Thursday, April 22, 2010

Pearl Harbor

We visited Pearl Harbor today, that infamous location attacked by Japan on 7 December 1941, the event that drew the United States into war with Japan during World War II. The photo above shows the USS Arizona Memorial, which straddles the remains of the actual USS Arizona. When you're inside the memorial, you can look down into the water and see the ship, and you can't help but think about the men who perished in that shallow grave. Their names are on one of the walls on the memorial.

The USS Missouri, the ship where the Japanese instrument of surrender was assigned nearly four years later in Toyko Bay, is docked just yards away from the Arizona memorial.

It's interesting that even now, nearly 70 years after this event, people still visit this place. There were big crowds here, and perhaps even more interesting is that at least a fourth (maybe more) of the visitors were Japanese. I kind of wondered why they would want to come here, but then I realized, maybe if I was in Japan I might want to visit war memorials there, too. After all, one of the reasons we build these memorials is to keep the memories alive, so that hopefully nothing like this will ever happen again.

Meleana and Kani go to a lu'au

Today was a celebration of local food, drink, and customs. We started out with a little fresh pineapple juice and fresh coconut milk from Natural Hawaiian at the International Markeplace. It was 'ono, mikomiko!!! Very delicious. 

In the mid-afternoon, a bus took us to Paradise Cove, on the west side of the island, for a luau. We were greeted with beautiful orchid leis and mai tais, which of course got things off to a great start. We ditched our English names at the door and took on new Hawaiian names (Meleana and Kani). Since it was my birthday, Kani made me a really nice "crown" from coconut leaves and orchids, and I wore it proudly, along with my purple orchid lei and a lovely floral bracelet given to me by a nice lady who worked at Paradise Cove.

(To find out your Hawaiian name, visit this link.)

We were served with some traditional luau food, such as Lomi Lomi Salmon (as a pupu or appetizer), Kalua pork (cooked in an underground pit called an imu), chicken, white fish with mango, steamed rice, poi, green beans, and taro dinner rolls. For dessert, we got coconut cake, chocolate cake, and Haupia, a sort of coconut pudding. Then came the entertainment!

The music and dance represented not only Hawaii but various other islands in Polynesia, from Tonga and Samoa to the Land of the Long White Cloud (Aotearoa, also known as New Zealand). There was even a Samoan fire dancer. He caught himself on fire a time or two, but was fortunately always able to put the fire out. 

It was late when we got back to the hotel, and I couldn't get online to post this entry. So I'm a day late! Oh, well. Guess I really am on Hawaiian time. :-)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The gathering place

O'ahu means "the gathering place" in Hawaiian, and here we are on another beautiful Hawaiian island. We arrived in Honolulu last night (19 April to be precise, as I see my Blogspot time stamp is still on Indiana time) and made the highly stressful journey in our rental car to our awesome hotel in Waikiki Beach. Highly stressful because Honolulu is a BIG CITY and after being in Kauai for several days, Honolulu might as well be New York or Tokyo. The traffic, even at 9PM, was very heavy, especially on the street that parallels Waikiki Beach. I will not attempt to spell the name of the street, but like most other place names in Hawaii, it has lots of vowels in it.

Fast forward to this morning. For some reason it took us a long time to get moving, so when we finally went out for breakfast, there was none to be found. Instead, we wound up having lunch at a Cheeseburger in Paradise (aptly named) a few blocks from our hotel. After lunch, we wandered across the street to Waikiki Beach to take photos and watch the surfers. Waikiki is a happening place. There are lots of Japanese tourists here, combined with your typical Americans (most of whom appear to be older than me and from the Midwest or South), and your young surfer dude types. There are lots of shi-shi shops, like Chanel and Tiffany and Coach. But there are also lots of imported cheap crap shops and kiosks. So the shopping wasn't as fun deep down as it looked on the surface.

We decided to take a drive around the island, or at least around as much of the island as possible. There's a little strip up on the northwest side where there's no road to speak of. So here's what we did. We went east, past Diamond Head and Kehala and the Molokai lookout (could barely see Molokai today) to the Halona Blowhole. The tide was low, so there wasn't much action at the blowhole, but at least I got to see the water shoot up a foot or so and that was cool.

