Posted by: deadmousediaries | September 4, 2014

News from the Path Valley Hotel – Episode #67- Dog Juggling

News from the Path Valley Hotel: Dog Juggling

  This story is like the riddle of the farmer, the fox and hen and the sack of grain. Remember that one? A farmer is faced with a daunting task as he crosses a river. He is traveling with a fox, a chicken and sack of grain. The little row boat can carry only the farmer and one other thing yet he must cross the river with all three to get home. If he leaves the fox and chicken together on either shore, the fox will eat the chicken. If he leaves the chicken and the grain as he transports the fox, the chicken will eat the grain. So how does he manage it? It takes some juggling.

   I was traveling home a few weeks ago when I got caught behind a line of traffic dodging something in the roadway. There were no houses in sight where the flash of brown fuzz came in an out of focus. A large dog was lumbering down the center lane and seemed quite comfortable doing it. A few cars in front of me, a woman pulled over and I followed suit. The dog, an Airedale, raced across the westbound lane and made her best attempt to jump inside the woman’s open window.

   As I approached, the driver seemed very happy to see me; she thought I was the owner. We realized then neither of us had a plan, only an objective to prevent a horrible incident. The dog had a collar and license but no owner information. The shelter was already closed as was the Dog License Bureau. The driver had two kids in her small, crowded car. I had a Jeep with no one it. The dog didn’t need an invitation to jump into my front seat.

   Our family has executed a lot of rescues over the years so this was a familiar drill. This one was complicated this time by the fact that I already had kittens and two dogs at home. My first step was to meet up with my daughter to plot out our logistics.

   My daughter followed me home and dog-sat to keep the Airedale in the Jeep while I let our two dogs out. She took the Airedale out of one side of the Jeep while I loaded our dogs into the other and drove them to another house to spend the night. Meanwhile, Katy put our kittens in their crate where bouts of barking produced a return volley of swats and growls. A blanket over the side of the crate helped with that out-of-sight-out-of-mind thing. As soon as I came back; Katy left.

   I took the visitor outside with no results. I had no idea if house-broken was part of the dog’s vernacular but at 11:00 p.m., I looked into those soft brown eyes and told her we were going to bed. Aside from a random sniff and reciprocal hiss from the imprisoned cats, things seemed off to a grand start.

   I awoke about 2:00 a.m. and realized my arm was asleep. It was also wet. When I opened my eyes, that big curly head was resting on my arm with Purple Squeaker Monkey, my dog’s toy, in her mouth; I was covered in drool. I got up and put her on the leash for another visit into the great outdoors. This time we had success and I rewarded her with a cookie.

   Apparently three hours of sleep was all she needed. After her break, she picked up the monkey and started again. Squeak. Squeak. Squeak-squeak. 20 minutes passed before things got eerily quiet. I realized she had disemboweled the toy and ferreted out the squeaker, a wonderful choking hazard. I turned on the light, traded the squeaker for a cookie and retrieved the remains. The toy is now named simply Purple Monkey.

   Lights out. I felt her head on my arm again. This time she had brought me the TV remote. Then she gave me a Q-tip, followed by a CD case, a pack of gum and then a pine cone. I’m not sure what all this  says about my housekeeping but I don’t think it can be good.

   At 3:30 she was nosing me again and moved to stand by the door. Outside, she squatted for about three seconds. Inside she immediately sat down, smiling. I realized then I had just taught a new dog how to train a human to give out cookies.

   By 6:30 we were up again and I gave up my last hope of getting sleep. I loaded the Airedale into the Jeep, released the cats, drove to the place my own dogs had been vacationing and let them out for their morning romp — all while making sure no one got any visual contact. Then the Airedale and I headed for McDonald’s. I needed coffee.

   I was already dialing the moment the Dog License Bureau opened and they knew exactly who she was: Maya .She is a frequent flyer. If there was a Post Office billboard for canine escape artists, apparently her picture would be on it.

  By 9:30, I had driven to a parking lot 14 miles away to reunite her with her family. She was happy.

   Back home, my dogs enjoyed a major sniff-fest while I took a morning nap. My cats let me know they were ticked off for the next two days but in the end, no one had been eaten. I learned as the farmer had, you can’t solve every problem with a direct solution; it might take a bit of juggling.

