Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Merry Christmouse

So the mouse was not gone. Or at any rate a mouse was not gone, as we discovered when we trooped into the house at about 1:15 AM, having picked up my parents at the train station. They flew American Airlines, and after a delay in Seattle (due to O'Hare traffic, apparently, even though Seattle was getting what I believe was its worst snow on record) landed in O'Hare at about 1 PM to find that their connecting flight was cancelled. They were 66th on the standby list. American booked them on a flight for 7:30 PM the next night--Christmas Eve--which would have been a 30-hour wait in the airport. American offered no hotel or food vouchers. "Are we supposed to spend the night in the airport, then?" Dad asked, and the attendant said vaguely, "I hope not. We're sorry about this."

So I called six or seven rental places and found nobody had any cars to rent. Dad said he didn't want us to drive with the weather the way it was, so Eric and his mom checked Amtrak and bought two of the last train tickets out of Chicago, and Mom and Dad went off to the train station. We'd had to get first-class tickets, but that meant they got to go into a quiet lounge with free drinks rather than stand outside with the poor souls who were also stuck in Chicago but didn't have the travel staff Mom and Dad did and so were vainly begging for coach seats. Apparently a steak dinner with dessert was included, and they got a sleeper compartment to themselves, so it was actually quite nice. And they didn't have to spend thirty hours at the airport.

"The mouse isn't gone," Eric said when we stood there in the kitchen. "I just saw it run across the room."

I elected to totally ignore the problem until Mom and Dad had left, and the mouse--mice--fortunately decided to do the same. We had a nice visit--a little noisy the first two days since we were having two big holiday dinners with Eric's family, and then very quiet the next two. I got some con T-shirts and an enameled cast-iron pot and some books I've been wanting, plus a copy of The Bible According to Mark Twain, which I used to own but lost years ago--I left it with either James or Dad to read, but I can't remember which and both deny any knowledge of it, and neither ever found it again. Dad finally decided he'd heard enough of my complaining (though that's not how he said it) and bought me another copy, which pleased me to no end.

Mom and Dad got home without any trouble, although they decided to take flight vouchers for taking a later flight in O'Hare. Since they vowed never to fly American again I can only assume they're going to give them to James.

Yesterday after work we went and bought traps, some classic and some glue traps, and put them down. Then we went upstairs into the computer room. Not long after I came down and called to Eric, "We caught a mouse!" These glue traps are apparently great stuff. But it doesn't kill them, and despite the "anesthesia" advertised on the box this one was struggling. Eric and I discussed humane ways of dispatching it--I didn't want to let it starve to death--or die of thirst, though I think that's just a semantic difference with mice since they don't drink--and Eric ended up taking it outside and crushing its skull with a hammer.

Not long after I was in the pantry making my lunch and another mouse decided it would be a great time to rummage between the bread and the chips. "We definitely had more than one!" I said when Eric rushed down to see whether the shriek I'd emitted was because I'd been murdered. I put a glue trap up on the counter but no luck yet.

I'm really pissed off at that particular mouse. On the floor is annoying, but within the bounds of acceptability. On my counter means war. Also, what is the damn thing eating? There aren't any holes in the bread or chips or rice as far as I can see, but there are droppings so it's clearly eating something. M--f-- b-- mice.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry things

The weekend was busy with candy-making and cookie-making and hiring my stepsister-in-law to clean the house. (She's 11. She worked about three hours, including helping us with wrapping 220 caramels, and hung around for a few more helping with putting up decorations. I asked what she was going to charge and she hemmed and hawed and settled on $2 an hour. I gave her a twenty and, possibly, apoplexy.) We finally got our tree decorated last night. Next year I will begin the tree-buying process on December 3 or so, so that we can actually get it up by the time I want it (around December 15, which is when we actually bought our tree, but then it didn't go up for almost a week and then Eric was too tired to want to decorate and so on).

