Saturday, February 26, 2011

On Thursday, it rained, it sleeted, it snowed...

...and then it all froze.

They say in the Midwest, if you aren't happy with the weather, wait 15 minutes and it will change.

Okay, I'm ready. Change.

Change back to what the weather was like the day before all of this happened, the day when it was 60 degrees!

I don't like seeing my coneflowers...

...looking like sno-cone flowers.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The mouse

Toys are made to look like them.

There are darling illustrated storybooks about them.

I bought the children's book, "The Tale of Fancy Nancy" years ago just because I thought this little mouse was so cute covering her boo boo with a cabbage leaf (a nut had fallen on her nose).

But then a real mouse moved into my house.

I had been hearing a racket in the kitchen at night for about a week and thought it was just Violet. But one night I had had enough and when I got up to see what the heck she was doing, discovered that she was fast asleep right next to me. Hmmm. Odd.

I couldn't see anything in the kitchen so all that noise must be coming from...a mouse! This was a first. I've never had mice in the house before because up to now, I've had a working mouse-catcher named Violet. But Violet's getting I guess she retired and forgot to tell me.

I bought a livetrap, set it, went to bed, and fifteen minutes later...the bold little thing had been caught.

(This photo was taken in the morning after the mouse spent the entire night trying to chew his way out of the trap.)

And now it was time to find a new home for that mouse fast because that hole in the plastic was getting bigger by the minute.

I got ready for work, put the mouse and the trap in the back of the car and then started driving. But that mouse was making such a racket, I made the decision to get him out of my car fast. Rather than release him into a nice park on my way to work, I made a quick right turn and found myself in a lower income neighborhood. I stopped the car, took the trap out and then after opening it just a smidge......that mouse suddenly leapt 8 feet in the air and scrambled up someone's driveway.

When I told this story to Dick he was just appalled. "Maria, those people have a hard enough time without you driving by and flinging vermin at them." Uh. I hadn't really thought that part out. :-/

The days and nights after that little event were nice and quiet. I felt bad for the mouse since it's winter and all but it was good to have him gone.

I then got this email via Meg:

hi maria...

no need ta worry 'bout me. i got me a gig playing the ivories down on
troost at the homeless shelter. i miss your pot roast something fierce
though, i tell all my stinky buds about it every night, as we crunch on our moldin' leftovers.

PSST...tell my cuzzins back at the okeefe dishwasher hotel, howdy for me, maybe ill hike back home in the spring with all my pals,...for our seasonal reunion.

miss ya.


And sure enough, there soon was evidence of another mouse in the kitchen. Feeling smug about how easy and fast it was to catch the first one, I knew I could handle this. I made a little peanut butter sandwich on a toasted English muffin and placed it in the trap. The next morning?

The mouse had taken the sandwich out of the trap (without having the trap go off!) and carried the little repast about 18 inches away, untouched, no nibbles, all muffin pieces where they should be, and just left it. Left it! Like it was a message. A personal message to me.

I watched the news that night and one of the things they reported was that it was very cold outdoors so mice were moving indoors. Huh? There must be a lot of other local people having to deal with this same problem...which does lead me to think in a paranoid but informed sort of way......that that creepy mouse might have been caught and then flung back to my house during a drive-by.

And now he's baaaaaaaaaaaack.

And he's mad.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Crazy days of winter

Last Sunday I drove to Aussie's Acers (how you spell "acres" in the country...bear with me while I test out new names for that "acerage" of mine...and Aussie's) and spent the day in the snow with the dogs. This was the snow that was in the process of melting from the blizzard a couple weeks ago.

But then on Thursday, the temperature soared into the 70s. That meant pent up turtles could be released outdoors.

Cathy has been trying to escape from her tank all winter. Was she excited to be outdoors again?

Hard to tell.

To have a salad picnic outdoors?

Also, hard to tell.

But what about Michael (with a cobweb on his nose)?

For some reason there was an urgency to get back into the house by trying to climb the steps...

But when he saw me looking at him, he reconsidered and headed off to his remembered favorite spot...


... that prime one square foot area between the fence and the Japanese kerria.

How excited was Violet about this gorgeous day?

Not much.

I cleared some leaves and saw that some daffodils had poked their little heads above ground. I was excited to see that. But the daffodils? They seemed tentative about this whole spring thing too which is probably why they were still undercover.

Turtles, cats, daffodils...why oh why can't they be more like dogs?

In your face and enthusiastic about absolutely everything 100% all the time!