 

Posted by: deadmousediaries | September 11, 2014

Body, Wallet and Soul – Some Kyd Picks from Cyberspace

Putting aside all the truly frightening stuff that comes across your Internet connection, cyberspace is an amazing gap filler for our galaxy, isn’t it? Google reports that it records 40,000 Internet searches every second; that’s more than 3.5 billion (with a “b”) every day. Google holds 78 percent of the market so you need to extrapolate another 22 percent of web users to get a handle on what’s really happening with search engines daily. Given the enormity of that, it’s also a wonder than we actually find time to make any real connections with actual people much less make time to linger on sites anywhere.

That’s why I love it when friends personally recommend a clip or site they like. I thought I might return the favor by offering you a couple of my favorites, the Kyd Picks I’ve unearthed during my blogging experience. I hope you’ll find them good for your body, your wallet and your soul!

For your body, (well at least your taste buds) check out http://www.texanaskitchen.com. I love this blog! Mild-mannered HR manager by day (my words, not hers), blogger Christine Friesenhahn is a sassy Texas writer, competitive chef and self-admitted foodie in her off hours. Like me, she is a story-teller. She has a quick wit and great understanding of the word plays that make topics sound naughty even when they’re not. Check out posts like: A Boy.. a Tape Measure.. and a Foot-Long Weenie or God Save the Queen and Spotted Dick. She’s a mom and wife and I can totally relate to so much of what she writes about –except the ending of her posts. Every post includes some incredible recipes, complete with photos, that let you know that she’s as creative in the kitchen as she is at the keyboard. All of my really good friends know that the kitchen scares me so I try to avoid it but that doesn’t mean I don’t drool like Pavlov’s dog when I read Christine’s recipes for things like Beer Bacon Peanut Brittle or Peanut Butter Ice Cream with Cayenne Spiced Bacon and Pecans. You can also find more of her incredible edibles on Pinterest.

Now, about your wallet. A friend of mine (as in a person I have actually met and who lives nearby) has just started a new blog: http://www.financialfreedomblueprint.com. It might sound like an advertisement for some well-heeled investment firm but it is nearly the opposite. My friend Nathan Martin is on the road to personal financial freedom with his young family by examining the everyday choices we all make about our spending and savings habits. His posts are written in small bites that are easy to digest. He offers nearly painless actions we can all take on a regular basis to build our bank accounts and replace financial burdens with more happiness. Check out his Frugal Friday posts or 3 Simple Rules of Money. You can also request his Step by Step Guide to Financial Freedom for free. (And free should fit right into your budget!)

Be good to your soul.  I’ve run across some amazing photography on some beautiful sites but one of my very favorite caregivers when it comes to feeding my soul is photographer Patrick Latter. (http://instagram.com/patricklatter)  His magnificent images from his hiking trips and life adventures can transport you to a place that exists only  in his photos. It is his eye for subtraction as much as his skillful use of the tools of his trade that create the striking captures of light that distinguish so much of his work.  I love his nature photography which always fills me with peace but I am equally entranced by his interpretations of the human species that infuse me with energy. Check out his recent posts of pix from the Burning Man gathering in Nevada.

And finally, add some music to your cyberspace cruising. Check out any YouTube clip of 2Cellos. Yes, cellos. As in baby bass or oversized viola. I don’t even remember how I stumbled on to them a few weeks ago but I am hooked. Rethink what you know about songs like Highway to Hell, Smooth Criminal, Human Nature, or Welcome to the Jungle and then try to imagine those hits translated by four strings only. It is impossible to describe what the duo of  Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser of Croatia have been  able to demand of the cello. You have to see and hear it. Their talent is incredible. The chemistry between them makes me feel that I’m watching one mind directing four hands and two bodies. I always wonder where they go when they close their eyes as they are playing; they are surely not tethered to this world.  Watch their performance of Benedictus or the Shostakovich Prelude and maybe you will feel as I do. They are more than extraordinary musicians; they are channels for the music.

So there you have it, my cyberspace Kyd Picks of the day. I hope you’ll get a chance to visit at least one of these sites and if you do, tell ‘em Mitchell Kyd sent you.  No one but Nathan will have a clue who that is but that’s okay!  ; )  MK

 

 

 

Posted by: deadmousediaries | September 10, 2014

Objects at Rest Catching Fire: Overcoming Inertia with Mitchell Kyd

Remember Sir Isaac’s Law  from your 11th grade physics class? Objects at rest stay at rest; objects in motion, stay in motion. Sound familiar?

The rest of that law reads: unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. I don’t want to admit that I might be unbalanced, nor is my friend DW, but we have once again tapped into a force that I know ALWAYS works for me in overcoming inertia. I do more than in get in motion; I am catapulted into overdrive when we set some fires and make a commitment to meet weekly to do goal-setting and accountability sound-offs.  My News from the Path Valley Hotel series of stories and many of my new freelance gigs are results of our first set of meetings in 2012.

