Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Wire There No Vampires?

Halloween, the holiday I love to hate, is looming.  But just because I whine about it  doesn’t mean I don’t celebrate it.  I do.  Nearly every year I dress for the occasion in my witch’s outfit of comfy lounge pants, sweater and footies and cackle all the way from the dark and gloomy first floor of the house down to the basement where the only light is the reflected glow from the television in the cat’s eyes.
I don’t want anybody to think I’ve always been this way.  I loved Halloween as much as the next person until I had children.  And they went to school.  And the school had Halloween parades.  Halloween parades where ghouls and witches and fairies and mummies marched from room to room just before they gorged on apple fangs, pudding brains and skeleton bone cookies, followed by the awarding a prize for the best costume.  Yes.  You heard me.  Uh, I mean, read that correctly.  There was a Best Costume prize.  

I know for a fact that costume parade was not for the kids.  No sirrrreeeee.  That parade was an insidious mother competition that gave unfair advantage to mothers who knew how to turn on a sewing machine read a pattern and expertly use a sewing machine; creative mothers who felt compelled to sew a costume which actually FIT their child.  Smelly, wrinkled, torn and jelly-smeared garments pulled from the dress-up box were not good enough for their kids to wear in a Halloween parade.  Nooooooo … those mothers stayed up half the night sewing dinosaurs with twitching tails and princess dresses made of yards and yards of tulle glittering with hand-sewn sequins.  Consequently, those mothers who flaunted their resourcefulness and professional sewing ability and crushed any inkling of confidence I might have felt after my attempts at costume creation are the rea that costume parade is the reason for my intense dislike of Halloween.

After this year though, I may not be the only one whose painful experience will be forever tied to this candy-devouring holiday.  Or, in Myra’s case, this NO-candy-devouring holiday.  Recently she fell and knocked her face on a table, leaving one partially descended front tooth hanging by a root while pushing the other one, which had not yet descended at all, further up into her gum.  That was horrible enough but after Ryan, covered in blood, rushed her to a dentist, she spent an hour lying patiently in a dental chair while her tooth was wired back into her gum and that was, well, kind of gruesome.  But not being able to wear her vampire teeth on Halloween ...  or eat any of the candy for two whole weeks … that's an unspeakable trauma which may very well haunt Myra every Halloween for years to come. 


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Miss Manners Is Missing

We walk Angus nearly every night.  Dean used to be the one who held the retractable leash but on one of our walks a couple of weeks ago I noticed he kept letting Angus range out.  “You’re supposed to keep him close to you.  He needs to learn to stay near us because he’s going to be a big boy and I don’t want him to yank my arm off from his pulling when I’m the one holding the leash.”  The next night as we got ready to take Angus on his nightly walk, Dean held out the leash and said, “Here Miss Smartypants.  YOU hold the leash.” (something like that anyway)  and that was that.  Of course, because I had impugned Dean’s dog-walking prowess, and can feel him silently critiquing my own leash-holding-dog-walking proficiency every night, I am now under constant pressure to walk Angus exhibiting exemplary technique.  

When we walk I keep the leash short and Angus close.  He does pretty well walking beside me, but now and then he tries to drag me onto the grass.  I drag him back.  He drags me toward the grass.  I drag him back.  He drags me toward the grass.  I drag him back.  After a while I finally realize he’s dragging me over because he needs to pee or poop.  So I extend the leash so he can wander off into the grass and sniff out the perfect spot to take care of business.  (Don’t worry.   Dean might not hold the leash anymore but he does carry the plastic bag.)

Last night as Dean and I were on our dog walk and Angus and I kept dragging each other onto and off of the grass I finally, once again, realized he must want to take care of business.  So I lengthened the leash to give him privacy but all he did was sniff.  There must have been a bunch of awesome smells last night because we pulled each other from sidewalk to grass and back for about 30 minutes.  Oh, sure, there were a couple of times when he peed, but mostly he just burrowed his nose in the grass or under a bush and sniffed.  Finally, about four blocks from home, his sniffing became a bit more insistent so I thought maybe he really did intend to do more than just inhale doggie ambrosia; plus I thought it looked like he was beginning to do the poop walk.  So I quickly lengthened his leash and let him wander into a yard.   