Come on spring, get moving! Show me some tracks.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Finding a name for that land o' mine in Kansas

Red Feather Creek. That's what the previous owners named it. But I want a new name for that land o' mine. It's not as if I don't like the name Red Feather's just that I have yet to see a red cardinal there...let alone one red feather. It doesn't seem like a name that suits it anymore. But I just can't seem to move beyond the one that Meg came up with because it makes us laugh so much. Her idea? To put up a new sign that reads, "Mine. Mine. All of this. Mine!" Can you picture it? We sure can.

Anyway, last year I could not wait to get out to that land after a snowfall so I could see the tracks of all the animals that had visited. What I saw was nothing but Aussie tracks. No other animal tracks, just Aussie's.

This year? Look at this. It looks like a dog Woodstock concert happened while I was away. There were tracks leading just about everywhere.

There were so many tracks, some of them had become established trails. I suppose that land o'mine is not really so much "mine" when it is so obviously "theirs" when I'm not around.

Like last year, I followed the tracks (and trails) to see what those dogs found so interesting. But unlike last year, where it was just me following Aussie tracks (sans Aussie), this time I had five of the dogs who made the tracks go walking with me.

When we go walking, Aussie has the two puppies trained so that one of them has to wait for me while the other dogs get to move forward at their chosen pace. Tilly waited for me at the top of the first hill. When I got to the top, Bo was the one who stayed back with me while Tilly ran ahead.

I sat on a fallen hickory tree at the top of the hill because I didn't know which direction I wanted to go (lots of tracks and trails and no idea which trail the other dogs had taken). Maybe I sat there too long because Bo made some small little sound which all the dogs heard and then they all came running from wherever they were and when they all got to me, they all stood up and started licking my face. I don't know what was the signal to start all of that but Aussie was not happy about this kind of behavior. Dogs are not supposed to jump up on people ever. She was not happy about what was going on and let all the other dogs know it. I felt kind of bad because I didn't want to let her down but dang, those dogs were being extra cute. But Aussie's rules are Aussie's rules so I got up and we started walking on the trail leading southeast.

The older dogs took off and I was left with both Tilly and Bo. They soon got distracted and started to roughhouse on top of my feet.

Bo got Tilly.

Tilly got Bo.

And then Elvis wondered why his two kids were taking such a long time to catch up.

"Gotta go."

Apology kisses to their dad.

Finally, all of us were back on the trail. And I mean all of us. Tilly and Bo walked single file (and undistracted!) with me and the other dogs and we kept walking until we got to a far corner of the property.

Look at that trail. I have no idea what they found so fascinating that they had to go there nearly every day.

But off they go...

Up and up...

Aussie stayed back with me. It was cold and I didn't feel like crossing a frozen creek just to try climbing a really steep frozen hill. Besides, it's very Blair Witchy in that part of the land. I remember one time crossing a creek and then finding myself on the wrong side of it on the way back...I don't know how that happened. How do creeks disappear and reappear like that?

So I stayed put and just watched those silly dogs...

...until I got too cold to stay any longer. I turned back and was soon joined by the dogs after they finished jumping up and down under a tree trying to catch the attention of something.

And as is their habit, after any walk, a dog needs to jump in a creek, even if it's frozen.

I'm not so sure I can put up a sign that reads, "Mine. Mine. All of this. Mine." when it is so obviously theirs, theirs, theirs.

However, I think Aussie would approve of a sign that said "Mine. Mine. All of this. Mine."

Because I know that's exactly how she feels about the land too. :-)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

"We're going to die! We're all going to die!"

That was the weather forecast for yesterday so I took the day off from work and waited. Nothing happened for hours but in the afternoon it started to snow...and it continued to snow....and...surprisingly, it continued to snow. And when I went to sleep last night, the news reported no deaths, or accidents, because apparently everyone in the city was too scared to leave their homes.

The storm had passed when I woke up this morning. There was probably a foot of snow on the ground....bad, but not too bad. And there were drifts (luckily the only crazy drift I saw in my own yard was the mohawk on top of my car). At least twelve inches of snow had fallen. That merits a description of a serious snowstorm but it didn't really hit home until I noticed there were no animal tracks in the snow. None. There are always raccoon, opposum, squirrel, rabbit, mouse, cat or bird tracks traveling somewhere in any fresh snow following a snowfall but trace of an attempt to get out by any creature with two or four feet. Not even when I got home from work tonight. Those animals were probably listening to their weather forecasters too and decided they were not going to venture out into the mess either.

If I still lived in Minnesota, I would have thought of this snowstorm as a normal day in May but for Missouri? A definite wow.