One morning last week, I made the unpleasant discovery of mouse droppings in my kitchen. Last June, it was lice; now, it’s mice. This leads me to wonder, what’s next? Ice? Rice?

My family tries to lead a good life. We work; we play; we try to be kind to each other and the people around us. We must be missing something, however, because God is afflicting our household with plagues.

I don’t know why he thinks we deserve them, but I do know he must be a poet. Last June, it was lice; now, it’s mice.

One morning last week, I made the unpleasant discovery of mouse droppings in my kitchen. As I was attacking the countertops with disinfectant, Earl told me to relax, that he’d get some poison and we’d be rid of the mice forever.

He put out the poison for a few nights, but the mice kept leaving their calling cards in my kitchen. Things reached the breaking point a few days ago, when, at the ungodly hour of 4 a.m., I was awakened by a scratching noise in our bedroom.

Alarmed, I sat upright in bed and switched on the light. The scratching stopped.

“What’s the matter?” murmured Earl, mostly asleep.

“Mice,” I hissed. “I hear them in this room!”

“Oh,” he said, and rolled over. My hero.

After gingerly putting my feet on the floor and poking around, I determined there were no mice in the room, at least not any longer.

Tense, I laid in bed until the alarm went off, thinking of mice overrunning our house in biblical proportions, like locusts or frogs.

That morning, after my now-customary counter disinfection, I turned to Earl. “We have to do something about these mice, or I’m going to call an exterminator.”

“Well, if I could just figure out where they’re getting in,” Earl began.

“I don’t care where they’re getting in!” I snapped. “They’re in. Probably building a mouse city and vacation resort in our walls, and I want them out! If it weren’t for your allergies, I’d get a cat to take care of them! Now, what are we going to do about it?”

It was not my finest hour.

“OK, OK,” Earl said soothingly. “I’ll get some traps today.”

Later that evening, Earl nearly cackled with glee as he showed me four spring traps. He followed the directions to the letter, smeared the bait holders with peanut butter, and put them around the kitchen.

I hardly slept that night, waiting in anxious horror for the traps to spring. When the alarm went off, I pushed Earl out of bed to investigate.

He came back with a grin. I braced for the worst, or the best.

“No mice,” he said.

Optimistically, I sauntered out to the kitchen for my coffee, where I promptly found evidence of nocturnal rodent visits behind the bread box.

“Maybe they don’t like peanut butter,” Earl said.

I gave him a withering look.

“I’ll get different traps today,” he said.

He returned with box traps, which supposedly lure the mouse inside and then slam shut. That night, we had six mousetraps strategically placed around the kitchen.

The next morning, no dice: no mice. And more evidence of a nightly visitation.

I started wondering if perhaps the bait was the problem. With the health consequences of trans fats in the news, maybe mice won’t touch peanut butter any more. I was just about to propose my dietary theory to Earl when he informed me that he thought he’d have better luck with a couple of traps in the basement.

Evening passed and morning came, and Earl informed me that his basement theory had been correct. He gathered up the remaining traps, smiling smugly. The lord of the manor had prevailed, at last.

The kitchen countertops have been clean for several mornings, now. We’ve left a couple of traps in the basement, just in case, but it seems like the latest plague has passed from our household.

This leads me to wonder, what’s next? Ice? Rice? Hopefully none of the previous plagues twice.

Patriot Ledger contributor Julie Fay's column appears on alternate weekends. Reach her at fayjulie@gmail.com.