It turned out no peeing or pooping followed his stroll in the grass.  His unrelenting sniffing was triggered by a scent that drives every dog wild rabbit.  Before my brain had even registered a rabbit threat Angus was halfway across the yard in hot pursuit.  Just before my arm was nearly ripped from my shoulder my hand, still gripping the leash handle, slammed into the mailbox next to me.  As I was fighting tears, clutching my throbbing hand, and dragging Angus back, I looked over at Dean.  He was grinning.  “You always tell me  not to let his leash out.”

As much as I wanted to, I didn’t say what I thought throw down the leash, stomp off cradling my now bleeding hand and walk home by myself.  No. I waited until we were three houses from home, in full view of the neighbors.  

13 more days until Dog Owner Puppy Kindergarten.  


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Modulation Is The Key

Some days I feel like my head is so overflowing with fears and uncertainties that I leave a scattering of these anxieties in my wake every time I move.  Lately they have been finding their way to this blog.  I feel like recently I’ve been writing one whining self-absorbed post after another.  Unfortunately, I don’t seem able to seal the chinks these worries have been trickling through, so once they’re out they’re able to tenaciously claw their way back in.   It’s kind of like those creepy Boxelder bugs.  No matter how many I sucked into the shop vac or plucked and drowned, there were always more to replace them.  

For weeks I’ve been feeling stressed from worrying (Dean would say obsessing) about painters and plumbers and floor installers and bugs and scary lawn tractors and ripping off wallpaper and painting and watering systems and maintaining two houses and utility arrangements and septic systems and propane tanks and an ever-growing to-do list and ….  and … and …  Here’s the thing, though.  If I’m going to be truly honest with myself, and you, I think most days the source of my distress is really just one thing — change.  This looming change called retirement.  Retirement and all the adjustments and uncertainties it will bring.  Like not only leaving a home filled with memories and moving to a house I’m still unsure of, but moving to a whole new town and all the unknowns that will come with it.  Like wondering how, when I AM finally retired, I will fill my days once I’ve sent Dean off with his honey-do list, plus the uncertainty about whether or not he will complete it.  Change is hard for me; and even though I wanted these changes all of them they scare me.

However, I know that someday all of these changes, which I am both welcoming and fighting, will no longer be upsetting.  I know someday the unknown will be the known.  I know someday I will seal the cracks and those worries won’t have access to my brain anymore.  Just like someday I will replace those leaky windows and those Boxelder bugs will no longer have access to my house. 

In the meantime, I am going to try to see beyond my fear of change and embrace the opportunities and challenges it will bring. 

I am going to try hard to force my worries into that shop vac, and instead of focusing on pesky bugs I am going to open my eyes to the beauty around me.  

I am going to trust this new path will lead me toward new and exciting adventures. 

 I am going to try to take the time to appreciate what I have been given  ...

like the squeeze of a hug ...

 and the warmth of a smile.

I am going to try hard to treasure ……. the music of life.**

**"The Music of life" is a link to click on if it doesn't look like one.  I HATE the new Blogger updates!


Monday, October 15, 2012

Die Suckas!

We began noticing the first Boxelder bugs on a weekend at the home in the middle of September.  They were annoying but “eh,” I said to myself.  “I’m living out in the country now.  Maybe Boxelder bugs are a country thing.  I’m sure it won’t be long til they move on.”  Two weekends later they were so thick on the west side of the house we chose to walk all the way around the house and come in the back door rather than risk letting them into the house.  Not that choosing the back door made a lot of difference because they’d already invaded the nice warm west-facing living room wall and window.   I plucked off every bug I 