We’ve recently reconvened for Round II and I’ve already shifted a lot of things from my To-Do list to the Ta-Done! column. I love making those exaggerated, colorful check marks next to an intimidating blockade of words that a week prior made me want to run away screaming. 8 )

How it works: We have cleared our calendars for the same day and time for the next three months. Commitment and consistency are key to this adventure (with an understanding that life will occasionally get in the way of best-laid plans). Meeting locations are flexible as long as they are comfy and private enough for truth-telling. Home is good– if everyone else is gone.

We both start with our own new notebooks dedicated to this work. Over time, all kinds of doodles, art clips and paste-ins may embellish them but the primary content is a list of our weekly promises to ourselves — and our successes. Each meeting consists of an out-loud run through of last week’s list and updates on each item. The atmosphere is supportive and forgiving but we are getting better at gently prodding and asking the tough questions about why any particular task wasn’t completed or even begun. In that way, we keep each other honest.  When we really hit our groove again, those weekly assignments will get more aggressive and morph into stretch goals.

Why it works for us: It’s been a long time since I got a star sticker on a homework assignment or had someone tack one of my accomplishments to the front of the fridge but that doesn’t mean I don’t still ramp up my game when I wave a visual reminder of my success in front of me. Ditto for getting an affirming atta’girl from someone I respect – and that is definitely my friend DW.

There is amazing power in the simple act of writing down what you want to achieve. If nothing else, it forces you to clearly articulate what that is and then it gives you focus. In the bigger realm, that writing evolves  into affirmations as you begin to visualize the thing you want as something you have already accomplished as in: I am so happy now that I have cleared my desk  of clutter. The freshly organized space makes it easier for me to find what I need and get started faster on what I want to really want to get done. I look forward to sitting down in my personal work space. It inspires creativity and I am grateful for my talents. When you let yourself feel that effects of that accomplishment, you are well on your way to Ta-Done!.

If you haven’t done any reading about the Law of Attraction or gobbled up all the good stuff  in Write it Down; Make it Happen by Henriette Anne Klauser, put those items on your to-do list (or call me to borrow books). My meetings with DW were inspired from all this.

There are two other great things about writing it down: you can break each task into manageable micro movements AND you get to award yourself credit for every single thing you accomplish.  (More star stickers on your homework assignments!) Author Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy, better known as SARK, often writes about the micro movement approach and gives a relatable example of how to break tasks into those do-able chunks. For instance, if you want to clean your closet but every time you even think about it, you have to go lie down, SARK recommends taking baby steps every day until it’s accomplished. By baby steps I mean, on Day One, open the closet door. Day Two, remove two empty hangers, etc., etc., etc.

My journals are filled with micro movement progress. As I’ve gotten better at this, I realize these baby steps are the  road maps that get me around obstacles, real or imagined.  This is critical for me now as I face the fallout of major life changes. I’m working on building up my strength to tackle all the work that no one else can do for me. I need the emotional resilience to bench press 300 pounds of baggage and that ain’t happenin’ anytime soon. What I can do to start is assert some control over a one-pound hand weight until I can swing two pounds.

There is  nothing new under the sun, including all of this, but maybe I’ve packaged it in a way that resonates for you right now. It’s how you put to work what others have learned that moves you forward. And in the words of Eleanor Roosevelt: “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.”  MK

 

I need to have our marketing staff update our brochure for the Path Valley Hotel; I don’t think I’ve mentioned anywhere that we have free concerts nightly well into the Fall. Currently playing are the Yick-Yicks and they set up quite a ruckus around dusk. If you are an entomologist or just a long-time country dweller, you probably know these late summer headliners as Katydids.

I like to describe them as flitting, green guitar picks, with six legs of course.  There are lots of species of these little hoppers including the fork-tailed and the black-legged variety as well as the delicate meadow and gladiator meadow katydid.  Judging by the clatter outside my door, I’m quite sure there’s nothing delicate about the bugs living here. They are all gladiators, if only in their hearts.

Katydids are related to grasshoppers and crickets but they have a love song all their own. The name Katydid comes from the clicking sound the male makes; it’s a pattern that sounds like  katy-did, katy-didn’t. Of course, he’s hoping Katy will because he’s not performing for our entertainment; it’s his evening booty call.

I learned that both sexes hear through tympanic organs  located inside their front legs. I guess that’s convenient, especially for the females. In order to be truthful and not sarcastic when Mrs. Did wants to  scream “I can’t hear you!!!”,  she only has to close her legs, not her mind, no innuendo intended.

