Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Culinary Possibilities

Hank the ham debuted at Christmas dinner. Luke made the most apropos comment. He said, “This is great” and then ate for twenty minutes without saying a word. So, I guess we’ll be doing country ham again. Even the very weird “glaze,” which consisted of brown sugar, pepper, and corn meal (yes, cornmeal), was delicious. After the meal was over and I was safely in the kitchen where no one could see me (after all, to be in the kitchen means you will surely get stuck washing and drying china and silver, so on one goes there on purpose), I picked glaze off the leftover ham—it was that good. And I had it all to myself.

But there are other treats to be had in the Keller home. One needs simply to be open-minded towards culinary possibilities. For example, Jezebel likes to eat caladium. I had a lovely green and red caladium plant in front of the floor-length arched window of the living room. Jez ate it. Every beautiful leaf of it. I checked to make sure it wasn’t poisonous. It’s not. It just has an acid that burns the skin, especially the tender skin of the mouth. Apparently, Jezebel doesn’t care. Must be a masochistic streak in her.

The kids jumped to her defense and explained the Jezebel just destroyed the plant in order to better see out the window so she can keep watch for the Pomeranian devil. Maybe. So, I cut her some slack on that. After all, she was trying to protect us from the foofy incarnation of faux canine evil. That held water until she decided to eat my amaryllis. The amaryllis wasn’t in her way. And it wasn’t even tempting—they were just dry bulbs that I was trying to force to bloom. But I found her gnawing on the tiny buds of leaves coming out of the bulbs.

After a severe reprimand, she looked positively repentant. Until, Sunday when I was taking a nap. She must have snuck into the room using her infamous army crawl and made a beeline to the plant. Anyway, now I have to decide whether to put the bulbs out of their misery. I think it’s clear she has a thing for plants. I can live with that to a certain extent. But there are plants, and there are orchids. And if Jezebel ever even sniffs one of my orchids…

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Hank the Ham, not the cow dog

At every holiday I try to cook something special. At Easter I make a roast leg of lamb. On Thanksgiving I cook a turkey. And on Christmas I normally cook duck. But this year we decided that duck was a little too pricy. So, I thought we’d do something regional. After all, we’ve lived in many places, and I’ve tried to learn regional cooking. When we lived near San Diego, Cal and I learned to love swordfish tacos (though it’s only recently that I found a “killer” recipe). When we lived in Little Saigon, Cal and I fell in love with lemon grass and mint. In Santa Cruz…well, vegetarian food isn’t quite our thing. Then in New England I learned how to make real New England clam chowder and Italian spaghetti (even if I learned by way of a Polish friend).

Now we’re in the South and I’ve seen all these “country hams.” So, I thought, “Hey, they’re cheaper than duck and they’re regional. Sounds like a great opportunity.” So, after researching it in the Joy of Cooking, we bought our first country ham, aka Tennessee ham or Kentucky ham. The first sign there might be a problem at home was when the children realized that it was sitting in the pantry. Ariel asked me why it didn’t need to be refrigerated. I explained that the ham had been smoked, brined, and salted. Unfortunately, that made her curious, and she found the recipes I was considering.

Her first question was: “What does this mean ‘Scrape off any mold’?!! Are you going to cook and feed us something that grows mold on the outside!?!” I explained that mold itself wasn’t the issue; she ate mold all the time when she ate cheese. In no uncertain terms, she explained that cheese was completely different and irrelevant to the discussion. I told her to trust me—I got a raised eyebrow in return.

So, for the last two days we’ve been soaking and scraping our country ham, which releases the excess salt from the meat. And every 12 hours I change the water that “Hank” is soaking in. When Ariel heard me call the ham “Hank,” she was very disturbed. I can’t imagine why—it’s not like I called him “Wilbur” or some porcine name with literary implications. But she said, “How can you name our food?” I countered, “I always call the turkey, ‘Tomas.’” Apparently, that’s different.
At any rate, Hank is now 12 hours away from his date with my cooking pot. Cal and I are salivating at every whiff of smoked pork, and Ariel walks around the house muttering imprecations and murmuring words that sound like “food poisoning.”

p.s. If you've never read Hank the Cow Dog, you absolutely must. The audio books are great, even better than the books because the author sings the most hilarious songs (my personal favorite is "When Sally Mae comes with her Broom."). I know HCD are supposed to be "little kid stories," but these audio books are listened to surreptitiously by all the teens in our home, not to mention the pre-teen. Bunnicula is also fantastic.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Cal's Second Job

I have to start by saying that I’m not a conspiracy nut. It’s not that I don’t believe that people would want to form clandestine conspiracies, it’s just that conspiracies are not in accord with human nature. The bottom line is that people aren’t secret keepers—they’re secret tellers. And even if it’s in their best interest to keep the secret, it usually gets out. If not in their lifetime, then when they die.

