Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I designed/drafted the program for the memorial service. While I like what I accomplished (especially since I used one of my favorite photos from Italy), doing so was another reminder that I wished I had genuine design skills. There is so much that I cannot do and so little that I understand when it comes to using PhotoShop and PageMaker.

We did receive the company overview brochure and the individual tri-folds and the remittance envelopes that I oversaw (and designed in part) at work today. Talk about closure! I was glad to receive them, but I was overcome with worry that people wouldn't really care about them. So much of my work, my heart, my life is tied up within those pages...

Sometimes...sometimes I wish that someone would sit down and explain all the things that confuse me...or at least try...

Perhaps a third shower tonight will do the trick!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Scrabble with my best friend.


Such contentment wrapped in the agony of defeat and the joy of victory.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Great Football
My last bit of delicious Thanksgiving leftovers
Two refreshing showers

What more could a girl want?

Sunday, November 27, 2005

I have had three showers today. Ridiculous isn't it? Such pleasure to be found in water...

The Dallas Morning News is picking up the obituary I wrote about my grandmother and doing a feature on her. More facts have been shared and, sadly, more distorted truths.

I dared to ask my mother about some of what was claimed. I was invited to seek the facts myself. For example, the year her father was born cannot be disputed when the Texas Bureau of Vital Statistics holds the record of his birth. He was not 20 years older than my grandmother...only 11. Some of our family are so steeped in their "truths" that they cannot accept what might actually be true. Others are crippled by the anger and hurt buried deep within them. I, myself, am weary of trying to unravel the tangled web of perception, lies, and truth about my grandmother's life, while staving off the emotions of others. And I am saddened that I did not know the parts of her that were remarkable for perseverence and achievement, rather than the aftermath of her jealousy, fantasies, and manipulation.

Regardless of how she was with her family, my grandmother did spend twenty-seven years of her life teaching biology--rather successfully I have learned--to inner city high school students in Dallas, TX. She also repeatedly won awards to further her studies from the National Science Foundation. Perhaps the exposure in the newspaper will draw more money to the scholarship fund that we are setting up in her name. That way, at least, the good parts of her life can still live on in the futures of students who find the mysteries of science a marvel as did she.

The Irene Carneal Penry Science Scholarship Fund
4001 Walnut Hill Lane
Dallas, Texas 75229
(972) 502-7300 phone

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Well, I picked myself up off the bathroom floor a while ago.

When my brother installed the showerhead that my mother sent and turned the water on, I was not much impressed. But that was because I had not fully investigated all the wonders of this new device. Kohler definitely put a little something into this design.

It is simple, really. There are three settings that you can adjust with a simple twist of the showerhead. One is a wide spray, one is like a strong shower, and the other is like a wet massage. With all three settings, water is sent gushing down your body. I found the whole experience rather heavenly and was quite joyous at the thought that I would get to repeat it each time I step into my own shower.

As you might have guessed, I spent far too much time enjoying each of the settings, especially the massage mode. I overheated and failed to make it to the bedroom.

Though fainting is rather dangerous and I have a bump on the back of my head, I am still excited about my next shower. I will have to be ever more careful about the water temperature...but...oh, what bliss is in my future.

Friday, November 25, 2005

The arrangements for the scholarship fund begun and the service date and time set, I had my brother send notice to everyone. I finished the obituary and paid for it to run in the paper. I confirmed that all the paperwork for my grandmother's cremation has been completed. Now, the work left is her memorial service.

Phone call after phone call, word upon word, I find myself drawn into something that is even more tangled than my own emotions: the many realities of my grandmother. I have had emails of remembered passion and humor. I have read stories of sacrifice and perseverance. I have learned of many things that she was and wondered which is the truth. Or is the answer that there are as many truths as there were people in her life?

I learned that she was a switchboard operator and sales clerk and runway model and sculpture model. I have learned her likeness still stands in statues in Dallas' Fairpark. I want to go there and look for her face, if only to discover if I can see what others did in her.

I have been awash in anger and bitterness that permeates so much of the lives of her children. I heard harsh criticism of her brother when I only know him as the most gracious example of devoted love I have ever seen. People supplied their facts for her obituary and I have waded through them in wonder and disbelief. Which was her truth? Which was my mother's? Which is mine?

Still, despite this, today was a day of great accomplishment with the help of my brother. My kitchen faucet has been rebuilt, my computer updated, my HVAC filter changed, my bathroom light switch turned the correct direction, my luggage returned to the attic, and my Christmas presents purchased in Italy wrapped.

