Thursday, January 31, 2008

Think About This Instead of the Forecast

With a winter forecast of upteen inches of snow, I needed something to brighten my day.....

I sure feel better now, reminding myself that I have this to look forward to after a dab of planning, a little work (OK, make that alot of work). It will be here in a blink of an eye....if we can just get through this snow. It's the last big snow of the year. I can feel it. How about you?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Mouse Mode

Yesterday Muncie was in the "Mouse Mode".

She focuses in on a spot and doesn't deviate. Her leg shakes, her back quivers, her whole being is on guard. It's never a good thing.

"Honey, she's in mouse mode again, can you set some traps?"

Here at the zoo, we only use live traps.

Several years ago, despite the 6 cats (well, I guess at that time we only had 2), we were having "Mouse issues." This happens periodically every since my mother (Eleanor/Grandma) built on her little haven, Maine Woods.

(Side note: She calls her room Maine Woods because when her 5 children were teens and preteens she always wondered if she ran off to the woods of Maine, would we be able to track her down and find her...But now that we're all grown up she likes us better, so I think the room on the back of the house is as far as we have to worry about her venturing).

Where was I?

Oh yes, the mice issues.....

So, this particular spring, we collected several mice which we would release into the wilds of the city. We made a big deal of it with the kids.

"This looks like a city park mouse."

We would take it to the city park and release it.

"This definitely is a bank mouse."

Bank mice usually showed up in the traps about the time Prince Charming would need to run to the bank. Interesting coincidence, don't you think?

This particular Saturday, it was a Dental rat. There happens to be a dental office at the entrance to our neighborhood, and this particular day we were off to the Big City to do some site seeing, thus, thought we would release the mouse on our way out of the neighborhood.

The children were with us, saying their good-byes as we drove down the street. I know this sounds unusual, but you have to understand that with our mutant animal gene, often I would come home to find that Prince Charming had set these captured mice up in style until an opportunity for release came. This meant their own palace complete with food, exercise equipment, water, etc. The whole enchilada. Sometimes they would spend a few days with us until being re-released into the wild.

So, there we are, releasing Mr. Mouse at the Dentist office.

"Let's drive around the corner and watch him run into the woods."

We ease forward slowly, not wanting to scare or frighten Mr. Mouse. We turn the corner just in time to see the unimaginable....

Mr. Giant Hawk sweeps out of the sky, plucks Mr. Mouse up into his razor sharp talons, and carries him off into the distance.

We still have not recovered from the trauma. And no..... life will never be the same again.

Back to life

Is there anything worse than a drab, dreary, sunless winter day?

A drab winter day when your dog is in "Mouse Mode"?

She assumes the posture, the back foot starts vibrating viciously, and you know....their has been an invasion....

But, you know what's even worse than that?

A blog-a-holics worst nightmare....



I have always loved email. For me, it's the way I relax and unwind. And since my big sister set me up with blogging (thanks for that post yesterday Gardening Sister), I've added blogging to my long list of addictions.

You would think I would have gotten all sorts of things accomplished the last 32 hours and 56 minutes.

But NO. I was paralysed. Immobilized. Out of commission.

Do you understand? Are you sympathetic?

The more email I read, the more blogs I visit, the more productive I am in other parts of my life. It's probably part of the check-list mentality. The more things I get done, the more I want to do, the more that gets done.

Each email is like a check mark on my list. Each blog read brings a smile to my heart, a feeling that in this big world, people really are all alike. They want happiness for their families, some want a little of the earth to till and improve, some want a book to read, but we're all alike. We aren't strangers engaged in a road-rage battle. We're not that harried idiot who steels the perfect parking spot we were waiting for, or that cashier who takes FOREVER when your toddler announces they have to go "potty" right now........ When we email and blog, we are all part of that circle of friendship.

In a world where we don't know our neighbors across the street, but have shared intimate moments of our life with people half way across the country or the world, to be without Internet access is to be cut-off from life, marooned on a desert island.



Muncie is out of "Mouse Mode"

The sun is shining!

And best of all....We're no longer on a deserted island. We have returned to civilization......

Yes, all is right with the world..........

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

No Internet for Sherry! Call for Help!

Sherry has no Internet, Sherry has no Internet.

She told me to post whatever I want on her blog.

If this goes on much longer, she is going to have to resort to sitting with her children playing bored, I mean board games, talking, reading and doing all that stuff that people used to do before you-know-who invented the Internet.

