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mostly back to normal...

Sunday, December 30, 2012
You'll think I am terrrrrible. It was December 29th when I finally sat down and looked at all the holiday greetings that came in the mail over the past few weeks. And mostly due to being prodded and shamed into it due to a daughter who wanted to see the  current version of family up-date letters she has been reading over the years. Some had been opened and some were still sealed up. But I've read, sorted, copied return addresses and will be writing odd bits of news and such to all those faithful correspondents in the coming weeks. Using all the note paper, cards, stationary received as Christmas gifts. These came from at least three sources - so it's pretty obvious how many folks either a) expect to get correspondence from me; or B) know me well enough to be sure the cards will be put to good use.

Last Remaining Correspondent in Captivity: that's me.

I've made reference over the years to events people get 'guilt-ed' into observing as they purchase balloons, cards, candy, flowers, other remembrances; days that I call 'Hallmark Holidays'. Pretty sure these occasions/ events did even exist on the calendar thirty or more years ago. They are things that the greeting card industry or media dreamed up to persuade us to celebrate, or feel badly as neighbors, friends, co-workers, cousins, passers-by were celebrating. To acknowledge the work of Nurses, or Firefighters, or Teachers, or Grandparents, or Bosses, or Administrative Assistants, or Lunch-room Ladies, or Taxi Drivers, or Trash-truck drivers, whatever. If you don't buy a card or gift-y item and bestow it on your favorite fill-in-the-blank you will have a big Black Mark by your name throughout history.

I used to be a consistent reliable Christmas news-letter writer, but could have said back in early November that it would not be happening this year. I realized I was swamped long before everyone else started addressing and stamping envelopes to send greetings.  Though it did not happen at all this year, as we age, I notice that my list is decreasing in length, as time passes and people do too.You'll get cards and letters from me, as I continue to do my part to support the postal system. Newspaper clippings and goofy cartoons, sent with love. As faithful as I am, you'd think they would give me a volume discount on stamps.  As the price of postage goes up, and services decrease, it's pretty difficult to understand how they keep getting deeper and deeper in the red bookkeeping-wise.Thanks to all who are supporting the USPS. Keep up the good work. Let's sit back and see how much deeper they can dig their hole in the coming year....

so... how was your holiday?

Friday, December 28, 2012
Hope you had a good holiday, and time with people you enjoy. I am pretty much decided that the best part of the season is the opportunity to spend time with folks you love. And, unashamedly, getting so sappy I think that the cheezy old standby of 'I'll Be Home for Christmas' is one of my favorites. We used to hear the elders talk about how the felt like the older they got the more they felt like time just seems to fly, having years pass by in the blink of an eye. I think I'm getting 'there'....

We left home on Monday (Christmas Eve day) morning (not early by my personal standards, but still pretty early for someone who usually takes an hour to get going, complete the a.m. routine and and out the door. Stopping on the north side of Atlanta to have (our second) breakfast with oldest daughter and son-in-law who live in Marietta. Then on to Chattanooga by lunch time.

We'd been invited to spend the night, and have 'portable' Christmas, as we seemed to be the most likely to travel, and have the most time for getting out on the road. Went to church on Monday night, and then did a little riding to see holiday decorations. Where we viewed  a number of over-the-top garish displays, with Santa, Snowmen, Nativity scenes side by side packed into front yards roped together with miles of brightly blinking lights, and a light sprinkling of polar bears and penguins for good measure.These seasonal inflatable yard decorations are getting completely out of hand.

Slow starting on Christmas morning, mostly just hanging around waiting for the sister to arrive from Decatur around lunch time. Then an hour or so of unwrapping chaos ensued. Paper flying, ribbon dangling, tissue wafting, boxes crashing, gifts galore. Some pretty amusing stuff ("99 ways to tie a necktie"), some very useful stuff (hand made hand cream and sugar scrub, pocket knives, flashlights), some completely absurd stuff (red blinking reindeer nose, a day-glo orange 'boonie' hat with reflective stripe to keep me from getting flattened when walking after dark), and a bucket full of family togetherness.

I knew we were expected to go to Uncle Jay's for dinner, and more gift exchanging. I knew we would spend hours getting back to Columbus before getting to bed, since I had to work Wed. and Thurs. at my little jobette. But I also knew I definitely, positively did not want to get up from the dinner table and walk out the door to start home. And had cautioned him about this when I told him we were going to dinner with the in-laws long before we went to TN.  I somehow got bullied into leaving, actually just as we started talking about dessert choices. So found myself walking out the door as some were still eating, doing what I specifically did not want to do.... For the Last Time.

