Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Armadillo Wars, Part 3a: Running with the Raccoons

Hey--it's us again, One and Two, and do we have a story to tell!

Let me! Let me! I saw him first!

Two, there is no way I'm turning this story over to you.

But it's mine!

No, it's ours.

I saw him first.

You ran into him first. If you'd been watching where you were going...

I saw him first.

Don't pout. It doesn't look good on a raccoon. We have more dignity.

Well, he didn't have any dignity.

You are right there. So let me start.

If you insist.

Yesterday morning, there we are. I'm minding my own business, looking where I'm going on the way back to the tree, when who should dart across my field of vision, since I didn't bump into him...

You are really being rude. You're hurting my feelings.

... who should dart across in front of me, but Cousin Raccoon. From the old neighborhood. Seems he smelled an easy meal of fruit and just sashayed into a trap. Spent the night there, too. Then where's he turned loose?

I know! I know! Here! He's turned loose here! We're got the family back together now!

I cannot believe my luck.

One, was that sarcasm?

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Armadillo Wars, Part 3: Not-so-impartial third party

Oh, oh,oh--this is so good! We can't believe what we're hearing! She's being out-armadillo'ed!

Oh--you don't know who we are? We're One and Two, Raccoons extraordinaire, at your service, if you please. We now live in the country, enjoying the good life, although there was a bump in the road, or two, before we got our rhythm down, if you know what we mean.

But we hear by the animal grapevine that Arnie Armadillo is outsmarting Ol' Ms. Trap-'em there in town. Really, we'd like to be honest with Arnie and tell him that there's plenty of grubs here, but it's just more fun thinking she can't get him.

We are laughing all the way from the hole in the tree to the lake's edge.

But we do need to clue him in about Erma. That 'dillo is playing fast and loose with his affections.

One and Two

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Armadillo Wars, Part 2c: Outflanked

So last night, I blocked the only other likely spot for the armadillo to get in. This morning, the wood was askew, the trap untouched, and the north side of the flower bed a hole-y mess. I have seriously underestimated the quality of the grubs in my yard. Seriously.

But never say die. (Say relocate instead.) The trap is going in the middle of the north flower beds. Maybe he'll just stumble into it.

One can always hope. After all, tis better to be lucky than good. I am obviously not the latter.


Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Armadillo Wars, Part 2b: Outfoxed once again

I think he might actually have come into the back yard last night (despite the trap at the gate which means there's another way in), but he didn't stay long. There were a few new holes, but it could be my paranoia seeing them.

On the other hand, there's nothing paranoid about the multi-mutilations in the front flower beds.

I need two traps, one to steer him out of the back yard (because he's not taking the bait, folks) and one for him to stumble into in the front after he's high on grubs.

Back to the drawing board.


Friday, March 23, 2007

The Armadillo Wars, Part 2a: An open letter to the armadillo

Weren't the grubs good enough for you? Hmmm? You snubbed both back and front last night. Clever, clever.

But the trap stays up. It may be the only way I can protect the back flower beds and the cats are walking around it.

Clever, clever.


Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Armadillo Wars, Part 2: The Other Side speaks

So, I have this girlfriend, this hot mama armadillo, Erma. Yeah, I know, Erma Dillo. Classy, right? But we only see each other once a year, being armadillos and liking our privacy and all. So, I run into Erma lately and get off my schedule, y'know?

I'd found this yard, this gated area of landscape happiness with tulips and shrubs and grubs. Lots and lots of grubs. I missed checkin' it out a couple nights--busy with Erma and all, y'know, but then I get back down to business. Dillo's got to keep his strength up, right? Squeeze through that little space in the gate and start lookin' for the tasties. I had to dig deeper and more because, man, it looks like the top of the soil grubs are gone. Guess I ate 'em all, y'know? But it's a big flower bed area, so I ranged a little farther. Then, just for good measure and because I like a little variety in my diet, y'know, I squeezed back through that little gate and went round front. Tasty new flower beds. Didn't have to dig as deep.

Might have to tell Erma about this.


A note from the owner of this blog:

It's war! The trap comes back out and I've already dug his grubs for tonight!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Armadillo Wars, Part Ib

Undaunted by the previous night's no-show-armadillo, I dutifully left the trap up again last night. And was passed by one more time.

So, I have to ask myself: Was he just a traveling salesman type of armadillo, out to sniff and snort my grubs and then move on to (ahem!) greener pastures, or, did he approach my gate, use his extraordinary sense of nose-twitching, and--dare I say it?--smell a trap?

Tonight, no trap. If he comes back, I'll have to reevaluate my worthy opponent.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Armadillo Wars, Part Ia

Yesterday afternoon I put my how-to-catch an armadillo research to use. I retrieved the live trap from the garage, saved fruit skins, and dug a dozen grubs. Positioning the trap by the most likely spot for the armadillo to come in (the space between the gate and the fence), I "funneled" him to it with two fairly stout branches we'd cut a week before. I put the fruit/grub cocktail in the trap and left it for him.

