Thursday, February 27, 2014

Myotis lucifugus

The little brown bat’s latin name is Myotis lucifugus,
which makes it sound a bit more terrifying than it really is.

A winter slumber disturbed

So far, no good in operation rodent vanquish. In fact, far from elimination of household vermin, we’ve actually discovered more.

In case you missed the first half of this journey, let me catch you up to speed: there’s a mouse in our house. Well, there was a mouse in the house. Now I’m confused as to where the little devil went and how he’s getting by on no food at all.

Upon discovering this mouse a couple weeks ago, I set traps and sealed the hole in the wall where I knew he was getting access to the main floor dog dish via the crawlspace below. No dog food has been removed by rodents since, but the traps in the crawlspace remain undisturbed.

In fact, upon first check of the two-trap trapline, I found the sunflower seeds removed from the peanut butter encrusted trap pan and little mouse tongue marks in the peanut butter itself. The dirty bugger outfoxed me! I reset the trap with additional seeds, and this time put a layer of peanut butter on top of the seeds to make it more difficult for the intruder to tiptoe his way to a tasty meal. Every check since then, though, reveals no sign of additional action at the sets.

I’ve had some additional suggestions since my initial report on this issue came out the 13th of this month, including a baiting technique described to me by a fellow Wintergreen Resort patron. He suggests threading some mono fishing line with a needle through a piece of dog food to tie to the mouse trap pan. Not a bad idea. I’ve held off getting that technical with the trap though, insisting (to myself mostly) the tiny fiend will succumb to the peanut butter-sunflower seed speciality I’ve cooked up for it.

That’s what is going on in the crawlspace, anyway. In the attic, there’s a different situation on hand - bats...

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Man about town

Something as simple as finding your favorite cap
can make for a good story to share.

Slap me five, I found my Kromer

Of all the highlights of a small town, one of my favorite has got to be standing in the doorway of the local grocery store to catch up on life with other town folk. You’ve been there before, I’m sure. While walking in you see a face you recognize and are either delighted or obliged to extended a “hey how are ya” greeting. The ensuing conversation can be as short as five seconds or as long as 20 minutes, depending upon what mood the other person is in.

The time varies so much, I think, because folks in a small town have a lot to say to each other. You already know who everybody is, so if you extend the greeting you’re being consciously friendly, at the very least. By expanding from a simple greeting to engage in subjects like the weather, work, or the economy you’re at least expressing an interest in the other person’s opinion - a sign of recognition.

And it can go further than that. If the acquaintance is an old time family friend, or of some distant relation you probably check in on each other’s family matters.

“How’s aunt Susie doing? Does Greg graduate this year already? How are the dogs?”

Have I just aged myself by 30-some years?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Operation rodent vanquish

House mouse needs to die.
Photo by Ryan Somma

Horrified fiancé, determined father, indifferent dog

Let me cut right to the chase - we’ve got a mouse in the house.

I saw the little bugger when I was letting the dog out Saturday night before bed. A little brown blur that moved silently along the baseboard right in front of my feet before vanishing into a thimble sized hole in the wall. The weirdest part about the whole thing is how fast it all happened. One minute I’m yawing in a half daze at the end of a long day, waiting for the dog to come back inside from doing her business, and the next thing I know I’ve got that creepy crawly feeling.

That’s the worst - the sensation your house is suddenly very much not in order.

“How can I go to bed like this,” you start to think to yourself. I wanted immediately to start scrubbing every square inch of the house. Instead I just stood there in shock repeating “You’ve gotta be kidding me,” over and over out loud while the dog clawed at the door to come back inside.

She snapped me out of it, my dog Bean. It was well below zero so she was eager to get back inside. And no, PETA, no animals were harmed in the making of this haunting incident.

No, the dog only suffered my ridicule upon reentering the house, upon which I began shouting (in a hushed voice) things like “Where are your killer instincts?! Sniff that thing out and dig it outa the wall! You mutt!” along with a multitude of nastier choice words.

I started to look along the baseboard in both adjoining rooms, on a mad frantic search for any other breaches of security. Bean just sort of huffed and puffed in the doorway, waiting for her bedtime treat...

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Hibernation inclination

I do enjoy being outside in the cold
but shoveling day and night has got me thinking
about burrowing deep into a snowbank until spring.

In the silence with the tea

You know, the indoors aren’t such a bad thing. I know I've been pushing to get outside and find ways to enjoy and thrive in the cold and snow, and while I do really believe that’s important to do, the relentless arctic assault has made that admittedly challenging this year. As a result, I’ve spent a lot more time inside.

I still slip into long underwear and a wool hat the moment I crawl out of bed, but that’s just because the heating bill is breaking my back, so I keep the thermostat down. I still fumble at the coffee pot first thing in the morning and chomp down a hot breakfast of oatmeal, but that’s just to work up the nerve to go out and shovel.

I’ve been saying “It’s either blistering cold or a fresh six inches of snow, there’s no middle ground out there,” all winter long. The problem is I’m continually right. There have been days (many, many days) this winter where I've shoveled not once, not twice, but thrice in the same day, only to get up and do it again first thing in the morning.

There have even been cases where we’ve been expecting guests up to the house, so I go out and clear off the walk in advance of their arrival, only to have them tramping in clots of snow because the wind was blowing so hard it covered everything back up within 20 minutes.

 I’m starting to weigh the benefits of simply standing on the porch with a shovel all day...