We got some good news in the mail: Anthem has overturned the denial of coverage on my HSG, so we won't be losing that $3600 after all. It will take a while for them to process the claims, of course, but then we'll get our money back from the hospital and doctor's office, or maybe apply it toward future service. I'm pleased. I wasn't looking forward to continuing that fight. (I wonder if this is why our insurance is going up next year. In fact I'm losing my very nice 100% coverage plan because my employer decided it was just too expensive to continue. I won't tell them it might be my fault.)

In other good news, the mouse is gone. It was getting bolder: not only taking the peanut butter from the traps without springing the traps, but darting from the pantry to the back entry (where the garbage can and recycling bins are) to under the stove while we were in the kitchen banging things around. Yesterday morning I was in the kitchen and noticed it run from the stove to the entry. Then I saw it creep into my garden tote. So I very slowly opened the back door, picked up the tote, and put it outside. I'd better check it before the weather gets warmer, since a frozen mouse body in my bag is bad enough but a thawed, decomposing one would be much worse and I like that bag.

Today, I'm finishing two socks (one for Mom, one for Dad) and a batch of cookies, and putting some last things away before my parents get here tomorrow. And then I'm on Christmas break. I've been so envious of Eric and his two-week break; it was so hard getting up quietly to go to work today. I only have to do it again tomorrow and then I won't for nearly a week.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How to choose your Christmas tree very, very quickly.

1. Go to the tree lot when it's 20 degrees out and windy.

2. Forget your hat.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

When the homeowners are away, the mice will play

We canned apple pie filling a few days ago. It was a total disaster--one of the jars broke in the canner and then when I pulled out the rest they all oozed filling over the counter, so most of it's in the freezer now and I'm trying to decide whether I failed to secure every lid properly or whether I should blame the ClearJel--but it also gave us valuable but annoying information: we have, or had, a mouse. Or mice.

When I opened the drawer to get the quart jars I found a few pellets of what were undeniably mouse droppings in it. I cussed a little and got the jars out to be sterilized, and then I opened other drawers. The one below the jar drawer drew more enthusiastic cussing. It's where I keep the candy-making supplies I got for my wedding shower, and it was practically filled with droppings. We discovered later that the lower shelf of the storage under the counters also had droppings, and the bag of basmati rice had been nibbled and defecated into. (Luckily it wasn't a full bag--we keep most of our rice in a Tupperware container and the bag only held what wouldn't fit.) Eric ran out of Pop-Tarts before we thought he would (we stocked up at a good sale) and I'd swear the mouse/mice got that, too, except we can't find any wrappers.

We intended to get mousetraps yesterday, but went haircutting and Christmas shopping instead. Today I get the mousetraps (and make turnovers from the apple pie filling that's still in the fridge) and maybe some antibacterial spray for the drawers. I'm not sure how much that will help--I also have paint, which might be better--but we do need the space. Even if apple pie filling is out of our reach, we do just fine with pickles and apple butter.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Back and better than ever before

Thanksgiving was lovely, except that I hardly saw my parents. Next time I'll arrange timing better. But I made cookies to last them until they come out here for Christmas, and I got to see my relatives and enjoy my native Washington for a few days. It's looking increasingly unlikely that we're moving this summer, and that makes me sad. I'm going to have to schedule more visits next year if I can.

In happier news, I've turned in my second business profile article. This one was harder--the interviewee didn't like the idea of being interviewed, and really wanted to read the article before I sent it. I agreed to send her the rough draft though everyone says don't, and was rewarded with the knowledge of why everyone says don't. She wanted me to change things, to alter the focus, to remove her name from some things...she did correct a couple of important things and give me more information in the second conversation, though. Lessons learned:
  • don't let interviewees read your work unless you're prepared to explain why you can't make the changes what they want (I did okay on that, I think--and I did do a couple of harmless things she wanted)

  • always record interviews (I didn't because she was so reluctant, and that's why those things needed correcting--either that or she told me the wrong thing, but I can't tell for sure because I don't have a record of exactly what she said, just my notes)
I immediately got another assignment upon turning this one in. This one isn't a business profile: it's an article on the tax benefits of net losses. I realize this is an extremely boring topic. But somehow, knowing I have to write about it makes it more interesting, not less; and I'm pleased to have received this assignment because it shows they're trusting me with more than relatively fluffy pieces.