My phobias

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I learned something about myself tonight. 

When I see a mouse in my house, I inhale sharply.

When I see a snake in my house, I yip and dance away (this is from memory, nothing lately)

Spiders don’t bother me too much.

It is again the time of year for critters to find a nice warm place to winter.  I put some mouse bait under the kitchen sink.  I am not nearly so terrified by mice as snakes.  I need to get GD under the house to see what the snake situation is.

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Egads

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Mom, don’t read this. Stop here and find something else to do. Seriously. I’m not kidding.

I told the kids I was going to clean the fish tank today, as in stay out of trouble while I am doing this. Janie said she wanted to help. They are her fish after all, she really enjoys them. She cleaned the algae off of the mermaid with what she calls Dad’s toothbrush. It is an old one of course. Then she supervised me cleaning the gravel with the suction thing. Mom, you gotta stop reading now, I mean it.

This morning I awoke to the dulcet tones of my husband shouting “Holy $#!&”. We had another snake in the house, this one a granddaddy garter snake. It was huge and in our bathtub. We don’t know how it got in the tub, it couldn’t have made it through the drain, it has a screen on it. We could see some dirt tracks on the ledge of the tub, so we speculate it came up through the overflow for the tub, but that had to be a squeeze for him, he was enormously thick, like about the size of 50 cent piece. GD said if this keeps up, we are gonna move.

Then, he confessed to what I have long suspected, he would “rather not” handle snakes. He kind of hinted around that maybe I should take care of it. I pointed out our unspoken agreement, I do poopy diapers without complaining and he does pest removal. We don’t have a screen on the bathroom window, so he just tossed him out the window. Hopefully the dog got him.

My step dad, my knight in shining armor, is supposed to come help me do some honey do projects next weekend, like snake sealing. Last time he was here, he got sick, so he didn’t do much, and I understand. I hope Mom is feeding him lots of vitamin C, and you better not be reading this Mom. If you read this and change your mind about coming, I may never forgive you. Now that the snakes have made it to our end of the house, GD has taken some serious interest in getting the problem solved.

What a mess!

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My house is such a mess right now.  I stick to the kitchen floor when I walk across it.   The kids are tracking in the first dirt of the season.  Leo doesn’t understand to close the screen door after himself, so the cats are tracking themselves in.  I run the dishwasher two times a day, and still can’t keep up.  The Dr said I can feed Paul real food now.  Great.  More dishes to wash.  (he’s such a big boy!)

Mt. Laundry is perched on my couch, and I am giving the kids skiing lessons on the bunny slope.  Mae is starting to catch on, we use the coffee table for a mogel.  I did manage to sort off the socks and undies today, as well as fold some sheets.  Paul has been needy all afternoon and evening.  He wants to be held, so here I am with him face down across my lap.  He cries when I put him down.  His new hobby is spitting up homemade cottage cheese on my floor.  Did I mention my floor is sticky?

The kids wanted to have a sleep over tonight.  I got out their sleeping bags and put them in the boys’ room.  Leo is using Janine’s old Barbie bag in his crib.  If anyone wonders what he might like for his birthday… Jane eventually got mad and went to her room and Mae is parked in front of Paul’s crib.  I guess that is fine, since it doesn’t look like he’ll be sleeping in it anyway.  I was an evil mom today and didn’t let the kids nap so Sayed and I could have our Thursday night date while the kids went to bed early.  How about that ending?  Grandpa Daddy said, “now I’m LOST!”

I overheard someone promising to buy their kid a fish at preschool today.  I jumped all over that and offered to bring one.  Now I only have three babies to get rid of.  Then I need to have the fish spayed or neutered.  Wonder which is cheaper, or more feasible.  Wonder which one is the daddy?  I still am not clear as to what happened.  The parents are spending an inordinate amount of time under the filter, where I think all of the nasty business takes place… but they don’t look a thing alike!  How can this be?  I guess I should have taken more genetics or maybe fishery classes in college, but who knew that it would come in handy?

