Friday, December 21, 2012

Feliz Navidad!

I’ve been gone.   Have you noticed?  We shared Thanksgiving with my family in Lincoln and extended the holiday by celebrating Dean’s mom’s 85th birthday with his family before driving home, unpacking, packing again and leaving two days later for Ecuador where we spent 12 days with Abby and Jorge.  I have lots of stories and lots of photos.  What I haven’t had is time.  Time to share those stories and photos.  Heck I haven’t had time to LOOK at any photos we took.  I haven’t had time to bake one Christmas cookie or write a Christmas letter or even just sign my name to a Christmas card, slap a stamp on it and throw it in the mailbox.   (Don’t worry Dean, I did find time to shop – a little.)

I have only had time to unpack and make a list of things we need to bring to Leslie and Ryan’s before we pack again to spend Christmas with them in Sheridan.  We will be relaxing and napping  in front of their fireplace, playing with kids and pretty much just kicking back and being lazy.  (There ARE advantages to reaching this “golden age”!)   Abby and Jorge will be spending their Christmas with Jorge’s family at the beach dancing until dawn.   I wish we could all be together again like we were last year, but if Jorge’s Complicated/How Does Anybody Navigate This Process?/Really?  Immigration needs WHAT piece of paper now?!/Visa Process goes well, Abby and Jorge will be living here in the U.S. for next year’s holiday season (another story I haven’t had time to tell).  Cross your fingers!

When life slows down and I have put our suitcases away for longer than seven days, I will tell you stories about blue-footed boobies, pina coladas on the beach, a street filled with luminarias, lying in bed listening to the beautiful early morning singing flowing from the cathedral across the street from our hotel, walking on the paramo at 13,000 feet in El Cajas National Park  and listening to the deep sighs of  my head-holding sick husband as Jorge drove down winding mountain roads, brow wrinkled and tense with worry about his father-in-law, on our last day in Ecuador.

In the meantime, I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and Joyous New Year.   I hope you are all able to share it with someone you love.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Sometimes You Just Have To Let It Slide

I'll bet you were hoping you wouldn’t have to read any more about boxelder bugs weren't you?  I'll bet you were hoping you wouldn't have to read any more about boxelder bugs as much as I hope I will never hear the words “fiscal cliff” again.   How about you?  Are you sick of hearing the words “fiscal cliff” on the radio and reading the words “fiscal cliff” in the paper?   Every.  Single. Day?  Me too.  I’m sick of boxelder bugs and fiscal cliffs.  I’m so sick of hearing about the fiscal cliff I’m afraid I’ll lose control and hurl myself off a real cliff.  Unfortunately for you, I haven't finished writing about boxelder bugs.  Wait!  Hello?  Come back.  I promise it’ll be entertaining.  Sigh 

Remember back here when I admitted that Dean and I were the cause of our own boxelder bug infestation and I swore Dean would cut those trees down as soon as I could convince him there is no greater joy in life than brandishing a brand new chain saw, slashing his way through a forest of trees swarming with repulsive insects and listening to the crashing sounds as giant trees topple to the ground in a thunderous roar  making his wife happy?  Turns out I was wrong.  We are not the only cause of our my anguish.   Ever since I’ve become obsessed interested in the boxelder species I’ve gotten pretty good at scoping out boxelder trees from afar and this weekend as we were driving along the highway, nearing the home my boxelder tree antennae started pulsing.  I sat up straighter, my head spun to the right and there they were boxelder trees growing along the creek.  Females.  The BAD ones.  I felt a little deflated. 

Soon after we pulled into our driveway.  My boxelder antennae started vibrating and twisting and turning so fast I thought my head would lift off.

I looked toward ournext doorneighbors.  TWO boxelder trees.  In their front yard!  

Our neighbors across the highway.  Boxelder Tree.  In their yard!  

A bit down the creek.  Boxelder Trees!

My shoulders slumped.  How was I going to control this yearly infestation if everyone around us was thwarting me?  I was dejected but I wasn’t ready to give up hope because last week we’d made traps for the pests and for seven days I’d been dreaming of driving up to see mounds of brown husks stuck in gooey 

Vaseline.  What I saw, however, was bright yellow Vaseline-covered bug-free cardboard.  It turns out Vaseline isn’t sticky enough to hold them until their squirmy little legs permanently stop twitching.  They just skate right through it on their way to a better sunbathing spot on the outside of the house or to visit with their friends inside. 

As I was sucking up boxelder bugs with the shop vac I became more and more discouraged about the whole situation.   I really wanted to spend all day grimly pacing back and forth in front of the house with the shop vac nozzle at the ready but I didn’t want to be responsible for the neck injury Dean would get from  shaking his head over and over and over every time he looked at me.  Anyway there was half an acre of leaves waiting to be raked and gutters filled with sticks and leaf muck that needed to be removed so I reluctantly tore myself away from the shop vac.