And then, much to my surprise, I had a truly wonderful meal to end the day. Is it possible to have such culinary satisfaction two days in a row? I had cheesy, tangy spinach dip with fresh tortilla chips. I had a most perfect filet mignon with bernaise sauce and a baked potato that truly defines what a baked potato should be. I had the singularly greatest bread experience of my life. I had banana pudding with fresh bananas drizzled with chocolate and caramel, served on a bed of crushed caramelized vanilla wafers. What more could a stomach want?

Thursday, November 24, 2005

I am thankful that no mice have appeared of late. I am thankful that Kashi and Madison and Fancy are such comforting company for me. I am thankful for the challenges of my job. I am thankful for the incredible love and support from my best friend. I am thankful for finally enjoying cold weather., I experienced such a beautifully loving and peaceful Thanksgiving meal. That the food was arguably the best I have ever eaten during this holiday was merely icing on the cake. A cake filled with jokes and family chatter, with comfort and a rather relaxed approach to the whole production of a holiday meal. I carved a succulent turkey so moist it literally fell apart while being moved from the pan and while attempting to slice it into servings. I tasted the most sublime sweet potato creation. I rather delightedly scarffed up a large number of spectacular deviled eggs (a definite added fillip to the day). I struggled to find room for soft, sugary monkey bread. I reveled in the opportunity to down ham next to turkey that was smothered in black pepper gravy. It was all so wonderful that I ate at least two plates too many. I shall be full until Monday.

But it could have been the meanest meal and I would not have noticed. There were no harsh words, no veiled criticisms. There were no judgments, no arguments. There was, in great quantities, laughter and love and peace. No greater gift could someone give me than this day.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Still no mice. I am hopeful.

I am glad today is over, but yet I wish that I were better at learning the lessons of today. The cat was away at work. Mice played. I was resentful and bound and determined to be highly productive. That makes me petty and small. Nothing should matter but how I respond to the responsibilities of my job.

Still...I wanted to leave early as others did so freely. I wanted to take a long afternoon nap.

I did spend four hours making dessert for tomorrow...raspberry crumb bars, lemon bars, and pecan praline bars. Sure that should be a sufficient contribution to dinner at my boss's house?

I shall be driving to my dad's, then to her house, and then back to my dad's to pick up my brother for a visit at my house. A long day on the road, but I'm fairly certain that good food shall be my reward.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I was so tired last night that I feel asleep on the couch, never made it to my bed, and thus never set the alarm. I awoke at 9:40 and managed to get to work at 10:50, with a 40 minute commute!

I am tired. I am still tired from being ill, often finding myself just trying to get through the day and working at night to make up for my lack of productivity while in the office.

I have also found myself in the middle of all the arrangements for my grandmother...the funeral home, the service, and the obituary have been added to my plate in addition to the scholarship.

I learned that she was born in San Luis Potosi, Mexico during the revolution because her mother was caught there by the fighting and couldn't return to the States. In a way, she has been in a battle ever since.

I want to write an obituary that is honest and yet pleases her brother and my mother. I want to convey what a complex woman she was, but that is not the place. I suppose I can talk about how, after being widowed, she worked full time and put herself through school to build a career to support her family. And never was there a more dedicated both science and her students.

My best friend gave me a couple of games of Scrabble tonight that proved to be a relief for me, a relief from all of this. Of course, it would have been a greater relief had I not lost both games...and in the process let me rating drop below hers!

Monday, November 21, 2005

No mice.

Dare I hope that this whole ordeal is over...that I might be ending my spree as a murderess?

I found myself working on setting up a scholarship fund in the name of my grandmother today. Doing so, during Thanksgiving week, is proving difficult since no one is in school. I spoke with the superintendent, the ward superintendent, and the principal of her old school. I believe we have arrived at a solution that does not require setting up a trust (more legal and bank fees), but I will not be able to breathe easy until next week when the financial advisor to the school returns to work and can set up the account for us.

The principal said that he wanted to support us in our grief and would look into my grandmother's file. He said he thought that he could name a science lab after her. 27 years she taught biology in a rather rough inner city school. A part of her I never knew.

This is all a bit overwhelming...

Sunday, November 20, 2005

25, two quite pregnant.

Dad and I did our breakfast/Wal-Mart thing today. Would you believe that not only did we not purchase any DVDs, we didn't even look at them? We got distracted by the Norfolk Island Pine trees and these rather cool Snicker's sports tins with zippered lids. He got a football one; I got a golf one.

Of course, I bought more mice traps.

We watched the Redskins lose (and saw the score updates of the Cowboys winning!) and ate some Snickers. We also talked about my grandmother and looked at the photographs I have been scanning as a part of a larger archival project. The graphics designer we use at work rather graciously cleaned up the photo in yesterday's post, the one that my mother would like to use in the paper and with the scholarship she plans on setting up at the high school where my grandmother taught.