Speaking of wildlife, Mae found where the snakes are coming into our house, or rather the crawl space.  She wanted to know if she could pick one up, I said, sure why not?  She didn’t get up the nerve.  She also wanted to kill one.  I suggested that she not do that, since outdoor snakes are good, but indoor snakes are bad.  My stepdad has graciously offered to help fix the problem next week.  I hope he doesn’t need any help, from what I saw, our whole basement could be a snake condo.

I spent the afternoon picking up sticks and branches from our 2006 ice storm.  You see it broke off the branches, but they got stuck in the trees, and now blow down from time to time.  I looked at each stick carefully to make sure it wasn’t a wiggly stick.  Eeew.

Off to bed, I hope.

Pestilence

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I wrote this last October, then didn’t get it posted. While it is outdated, something reared its ugly head today and prompted me to post it.

Now that fall is here, the evenings are getting cool, the lawn is covered with yellow leaves and the occasional cornhusk. The calves in the back lot are bawling for their mamas. The sump pump is running several times an hour, now that the irrigation has stopped and the groundwater is rising again. And most alarming, little critters are looking for a warm place to winter.

In the past week we caught a mouse on the sticky trap, on the kitchen counter, behind the coffee pot. Yuck. I guess that was a good place to put the trap, I certainly noticed it right away. Then there was the mouse that died in our closet. I found him under the spare crib which needed to be drug out and installed anyway. You know, I sprayed some 409 in there, scrubbed it into the carpet then covered the whole episode with Febreeze, and that stuff is wonderful. Anything that will cover up “eau de souris au mort” is my friend. (I took Spanish if that doesn’t look grammatical to you French speakers) I would much rather have dead mice where you can find them than under the kitchen counters where they are unreachable, and where they just stink until they decompose completely.

Then this weekend, the ladies came out of the toy room/guest bedroom and announced that there was a real snake by the drum. As a stalling tactic, I asked what color it was, and I learned it was red and black and yellow. A garter snake? Eeew. I am not a snake person. I told my dad to get rid of it, but Nanny stepped up and went in after it, alone, without any weapons like a garbage can or gloves or anything! She came out with it curled up in her hands to show the ladies and tell them all about snakes. Good for her, they won’t be learning that from me.

A week before Mae was born, in December 2002, I was up late, and saw a garter snake heading down the hall to the toy room. My husband didn’t get out of bed in time to capture it, and I cleaned the room out thoroughly and never found it. Several months later, I spied it in our coat room, all the way across the house from the toy room. That time I made my husband get rid of it. It was too close to our room for him to ignore my yelling. We thought that he got in through the trap door to our crawl space, but it was closed this time. Must have been the garage door.

Fast forward to March 2. This afternoon, Mae rushed out with a news bulletin about a snake under Leo’s jammies on the floor in his room (don’t ask why we store jammies on the floor). What color is it? Black and white (a garter snake again). I girded my loins by putting on GD’s cowboy boots, and grabbing the horse’s grain bucket. I entered the room and closed the door behind myself. I took the height chart off the wall (a cute four foot 1X6 board with foam decals on it) for a weapon, and went on the prowl. I poked the jammies, then moved to the closet. I emptied it piece by piece and came up empty handed. I moved Paul’s crib, and the culprit lay up against the baseboard, looking at me (rearing its ugly head). I put the bucket down against the wall and poked at the snake, who ssslid right by the bucket. I then had Mae bring me the phone so I could call our neighbor to see if they had anyone brave at their house. They both came over and he smooshed it with the cute measuring board, put it in the bucket and dumped it in the corral. We spoke and I determined that while he is not fond of snakes and will jump when he sees one, he doesn’t scream. Oddly enough, the snake didn’t leave any trace on the cute measuring board, which is back on the wall. I am pragmatic if nothing else.

I can deal with a snake if I have to, but I grew up in rattlesnake country, so I take snake reports seriously, even though it has been 20 years since I have seen a rattlesnake in the wild. Mom had a special “snake scream” we would hear from time to time. Because we had bullsnakes too,(which don’t look much like rattlesnakes, [although more than garter snakes do,] unless you have your back turned and are traveling at high speeds) we always had to ask, “what kind and where is it?”

Summer snake, photo by Mae

Where was GD? you ask. That is another story, tune in tomorrow!