The weather was predicted to get really bad, with some winter thunderstorms, heavy rains, gusting winds. In the past year or so, I suddenly realized that I live with a guy who loves to fret about the weather, and assorted other things he has no control over. All these years, I had assumed he was super weather conscious due to his employment. But I have recently become convinced he apparently loves to watch the weather channel and worry about acts of God, assorted disasters he has no control over. We did get into a little of that south of Atlanta. But safely got home by 11:00 and into bed.

I stuffed my little box of wrapping paper, gift boxes and ribbon back up in the closet this morning, and since I did not do the first bit of seasonal decorating: it looks as if it never happened here. Pretty much what my workplace looked like when I went in on Wed. morning, as the closing crew had to take down everything that resembled 'seasonal' before they went home on Monday night. So when the store opened again on Wed., it would be back to business as usual... got your black-eye peas yet?

what a shame...

Friday, December 21, 2012
You will be so sad and disappointed. But highly amused when you get this picture firmly embedded in your brain:  I was trying to think of where I might have tucked the left over wrapping paper. You know how there is always extra when you have finished wrapping, and you put it someplace that will be easily accessible for the next time? Not up in the attic with all the other Christmas decorations, mish-mash, but someplace in a closet where you can pull it out to wrap a thing or two before you get ready to start dragging all that other paraphenalia down to frou-frou up the house for the season. 

I couldn't figure it out - and was so very much dreading the liklihood that it all up in the attic, where I Did Not want to go, as I had put a  mouse trap up there last week, and was nearly certain that I was a runner-up in the Black Death to Mice competition. I didn't want to know, didn't want to look, didn't want to have to do something about what I was sure to find. Especially did not want to have to bring the fully-loaded trap down the pull-down steps and Especially Did Not want to touch it.

I had kinda sorta peeped in the crack a couple of days ago, not really raising up the styro. box that covers the opening, Just lifting it up a crack to check on things up there in the cold, and just getting a little peek through the crack. I noticed that I could not actually see the trap, meaning it was not where I had put it last week:  another indicator that we (Lucy as prime mouser, and me as the back-up guy) were making some headway with the rodent problem. Making the anticipation  of actually getting a good look even more objectionable.

So here I go - could not have been any more laughable if I had been wearing a complete haz-mat suit.
I have my headlamp/flashnight that had an elastic band that fits around my head (and will actually flash or turn red if you press the right button), so I put that on knowing I will need plenty light just to find where ever the little thieves have relocated the trap. And I have my 'grabbers' in one hand to reach out and pick the trap up once it is located. And I have my trash can, lined with a wallyworld bag to drop it all in - even though Someone will have to remove the dearly departed from the trap and reset it so I can put it back up there. Fully dressed in my costume if any one would like to come and be a witness, fall down on the floor in great amusement, with tears streaming down your face...I should have put on some sort of hat and mask and maybe a breathing apparatus. So if you plan to come take photos, please give me time to complete my costume...???

And after all that, when I finally got up there, to have a look-see, locate the deceased uninvited houseguest, and search for the wrapping paper, I remember it is in the closet up on the top shelf - right where I put it last January...

black death to mice!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012
When I walked out the door to go to work shortly before 8 o'clock this morning, there was another little gift on the doormat - and once again, I barely had time to relocate the step I was in the process of making from the laundry room into the carport. My little stalker has been at it again - with success for the third time. I know it is creepy/freaky but I am delighted to have to relocate corpses on a regular basis... just wish I had some way of knowing when it was the 'last one'.

I don't know how much progress she is making toward eliminating the problem - but thus far she has three home runs. I'm thinking I might want to put her up in the attic and see what she can do from that perspective?
I keep checking the traps that are in the living room, and hall closet, but have yet to get up the nerve to check the one up in the attic - success would be good, but the down side is that I will have to get the little mouse corpse down and out. Not sure why this is so objectionable... when I had a horse in the back yard, and a small outbreak of grain eaters robbing the 100 bag of horse feed - I had not problem with setting, emptying and replacing the trap. There was a photo some place of the side of the shed where I was keeping count of the departed with hash marks to know how many had eliminated their mouse-y little selves by getting greedy. And think there must have been at least a dozen little marks, with a slash for groups of five.