I hoped to stop at the Byodo-In Temple, which was used as the setting for Sun and Jin's wedding on Lost, one of our favorite TV shows. But we took a wrong turn and by the time I realized it, we were way far north. We drove up the east coast to Laie, where we popped by the Polynesian Cultural Center and took a drive-by photo of the beautifully landscaped Laie Hawaii Temple.

Soon we were on the north shore, specifically Sunset Beach, one of the popular surfing areas. We stopped to take a few photos, then headed toward the town of Haleiwa. I'm not sure if it was there or Kawailoa where we stopped for ice cream, but I had some of the best homemade pineapple ice cream ever at a cute little ice cream shop that had the word Paradise in its name.

We continued all the way to Mokuleia Beach, which we had read online was the crash site for the Oceanic flight that Lost was based on. Since filming for that series finished several months ago, we missed seeing the fake-crashed plane on the beach. Oh, well. At least we got to see the Dharma Initiative's headquarters . . . or, Camp Erdman, the YMCA camp near the end of the road, which was used as the setting for the home of "the Others."

Oceanic 815 crash site? Honestly, I will have to go back and compare this photo to my DVDs of the first two seasons.
Coming back to Honolulu was a breeze, because there's a reasonably fast two-lane highway that cuts to the center of the island, past pineapple and banana and other farms, to Schofield Barracks. There's still an Army presence here, and this is where the H2 begins (Hawaii has three highways that are sort of like interstate highways on the mainland: H1, H2, and H3). We took the H2 back to Honolulu and the H1, and from there navigated our way back to the hotel.

Dinner tonight was so worthy, I'm going to have to write a separate entry on it in my food blog someday. We chose one of our hotel's restaurants for convenience, but it turned out to be a great choice. Ciao Mein is a Zagat "very good to excellent" winner that specializes in Chinese and Italian fusion. Sound strange? Well, maybe not, when you consider that the Italians got pasta from the Chinese (Marco Polo, anyone?) Seriously, though, this was one of the best meals I've ever had!!!

Check back again in a day or two for the latest. Goodnight, Mainlander!!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Na'Pali and Puff the magic dragon

Today we took a helicopter tour over Kauai and the Na'Pali coastline. Na'Pali is the northwest side of Kauai that's inaccessible by car. You either have to fly over it, take a boat, or hike about 8-10 miles through a very rough trail that is considered a 9.5 out of 10 in terms of difficulty. Now that I look back, that might have been easier on me than the helicopter tour. I already have a great deal of difficulty with boats, and I forgot to take my Dramamine before the flight, so I guess you can imagine. (No, I didn't have to use the "comfort bag" but I was pretty worn out for about an hour after we landed.)

Despite the fact that I'm a landlubber, the helicopter trip was worth it in terms of scenery. We flew from a heliport near the Lihue airport, first over Poipu and the southern "sunny" beaches, then past the gigantic coffee plantation that we visited yesterday (Kauai Coffee Company), which by the way, is the largest coffee plantation in the USA. From there we turned inland, and I must say that this is where the real fun began, as our pilot began dashing us in and out of valleys in search of the perfect camera shots of waterfalls. I learned the Kauai has the second tallest waterfall in the world (after Angel Falls in Venezuela) and Man, is it tall. Yeah, believe me, because this is where my motion sickness started to kick in. It's also where part of the movie "Jurassic Park" was filmed.

From here we flew over the Waimea Canyon, where Sandy and I drove yesterday. Mark Twain apparently dubbed this "The Grand Canyon of the Pacific" and it's easy to see why. Again, we got (in my humble opinion) a little too up close and personal with a few valleys, but hey, who am I to judge? The fun was still in the beginning stages at this point.

Ahhhh, Na'Pali . . . arguably one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. The jagged green peaks, the fjordlike fingers, the deep and scary valleys. It was here, supposedly, that members of the old Hawaiian royal family were interred, and lots of human sacrifices took place around here during the olden days. Now, one of the valleys is apparently home to a band of hippies. According to the pilot.

