Thursday, May 29, 2008

Snakes, Squirrels, Mystery Rodents OH MY!

My family apparently attracts interesting animals. Besides the stray cats we've adopted, the zebra finches and the plethora of other pets we continuously acquire, there are other animals around our house that most people will never see in their life. Let me explain...

Yesterday, I was being all studious and working on a perfectly procrastinated-til-the-last-minute paper when I heard strange noises coming from outside my window. Imagine the sound of a sword hitting a tree repeatedly...anyway, I look out my window and right below me Chad is attacking the ground with a shovel. Not too weird-except the "ground" was moving. Yeah, it wasn't dirt, it was a snake. Not just any snake, a copperhead! As in poisonous! And it wasn't just one, there were three! THREE! So, as you may imagine, being the hater of all things legless I had a mini freak-out moment. After that I just let my brothers be all manly and kill the nest of slitherers. How many people can say that a nest of copperheads made residence in the garden next to their house? I wish I couldn't say that....eww.

But anyway, this reminded me of an instance a few months ago in the winter when another critter happened to call our house home.

It happened that Mom was working and she usually doesn't get home til late so I make sure that Caleb gets to bed on time and Dad doesn't fall asleep on the couch. Around 11:30 pm I decided to get ready for bed. I pass Caleb's room and see that his light is still on, which was weird because he was supposed to have been asleep two hours ago. I stick my head into his room and I see him huddled in a corner of his bed, all of his lights are on, and he is tightly clutching Hershey (our dog) who is scratching frantically trying to escape. Immediately I tell him in a good, big sister manner that he'd better get his butt into bed and go to sleep before mom gets home. But I happen to notice that he's crying so I ask what the matter is. He looks at me and whispers, "There's a squirrel in my closet!"
Alright, at first I didn't believe him (caleb does sleep talk sometimes and gets slightly delusional when he's tired) but he was crying so I told him that I'd check. His closet isn't really a closet, it's more like a space on the wall in between his room and Chad's. I looked around and didn't see anything so I told Caleb there wasn't anything there. But he animatedly tells me that it fell on him while he was sleeping and ran into the closet (I don't blame him for crying). In order to soothe his dream confused mind, I told him to take Hershey and go to Mom and Dad's room. Meanwhile, I drag Dad out of bed and tell him to get a flashlight and a bucket, just in case there really is something in there. Dad comes back is wearing a huge pair of yellow ski gloves (apparently he has more faith in what his children say). He starts to shuffle some stuff around under the table, looking completely ridiculous I might add. I was nonchalantly peering over his shoulder, giving moral support when all of a sudden I was attacked! A quick flash of brown whizzed by my face, landed on my shoulder and sailed over to Caleb's bed. I shrieked and fell backwards into his laundry hamper. After untangling myself from his dirty socks, I managed to get a glimpse of the furry fellow. It was not just a squirrel. It was a flying squirrel! You know, those squirrels that are small with large flaps of skin along their sides that they use to glide around? I was pretty convinced until then that they resided in the boonies of Australia.
So anyway, we're trying all sorts of tactics to get the poor thing in a bucket. That little guy was probably scared out of his mind, they're really cute actually (when not attacking your shoulder). They're about the size of a large hamster with a small, bushy tail and huge black eyes. They're also fast. Really fast. We tried everything to get him into the bucket, but Otis (that's our name for him) outsmarted us every time.
Eventually we cornered him under the bed, but that's no help. If you've ever seen under Caleb's bed...well, let's put it this way...if you shrink a bachelor pad down, send a ravenous beast through it and then conjure up two tornadoes and an earthquake, that's getting pretty close to what his under-bed-world looks like. By this time, mom was home and wondering what in the world we were doing, she tried to help us, but then we knew that there was no way to catch Otis under that bed.
To make a long story short, we ended up closing Caleb's doors and opening his window, then we turned all the lights off and Caleb slept in the parent's room. We all learned something that night. #1. Flying squirrels don't just live in Australia, and #2. If a family member complains of swooping rodents falling on them in the might be a good idea to believe them.

So I'm off to encounter other strange animals (hopefully not the legless ones!). On saturday I'm waking up at the literal crack of dawn and truckin down to the Outer Banks, NC with my WHOLE family. Can't wait! We all decided to sell one of our kidneys to pay for the gas : ). Then thursday I'll be driving back early with a friend and we're packing up for PERU! So I'm going on a three week hiatus for now. Ciao! (or should I say Adios?)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The few, the proud, the filthy....

I am a guarder of lives. No really, I the summer at least. Summer is the one season where I would be a lot better off if I grew fins and a tail since I practically live in the water for those three months. Between work at the pool, swimteam everyday, plus the swim lessons that I usually teach, my skin is in a constant state of pruniness. But it's fun, well, MOST of the time. If the public knew what the pool is like several weeks before opening, I can almost guarantee you that most people would retire their bathing suits indefinitely. For one thing, the chlorinated water isn't regulated over the winter, therefore come summer and you have a nicely painted, concrete pond. We started vacuuming the crud from the bottom and collecting the various types of wildlife that inhabited and died in the enchanting blue/green/black water. Today I emptied out the skimmer boxes (you know, those nifty little square holes around the pole that you always wanted to store things in as a child). Let me tell you what, when you empty those after a, it's interesting. I would pull off the cover, insert my hand, close my eyes and whisper "Please just be leaves, please just be leaves." I was lucky this time around, the worst specimens were the millions of waterlogged caterpillars.
After overcoming my fear of reaching into the unknown, I set to work scrubbing hardened cheese sauce from the refrigerator in the snack bar. Whoever invented nacho cheese needs to work in a snack bar some time. That orange, sticky artery clogger gets EVERYWHERE. After cleaning out my locker last year, I was not surprised to see it sticking to the hinges of my locker door. Yummy.
There will be another week or so of "reconstruction" work before the pool is ready for business. I promise you that by then the water will be clean, the animals corralled, the snack bar scrubbed, and the hot nacho cheese bubbling in it's full, cholesterol-ruining glory. Soon I get to sit on my raised gold and blue throne, surveying those under me as I soak up some rays and mentally practice my "Baywatch" run...oh, and protect your children of course! : )