A no-show. No armadillo. No flower beds dug up either, so he just didn't come.

The nerve!

Undaunted, I await him tonight.


Monday, March 19, 2007

The Armadillo Wars: Part I

I would like to think this is the only Part, but I am not so naive. Twenty-eight years of living within sight of downtown has only assured me that creatures great and small don't care a thing about city limits. I've trapped possums, raccoons, and unruly cats. I am about to take on a new creature.

For those who don't know (or have never seen one upright and scurrying as opposed to dead and feet up on the highway), here is an article about the armadillo, the, to my horror, mascot of Texas I have learned. The people who named it so have obviously never had one in their back yard. Tearing up their flower beds.

Guess who does?

We have had passing acquaintance with armadillos before, and I've managed to beat them at their own game with the judicious use of blood meal. This trick I learned from back neighbor, Lucille, a farm woman transplanted to town by her children just before we moved here. It is her house we recently purchased and whose yard my husband is mowing. Again. But she had an armadillo under her house and used the blood meal trick at the entrance to its burrow (after making sure it wasn't in it) and that was that. Armadillo gone.

I did this last year for the invasion and one treatment was all it took. I have a different breed of armadillo on my hands this year.

I looked into my garden area yesterday morning and it was painfully obvious from the rooting and pillaging that had been going on on the south side, that an armadillo had visited. The good news was he had not disturbed any plants or bulbs (so far). The bad news was he was there at all. We think he's on a grub hunt, and I can certainly supply him with them. Part of me should be thanking him for ridding the area of them.

When I figure out which part, I'll let you know.

I hoed his holes into non-existence yesterday, sprinkled liberally with blood meal and dusted my hands. That was that!

Naive. Naive.

This morning, he'd been in all the familiar spots (blood meal? What blood meal?) plus doing rack and ruin to another area.

I have declared war.

If I could figure out how he is getting in, I could help myself in the strategy. He can't come under the fence because it is blocked by stones. He can climb I have learned, so blocking the gaps between the chain-link fence and the gate and house will just frustrate my back yard cat. I could blood meal his path down the driveway and may try that first.

But misery loves company and I've found a couple of online sites that deal with my problem. Texas A&M has a sense of humor with it (I do not) but thiscommercial site is more what I'm looking for.

It looks like Trapper Kay will have to come out of retirement. I can dig grubs as well as the armadillo and he'll have a fresh bowl of them waiting for him this evening.

Wish me well.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

A long week

It's been a long week. Usually, I get up on Saturday morning and think: Where'd the week go? Not so, this one.

It started Sunday with an ocular migraine, something I can do without from now on thankyouverymuch. I sat down at the computer between church and going to Sunday dinner (noon meal in the South), and couldn't see the screen for all the black and white zig-zag afterimages. When they didn't go away, I had a consult from the spouse and by the time we had a diagnosis and a website for me to understand, the images were gone.

Maybe I was stressed. My father had to have day surgery (but we didn't know for sure he'd be coming home that night) on Monday. Considering he has Alzheimer's, he was a trooper--once he got the catheter out on Tuesday morning. Until then, we had a couple of scary moments, made smoother by a competent woman who sat with him for two nights. He would appear to be back to near-normal now.

But the week was shot. I'd planned a girls' trip on Tuesday to Dallas (for a trip to a spice store and Indian food) which didn't just get rescheduled, but cancelled. My regular trip to check on Daddy's business was put off a day. The flower beds needed looking after, I had to check on Daddy more, and if I didn't sit down and finish the baby gift, I would be handing an IOU to the daughter-in-law come the baby shower next Sunday. Plus, we were kitten-sitting (although they are grown cats) for the son and daughter-in-law and until everyone gets their territory re-established, there's a lot of hissing from the host cats.

However today is gorgeous outside, I'm headed to a DARA meeting and then picking up a belated Christmas gift for one of the sons. Home, only to turn around go back to Dallas for an evening out with friends. It's for Indian food, and my week gets to come full circle.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Saying good-bye to a blog

No, not mine!

But the first blog I started reading, POD-dy Mouth. Before then, I had not given blogs any thought, and certainly didn't read them. What a waste of time!

However, a blog about the good and better of print-on-demand publishing interested me and I was immediately hooked. I submitted one of my works, but it wasn't chosen to be reviewed. That's the bad news. The good news is that snippets of it weren't chosen to be villified, either!

But as of yesterday, POD-dy Mouth has closed shop, having worn herself out doing an extraordinary job of showing the world that small press/self-publication and sub-par books are not always synonymous. I, for one--and I imagine I'm not alone, will deeply miss her.

