Posted tagged ‘snakes’

“Only very brave mouse makes nest in cat’s ear.”

March 28, 2017

The morning has been a strange one. First off is the scary part. Halfway down from upstairs, Gracie started sliding on the steps. She panicked and started scrambling on all fours for a paw hold. She was five steps from the bottom of the stairs. I grabbed her halter and held on then lifted her to a step where she was able to gain control. The whole time I held her my back was screaming. She weighs 62 pounds. I felt every one of them, but Gracie was able to stand and make it down the stairs without falling. She was even eager to go down the outside stairs.

The second weird event was the finding of a mouse, not dead but wounded. I was on my way into the dining room which I saw it. It was the fattest field mouse I’ve ever seen. It couldn’t have run away so I’m thinking it waddled, which makes me believe Maddie got it. This must be the mouse which has been living in my cabinet, my pots and pans cabinet, where I occasionally store packages of food or crackers.  Last week I went to get the bag of potato chips I had put there a few days earlier. It had a couple of chewed holes. The Equal box which had had about 30 or so packets was empty. The corn flakes were gone. There hadn’t been many, but now there were none. That cabinet is due to be cleaned, and I was going to put a trap inside it. Now I wonder. Kudos to Maddie who is seventeen. As for that mouse, it is outside where I tossed it, still alive at least for the meantime.

I haven’t ever been afraid of bugs or snakes. I know a few people who squeal at the sight of a spider. That makes me want to slap them and say get a grip. In Ghana, I was introduced to scorpions and centipedes. Both took me a bit aback, scorpions because they bite and centipedes because of their appearance and the possibility of a bite. They are not really bugs, but that’s for another time. My favorite looking insect is the praying mantis. It, of course, had its own movie: The Deadly Mantis. The giant mantis had been frozen in the Arctic ice cap but was dislodged by a volcano’s eruption. Terror ensues.

Today is cloudy. What a surprise! Rain is predicted, another surprise, but it will be warmish at 44˚. I have some inside chores today, enough to keep me busy for maybe twenty minutes then I’ll need a nap.

“The fireflies o’er the meadow In pulses come and go.”

July 11, 2016

I am beginning to think I am an extra in the movie Groundhog Day. I wake up to the same weather every day: overcast, chilly and damp. The rain sneaks in, just spitting rain my mother would have called it.

The week ahead is a quiet one for me with nothing planned, an empty dance card. We have yet to have a movie night as the nights have been quite chilly, down to the low 60’s. I’m hoping as the days gets warmer toward the middle of the week the nights too will be warm.

Yesterday I spend over an hour scrubbing the chairs and the table on the deck. They had been scrubbed once already, but it doesn’t long for the caterpillars to leave their frass all over the deck wood and the furniture. What is frass you ask?  It is caterpillar poop. There’s a new word to add to your vocabulary. Think of ways you can pepper your conversation with the word frass.

When I was kid, we used to capture caterpillars so they could walk all over our fingers and go from one hand to another. We thought they were fun to watch. I flicked a caterpillar off my deck the other day. I’ve had to spray some plants which have holes from munching caterpillars. They are eating machines who eat and poop and eat and poop.

When I was young, I was far more fascinated by bugs and snakes than I was afraid. The grasshoppers were great to watch as they jumped in front of us while we walked through the field. They were brown and not very big. They also weren’t all that fast as we could catch them with our hands. We always let them go. It was the fun of the chase we loved.

We didn’t often see snakes but the ones we did see were garter snakes. We’d find them in flower beds. I loved the way they moved. We’d stand and watch. We had no need to catch them unless it was to scare someone afraid of snakes. We’d hold the snake and run after the ‘fraidy cats and tell them the snake was going to bite them. We knew it wouldn’t but they didn’t.

The other night I went outside for a bit. My yard was aglow with fireflies. They were blinking in and out of the trees and along the fence. I stayed and watched for the longest time. I didn’t want to go in and miss them. They have always seemed magical to me though I know the mechanics of the glow. Science has its place and so does magic!

“I’ve just been bitten on the neck by a vampire… mosquito. Does that mean that when the night comes I will rise and be annoying?”

May 28, 2015

The wind is gone, replaced by still, humid air. We may have rain later today, but the clouds right now look more like your usual hanging-around clouds. I have a few errands today. Yesterday was around the house day. I fixed the cabinet door for about the fourth time, watered all the plants and scrubbed the deck table and chairs. The deck is ready should the weather be inviting.

You’d think living in Africa would have made me inured to bugs. It didn’t. I am ever sensitive to crawly things. This morning I felt something on my arm. It was a tick, now deceased. I am still grossed out. The dog has none. I check her all the time. Now I have to keep checking myself.

The spiders are active. I saw a huge one I recognized as having once starred in his own scifi movie, and I saw baby spiders starting webs on the windowsill plants. The strands go from frond to frond. I don’t hurt spiders, but I do clear out their webs. I  think my house would like Miss Haversham’s in a short time if I didn’t. The other day a spider was on a jar on the counter. I took him outside and shook him loose. Faster than a speeding bullet he slid down to the deck on a strand he had just made.