When we flew back towards "civilization", our first point of note was Ke'e Beach, a beach that is famous for surfing and I believe the pilot said this is the place where young surfer Bethany Hamilton had the incident with the shark. This is an area where there are lots of expensive, secluded homes and supposedly actor Pierce Brosnan is one of the residents.

Remember the Peter, Paul & Mary song "Puff the Magic Dragon"? Of course you do, if you're 40 or older. Well, if you remember the song, you probably recall that Puff lived by the sea and frolicked in the autumn mist in the land of Hanalei. Unfortunately, Peter, Paul & Mary mispronounce Hanalei in the song . . . it's more like "Hon-a-lay." This famous bay is not only huge and a mecca for surfers, it's downright beautiful.

After passing Hanalei and its neighboring town Princeville, we headed back inland again, flying over a the wettest spot on Earth. Mount Waialeale gets an average of 460 inches of rain a year. Our pilot said that it usually rains 360 days a year here. However, it's been a little on the dry side lately, and there were only about 5 or 6 waterfalls flowing from it instead of about a hundred. (I'm making that last number up, but it's significantly drier for some reason. Global warming, anyone?)

Actually, by this time I was at the height of "I don't care anymore" because of motion sickness, so it's pretty amazing I remember anything. Fortunately, the tour was almost over, and thankfully I felt much better within the hour after we landed. So much that Sandy and I drove up to the north side of the island to see some of the places we'd just seen from the air. We stopped at the Kilauea Lighthouse, where the lighthouse was disappointing but the National Wildlife Refuge was da bomb and we got to see some really cool birds like Albatrosses (which have seven-foot wingspans and are AMAZING to watch) and Red-Footed Boobies (which appear as white dots in my photos because they're so far away).

We drove up to Ke'e Beach, got out and walked around a bit, found some really cool shells (unidentified at this point) and then drove back to Hanalei, where we had dinner at a very nice restaurant called Postcards Cafe. Postcards serves mostly local organic stuff, so you know that made me happy. But it was quite delicious.

Anyway, that was today. Tomorrow is an R&R day and we will also be traveling to Honolulu, so I may not have another entry until Tuesday. In the meantime, if you'd like to see the Best of Kauai photos, check out My Gallery (I will post them on Facebook as soon as I can get a decent Internet connection - this one is NOT, I'm sorry to say). You'll see lots of flora and fauna, including a very nice photo of a handsome Red-Crested Cardinal who tried every trick in the book (including posing for a photo) to coerce me into giving him a handout at breakfast this morning. I didn't go for it.

Goodnight, Mainlanders!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The garden island


Welcome to Kauai, the garden island of Hawaii. This is my very first visit to Hawaii and I'm super-excited to be here! It was a LONG journey from Portland (5+ hour flight to Honolulu, 1.5 hour layover, but then only a 30 minute flight to Lihue) yesterday. By the time we checked into our hotel, it was almost dinnertime. The weather yesterday was a little cloudy as evidenced in the photo above, but today the weather was PERFECT!!!

We started our day at Oki Diner, which is famous for their macadamia nut pancakes -- Yum! After a hearty breakfast, we set out for the south coast and points west. The southeastern part of the island is very lush and green and there are beautiful flowers everywhere. We visited the National Tropical Botanical Garden, where we saw all kinds of flowers (including my favorite, the Bird of Paradise), trees (such as the Bottle Palm and Rainbow Eucalyptus), and fruit trees/plants (pineapple, banana, papaya).

After wandering around the garden, we headed over to Poipu Beach, where we walked around the beach and watched the surfers. The beach isn't very large, and it surrounds a large array of black volcanic rocks, but the water is very, very clear and pretty.

After our beach diversion, we continued our journey, stopping at the Kauai Coffee Company. I sampled several of their coffees (all grown locally) and tried some macadamia nut ice cream (thumbs up!) KCC has acres and acres of coffee, and it's all within view of the ocean! Must be one of the world's prettiest coffee plantations.

As we headed west, we noticed dramatic changes in the land. In some places the soil was very red. Not like the clay soil we have in some parts of the Carolinas, but more like a mineral red, like I've seen in photos of certain parts of Australia. Things looked dry, and there weren't as many flowers and not as much green. Islands are interesting . . . every island I've been to has a wet side and a dry side, a windward side and a leeward side. But drive a few miles inland from the town of Waimea and you'll discover Waimea Canyon (photo below), a natural formation that will knock your socks off! We stopped at several overlooks to take photos, but the photos don't do this place justice. The camera just can't see what the human eye sees when it comes to things like this!

