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Mother’s Day in February

The first Mother’s Day pitches arrived on February 16th.  February 16th.

83 days.

One day shy of 12 weeks.

Pitches.  As in, 3 pitches dedicated to Mother’s Day all came on the 16th, amid all the other PR pitches.

This is unconscionable; even in a world controlled by the market, where businesses need to glom onto holidays in order to stay afloat.  The pitches put me in a foul mood.  Businesses may need to start three months ahead in order to set plans into place, but they do not need to subject the general public three months ahead of time.

We do not need Mother’s Day commercials three months ahead of time.  We do not need Easter candy in January or Christmas decorations in October.  We all know where the holidays fall in the calendar.

Make it stop.


February 19, 2015   14 Comments

As Quiet as a Mouse

This is the end of the story.


We now know that it was a mouse.

The mouse watched me work.  He stood in the doorway, at the mouth of the kitchen, and watched until I felt something staring at me and I turned around.  I immediately jumped onto the sofa, shrieking.  The mouse stared at me and then slooooowly waddled back behind the refrigerator.  Truman stopped chewing a lettuce leaf to stare at me for a bit with an expression of confusion on his little rodent face.  Why was I screaming about that rodent when I rub my cheek against this rodent?

Love isn’t rational.

I called Josh several times and told him to come home nooooooooow!  NOW!  Did you hear me?  NOW!

Still standing on the sofa, I managed to reach across the carpeted divide and grab my notebooks.  And then I ran out of the house, snatching up a pair of shoes along the way, and put on my boots in the car.  And then I drove away from the house, shuddering shuddering shuddering.


Josh came home a few hours later, telling me that it was safe to return home myself.  He set up traps in the kitchen while I twitched in the living room, trying to save all the documents I left up on the computer when I ran from the house earlier.

He went to stand in the hallway, and then he whispered, “Melissa.  I’m looking at it.”

The mouse wandered out from behind the refrigerator, went to taste the peanut butter treat, and… well… you know the rest of the story.

5 minutes.  That’s how long it took to end his life after we set the traps.  5 minutes.


I started wailing when I heard the trap snap closed.  Out of exhaustion — I was working on about four hours of sleep that I grabbed between an intense episode of Sherlock and the mouse’s 5:30 am wakeup call in the attic.  Out of stress — we’re waiting on a lot of things right now and tension has been high.  Out of guilt — I’m not a fan of mice, but I’m also not a fan of being a killer.  I sobbed and sobbed while Josh held me.

And then the mouse was gone.  Out of the house.


We left out the traps while I went through the afternoon activities, and I finally told the twins about the mouse when we arrived home.  I promised to go inside and check the traps.  If any had been moved or there was a mouse there, we’d leave and come back once dad was home to deal with it.  But if all was still the same, we’d take back our house.

I crept into the house, cursing the fact that I had to be the adult.  That no one was there to do this for me.  All was quiet, untouched.  We went about our evening routine.  But I’m not going to lie; I spent the whole evening listening for little mouse friends, an exterminator appointment in hand.

I cleaned out the cupboard.  I bleached the kitchen.  And I spent a great deal of time trying to convince Truman that I love some rodents.  Not all rodents, but definitely him.

February 18, 2015   16 Comments

Animals in the Attic

I woke up at 5:30 in the morning because of a scratching sound above my head, coming from the attic.  It sounded like a squirrel trying to stack acorns.  Which is different from the time that it sounded as if a serial killer was dismembering a corpse in our attic.  Still, as much as I didn’t want a serial killer in the attic (likely a man and likely someone who hadn’t bathed in weeks and likely someone who was going to track bloody chunks of intestine through my house), I also really really really didn’t want a squirrel.  Or a bat.  Or a mouse.  Or an opossum (which is only one step above a cricket, in my book).

I went into the hallway to see if I could still hear the sound, and there it was, a tiny pattering, a scratching.  I went back in the bedroom and woke up Josh.

“There’s a noise,” I told him.

He sat up in bed to listen, heard it too, inexplicably went to turn on the light (why?  So we could see the animal’s face poking out from the ceiling as it gnawed its way through the attic floor?), turned back off the light when I hissed at him, and then grabbed his phone to Google for answers on what to do, missing the bed as he tried to sit down because I had made him turn off the lights.

Meanwhile, the squirrel gleefully danced around his acorn structure.


Back in college, I had a friend who wrote a short story called “Bats.”  It was about a husband waiting for his wife to come home so he could confront her about her infidelity, and in the meantime, his young son has woken up due to a noise and wants his father to investigate.  The dad lies in his son’s bed with him, waiting for the noise, contemplating the worth of changing the course of their lives by leaving his wife.

That’s what I was thinking about as we Googled.  That the dad was awfully calm in that story.  He wasn’t nearly focused enough on the bat in his attic.  And while, yeah, I get that the rest of his life was falling apart, it turns out that when you hear an animal in your attic, you drop all that other shit and Google.  You focus on the animal that has moved into your home, not the animals (human or otherwise) outside your abode.