Katydids became yick-yicks at our house decades ago when our daughter Katy used to sit on the front porch swing at the farm with my dad. I don’t remember if it first came out of her mouth simply as the way she processed the word or whether my dad suggested it as part of the secret language between them, but yick-yick is what stuck. I have a perfect frozen image of her on his lap concentrating on a roving guitar pick on the widow ledge one minute, then turning to watch deer step out of the treeline at twilight the next.  That’s how he came to call her Katybug, a term of endearment  that was usually preceded with “Ole'” as in  “Ole Katybug.”

I’ll admit that I’ve been enjoying our free concerts for weeks now but today was the first I thought of sharing them.  This story was prompted by a two-line text from my far-away son. It filled me with gratitude for all the little things that will always connect us. He had said simply: They have yick-yicks in Texas, too. Makes me think of home.  Life is good at the Path Valley Hotel. MK

 

 

I spent the last long weekend of summer strolling through my childhood. That didn’t mean a trip to the beach, or the amusement park or even going through my photos. Nope. My childhood memories flashed back with price tags attached at the antiques store.

I’m not sure when my life stories crossed that line from recent to classic but they have already finished their free-fall past vintage and have plummeted straight on to antique. (And that of course makes me ask: what does that say about me?)

I have been quite proud of myself in finding a way to display my mother’s 1930’s high chair in my dining room and stylishly topping my book case with my great-grandmother’s laundry basket without realizing my life experiences, too, have now crossed the line into collectibles. Things I tossed to the bottom of my toy box in a frantic search to find Buzzy, my bumble bee pull toy, are suddenly resurfacing as hot tickets in antique malls everywhere. There are apparently other families who find the trappings of my childhood years as kitschy as the promise of ordering a Harvest Gold fridge from the Sears catalog.

It’s a given that books are a good bet for long-term collecting. I recently found a copy of Dr. Dan the Band-Aid Man among the Little Golden Books on a vendor’s shelf. Sadly, the supply of real Band-Aids that had originally been included in the back had all been used. A hanging basket suspended by strands of macrame held issues of Mad Magazine and a paperback copy of Love Story. But how can that be?? That stuff is classic, man, but certainly not antique.

I stumbled onto the technology section of the store and found a rotary phone and a stack of eight-tracks sitting on a little vinyl suitcase. The suitcase was a great disguise for the portable record player inside that was just like the one Mrs. Shatzer let me drag to class in second grade for our celebration on the last day of school. 

On the shelf above that, two fat metal boxes sat disconnected from their wiring and their support poles to remind me of nights driving from space to space trying to find working speakers at Sunset Drive-In Theater. There will be a buyer for defunct drive-in speakers, really?? That’s a warning to me that maybe we’ve gone a little too far in embracing the new industrial look in decorating.

It’s not surprising that in the same way metal toys replaced wooden ones decades ago, plastic has become the metal of the new millennium. Models of flashy red Thunderbirds sat in locked cases along with plastic Bugs Bunny and Roadrunner cups. Pop-bead necklaces, the poor girl’s pearls, shared space with mood rings in the jewelry trays.

If I had only known. I put my plastic Ringo figurine with human-like hair out for yard sale fodder 30 years ago. Ditto for my love beads and framed photo of  the hunky but always distressed Dr. Ben Casey.

So what should we be saving today to ensure we are collecting tomorrow’s guaranteed antiques? I’ve given this some serious thought and here are some Kyd picks:

Plastic laundry detergent bottles. They’re colorful, sturdy, smell good and are excellent examples of elaborate packaging that will hopefully reflect our antique attitude about taking care of our planet in the years ahead.

Styrofoam egg cartons. Of course Wall-E will still be digging up styrofoam everything a thousand years from now but pristine egg cartons will be a thing of the past if my predictions are correct. Given our continued penchant for processed food that remove it from its natural state to extend the shelf life, I contend that fresh eggs will disappear from grocer’s shelves. Instead you’ll find only some canned or frozen version of their former selves. Unless you plan to get eggs from the chick next door, you won’t be seeing egg shells — or their styrofoam containers. 

Gas caps. In order to explain why a vehicle needed a gas cap, someone will first need to explain to visitors in the antique mall why cars ever needed gas.

Vegetable seed packets. As the mega-growers become more and more dominant in our food chain, chemically-engineered vegetables will grow bigger, faster, and more immune to pests. They will also come to us without seeds and their reproductive rights will be owned and not available for sale in little paper envelopes.