There are two islands off the southwest coast of Kauai - the larger one is called Niihao, and it's a private island owned by a family named Robinson (are they Swiss? I don't know.) About 200 people live on Niihao and it's not open to visitors. Of course, that makes me curious about it.

I'm also curious about the Kauai chickens. Free range chickens are EVERYWHERE. One of the guys who works at our hotel told me there are more chickens than people on Kauai, and that doesn't surprise me given how many we've seen. There's a constant sound of roosters crowing and hens cackling . . . OK, maybe not constant, but it's noticeable. The chickens are so used to people, they don't freak out when you walk by. It's really fun to watch the roosters chasing the hens. Kinda gives you an answer to that age-old question about the reason the chicken crosses the road . . . she's trying to get away from the rooster!

Goodnight, Mainland!

Friday, April 16, 2010

A tranquil place

Zen Buddhist monk Thích Nhất Hạnh says: "Make each moment an occasion to live deeply, happily, in peace." The Portland Japanese Garden exemplifies the spirit of this quote. Surely this is one of the most tranquil places on Earth - and we spent several hours here today. Between the two of us, we took over two hundred photos! I'll post a few of my favorites in my Mac Gallery and on Facebook.

Getting to the Japanese Garden was an adventure. We had to take the TriMet MAX (light rail) train through downtown and into the Northwest District, through a tunnel to Washington Park, which has to be one of the coolest city parks anywhere. Here you have the Oregon Zoo, a children's museum, an arboretum, the International Test Rose Garden (HUGE!!! But the roses are not in bloom yet), and the Japanese Garden. After a few hours in the Japanese Garden, we walked down the hill to the Rose Garden, and then took a bus back to the train station.

We took the train to PGE Park, home of the Portland Beavers baseball team and the Portland Timbers soccer team. Oooh, oooh, how cool is it that Portland has a soccer team?!!! Opening night for the Timbers is Saturday. Would love to go, but we'll be somewhere else then!

After a very long walk up to NW 23rd and Irving, we had a late lunch (here comes the food part, Mom) at Papa Haydn, a fabulous restaurant that was recommended by our bed and breakfast. We were very impressed with the organic, local, sustainable selections . . . I (someone who will NEVER eat ground beef dishes at restaurants) ordered the hamburger because it was labelled as house-ground and all natural. It was served with Applewood bacon and Tillamook Cheddar cheese, which comes from Oregon. Sandy got the organic grilled chicken sandwich, which was served with a very nice cucumber salad - I'm going to try to duplicate that recipe when the cucumbers start coming in this year!!! For dessert, we shared a Panna Cotta (a really yummy vanilla custard) topped with a raspberry sauce made with with Oregon raspberries. Since we had such a late lunch, we didn't need dinner!

We rode the streetcar from NW 23rd through the Pearl District to Pioneer Park, then caught the train and came back to our B&B . . . where we have crashed now. Our feet are sore from all the walking today, and we have to get up very early tomorrow in order to get to the next destination. It will be VERY LATE when I post tomorrow (and of course, my ability to post is contingent upon my ability to get online) . . . but I will post as soon as possible.

Goodnight again, East Coast people!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Voodoo child

Greetings from Portland, Oregon! It's my first time visiting, and here are a few random thoughts about the place: Portland is beautiful, it's very green and lush, you can see Mt. Hood in the distance, the weather was perfect today, the people are really friendly, and they have an amazing light rail train system. Oh, and they have some fabulous grub here. Today we were able to experience a bit of Portland's quirkiest, if not finest.

On the recommendation of my cousin Allison, who lives up in Seattle, we sought out Voodoo Doughnut, a Portland institution. Here you'll find all kinds of interesting concoctions, including the Tex-Ass donut (below--it's HUGE--if you can eat it in a minute twenty seconds, you get it for free--don't get your hopes up, haha), the Old Dirty Bastard (an Oreo and Peanut Butter donut), a donut with Froot Loops on top, and the very famous Maple Bacon Bar, which was Allison's suggestion. She promised that it tasted like pancakes and bacon in a donut, and she was right. O. M. G.

