Wednesday, April 23, 2008

So many fuzzy things...

Ever since I moved into this house I have noticed how many small mammals surround me. We have had multiple problems with mice living in our basement over the past few years. We have a family of rabbits that live in our shrubs. Every year a few shrews decide to take up residence in my vegetable garden. There's a groundhog that lives under our neighbor's house. And on top of the mammals we have DOZENS of beautiful song birds that live (or at least spend a lot of time) in our shrubs. There are also some issues with slugs, ant hills, silverfish, and very large spiders. I guess that's what you get for living in such a beautiful place.

For each of these critters listed I have at least one story to tell... and if you're interested I'll tell them all, but you're probably not. So I will link my bad luck streak in the previous two days' stories with my fuzzy friends story.

After several big and small incidents of bad luck I decided to stay home and work around the house on Saturday. Our yard definitely needed some spring cleaning, and it was a beautiful day (sunny with at high of 86!!!). So I went out back and opened the garage for the first time in several months (I know what you're thinking -- if you have a two car garage and two cars, you should probably park them in the garage. However, we don't have an automatic door, and we have PLENTY OF DRIVEWAY even with our two cars sitting there. So in the winter it's actually easier to brush off our cars and let them 'protect' part of the driveway from the several feet of snow we get than it is to park in the garage. You might not agree, but you probably don't have an average annual snowfall of 96 inches and a 75-100 foot long driveway.) Anyway, as I opened the door I saw a black and white cat lying on the floor. I had seen this cat around our neighborhood and even in our back yard several times before, so I thought it had just squeezed in to chase a few of our many mice. (Because our garage doors have a tendency not to open very easily we often leave one of them slightly open so that we can always get back into the garage.) Then it hit me... the cat was dead and the garage stunk. Yuck. It must have gotten in to chase some mice or avoid a winter storm and either didn't or couldn't leave. For a moment I felt really bad, but there was really no way for me to know it was there or prevent its death. I did check to see if it had any tags or a collar on so that I could contact its owner, but it had nothing of the sort.

Over the past year we have had a bit of a curse on our house. We have had a LOT of animals die on our property. Since last spring I have had to dispose of several dead mice in our house, a dead shrew in our garden, a dead rabbit on our front lawn/sidewalk, a couple dead starlings, and now a dead cat. For the full year a half we lived in this house before that time I only had to deal with one mouse that was caught in a trap. I feel like its somehow my fault, like I poisoned the property or something. Kenta lived here for 3 years before we were married and didn't have any of these troubles. The only bonus is that I now feel like I am a bit of an expert in how to remove dead animals from your property without touching them -- not something I'll ever put on a resume or list of hobbies though. To be fair though I didn't remove some of those animals. We were never able to find an unknown number of mice that died somewhere inside our basement ceiling/first story floor. It smelled so much worse than individual dead mice that we had previously found that we were convinced it had to be at least 5 mice. We had to keep Fabreeze in our entry way where the smell was the worst and spray it every time we walked though. To this day we can't stand the smell of that variety of Fabreeze because it reminds us of dead mice. Yuck.

I dislike reading blogs without any pictures to compliment the story, but I really didn't think it was appropriate to take a picture of the smelly, dead cat in my garage. So instead, I'm including a couple pictures of myself in the garage two years ago when I was making our picnic table and benches, a not so attractive picture of myself with some of the hundreds of tomatoes our beautiful garden produces each year, and, lastly, a picture of Kenta's car and his mother's car in our driveway after a spring snow storm last year (you can see where my car was before I dug it out). Thus ending on a happier note than dead animals. :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Bad Luck Continues

After Tuesday I decided to stay inside on Wednesday to avoid any continuation of my bad luck streak. However, the weather here has been far too beautiful to stay inside. On Tuesday I ventured out again without incident. I went to Charlotte Beach along Lake Ontario with the Sears girls. Although my contacts were bugging me toward the end, we had a fun picnic on the beach and played in VERY COLD water. To see pictures of our fun, check out Lesa Sears' blog at . Lesa also posted the video I took of Hannah (3) falling asleep while trying to finish her ice cream. Very cute.