 As I was raking, dragging and dumping sodden piles of leaves over the bank I tried to come up with creative ways to manage my boxelder bug nightmare. 

Once a week, in the middle of the night, we could quietly saw off a branch of a boxelder tree in our neighbors’ yards until one morning they woke up and realized they no longer had a tree.

We could build a big plastic dome over our property. 

We could cover the traps with double-sided tape or spray adhesive instead of Vaseline. 

We could cover our whole house with double-sided tape or spray adhesive.

Or we could accept the fact that we are surrounded by boxelder trees and the bugs are never going to leave, turn lemons into lemonade and become rich through marketing them.

Boxelder snacks:  toasted, salted or candied. 

Boxelder teas and coffees.  Roasted to perfection.

Eco-friendly boxelder fiber supplement.

Boxelder bug foot pumice/face cleanser.

Once I really started thinking about it, the possibilities were endless.  I began to cheer up.  I started thinking maybe things weren’t so bad after all.  Maybe there was hope.  Maybe I just needed to change my attitude and focus on the positive instead of the negative.  I decided not to let a little bug color my whole outlook on life.  After all, the skies were blue, Dean was getting the gutters cleaned, I was getting up most of the leaves, and Angus was being a perfect puppy lounging in the sun on the end of his rope taking it all in … Angus?  Angus! Angus!!

I’ve always wondered how people could be stupid enough to jump into a hot springs after their dog, or into a raging river after their dog, or participate in any risk-your-life-dog-saving act, but when I looked over and saw the leash stretched out over the edge of the bank and there was no barking or whining or movement on the rope*, without any thought other than “please don’t let there be 60 pounds of fur dangling from this leash” I ran toward the edge of the cliff   and I went right over it after him.  Okay, it wasn’t technically a “cliff but it was a dang steep bank, it was a long way to the bottom, and it was covered in wet, slippery leaves. I slid down it right into Angus who had settled on the only somewhat level area below the bank and was looking at me with fear in his eyes.  Just as I was beginning to wonder how Angus and I were going to get back up that steep and slippery wall of leaves I looked up to see Dean looking over the side at us. Between the two of us we pushed and pulled Angus back up to the top, after which Dean grabbed my hand, did his best to  pull my arm out of its socket and dragged me up and over the top, barely bruising me.

Turns out my cliff-hurling fear was valid.  Sorta.  I just can’t blame politicians for it.  

*Of course that leash photo was stagedI'm good but not good enough to unzip my camera case, grab my camera, turn it on and take a photo while I'm running and diving over a cliff. 


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Chewbacca Eats Ewoks

 Here’s a short quiz. 

When is the best time to clean and organize a garage and install a doggie door? 

A.  When it's warm outside and the sun is shining brightly.
B.  When you've recently had three inches of snow, the temperature is 21 and the wind chill is seven.

You’re sure?  A is your final answer?  Wrong!  The correct answer is B.   


Where’s the challenge in picking up nails, screws and tiny bits of wood if you can actually feel your fingers?  Why would you want to risk damage to your flip flop exposed toes when you can protect them with heavy wool socks and clown-sized insulated boots?  Besides, leaning over a door held up by an cabinet part on one end and a wooden table on the other, as I pressed down on the doggie door with frozen hands so Dean could mark exactly where the screw holes needed to be drilled, all the while not allowing any snot to plop onto the surface, well, that was a triumph which could never have been achieved if it was warm outside.

Okay, since you’re feeling so bad you chose the wrong answer above, here’s another chance.  This one should be a no-brainer for you. 

What’s the most common use for a chain-link dog kennel?

A.  To keep a dog inside.
B.  To keep a dog outside.

I’m shaking my head in disbelief.  You really chose A?  Again?  In a quiz from MY blog?  I really didn't think you'd fall for that photo.  Seriously.  You need to think these things through before you so rashly mark you answer.   

Holy cow!  I might be able to park in here!!

The answer is B.  Keep a dog outside.  Or, more specifically, keep a 60 pound puppy outside.  A puppy whose favorite pastime is chewing and whose favorite chew toy is wood, cardboard, stuffed animals, plastic milk jugs, plastic flower pots, paper, cardboard, kitty toys, sticks, grass weed barrier cloth pulled out from under gravel pathways, everything.  

In training.

 Alright.  Here’s your final chance to redeem yourself.

Who is the one being trained in the following photo?

A.  Angus
B.  Dean

Good job.  I knew you’d finally get one right.