Food, Mouse Update, and a General Hooray!

Hooray! We finally have a comment on our blog! Ten gold stars to “Bob,” who likes the new paint job.

I thought you might be interested to hear that I was wrong about the mice being gone for the season. On Tuesday morning, Dave and I thought the bedroom smelled kind of funny, but we had to leave for work. On Tuesday night, I got home from book club and Dave announced: “The bedroom smells like DEATH. You have to go find the death.” Well, I found it—another mouse, curled up on a piece of paper I’m sure I was saving for something. Dave “handled” it while I took a bath—it was his turn. At least I didn’t find it with my bare foot—I’m sure some of you remember that horrible story!

I had an unbelievably delicious avocado for breakfast this morning. I usually only buy them if they’re 10 for $10 at King Soopers, but yesterday they were $.98! No brown spots, just creamy deliciousness. I feel very guilty about eating fresh fruit that has to be grown in a warm climate in December, but the perils of globalization are often its joys.

Mice Aren’t Always Nice

We occasionally get a mouse in the house, usually in the fall when they’re trying to get in out of the cold. This year I was talking to N on the phone in one of our bi-weekly calls when I saw a little dark shape darting past the garbage can. We put out the humane mousetrap, but days went by and no mouse appeared. One day we came home and found the poor little guy expired on the floor in front of the sliding glass door—oh, the irony! I always feel really sad when they die. Why couldn’t he have gone into the trap, so I could’ve taken him outside and let him go? A few weeks later I was looking for something I thought I’d brought home from work when I left R&L. I went out to the garage to rifle through the boxes and smelled something funny just as I saw another dark little shape darting by. Oh, dear. Yep; it turns out that I had left a bunch of snack food in the boxes and the mice had taken up residence. One poor little guy had died in there and was liquefied to the bottom of the box. Everything was chewed up—gross—or peed on—even grosser. I had to wash all my pens and pencils, which made kind of a strange sight in the drying rack. Everything smelled like ammonia and/or had nibble marks. Some of the paper was shredded into a little nest. Once everything was all clean, and the dead mouse disposed of, there was still the problem of the mouse I’d seen dart away. I put some stale bread into the humane trap—it’s not necessary, but I knew he’d be hungry after a while, since I’d thrown away the smorgesboard. I checked the trap every day, but our cute little mice seem to have a death wish. When we got back from a weekend trip to Portland, there he was. He’d eaten all the bread and then died. I felt awful, as always, and chucked him over the back fence. We’re probably mouse-free until next year.

Sleeping Late

Alexander doesn’t sound too happy this morning, but I am. It’s been great to sleep late in the mornings, hang out with Jennifer and Lee, interrogate them about the joys and travails of parenthood, and eat plenty of food. Yesterday Dave and I didn’t get up until 10:30 and we didn’t make it out of the house for coffee until 11:30. We stopped at a really cute coffee stand and I had an excellent latte. Then to another terrific family-owned business, a pastry shop, where I had a cherry turnover. We looked around St. Joseph, walked on the beach in the cold November wind, and walked up and down the cute little main street. It’s terrific for Jennifer and Lee to be living so close to the water, which they both love. I was surprised to see very few ethnic restaurants, but I guess I’m spoiled, living in Boulder and traveling for work to big cities every several months. It makes sense that there aren’t a lot of Nepalese restaurants in the Midwest.

I can hear Lee singing The Turkeys on the Bus to Alexander, who is still making annoyed whines. You guessed it—the turkeys go gobble-gobble-gobble. It’s terribly cute. And it happened more naturally than I expected. One day we were whitewater rafting and the next we’re all singing at and poking at the baby.

Yesterday we had dinner at an Italian restaurant (I had fettuccine primavera) and then headed to the bowling alley, but you had to have cash to bowl and none of us had any. We almost always go bowling when we see each other, so we’ll probably go back today. We’ll also head over to the library, which is just across the street from the housing development—a wonderful feature! Jennifer and Lee have plenty of space in their new house and they’re close to work, shopping, and the beach. Nice.

