Mice are icky.

I’m sure whether you care to admit it or not, you have probably experienced a mouse or two in your house from time to time.  It has nothing to do with cleanliness, rodents, and bugs for that matter, are resourceful little boogers that want to find a way into your house and they will.

We have had mice come visit our home uninvited a few times over the years, but having two cats, and the growing population of stray cats in our neighborhood has greatly reduced that number.  The last time we had a mouse inside our house, our two cats found it and kept it trapped until Abe came home to catch and release the little intruder.

Mice carry diseases, they are gross, filthy little things.  Have you heard about the bubonic plague making a comeback?  Seriously.  2012, and bubonic plague is still around, kickin’ it medieval style.

All this said, we grow up watching adorable little cartoon mice on television, begging us to love them.  Mickey Mouse anyone?  So, it seems natural that when confronted with a mouse, though totally grody as mentioned before, that something inside of you, whether you like it or not, will tend to think that it looks like a sweet little creature.  Something not to be feared, but to be adored and protected.

No, we don’t have a mouse in our house, but the kids did find one outside last week on the way to the bus stop.  Now, as you may recall, they recently found a very dead mouse, while digging around outside.  Probably something that a cat found, played with, chewed a bit, and then left for dead.  Cats are evil like that.

The mouse they found last week was alive, but barely.  I’m pretty sure it was also a kitteh play thing.  We found it wet and not moving much.  I hate to say it, but it was adorable.  Tiny and helpless and just precious.  You know, in that gross you know you aren’t supposed to think this thing is cute kind of way.

I told the kids not to touch it and we went off to catch the bus.  On the way home, I couldn’t help but stop and look at the mouse.  Not wanting to touch it with my hands, bubonic plague!, I grabbed a small stick and gently prodded it, seeing if it could move.  The poor thing seemed scared to death.  He moved, which is a good sign right?  I saw no obvious injuries, no bloody tooth marks, nothing that hinted at what may be wrong.

The thing is, where he was, right out in the open, well, he was easy prey to any cat passing by.  And as I said, we have quite a few cats that pass through our neighborhood.  So.  I coaxed him with the little stick, my home made mouse prod, over to where I thought he would be safer.  I thought to myself how insane the Wildlife Rescue people would think I was if I scooped up this little mouse and brought it to them to save.  I tried to remind myself of how icky this thing was, no matter how cute it may be on the outside.  He could have the zombie virus for all I know!

Probably not, but mice are icky.  Right?

*sigh*

Wanna see the icky mouse?  I took a picture.  It’s what I do.

 

Look at those tiny little paws!  The itty bitty whiskers!

I am such a bleeding heart, bubonic plague be damned.

I resisted the urge to name him and make him a pet, but I worried about him all day until Abe came home and I told him to check if he was still out there.  I asked him to tell me he was gone no matter what, and if he was still there, to move him into the woods but not to tell me.  I want to assume in my goofy little mind that he got his act together, found his way home, and is living happily ever after, bubonic plague free with his adorable little mouse family.

I am crazy, I realize.

 

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Chinese Evergreen Flowering

It has been years since I have kept houseplants, mostly because our kitties like to chew on them, rip them to shreds, and then, adding insult to injury, sleep on top of the dying plant.  Cats are evil, what can I say?  Also, when it comes to houseplants, my thumbs are undoubtedly black.  If the cats didn’t murder them, my neglect would before long.

This past May, whilst browsing the plant section at Lowes, I noticed some house plants that were advertised as both pretty and easy to care for.  Their tags said “Plants of Steel”, so I decided to accept the challenge and see if they really are as tough as their tags imply.  Well, four months later, I am shocked and happy to say that they are not only still alive, but they are thriving!

*happy dance*

This morning, I noticed my Chinese Evergreen, also called Aglaonema, is flowering.

 

Happy plants make flowers, not sad and dying ones.  I declare myself the best gardener/houseplant keeper in the whole entire world.  Yes, the whole entire world.  Now don’t ruin my moment, just ooo and ahhh along with me.

Yum!

Our tomato plants are doing very well, as you can see by our bowl full of yumminess here.  I have a hard time walking by the bowl without sneaking one of those cherry tomatoes, they are so delicious!  Our cucumber plants are pulling down their trellis and trying to choke out the maters.  I see loads of blooming flowers, and hoards of bees for pollinating, but no signs of any cucumbers as of yet.  Perhaps it should spend less time plotting world domination and more time on producing cukes.  Just a thought.