All that to say, I’m not looking for conspiracies under rocks. Neither do I need excitement in my life. I have three teenagers and one pre-teen—I need irenic calm (I love the word “irenic”—I had to find a way to use it). Weird words are enough excitement for me.

So, why all these caveats? Because I want you to know that I am not a neurotic writer looking for ways to spice up her life. (If I wanted that, I’d take up belly-dancing.) But, spice found me anyway. Though in a very tame way.

It all started when we got this really cool Christmas gift. It’s an Epson Artisan 800 wireless printer. You name it, and it does it. Ariel was practically drooling over it. But, we had trouble setting it up. For some reason the printer and computers couldn’t talk to one another. Of course, I called tech support, multiple times. It’s always a bad sign when the tech people start getting ornery, and then they bump you up to the next level.

Finally, I got someone intelligent. To protect the innocent, I’ll call him “Bob.” After much gnashing of teeth, Bob discovered the problem. My computer was only pretending to be connected to our router. It said it was connected to our SSID, but it wasn’t—our SSID had been co-opted and was being rerouted—to where and to whom are up for grabs. At first, I didn’t believe him, after all you’re not supposed to be able to do that. Bob got really cranky then. But after I checked IP addresses, etc., I knew he was right. The scary thing is that everything in our computers is password protected—I won’t even tell tech support what the passwords are. (I’m a bit of a nut about security since I had a nasty experience with a stalker in college.) And here’s the creepiest part, the other system our stuff is being routed through has its own encrypted password, which is not a hexadecimal system (I’ve only ever used hexadecimal.). Needless to say, Bob didn’t want to talk to me for very long.

Now, I can’t figure out why any person/government would want to hack our system. We’re not rich or powerful. Ariel came up with the simplest explanation. Back before I met Calvin, he must have worked as a spy. And now, he does occasional freelance work. This theory received even more credence when I checked all the other computers in the house—all of them had been hijacked, except…Calvin’s. We confronted him about it, and he just laughed. Personally, I hope the government pays well.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Grin and Bear It

Most children look forward to Christmas. The presents, the cookies, the candy, the presents, the school vacation, the parties, the presents. My children look forward to Christmas, but with some trepidation. Matt worries about what new embarrassing thing I will write about him that will soon be read by all the obscure relatives. But mostly, the kids dread the “Christmas photo.”

This year we tried to avoid the normal stress and had a visiting friend take the picture right after we got back from church on Sunday. However, there was an issue. Unbeknownst to the friend, there was an odd shadow across the top of my head that blended into my dark hair and made me look, well, a bit odd. I will admit that I’m a little vain, but this went well beyond vanity—I looked like a cone head!

So, we had to take another picture. I thought, “Well, we’ll just do it the next day or so. But then, Cal came down with a nasty cold, the kind that puts you in bed with the covers pulled up. When he got better, I thought, “Okay, today’s the day.” Until Luke got up with a swollen red, crusty eye. Yep, pink eye. After a couple of days of drops, Luke no longer looked like the loser in a boxing match. Finally, it’s time—but, Jacob got sick with the same vile cold. His eyes watered, and his skin took on the tone of spoiled egg white.

This wasn’t going well. It was mid December, and we still hadn’t taken our Christmas picture. It was time—no matter what. I told the kids they could wear whatever they wanted (although the shirts had to have collars). They waited while I tried to get the tripod straight and to remember how to set the auto-timer. Then, I began the photographer commentary: “Luke, put your chin down. Matt, scoot over. Jacob, smile—it looks like you’re sneering. Watch at the camera. Etc.”

