Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Freedom Chronicles

Stuart IV gets a whiff of freedom.

Usually they move too fast to photograph, but I assure you the Stuarts are happy to be freed from their “merciful”  POW-style containment box. Stuart III was the exception, a little baby that actually went back inside the trap. Stuart IV, pictured here, departed at a somewhat leisurely pace as well.

Astonished by his good fortune, Stuart IV heads for the hills.

This is from the film strip they show mice in middle school to discourage them from taking drugs, but that effectively makes them want to take drugs.

The Rodent Relocator’s Dilemma

And don’t forget to hose it down between residents.

Once Stuart Little was gone, there was evidence of his kin thriving. I decided to break out the big guns: d-CON® Bait Pellets, “bait” being a euphemism for “murderous poison.” Only when I got to the store I came upon dCON’s version of a Havahart trap for mice. Who knew?

I lovingly placed a mini Fluffernutter®  inside, and by 3 a.m. someone was in lockdown; I sang him a lullaby and slept fitfully. Due to time constraints the next morning, I dropped him by the river courtside before a tennis match with a bunch of complete strangers, establishing myself right up front as a total nutter. When Stuart Little, Jr. was freed, he literally bounced across the grass (horribly, in the wrong direction) like a kangaroo. The point is this: he was in an absolute lather, wild-eyed, soaked in sweat and urine and Fluff, so traumatized he probably died soon after.

That evening, my housemate took this story in, weighed it, and responded with disgust at my sick cruelty:  “Just get a regular trap. They’ll never know what hit ’em.”

Sigh.

All the News Fit to Be Tied

Support your local paper.

Yahoo! has forever been my home page. Plenty of useful info used to be on there, like the news and movies nearby. But, as is common in modern tymes, Yahoo!’s look magically changed on me and I can’t switch it back.  All I see are inflammatory headlines like “Two stars step out in same pink mini!” (Mini what?)  or “Woman watched NASCAR with dead man” (She waited till the finish to call 911?  She thought he was asleep?)  Most fall into these Who Cares or I Don’t Want to Know categories, so I rarely click on the bait only to be forced to watch a Nissan commercial. But the headlines seem to…taunt…while denying access to real news. I’m fit to be tied.

For I have been falling behind on not only the Kardashians, but the exciting Cruise divorce plus actual news as well. The causes are (1) Yahoo! (2) an abundance of terrible news and (3) a lack of radio news in the car. In summer I listen to music when driving, so my news comes solely from NPR’s weekly current events quiz show, “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me.”  I know; it’s no good when you’re getting your news from a game show or the bar at Harrington House.

Part of my Summer Program this year (I, for one, diagram seasonal efforts—it’s all the advance planning I can muster) was to read The New York Times daily. Yet somehow I can barely finish the Vermont Standard and the Herald of Randolph (two papers with good news inside) while juggling The Girl Who Played With Fire, The Lotus Eaters, and 50 Shades of Grey, a reported “must-read” by the ladies at Monday night’s Nine and Dine at Montague Golf Club. But someone gave me a Times tip:  just read the op-ed page.  That’s it! My new way. Another one fer ya—I asked a scholar friend how he keeps up with the news. His covert reply: “Listen to NPR for fifteen minutes a day. You didn’t hear it here. If anyone asks you if I said this, I will deny it.” Apparently, you can cheat at current events. And I will.

In New York in the 80s, there was a well-meaning attempt at creating jobs for the homeless called Street News. This was a slender newspaper written and sold by the homeless. There were two problems:  (1) the “news” wasn’t really that interesting and (2) it was sold by crazynutters at top volume on the subway. Kindly straphangers thought, “At least they’re working!” and bought one.  But when a real newspaper columnist referred to it with sarcasm as “this important journal,” well, for me at least, that was the end. If I’m laughing that hard at something, I’m probably not going to buy it.  This important journal was, sadly, not.

Newsflash: The foppish costumes the US Olympians will wear in the opening ceremony (avec giant Ralph Lauren logo on breast) were made in China. No doubt they were made there, shipped here, tailored to the athletes, then shipped back. This galls my inner efficiency monster, but not as much the American athlete-dandies will gall the world, a world that doesn’t need to see the US strolling in once again like a bunch of privileged yachties.  Next time:  Carhartts? Don’t get me wrong. I love the Olympics.

But these are only my opinions on things newsy. I did a random sampling of visitors at Silver Lake. One woman said, “Newscasters are creating issues just so they can argue, without offering any solutions.”  A gent said, “No news is good news—just stay at the lake.” Another recommended the Anne Murray song, A Little Good News. A fourth noted, “It seems there is a lot of ‘news’ worth avoiding lately, like, an article debating whether Lady Gaga is a hermaphrodite…and pretty much anything on Mittens Romney.”

I also offer no solutions. But always one to share good news, I close with this cheery west coast response to a recent column of mine: “The positive power of reality TV does seem to be an untapped resource. My daughter’s school was the subject of a school improvement reality TV show and it did, in the end, after selling its soul many times over, receive enough money to rejuvenate a woefully antiquated auditorium and a quad that used to resemble a Dust Bowl farm.  Part of this transformation included painting the school in what appear to be IKEA flagship colors that nearly gave the math department chair cardiac arrest.”

And that’s all the good news from the bar at Harrington house, where all the women are smart, all the men are drunk, and all the children have new auditoriums. This important column comes to a close.  Good day.

Ann Aikens can be reached on Facebook (ann.aikens.7), via e-mail at uppervalleygirl@gmail.com, or Twitter at @uvgvt (http://twitter.com/uvgvt). Comments welcome.

A Better Mousetrap

Stuart Little – no brainy Algernon, he.

By some miracle Stuart got in my recycling bucket, pero no pueden salir. I can’t imagine why he went in there. Drops of beer? Maybe he had a pop.

Freed him down by the river.

I’ll miss my pet.

[Not to worry, Stuart Jr. is no doubt still on premises.]

Speaking of Rodents…

Back away from the laxative, Stuart Little.

If there’s one foodstuff you don’t want your resident mouse hacking into, it’s this.

Rodent and Small Mammal Catch and Release Program

We dropped him in a spot someone had used as a party hang–or toilet–he didn’t mind & waved us off.

My friend has  all manner of critters plaguing her home this summer. No killer, she captures them in a Havahart trap and sets them free.  I went on a chipmunk drop with her 6 miles away, over 2 rivers. This struck me as excessive, but you reportedly have to take critters over water to free them or they find their way back. (Does a chipmunk even live long enough to travel 6 miles by foot? Can it ford 1 river, much less 2?)

Or, as was the case with my own Havaharted porcupine, if the animal gets partially stuck in the trap and drags it around for many yards until it frees itself in a panic, it probably won’t come back, ever, water or no water.

I Don’t Know What’s Down There But

Skunk hole? Something bigger?

…it’s definitely coming after me and I should not be photographing its lair because it’s probably nocturnal.

“Oh, it’s just a skunk,” you say. Well, those little stinkers can be rabid and, when they are, they keep charging you even if you hit them repeatedly with a metal shovel. If you see a raccoon in broad daylight, run.

Which reminds me. My Vermont cuz and I used to play a card game called Li’l Stinker. It was basically a politically correct Old Maid game with a skunk–before PC was even invented. Just another toy manufacturer ahead of his (her? in the 60s? Doubtful!) time.

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