Monday, November 9, 2009

I Killed A Rat With A Shovel And Other Weekend Doings

But first let me start with the post about the weekend before this one.

So Romantical

We handed temporary custody of our kids over to Mark’s grandparents last Tuesday night. That was in order for us to leave at around 4:30 Wednesday morning for my day and a half of out of town business doings. Mark came along for the ride, partly because he’s semi-free after the seasonal closing of the market, partly because we had a babysitter and a really nice hotel room at corporate rates. Don’t get excited though, my time was spent either in one intense class or meeting or other, or sleeping because the mental stress was exhausting. Stupid brain. Where’s the off button on that thing? Mark lounged about on the big plushy bed and ate chicken wings from room service.
Class ended at around noon on Thursday and I was giddy with freedom. Giddy, I tell you. I’d asked for Friday off, so I was going to live the good life for the next 3 ½ days.
Lunch with my husband at a restaurant we’d never been to, on a weekday: Now that’s livin’ the good life.
Taking the long way home and coming across a family owned apple cider press where we stopped to chat with the owners, bought homemade cider and apple butter, and got some really great ideas & connections for the farm market: Score. Check out this little dude.He's the grandson of the owners. There were 3 generations there working. He was adorable.
Friday, Saturday, still no kids at home. We called at least once a day to see if they want to come home or if the grandparents are weary. We just aren’t quite sure how to feel with them out of the house.
So what were we going to do with ourselves? We could go any number of beautiful places. Just get in the car and drive. Stay wherever we wanted. Mountain resorts. Bed and Breakfasteses. We had packed extra stuff just to be prepared. Wanted to make the most of the opportunity.
Thursday night and what do we decide to do? Well, on a fair and clear moonlit night such as it was, of course we went raccoon hunting. And we parked in the wrong spot and Mark fell down umpteen times. Blamed it on “barbed wire,” our quote of the night. We freaked ourselves out listening to weird noises from the woods: owls, coyotes, gas well equipment. And we talked and laughed and seriously, you are missing out if you don’t take walks in the woods at night when the moon is full.
Friday, what joyous slackitude. Putzing around, cleaning house together, and the obligatory horseback ride to pacify me. Then, that night, the highlight of the whole long weekend, more raccoon hunting. But it wasn’t the hunting that was all that incredible, it was how overwhelmingly beautiful it was. I’ll never be able to describe it and no picture could capture it, but I will tell you that the moon was huge and nearly full. We parked along the empty country road that leads from our house to Mas’ & Pops’ house, stepped over the guardrail and into a strange land.
We crossed the grass-covered breastworks of a flood control damn in that singular bright blue light of the moon. Everything was illuminated in the otherworldly glow; I imagined a sister planet to our own where this was their daylight.
It had been very warm during the day and remnants of the warm daytime breezes alternated with cool evening breezes. Cool, warm, cool, warm. I wondered if I was imagining it, but Mark felt it, too.
We rarely needed our flashlights, even in the thick of the woods. I swore oaths to myself that I should never again fail to go walk in the woods and fields when the moon was clear and bright. That I should drag our kids out to soak in it as well. I tried to absorb as much of that beauty into my brain as I could, store it away. I wanted to remember those breezes.
And it only got prettier. We came out of the woods at the top of the large hill to find perfectly groomed paths cut for pheasant and rabbit hunting. A road in the wilderness! A thing of beauty when you’ve just blazed through 6 foot tall thorn bushes. So we strolled in the moonlight. We let the dog hunt and run. We followed the path as it led us through the woods and down to the creek.
Eventually we called last hunt when Mark had to drag Jill out of a hole in the ground, and we walked down the middle of the road in the middle of the night to the van, another simple pleasure. No cars, no houses, just the country road, wide open spaces, and the moon.
We did some other stuff on our remaining days, went out to breakfast and dinner, bought some shoes, slept in, but nothing was so restorative as our time outdoors. Thank goodness we decided to stay home for our romantic long weekend. All the fancy hotels and mountain resorts ain’t got nothin’ on our home sweet home.

This Weekend's Fun
Unseasonably (and Un-Western Pennsylvania-y) warm and sunny weather all weekend. We even had the windows open. There were big plans to insulate the attic which were promptly postponed for a less beautiful weekend.

There was porch sitting. Pleasant BSing with Aggie's friend H's parents. We watched from the porch as our girls ran to and fro, playing with the barn kittens, climbing fence gates, and talking quietly amongst themselves as the travelled about attached at the hip. It does my heart good to see kids playing outside. Love it.

H is Aggie's beloved friend and she was finally, finally able to come over and stay the night. Good times.

We headed in to town for some Mexican food. (Pretty sure I didn't cook the entire weekend!) There's something fun about having an extra child every so often. As long as they're a good sport, and H definitely is one of those. Especially when she was excited to go coon hunting after supper.

We unbelievably found enough working flashlights for everyone, loaded up into the car and headed out to another lovely hunting spot. Everyone had fun. They had foot races in the dark. The night was starry and pleasant. We laughed and had ridiculous conversations. I think H is eager to go again. In fact, after talking to H's dad, Mark said it sounded like her whole family wanted to come! Fun!

Sunday we had a date with my grandmother to take a driving tour of her old stomping grounds. She spent much of her childhood in the county south of ours, out in the country, moving from one farmhouse or log cabin to the next.

We stopped at a general store that claims to be "The Oldest Active General Store In Southwestern Pennsylvania."

We stopped at a diner for lunch. I had an egg salad sandwich and a homemade apple dumpling. :)

And I learned lots of new things about my grandmother. Mark and I also agreed, between spending this Sunday with her and when we stopped over at her house just to chat during our child free weekend it only reconfirmed, she is one good looking woman. Even without makeup, she's still a knockout. You go, Nan! Let's hope I've got those fountain of youth genes.