could reach with a tissue, marched into the bathroom, shook my squirming tissue over the toilet and then watched little legs and wings try to fly in a porcelain bowl.  What?  you say.  No photo of the death swim?  I actually stood with my camera pointed at the toilet bowl filled with struggling bug bodies but thought that would just be tacky ... you're welcome.  Anyway ... then I went back into the living room and plucked more. When there were a dozen or so squirming in the water I flushed.  “Ha!  Take that you disgusting little bugs!”  I repeated that process many, many, times.  It was frustrating and made my skin crawl
sometimes literally.  Finally I did the only thing I could think to do.  I Googled to find out how to get rid of them. That’s when I discovered there really isn’t anything to do but wait.  Well, wait and try and seal windows and doors.  Eventually they will hibernate for the winter and give me time to forget their nastiness until they once again make my home their home.  At least they won’t lay eggs in the house.  And it was nice to read they’re harmless, although leaving little poop stains doesn’t seem truly harmless to me.  Disturbingly, they could have come from anywhere, up to two miles away, and just decided to end their journey at our house.

The first week in October we had a hard freeze.  It got down to about 17 degrees.  That’ll kill ‘em”, I thought to myself.  The pestilence is over.  I guess that wasn’t too bad.  I can deal with that.”   This past weekend as we pulled into the driveway at the home I fully expected to see bug-free windows and walls.   I was positive the only indication we’d been infested with Boxelder bugs would be piles of dried legs and wings.   We parked, I grabbed a few things from the car, walked up to the door and would have cried except  I was afraid I might inhale a Boxelder bug in mid sob.  Obviously 17 degrees wasn’t enough to kill them.  If anything there were even MORE bugs than the two weeks before.  So, once again, in between cleaning gutters, painting a closet, babysitting and installing a new thermostat (which only took us four times longer than the package promised), I plucked, shook, flushed, plucked, shook, flushed, plucked, shook, flushed … over and over and over.

  I even took the shop vac outside and sucked them off the side of the house, the ground, the windows, the 

porch, my body and my hair.  When I tapped on the side of the house they fell out like chicklets from a broken candy machine.  The shop vac sounded like a machine gun only instead of rat-a-tat-tat it was pht-a-pht-pht.  Dean just shook his head, and gave me the “I think you’re being stupid but if it makes you happy I won’t stop you …” look**.  I guess maybe not having any hair for creepy crawly things to get caught in makes it easier for him to tolerate them. 

With every pluck and shake and pht I cursed the people who were stupid enough to have a Boxelder tree on their property.  What the hell could they be thinking?  Maybe it doesn’t bother THEM to live with swarms of bugs all over their walls and windows, flying into their hair and crawling under their shirts, but they should consider those of us who live up to two miles away from their stinkin’ tree.  Geezo peezo.  Some people just have no consideration for others.

Sharing my home with swarming beetles for two or more months every year is not my idea of country living and even if I can’t do anything to keep them from choosing to set up residence in my house, I decided I had to take action.  I had to figure some way to keep them from making me feel like I was in an Alfred Hitchcock movie.   So yesterday, after we had stopped for a cold drink, gotten onto the interstate and headed home, I pulled out my phone and searched for more information.  I needed to arm myself with knowledge so I could win the pestilence war.   If 17 degrees wasn’t going to kill the suckers what would?  Maybe there IS something I could use to kill them.  But even if learned I can’t kill them, I needed to know how long it would be before they turned me into a raving maniac disappeared.   This time I searched a little harder and read a little closer. 

 Oh no!  Ohhhhhhhh noooooooooooooo!!!   I held my phone up to Dean, who was on the lookout for deer while he cruised at 78 mph, and said, “LOOK!  Look at THIS!  See it?  Now look at THIS!!  From my blog!! Look!!  It’s US!  WE have boxelder trees!  WE have the FEMALE tree!  The EVIL one!  WE are the people I have been damning with every pluck shake, flush and pft.  WE caused our own infestation! 
I guess the good news is we are also the cure.   Dean will get to buy a brand new chainsaw, although I thought he’d be much more excited than he seemed to be when I told him that.  Even better, this time next year I won’t be hounding him asking him politely to cut down those trees immediately when he gets the time and I will be overjoyed and content should be pretty happy.  And really … a happy wife ... isn’t that every man’s dream? 

**Turns out vacuuming the stupid things IS one of the ways to reduce their numbers.  Ha!