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Graduation x 2

Well I am still in the midst of a busy week, but the biggest part is over. In the past three days my family had two graduations, Chad from Messiah College, and Me from....home? Anyway, at birth the two of us decided that we'd be four years apart so that we could give mom a double dose of the maternal stress of "empty nesting." Perhaps that was mean of us, oops.
It was funny how very different the graduations were though. Messiah had a graduating class of somewhere around 700, I had a graduating class of 4. We had to wait a good hour or two before Chad's name was called and even then I had to scope him out with the (extremely nifty) telephoto lens on his camera, which caught his esteemed capped, gowned, and hooded back as he walked across the stage. My family tried to convince me to wear his graduation garb to my own, but I declined. While his ceremony took about three hours until it was all said and done, mine lasted less than an hour. We had a couple speakers, some of which were previous alumni of our homeschool group (which was nice). Chris and I both sang a song, and it was just nice and personal. So even though I didn't go through the traditional senior year that most people do and I didn't graduate Magna Cum Laude as my brother did, and I still have some college classes to finish, it's the thought that counts. I'm looking forward to next year!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mother's Day

I'm part of a freelancing website that pays small amounts of money for articles written on a large variety of subjects. I'm posting an article that I wrote under the heading "How to be sentimental on Mother's Day without being cheesy" because I thought that it's relevant. The title of that category made me laugh because I think it's almost impossible to be sentimental without being cheesy, but that's pretty much what I wrote about, so read it for yourself : ).

"Can we define what "cheesy" means? Does cheesy mean the gift is over the top or oozing sentiment? Wouldn't that make the entire idea of Mother's Day cheesy?

A long time ago I spent an entire day drawing a picture for my mom. It wasn't one of those perfectly painted portraits that some budding artists manage to create for their mothers. No, I possess no artistic talent, not an ounce. For this project I gathered my crayons and colored paper and drew flowers, hearts, and whatever else I could accomplish with my favorite strawberry-red crayon. The card said something along the lines of "Dear Mom, you're great and you do lots of stuff. Thanks, I love you!" Is that cheesy? Yes, probably.

Not quite so long ago I tried to create a watercolor mother's day card in art class. Turns out that I used too much water so my picture smeared together. Since class was almost over I quickly turned the smear into an abstract work that Picasso himself would be very proud of. To make up for the cover, I wrote a decently long note inside that basically said the same thing all my cards said, "Mom, you've always been there for me. I love you." Would this be considered cheesy? Yep.

Last year, in true teenage form, I waited until the absolute last minute. My mom had to work evening shift during Mother's Day, which meant that she wouldn't get home until around midnight. I really wanted to do something for her so I consulted my trusty sidekick (Google) and began to print out random poems about mothers, inspirational maternal quotes, and a short segment from Little Women about mothers. I meticulously cleaned the kitchen (one of Mom's number one pet peeves is returning home to a dirty kitchen) and arranged the printed pages on the counter. This didn't look very snazzy, as you could imagine, so I added some candles. It still lacked something...ah, chocolate! I sorted through my desk drawers until I found the perfect piece of Guiradelli, added a few slices of apples (as I now think about the healthy factor) and viola! Mother's Day surprise! So was that random? Yes. Cheesy? Most definitely.

If the scale of cheesiness runs by measurements of cliched one-liners and sappy notes, then I've definitely failed as a daughter, I'm about as cheesy as an enchilada. However, whoever decided cheesy was bad? Perhaps people we love need to hear the cheesy stuff every now and then, no matter what you might think. Everyone needs to know that their work is appreciated and means something. Who works harder than our mothers? Shouldn't they deserve the same recognition?

So this Mother's Day, forget trying to avoid the "cheesy" gift ideas. Don't bypass Hallmark because all the cards are cliched. Don't skimp out altogether because you can't think of an idea that's not "good enough." Here's a cheesy thought for you, all gifts are great if they're given from the heart!

..and if this still doesn't help, chocolate is always good!"

Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 9, 2008


So I finally acquiesced to the various requests that I start writing again (ok there was only about two mentions that I should...but any excuse to divert myself from my three research papers is a good one). Besides my middle school days when I used to write riveting entires on Xanga everyday that went like, ", today was spectacular! I ate a grilled cheese sandwich and THREE homemade cookies. Then I IMed Hannah all day long since I didn't have to do math today!", I really haven't ever tried this whole blogging thing. However, since school's almost over forever (or at least until I actually go away to college) I figured this could be a good side thing to do as I try to stay in touch with people that I know or just rant about my various daily epiphanies (those of you that used to read my e-mails know just how exciting those daily epiphanies are). Anyway, in case anyone actually reads this (which I doubt will happen) here's a warning: I often don't make sense. That's no newsflash, but when I write it tends to be a freewrite that's basically me spitting out everything that's on my mind, often in poetic form. But hey, if you're ever in need of a laugh or a reason to mock my intellectual style...feel free to read.