Monday, December 20, 2010

6:30 AM. Time to start my day. Captain "Happy" Jack goes outside. I start the coffee. I am meeting the contractor today at 8AM . He is reconstructing my in-law apartment that was destroyed in the flood. The clothes for the day are laid out on my bed . Next stop is the bathroom. When I turn on the light, I see a mouse in my bathtub. The little thing is in a panic. She fell in and can't get out. (I know it is a female mouse, because when I was teaching nursery school, We had pet mice in the classrooms. Female mice are clean and sweet. Male mice stink to the heavens. We kept out male mouse in the storeroom. His name was Sam, but that is another story.)

How can I take a bath with a mouse in the bathtub? She wants to hide. The only camouflage she can find is the drain. Little lady mouse hides in the drain, but she doesn't fit. Her tail sticks out. If she was one of our pet mice, I would merely pick her up by her tail and let her sit on my hand ....her ride down the stairs and out the door.

This is a wild mouse. She will panic and bite me. I have no traps. I have no bait and I really don't want to kill it. They are so beautiful...perfection in miniature...tiny eyes and feet. Everything works. God is a perfect engineer. His works can be seen in this tiny little mouse.

I call Butch, my neighbor. He laughs at me. We decide that I need a heavy pair of leather gloves so no one can be bitten. Yes. Butch has the gloves. My neighbor comes to my house with gloves in hand. We ascend the stairs. There she is...looking at us from her drain refuge.

Only this time, the tail is tucked in. It takes some coaxing . She runs all over the tub. She runs up Butch's arm. He shakes her down. Lady mouse stops with tail straight out. I take a piece of cardboard and hold her tail down...cardboard on end. Butch covers her with his gloved hand. He slips the cardboard under her. The lady mouse is captured in Butch's hand.

Butch carries her between his hands and talks to her, telling her that We won't hurt her. Lady mouse is deposited in a pile of leaves outside. I hope she finds a place to stay warm this winter , but not in my house.


Saturday, December 04, 2010

Merry Christmas to my friends and family that are reading this blog. Merry Christmas, too, to blog readers just passing through. Stop again in anytime and leave a comment stating that you were here.

Instead of writing a Christmas letter, I thought I would give a try at this new technology...a blog letter for anyone to read.

Christmas always has me thinking of Christmases past...remembering when I was a little girl. I believed in Santa Claus. My imagination was so sharp, that I could almost see the elves disappearing around the corner. They were watching me to see if I was good or bad. I have marvelous memories of Christmas past...of stockings filled with oranges and walnuts and lifesavers...of music on the radio...of the presence of my parents, just as excited as I was .

In contrast, this year is a sad year for several people I know . My cousin Christine has lost her husband John . He died of cancer. My childhood friend Deanna also died this summer. She died of cancer from smoking. Lily, my beloved rat terrier died last winter of multiple organ failure. Captain Jack does his best to help me forget my loss of the lovely Lily.

Judy D. lost her husband to artery disease. I've know Judy since we were little kids playing on the street in Buffalo New York. Joe lost his love, Phyllis to breast cancer. My sister-in-law, Carol is also deceased. Her family had a wonderful memorial service in her memory . People traveled from all across the country to be there. It was sad but sweet to see family I hadn't seen in many years.

We almost lost Barbara. Barbara, my dear friend from elementary school traveled halfway across the country to attend our reunion. The next day she was in the hospital. The doctor used the phrase,"If she lives through the night....". That is enough to scare the beejeeses out of anyone. She pulled out of it with the loving care of her daughter and granddaughter.

Those who were left behind are devastated. It will not be a good Christmas for them....the first Christmas alone.

Richard died November 1978. The first Christmas following his death, I smashed every Christmas ornament in the house and have not put up a Christmas tree since. Merry Christmas indeed. The sound of carols in the mall is annoying. Ads on TV promoting all kinds of wonderful things for children and adults leave a feeling of heartache. Christmas seems to have turned into just a buying frenzy. I choose to not participate. If I bake cookies, I will eat them and get fat. Then I will hate myself for baking and eating cookies.

Instead, it is time to treasure those friends that I still have...those people who know what Christmas 1945 was like. We are scattered from Australia to Arizona to California and back to Buffalo New York. We do the best We can to stay in touch via letter, phone or email. Modern technology does make it easier.

I celebrate with friends. We meet at each other's houses. If it is my turn, I decorate with poinsettias, pine wreath and bayberry candles. It smells like Christmas. A meal shared is comforting and joy . There are lots of good Christmas music CDs and DVD movies for Christmas. The laughter and conversation of friends is the glitter of the day. Christmas present is different from Christmas past and that is OK.

There was a lot of activity at my house this year. Christopher got a very good job at Timex. He stayed with me, saved his money and flew down to Raleigh NC to be with his girlfriend every chance he could. Then He got the job of his dreams with Red Hat. They gave him excellent training. Chris and Tara are soon to be married. This is a good match. I see only good things happening for this couple.

In February, I flew to Fort Lauderdale Florida for a seminar in Matrix Energetics. My friend Deanna lives there. I am so glad that I saw her one last time, had time to spend with her and her brother Russell and Jim and Rich....those wonderful people who supported her in her struggle with cancer.