Posted by The One Who Gardens

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Duck

Several years ago our neighbors were given two tiny ducklings as an Easter gift for their children. The family's vision was to raise the ducks then release them on their church's property where there was a nice pond just perfect for two little ducks.

The only problem was, by the time the ducks were ready to live at the church they were so domesticated that the ducks felt they should be able to come and go into the church as they pleased, and if they were not allowed in with the parishioners, they would stand at the front doors and honk and peck. For some reason, the congregation found that annoying.

Back home came the ducks. A week or two later off went the neighbors on an extended vacation.

Would we be willing to babysit the ducks?

Well, of course we would! What fun! No problem! Our pleasure!

Day one went fine. A little water, a little food, spray the duck pooh off the patio - no problem.

The next morning, my husband and I happened to be up pretty early - around 5am. We were enjoying a nice cup of coffee and some much deserved quiet conversation when all of a sudden, looking out the window, I saw it.

Uh-oh! The ducks were under attack! Something was trying to kill them!

We rushed across our back yard, leaped the fence, and realized the worst - it was one of OURS attacking the ducks. It was OUR ferrets! The dang houdinis had snuck out of their cage, made it out of the dog door and across the fence, and were trying to eat the neighbor's ducks! The ducks we had been entrusted to care for, to protect!

Our ferrets had never escaped out the dog door before. Why now? WHY??


Amid much commotion and screaming Prince Charming and I were able to grab the ferrets and rescue the duck.

Side note here ..... we have since learned that inherit in their nature, ferrets will always seek out and attack feathered fowl. They must have smelled the duck-smell on our hands and were driven to search out the source. Do you think we could have found this tidbit out earlier???

Along the lines of "didn't know that", did you know that when you call vet clinics at 5am and tell them you have a duck gushing blood from his neck, there is a chance they will laugh at you?

"We don't treat ducks, ma'am." Snicker...

Desperately, while I was holding the duck on my lap wrapped in an expensive beach towel (the first one I could grab) applying pressure to his bleeding neck, Prince Charming called every vet clinic in the city.

One failure after another. We were desperate. We finally called our old vet. The vet we used to go to before we moved. The vet who lived an hour away.

As luck would have it, he remembered us. (Who wouldn't remember a client with 5 dogs, 4 cats, 6 birds, 2 rabbits, one of them with a very rare eye tumor that the vet drooled over because it was so rare he was able to do a write-up about it in some vet journal....of course he remembered us!) And as luck would have it, this particular vet had completed an internship on a duck farm in vet school. Who would have thunk it?

Driving way too fast, hoping against hope that the duck wouldn't die before we got there, we delivered the duck and the blood-drenched beach towel to the vet clinic. The vet was waiting for us and rushed us to the back.

The news was good and bad.

"We can save this duck, but he'll have to be in Intensive Care for several days. He's lost alot of blood, so he may need a transfusion, and of course intravenous antibiotics...."

What to do? What to do?

If it had been our duck, we might have had some roast duck for dinner. But this was another child's pet who had been entrusted to us and it was OUR ferret who did the damage!

We had no choice. We gave our consent and drove home with anguish in our hearts.

As soon as it was daylight on the west coast, I tried to call our neighbors to tell them about the tragedy and ask them to make those decisions that are difficult for every pet owner. Do we treat or pull the plug?

Voicemail. I left a message.

No return call.

Next day, duck is still alive, but there is danger of infection. Still in intensive care.

Again, I call. Again voicemail. Again, no return call. We had no choice but to continue treatment.

A week later, duckie was ready for release from duckie intensive care. BUT, he would need around the clock antibiotics and wound care 3 times a day. Oh, and we weren't to let him get dirty.

Have you ever tried to keep a duck from getting dirty? Have you ever tried to give a duck antibiotics? It's not like you can bribe it with a toy! AND, I daresay not one of you has ever done wound care on a duck's neck!

Good thing in my other life I'm a nurse.

We brought the duck home. On the way home, we debated on what to do. Where would we keep him?

Any guesses??

You're right. We kept him in the house.

DO you know how much a duck poohs? I didn't before! I do now! Aggghhhh!!!!

OK. We needed a new plan.

The next day we built an elaborate pen on our gazebo. We bought duckie a kiddy swimming pool so he could bathe and keep clean.

Day after day went by. We learned to give the antibiotics without losing too much. We were old pros at the wound care. We were experts at duck baths. We were bonded.

Then the call came...

The neighbors. Turns out the brother thought the urgent messages and the frantic voice talking about some duck accident were funny - he, not knowing his niece and nephew really did have pet ducks, thought it was a prank and didn't relay the message until something actually mentioned the pet ducks.

