A few minutes in my brain

I feel a bit directionless today, bouncing from thought to thought. Restless. Easily distracted.

So, I thought I’d share a few of the things that are ricocheting around in my head.

Last lunch

As I packed H’s lunch today for the last day of “school camp” (one of her teachers has run a three-week camp at the school), it hit me like a heavy jar of grape jelly that this may well be the last school lunch I ever pack for our girl.

All those school mornings, since the first days of daycare when she was three months old, we have packed a lunch in one form or another (from bottles of milk to jam sandwiches). Next year, her school has a cafeteria where she can buy her lunch if she chooses, and I’m pretty sure that’s what she’ll choose. So this morning found me tearing up over her open lunch box. Clearly, I need to develop a thicker skin; this is only the start of the Lasts.

Call me “The Mouse Whisperer”

A few weeks ago, I lazily left the back hatch of my car open as a reminder to fetch the bags of grain and sunflower seed I had picked up at the feed store that day. Then it got late. And it started to rain, so I ran outside, closed the hatch, and figured I’d move the grain and seed into the basement the next morning. Apparently, I trapped a mouse (or two, or three?) in my car that night because the next morning I found a lot of sunflower seed shells, and some other telltale evidence, including a 1″-diameter hole chewed through a plastic interior wall of the car, which led to a gap near the tailpipe, and another 1″-diameter hole chewed through another piece of plastic. I felt sorry for the poor mouse that had to frantically chew its way out of my car, but now I feel like the mice have decided that I asked them to visit.

The other day, I rescued a mouse from the tub. Soon after that, I made the mistake of leaving some seeds in the car overnight again (no, I didn’t learn my lesson). This time there was no damage to the car; the clever mice just used the entrance/exit they had made last time. Last night, I found another mouse in the tub, inside an (open) plastic bag. What?! Since it was already contained, I just lifted the plastic bag up and carried it and the mouse outside, tipped the bag, and let the mouse roll out onto a bench on the deck, where it shivered and shook and curled into a ball. We built a shelter around it with rocks, shoes, and bits of kindling, and left it alone. It was gone this morning.

What do you think? Are we feeding the cats too much?

Potter mania

Like a lot of bookish households, we are in geeky heaven, anticipating the upcoming final installment of the Harry Potter movie series. So much so that we’ve already got tickets (thanks to a friend who was wise enough to check the theater web site a week before tickets were due to go on sale) to the first midnight showing! Eeek. And we gather around the computer as a family to watch the latest released movie previews. And we’re watching this web site and wondering what the heck ol’ JK is up to. How will we make it until the 15th of July without bursting?

What do you make with goat milk when you don’t have time to make cheese?

Cajeta, of course! Wonderful, rich, deep, smooth caramel sauce made from goat milk, sugar, and vanilla. It’s in the refrigerator right now. So far far away from my mouth. But not for much longer. I have a spoon, and I know how to use it.

Jars of cajeta


I’m hooked on Slate’s weekly roundtable podcast, “Culture Gabfest“. I love that they talk about anything and everything even remotely related to “culture”, from movies to pie to politics to kids to books to pop songs to video games to art exhibits and everything else under the sun. I love that the panel gets silly and goes off on tangents, but mostly I love that they spend time really talking about something, giving their opinions, changing their minds, and asking each other questions.

My very favorite part is the end of the show, where each panel member (typically there are three Slate writers on the show) gives an “endorsement”. They tell us about something interesting in the world that they want to share. It could be a book, or a song, or a restaurant, or a web site, or anything at all really.

Isn’t that a cool idea?

So I thought maybe from time to time I’d endorse something here that I think you might find interesting.

Today, I give you a web site that M pointed me to, called “Dear Photograph“. It’s a very simple idea: superimpose a photo from the past over the same setting today. The result is a blend of past and present, memory and the current moment. The results are nostalgic, a bit sad, and sometimes very moving.

The song playing in my head today

Wow. That helped. My brain feels emptier. Time for lunch. And a weekend.

What are you thinking about today?

If only that mouse knew how to use a pipe wrench

Mouse climbing wall

This past February was the 5-year anniversary of our moving back into the house, which, of course means that everything that was new and shiny five years ago is decaying and in need of repair.

Once freshly-varnished doors are cracking, door handles are sticking, long-life light bulbs suddenly blink off one after the other, the faucet for one of the bath tubs develops a leak, the washing machine pump is acting a bit cranky, a light over the stove develops an electrical problem, the scratches and dents on the wood floors look like a topo map.

All of which explains why M has spent the last few evenings trying to fix the tub leak — learning more about plumbing than I think he cares to know — and which is why the wooden box that surrounds the tub has been opened up, which is how the mouse got into the bathroom in the first place.

I saw her (him? let’s call her Squeaker and avoid a mis-assigned pronoun) yesterday morning, running around the edge of the tub, being pursued by Hudson. I made an attempt to catch Squeaker, but I wasn’t fast enough and my try only resulted in an even more frightened mouse, so I moved everything away from the tub and made sure the bathroom door was wide open so that Squeaker had a fair chance to escape. And then I left, figuring either the cats would do their work, or the mouse would find its way back out the way it had come in.

No such luck.

This morning I heard noises in the tub, and found Oyster watching poor Squeaker try to scale the slippery sides of the tub. What did I do? I admit I left that cat and mouse in that tub and walked away. I had breakfasts and lunches to make, a goat to milk. Let the cat do his work. Why do I feed him and scoop his litter box anyway?

Then, I got to remembering how another cat of ours, years ago, used to sadistically trap mice in another tub, and play with them for hours before finally killing the poor things and making an unholy mess in the tub.

Not this time.

I didn’t want that death on my conscience. And I sure as heck didn’t want that mess to clean up in the middle of my day.

So, Hyla and I staged a rescue. We gently lowered the little pink basket that used to hold bath toys over Squeaker. Then I climbed into the tub, slid a piece of cardboard under the “cage” and carried it outside. We turned the basket over on its side on the grass, expecting Squeaker to make a mad dash for freedom, but Squeaker just hung on to the side of the basket, utterly distrustful of us and our predator eyes.

We went in.

I just checked and the basket is empty now.

I wonder how long it will be until Squeaker finds whatever hole she used before to enter the house, comes up through the walls into the bathroom, and we find her in the tub again. Frankly, the plumbing around that tub is kinda tricky and there are some tight places where we could use a pair of tiny hands.