Monday, December 21, 2009
Okay. So I hate mice. A lifetime of working in barns and living in climates that drive mice indoors in the fall has left me with a near phobia of creatures that dash across the floor at the speed of light and without fail end up under the stove or refrigerator in the kitchen...conscious-less critters that seek only to terrorize, eat and poop. The only critters that I fear more are their super sized cousins, rats and the Godzilla of all rats, opossums.
Before I get on with the saga of rodent control in Mary I have to tell you a story that just jumped out of my memory bank. Several years back I took a major detour in career and decided to become a hair dresser. I met so many nice people and had so many fun experiences and a few not so fun ones. I probably could write a book about the things that happen when you stand behind the chair for a living but this one is a standout.
It was 1993. I had just begun my career and I was working for Jana, a really nice woman who owned a small three chair salon in St. Helens, Oregon, an old dying mill town that sits on the Columbia River and has a perfect view of Mt. St. Helens in Washington. The salon was at the far end of the downtown core. She also had a manicurist, Jackie who worked three days a week. It was August and the afternoon temperatures had been pushing to the mid-nineties all week. The little salon did not have air conditioning so we would prop open the front door and the back door to keep air circulating. If you stood in the front door you would look over a roll top desk into the salon area and from there into the back room where there was a washer and dryer, sink and storage for our supplies. It was a straight line of sight from the front door to the back door and probably only 25 feet or so.
View of Mt. St. Helens from Oregon
On a sweltering afternoon I had a break in my schedule so I went downtown to get a birthday gift for my sister. When I returned I parked outside on the street so I walked into the front of the salon. Jana was getting her nails done and she and Jackie were gabbing. I got to the front of the roll top desk when something caught my eye in the back room. The door was open in the back so it was well lit. The voice in my head whispered "rat". The hair stood up on my arms. "Ah...ah...ah..." I stuttered as both Jackie and Jana looked at me with puzzled expresions.
Apparently I had lost all color in my face and my eyes were standing out of my head. My brain replayed what I saw, a King Kong dark brown mouse...no a ra-ra-rat had just danced across the floor of the supply room. "RAT!" I screamed and before I knew what I was doing I was standing on the deck of the roll top desk with my little gift bag in my hand. Jackie jumped on her manicurist chair and Jana jumped into action. I was stunned to watch her march into the supply room and slam the door that separated the salon from the back room. Jackie and I looked at each other in complete and utter terror. We heard crashing and banging in the back room. Then it went quiet. The door opened and Jana came out with a broom in her hand. "He ran under the supply cabinet and I can't get him out," she said in a very calm tone. I was thinking that this was the bravest woman I ever met. In a quivering voice Jackie said, "I'll call Brad." That was her boyfriend. Inside of 20 minutes Brad arrived to save the day. He chased the filthy rodent out of the supply room and we all sat down and breathed a sigh of relief. It was quiet for a minute and then I said, "Does anyone find it odd that a rat showed up in the middle of the afternoon on a sunny day and decided to take refuge in a salon with no air conditioning?" We all looked at each other with blank expressions.
I went home that night and recounted my story to my ex who said, "I hope it wasn't rabid or something." Multiply a large number of those thoughtful sentiments by 13 years and you'll understand why he is my ex. I spent the night tossing and turning and having RABID RAT nightmares. The next morning I went to work.
View of historic hotel in St. Helens
I had a 9:00 frost and haircut to do on a client who was Jana's best friend Jill (Jana didn't do color). Jill arrived and I draped her in a dark purple cape. She was eating a cup of vanilla frozen yogurt for breakfast. I put her frosting cap on and started pulling strands of hair through the cap with a crochet hook until she looked like a big purple cactus (frosts are not a pretty thing when you are doing them).
Jana came in and decided that it was getting too warm so she propped the front door open. I thought is was getting too warm too but given the events of the prior day I was willing to sweat it out. The waiting area which was situated by a large window in the front of the salon was full of white wicker furniture and was visible from where I was standing. Jana was on the phone at the desk while I was busy chatting with Jill when out of the corner of my eye I saw a rat run past the desk, make a hard left under the wicker couch and then ran the perimeter of the salon finally dashing into the back room. This happened so fast (and at the same time in slow motion) that I barely had time to register my disbelief in my what my eyes were seeing. I remember thinking that I was still asleep in my bed and this was part of my succession of "Willard" nightmares. Not possible my mind screamed as I recorded the vision of the hugest rat I had ever seen. Of course it was the only the second rat (in less than 24 hours) I had ever seen in person which probably added to the drama of the moment. He had to weigh 30 pounds if he was an ounce and had a tail that was at least 10 feet long. He was demonic gray with shark like beady eyes. And fangs. Big fangs. It's amazing what your mind can create when you are terrorized. Apparently while all of these thoughts were playing out in my head I again screamed "RAT!". I jumped on Jana's salon swivel chair (crochet hook in hand) where I moved around in slow circles trying not to fall off. On one of my trips around I caught a glimpse of Jill. I'll go to my grave with this picture in my head. She was standing on my salon chair (which I had locked so she wasn't spinning), her blond hair standing at attention (sticking out of the frosting cap), purple cape hanging to just below her knees with melted vanilla frozen yogurt streaming down the front of the cape. I think when flight syndrome kicks in still shots are forever emblazoned in your memory.