If 'Black Death to Mice' keeps up the good work, I will have to get a piece of chalk and start keeping score for her excellent record. They little rodents look so harmless when I find them on the doormat, with little grey furry bodies and white bellies - but no, I don't feel bad at all about their deceasing.

another 'last' little mouse?

When I left town on Wednesday morning last, I found another little mouse on the door mat as I stepped out the door. In the early morning dark, I nearly stepped on it, and would have been completely freaked out if it had made a squishy crunching sound when my foot landed. But I relocated the foot half way thorough the step down into the carport, and tossed the mouse out in the yard, where I expect it became a treat - though not cold enough to qualify as a Mouse Popsicle. Urp.

So I went to the Do-it-yourself Pest Control store when I got home on Friday afternoon. Bought a couple of 'build a better mousetrap' designed gizmos made of black plastic that basically do the same thing as the ones we've been seeing for years with a little wooden rectangle and wire that snap down on unsuspecting fingers and other small body parts. And a plastic box with 'bait', that theoretically the rodent would go in, eat bad stuff', and take himself off the premises to decease. We baited the two little plastic traps and put them out. But I got to thinking about the box with bait that would go outside and said: If it does what it is supposed to, and the chipmunks, mice, whatever do what they are supposed to: that means I will have deceased rodents out in the yard, woods for the Black Death feline to find and possibly eat. So I can't put the poison out where the little sneaky whiskery things can find and consume, since my stealthy kitty would then find the departed little rodents and think 'There's a snaaaack!'

Anybody with suggestions: apply within. I put one of the new-fangled traps in the attic, and noticed little nibbled places when I went up the pull down steps and lifted the styrofoam cover, so think I might have some business to take care of up there, but nothing in the hall closet thus far....

driving around in circles, part 2

A cousin in the Atlanta area had invited me to a little holiday gathering on the weekend. Guess where I went on Saturday?

Drove up to Decatur mid-day on Sat., and wandered around town a while, street-walking, getting in some exercise after all that sitting. Then we went to pick up one cousin, to go to the other. Drove across town, with me thankfully in the backseat, as I am always anxious about driving in that crazy traffic, especially dark. I had not accepted the invitation to the party with an expectations, but the only people there I knew well enough to carry on a conversation with were the ones I was related to. Mostly her co-workers and professionals she is connected to in the teaching world.

But it was a pleasant evening, even though I ate 'way much more 'stuff' than intended - and you know how all that snack-y stuff, things you can eat with one hand standing up can be: calling out to your tastebuds, beckoning you like the Sirens on the Rocks, until you find yourself crashing on the shore, compulsively putting one more little bite sized morsel in your mouth, until you say: I'm going to throw my plate away to keep myself from eating any more: knowing there are more plates available! All the food was delicious, and I think it likely everyone accidently checked their good intentions at the door. The only thing in my favor is that I had unintentionally stockpiled calories all day, and the couple of miles I walked when wandering the sidewalks of Decatur.

It was good to sit and talk with cousins, enjoy some laughs and, once again, just time with people I love, all flopped down in a heap on the couch. Spent the night in Decatur again, with a mixed assortment of domesticated animals as foot-warmers, piled up on the end of the bed in various, changing configurations. Got up early on Sunday to get back to town for church and work.

driving around in circles...

Another one of those crazy 'stay and see Georgia' tours, squoze in around working  a couple of days. Not sure about the distance, but I put over a thousand miles on my car last week.

It started with me wanting to go to south GA. to put out colorful Christmas flowers at the cemetery. The only day it would work into my schedule was Monday. Though I had promised myself several years ago that I would not attempt that trip in one day ever again, I did it. Admitting I have gotten too old to try to drive that much in one day is sad, and distressing. I have yet to figure out how sitting and listening to the radio or 'talking books' can be so tiring, though it does require some attention (especially keeping eyes open, staying awake following a night of insufficient, off-and-on sleep). So I got up early Monday and hit the road.

I had loaded my car up with tools to do some yard work, hoping to be productive - but I didn't get much done. The only accomplishment was defrosting the freezer in the kitchen refrigerator. Since I have been putting that onerous task off for at least a year, maybe it does qualify as 'job accomplished'. Called and went by to see a friend of my mom's, and went to Valdosta to see my auntie, with a bag 'o' tacos for lunch. I absolutely had to leave for home by 3:00, to get back in time to go with Paul to a dinner. And missed that deadline entirely due to devoting so much time to chunking ice out of the freezer. I'd not gotten to the cemetery: mostly the whole reason for making the trip. So had to go back and put out cheery red poinsettias before heading north. Got back to town only about forty-five minutes than planned - which, for me, could be considered barely late.