We decided that the sound didn’t fit the description of a raccoon.  And it didn’t fit the whispers of bats who apparently don’t scurry at all but sound more like someone rubbing their finger against the wall.  It was probably a squirrel or a mouse.

“We’ll go up in the morning,” Josh decided.

“After the kids go to school because we’re never telling them about this,” I agreed.

Josh set up the ladder while I was out at drop-off, and when I came home, he grimly climbed up while I stood in the hallway with my hands clasped over my mouth saying over and over again, “What if something runs out?  I will diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiie if something runs out.”

Nothing ran out.  He explored the attic and save for a tiny hole near the roof that he covered with duct tape (and said had been there since we bought the house) and a patch of wall where we could see the siding (again, apparently there since we bought the house, though that doesn’t seem good, does it?), there was nothing unusual in the attic.  No gnaw marks on the bags of clothes in storage.  No animal droppings.  And no acorn sculptures.

No sign that anything had been there at all.

He set a trap anyway and climbed back down.

It’s possible that the sounds were on the roof as they were last time with the crow.  It’s entirely possible that if I had remembered that blog post at 5:30 in the morning vs. when I sat down to write this that Josh would have gone outside, seen an animal on the roof, and we could have saved ourselves a trip inside the attic.  Or it’s possible that we’re going to be lying in bed one night in the not too distant future and hear the sharp snap of a trap closing.


It’s time like these that I wonder if it’s worth being a home owner.  Aside from the ability to decorate as we please and build equity in a piece of property, there are so many drawbacks to home ownership that I sometimes think that we would have been better off renting.  This could have been someone else’s problem.

Instead it is ours.  It is one of those things you never think about as a kid when you’re waiting to grow up.  The twins talk about how they’ll be able to have cookies for breakfast when they’re an adult and not go to school and stay up late.  But they never gleefully exclaim, “And I’ll be forced to deal with animals living in my attic at 5:30 in the morning!”

It sucks to be an adult.

February 17, 2015   16 Comments

#MicroblogMondays 25: What’s That Smell?

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.


Bad smells: any and all perfume, lavender, vanilla, chamomile, flowers.

Good smells: bleach, my detergent, my soap, bookstores.

Can you tell that I just had to spend time in a too warm space with a person wearing too much perfume?  I should not be able to smell someone else’s perfume if my nose isn’t pressed up near their body.

I wish I lived back in pre-Industrial Europe when it was fashionable to carry around a scented handkerchief and press your face in it when you passed ill-scented matter on the street.

My handkerchief would be soaked in bleach (and would likely kill me, as a result).  And barring that, I would take lemon.

What are your favourite (and least favourite) smells?


Are you also doing #MicroblogMondays? Add your link below. The list will be open until Tuesday morning. Link to the post itself, not your blog URL. (Don’t know what that means? Please read the three rules on this post to understand the difference between a permalink to a post and a blog’s main URL.) Only personal blogs can be added to the list. I will remove any posts that are connected to businesses or are sponsored posts.

1. One and Done? 17. earthandink 33. Stephanie (Travelcraft Journal)
2. Tas IVFer 18. Unpregnant Chicken 34. Eryn (A Glimpse Into Eryns World)
3. Jen (Days of Grace) 19. Vinitha 35. Journeywoman
4. No Baby Ruth 20. Isabelle 36. Junebug
5. Uma S 21. Daryl 37. ANDMom
6. Middle Girl 22. Tara 38. Kimberly
7. Rachel 23. Bio Girl 39. Jo Anne (I Try: The Additive Property of Happiness)
8. Just Heather 24. Buttermilk 40. Mali (No Kidding in NZ)
9. Parul – The dilemma 25. Laurel Regan @ Alphabet Salad 41. Mali (A Separate Life)
10. Turia 26. Non Sequitur Chica 42. Cristy
11. Casey 27. The Hardest Quest 43. deathstar
12. Shailaja 28. Infertile Girl 44. Stacie
13. Lori Lavender Luz 29. Amber 45. Solo Mama
14. Loribeth (The Road Less Travelled) 30. Baby, Are You Coming?
15. Mary Francis 31. Accio Baby
16. My Path To Mommyhood (Jess) 32. Rain

February 16, 2015   45 Comments

Realizations and Questions

I wash my hair every morning.  It’s the only way to make it look decent.

One morning last week, I was having a great hair moment and decided not to wash it during my shower.  I threw on a shower cap (I know, so hot) and did the rest of the washing up.  And then dried off and got dressed and looked at the clock.