Instead of writing more about the donuts, I'll just post a few photos here for you. :-)

OK, you get the point.

Now, I know that when my Mom reads this, she's going to say: "All y'all ever do when you travel is eat."

Well, it's true that we like to eat. But we're really picky. We only want to eat the good stuff, preferably local and organic when we can find it! Voodoo may not be organic, but they're definitely local.  They make it very clear on their web site that their doughnuts are freshly made and, quote: "You can pay us more for our product which is locally made, locally owned, and an honest dream come true, or you can buy cheaper, megalacorp, machine cut, rebaked, defrozen, warehouse doughnuts and pastries."

But seriously, we didn't just eat today. We also walked A LOT. I'd say, we probably walked at least five miles. We got off at the wrong train station and ended up walking all the way down Burnside (where we found Voodoo Doughnuts) and then walked from there to the famous independent bookshop Powell's, which is so huge, you can get lost in it. Seriously, it's the largest bookstore I've ever been in. It covers an entire city block, I think.

Then we walked some more, rode the train some more, and walked some more back to Lloyd Center, where we watched the Zamboni man sweep the ice on the ice skating rink and then watched the cute little girls have their lessons. One little girl in particular caught our eye because she was so talented. She was only about five years old and looks ready for the Olympics.

By the way, in Portland there's no sales tax. NO SALES TAX!!! So if you, say, buy a $125 pair of new black Birkenstocks (I mean, for example . . . I'm just sayin') . . . then your total cost is . . . $125!!!

After that short break, we continued on foot towards our bed and breakfast, stopping along the way for a light dinner at Blossoming Lotus, an organic vegan restaurant. We shared a really tasty beet and curry cashew salad, then Sandy got the falafel wraps (a raw dish) and I got the chickpea stew and saffron rice special. It was fantastic!! Healthy, too. Karen, you would not like it. :-) (That was a special note to one of my new readers.)

Goodnight East Coast!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A work in progress

Look at all those levels . . . master mason at work!!!

Inspired by the weather and our lust for more vegetable gardening space, we decided to build a second raised bed. This one will be next to the deck, and here we'll grow taller plants such as tomatoes, beans, and cucumbers (and perhaps some shorter plants, too, if space permits.)

"Handy Sandy" designed the raised bed, dug the trench, and yeah, generally did all the really hard work. But I hauled the bricks from the truck in the front yard to the back, and I helped with the leveling -- never knew there were so many different types of leveling sand and tools. I also provided lots of food and water and moral support. :-)

Will put up a photo when it's finished in a few weeks . . . in the meantime, check out our backyard Azaleas! And to think that some people said: "You will NEVER get azaleas to grow in alkaline Indiana!" Bwhaa-ha-ha!!! (that was my Monster laugh.)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Let the gardening begin

I sowed seeds in our square foot raised bed garden yesterday. Here's the lineup:
  • 6 squares of Swiss chard (Bright Lights by Lake Valley)
  • 2 squares of spinach (Bloomsdale by Lake Valley)
  • 6 squares of boy choy (White Stem by Botanical Interests)
  • 2 squares of beets (Gourmet Blend by Botanical Interests)
  • 4 squares of head lettuce (2 each of Red Sails by Lake Valley and Tennis Ball from Monticello--see below)
  • 4 squares of leaf lettuce (2 each of Spicy Salad Mix and Zesty Mesclun Mix, both Lake Valley)
I planted extra Swiss chard because, well, we love the stuff . . . and you can only put two plants in a square foot. You can only put one bok choy plant per square, which is the reason for so many of those. If you're wondering how I knew this, it's because I used Gardener's Supply Company's online kitchen garden planner, which is an awesome tool.

The Tennis Ball lettuce seeds came from Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home in Virginia. We visited there last August and were very impressed with the vegetable gardens there. This variety of lettuce is a head lettuce kind of like Bibb. Supposedly, it was President Jefferson's favorite lettuce variety, and my sources tell me that it will do well here in central Indiana. I look forward to finding out for myself!

