Sunday, December 19, 2010

haphazard mouseketeers

living on the edge

As I was eating breakfast today, I noticed that the cats were nowhere to be seen. Usually after her morning eat-a-thon, Fatty sprawls out on the carpet and stares at me while I try to read the newspaper (at least a week old because I'm perpetually bad at reading it the day we receive it). I asked Charrow if she had seen the cats and she said, "yeah, they're both laying in the bathroom."

You might think, "oh how cute. They're having a slumber party." Do you know what I think? VERMIN. As in, a 4 to possibly 8-legged intruder has crossed the threshold, and they are hunkered down in a stakeout with an intent to maim, kill, and eat whatever they find.

I went into the bathroom and found Fatty in a crouch, staring at the cabinet that houses the 19 tubes of toothpaste I bought on amazon subscribe & save. I aimed the flashlight at the baseboard behind the cabinet and sure enough, I saw the distinct curve of a mouse tail.

My bright idea was to catch him. Charrow thought it was futile. We armed ourselves with square tupperware, barricaded the crack under the door with a towel (how awful would it be if we tried to save the mouse from imminent slaughter and then accidentally shuttled him out of the bathroom and into the cats' death pen?), and blocked the closet door.

Charrow moved the cabinet and the mouse moved with it. I saw the flash of a tail, but the mouse remained hidden in Fort Toothpaste. There was just too much surface area for him to stay under while the cabinet moved, so we didn't have any hope of catching him that way. Charrow was ready to give up the hunt, but I refused to leave it up to the cats, so I suggested we squirt him with water to flush him out. She humored me and squirted in the mouse's direction a few times, but instead of seeing a flash of gray streak across the floor, all we heard was a disgruntled squeak.

The next strategy was to lift one end of the cabinet, but then charrow would be rendered useless, and I would be responsible for catching the mouse. Neither of us thought that was a good idea, so instead, she started dramatically shifting the cabinet around. The mouse ran past her feet, around the litter box blocking the closet door, and disappeared. We thought he had somehow managed to squeeze into the miniscule crack beneath the closet door, but that seemed impossible, so charrow poked at the towel covering the escape route under bathroom door. Sure enough, the mouse was tucked into a fold of the towel. Charrow tried to get her tupperware around him, but the wily little guy managed to zip right out from under her and back to Dry Goods Manor. In a moment of weakness, I said "what did you do?!" which could have turned the expedition into a sour finger-pointing game, but Charrow took it in stride, and I realized it was ridiculous to think that I could have done a better job.

At that point, we both surveyed the futility of the situation. Large bumbling humans. Tiny, lightning fast rodent. But I couldn't bring myself to let the animal kingdom decide the winner of the game, so we kept at it. A few more nudges of the cabinet, and the mouse was back out in the open. I screamed involuntarily because this time he ran towards my side of the bathroom in an attempt to get out the door, but he got caught between the towel barricade* and an industrial sized bag of baking soda (for the litter box).

I don't know HOW she did it, but when the mouse found a way out of his corner and was headed back to the safe house, Charrow threw her tupperware over him and viola! the hunt was over. The mouse ran in frantic squares under the plastic cage, and then just sat there while Charrow slid a magazine under the tupperware to seal him in for the release portion of the expedition. We took him up the street a couple of blocks to the wooded area that divides the neighborhood road from the main Grand Army Plaza thoroughfare. Thankfully, the city that never sleeps isn't early to rise on Sundays. We didn't pass a soul in the elevator or on the street. When we got back to the apartment, Fatty was basking in the glory of the living room rug like nothing had ever happened.

*This would have been a very different story without that towel. It's a small apartment, but can you imagine trying to find a mouse the size of a lemon before two bloodthirsty hunting machines?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

say cheese


I've been scanning photos from old family albums that my grandmother let me borrow. It's interesting to see relatives that I only knew in their winter years depicted as laughing teenagers or young mothers. What I find almost as intriguing as the images themselves is the matter of who took the photos. I don't profess to know much about the technicalities of photography, but from my perspective, some of these pictures are really compelling. Maybe I'm just blinded by the grainy film and the antiquated scenery.

At any rate, today's diptych consists of two pictures that I found hilarious. I don't know who the man is taking the portrait or who took the picture of him taking the portrait (things I will find out at Christmas), but I love the story that they tell.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

don't fret my pet

what's on your stand?

There's a lot of hoopla out there about staying present and experiencing the moment and blah blah blah, but sometimes it's essential to look ahead.

When you're riding a motorcycle (or a bicycle for that matter) and you need to make a tight turn, it helps to look at where you want to go and almost like magic, the bike will follow your gaze. There's this awful exercise that they make everyone do in the motorcycle safety course that consists of making a figure eight in a very small box outlined on the pavement. The only way to execute the move is to turn your head in the direction that you need to go. If you look directly at the course the bike is taking instead of where the bike needs to go, you'll never be able to make the tight turn required to stay in the box.

The same thing goes for reading music. To stay with the tempo, you have to be able to play one note while looking at the next set of notes to see where the melody is headed. If you look at each note as you play it, you will always be behind the beat, and if you're sight reading (i.e. playing a piece of music for the first time, possibly for an audition or for your monthly hootenanny), forget it. You'll stumble all over yourself and wish you had taken up latch hooking instead of music.

It also comes in handy for instruments that have a large geography to cover. If I'm playing the guitar, and I need to get from the 3rd fret to the 7th fret, the best way for me to hit the right position is to play the 3rd fret chord while looking at the 7th fret so my hand knows where it's going (assuming you have to look when you play, which I do because I'm just not there yet). If I wait until the last second to mentally and physically transition to the next chord, it's sloppy every time.

What's my point? Well I thought I was going to be able to wrap this up neatly into a lesson-shaped package, but I'm having trouble keeping it cohesive today. So, instead of hitting "save now" and attempting to perfect this message, which we all know I will avoid like the dentist, I'm going to publish as is because it's been far too long since I've contributed to the cloud. Sometimes you have to vomit before you can get to the good stuff.