"Well, we hope you didn't go to any trouble."

No, calling every vet clinic in a 100 mile radius was no problem. None at all. The long drive to ducky intensive care several times - no problem!

"We hope you didn't spend any money on it - we would have just told you to have it for dinner...." Just $700 or so. And the cost of one expensive beach towel. And the cost of gas back and forth.

Was it worth it? Did the duck live happily ever after you ask?

The neighbors came home the next day.

They thanked us for taking care of their ducks, and gave us $30 "to cover some of your expenses."

Then, they took the ducks to a cemetery east of town and released them into the wild.

It was probably eaten by a coyote the next day. Our $1000 duck. Gone.....Forever.

We didn't even get to say good-bye! (Sniff)

Moral of the story?

Is there one? I can't think of it. Other than I will never babysit another duck as long as I live.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Top 10 Favorite Things Today

My 10 favorite

10. Taking a nap with a dog on my feet. (Keeps them warm and toasty)

9. Taking a nap with a dog against my belly. (Keeps me warm and toasty)

8. Taking a nap with Prince Charming (Keeps me warm and toasty)

7. Our nightly ritual of reading (for hours and hours) out loud

6. Blogging. Reading blogs.

5. Going to Steak and Shake or Starbucks to laugh and cry with other homeschool moms

4. Shopping for books, looking at books on line. Reading book lists on line.
Talking about books.

3. A Clean litter box (not too much to ask for, is it?)

2. When the Prince, Princess, and little Prince play without fighting.

1. When God provides the perfect verse, knowing what you need, when you need it.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for it is right." Ephesians 6:1

Good-bye Dear Friend

Good-bye my dear friend! Good-bye!

I remember when we first met. You were so beautiful. Exactly what our family was looking for. We were in awe at all you could do.

We brought you home. We lovingly set you up in your new domain. We gave you everything you wanted, which wasn't much. Just some paper to eat, some electricity to feed you, along with an occasional electronic message from time to time.

But in return you gave us so much. You gave the children pages to color of Ancient Roman Soldiers, Native American Indians, Fairly Tale Princesses. Sure, you spit out the occasional Math test or other such nastiness, but the children forgave you, and I for one, loved you for it.

It was so sad, the other morning, when I sent you a Math test, assuming you would lovingly process it and present it to me, your master.

But nothing happened.

I waited.

Why is she not obeying me? What has happened?

I rushed to you, and tears came to my eyes. Your back hinge was broken, allowing light to penetrate on your insides. You couldn't function with that huge gap in your backside, after-all, you're not a plumber. (Wait, how in tarnation did that slip in?This is supposed to be a serious and somber post. Get with the program!)

How did this injury occur? Who could have put such pressure on you as to make you blow a hinge?


Refusing to believe, I called the Doctors, the experts.

I could barely understand the broken English. But the message was clear. The part you needed was no longer available. You were too old. To me, you would always be young, but in your world, 3 years is ancient. You are geriatric. Obsolete. Pushed aside for smaller and better.

But I still loved you.

I hung up the phone, devastation in my heart.

Will life ever be the same without you? Will Prince Charming come to the rescue?

Stay tuned............

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Muncie Meme

My name is Muncie.

I'm in control of this joint - don't forget it. You can read about my humble beginnings here, but never forget - I am ALPHA - HEAR ME ROAR! Or is it RUFF?

Being the guardian of this castle and the defender of the beautiful Princess Sophia consumes most of my time. BUT, I have been tagged for a Meme by Lisa at Greenbow. And being the honorable beast that I am, I will take the time away from my duties of protector of the land, to answer the 5 question Meme. (By the way, Nicky and Diego - consider your self tagged)

1. My Five Favorite Songs....

I'm off.....

I don't listen to alot of music, but I do like to read books. One of my books is based on a song - or is the song based on the book?

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas...ever heard of it? Great song - except that dang cat they threw in at the end. Nasty ending.....

While I'm on books, here's another favorite...

Sorry, got side-tracked there...supposed to be songs, right? Well, in the castle, there's some piano playin, but not alot of songs played. I don't know why -maybe because the kingdom here is devoid of vocal cords or something - I don't know.

So, let's see...
2. My Five Favorite Toys.

This is easy.

Here is the weak and feeble Skippy. She's OK to play with, as long as she remembers her place in the alpha totem pole of life. It's below me in case you didn't know.

Here's my all time favorite toy....

The Princess Sophia. Must guard beyond all else...must guard beyond all else....must guard...