We're also working on another raised bed, which you can see under construction between the square foot garden and the deck. Here, we'll eventually plant "tall things" such as tomatoes, beans, and cucumbers.  This is all still really new to us. After all, it's just our second year of vegetable gardening. We've got a lot to learn! Hopefully, our efforts will be rewarded with a bountiful harvest. :-)

Tulip town pt. 2

This is the other variety of tulips we have in our front yard. I can't remember their name - but they're beautiful! Ironically, one of them (below, right-hand side) is plain yellow! Just goes to show you, even nature has its inconsistencies.

Tulip town

These tulips are called World Peace. Aren't they lovely? They open up wide during the day, and close their petals at night.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bluer than robin's eggs

A robin decided to build a nest in one of the dead hanging baskets on our deck. Yesterday I happened to be on the back porch, and noticed that Mama Robin left the nest for a few minutes. I decided to try and see what was in the nest. I couldn't stretch far enough to see, so I got out my camera and held it over my head as far as I could. Imagine my surprise when I saw this photo!

If you ask me, Mama Robin isn't too bright. Not only will she have to deal with humans, dogs, and a cat occasionally hanging out on the back porch just feet away, but she's also exposed to the elements. Yesterday, we had winds of 40mph (well, this is Indiana, after all!) and Mama Robin sat on the nest while the hanging basket tossed around like a Merry Mixer.

Eventually, the baby robins will have to leave the nest. Then what? Will they plop down on the deck floor and knock themselves out? With a cat just feet away? Like I said, Mama Robin isn't too bright.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tails from the court

Our Chelsea (3.5 year old Maltese) is a cute, smart little princess -- and she knows it. Unfortunately, she's been a little under the weather lately. She began having "coughing spells" on Easter Sunday. One of them lasted 20 minutes. It was like she was trying to cough up a gigantic hairball.

I took her to the veterinary clinic on Monday, where she was examined, X-rayed, and diagnosed with a collapsing trachea. This condition is rather common in toy breeds such as Maltese. It's typically treated with medications (she's on cough syrup and Theophylline, a bronchodilator) and weight loss. Chelsea's a chow hound, and she's obese. She must lose 2 pounds (which is a LOT for a Maltese) . . . and this is going to be hard for a little girl who loves her Baa-Baa Q's. Her veterinarian prescribed some special dry food. She can eat 3/4 cup a day of this food, along with some peas, carrots, and/or green beans.

Oh, My Stars. The Princess is Not Happy.

Three days later . . . thankfully, the coughing spells aren't as often and don't last as long.  Chelsea detests the cherry flavored cough syrup . . . red streaks on her "beard" from near-misses make her look like a vampire. (We joke about her drinking TruBlood. BTW, why can't they make CHICKEN flavored cough syrup for dogs?!!) She senses something "nasty" in the Pill Pockets we use to wrap the Theophylline pills in -- we pretty much have to force feed those. She's very angry about the new treats (Baa-Baa Q's have been replaced with green beans) and is refusing to eat her new dry food (even though I'm mixing it with her old food to get her used to it.)


Poor Chelsea. Of course, her Royal Court is suffering, too. Cody (nearly 7 year old Maltese) and Misha (10 year old gray tabby) were sympathetic for the first day, but now they're just bored with the whole situation. But Chelsea is seriously angry now about the food thing. She's growling at me, snapping at her siblings, barking at the wind and every little noise -- even more than usual. I know exactly how she feels: it's called BEING ON A DIET.

Hopefully, she'll get used to her new way of eating soon, and the collapsed trachea will improve as she loses weight. I'm sure she'll feel much better, and soon the Kingdom will be happy again!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

I am the egg man

Happy Easter, everyone!!!

The Egg Man

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Mouse story

I was sitting at the breakfast table yesterday, minding my own business, quietly working on my laptop. The dogs napped in their crate, and the cat was hiding out in another room. The TV was off, and the only sounds were the white noise of the outdoors coming in through the open windows and the light tapping of keys as I typed some email replies. Deep in thought, I looked up, my vision shifting focus into the living room. In that very moment, I saw something out of the corner of my eye -- a faster-than-lightning streak of blackness that ran low to the ground from the sofa to the chair, not far from the dog crate.