Okay, so the rat is in the back room and Jill and I are standing catatonic on the chairs. Jana calmly hangs up the phone and then runs to the back room and slams the door BEHIND her. We hear clattering and crashing and then heard the back door slam. Jana walks out and props the broom against the wall. "He's gone," she says. "Are you sure?" Jill and I chimed in unison. "Yeah," she says as Jill and I climb down from our perches. "How can you be so calm?" I asked her. She said, "I had a pet rat when I was a kid." I couldn't stop myself, "Jana, these are not pets. These are wild sewer rats roaming the streets in broad daylight. Something isn't right with this." I truly thought I was living out a horror movie script. With that I got on the phone and called the city of St. Helens. I explained about two rats in two days and asked if there is some reason that rats are roaming the streets. The nice woman said, "Oh yes. They are doing sewer blasting downtown and it is running the rats out of the sewer." I shivered. "Thank you," I said and hung up. The next week at work was pretty tense and very hot because pet rat or not I refused to agree to an open door policy in the salon until the blasting was done. I have not seen another rat since then (there is a God) but I've seen tons of mice.
So after I discovered that there had been a mouse in the drawer in Mary I took a deep breath and started opening drawers and cupboards throughout the galley. This mouse had been everywhere. I filled the sink with blazing hot water and soap, got the spray disinfectant and went to work cleaning and washing everything that was in the drawers and cupboards. This mouse actually ate the end off of the spatula that I used to make scrambled eggs! I declared war. And I needed a comrade to do the tough stuff. John. Two hours later we loaded up and went to the local grocery store and bought four of the old fashioned mouse traps and a jar of peanut butter. We bought two containers of D-Con which I hate because I'm always afraid that a mouse will eat it, go outside and die and a bird will eat the mouse and die. Besides, I hate mice with a purple passion but that stuff is poison and not a quick kill. But I agreed to use D-Con as a last resort. John set two traps (not before tons of snapping traps and cussing) inside of the cupboards and put two in the bays of the coach. He said, "Now what?" I said, "You will need to check your trap line every couple of hours or so." He cracked up. "Trap line?" Oh yes, this is serious business.
Later we were getting ready to go out to dinner. It was about 5:00 and as I was rearranging my hair I heard the trap in one of the cupboards snap. "Got one!" I hollered. John came out of the bathroom. "Where?" he asked. "In the cupboard." He slowly opened the pan cupboard. He closed the door again. "He's still in the throws," he said. "I'll get him out before we leave." The goosebumps made their now now routine trek up and down my arms. One of the bad things about having a mouse in a confined area is that I'm sure I see them dashing EVERYWHERE. I'm constantly jumping out of my shoes because I'm sure I saw one running across the floor. Most often it is my paranoid mind. I sat down with Ransom and we had a talk. "Now I know your heritage is part rat terrier and mice are probably beneath you but if you see one..." Ransom slept through the entire mouse experience.
Recipient mouse pasture at dusk
John disposed of the dead mouse (my hero), reset the trap and we went to dinner. When we got back I got the dogs and took them for a walk while he checked his trap line. As I as coming back I saw him coming out of the coach with a trap in each hand, dead mouse in each trap. THREE MICE. He jettisoned the mice into the pasture and then pulled the traps out of the bays. Two more dead mice. FIVE MICE. They must have put the word out to the entire mouse population of Springfield! I could see the bulletin: "Calling all mice! There is a giant luxury motor coach located at 37691 Upper Camp Creek Road. It's heated and there is FOOD for the winter. Only two freaked out humans and two lazy dogs. Come one, come all!"
We killed off an entire family of mice that night. The word of the massacre must have spread like wildfire through the mouse community on Camp Creek Road because after the initial five mice we didn't find another mouse in the traps and no sign anywhere close to it. Before we folded our tent and headed for Arizona we had a former employee of Monaco Coach come and help John replace a torn awning, adjust the entry door and work on the air compressor that levels the coach when it is parked. We were satisfied that Mary was fixed. Boy were we in for a surprise.
