Wednesday, November 23, 2011

At long last.... California

It's been 4 years, but we finally made it out to visit my family in California.  I've been taking some pictures, but as usual, I've forgotten to take even more.

I'll post them later, when I've uploaded them and stuff.

Meanwhile, it's a bit reverse culture shock - different baby products, different sleep systems, different weather...

The weather here is great.  'Cause, duh, it's California, man.  Mostly sunny, cool to (dare I say it?) crisp.  Not quite lighting-a-fire weather, but is hot-apple-cider-drinking-while-kicking-leaves weather.  Points to California.

But I think I'm a duvet-convert.  This sheet thing with blankets and quilts is so not working for us.  I keep getting tangled up and kicking the DB.  He keeps trying to throw off blankets only to pile them on me, so then I try to kick them back, and a-tangled we get.   Points to Denmark.  Also, I miss my huge bed.  How did I ever sleep in a queen size?

Baby food here is way grosser.  That came as a shock.  I expected it to be better.  I don't know why, maybe because there are more choices and more choices means better choices, yes/no?  But the baby cereals we bought?  Blah!  Like newspaper!  Alas, although the Spawn loves to eat newspaper, she wasn't buying it in mush form.  I really miss the rice cereal from Denmark.  Tastes like tapioca pudding without sugar.  Quite yummy.  Thankfully, she's taken to Saltine crackers and watermelon as well as bagels and sourdough bread.  So we have something to entertain us her while we eat.

Then there are two things about the US that make me all unhappy in the pants.
One - every foreigner needs to buy a visa before going to the US.  Every One.  These must be purchased BEFORE you get to the airport.  DUDE, WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN?  Two years ago, said the flight attendant at check in.  TWO YEARS AGO??  OBVIOUSLY I DON'T FLY ENOUGH!!  WHY DIDN'T SOMEONE WARN ME?

Like Orbitz, when I bought the tickets.  Or American Airlines when I checked their web-pages for international travel with babies.  Or ANYONE!

We had to slink off to the special counter to buy the DB a visa, getting the whole "you should have done this days ago" speech and "this is how it's been for years [you idiots]."  But but but... I'm a savvy traveller!  I know how many ounces and grams of liquids I'm allowed (and yes, stupid woman in Heathrow, baby food is exempted in reasonable amounts so stop your 'pre-check' bitchyness and let me advance to security) (seriously, they hired someone to 'pre-check' you before you enter security - the least they could do is teach them the rules!  it was like listening to a dalek, only instead of saying "exterminate! exterminate!" it was "no liquids! no liquids!").  I know how to whip off my belt with one hand while taking my computer out of my bag with the other!  I have small travel bottles of everything I need in a tidy ziplock bag!  HOW CAN I NOT KNOW ABOUT A VISA???

Dammit, America!

Secondly - what the hell happened to the newspapers here!?  Your broadsheets are... not broad!  They're skinny! What is that all about?  I feel like some incredible hulk trying to hold the newspaper.  I keep opening it and ripping it in two because my arms stretch out to the normal width of a paper and the paper is just not that big.  It's bad enough that half of Denmark's newspapers are now tabloid format (which means I can't even begin to take them seriously, I keep thinking I'm going to turn a page and read "President Obama is a gigantic alien baby in a man suit! says former aid"), what the hell is this all about anyway?

Dammit, America!

There's only one solution to all this... more wine tasting!  Yaaaaaaay vineyards!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Three not-so-blind mice

When the harvest rolled around, we were warned to keep our doors closed.  Mice, fleeing the harvesters, would be all “Rats of NIHM” and take up residence inside.

Raise your hands if you had a crush on Justin.
Just me then?
But the weather!  Oh, the weather was glorious!  Warm sun, cool soft breeze, and the smell of woodstoves, drying leaves, and freshly turned soil!  How can you keep the door closed!?

The harvesters came and went and we closed up the doors and only then, after things had settled down, did we first hear it.  The unmistakable sound of scratching from inside the walls.  Inside the brick walls.  Yeah, ponder that one for a moment.  So mice had somehow gotten inside the walls of the house.  Not inconceivable, this is an old house, there are bits under the eves that aren’t sealed and there are climbing vines that go up and over and there’s also the chimney, so even if we kept the doors closed, mice in the walls was probably inevitable.