It was one of those trips where I spent more time going and coming back than I did actually being there - yes, I know: it kinda sounds counter productive to me to...

Had to work on Tuesday, and get my car unloaded, removing all the yard working equipment I did not use - just riding it around to air out? And put together some clothing and re-load to go to Decatur on Wednesday for a day of fun with my girls. I overheard someone talking several years ago about doing something really unusual on the days that were a series of the same numbers: a coworker planning a trip to Las Vegas on 10-10-10 to get married (possibly to insure he would not forget his anniversary?) I thought that sounded like a pretty neat idea: (not the getting hitched part - as I wonder why he bothered after co-habbing for years), doing something memorable on those days with the unique line up of duplicate numbers.

 On 10-10-10, we went to Rock City atop Lookout Mountain. It's really not all that remarkable: we had been years ago, probably when on a family vacation in the area, probably visiting Aquarium in Chattanooga. They didn't have much memory of that experience, so it was interesting - in spite of people who are so claustrophobic they had to weasel around to avoid narrow places like 'fat man's squeeze' where you have to inch along, side-stepping through the narrow cleft in the rocks. And it was a pretty day to be out in the world, bright sunny fall day in October.

The day of 11-11-11 last year kinda got lost in the shuffle. I think someone was on a trip due to work - possibly in Texas. So I drove up to Decatur and think we had 'take your mom to work day'? Which sounds sort of non-descript, average. Though when you factor in my opinion that any day spent with people you love is a great day, even if slouching on the couch giggling and amusing ourselves,(getting up covered in dog and cat hair all over your dark blue pants) it was good. I had proposed we should drive over to Stone Mtn, and take a walk, but our activities were much more towards the 'couch' end of the scale.

On 12-12-12,  we went to N. GA for a horse back ride. They found a place adjacent to a State Park that would provide horses to go on a trail ride, so we met in the little town nearby and went riding. The horses were pretty pokey - o.k. for the ones amongst us with little or ancient experience. And enjoyable day, clopping on leaf covered trails through the woods, seeing the world from a different perspective, in a creaky saddle on horse-back. Most of the trees were deciduous, so bare, giving a nice view of things you would not otherwise see with clear views down into valleys and across the hills. Then we had lunch at the little ubiquitous Mexican restaurant - eating far too much, and then ordering a monster dish of ice cream to share.

.After a night in a snug toasty bed in Decatur, I got up to drive to Savannah to visit a friend who was a neighbor of my parents when I was growing up. The drive through east GA was pleasant, lunch with friend and her adult, retired son was nice, and relatively congenial (for someone who feels like she is being held prisoner in the assisted living home where she lives).  Then I went south a bit, to spend the night with a friend who lives nearby. We had a good visit, with lots of news to share. I got up on Friday and drove back across the state, to get back home about noon.

But wait there's more.....

the last little mouse?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012
When I left home before daylight on Monday to make a flying-low trip to south GA, I accidently avoided a little grey and white stiff (not stuffed) mouse gift that was lying on the door mat just outside the laundry room door. Accidently due the fact that I most nearly stepped upon it which would have made a highly distasteful crunching sound and caused me to be grossed-out for the rest of the long day. Narrowly avoided, and probably not tossed far enough away from the house to keep the Master Stalker Lucy from finding and consuming it... yeech.

I had hopes that the first one she left as a gift to be admired, applauded and stepped upon might solve the mice inside the insides of the house problem. But I have heard little skritching sounds in that same bathroom wall since she was hunting. And again, last night, thought that the second gift would be the end of the expeditions. But when I woke up at 5:15 this morning, I heard the little pattering sounds up in the attic. So I am sending a representative to the 'U-do-It' Pest Control store to be persuaded about the best method of  pest elimination. It would be funny/ironic if he comes home with the same stuff he takes in prescription form as a blood-thinner as the most likely way to get the rodents to evacuate before dying, maybe, or maybe not funny at all.