I have to tackle a list of things to do for Christmas. If all goes well I'll be back soon to fill you in on our adventure to Arizona! I hope the holiday season has been fun for all of you so far! And HAPPY WINTER SOLSTICE!!! The days get longer from here! YAY!!!
Monday, November 16, 2009
Perfect day on the Oregon Coast
When I left you we were having a perfectly wonderful dinner at King Estate Winery with the Arcuri family. The following morning we loaded up our coaches (they just took possession of a new Monaco Dynasty...beautiful thing!) and headed to the Oregon coast. Last year John and I spent two days at Outdoor Resorts in Newport. It was where Ransom found freedom from the leash for the first time since we adopted him and is without question the nicest RV resort that we've been to anywhere. Once again we had perfect weather and a beautiful view of the ocean, lighthouse and coastal range. And great company! John, Ryan and Tim played horseshoes, we all walked on the beach and the dogs all had a blast.
Horseshoes on the coast
On Tuesday we got up and drove back over the Coast Range to Junction City to drop off both coaches at Guaranty RV Service. Tim and Jeanne's coach needed work on the satellite television and Mary had a long list of issues that had piled up over the nearly two years that we have had her. As we traveled I compiled the list. At the bottom I added, "Vibration in center of coach." John read the list and when he got to the bottom he gave me the skeptical look. I honestly felt like a terrible nag about the whole thing so I told him that if they look and don't find anything I will shut up about it. Then I added that I KNOW something is wrong because all of that shaking isn't normal for any vehicle. Okay. So we pulled into the Guaranty parking lot and a nice man named Dean arrived with his clipboard to go over our list. One by one he jotted the issues down on his sheet. When John got to the vibration issue I almost cringed. John said, "My wife says...and I know she is probably right but...she says that there is a vibration in the back when we are traveling down the road. I can't feel it but she says it vibrates." Dean immediately said, "I believe you have a ridite issue." Puzzled I asked, "What is ridite??" He smiled. "Ride height," he said. "When I walked up to your coach I saw that it is leaning hard to the right. When it isn't level it torques the drive line and you can experience a severe vibration." I had to smirk. I really tried not to but I just had to. And I was immensely relieved that I hadn't lost my mind and imagined the shaking. He told us that leveling the airbags would probably take care of the problem.
Sidebar: I drove the Mercedes home from Florida in July when we sold the house. I followed John, Mary and the Camry roughly 900 miles from Vero Beach to Lexington and a couple of times I mentioned that it looked as though the coach was leaning to the right. I didn't get a response. I mentioned it again when I looked at her parked in her spot at the farm. "The ground isn't level." Okay. I mentioned it again when we left for our trip and I drove behind her to hook up the car in Indiana. I got a scowl so I didn't mention it again until we got to Joseph and I followed her into the campground. "It's really leaning to the right." I was also pointing out that there was a severe banging noise in the engine so the "leaning to the right" thing fell on deaf ears.
So we got into the Camry and drove to the Arcuri's farm where they so graciously put us up for the three days that it was supposed to take to fix Mary's laundry list of problems. Dean also said that they would do a free roof inspection while they had her there. Great!
Three days later we were headed for Junction City again, not to pick up the coach but to pick up some more clothes because they didn't expect to have the work done for another three days. When we arrived Mary was in the shop. We got our things and left, planning to spend part of the upcoming weekend at the Arcuri's home in Terrebonne, Oregon with some friends of theirs. We expected to pick Mary up when we got back. John called first thing on Monday morning. She still wasn't done but he was assured that the work would be done very soon. "How soon is very soon?" I asked. He frowned and said, "I don't know but they better get it done SOON".
In the next three days John's mission was to harass Dean at Guaranty to get the work done on the coach and get it back to us. I know he called at least three times a day. Every time he called he got another reason why the work that yesterday was "being done right now" was actually not done and there were still five things left to do. It was frustrating and bordering on ridiculous.
Nine days as house guests of the Arcuri's was making us feel like freeloaders (they were so gracious) not to mention the problem with Ransom and Andy the cat. Ransom being the little ratter that he is just can't resist chasing things that will run (remember the rabbit up in Pennsylvania?). Well Andy is a wise old black cat who lives in the house full time. Arcuri's have several dogs, one of which lives in the house (her name is Pocket and she doesn't have any teeth) and Pebbles, a highly energetic Border Collie type who sleeps in the kennel but is a house dog when Jeanne is home. So Andy gets dogs. But neither Ransom nor I knew that.