Time to take the picture. I pressed the button. The kids yelled, “Hurry, Mom, it’s blinking!” I rushed over, trying to avoid bumping the tripod. Once I was unsuccessful—but it made for an interesting, albeit not Christmas-y, picture. When I did avoid smacking the tripod with my leg, there was always the challenge of squeezing in and trying to have a non-fake smile. And, don’t forget the comments of the other participants: “Oops, my eyes were closed.” “Hey, you’re making yourself look taller than me.” “My knees/back/smile is hurting.” After about ten pictures, I thought, “Okay, we’re done.” I put the data card into the computer and Ariel showed me how to get rid of red eye and so on. Finally, we all settled on a photo and I thought, “It’s over!” But, it wasn’t. One child said, “Hey, Jezebel isn’t in the picture. We need her in the picture.” My fake smile vanished completely. And before I could say, “Have you lost your mind?!,” all the children said, “We need Jezebel in the photo!”

I ground my teeth and said, “Sure, okay”…maybe it’s not the kids who hate the Christmas picture, maybe it’s me.

{Here's the picture we finally chose. (I won't even tell you about trying to get it made into Christmas cards--and how the photo machines at Sam's Club hate me and try to sabotage my cards every year. This year they tried to crop off half of Calvin's head. Thankfully, I was able to save him from the digital guillotine.)}

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Law of Averages

No, this post isn’t about math (sorry, you math-o-philia-ities)…well, it’s a little bit about math. You know how everywhere has an average rainfall for the year, well, here in Chattanooga the average yearly rainfall is 54.52 inches. Last year we had a drought and ended up way behind in rain. This year things were looking pretty dismal too. But, and here’s where the law of averages comes in, the thing about average rainfall is that sooner of later you catch up. Sadly, it seems to be happening at all once.

Last week, it rained and rained and rained some more. And that was great—plants drink in the moisture, depleted reservoirs fill, and basements flood. Yes, basements. Most houses in Chattanooga don’t have a basement, and there’s a reason. Flooding. Our basement floods, that’s why it has a drain in the corner. (It ought to be in the middle, where the lowest point is. I’d normally say that the engineer got his/her degree from an internet diploma mill, but since the house was built in 1940, I don’t suppose that will work.)

Early in the week, we suspected the basement would flood, so Calvin took the plastic bins and cardboard boxes and stacked them in nice piles. The idea was to keep everything as dry as possible. But, at some point, like a house of cards, the boxes tumbled. No one knew this until I went downstairs to put away a couple of Christmas things… Now in case you’ve never stumbled onto a scene of epic disorder, let me explain: there is a moment when you look upon the chaos and your brain tries to fit it into some kind of harmony. “Surely this can’t be a catastrophe of soaked boxes floating in a sea of mildew-y rainwater.” Of course, your brain gives up, and the reality of disaster follows closely afterward. The next thing that hits you is that the person who stacked this tragedy is currently out giving your 16 year old daughter driving lessons and will not be around anytime soon. In case you haven’t guessed, at this point you yell, “Arugh!” (After this, you call your husband and whine very loudly about your suffering. He doesn’t seem too concerned as he is instructing your daughter how to navigate a narrow ridge road without driving over the edge.)

Then you call your three sons and inform them that they will be taking their father’s place in this debacle. Now, you should be aware that the two youngest sons, who are card-carrying members of the “communist workers’ brigade,” aren’t eager to help, but they are willing, especially since they’ll be conscripted anyway. So they get assigned to wash the toys and toy bins. Apparently, they were confused and thought this entailed throwing soap bubbles at each other and spilling water on the kitchen floor. Suffice it to say, they now know it’s NOT part of the plan.

The 18 year old bears the brunt of the labor—he’s the only one strong enough to carry 30 rolls of soaked toilet paper out of the basement into the rubbish bin. He also carried out the bins of soaked books, clothes, and blankets. Unfortunately, there are no medals for meritorious service during a basement flooding. Oh, well.
Later that night, when you sit with your beloved trying to figure out how this came about, it hits you. It’s the mouse in the basement that refuses to be caught—this is his revenge for the traps. It’s going to be a long winter…

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Watch Your Back

The bummer about having a mom that blogs is that your friends end up following her blog. And they may say, “Hey, got that dog poop cleaned off your shoe yet?” Of course, that doesn’t bother Luke, Ariel, or Jacob much. But there are others…

So, we discussed pseudonyms. I told Matthew that I could refer to him as “he-who-may-not-be-named.” But that conjured ideas of Voldemort. So, we threw that out. Jacob told me he had a pseudonym all picked out for himself. He wanted to be called “Luke.” Luke, however, was not amused. Ariel doesn’t care too much that I mention her in my blog. But we sometimes have different ideas what actually occurred in a particular incident. (BTW, Ariel, you did really love the Orestia.) And Luke, he doesn’t care one way or the other—as long as his shoes are clean.