What was that?!! I thought to myself, and that brainwave was accompanied by a weird, creepy feeling. Immediately, I fired off an instant message to Sandy: OMG!!! I THINK WE HAVE A MOUSE IN THE HOUSE!!! OK, it wasn't all in caps, but I really was shouting.

Just a short time later, I saw "it" again . . . a black shadow dashing from the chair back towards the sofa. By now, I'm feeling pretty freaked out. Not because maybe WE HAVE A MOUSE IN THE HOUSE (and I'm beginning to feel a little Dr. Seuss-like), but because I can't see "it" clearly and I don't know where "it" is. Therefore, I don't know for sure what "it" is. I went out to the garage, looking for something, anything, but for some reason I brought back a broom. Like a madwoman, I brushed all around the sofa. Why, I have no idea, because if something would have come out from under the couch it would have freaked me out even more. But I guess I felt like I had to do something.

Then for some reason, I started thinking about Misha, the cat. "MISHA!" I shouted, and ran through the house looking for her. She was on one of the beds, and she looked up at me as if I'd shaken her awake from a nice dream about . . . chasing mice. "MISHA!" I yelled. "GET OFF YOUR FAT A$$ AND COME HELP ME FIND THIS MOUSE!!! EARN YOUR KEEP, YOU LAZY FELINE!!!" She just looked at me as if I was a big bother, then put her head back down on the mattress and closed her eyes.

Slowly, I calmed down and went back to work. I couldn't stop looking out into the living room after that, but I saw no more black shadows for the rest of the day. Still, I felt an uneasiness. I avoided getting too close to the chair or the sofa, and my mind began to wander. I'd always heard that where there's one mouse, there are several . . . the phrase "a nest of mice" came to mind, and the creepy feeling intensified.

But I could find no signs -- no mouse droppings or mysterious holes in food packages or anything. There were no "smells" or anything. But what about that morning back during the winter when I woke up in the middle of the night hearing light squeaky sounds? OMG!!! WE HAVE A MOUSE IN THE HOUSE!!! I couldn't stop thinking about it.

I asked Sandy to stop by the hardware store to get some mouse traps, and she brought home a couple of these really modern-looking white plastic thingies. You put peanut butter in them, set them, and put them out. It's kind of a Roach Motel concept, but for mice. We rigged them last night and set one behind the sofa and another behind the TV cabinet, and that was that.

I dreamed about mice last night. I dreamed that we turned the chair and sofa upside down, and they were both encrusted (sorry, but that's the word that comes to mind) with mice nests, and it was all gross and disgusting, and I wondered how on Earth we'd been living like this for so long without knowing that we were harboring mice. Ew.

Of course, the first thing I wanted to do when I got up this morning was to check the traps. The one behind the sofa was untouched, but the one behind the TV cabinet had been tripped. I picked it up. It seemed slightly heavier than the untouched one, but . . . suddenly I saw it. Tiny, tiny "fingers" covered by grey fur. IT WAS THE MOUSE THAT HAD BEEN IN OUR HOUSE. It was not moving.

I started crying, realizing that we had killed another living creature. OK, some of you will be going: "Yeah, right" -- but really, I have an inner Buddhist in me. For example, I've always been the type that doesn't kill house spiders . . . I just put them on a piece of paper and then throw them outside. So yeah, I shed a few tears. Until Sandy explained that the mouse wasn't actually murdered: It committed suicide! After all, no one forced the mouse into the trap! It went in of its own accord. Thank you, Sandy, for always putting things in perspective.

Just in case there was something to my dreams, we turned over the chair and sofa. No nests. And there's been no other sign of mouse activity, so I think our mouse must have just come in from the garage or the back porch. After all, we've had the doors open quite a bit lately, since the weather's been so good.

I think it's safe here now. I hope so, anyway.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Spring has sprung

I think it's safe to say that winter is over. The daffodils have been in bloom for over a week, and a few days ago, the hyacinths in the front yard popped up - just in time for Easter! Soon we'll have tulips. As for me, I just want to go sit on the back porch. In the sunshine. With a good book.