One Little Mouse

Over the past several years I have written about living in a mountain community and the services (or lack thereof) up here. I have been loyal to Homer’s Construction who pretty much came with the house. They have renovated the house top to bottom, do the snow plowing in winter, check the house when I’m gone, and pretty much do all the maintenance except yardwork and cleaning! Recently I’ve had a couple of projects and typically they start something and then leave the finishing up for sometime in the future. That’s the current status of my porch railings which need to be painted and screens replaced. Of course I got an invoice for the work but paid half figuring I’ll pay the rest when it’s done. I’m also waiting for them to install a new heating/ac unit that is going to be much more energy efficient than the current baseboard heating. That said, Homer’s is really good at showing up when there is an emergency for which I am extremely grateful. And, over the July 4th weekend, I needed help.

Of course things always seem to go wrong when there are people staying and that is Murphy’s Law to the extreme since I don’t often have people here! A full house July 4th weekend with the whole family here. The outside lights lining the driveway and the stairs all of a sudden stopped working. The circuit breaker kept tripping each time we reset it and tried the light switches. We had lots of theories — critters chewing the wires or a bad breaker or user error. We eliminated number three since there were 5 adults discussing the lights which I had been successfully using for years. That left the first two theories. Naturally I called Homer’s — they deemed it not an emergency so we decided to wait until Monday morning. This was a good decision I thought since I certainly didn’t need to pay overtime for whoever was on call. And, as it turns out and I will explain further, the person on call probably would not have been able to help anyway.

So first thing Monday morning, here comes Kenny with a brand new upgraded circuit breaker. “I’m here to replace your circuit breaker,” he stated. I asked, “How do you know it’s the circuit breaker?” “I don’t,” he said, “Jay told me to do it.” Rachel and I were skeptical but watched as he changed it out, flipped the switch and, as you probaby have already guessed, no lights! So, Kenny walked up the driveway drive and down the stairs inspecting. stairs Next thing I know, truck #2 pulls up with Rick who comes in the house, flips the circuit breaker, turns on the lights, watches as the circuit breaker flips off and no lights. Then Rick walks up the driveway and down the stairs inspecting (not sure what they were inspecting, but I trust that they had some ideas). Then up pulls truck #3 with Jay, who is incredibly capable and knows what he is doing. More walking up the driveway and down the stairs, more flipping switches, circuit breaker, etc., and still no lights. All three of them then started tracing the wires (all of which are exposed by the way) and sometime later Jay appeared at the door. “It’s lucky you didn’t burn the place down,” he stated matter of factly. “Here’s the problem.” wire1

Jay then proceeded to explain that a mouse climbed up the wires from under the deck into a wooden box on the deck (I never did know what the purpose was) and chewed through the insulation and the wire itself. wire2 He plugged up the hole in the underside of the box, spliced the wires together, used some electrical tape, flipped the circuit breaker, and we had lights. (I won’t go into the details about putting the switch back upside down so Kenny had to come back the next day.) I wondered why there wasn’t a fried mouse in the box. He reassured me that it probably went somewhere in the yard to die! He suggested I call the exterminators who are under contract which I did.

So, a week later John, the exterminator and neighborhood gossip, arrived to tell me that it looked like one lone rogue mouse and he picked up a piece of something that was lying on the deck and plugged up another hole. Job done. I haven’t used the lights since but am assuming all is working since this morning I got the bill for $404.57. All because of one small mouse. I have since asked Homer’s to somehow encase the wires and replace the wooden box on the deck since it is rotting anyway (says John) and so have yet another project that will need to be done. The fact that they do not finish projects before starting others is epidemic up here and Homer’s at least is honest, has a great reputation, and I like the guys. I thought it was a bit pricey, but there’s no choice. I may hold payment ransom until the other projects are done, but they don’t seem to worry about that stuff anyway. Wish me luck!