It's no secret that I love beautiful interiors that showcase a mixed look. And to achieve that look, I don't mind spending time searching for those quirky, special pieces. I'll admit, I'm a pretty dedicated picker. I love a unique find and a good deal. OK, I really love a good deal. But it's not all Instagram shots of pretty finds and visits to quaint shops. No, some days it is decidedly the opposite, and this is the story of one of those days.
Steve was out of town, and I had seen an online posting about a large antiques shop having a 50% off sale on every item. Every item. Like a moth to a flame, I was dying to check it out. I won't name the shop, and the reason for this will become apparent shortly, but believe me when I tell you that this incident has in no way put me off a return visit. But maybe I'm a bit more single minded about these things than others.
The shop was fantastic. Three floors crammed with treasures, small and large - and at 50% off, I was less likely to grumble throughout about "prices for tourists" and the like. Despite the incredible volume of items, the staff had clearly taken time to arrange things thoughtfully, some even in beautiful little tableaus.
Between texting clients with a few images of items they might be interested in, and scoring a ridiculously over the top swag light for $10, I spotted it. A lovely, huge, green demi-john, sitting in a corner, strapped into what I can only describe as someone's seventh grade shop project. The wooden containment system was ridiculous, but the beautiful green, glass container was mine. All mine.
I lugged it down to the cash and giddily paid my money. (You know I'm happy with a find when I don't even haggle.) I first carried the light fixture out to the car and returned for the demi-john. The man from the store was holding it and seemed somewhat insistent that he would carry it to my car. As kind as that is, "IT'S MINE NOW GIVE IT TO ME." Um, I mean, "Don't trouble yourself, good sir, I can easily carry that." And with that, I took it out of his arms and headed happily to the car. Happily, that is, until I glanced down into the bottle and caught sight of what appeared to be a tiny, wizened skeleton.
"Oh crap. Dead mouse." I wavered for the briefest of moments before my brain reminded me that this was 50% off. "It's just one small, very dead mouse," I reasoned, "No biggie. Be cool. Just get it in the car Quickly. Ick. Now. Hurry hurry HURRY!" As I set it in the back of the car, my face hovered perilously close to the opening of the bottle. Oh God. Would I get the the plague? Ugh. Trying not to think about what was in the bottle and its potential implications on my health, I drove home. The weather forecast was calling for freezing rain that night and the next day, so I was going to need to take care of this issue today, unless I wanted the Plague Bottle in my house.
Normally, a hideous task such as cleaning up rodent skeletons falls to Steve. This is less because I don't want to do them, and more because I want to watch Steve do them. He has a weak constitution and strong gag reflex when it comes to such things, so it's great sport. We once hit a crow while driving on the highway (a strange incident where the crow was shoved out in front of our car by two other crows) and did not realize for about three hot summer days that it had landed neatly inside the fog light hole on the front of the car. You can probably guess what alerted us, after three hot summer days, to its presence in this cavity. The extraction of its incredibly rank remains nearly did Steve in. I, meanwhile, stood at the end of the driveway, hopping from foot to foot, making disgusted yelping noises and capturing the whole thing for posterity.
But I was on my own today, so I pulled on the gloves, got a very big bottle of bleach, and began. The first task was to remove the wooden containment system it was in and then determine how much of this problem could be shaken right out of the bottle. The bottle was so dirty that it was hard to see what was going on inside, but as I hefted it up and gave it a bit of a shake, I immediately realized that I had underestimated the scope of the carnage inside. There was clearly a second body. Ugh. I carried the bottle out to the yard and tried tipping it upside down and giving it a good shake. The loose contents flew straight for the opening and, rather appropriately, bottlenecked, refusing to fall out.
Defeated, I realized that I was going to have to get a stick of some sort and extract these bodies. I rooted around, found what I considered to be a reasonable tool, and then began enacting what would have been a ridiculous scene had anyone been around to witness it. A twenty litre bottle is pretty sizeable, especially if you want to tip it upside down with one hand, jam a stick in it with the other hand and forcibly evict what you thought were two carcasses from the bottle. I say this because, as I grunted and struggled and gagged a bit, the bodies just kept coming. One, two, three, four. Four dead mice. Three small, and one rather large.
With the corpses all assembled on the ground in front of me, I couldn't' resist the urge to poke them a bit and try to work out who died when. Were two or more ever alive together in the bottle? If so, what Donner Party nightmare did they live out? Did a third mouse land in the bottle and see two already emaciated bodies and immediately realize its folly? How quickly did this all happen? How long would the bottle have to sit there to fill up completely with dead mice? What sort of a discount could I have got if I pointed out the tiny mummified remains in my bottle?
And of course, I named them.
With the bodies removed, I brought the bottle back indoors and commenced bleaching and scrubbing it to within an inch of my life. And here it is today:
I await the next dinner party when I can casually mention that the big green bottle was once a crypt for rodents. And soon, I will head out on the road again, seeking beautiful finds with perhaps a touch less drama.