Friday 25 November 2016

7 Quick Takes 44: Murder Most Fowl

... and rodent, and insect. In fact, it's pretty much like Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot have taken up residence around here.

1. I lamented our new rodent lodger (courtesy of the cats) in the previous Seven Quick Takes. Just two mornings later, I opened the bedroom door to find the offending brown and white mouse stretched out, untouched, on the threshold, as if the cats were saying, "OK, enough of the internet shaming. Here's the fracking mouse." Praise and cat treats abounded...
Then, a couple of days later, I heard a yell in the kitchen as my husband jumped up to stop the mouse dragging lunch off the counter. Bob the Mouse was alive and well. I can only presume the body was a counterfeit the cats caught and left out to stall the complaints and threats to reduce their rations by a mouse's worth a day until he was dispatched. Or there's a colony of mice living in the walls. I don't want to think about that.

2. Bad housekeeping that lies firmly at my door, on the other hand, is our resident dead fly. It was perched on our larder door for a while. I thought it was just hanging out... and hanging out... and hanging out. Eventually it dawned on me it must be deceased, but since removing it required more than bare fingers, it stayed there. Then my daughter pointed out its backside had fallen off. Eventually, I decided to take a photo. And still left it there for another couple of days. But now it's gone. Unlike the mouse.

Still life with dead fly.

3. Sweet death: I could (and might) write a whole 7QT on our ant wars of the past several months, but here's a taster. The long months of drought here have meant that desperate ants are invading homes in the area, especially those tiny larder ants with a taste for sugar. After weeks of putting everything into ant-proof jars and caulking every crack in the kitchen we could find, I thought we'd almost beaten them back, but yesterday, I put a jar of honey back in the cupboard without realising the seal wasn't on correctly - today, it was swarming with ants bent on a viscous death. What to do? I strained it out and rebottled it, ant free. Waste not want not, and honey is anti bacterial :)

4. A positive commercial break:  Alcuin is going through another stage when he's adding to his vocabulary every day. The only thing is, he isn't too fond of beginning vowels. He'll help make the fire with "ick"s and "ogs", for example. This wouldn't be noteworthy, except that we have (d)ucks. I look forward (not) to explaining that at library story time.

5. Back to death: My husband wasn't even out of US air space when disaster struck. For the first time ever, a hawk got one of our chickens. Of course, it was one of my favourites, our only silkie hen, Mrs Dick Turpin. Alcuin and I entered the chicken yard to find all very quiet. At first, we thought the chickens were huddling under the coop to escape the cold weather. Then I got that feeling something was wrong. As we began an inspection of the perimeter, a hawk burst out of the bushes.  Of course, I knew what I'd find. Alcuin was pretty excited about it all - he's not been able to stop talking about the "awk".

6. Once again, she proved the truth that chickens never seem that big until you have to dig a grave for them. Especially when there's been a drought for months and the clay soil is more like granite. At least the sore hands and aching back distracted me from my grief.
The ducks, by the way, were quacking happily on their little pond the whole time. I guess they were saying something like, "Nah, nah, you're not an osprey. You can't catch us."

It was Thursday night, and I'd run out of photo ideas.

7. Out on our morning walk this past weekend, I spotted a shoe in the ditch - and then its partner close by. A nifty pair of Vans Off the Wall low-top converse (whew, that's a mouthful). And they looked to be exactly my size. Now, if this was the UK, I'd leave them on the nearest wall so that the barefoot loser could retrace her steps and rescue them. But here, with no pavement, or houses nearby, they could only have been tossed from a moving car, and there's no way of getting them back to their owner. So I took them home,washed them, and - they fit perfectly. And retail for $50 on the manufacturer's website. I feel ninety-eight percent triumphant, and, given how things are going around here, two percent worried they are the vital clue in a murder case.

Hope your Thanksgiving involved nothing deader than a turkey. For more Seven Quick Takes, hop on over to Kelly's at This Ain't the Lyceum.

Friday 11 November 2016

7 Quick Takes 43: Nah, No Wrigrets More

Where what started out as a structured idea morphed into a stream of consciousness post.

1. It's November - we all know that's NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month. At least, over half the people on my FB feed do. And there's something about it that ignites even those of us who have sworn off novel writing. Because, although I've given up all ambitions for literary fame, I spend a lot of time in my head, and my little inner bubble gets boring even to me sometimes, and - pop - out comes a story.

2. And then, a little voice starts up: Hey, 50, 000 words in a month! That would be fun!! Just the intellectual challenge I need!!!  Except it's totally unrealistic given I've got a toddler who is a one-man deconstruction company. OK, maybe if I did nothing else while he was asleep, including sleeping myself. So that's a no-go, right? Except... my husband is going to China in the middle of the month (yes, literally), so what would he know? As long as the view on the video camera when we Skype shows a clean space in the house, how would he know the baby is living off the knee-high pile of cat food on the kitchen floor, and the dust bunnies are evolving into woolly mammoths? And if my teenager gets to live on Papa John's pizza and sleep in as long as she wants, she won't be telling...

Ahem, back to reality and my rambling point.

3. What actually happens when I see NaNoWriMo, is my poor aging brain does a double take. At least, I don't know whether it's my brain or my eyesight, but nowadays, I find myself glancing at words and totally misreading. I'll see a jar of "Squirrel Jam" or a can of "Tundra Flavour Car Food". So what actually pops into my head is "nah, no more....". Which led me to think, how about a lighthearted, themed post on what could I say no to in November?

4. ...Which turned out to be hard, because I've got about the willpower of a jellyfish. If someone told me I had to give up tea and chocolate or die, I'd start writing my epitaph. The only times I've been able to turn over the proverbial new leaf were when I was pregnant. With my first child, I gave up drinking like the college student I was, and to this day, only drink lightly. With number three, the thought of having to give birth at forty-five drove me to exercise every day. And now he's on the outside, I still exercise almost every day because my back hurts too much if I don't. Maybe if I'd had fifteen children, I'd be near-perfect.

5. But I do have NahNoWrigglingMouse. At least, we wish we could say that, but we have a rodent lodger of many weeks standing. Sometimes, our cats diverge from their shock and awe strategy and allow some of their prey to be eligible for their catch and release programme. That is, catch it outside, and release it inside. The current mouse has taken up residence in our walls, and occasionally emerges in the kitchen to drag off pieces of pizza and dodge the cats and (humane) mouse traps. We are about to reach our final solution: name it. In the past, giving up and adopting the mouse usually results in its demise within a couple of days. Any suggestions for good names?

6. Then there was the news of the week: NahNoWrightMountain. That is, something to really get outraged about: Toblerone has changed its shape.

It's supposed to look like a mountain range; now it looks like a mountain range with a motorway cut through it. Perhaps it's meant to be a stark comment on the state of the environment. Or a bid to cheat us on the amount of chocolate we're paying for. It's a toss up.                        

7. And to end, how about, Nah, No More Wrigrets? That's not me, because I can still worry about things I did 25 years ago, but sometimes I get the urge to rrrrrroll my rrrrrrrrs and do a little Edith Piaf. And I think we need it this week.

Well, good luck to those of you who are really, truly churning out those 50, 000 words. And of course, for the best writer's inspiration, pop over to Kelly's link up at This Ain't the Lyceum. Even better, please read this post and consider helping her family fund their hosting of two Latvian orphan siblings this Christmas.