Normally I get out of the shower and only have a few minutes to spare before school drop off; not enough time to get anything accomplished.  But suddenly I had 35 minutes.  35 minutes?  I could write a blog post in 35 minutes.  I could edit part of an article in 35 minutes.  I could answer a shit-ton of emails in 35 minutes.  I took the twins to school after 35 minutes of productivity, and it carried over into the rest of my morning, keeping me on task.  I even started making the components of dinner at 8:45 in the morning.  Rock star.

Which makes me think that maybe hygiene isn’t such a great thing.  I got 35 extra minutes to accomplish something this week.  But let’s say I stopped showering on weekdays altogether — I could gain 175 minutes per week.  That’s 9,100 minutes PER YEAR.  That’s almost 380 hours.  That’s like shoving over an extra two weeks into your year.  Actually, scratch that.  We’re not awake 24/7, so that’s more like shoving four extra weeks of work time into your year.

And the only trade off is the lack of shower during weekdays.

Just think about what I could accomplish if I didn’t brush my teeth, cook meals, or exercise.


Not only did people answer the ChickieNob’s questions last week, but some people posted their own.  So I’ve collected 20 to answer below.  I apologize if you posted questions and I didn’t bookmark them.  I only thought to do this after a read a few of the meme posts.  Send them my way and I’ll answer them.

And you can answer these, too.  Links to the original lists below.

These are from A Half Baked Life:

1. What would you do with $5000 and eight weeks to spent it however you want, without any other responsibilities to worry about?

My original answer was re-do the kitchen, because I really want to re-do the kitchen and it would make me happy.  But I’m going to find that money elsewhere and take the family to the Faroe Islands.  $5000 isn’t going to cover much of that trip, but it’s a start.  And I’m totally willing to pitch in the rest.

2. What is your least favorite chore?

Maybe cleaning Truman’s cage? I love cleaning, but not his cage. A close second is shopping. I hate shopping. Even online shopping.

3. What do you wish you had more time to do?

Play interactive fiction and read books.

4. Where is the career you’d least want to have?

Where or what? Probably anything in front of a camera or on a stage (being on television or in a movie or on a stage), which also sometimes takes place in two places I’d never want to live: California and New York.

5. What would you do for a living in another life?

Does it have to be real? I wish I could be a potions master. Like Professor Snape.

6. What superpower would you want: flight or invisibility?

Definitely flight. I think I would creep myself out with invisibility.

7. What was the last book you read? Was it any good?

One Day by David Nicholls. Yes, it was very good. Enough so that I bought his new book, Us.

8. Which would you be: Anna, Elsa, or Olaf?

Good question, but I didn’t personally relate to any of those characters.

9. Describe your ideal day off.

I wake up in the morning to coffee and Hay Day. The twins all of a sudden want to play Hay Day, too, and they give me everything I need for my farm. Then the four of us laze about, eating scones and reading.  Oh, did I mention that we’re at the beach? So we go hang out on the beach. After dinner, we get ice cream and bring it back to the beach house (oh — and all the bugs in the world have died in this scenario or gone elsewhere) and watch Harry Potter movies.

10. Pose your own question and answer it.

What is your favourite accent? For me, it’s probably Australians. I think Australians have the best accent.

And now the ones from Earth & Ink.

1. What topic is so interesting to you that you could talk about it for days?

Word origins. I taught etymology for years, and I still geek out on it.

2. Dream home: cottage at the beach, river house in the woods, lake house, penthouse in a city, farm house, castle in Europe, family home in a burb? Something else?

APARTMENT at the beach. One time, we were at a beach house and there was a snake in the house. A snake! So since then, I’ve been thinking that I’d rather have an apartment at the beach. Then I also wouldn’t have to take care of a lawn.

3. What talent would you like to have that you don’t have already?

I’d like to be able to speak and read many more languages.

4. If you could make one food that’s not good for you, good for you, what would you choose?

Probably bread. I love bread. I try not to eat a lot of bread. But if I could eat unlimited bread, I’d be a happy woman.

5. The one piece of advice you would give to everyone and wish they’d follow.

Be the change you wish to see in the world, and think through that change before you start the ball rolling. I think too many times people try to fix a problem by creating a new one. And too many times people don’t do anything active to fix problems at all.

6. What period of history would you want to visit as a tourist?

That’s hard because I think we romanticized history. I wouldn’t want to live without modern comforts. I don’t think Victorian England would really look like a steampunk novel. So… I’d revisit the 70s and 80s and see if my memories match what I’m seeing in real time.

7. Do you have a hobby?

Yes, I make and play interactive fiction games. The playing of games has been going on for a little over 30 years.

8. If an animal could talk, which animal would you want to talk to?

Truman! Of course! Even though we already have the best conversations daily. But I’d always take more.

9. If you could be friends with a fictional character, who would you choose?

Quentin from the Magicians. He’s whiny, he’s self-absorbed, but I’d still love to hang out with him.

10. Introvert or extrovert?

Absolute introvert.

This is your friendly reminder that tomorrow is #MicroblogMondays.  Get writing!

February 15, 2015   10 Comments

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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