The bottom line is I think the kids should be happy to be "well-known." Maybe it’s preparing them for a famous future. Luke could be a rock star—he just needs long hair and an electric guitar. Ariel could be the dictator of a third world country—she just needs to find an available dictatorship. (Do you think Venezuela is tired of Hugo Chavez yet?) Jacob could be a movie heartthrob—he’d just need to give up his dreams of being a computer programmer. That leaves Matt. Matthew could be a famous master criminal—but I think Artemis Fowl has that already sewn up...Artemis, you better watch your back.

Monday, December 8, 2008

FLL Frenzy

If you developed a chocolate bar that was rich, sweet, deeply chocolate and had no calories at all, not only would 99% of all women pay whatever it would cost, but they would drool while doing so. A new operating system that debugged itself would send computer programmers into a drooling frenzy. And a virtual-reality helmet that worked with Wii would drive teen boys into a pool of drool. But would there be anything that would cause a drool rage among Oakridge National Laboratory scientists, Tennessee Tech University professors, engineers, and boys (and a few girls) aged 10-14? I would have said “no” just two days ago. Now I know that’s not true. There is something that makes them all giddy. It’s called First Lego League.

Several months ago, while I was fixing dinner in the kitchen, Jacob and Matt asked if they could join a robot club with their friends Andrew and David. Like the na├»ve mother I am, I said, “Sure, honey.” I imagined time spent chatting and hanging out. Then they asked about joining Lego League. Once again I pictured boys sitting around playing with Legos. Soon, I found out there would be a competition, and the team had to register. And the registration was expensive, so that looked like the end of Lego League for the boys—until the Chattanooga Engineers Society put out the money to sponsor the team. At this point, I should have “smelled the coffee.” Instead, I thought, "Isn’t that sweet."

After months of Saturday hours spent building and programming, the boys ended up knowing that “Steve,” as they affectionately named their robot, could perform important tasks like carry a polar bear to a research facility, bury carbon dioxide “balls,” construct and test a levee, bring scientists across the frozen tundra, and propel a bicycle to the research station (although what good a bike does in the Arctic is unclear to me, unless it’s supposed to provide exercise for the scientists). There were about nine other tasks too, but I don’t want to bore you.

Another step in preparation was research. Jacob would yell, “Hey, can I use your computer, I’ve got to learn about ‘urban heat islands.’” No, u.h.i. are not tanning salons or cities like Honolulu or Kingston, Jamaica. At least, not according to Jacob. Matt, on the other hand, studied the feasibility of water-powered lawnmowers. Not practical, but very cool.

So, fast-forward to this Saturday, where we had to get up at 5:30am and drive for two hours to the First Lego League State Championships. The gymnasium filled with parents (more dads than I’ve seen at any baseball game), scientists, professors, and hyper kids carrying robots, presentation props, computers (for last minute programming changes), and printers. This is the ultimate convention for geeks of all ages. So, we began the rounds. Two rounds of robot challenge (where the robot performs up to 15 tasks in 2 minutes and 30 seconds). This is followed by robot construction interviews, teamwork interviews, and team work challenges. Finally, they do their clever presentation on how to conserve energy (which they sung to the tune of the Beverly Hillbillies theme song). You had to be there—it was awesome. Unfortunately, their judge was a climatologist who was clearly miffed that Al Gore won the Nobel Prize instead of her. But, even she couldn’t resist the David/Matthew show (imagine two boys with long eyelashes, puppy dog eyes, and dimples the size of craters). The team scored high on presentation.

Finally, we were down to the third and final robot challenge (it’s now 3:55, or something like that). Andrew and Laura run the robot, and their run is amazing. Then, we wait and wait for the standings to be posted. And then, we wait some more. Finally, two other mothers and I decide it’s time to go. The kids did great, but it’s their first year (some teams have been going for seven years) and we were only 7th after round two. So, we pack up the kids and go home.
Yes, halfway home, we get “the call.” The kids took THIRD in the state championships—and we weren’t there for the awards ceremony! I will never live this down. I’ll be ninety years old, drooling on myself, and still be referred to as the-mother who-left-so-early-her-kids-didn’t-get-to-participate-in-the-awards-ceremony. Oh well, we all have to live something down...
Here is the lego team: Cyberthunder!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Walking in Someone Else's Shoes

Animals are great. They protect your house. They lick your face when you cry. They eat food you don’t want to eat—okay, they won’t eat brussels sprouts, but they will chow down on just about anything else. However, there is a downside to pets. Excretion issues. Personally, when I take the dog out, I keep my eyes on the ground. But not everyone does that.