En el Jardín!

Each year we are expanding our garden a little more.  We don’t put much in the actual ground, but have been using containers or DIY earth boxes with pretty awesome success.  (Our soil here suuuuucks.  All clay and rock, just crappy.  And we plan on moving soon, so I don’t care to even attempt to fix what we currently have.) 

This year, for the first time, we decided to start a lot of our seeds off inside.  The jury is still out on that, but I will say, the plants started inside seem a wee bit too wussy for outdoor life.  They are fragile and weak, and lose their will to live either during the hardening process, or soon after transplanting outside.  Annoying.

Now, the seeds we just throw on the ground and throw some dirt on?

Well, they are thriving.  Go figure.  That is one of our pumpkin mounds right there.  I had started quite a few inside, but they just didn’t have what it took for the tough suburban lifestyle.  Pffffft!  

This is an earth box with what was two teeny tiny little cucumber plants.  That was about two weeks ago, before they decided to hulk out in their new home.  I haven’t seen any flowers yet, but they are very quickly growing up the trellis and stretching their leaves claiming every little bit of sun that they can.

The tomatoes have exploded!  And as you can see here, they are very quickly ripening!  I found my first ripe cherry tomato the other day, but I very quickly devoured that little guy.  Hey, I had to taste test for quality assurance reasons!  It was delicious, in case you were wondering.  Nothing tastes as good as home grown!

This big guy is my first ripe poblano pepper!  Chili rellanos anyone?  I am freezing it so that I can cook up a nice big batch once the rest of them have ripened.

Which, as you can see, won’t be too terribly long.

At the beginning of the season, we went nuts buying seeds of all sorts of goodies that we wanted to grow ourselves.  Here’s a tip.  If you decide to grow your own fruits and veggies from seed, read the package first.  We have a large handful of awesome things we won’t be able to grow until next year because we got them too late in the season.  Snow peas, for example, need to be started in the winter.  Literally, they are snow peas.  Who knew?  Well, we all know now, don’t we?  And really, I have had so much more luck with growing things straight in the ground or in the pots outside.  The plants get too spoiled inside and just don’t do well.  Yes, I am hardening them.  Yes, I protect them from the wind and sun.  I have studied everything I can possibly find on hardening plants.  Seems they prefer the tough love, which incidentally is a whole heck of a lot easier!

So there is my garden update.  I’m sure the pumpkins will soon be taking over our entire yard.  The neighbors love that.  Well, they don’t mind so much at the end of the season when we chop it all down and give them home made pumpkin bread.  Who can be mad with a delicious home made treat?

Along came a spider

My husband is terrified of spiders.  I mean terrified.  In general, they don’t bother me.  I know they eat smaller bugs, and I am totally down with that.  When I see the occasional spider around the house, I will generally leave it be.  This annoys Abe.  Very much.

Yesterday, as I was walking past our bedroom window, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye.  A large something that caught my attention and made me decide to look closer.  I should note that what I saw was outside, not inside.  I probably would have wept with fear if it was inside.

No, it was safely out of doors, and so I gleefully grabbed my camera and captured this terrifying, interesting, cute? photo that I shall share with you now.

Oh, I hope you didn’t view that photo with a full bladder.  My apologies if you did.

Isn’t that picture amazing though?  You can see it’s eyes!  And it’s fangs!  I dare say he was posing for the camera.  He almost looks like he is saying, “Waaaaaaassssssuuuuupppp!”  That or, “I vant to suck your blood!”  Do spiders have Transylvanian accents?  Probably not.  But if he was saying “I vant to suck your blood,” I think he would say it in that accent because that would be funny.

This spider is so large, I think he deserves a name.  I don’t know if I will see him again, but the terror he generates should be reason enough to name him.  See, as soon as I uploaded these photos, I posted them on my husband’s Facebook Wall.  Not to scare him, I would never do that!  No, I wanted him to enjoy my photography skillz.  Okay, I can’t even type that with a straight face.  I did it to scare him.  I’m pretty sure it traumatized him a little bit.

Back to spider names….Hmmm…..Maybe something like Damien or Chucky?  You know, a classic scary movie name?  I would say Diablo, but that would too quickly take Abe’s mind off of the scary spider and back to his beloved gaming.

This is tricky.  For now, I shall call him Ese.  That is Spanish slang for friend, homey, bud, etc.  Are you imagining the spider with a Mexican accent now?  I am.  I think it makes him that much more lovable.