So the first day we moved into the guest room Jeanne was gone and I was busy unpacking with the guest room door open when out of the corner of my eye I saw Ransom and Andy squaring off. Ransom was locked on and Andy's hair was standing up on his arched back. Arcuri's house is a multi-level home with lovely hardwood floors throughout and lots of small landings and steps. The guest room was at the top level and the master bedroom and living room at the bottom level. I opened my mouth to warn Ransom to leave the cat alone but before I could utter a sound he took off after Andy. I jetted after the two of them, hollering "RANSOM YOU STOP NOW!!!" but before I could catch up with them they disappeared into the master bedroom. All I heard was the sound of Ransom's toenails on the hardwood and Andy's growl and then it was quiet. "Ransom!!!" I hollered repeatedly. Still dead quiet. I had visions of him with nothing but Andy's tail hanging out of his mouth as I stormed through the bedroom looking for him. I found him cowering in the walk-in closet and Andy was no where to be found. "Get your little ratter ass out of this closet!" I pointed at the door and he scampered out and made a dash for the guest room.
Ransom "Ratter-Catter" Jones
I couldn't find Andy. I was panicked. Where was the poor cat? Was he permanently traumatized by my prison-escapee dog? How would I explain this to the Arcuris?
A little later I went out to the kitchen to fill the dog water bowl and there was Andy sitting on the top of the breakfast bar. If I didn't know better I would say that he was smiling. I looked him over and he looked fine.
When Jeanne got home I explained what happened and how sorry I was that Ransom behaved so badly. She just laughed. And laughed some more. Then she explained that if Andy didn't want to be chased he would have held his own with Ransom. I thought she was being polite. The Ransom/Andy scene played itself out two more times in the next two days. I was mortified. Finally I was home when Jeanne brought Pebbles in the house. Pebbles is about the size of Breezy but a little lighter weight. She and Andy went to boxing and playing with Pebbles knocking Andy around and then Andy smacking Pebbles around. After that I would keep Ransom with me and Andy would come around and tease Ransom. I know he knew that Ransom would get into trouble if he chased him and that became the game for Andy...get Ransom in trouble. He succeeded on several more occasions before we got Mary back.
Finally the day came to pick Mary up. We were both so happy. She would be all fixed and we would have our space back and not have to be under foot at Arcuri's house. I drove John over to Guaranty and followed him back to the farm. After we pulled out on to Hwy 99 a little voice said, "The coach is still listing to the right." I said out loud, "Shut up. It's fine." We got on the freeway and the voice came back. "It's not level." I shook my head hard to silence what my eyes and brain were telling me. We parked her and moved back in. It felt great. The next day I got out and looked at her from behind. Not level. But I wasn't going to say anything.
Arcuri's left for the Morgan Grand Nationals in Oklahoma City a few days later and John took over working the Saddlebreds and a few of the Morgans that were left at home until they got back. One day I went to town to get groceries and when I came back I found John sitting in front of Mary with a completely dejected look on his face. I got out of the car. "What's the matter?" I asked. "I"m beat. I'm whipped. I can't deal with this anymore," he said as he led me around to the driver's side of the coach and pointed up to the top. "Look," he said slump shouldered. I squinted and when I saw what he was pointing at I felt weakness in my knees. The roof is put on the coach like a cap with the edges attached six or eight inches down the side and then covered with a bead. From the middle of the cap on the driver's side all the way to the back (keep in mind she is 42 feet long) the cap had pulled away from the coach. There was a big space between where it used to be attached and where it was now located. It appeared to me that the cap was coming off. More visions of disaster loomed in my mind. Cap peeling off...water getting into the sides of the coach...thousands and thousands of dollars worth of damage. I said in a weak voice, "It might not be as bad as it looks," while my internal doomsday voice screamed, "This thing is going to bankrupt us!!!". John made some calls to try to figure out what in the hell was happening but in the end we were left with only one option. Guaranty...again. Dean was kind and said to bring her in first thing in the morning and he would look at her. When we sat down for dinner that night I looked across the table at John and said, "Gee, I'm sure glad that they did that free roof inspection. They resealed the skylight over the shower (the one that our coach washer stepped through and broke in March) for $650.00 but missed the fact that the f**king roof is peeling off." It was a lost night for sleep.
The following morning I followed him back to Guaranty again making note of the fact that the coach was not level. When we arrived Dean came out, looked at the roof and told us not to panic, that it may not be as bad as it looked. By this time I had brought up the fact that they needed to check the ride height again so Dean made note of it and we left to go back to the farm. John worked horses that day and then we got the call. It truly was not as bad as it looked. They blamed it on Monaco for not putting long enough screws in to attach it securely. They also said that they checked the ride height and it was fine.