My husband, whose thoughts are no doubt are on celestial things, frequently brings an odor with him. I say, “Euw, check your shoes.” He moans, groans, and scrubs his shoes. But, he hasn’t figured out how to avoid the problem.

However, my twelve year old has found out the best way to keep dog poop off your shoes is to wear someone else’s—particularly his 18 year old brother’s shoes. This afternoon, Matt brought the dog back into the house, held up Luke’s shoe, and said, “Hee, hee.” I looked up and said, “Oh, my!” This was seconded by Ariel and Jacob as they caught sight of Luke’s shoe. Luke, who up to this point had been engrossed in whatever food he was currently devouring, looked up. There was a moment of blank silence. Then, Luke’s face contorted into something akin to what the Cyclops must have looked like when Odysseus shoved a pike into his one eye. Luke drew in two lung-fulls worth of air and bellowed, “I will kill you!”

Matt tossed the shoe and ran. Luke yelled, “You are cleaning off that shoe!” A bit scuffling occurred until I explained to Matt that he’d better clean off Luke’s shoe. Matt took the shoe to the kitchen sink. At which point, I screamed, “Take that thing outside!”
Eventually, Matt came back complaining that his hands were completely numb—apparently they were so cold that he’d even stuck them into the fireplace to warm them and couldn’t feel the fire. The shoe, I believe, is currently “drying” outside. I haven’t asked where the other shoe is or what it looks like…I don’t want to know. In the meantime, I’m hiding my shoes!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Merry Heart

I wasn't sure when I first started this blog how it would evolve or what I would write. But, I found that I'm writing not a diary or politics or theology or philosophy. There are plenty of people who do that better than I could. Instead, I'm sharing what puts a twinkle in my eye or makes me laugh--the ironies and absurdities of real life. If you enjoy this, I'm glad you're joining me because I believe that "a merry heart doeth good like a medicine."

Quick Housekeeping Note: I'm changing the name of my blog from "Fountain Pen" to "A Merry Heart." This may change what pops up if you have my blog saved to your "favorites list." I hope it doesn't cause too many problems, otherwise I have to go whine to my favorite 16 year old computer whiz. I'll make the change in a day or two, so if/when it pops up with a new name, you'll know why.

Pomeranian Devil

(Here's a picture of Jezebel keeping watch for the Pomeranian Devil.)

Dogs are supposed to bark. That’s kind of why you get one. They are supposed to bark at burglars, so that the bad guys rob your neighbor’s house instead of yours. And our dog does that. Everyone one who walks down our street warrants a bark or a growl. Which one you get is dependant on how close you are to our property. The closer you are, the nastier the bark. But, here’s the odd thing. Jezebel saves her nastiest barks, her I-am-from-the-pit-and-I-thrive-on-living-flesh barks for the little Pomeranian dog that lives across the street. Now for those of you who don’t know what a Pomeranian is…it’s a dog that weighs about 3 to 4 pounds, and that’s after it’s just eaten. Its coat is, well, foofy. Lots of hair sticking up everywhere, so that it looks like a fluff ball floating across the pavement.

Now I ask myself, “Why does this lint ball unhinge Jezebel’s mind?” Clearly, it isn’t a threat to her, our property, or the children. Then, I figured it out. Keep in mind that Jezebel is the perfect specimen of “dogness”—the Platonic ideal come to life. Yes, yes, I know that the ideal only exists in the mind, but you get what I’m saying. Now, Jezebel understands that she is what God had in mind when he created dogs, so when she sees this Pomeranian, she knows that that “thing” cannot be a dog. And it doesn’t appear to be a cat—cats are relatively smart, and this “thing” is clearly stupid. Jez also knows that this animal can’t be a rat—it’s too foofy. Rats are sleek and fast. So, there’s only one thing left, yes, this is a beast from the pit who’s come to take advantage of poor, ignorant humans, especially old ladies. And, Jezebel is distressed to see it—she must warn the world. But, sadly, no one is listening…

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Math Redux

There must be more math people out there than I guessed, or maybe most math people just won’t admit they’re “numbers people” out loud… In either case, I got an email asking for more math entries. How come I don’t get emails asking for more interactive Kindle opportunities? Oh, well.