On Friday, when I thought I had broken free of my bad luck it struck again! I went with Lesa Sears and her four girls to the Rochester Seneca Park Zoo. It started well, and we had a good time, but it had a very rocky end. We took Sadie (3 mo old) in one stroller and then I took the other three in their wagon. We had several issues about wearing shoes while walking/running around the zoo and parking lot because Lily (7) and Hannah (3) would take off their sandles in the wagon and then not put them on again.

On the way to meet the Sears I had gotten a call that my computer was fixed and ready to pick up as long as I got there by 5 pm. So around 4 we started saying good-bye to the animals and heading out. This was quite an ordeal because the girls didn't think they had enough play time on the playground there. Finally Lesa ran ahead to get the car while I watched the girls. When she came around the corner into the parking lot though, I knew my luck was up again. She had one VERY flat tire. At first we thought of changing it ourselves, but decided that calling someone to do it was going to be easier in the long run since there was no way that I would get to the computer shop in time.

While we were waiting for the tire guy to come Hannah decided she had to go to the bathroom IMMEDIATELY. So I ran back into the zoo with her. Although they were closing one of the nice zoo officials let me into the bathroom of the zoo office which was at the entrance. We thought we were in the clear until we tried to leave the bathroom only to find that we had been LOCKED IN THE ZOO BATHROOM!!!! I don't know exactly how much time passed while we were in there. It was a least 10-15 minutes of watching zoo patrons leave without seeing anyone who would look at us (through the glass door) or be able to help. Finally I told Hannah to stay at the door to watch for the zoo man while I tried to find another way out. A few minutes later, as I was examining the nearest window, Hannah called out, "Ginia, he's back!!" I have never been so happy to see a zoo official or leave a bathroom. When we got back to the car the tire guy was there, and we were able to go home without any further difficulty. Just another little streak of bad luck.

Smiling Sadie Sears (3 mo)

Chloe (5), Hannah (3), Lily (7)

Though there was a red-tailed hawk in the cage, there were three cute monkeys on the rails!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Beware the Ides of... April?

The Ides of March were bad for Julius Caesar, but it was the Ides of April that did me in. Tuesday was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, to quote a famous children's book. Really it wasn't the worst possible day by any means, but it had two very bad events.

ONE -- When I tried to start up my 8 week old laptop that morning it was completely fried. I wouldn't start despite anything I did. I was feeling really sick the day before, so I spent a lot of time on it and had downloaded all sorts of pictures and worked on a lot of files. However, I didn't back anything up because I started feeling worse later in the day. So I turned my computer in to the service center thinking that everything was lost.
** The happy post script to this story is that I got my computer back today (Monday) with all of my files preserved. A miracle. **

TWO -- After spending a good deal of time working on the computer problem and running some other errands, my evening seemed to come quickly. Kenta and I met with the 12-18 year old men and women from our church to go to our nearby temple in Palmyra, NY. It's about a 35-45 minute drive. About halfway there we were waiting at a red light with another 10-15 cars when a car crashed into us at 45 mph. Kenta (who was driving) saw the car coming in the rear view mirror but there was nothing he could do other than hold the brake down. We were thrust forward into the car in front of us. The heavens must have been looking down at us because no one was injured at all. The car that hit us was totalled. The rear of my poor CR-V looked pretty bad. Fortunately, the car in front of us just had a dent on its back bumper. I honestly think that a lot of damage was avoided when the car hit my spare tire, so I highly recommend cars that carry the spare on the back.
The 2 thirteen year old girls that were with us were picked up by another car who left after we did, and got to the temple in plenty of time. After we were all done talking with the police and the insurance company, we drove the rest of the way to the temple without incident. So really it wasn't the worst thing that could have happened, but it was pretty bad.
**The post script to this accident is that we were not ticketed or found to be at fault (I don't know how we could have been at fault!) and the person who hit us was insured. So all $6800 in repairs will be covered. This does leave me without my car for 3 weeks, but we have an extra family car (Kenta's parents' car) so that I'm not left high and dry.**

Overall it really was a terrible day, but we still feel blessed that it wasn't worse. Pictures never do justice to this type of damage (sort of like trying to take a picture of an impressive bruise that you might have only to find an unimpressive slight discoloration when you look at the print -- so sad), but if you're interested, there are a couple pictures below. I didn't think to take a picture of the frame of the car (underneath), which was apparently pretty bad as well.