"No it isn't," the voice in my head said. "Just shut the hell up," I said back. "This thing is going to drive me into the nut house before it is over," I said to my other voice. No shit.
View from Mary at Arcuri's farm
We settled in for two really beautiful weeks on the farm. The weather was so cooperative and the fall colors were stunning. I got to see lots of my family and friends and we just enjoyed the stay so much. And then it happened.
A day before we were supposed to pick Arcuri's up at the airport I got up in the morning and did my usual thing. I started the coffee, took the dogs out for a spin and fed them. When I opened the utensil drawer to get the can opener out I froze. Goose bumps ran up my arms. "Uh oh." John was sipping his tea and his head snapped around. "What is it?" I stepped back and pointed to the drawer. "We have a mouse." He must have been sleepy because he asked me an odd question. "What do we do about that?" I looked at him and said, "I don't know about you but I'm moving out." I slammed the drawer shut and willed my goose bumps to go away. They weren't cooperating.
I have a long history of mouse encounters. They are not my favorite creatures in the world. To say that I loathe mice is the understatement of the universe. They are filthy, can get in anywhere, will eat anything and poop all over EVERYTHING.
I'll stop here and take up with the mouse saga next time. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Deer totally unconcerned by our presence
And like a total moron I forgot my camera.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Arcuri's farm in Springfield
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Something interesting has happened to Ransom. When we rescued him a year ago he had one ear that stood up and one ear that flopped over. I thought it made him unique. We decided that when people asked what breed he is we would tell them that he is an Uno Lop. About a month ago his stand up ear flopped over and it now matches the other one. So now we tell people he is a Duo Lop. Or sometimes we say he is a Tasmanian King Chihuahua. That one always gets lots of oooooh's. What ever he is we love him all to pieces and couldn't be happier that we have him in our lives. I learned from him about how to overcome a blue day. Just jump! When something has you down, jump for joy! He does it all of the time and he never ceases to make us laugh.
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Miss Rio Rita and her new filly
Sunday, May 3, 2009
The Bark Pile
I feel like I'm living in Oregon again! Rain, rain, rain and more rain. It looks like The Land of Oz out there with the intensity of green grass and trees and colorful flowers. The difference is the color of the sky. I believe it was blue in Oz. Not here. The only sun I see on the forecast between now and the tenth of May is on Tuesday. Ransom and I are going to have to start walking in rain gear because we have been confined for way too long! I'm all pumped about planting flowers and an herb garden this year. Being as I'm actually going to be here all summer I can tend to my containers on the patio. The bark project is done with the exception of a pile of park in our guest parking. I think they abandoned it. If you drive around the complex there is some kind of construction debris, equipment, a dumpster or landscaping junk in nearly every guest parking space. I don't know who chooses the contractors for this place but I think that person needs to be replaced. They have been trying to fix a roof on the other side of the complex since the first part of April. Thankfully we don't have to bring Mary back here until June. If it the parking is still an issue then they can call John. He's ready for them. Heh, heh, heh...
Miss Breezy Jones
There is a new Picassa photo album of more recent photos and I'm going to get all techy here and see if I can embed it in this blog post. They are making it so much easier for us neophytes to do this stuff now. It makes me feel all computer savvy...which I'm not! Here it goes: It didn't work. Back to the drawing board. Here is the link:
It has some photos that I've published on this blog and some new ones as well. Next I'll try to add a little footage from the Flip camera. I haven't taken any footage worthy of this but I need to learn how to upload it. So here it goes...
It worked! I think...
We are going to a pot luck dinner tonight. I made three chocolate cream pies for this event. I haven't eaten any. Yet. This weekend blew the cleansing all to hell but we only had two days left. John lost 14 pounds doubling what I lost but he has been working 20 plus horses a day, six days a week so that would probably account for some of the extra weight loss. Even without all of the exercise it is easier for him to drop pounds than it is for me. The best part of cleansing is how great you feel and how clear headed you are. If you don't believe that we are what we eat try a cleansing. You will be a believer. Now the trick is to stay on healthy food with an occasional splurge. Tonight we splurge. Tomorrow we pay...and start back on healthy food again.
The PIES. Probably only a kazillion calories in those three little babies
Ransom huddled up on the couch
I'm off to start work on the scrapbook project. I have a million photos and articles and things that need to be organized into something besides the drawer and the miscellaneous manilla envelopes that they have been living in. First a lot of them need to be scanned into my computer.
I hope this Sunday has been a pleasant one for you!