So hurry over and indulge in wit and insight. She didn't say how long she would let those words stay around.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

See, you can go home again

Or, What goes around comes around. Or, Isn't it ironic? Or, Be careful what you wish for.

Any of the above would have done.

In 1961, my husband's family moved to this town, a small community in north Texas where his parents and one brother still live. And us. The family lived in several houses, including the white frame house directly behind what has been our property for 28 years and with which we shared a back drive. At the time they lived there, it was still owned by the people who lived where I do now and there was a sort of "big house, little house" mentality. The kids were consigned to their own yard, even though it was small and loose baseballs were trapped and kept by the old lady (I'm being polite here) who lived in the property katty-corner to their yard. Soon, they moved on to another house, but my husband hasn't forgotten his tenure in that one.

Fast forward to 1979 and we move here and the "big house" is available to buy. It has since been split from the "little house" and a sweet, grandmotherly woman occupies it. She has been made to move to town from her farm by her children who worry a great deal about her. She and I adopt each other and she helps with my kids and I love her as a grandmother and we get along just fine until her death in 1991 and the property sells.

So begins 15 years of driveway dispute. We eventually put up a fence to separate the properties. The "little house" burns to being uninhabitable in 2000 (or so) and is then used for storage. It came on the market two months ago, and this time (we had tried earlier), we buy it.

We are re-joining the two properties. The fence will come down. The house will come down. I don't know if anything will go up. But, in the meantime, the grounds, neglected for years, must be looked after.

So it was that we found ourselves picking up limbs and trash. We worked for over an hour and there is still much to do before it can be mowed. My husband stopped last night and looked around. "Isn't this ironic?" he asked. "Forty six years ago I was doing the same thing."

See, I smiled, you can go home again.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

World Wide Wireless

Last weekend was a girls' road trip, about which I will elaborate more in another posting, but it started with antiquing in the Tulsa OK area. We had reservations at a Hampton Inn, my personal choice of lodging. Not only are the rates reasonable, but there's a breakfast beyond yogurt and a prepackaged cinnamon roll, the coffee is quite good (I'm an expert, remember?), and there's wireless internet.

FREE wireless internet.

Of course, as you well know if you travel any, all the lower-end chains offer free wireless internet. Unlike the big boys, Hilton and Sheraton, if I must name two (ahem!), which charge and may not even be wireless (the horror of it), the little guys are generous with their services. I am so fond of them, that when forced to stay elsewhere, say for a business meeting, I can get grouchy.

I wasn't grouchy in Tulsa. We wanted to go to a movie and it was far easier to flip open the MacBook Pro, type in the code, and search the local theatre scene.

Except it didn't happen that way. My smart little computer wanted me to join the Comfort Inn's site.

I looked out on the parking lot. This particular Hampton was sitting in the middle of about a dozen of its ilk. And guess who across the large parking lot had a very strong wireless signal? The Comfort Inn. Alas, they weren't going to give me the codes if I called over and explained the situation. Why wasn't the Hampton's stronger?

I fired up the Airport Signal Widget and looked. Hampton, or hhonors, as it's known to those of us familiar with it, was there, just not strong enough to kick the Comfort off the deck. This meant a call to the Help line.

I gave the customer service rep her laugh for the day, perhaps the weekend. "So," I explained, "I'm here at the Hampton and the Comfort is horning in."

"Say what?"

It took a verification that I was indeed booked into the Hampton and my reading her my Internet Connect codes (which she could see from wherever she was--computers are scary) and the hint to look under my wireless signal icon to finally switch me over to hhonors.

I'd love to say it behaved flawlessly, but every time I let the computer sleep, Comfort came back in demanding a code. I've explored around a little with it now and think I can handle that the next time it comes up.

Our next stay somewhere is at another Hilton family hotel, a Doubletree. I'm sure it's a very nice place, but their website isn't declaring free internet.

I feel a bout of grouchy coming on.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Finishing the frozen goods

Finally got around to the last of the in-house Bertollis (although I see from their ad they have 11 varieties, our Wal-mart carries but 8), the Grilled Chicken Alfredo with portobello mushrooms. I'd rate it as "okay." In general, I've found their shrimp entrees to be more to our liking and when they--what a nice surprise!--put a dollar coupon in yesterday's paper, I promptly cashed it out today for the Shrimp in Diavolo Sauce.

We've also tried two shrimp entrees from Contessa, a brand not available locally, but occasionally, we get out of town. While both claim to be 'restaurant quality', I'd like better than the Shrimp Stir-Fry. I felt I could have made it myself. The Shrimp Primavera, however, was quite to our liking.

They, too, have many more varieties, but they weren't available, even out of town. Also, they are $1.50 more than the Bertollis (without a coupon) and for that, I really could make my own.