Cell phones. The great thing about this item is that has it’s own complete line of accessory items just liked Barbie had cars and wigs. Dick Tracy was using a wrist-watch phone 50 years ago. Why do we think we will be lugging around a separate communications device much longer?

House keys. With thumb print security systems and retinal scanners already in place, how much longer will it be before that technology becomes affordable at home?

Slim Jims. I’m not talking about those thin metal gadgets that slide inside door panels to unlock car doors. I mean that narrow spindle of adult chew-toy that sits upright in bright yellow boxes at the grocery check-out. Anything that includes the words mechanically separated chicken on the ingredients list must surely be doomed to extinction. The great thing about hoarding this item for future sale is that it requires no special handling. You can toss it in the trunk of your car or stash it in your attic for a decade with no discernible affect on its quality.

So there you have it, my predictions for the antiques of the future. Laugh if you will but remember, when you read about this in 2039 in the Journal’s 25 Years Ago Today column, you’ll wish you had held on to that stuff. Happy collecting!

Tonight promises us another beautiful full moon and from where I sit, it has arrived with the best of summer weather. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate it than to wish you a little happiness. The post below is replay of  another of my crazy true stories.  If you were reading in 2012, it’s a rewind. If not, well, it’s new to you. Either way, it can’t help but bring a smile and who doesn’t need more of that???

 

Wishing You Many Years of Continued Sex

Who among us has never been trapped in a cramped meeting spot and tortured to exhaustion by a long-winded speaker? There’s a great rule of thumb when it comes to making speeches:  “The mind will absorb only what the butt can endure.” Too bad so many speakers have never heard of that.

“Under-promise and over-deliver,” is other guidance great speakers will  follow if they really want you to remember their message. But when was the last time a speaker promised you something you’d really like to have?? It happened once in my lifetime.

Imagine 1200 people gathered around their pricey plates of bad hotel food at yet another lengthy banquet at a three-day convention. A full slate of speakers has already coaxed and cajoled, enticed and entertained them into a coma. Enter a polished young woman who speaks from her heart and charms them back from their carb-induced stupor with a few short and refreshing remarks punctuated with authentic enthusiasm.  They applauded her as a fresh, pure face among the parade of endless reports and shameless self-promotions.

“Always leave them wanting more,” advised legendary showman Walt Disney. And she did.  She surveyed her audience from the podium, summoned her most engaging smile and concluded by saying: “I wish you many years of continued success!”

The words hung in the air. A titter swept out from the center of the crowd like a nuclear blast until the whole room exploded in laughter. I’m not sure how often any of us get blessings from speakers that are really worth the anticipation but she had generated one that night.

After a whole  year of special appearances, of meeting and greeting the media and legislators alike, and after speaking to more than 200 audiences, she had finally hit on the phrase for which she is now best remembered. She had indeed left them wanting more with just one small slip of the tongue: “I wish you many years of continued sex.”

When the dust had settled and the crowd had calmed down, she outstretched her arms and laid her head down on the lectern.  What more could she say. Nothing, as far as a the crowd was concerned, and lots of people left the room smiling that night.  And many were smiling again in the morning. Ah, the impact of a powerful thought.

The critical financial reports of the convention were quickly  forgotten and the high-powered keynote’s name was gone in an instant. But convention goers will no doubt return again in hopes that another banquet speaker will again wish them something that they really want: many years of continued sex.

It’s makes a wonderful story, I know, and you’re wondering… But it’s also a tale too tall not to be truth.  It happened as reported and I  know it– because that speaker was my 19-year-old daughter.

If summer had a theme song, it would have to be this: Are We There Yet. It doesn’t matter if you are headed to the beach for a week’s vacation, to the water park for the day or just to the ballgame for the afternoon, travel time will never pass fast enough for someone in your car. Otherwise games like punch bug would have never been invented.

My favorite are-we-there-yet memories involve an annual July migration to Wildwood Crest, NJ, for an entire week of family vacation. For many summers, that included my great-grandmother and my maternal grandparents as well. Like true pioneers, we would strategize for weeks, pack our supplies carefully and set off in a caravan before the sun was up. Our wagon was a Mercury with real fake wood-grain paneling on the sides. The back seats folded down to make room for all kinds of exciting things like rubber horseshoes, an inflatable giraffe and an aluminum jug of lemon blend.

I was an only child so my most vivid summer memories involve traveling only with adults. My own children remind me constantly that I don’t have a real handle on travel reality without having been strapped in the backseat with a sibling. Regardless, the beach trip was the one time a year I was allowed to travel as a potential human projectile and could lie down in the back on a faded blanket somewhere among the grocery boxes. The route to the beach in those days never involved any type of four-lane highway. Racing along the open stretches of Route 30 at 45 miles an hour was our honored pilgrimage.

