Friday, June 20, 2014

Scwewy Squirrel

This year looks like a good year for our pear tree. We planted the tree in the spring before Michaela was born so it is 23. We have had other good years but have not had the chance to enjoy them because of squirrels. Their modus operandi is to climb the tree months before the pears are ripe. They take a bite out of the pear and realize that it is not ready and drop it to the ground. By the time the pears are ready, what started as over a hundred have been reduced to single digits. Add in the fact that when they are close to ripe the birds peck holes in them which causes the remaining ones to rot prematurely. Several years ago we used a humane trap to catch the squirrels alive and caught twelve in one summer and enjoyed our pears. The squirrels were given a one-way ride to Lakewood Park located on the outskirts of town. That was then, this is now. Again we borrowed a humane trap (compliments David Newcomer). So far we have trapped a few sparrows, cardinals grackles, five squirrels and two opossums and several sprung traps with no bait. About the opossums. One morning I found the trap overturned and the bait gone. It was a small Godzilla had picked up the trap, shook the bait out and then tossed the trap aside leaving the yard with a little snack. At that point it was determined that was to take in the trap at night. Opossums are nocturnal and were trapped when I neglected my responsibilities.
When it scurried away it went into a brush pile in our yard that had a convenient opening in the bottom of it the same size as the opossum. Velda suggested burning the pile but we thought that would simply attract a crowd of former Arkansans wanting to know who was barbecuing. I can say say this because my fathers heritage is from Arkansas, I lived there for 6 1/2 years, and I have eaten "possum" at my Poppoe's (PAH-poe, nickname for my maternal grandfather) farm in southern Arkansas when I was young. Now onto the empty traps. While sitting on my back porch I saw both a grackle and a squirrel go the following scenario. The perpetrator would enter the trap. Then it would extend its neck and grab the bait from off the platform with out touching the platform which is needed to spring the trap. Next the miscreant would would BACK OUT OF THE TRAP! If it would have gone forward it would have been toast. On one occasion as I saw a squirrel in the trap going through the aforementioned procedure, so I snuck (sneaked? spellcheck doesn't like snuck, twice) up behind it and ran clapping my hands thinking it would run forward to escape me. It backed out of the trap free as a bird (dare I say grackle) and scurried away a few peanuts heavier. Am I starting to look like Elmer Fudd to anyone? In my defense I would like to say that I don't have a lisp and Bugs was not a ninja which is what I am dealing with. I was patient and continued to feed these vermin via the trap. We caught grackles because they got cocky (another bird joke?) and careless. We didn't give them the ride because when let go them see to continue flying until out of sight. Our yard has been fairly grackel-less (spellcheck) lately. The squirrels are a different matter. We would see 3 playing in the yard fairly regularly and caught them in short order. Next we saw two more regularly. We think that one of these to was the ninja. When we finally caught the fifth squirrel I saw one sitting on our swing set (#6) chatting away. We surmise that the one on the swing set is the ninja master and there must me a training or initiation going on. The master recruits novices and trains them by showing them the technique. There is practice from a distance and finally that test. The master watches the novice from the swing set and coaches them. Inevitable one will slip and the master gives final comments and returns to the ninja lodging and starts over. Now we have notice 2 squirrels again regularly in the yard. Curse you ninja master, I will get you some day! Oops I swtiched cartoons/comics. I like being referenced as Snoopy much better. He is way cooler and it was a childhood nickname of mine.
P.S. Spellcheck also doesn't like spellcheck.
P.P.S There could be a few more blogs this summer. I have more time on my hands than usual.

Time Marches On

The thought occurred to me recently that the students who were seniors my first year teaching in Cushing, OK are now 51.

Latest Checkup

Two weeks ago I had my monthly checkup with the Salina oncologist. There were not a lot of the exclamations that accompanied the last two monthly checks. The results seem to have leveled in the complete remission stage for which we are offering abundant praise to God. He is also interested in any anomalies in my general health so I shared a couple with him. I have had a cough since early March that would nearly go away, get worse and then repeat the cycle on a monthly basis. To this he said let him know if there is a fever. I also have a ache in my right side and back that also waxes and wanes in intensity. To this he first gives me a look that seem to imply A-G-E. Then he said call if I go up a flight of stairs and am out of breath. I have had neither. It has been hard to get a grasp on this age thing. Two years ago Joshua and I were working two jobs that added up to over 50 hours a week of manual labor. We also rode our bikes to work nearly everyday which was 6 miles one way. When it comes to bike riding it is about the only area that I was still superior to Joshua. I would let him lead so that I wouldn't leave him too far behind. Last summer was the bone marrow transplant. I made an acquaintance with a man who had a BMT about 8 years ago. He said that he didn't feel completely normal until one or two years later. I, of course, thought I would beat that schedule. Well I'm approaching a year later in August and I feel 60%-90% normal depending on the day. The quandary is that I am aging and I wonder is what would be normal from two years ago. I siding with the notion that the change is still to precipitous and that I have still some more strength to gain. Now Joshua lets me lead on the bike so that he doesn't leave me behind. I am only working a 15 hours a week and I sometimes am wiped out after one shift. Velda has declared that this summer will be as low an activity summer as possible so that I can focus on recovering and being ready for the next school year. Last year I started teaching on December 9th and hardly missed a day until the end of the year. After my last day I nearly slept the entire Memorial Day weekend and was barely able to move. I must have been teaching on fumes and adrenalin. I have slowly worked back to my present energy level and have recently added mowing the lawn to my activities. We are not gardening this year giving the ground its sabbatical rest. This helps keep me idle. We are working on flowers and simple landscaping around the house (plans developed for us by Dan Fiorillo) but that really is mostly done by the girls. Joshua is not motivated on working on things that cannot be eaten. I am doing a lot reading and also working on the next school year. We are giving all high school students and teachers chomebooks so I am working on making my class as paperless as possible. My kidneys are still not in the normal range so I appreciate prayer for those two little guys. Thank you.