Lucy is a good little hunter and I am very pleased with her success - and wonder what might happen if she were to unintentionally indulge in the cure for mice, so it will definitely have to be something that goes up in the attic where she would not have access. And I hate to deprive her of this entertainment, but I think I hate sharing quarters with a rodent or twelve even more.

a case of mistaken identity???

Thursday, December 6, 2012
When I walk out the door every morning, often as the world is just waking up and sky beginning to lighten, I always look around for the moon. I can't figure how some mornings, as the dawn begins to push the darkness away, why the moon is sometimes in the east and sometimes 'setting' and headed toward the western horizon. Science, especially  including one day of chemistry, when were supposed to come back the next day having memorized the first line of the periodic chart,along with math, and that one day of French class were not made for digestion with me. Definitely not my thing , so there is a lot that went right over my head.

I have a close relation who occasionaly will call when leaving work late at night and say "I saw the moon". This odd competion started years ago when she was working at summer camp, and I was diligently, continously sending cards and notes: You know people at camp, either the counselors or the little camper-bees, love to get mail occasionaly (or daily if they have a super devoted correspondent for a mom.
I remember the card was a sweet little pastel colored one of a child sitting on the window seat, looking out the window, with curtains ruffling in the breeze, with a commentary that said something like 'the same moon that shines on you shines on me'.

I often win the competition for Who Saw the Moon First when she is at work and I am outside, so it is an ongoing game .If we were actually keeping score it would be continually 'tied'.

I had to be at work this morning at 7:00.  The sky was still dark enough that all the street lights were still on, and lights in parking lots were still brightly visible. As I was walking across the parking, shortly before seven, I looked up a saw a big round white full moon across two parking lots and two streets. And wanted to call to say "I saw the moooon" but didn't at such an inappropriate hour.Then looked in the other direction and ... saw the almost half-full, crescent moon, thought Huh? And looked back at the moon that was even with the tree line out on the four lane, only to discover, shielded by the pine trees, that the full one, just rising in the east, was actually the big round white full Burger King sign.

Fortunately there was no one around to observe me wearing the placard that said 'here's your sign'.

is it good news or bad?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Several days ago, I was at home piddling around till time to leave for work, and heard the happy patter of little feet, inside the walls. I did not get particularly alarmed, even though I immediately knew from the noise emanating from the sheet rock that it was most likely a nest of mouse-lings. I grew up in a house that periodically had traps set around in the closets and kitchen cabinets, set and ready to go 'snap'  and squeak as a little rodent being incapacitated. Permanently. And have lived in other houses the would have little sneaky uninvited squeekers think they had arrived at the entrance to paradise. So - not a big deal, just something to deal with, and dispatch.

So I told the man who enjoys being presented with a problem to solve, that does not require him getting up out of the chair to actually, personally resolve it. He directed me to the location of the trap, which I could not see. And had to get up and go out in the shop to actually retrieve it himself. Then brought it in and laid it down on the counter top - where I put food! Ick. So I picked it up with metal tongs,laid it on a paper napkin and immediately put the tongs in the dishwasher. A long unsatisfactory conversation ensued about the perfect bait, and I told him what my dad (with vast experience) found to be most effective. No cheese. Peanut butter highly recommended, along with fresh Pecans. Though he would have preferred to use bacon, we settled on readily available pecan. And of course I had to use the tongs to pick up the 'loaded' trap, fearful of turning into a mouse with neck problems.

The cat occasionally comes inside to visit, so there was some concern about placement, but it think it is hidden well enough to not pop Lucy on the nose and send her yowling. I check it every day to determine if we have had success - no luck thus far.

But when I walked out the door to go to work this morning - I found, right there on the doormat, a wee little deceased rodent. The problem with this 'gift' is we cant' know if it one the group of homesteaders or some stranger in town. The cat that had a history of being an excellent mouser, always leaving chipmunks that had been munched on, or skinks, or mice, or half a bird on the doormat, in perfect position for human to step on is now deceased, so the second in line cat, has now become the alpha cat, and taken over responsibilities for bagging lunch. I'm so thankful I did not step on the mouse and have to say: Yikes! But also concerned if the problem is solved, or they are becoming so bountiful from the comfortable life style in our walls, they can afford to push one out of the nest to sacrifice for the common good. The worst part being I don't know if that was the last of the family scurrying around in the walls, or the first - or just what happened when Lucy was out trying to rustle up some grub.

Lucy probably found her trophy I threw out, and enjoyed a fresh meat snack.Let me go check my trap baited with a pecan.....