Say what you want about embracing change or keeping life exciting by trying new things but the truth is, kids like the predictability of routine. It makes them feel more in control of their circumstances and when it comes to an important ritual like vacation, it sweetens the anticipation.

Over the years, my parents learned to minimize my are-we-there-yet inquiries by capitalizing on routine; we noted our vacation travel landmarks. The first one was only 30 miles from home. Next came the drive-in theater; I was 14 before I ever saw a movie on a giant outdoor screen so that concept was always full of intrigue. Next, we kept an eye out for the house that was shaped like a giant shoe.

By the time we had been on the road for nearly three hours (or three days, depending on who you asked), our first official stop was always for a slice of warm shoe fly pie with real whipped cream in a restaurant shaped like a giant windmill. Not only was having dessert for breakfast an unheard of treat in the 60s, the whole idea of stopping at a restaurant, period, was huge for a middle class family that had saved all year to afford seven days in the sun and sand. I always had a tough time managing to squirrel away some of my allowance money for vacation and a tougher time yet not spending part of it right out of the chute on some tourist-themed chatski from the Dutch Haven gift shop.

Route 30 took us right into Delaware where the next trip marker was a giant clock at the top of a stone tower. Delaware was a short state from a backseat traveler’s perspective and that clock was a literal symbol that enough time had passed that we would soon be entering New Jersey.

Across the state line, we kept an eye out for the giant rocking chair on top of the furniture store knowing that we would be stopping again soon to fill the car’s tank and empty our own. The first step onto a New Jersey roadside made it all real. Even the dirt was different there; it sparkled. Are we there yet always got cranked up into a frantic how much longer as soon as my feet touched that sandy NJ soil. By the time we hit the marsh areas where we could hear the gulls, I knew my real summer had begun.

I think we had a 12-year streak with that same beach trip and it never once occurred to me that a week at Heather Courts where we stayed without air conditioning or a pool or a balcony overlooking the ocean was anything other than a first class vacation. We cooked every meal in our little kitchen and Grandma Bone slept on the pull-out couch. At night we sat on folding chairs on our little slab of concrete in front of our unit and watched the cars travel along Atlantic Avenue and we were happy.

About 10 years ago my husband and I took our kids to Cape May for vacation and we made a stop in Wildwood coming home so I could take a picture. Heather Courts still stood, dwarfed then by the huge hotels built between it and the ocean. En route to the giant rocking chair, I regaled my teenagers with tales of my summer vacations without IPods, pizza or air-conditioned cars. I realized they had stopped listening long before I had stopped talking when a bump in the road snapped them both out of their snooze. The gap of generations was instantly bridged by my old music; they awoke mouthing that same summer theme song: Are we there yet?.

Posted by: deadmousediaries | July 22, 2014

Where Have All the Teaspoons Gone? – a question from Mitchell Kyd

I-know-where-my-youthWe were finally out of clean cups Wednesday so I did the dishes. I am using the same set of flatware I bought before I got married nearly four decades ago. It was a dainty little Oneida pattern with ivy garland on the burnished handles and now I have a question: where have all the teaspoons gone? Really. I started with 16; I’m down to six. That’s a 62.5 percent casualty rate.

I have a 70-year-old cast iron kitchen sink with no garbage disposal so grinding down the drain is not an option. I never sent real spoons out on picnics or trusted their safe passage in packed lunches. We also never recycled any flatware into trendy wind chimes so — what’s the answer? My mom has been a homemaker for 63 years and she still has all HER teaspoons.

I know where my own youth has gone; I have watched it settle on my hips with only a few blackout years spent in job hell or being caught up in surviving two kids in diapers. I even know where my waistline went. It’s now cowering under my mid-life tattas. But where have my teaspoons gone??? I haven’t a clue.

I raised this question at a formal dinner recently and some new thoughts emerged. The ideas included the sad truth that some spoons just get trashed along with the pudding containers where they scooped their last spoonful. Someone else pointed out that if the dog noses a bowl of cooked oatmeal under the sofa, time leads to a gruel fate as the bowl and spoon become permanently bonded and both are most likely taken directly to the trash to conceal the evidence of a lapse in housecleaning.

I also remember painting a few faces of former bosses on a teaspoon or two and tossing them into the brine of a pickle jar as I learned from that sassy little character from the movie Lilo and Stitch. But that was a long time ago (and besides, they needed to be punished).