On the Road

Well, just for the novelty, I’m blogging from the road. It’s 9:00 a.m., Mountain Standard Time, on Thanksgiving, and Dave and I are in Illinois, nearly to Chicago. We started driving in Boulder at about 5:30 p.m. last night, and, save a brief mistake that took us out of our way, we’ve been heading to Jennifer and Lee’s since then. We’re actually in Central time at the moment, and we’ll switch to Eastern time when we get to Michigan. I was really tired around 7:30 p.m. last night, but Dave said I’d get used to driving relentlessly in the dark, and he was right. He drove until about 11:30, when we stopped for gas and dinner: the sandwiches we made from fixings in the cooler (turkey and roast beef with cheese and condiments, on burrito shells). I took over driving until 1:30 a.m., at which point I was clutching the steering wheel and staring fixedly ahead. Dave had been sleeping soundly while I listened to a book on CD, The Wal-Mart Effect. I pulled into a rest station and we switched drivers. I slept like a rock until 3:30 a.m., when he pulled into a rest stop. For some reason, I was wide awake once I’d gone to the bathroom. This rest stop in the middle of Iowa was clean and new, and, best of all, had a coffee machine! I remember those from my childhood, although I don’t remember from where. Maybe the DMV or somewhere else “grown up.” I bought a truly dreadful English toffee fakuccino for $.85. It was just as fun as always to watch the cup drop and then the door open. The whole thing was much cleaner than I remembered from decades ago. I wondered briefly if our kids would ever see a coffee machine. We got back into the car and I drove until 6:30 a.m. or so—through my favorite time to drive, sunrise. And it was just gorgeous! First I realized that I could see dark clouds where before there had only been dark. Then the sky progressively lightened into a pale gray and then into sunset—first pinks and blues and then deeper and deeper pinks, verging on orange. Every few moments it was totally changed, although I could never see the transition. I woke Dave up several times to look. Finally, the sunset flamed out with a massive ball of deep, glowing orange sun, like an electric tangerine hovering at the horizon.

sunset
sunrise

We switched drivers again, got coffee, and I’ve been napping. Dave’s iPod ran out of battery, so we’re letting my shuffle choose songs for us. (Happily, the rented Dodge Avenger has an auxiliary connection for the iPods and cruise control, although everything else is less than stellar.) The traffic is thickening—we’re near Chicago—but the drive has been uneventful so far, with no weather and a few pleasant moments, like the sunset and crossing the Mississippi. I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving dinner, seeing Jennifer and Lee, and playing with the baby!

Thisssss One’s for Mom and Don

Mom and Don came to visit, as they always do, this fall. It was October already by the time we got to see them. We had a great time: good food (including all of our favorite restaurants), a nice hike (I was at work, alas), a trip up to the Great Stupa at Redfeather Lakes, and time to chat (never enough). As exciting as a political conversation about babies in day care is (and Don and I enjoyed it very much over beer/margaritas at Efrain’s), it was at home that the major excitement occurred. We were all getting ready to go somewhere or other, but Mom and Don had beaten Dave and me to the front room. Mom opened the door, and that’s when

THE YELLING STARTED!

“A snake, a snake; a snake is coming in the door!” Mom yelled.

Don yelled something like, “Where’s the snake?” Then he yelled some more. There was general commotion. Mom kept yelling, “in the door!” Water was suddenly sploshing everywhere, I caught a quick glimpse of Don with the white plastic watering can in his hand, and the door was banged closed.

Dave and I had been keeping to the living room, incredulously watching the scene unfolding in front of us. Once the fuss died down, it turned out that Mom had opened the front door and our friendly garter snake had made a beeline for the front room. Don didn’t believe that the snake was actually coming in, and he figured it was probably just a worm when Mom started yelling about a snake COMING IN. So when the snake got past the threshold and he realized that it was no worm, he tried to grab it and then grabbed the watering can. Between his hands and the can, he managed to toss the snake out into the yard. He also managed to splash water all over. We pointed out where we thought the snake had been hiding, along the house. We see him pretty frequently—although never inside!

Update

The other weekend, I was painting the trim on the front windows when I saw our snake. I remembered that the camera was in the car, so I took a couple of photos of him hiding at the base of the mum to show Mom and Don. He got nervous and started to slither away, toward the front door. What the heck? Was he heading toward the concrete stoop and driveway, where it would be hard to stay out of sight? I kept snapping photos until he poked his head…and then more of his body…and then more of his body…and then more, and more, into a little hole beneath the door frame. I’m inclined to let him stay. He’s very beautiful and I imagine he eats bugs trying to get in the front door. I just hope he doesn’t make another break for it.