In any case, here’s another math entry.

When people find out that all four of our children are math-loving, that Ariel has declared math as her major in college, and that both Luke and Ariel work as tutors in the Chatt. State math lab, they come with worship in their eyes and saliva dripping from the corner of their mouths. They say, “How did you make your kids love math and do well in it?” They assume, especially since I homeschooled my children, that I have some special secret. And if I were just kind and generous, I would share it with them. But it’s not true! There is no secret; or if there is, I don’t know it. My idea of teaching math, at least at the higher level, is: “Hmmm, you’re learning trigonometric bearing. Yeah, I’m not very good at that. If you can’t figure it out from the book, ask Luke.” And then I run quickly to the safety of the kitchen.

I try to explain this to the salivating parents. “I didn’t do anything. I gave the kids lots of reading—we did lots of literature. I believe in the primacy of a broad humanities education.” Surely, they will understand that I had nothing to do with my children’s love of math.

“Lots of reading,” they repeat and their eyes sparkle with happy malevolence.

“No,” I protest. “It’s not reverse psychology!”

My daughter interrupts, “Mom, you made us read Aeschylus’ Orestia.”

“Yes,” I say, “but you loved it. You even used to snuggle up in your bed and read it on your own.”

“Okay, yeah, that’s true,” she admits.

Matthew points his finger at me. “But, you made all of us read the Epic of Gilgamesh.”

My children look at me with condemning eyes, and the parents of unsuspecting children begin plotting horrible summer reading lists, consisting of obscure Greek poets and odd epic cycles.

I just hope I don’t start getting anonymous emails, threatening me with death by means of James Joyce’s The Dubliners. Take pity on me—at least I didn’t mention the Venerable Bede or Thomas Hobbes.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Build a Better Baited Mousetrap

We have a mouse in our basement. Maybe, mice. Hopefully, mouse. First, the long-tailed vermin got into the dog food—chewed a lovely hole into a bin full of dog food. Then, once the dog food bin was removed, it chewed on the stored dining room table pad in the basement. Obviously my communist table wiper (see “Communist Car Wash”) had done only the minimum job. So, the table pad was removed to a safe place, and the traps came out.

My husband Cal worked at a pest control company when he was doing his Master’s degree in seminary, so vermin removal is his territory (or sphere of sovereignty, if you prefer). Cal bought snap traps—he eschews glue traps because they aren’t as humane and ought to be used only as a last resort.

One night he set his traps. One trap had mozzarella cheese—he’d sewed it to a trap with a needle and burgundy thread. The second trap he baited with dog food—it seemed to be a favorite of the mouse. The next day Cal went downstairs to survey the fruits of his labor. Sadly, the mozzarella had been eaten right off the trap and the thread lay in a neat pile on top of the unsnapped trap. The other trap was also unsnapped—and the dog food was no where to be seen.

Obviously, our mouse was not your ordinary run-of-the-mill Mickey. He must be more of a Milton. Or, maybe a she, a Murgatroid. In any case, Cal had a new strategy. Glue. Yes, he decided to glue the bait to the trap. First, he got out the Gorilla glue. I imagined the bait encased in a dried foam of unbreakable glue and said, “Honey, do you know how much that stuff swells as it dries?” (I have plenty of experience gluing on the arms and legs of Frodo and Aragorn and the various appendages of Uruk-hai, Treebeard and a massive cave troll.) At any rate, Calvin agreed and got out the Elmer’s wood glue. Once again, he baited the traps with cheese and Pedigree nuggets. But, our Murgatroid is a bright mouse-ette. This morning, it was as I suspected—she had smelled the glue and left well enough alone. Cal hasn’t decided what to do next. (We’ve been busy getting the last of Luke’s and Ariel’s scholarship papers delivered to the right place.) I’m sure that by tonight he’ll have figured out a new and better way to bait a trap. I think he’s considering chocolate. And if he doesn’t catch mice, he may catch a chocolate-lover or two.

P.S. Of course, there’s always the possibility that the mouse/mice are here as part of Oswald’s plan to take over the house/world.