But then came the rustling from the trash bag.

Now, we throw away a lot of plastic wrapping.  The newspaper comes every day in a plastic bag and when it’s crumpled, it has an unfortunate tendency to unbunch and make a spooky “animal-in-the-bin” rustling and it has been known to leap out of the trash and scare the bejezus out of me.

Yup, I’ve lost my bejezus all over the kitchen floor.   The floor I let my child lick.  How else is she going to build up a bejezus tolerance, I ask you?  They don’t put bejezus in the milk in Denmark.

Milk: Bejezus-free!
Then one day something dark scurried across the kitchen floor and up under the stove while I was sitting in the dining room, having lunch.  I didn’t want to tell the DB, also known as He Who Is Scared of Rodents, but I figured honesty was a better policy. 

Okay, okay, and because I knew he’d be all “OMG EEEEEEE!” and then I’d feel all manly inside.

But he was a champ.  He put on his big girl pants and decided to move the stove and look behind it.  I was against this, because moving a stove to look behind it will accomplish nothing other than maybe convincing the mouse to run across your feet and under something else, but the DB was adamant.  I think he was expecting to see a little mouse hole in the wall.

Silly DB.  I would NEVER paint my walls this color of pink!

Nope, no hole and no mouse.  We’ve since found mouse droppings in the bottom of the oven, so now we know where the mouse was hiding and how he felt about being shaken in the oven for half an hour.

Not the shake 'n bake I had in mind.
The DB was frustrated.  There was a mouse in his house and it was obviously mocking him!

Then one day, a rather excited husband calls me to the kitchen.  “There’s something in the garbage!  I think it’s the mouse!!”

I’m no idiot, so despite doubting his assertions, I am careful as I begin to remove trash from the bag.  Suddenly the bag rustled.  And then something moved.  Gently I pulled an orange juice box out and under it was a small, plump, brown, fuzzy body with black eyes looking up at me.  As mice go, it was really quite cute.

Quickly I closed up the bag and carried it outside and to the back of the property.  I laid the bag down on the ground and opened it.  A bit of prodding the bottom of the bag with a stick and a sudden streak of brown shot out of the top of the bag and bounded into the bushes.

I was proud of mah self.

I was even prouder when I did it again a day or two later.  This was a smaller brown body with black eyes, but he or she bounded away from the trash bag with the same enthusiasm of the first mouse.

So now we had a system.  And I’m sure if the third mouse had read the script, it would have worked.  But OH NO, he had to be difficult.  I opened the pantry door in our mudroom a few days ago and something leapt behind the beer bottles.  Something brown and furry.  Something with big black beady eyes.


“Chase it outside,” the DB cried. And I tried.  But have you ever tried to chase a mouse outside?  When there are so many other things to run and hide under?  When outside is cold and there’s no food and inside is full of warmth and fruit peels?  Yeah, you’d be swimming in my coffee grounds to, you know you would.

I apologized to the DB.  Not ten minutes later I walked over to the changing table (also in mudroom) to straighten it up and something jumped into the box with the diapers.  Something brown and furry.  Something with big black beady eyes.

I leaned over and looked inside.  The smallest mouse yet looked back up at me.  I reached over the box, behind him.  I opened the window.  Never did I take my eyes off of his eyes.  I reached out and slowly tilted the box towards the open window.  I used one hand to hold the box and the other to hold the diapers.  A gentle shake and he spun about and leapt out the window, onto the sill and ran off.  It wasn’t the back end of the garden and he’s probably right now taking up residence in the garage, but he was out of the house.

Since then we’ve had no scratches from inside the walls.  Apart from the faint traces of mouse discovered in the drawer under the oven, there is no sign we had three mice living with us for a few weeks.

Certainly you’d never know if from looking at the cat.  Did he once look in the direction of the scratching?  Did he meow at the garbage?  Did he try to get into the pantry?  Nope.  About as useful as a tiger skin rug.  Except, unlike a rug, he tries to bite your toes if you rub him with your feet.

Should have named him “Useless.”