House renovation report: I had storm doors installed on my house and learned I get an energy credit for that. At the other house, I finally got the kitchen counter tops installed. Last project for this year is to replace three patio doors at the first house. The doors are delivered but not yet installed. I also found out I have to re-side the front of my house that faces the water. The salt water and sun have done a job on it. Then my tenant called to tell me that the wind and rain storm pulled a storm window right off her house. It came off frame and all. During another rain and wind storm this last winter, a city tree by the side of the street fell over onto my garage. I replaced one side of the garage, half the roof and filled in the holes in the lawn that the branches dug. The city came and ground out the stump . This left the sidewalk with a hole in it. It is the homeowners responsibility to care for the sidewalk, so I now have a new sidewalk. While I was at it, I also had them pour a new floor for the garage and a new driveway. the masons were here and the work was needed, so why not do it all at once....

Chris and I had fun at an alpaca farm. I met my friend, Marian there. I got free alpaca manure for my garden and Chris got an alpaca toy for Holiday. It was a pleasant informal day out.

Spence and I went to see the musical, Hair. It was a good overview of 1960s culture. They got every symbol of that era into that play, including putting a daisy in the barrel of a rifle. Loved that musical.

My one excursion into New York city this year was to see the King Tut exhibit in Times Square Museum. It is fun to take the train into NYC, eat at a restaurant and wander around the big apple. Spence and I sat in Times Square and watched the people. This is a good city for people watching. The exhibit, but the way, gets only a passing grade.

Too much time has gone by without "the ladies" getting together. This is May. I don't want to wait until summer for a get together. So, We got together at Judy H's house. Everybody brought something, so no one person was stuck with all that cooking. I like socializing at people's houses instead of a restaurant for several reasons: one of them is my hearing isn't what it used to be. At Judy's house, there are no other conversations intruding from the background. We can stay as long as We want to...unlike a restaurant. and it is less expensive.

In Judy, I adopted a poodle that turned into a Bichon. Captain "Happy" Jack is now part of the family. In fact, He runs the place. Like all dogs that come from the SPCA, He must have had a lot of trauma. He was saved from a "kill" shelter in Georgia. He had some upper respiratory problems that the vet cleared up. They also had to pull a tooth. We cleared up an ear infection. I had to have another tooth pulled, as it was abscessed and bleeding into his mouth. What could have happened to a little dog only four years old (we think) and have those problems? I am pleased to report that as of December, He has no more infection and his coat is beautiful. He has a good diet, is well adjusted to my routine, goes everywhere with me in the car and sleeps on my bed...even when I don't want him to. As I said, He runs the household. His wish is my command.

A long running disagreement with my sister in regards to the settlement of our mother's estate is finally over because I gave in. I took a big loss, just to end this. This is a sad situation because I was unable to carry out my parent's wishes in regards to their estates. I am sure my sister thinks she won. I think We both lost, but it is done. Time to look forward, right?

In the summertime, there were hot dogs at the beach to celebrate friend's birthdays. I love the the sound and sight of seagulls, the smell of salt water, sound of waves, boats, sun on my skin. I bet there are people who are landlocked who would give a fortune to live in my town right on Long Island Sound.

In the fall: I went to my first high school reunion. There were a few people I was in touch with via email but had not seen since We graduated...decades ago. I also wanted to see friends from the old neighborhood. There is some overlapping of the two groups. How exciting to be reconnected and to learn what people have done with their lives. We are all successful people. Some have their own businesses while others worked for a company. Some friends are teachers or artists or musicians. Again, I learn of those who have died. The "rah rah" gang is still in charge of our graduating class. They went the rounds of the tables, trying to get us to sing the old school song. None of us at our table wanted to do that. We just wanted to talk quietly and get reacquainted. Our table met again the following day at a restaurant just to continue our conversations and take more pictures. OK. Now I can say that I went to my high school reunion. I saw people 54 years after We graduated. I don't want to do that again. I do want to see again, the people who sat at our table. We can have our own reunions.

One thing I learned is that my friends in Buffalo have turned into snow birds. The long winter is hard on retirees. It may be fun when you are a child in a snowsuit, building a snow fort, but it seems dreary wet and cold to retirees. So they fly the Florida, mostly. I wish I was there for a visit....capturing some sunshine in February like they do.

Eric called me to resume my volunteer duties at the Johnson Memorial Museum. This museum is located in a city owned building dedicated to veterans. Sergeant Johnson was our local hero from World War 2, Korea and Vietnam. He was a prisoner of war for 18 months in Stalig 17B. It is appropriate that the museum is named after him.

There are uniforms , medals, books ...stuff....sitting in the museum office. I dropped this project over 15 years ago. It has laid dormant ever since. Our library is located right next door . The librarian is supportive and helpful. With Eric's help, Jean's help and the support of our Aldermen, I am back at it...cataloging artifacts. Our retired librarian , Stanley developed the system I will continue to use. Civic groups have given money to this project. Local veterans have donated their uniforms and artifacts. Eric has an extensive personal collection that represents each branch of the service. He has collections that date back to the Civil War.

So instead of sitting by the fire reading a book, or flying to a tropical climate this winter, I will be sitting in a dusty museum office having the time of my life connecting respectfully to our dead and interfacing with the living. Merry Christmas everyone. The Gardenbug