The kids were well-behaved in spite of being dragged along on a Sunday drive. They snacked on sunflower seeds we bought at the general store, spitting the shells out the car window. They weasled a Webkinz a piece out of Mark when we'd stopped at Cracker Barrel for breakfast. Nan and I laughed when he came stumbling back from the register, receipt in hand. He said, "They told me they were $3 dollars!" Meaning the girls, but he just misunderstood when Lily said she only needed $3 on top of the $11 in her purse. Poor guy!

But it was a very lovely time and we still got home in time for the kids to take a hike and for me to play with the horses. I saddled Admiral up and took a spin the yard. He's been a little ornery for lack of being ridden and a little bit of work did him (and me!) good. Of course I let him take a break to get a drink from the pond and blow bubbles and splash with his front legs, pawing like a dog. I love those horses! Nikki I lunged a little bit. She does not enjoy it especially, but it was good interaction. Even though she did rear up on her hind legs like Hi Ho Silver once or twice. She and I are too alike sometimes...I love those horses!

I'm going to tell you about the rat in a second, but 2 things at work that we've been enjoying lately:

My new nephew, Crosby:

He is my brother's furkid, and he comes to work everyday to see his Aunties.He is a way better insurance mascot than a gecko.

And courtesy of one of our customers, the latest catch phrase: "Do you want to see something creepy?"

It was the Monday after Halloween and she stopped in to make a payment. She asked me the above question and I balked at her digging around in her purse. She produced a photograph for my inspection that I've tried to recreate for you here:

Her picture also had a flowery sofa in the background.

So I'm looking at this photo which is quite obviously a picture of someone's out of focus hair and living room, listening to her as she pointed out pictures of a ghost face and ghost dog. Even being generous I could not muster up enough imagination to see what the hell she was talking about. So I nodded and agreed and just waited for it to be over. Good news is, we can now at random say to one other with great enthusiasm "Hey....(wait til you get the other person's attention)...'you wanna see somethin' creepy?"

And, in conclusion, I killed a rat with a shovel. It was a first for me. Killing something other than during hunting. I've never done it in all the chicken, pig, and beef harvesting we've done. Never put something down because it was ill or irreparably injured. Nothing.

But as I walked into the barn to put my saddle away I came upon one of the kittens in a face off with a rat very close to it in size. The rat was squeaking at the kitten, and the kitten was just staring with an expression something along the lines of "Ew."

I said to the kitten "Git it," but I couldn't blame the kitten for running away. I was trying to think quickly. We'd put rat bait out very recently after rats had burrowed under the barn wall, dislodging the water hydrant, and I figured this rat had to be half-poisoned to be out in the daylight like it was.

I didn't want to kill it, but I knew that I should. I considered that it would likely be dying soon anyway, but said to myself 'what if it doesn't die. what if it recovers or is just a very bold rat.' And I still had trouble. I even thought about fetching Mark from the house to do it for me but I thought it might run off. So I reminded myself that they leave disease-causing urine all over everything including the feed our animals eat, so I picked up a shovel, poked at it a few times-it squeaked and viciously attacked the shovel, and then...wham, wham, wham, wham.

Imagine my disappointment when I told Mark of my accomplishment and he didn't even ask me to tell him the story!


Becky said...

Girl! I know I always tell you this but you spoil us. This could have been a WEEK of posting!

So, I was all dreamy with your description of your moonlight rambles.

And the World's Oldest General Store.

And the rat: sounds like it had to be done. You are tough!

I have missed your posts. What's it been, like a week? Eternity.

Sara said...

The romantic weekend sounds amazing! Wonderful post!

My possum trumps your rat. ;) Good for you for having the gumption to do it.

Pictures of the horses, please! :D

Annette said...

Ha! I've done the rat thing, only I used a pitchfork. Me. The vegetarian, nonhunter-in-a-family-of-hunters. It wasn't pretty, but as you stated, it had to be done.

Wicked, disgusting little vermin.

Michele Renee said...

Better you kill it and dispose of it than it dying somewhere inside and disposing. Ewwww! Moving on now.
Girl, you don't have to tell me about the moon. Why weren't you hunting beaver since it was the full beaver moon?
Your time to regroup and debrief one-on-one sounded heavenly. Actually your words were just a soft, cloudy pillow in front of me after reading about the kids being away at grandparents for days and days.
I think I have a girl crush. And I am sure you do have the facial features to carry well into your 80's.

Sara said...

Becky, I been missin' everybody out here on the internets!

Sara, No doubt possum trumps rat! I need to remember you, and you Annette!, next time I have to do the dirty deeds. A pitchfork? Gross! ha! Now I know how you keep the husband in line ;)

Michelle Renee, I love your walk for the Sunday paper with your husband tradition. Very nice! Girl crush-hee! Likewise I'm sure!

Amy said...

That moonlit walk sounds amazing! How sweet.

Can I be Aggie's friend and come spend the night? You guys are the coolest and I promise I wouldn't be any trouble.

And the rat gives me shivers. You are THE WOMAN for taking it on. I would've totally freaked out.

Amy said...

I'm thinking you are a wee bit taken for granted when you mention that you KILLED A RAT and don't even get a story query! Like you'd said you got his fave jeans washed or something. Guess it just sez you are one remarkable woman. Which we know already.

And I am jealous BEYOND WORDS of the fresh cider. Cos I love it so and no one, NO ONE, sells it around here anymore, not after the big orchard one county north got their land sold out from under them... to developers, natch. Boo, and hoo.

What a post. Missed you!

honeypiehorse said...

Honey I killed a rat with a shovel.

That's nice dear, do you know where the remote is?


But WE'RE impressed.