Oh. Sorry. Got focused there.

Here are my stuffed animals. I MUST have one in my mouth at all times when sleeping. Probably because I had such a traumatic puppyhood. And DO NOT MESS WITH THE STUFFED ANIMALS. THEY ARE MINE! HERE ME??? MINE!

They are best when demolished and all the little beads are removed. Then when they get covered in saliva, dry and get all crusty, they are just right.

3. Moving on. Things I love to eat. Well, obviously the insides of beanie babies.

Do cats count? I've had a bite or two of Esther....

And Ruby

Shhhh!!! Don't tell the Princess. Ruby is her favorite and she might not like to know I've been chowing on that one.

I like to eat stuffed animals that don't belong to me.

The stuffing is particularly tasty...

I like to a take a nip out of Missy once in a while. I don't actually chew and swallow though. Well, maybe chew a little.....

Must eat beanie babies...must eat beanie babies.....

Oh sorry...focused again....let's see, where were we? Oh yes...

4. Five favorite activities.

Chasing cats - right up there with guarding Princesses.

I know there is a cat up there somewhere...I can smell em.

Come out, come out, where ever you are!

I don't think so

Kissing Humans is a favorite activity.

I think they consider it a bad habit which brings us to number

5. Bad habits...

Who ME?

Books..LOTS of books




I do


Have too many books

Is it possible to have too many books?



Rule of thumb: If you have books sitting on the floor lining your hallway, you MAY have too many books.

Yesterday, a friend of mine invited my children and me over so the kids could play while she and I worked on her books. One of my favorite things to do...

"I need a little bit of help organizing them."


I can do this. I love to organize books.

" you have a plan in mind? There are alot of books on the floor."

When I organize books, I start by sorting them into categories.
History in one, Religion in another, Health and Nutrition in a third and on and on. You get the idea. Just like a library has their books organized by subject.

My friend had other ideas.

Does anyone vacuum their books but my friend?

Come on - let's organize these babies! Then we'll clean each pile as we look at what we have here!

" said there are more in the garage?"

"What? Another book on History? Did you know this was out here?"

After you have your piles of books organized by category, you can see what you have.

"Did you know you have two of these? Um, can I have the extra?"

Hint: You also don't need 5 Middle Ages Encyclopedias. One or two will do. You also don't need 25 books on character training. Pick the best, one or two that you know are good, that you would like to use. Put them on your bookshelf.

Sell the rest, give them away, or if you really can't part with them, box them up, label the outside of the box with names of the books in the box, and place them on a shelf in the garage, attic, wherever, with the label facing outward so you can see it at a glance. Too much is not always a good thing (unless you are talking Zenia seeds!). Too much leads to paralysis. Too many choices results in an inability to make any choice at all.

Well, after about 6 hours my friend and I had made a good dent in her stacks and stacks of books. The good news is that she discovered she has all the resources a homeschool mom could possibly need for history, geography, character training, biblical devotions. It was just like Christmas. She found books she "had always wanted" but had forgotten she had.

And, she has 3 or 4 HUGE boxes of books for the next book sale or to sell on eBay.

My last piece of advice? When you buy a book, immediately upon bringing it home, put it on the bookcase under the proper subject heading. If you no longer have room on your bookcase, then you'll need to pull another book off the shelf and pass it along to a good friend........

OR, you can do what I do....

Buy more bookcases.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Today was a wonderful day.

Know why?

My daughter and I spent the afternoon doing one of my favorite things. We went to visit a new friend. We had never been to this family's home before, and I love that adventure in itself. But this was especially cool, because it was the home of a brand-new home school mom.

Her daughters are wonderful chicklets right smack on either side of my daughter age wise (No boys, though. Mine stayed home with Grandma). The girls had a wonderful afternoon playing, while we moms visited and talked about one of my favorite subjects - curriculum.

She was so excited to show me what she had been using, and I was excited to see it. I love fresh ideas and fresh insight. I love this process of sharing. Today, she shared with me a new website I had never visited before, (Fresh Water Fred's Lending Library) along with some other curriculum I had heard of, but not seen. We found we use some of the same books for some other subjects, and that was pretty cool - a bonding experience.

One day soon we will have her and her girls to our home, and will share with her some of our school treasures. We'll talk, look at books, drink some coffee or hot cocoa. Maybe indulge in some homemade salsa.

I look forward to these visits with my friends, old and new.

With old or new friends, it's a blessing to sneak a glimpse into someone else's world and I feel privileged that they are willing to share it with me.