I leave you with the Spanish words to The Itsy Bitsy Spider.  Sing it all scary like in your head, for full effect.

La pequeña araña

La pequeña araña
subió, subió, subió
vino la lluvia
y se la llevó.

Salió el sol
y todo lo secó
y la pequeña araña
subió, subió, subió.

Critters

We get a lot of visitors in our yard.  I have a bird feeder that I try to keep filled to bring birds to our yard.  The kids and I love to stare out the window and see what types of feathered friends come our way.

The biggest enemy to our bird feeder is a rotten little squirrel we like to call “Buschy”.  (It’s a St Louis Cardinal thing, in case you were wondering.)  When Buschy first started attacking our bird feeder, Abe offered to shoot him.  They are nasty little tree rats, after all.  There are hunting shops that will reimburse you the price of the bullet per squirrel tail you bring in.

I couldn’t let him kill the rotten little thief though.  As annoying as it is to find our bird feeder emptied and seed scattered all over the ground, I couldn’t justify killing a cute little innocent creature that had simply found himself an easy lunch.  So I decided to feed the squirrel, in hopes that he would leave the bird feeder alone.

Well, what he likes to do now, is empty the feeder, eat all the yummy seed, and then, when the birds are left hungry with nothing to munch on, he will go to his feeder and happily nibble away at his corn cob.

Brat.

Here he is, wondering why the feeder is empty.

And checking to make sure he didn’t accidentally drop some seed somewhere.

So, securing my bird feeder from Buschy is a work in progress.  I have looked at the feeders that are surrounded with the cage that call themselves squirrel proof, but they wouldn’t allow for our larger bird friends to feed, so they are not an option.

The Blue Jays, Mourning Doves and the Grackles love it when Buschy has been by because he makes a huge mess of seeds on the ground.  Easy pickins!

 

While looking out our window, we see a lot of other wildlife too.

I believe this little guy is a Southern Prairie Skink.  We see him pretty often, darting around, climbing the wall and hunting.  He was enjoying the warm sun when I snapped this picture.

Turtles are always an exciting find for me because I didn’t see them very often when I was a kid.  I snapped a photo of an alligator turtle zipping down our hill rather quickly for a turtle a few years ago.  He looked prehistoric, I was in awe.  I am a very easily amused girl, I realize.

I decided that the turtle was too exciting to keep to myself, so we ran inside and got Noah to come check him out.  He thought it was pretty cool too.

Being easily amused certainly helps the day go by.

Tomatoes!

Our tomato plants are exploding out of their earth box this year!  We put one large plant and one cherry tomato plant in the one earth box, and already they look like they have far outgrown their home.  We did a lot of research this year, trying to maximize our fruit production, and so far so good!

I’m excited, I love cooking with ingredients we grow ourselves.  It is very satisfying knowing that we grow some of the food that we eat.  I like knowing exactly how the plants are treated and cared for.  No pesticides or picking unripened fruit.  And the taste!  The taste of real, home grown fruits and veggies can not be beat.  I never realized how bland and tasteless fruit and veggies from the grocery store were until we began growing our own.

I want to preserve as much as I can and make use of every single fruit and veggie that we grow.  I love to can and share our harvest with friends and family.

I am truly longing for a larger yard where we can expand our garden.  Won’t be long.  Hopefully by next growing season.

Fairy Gardens

I had mentioned before that we noticed some new construction in our fairy gardens, and wouldn’t you know it, it would appear that they moved into their new homes this weekend.

The house looks small, but they are magical beings, so they make it work.

Isabella named this fairy Violet.  She looks a bit shy, doesn’t she?  Abe said she isn’t a fairy because she doesn’t have wings.  Isabella and I know that fairies are magical and can hide their wings from buttheads that say they aren’t fairies.  Obviously, that is what happened in this case.  Obviously.

We named this fairy Azul.  Fitting since that does appear to be his favorite color.  Abe said that he is a gnome, not a fairy.  We know better.

This fairy garden is in a very sunny spot outside, so we picked plants that love full sun.  I just adore the teeny tiny little flowers!  So happy and pretty!

This fairy garden is in the back of the house, where it’s pretty shady, so we chose shade loving plants.

The shady fairies seem to be hiding in these pictures, but I’m sure we’ll catch them out and about in their garden soon.  They must have heard about the butthead that calls them gnomes and decided not to come out to play.