If you are squeamish about critters, cleaning out an estate is just not recommended. Just as we inhabit a home, our little friends (furry and 8-leggers) inhabit right along with us. We just don’t think about it, because we don’t see them. An occasional spider and other insects are normal, and believe it or not, little field mice are near in proximity too, unless you have a cat. I’ve even had a client who lived symbiotically with a huge black snake she named “Frank,” because Frank took care of all the little mice in and around the house. The client went so far as to explain that “Frank” was a far better companion to her former husband because Frank never was in a bad mood, complained, or hogged the remote!
Handling as many estates as I do, we have become accustomed to dealing with our little friends. We find them too often and, most of the time, they want nothing to do with us and just go away. We prefer it this way! But I have to tell you about my experience with a mouse.
My assistant, who has been with me over a decade, was opening boxes in the attic of a 1930s estate. Together we were up there sorting through what could be saved or sold, and bagging up what was clearly garbage. When boxes have been up there as long as these had been, everything becomes brittle and starts to disintegrate in your hands. She held up an old Xerox box with the lid open to show me there were old mason jars inside and nothing else.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw pink fluffy stuff (which turned out to be insulation material), shredded pieces of newspaper, and small bits of fabric formed in what looked like a bowl. Just as I started to tell her that it looked like a mouse nest, and to be careful, the biggest mouse I ever saw climbed up, balanced itself on the rim of the box, and attempted to stare me down! She was very big around the middle, and clearly we had disturbed her soon-to-be birthing place.
In a split second, with neither myself or my assistant freaking out, the mouse leaped from the edge of the box, with the grace of Greg Louganis dismounting a diving board. I had never seen such speed and agility.
It all happened so fast there was no time to shriek or freak. The mouse flew through the air like the man on a flying trapeze, landed with a small thud on my bust, and had the audacity to use my chest as a trampoline for her final dismount. As soon as she hit the ground, she was gone. Not even a bow did she take. Just a dirty look and who could blame her?
As with all strange things we find in estates, we had to give her a name. There could be no better name than “Buster.” To this day, we affectionately recall Buster and Frank, and the variety of other critters that cross our paths, making each new estate experience far from boring.
©2014 The Estate Lady®
Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.
No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent. Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com