Often today in our hectic world, people no longer take the time to go visiting. Hospitality is almost a lost art. We worry about what people will think about our house, our dishes, the food we serve. What if they spot some dirt? In my home, what if the dog looses it right in front of them and they step in it? (OK, sorry, get that picture out of your head).

But you know what? All people really want is a clean glass to drink from, a clean toilet to sit on, and an ear to hear them with.

That's all.

And the reward is priceless.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Happy Birthday, Carol, the Gardening Aunt

Happy Birthday, Carol!

Sophie - what do you think of when you think of Aunt Carol?



"Because she is always wearing green and she is always gardening. Plus, she always gives us gardening-related Easter presents."

Sam - what do you think of when you think of Aunt Carol?


Carrots? Did you say carrots?



"Because it kind of sounds like Carol, and she is always talking about gardens"

Seth - what do you think of when you think of Aunt Carol?



"She loves to plant flowers and her favorite color is green and a lot of gardens have green in them."

(Seth is 6)

Mom, what do you think of when you think of your sister, Carol?

"I think of when she was maybe 6 and I was 3. We all had little garden plots, all in a row. Carol had the best garden plot of all five of us. Hers was right in the middle of the row. Mine was underneath the faucet and all my plants always were flooded out. Maybe those early successes of hers is what helped to propel her into her obsession (oops - did I say that?), her love of gardening"

"I remember the story of her getting into some fertilizer when she was really little. It was quite a big deal. They had to monitor her closely for the next 24 hours, and not let her sleep to make sure that none of the poison was absorbed through the skin."

"I think of when she was in high school and the journalism teaching begged her to major in journalism in college, but she was adamant that she would major in horticulture."

"I remember her jobs during college - K-Mart Gardening section, Furrows lumber and building materials (garden section, of course), her job at that greenhouse far, far away."

It would have been a waste not to have a summer job involving gardening, right?

"I remember her first garden in her little apartment. How people used to walk by, then do a double-take and come back for a second look."

"Then I think of each of her houses, not the house, but the garden that went with the house."

Know why?

She's Carol, the Gardening Aunt.

Happy Birthday!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Gardening Aunt

According to Carol at May Dreams Garden, it is 11 degrees outside with a windchill of minus 7. But despite the cold temperature, it is a beautiful day outside. Bright and sunny.

A day that calls to you to come outside and frolic in the garden, breath in the sunshine, and dream of spring.

My sister, of May Dreams Garden, is a true gardener. She lives, breaths and dreams about gardening. She is the family expert (having claimed all of the green thumb genes from the family gene pool), the on-call expert for everyone she knows, and everyone they know. She is always very generous in sharing her gardening expertise. (Just don't ask her to go to lunch during one of her gardening vacations).

Besides the obvious fact that her thumb is green and mine is brown, we have very different gardening styles.

For one, she hates rabbits because they try to eat everything in her vegetable garden before she gets to harvest it.

We love rabbits.

She keeps an immaculate garden. If you scroll down on this post on her blog, you can see a picture of her garden, ready for fall,

Here is a picture of our garden.

We prefer to wait and do the "fall clean-up" in the spring. That way we can provide all sorts of warm little hiding places for baby bunnies and other critters.

Doesn't this look like the perfect place to sleep this winter and then maybe raise a family in the spring?

Another big difference is that the "gardening sister/aunt" knows the names of every single plant, including their Latin names, genus, species, all that stuff. My kids love to go for nature walks around the neighborhood with the "gardening aunt" and listen to her talk about all the different trees and plants and flowers.

If I take them, the answers to their questions are along the lines of "Hmmmm, I'm not sure," or "Hmmm, I know it's a tree, or maybe a bush - no wait... I think it's a shrub".

Usually, most questions end with the universal answer: "Hmmmm...let's be sure and ask the Gardening Aunt next time we see her."

I've gotten to be pretty good at identifying a weed versus a flower. And I do know this little tree next to the little pond (I dug that one day while Prince Charming was at work. Surprised him for Father's Day, wasn't that sweet?) is a little tulip tree. It was a seedling that just came up.

Had that come up in the Gardening Aunt's flower bed, it would have been yesterday's compost. But, Prince Charming and I decided it was making such a gallant effort to grow, how could we possibly deprive it of the opportunity?

Yes, my sister and I have quite different styles when it comes to gardening and she has an awesome hoe collection... but that's OK. It's one more thing to keep life entertaining and interesting.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Sibling Rivalry


You have to remind yourself.....





Love each other....