Very Superstitious

On Friday, I turned 35.

When I was a kid my mom would throw surprise birthday parties. Every year. The day of the party I would be required to go somewhere. Inevitably, someone would need something from the store, even if we already had the item or never had the item. “Come on Ralph, we gotta get some chocolate licorice and a tube of epoxy!” When I’d get back, the house would be crammed with every family member within eighty miles. The same was done for my brother and sisters. For the first couple years, it was a surprise, after that … maybe a bit less of a surprise.

However, one year it worked. My grandmother (Nanny) and I went for a drive to see my uncle Mark, who lives quite a distance from my mom. I assumed it was the expected trip away from the house. When we got to Mark’s place, my mom and everyone else was there. Apparently he had expressed an interest in having the party for me. It’s a gesture that I’ve never forgotten and it probably meant a lot more to me than he knew.

My last surprise party was for my thirteenth birthday, in 1993. That was the day the Storm of the Century buried our little street, wrapping everything in a thick padding of white like a tremendous fluffy present from Nature. I’m sure my step-dad still has the VHS tape he recorded on his massive camcorder, which he protected from the blizzard with a big black garbage bag. Watching the video later was like watching a silent movie while someone smashed grocery bags into your ears.

While we didn’t have a party this year, we did celebrate. We are now the proud new owners of a self-propelled lawn mower and a weed eater that weighs as much as a horse.

Title From:
Superstition
by Stevie Wonder

Falling in Love in the Setting Sun

There is a group of mule deer here whose numbers are between 17-20. They’ll often wander through our back pasture in small clumps. Yesterday six or seven of them decided to rest by a shed that will eventually become our goat barn. I’ve taken dozens of photographs through the windows, trying not to disturb them, but yesterday I decided I’d had enough of the distorted images and I opened the back door.

Slowly and quietly over a period of ten minutes, I worked my way outside without startling them. Sitting on the step with a warm breeze blowing in the early evening sun, while the mangy deer lounged nearby, was beyond exciting. I have probably repeated “I sat with wild deer!” to Brian no less than twenty times. Incredibly, in the half hour I spent with them, I didn’t get a single good picture.

Title From:
Tell the World
by Eric Hutchinson

It’s Just the Way It Goes

We are being overrun by mice. Poop is everywhere!

They began their assault by entering through plumbing holes beneath the kitchen sink. We plugged the holes with steel wool, which they then pushed out of the way to continue peeing all over the dish rack. So we hot glued the steel wool in place and stopped their invasion. Then the assault came from behind the stove. We moved the stove and the refrigerator and glued steel wool into any opening big enough for a ball bearing to fit through. Following that, the mice started pouring from the furnace closet. We can’t remove the furnace to reseal the room so we blocked access to the bottom of the door by installing a threshold.

Finally, the onslaught of mice abated…for about three hours.

Mice started showing up beside the refrigerator again. We could hear them clanking around in the oven. They’d shoot across the floor to a dog bowl and back into their safe haven. Occasionally they’d make their way into the living room and hide behind the couch as Levee, our heeler/shepherd/mystery mix stalked the area, waiting for them to emerge. Our bedroom is off the living room and yesterday I watched as a shadow flew across the floor and disappeared around the corner. “Mouse!” is Levee’s new favorite command and when I saw it bolt into our room I shouted “Mouse! Mouse! Mouse!” and pointed to where it went. I followed her in and checked the only place I felt they would have the nerve to hide: the closet.

Poop. Was. Everywhere.

We use a large metal shelf in our closet to hold all the sheets, towels, blankets, and a couple baskets of socks. Everything was covered in little black pellets. I found two holes, no larger than marbles, against one of the walls.

ARGH!

We pulled everything out again in the kitchen and the bedroom closet, found they had made a sizable entrance next to the gas pipe, resealed everything with steel wool, glued in place of course. This time we also nailed or screwed 1×2″ strips of wood above the steel wool.

Next we need to check every other closet and seal the bathroom as well, where they’ve started coming in behind the toilet. If they get through these barriers, our last attempt at finding a way to stop them without murdering them, will be to staple screen or flashing over the steel wool and wood. If they still persist, they’ll leave us with no choice.

We’ll have to move.

Title From:
What It Is
by Kodaline

Catch as Catch Can

One of the cows from the neighboring ranch got into our pasture this afternoon. Unfortunately, our fencing isn’t very solid. We had intended to repair it in the spring so we could put a couple horses of our own out there, but it’s not spring yet, so it’s still unsuitable for animals.

I didn’t want to risk her getting out of our pasture as well, so I had to run out in the wind, alone, to mend the one large opening that would allow her complete freedom. Most of the fencing is, unfortunately, barbed wire, but the opening is a gate of sorts, made with livestock fence that had blown down recently. I don’t know how much experience you’ve had with this heavy gauge fencing but it’s very similar to chain-link in its unwieldy nature. If you have someone to help you or, you know, do it for you, it’s a lot easier.

After much contorting and grumbling, I got the opening sealed, and now she’s safe until the neighbor corrals her back onto their land. I am way more proud of this than I probably should be…

Title From:
Always
by Blind Pilot

What Will Be, Will Be

We didn’t get as much done over the weekend as we had hoped.

We have some of the lights up but there are multiple strands still laying in the yard. We have to go through a few and find whichever bulbs are causing the outages. I guess the title from my last post was foretelling. Christmas lights frustrate me, as does pie crust, wrapping oddly shaped presents, and doors that do not clearly mark if they swing from the left or from the right.

On the mouse front… We plugged every hole we could find that may be allowing the mice access to the kitchen. Now they’re coming from the furnace closet. I can’t kill them. It isn’t a part of who I am to snuff out a life simply because it’s annoying me. So, we will continue to block them as much as we can until they find things too difficult here and move on. I want to believe that’s a possibility. This is a battle I refuse to lose!

We didn’t get around to painting any decorations or ordering any ornaments. Someone, possibly a plow, destroyed our mailbox, so we had to spend some time putting a new one up. I don’t mean “we” really. I did participate by putting the new numbers on the box, so there’s that. The mailbox is now back in place and ready for packages. It’s pointing a little cockeyed in regards to lining up with the road but quirkiness is a quality attribute. I hope our mailman agrees.

Oh well, there’s always next weekend!

Title From:
Que Sera, Sera
by Doris Day