When I was a kid, I loved watching bugs. At the swamp, dragonflies, darning needles to us, flitted and zig-zagged across the water. They were all sorts of colors, and I remember how their wings seemed to shine and reflect the sun. Snakes, especially garden snakes, were common. They’d be in the garden, and we’d give chase, not to hurt them but to watch them slither. I always thought that was pretty neat.

In Ghana I saw poisonous snakes for the first time. I remember my students pegging rocks into the bushes outside the classroom block. I asked why. “To kill the snake, madam.” One of my hens lost a chick a day probably to snakes. That hen quickly became dinner. I saw a boa once and once was enough.

My friend Christer’s special guy Hector, “Isn’t around anymore.” Loving and being loved by a dog is wonderfully amazing. A dog loves you no matter what. Gracie’s stubby tail wags and wags when I talk to her. She looks into my face as if she understands every word. The only problem is dogs don’t live as long as we do. I am so very sorry, Christer.

“Petting, scratching, and cuddling a dog could be as soothing to the mind and heart as deep meditation and almost as good for the soul as prayer.”

May 7, 2015

We have had such beautiful days, warm days, short-sleeve shirt days. The sun is even so bright it makes me squint. By the afternoon the sun has made its way around the house to the back so I go and sit on the deck to take in the warmth. Gracie stands beside my chair and watches the birds until she gets sleepy and lies down for a nap in the sun.

Yesterday I was sitting at a red light when I noticed a hawk high above me riding the thermals in ever smaller circles. I got lost in the hawk, and it took a honk from the driver behind me to bring me back to the now green light.

I have seen foxes, rabbits, coyotes, wild turkeys, deer, skunks, opossums and the common raccoon around here where I live. Actually it was only one deer which ran across the road in front of my car just down the street from my house. I pulled over to watch until it disappeared near the power lines.

I don’t remember seeing many animals when I was a kid even though we spent a lot of time roaming the woods. I remember snakes the most. They seemed to be everywhere. They were, for the most part, garter snakes. We’d pick them up just to check them out, but we never hurt them and we always let them go. They’d slither so fast when freed they seemed to disappear. I can’t remember the last time I saw a snake around here.

I liked scary when I was a kid. I don’t mean afraid. I never wanted to be afraid. Scary was mostly a product of my imagination when I heard footsteps behind me or that hook scratching the screen. Scary made me giggle a little, a sort of defensive reaction to prove I wasn’t really scared. Once, when I was an adult, my dog Maggie, another boxer, woke me from a sound sleep when she leapt out of bed, stood at the top of the stairs and barked her fiercest bark several times but then she just turned around, jumped back on the bed and went to sleep. I wasn’t as fortunate as it took me a while to calm down enough to go back to sleep. I wasn’t sure what to think about Maggie’s barking. Maybe she had a nightmare was one thought, but I didn’t really think so because she usually just sort of barked in her sleep when she was dreaming. I really believed she heard something, something loud enough to put her on alert. Whatever it was left because of Maggie’s deep, fierce barking. She was my protector, and I was really glad to have her. Gracie has that role now, and she is great at her job.

“I’ve just been bitten on the neck by a vampire… mosquito. Does that mean that when the night comes I will rise and be annoying?”

January 18, 2013

Today is winter. Though the sky is steely blue and the sun is shiny, it’s cold, and we have snow. I’m guessing about 2 inches fell during the night, not enough for plows or even shovels but any snow is enough. From here inside my warm house, the snow is pretty and it glistens in the sun, but even Gracie was reluctant to go out when we first woke up. I had to trudge across the snowy lawn to get the newspapers, and when I did, I saw paw prints in the snow. I’m guessing Cody came to visit hoping Gracie was awake. She wasn’t and neither was I.

The mice count is now 15. Only a single tiny beast found its way into a trap yesterday. Either peanut butter is less desirable than it had been or the number of mice has dwindled. I know there are some on this floor so they are also my targets. I’ve already put down a couple of my trusty traps but no takers as yet. Only three more mice are needed to break my decades old record.

I have never been the type afraid of bugs or snakes or mice. Garter snakes were common when I was a kid. One of us would see a snake, announce its presence and all of us would run to watch. The bravest among us would pick it up and hold it for a while. In the field below our house, we used to run through the tall grass and spook the grasshoppers so they’d hop into the air and then we’d catch them with our bare hands. We caught fireflies in jars but we always released them. Fireflies were special. In the swamp, we’d use jars to scoop up tadpoles and our hands to grab the frogs. Dirt and grime were never a problem.

In Ghana I saw poisonous snakes: one was in the bushes outside my classroom block. My students killed it by pelting rocks at it. Lizards were everywhere, including my house. In training, on our first day, I saw lizards scurrying across the concrete walks as I went to breakfast. I’ll never forget that morning. It was my first I’m really in Africa moment.

I have no plans for today, no errands and no chores. It’s a perfect sloth day. It’s a stay in my cozies, read a bit and take a nap day.