It all started with a mouse.
While sweeping out the hearth room of the CocoaJava, I couldn’t help noticing… how do I put this delicately… mouse droppings amongst the everyday dust and debris. My first reaction was annoyance – a cafe’s reputation as a nice place to enjoy food and drink is NOT enhanced by the presence of vermin! I finished sweeping the floor as clean as a whistle and hoped no patrons had noticed the droppings. Or even worse, had noticed the dropper.
I took the trolley into town and bought a dozen strong mousetraps. Not wanting to startle the patrons, I baited them with strong cheese and set them out of sight behind bags of coffee and storage boxes.
I checked those traps every night for a week. Nothing caught. Though, coincidentally enough, the cheese vanished each night, and I swear the local urchins have been smelling of gouda.
But the droppings continued to appear, so I knew the critter(s), were still enjoying the warmth of the cafe. I needed to find their headquarters. Late last night, I lit a candle and picked up my broom to begin an inspection of the baseboards.
An hour later, I collapsed on a sofa – hair disheveled, candle waning, broomstick scratched from being poked into the dozens of holes I had found. No wonder mice were attracted to the cafe! My walls had become a luxury hotel. Much of the mortar holding the stonework together had been clawed aside to create little nooks, niches, and pockets for small animals to nest in.
My sweet little coffee house has become the nesting ground of goodness knows how many little creatures. But that realization was just the tip of the iceberg.
Why was it that small claws could so easily tear through the mortar holding my building together? I thought about it, and the only answer that made sense was that the mortar, after all these years, was decaying. It was, after all, hundreds of years old. The stonework itself looked perfect – but stone lasts the ages. And so I hadn’t noticed this underlying problem.
I really could have used that long overdue insurance policy, but then again, it would probably have come with clever exclusions to get around the issue.
And so, I am brought to a point of making a serious decision. I cannot even comprehend what a massive undertaking it would be to re-mortar the entire building. Labor costs alone could outweigh the cafe’s worth.
And winter is coming. Babbage is known for heavy snowfall…. the additional weight of snow on the roof just might be the last straw. I cannot risk having tons of stone suddenly collapse and crush friends and neighbors!
I believe I will need a few bottles of absinthe to help me think about what I have to do.
((OOC clarification of what’s going on: Various factors are converging in a way that tells me it is time for the cafe to become part of Babbage history. My RL has become very challenging both in my day job and tending to family concerns – I am unable to spend much time at the cafe or reading the BAR (durnit I cannot call it a not-ning!). I stop in long enough to return stray objects, hang new posters, and that’s about all. The final Clue From The Universe came last week when Ceejay suffered a large inventory loss (her own fault, don’t blame LL) that included the folder containing everything needed to snow up the Cafe and all her Christmas decorations. When the tier runs out in a few weeks, I’d like to assume the cafe mortar finally gave way and crumbled in a heap. No one will be injured, and all the stones can be hauled away by anyone wishing to use them for rebuilding (conceptual stones, that is). I’d like to think that bits of the CocoaJava will live on, repurposed for other future buildings. I have lived in New Babbage for almost 3 years, and please know that for the most part it has been an absolute delight. I have so many memories. I am very proud of New Babbage, and will continue to be a part of it whenever I am able.))