During my search and rescue efforts to find my flatware, I did uncover six other foreign spoons, all unique, that matched nothing in my kitchen. I’m sure their original owners have stopped waiting for the phone to ring by now with a promise of their safe return.

I’ve discussed this mystery with enough people to know this is a universal problem. Now here is my proposal:

1. Take your own home inventory to see what you may be missing from your set.

2. Set aside the invasive species that don’t match your pattern and drop them in a zip lock baggie.

3. Carry this baggie with you at all times.

4. Every time you pass another kitchen sink – at a friend’s house, in the office break room, in the house that’s up for sale, drop a mismatched teaspoon on the counter.

5. When you are all out of mismatched spoons, you can take a break until the next new spoon appears in your kitchen drawer.

I really think this could work. I’m sending this directive to 150 people on my distribution list. If we all find new homes for six mismatched teaspoons and also send this note on to just 50 more friends each, we will be putting 45,906 teaspoons back into circulation. At least one of them might be mine. Please call me if you find it. (And if your face was ever in my pickle jar, I do apologize; I’m over it.)

Posted by: deadmousediaries | July 12, 2014

News from the Path Valley Hotel, Episode #44 – Full Moon Quiz

It’s almost here again- full moon! In fact, July brings us another Supermoon when the proximity of the moon’s center to the center of the Earth will make her appear even larger, brighter and more glorious. She’ll be with us for one night only, July 12, 2014. If you read my June post (Full Moon Dancing), you know this is my favorite night of the month. I’m a howler, I admit it, and I’m an enabler when it comes to encouraging others to drop their inhibitions and their skivvies to revel in the moonlight.

The July full moon is also known in folklore as the Thunder Moon, Hay Moon and Buck Moon. That’s  because it falls during a time of increased thunderstorm activity in the Northern Hemisphere, aligns with hay harvest season for farmers and corresponds with the time male deer begin to get their antlers.

The Path Valley Hotel is never at a loss for engaging things to do (i.e. cheap entertainment), so for our Saturday night pleasure,  we’re going to celebrate some ways the moon has insinuated herself into our culture and our memories. Feel free to play along at home! I’m listing 20 moon-related references and giving you the chance to excavate some answers. If you think you have them all correct, send a comment –but please wait until Sunday, July 13th. Don’t spoil the fun for the people who only draw their energy from solar power!

Ready?

1. What was the name of Karen Valentine’s/Karen Field ‘s boyfriend in all the Gidget movies?

2. Three years before Don Henley and the Eagles released their first album, another U.S. Eagle was making world history. What descriptive phrase was this Eagle also known by?

3. If your neighbors are gathered outside your bedroom window waiting to perform a shiveree, you are probably trying to celebrate what?

4. What slang name is often assigned to members of the Unification Church?

5. Named after a Roman goddess, this looks like a big green butterfly but its correct name is  …?

6. What 80′s romantic comedy starred Cher, Olympia Dukakis and Nicolas Cage?

7. Hit single Radar Love came from what 1973 U.S. album release?

8. What best-selling children’s book features a little fruit bat as the heroine?

9. What U.S. hit single includes the lyrics: “Neath the cover of October skies/And all the leaves on the trees are falling/To the sound of the breezes that blow” ?

11. Grease characters Doody, Putzie and Sonny — as well as Mel Gibson playing William Wallace in Braveheart — found this non-verbal communicator the perfect way to send a message of flagrant disrespect. It’s called…?

10. A 2012 U.S. movie release starring Shai LeBeouf showed how Forrest and the Bondurant brothers made a living –and some history– with what home-based business?

12. According to crooner Dean Martin, what’s amore?

13. She is a sister to Dweezil, Ahmet and Diva Thin Muffin. What is her name?

14. From the American classic sitcom, what was Jackie Gleason’s famous line when he was upset with his wife?

15. What southern treat is made with chocolate, graham crackers and marshmallows?

16. What Andy Williams standard was actually launched into Grammy and Academy Award status thanks to Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s?

17. What did George Baily pledge to do for Mary as they were walking home from the high school dance in It’s a Wonderful Life?

18. What native American expression is used in storytelling to describe the long passage of time?

19. In the Dennis the Menace movie. poor Mr. Wilson missed what rare occurrence after waiting 40 years for this special event when Dennis interrupted his garden soiree?

20. Beethoven named it Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor. What is its more popular name?

There you go, kids. Have fun. Or not. However you choose to spend your time, remember to look up at the sky and drink in the beautiful full moon on July 12, 2014. . She’ll be waiting for you.

