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.

Falling Down (includes house photo)

Our house with a nice fresh coat of non-pink paint.
Our house with a nice fresh coat of non-pink paint.

First, for those who have been eagerly waiting for visual proof of our alleged house painting, here you go! I can’t tell you how nice it is to finally have the house painted, but already it’s beginning to seem natural to see it this color. Soon I’m sure we’ll forget entirely that it was ever the terrible, faded, peeling, pink wreck to which we were so accustomed.

Second, I’m also happy to report that I’ve finally finished installing the duct-work for the exhaust fan we installed when we tiled the upstairs bathroom back in the summer of 2007. Now when you come to visit, you’ll be able to turn on the fan and everything will be vented from the house properly. In all, it was a pretty easy job. Thanks to Don for recommending the installation kit. It had everything I needed except for a large hole saw and a ladder. I did, however, discover that there are between 6 and 8 layers of shingles on our roof, and that it takes a long time to drill a 4″ hole through that many sticky abrasive shingles with a hole saw and a cordless drill. I also learned that it isn’t really safe to climb a ladder from one roof to the next. Okay, actually I was pretty sure of this beforehand, but I really wanted to get the job done. At any rate, after several trips up and down the ladder it finally happened. The ladder kicked out from underneath me and I came crashing down to the lower roof. Physically I was uninjured stay a few little cuts and scrapes, but it was fairly quick and traumatic falling off the roof. The worst part was having to climb back up afterward to finish the job. Nevertheless, I persevered and the roof vent is now happily installed. If you look closely at the photo, you’ll see a small spot of damage in the shingles on the lower roof above our front room, so I’ll be heading back onto the roof at some point to replace a damaged shingle, and there is a small bit of touch-up to perform where the ladder scraped against the house when everything came crashing down. I’m quite happy that it missed the window altogether. I also learned, and this too isn’t much of a surprise, that gutters cannot support body weight. Hollywood is lying to you on a pretty regular basis. Sometime in the fall, I grabbed the gutter and that probably kept me from falling off the second roof, but now I also have a loose gutter I need to reattach. Had my feet not reached the roof, I’m sure the gutter would have come completely off the house.

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!