pretty scruffy these days — he’s a changed dog. Jack Russells are notoriously good ratters, much better than Westies. Maybe they dispatched the mice discreetly, knowing that such a gift might not be the best choice for you.

  • Susan…hahaha…loved this post. My children and husband scoff at me as I have held and shared my Anglo and Greek Nanna’s superstitions…. My Anglo Nanna’s were no shoes on the table, no crossed knives and no walking under a ladder. My Greek Grandmother’s superstitions were pretty limited to the Evil Eye….which stopped her from ever saying anything ‘flattering’ about her grandchildren in fear it would be taken away…. AND – 100% agree re the rodents…

  • A wonderful post, and great comments all. I detest all rodents, inside or outside of my house. Our first experience was in an apartment that we were renting in Paris. A very French mouse who liked baguettes. I knew we were in trouble when a baguette on top of the stove had a tunnel in it!

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