One of the eternal charms of our little Path Valley Hotel is that nearly everything is authentic to a homey retreat in the woods. You could translate that as rustic. You could also say it’s old. We have our share of closet creaks, the patter of rain in places where there shouldn’t be patter and now, a screened-in porch that is more screened-out.

The carpenter bees and the June bugs have already mapped their routes into the porch with the precision of an air traffic controller. But this story is about what got off the porch.

My tiny house cat, the adorable little waif who used to drape herself across my keyboard during every writing assignment, still weighs less than five pounds but now rules the roost in terms of presumptuous bad attitude. She is in fact, the poster cat for cat haters everywhere. She never purrs and never uses her powers for good, only evil.IMAG0465

One of her annoying habits is using her ninja skills to weave her way through the dogs’ legs to finagle her way onto the back porch. I was running late for an appointment on a recent early morning and was, as my daughter often says, all outtta’ nice when the cat slithered out the back door.  Fine! You can just stay outside today, I remember thinking. I pulled out of the driveway while her little cat face was pressed up against the porch screen with a look of incredulity.

 

My daughter sent a text six hours later: Cat’s goneVisions of coyotes and red fox dining on a rack of little cat ribs put me in high gear when I got home. A sad little meow emanated from somewhere near the porch. There wasn’t any sign of her but the cry was reassuring she hadn’t yet been on the menu.

 

We couldn’t quite follow the sound; it seemed to come from every direction until one of us decided to look up. There, balanced on the spindly top branches of my hemlock tree sat my little hairball; it was clear she had no intentions of coming down on her own. The afternoon was warm and sunny so we gave up our pathetic entreaties for a while and went inside. Two hours ticked by. I went out with the treat bag, then the tuna can. I had no tricks left. I decided then it was probably best that she didn’t make a racket lest she attract unwanted attention and be turned into owl pellets by morning.

 

The next day I called my vet thinking she was would tell me that my cat would come down when she got hungry. No such reassurance. It appears that cats do sometimes get themselves into that kind of predicament with no exit strategy whatsoever. She advised me to call the fire department. Really? I thought that only happened in old 60s TV shows and first grade story books.

 

Here’s what I learned. Fire companies do get calls about this kind of thing often enough that they won’t treat you like a crazy cat lady if you call (at least not while you’re on the phone with them). I had estimated that my cat was 50 feet above ground which it turns out, is too tall for any of the fire company ladders in this end of county.

 

“It’s funny you’re calling now,” said John of the first volunteer fire company that answered my call. “We were just saying that we have never found a cat skeleton in a tree.” Well, yeah. I’m a country girl. I know why that is and there are three reasons: owls, hawks and eagles.

 

By Thursday night, we were into a second day of this catastrophe and facing the first major summer storm of the season. When the skies turned dark and the winds began to blow, her little cat calls turned into full blown caterwauling, a strident and genuine cat scream for help. I stood in the pelting rain until I started to shiver, pleading as I watched her swaying in the topmost branches. The rain continued into Friday. 

 

When I stepped outside Friday morning, I watched a hawk circling my rooftop. I was afraid to call her but she let out a little cry. I don’t know how she survived the night but by Fiday afternoon, she had stopped answering my kitty-kitty calls. I was sick. 

 

As a last attempt, I called my neighbor, a good friend and a roofer. His wife answered and Clint was instantly on his way with his 35-foot ladder. My 50-feet estimate had been pretty close; his ladder was 15 feet short. By this time, the cat had been in the tree for 48 hours. 

 

Two hours, five phone calls, two neighbors and two tree services later, Clint had managed to find a guy with a bucket truck who was willing to come up the rutted lane of the Path Valley Hotel on a Friday night to try and rescue my silly, stupid cat. I sent him up the tree with a pillow case.IMAG0450

 

His bucket towered about the Hotel roof. My neighbors and the rescuer’s wife watched with me from the ground as he plucked that tiny body from the top of the hemlock. He didn’t need the pillow case and I could only hold my breath.  As he approached the ground, he signaled Clint to jump up into the cab of the truck.  A tiny, little fur ball was returned to me, cold and hungry, but not much the worse for her adventure. I cried. (Thank you, Clint, and thank you, Daniel from Barnhart’s Tree Service!)

 

For the first night after her rescue, she attached herself to me like Velcro, purred all night and even followed me into the bathroom so she could wrap around my ankles. CpcuBy day two, she had bounced back completely, refusing any cat food that was not fresh from the can,  swatting at the dogs and crapping right beside the litter pan. It was good to have her home and safe, if only for those first 24 hours. There will be no skeleton in my hemlock tree for now. Next time? I’m not so sure.

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