We also looked at some of the photos from Italy. Dad thinks I should specifically name each photo. 1296 names! I am at least working on turning all the vertical photos so that viewers will not need to strain their necks. Needless to say, it is a long process.

Once my dad left, I went out to the yard to mow. It really should have been mowed before I left, and I have been too ill to do so since I returned. I coughed quite a bit, but I did get the job done. I elected not to rake the leaves and worked hard to mulch them into pieces as small as possible. When the mowing was completed, I spread out the crushed leaves. So much of the yard died this summer, despite the rather outrageous water bills I racked up trying to save it. I hope to put some more topsoil out this winter and build up the ground for another stab at setting out grass seed in the spring.

Strange thoughts I am having just now. Thoughts of sleeping when it is not even 6:00 in the evening! I am rather sore from the work of cleaning out the closets and exhausted from the yard I wonder what Kashi would do if I tried to go to bed now. It is times such as these that a doggie door seems like such a great idea.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Current count: 22

A friend and some of her children came over today in a great show of support. They helped me clean out my mouse closets! Certainly it was a case of laying her life down for another...

In the process, two more mice were captured and sent to their demise...but only after much screaming by the female parties in the group. Two mice escaped to freedom. More screaming ensued. At least one hole by which they had gained entry is now blocked. Mountains of mouse dirt (whoever came up with that euphamism?) were removed and absolutely no source of food remains.

As any good closet owner, I did use the opportunity of pulling everything out to evaluate if it should return. Some things were ruined. Some just had simply passed their prime with regard to importance to me. At least there is more space in both closets...ought I to be thankful to the mice for that?

During this rather unpleasant process, my brother called to tell me that my grandmother had died. Fighting back tears, we finished the work and they went home.

I have been sitting here, thinking of her. She was someone who lived more in her world than in the real one. She certainly walked her own path. She inspired her students, but she alienated her family. She was bold, but she knew no shame. She was curious, but often violated the most common boundaries. She had admirers and friends, yet none of them knew she never mothered her own children. She would make you howl with laughter and cringe with embarassment. She loved and hated with great passion. She was her own person.

My great uncle will grieve the loss of a sister he deliberately chose to love his entire life. My mother will grieve the words she never spoke, the relationship she never had. My sister will grieve the loss of another piece of our very small family. My brother will stand beside my mother in her loss. And I...I stand in a tangled web of emotions. I ache for Uncle Charlie and my mother. I cry over the grandmother who was fun when I was a child. But...I am strangely numb over the death of the woman who clashed with her granddaughter again and again, who inflicted her animus on more than on occaision, leaving a child puzzled and hurt. And... I am relieved that she will never again inflict pain on her daughter, that her daughter's burden of care for a woman who never truly loved her as a mother should is over.

I have reaped what she sowed in my mother. It was a loveless, critical crop. Still, it is only right to lay aside the hurt and bitterness for what was and was not and remember that which did bring smiles, that which did not hurt, humiliate, or weary.

She was a beautiful woman who found herself widowed at a young age. Only she knows the why of the choices she made.

Friday, November 18, 2005

I have been huddling in the green chair. Something must be moving through. The pain is near overwhelming. Ironic that the topic of Larry King Live tonight was on MS. "Be positive during those bad days" was the recurring message.

I near drove my boss crazy this afternoon, hanging out in a chair in her office for way too long...asking her questions and fretting over the blackberry I was handed today. Fretting because I claimed to be fearful of learning something totally new. But that was not why I was fretting.

I am still coughing up green stuff in the mornings. So, for the past two days, I have taken rather strong cough medicine at work, despite the side effects. To counter being drowsy, I have taken keep awake OTC stuff. So, it is understandable that I am a bit crazy. I do think it is strange that the only comments I have received at work have been queries as to whether I am contagious...not as to how I am feeling. I was in a meeting this afternoon and they all commented that my coughing was not so loud. I nearly laughed at the risk I think I am taking by using my drug combination. But what choice do I really have?

Anyway...while driving home, I was struck by the realization that I have not been thankful for having an automatic car. My commute is far easier now that I do not have to hold the clutch in while in traffic, now that I do not have to work the whole time I am driving shifting gears.

This evening, when the pain was near overwhelming while driving, I literally pulled over in tears, not from pain, but that God would provide, in His timing, not mine, a vehicle that is more comfortable to drive.

But back to the blackberry. It is the weight. My hands hurt holding it. It is not something that I could carry around very easily. I still cannot figure out the holster, though I don't really have a belt to clip the holster on to in any case. The whole thing is awkward.

It is also that such a device requires such manual dexterity. I have relied on voice dial for so long now. Dialing a phone is just plain hard. If I am not confused by the digits, then my fingers just don't seem to cooperate much of the time. I am, I must admit, ever so thankful that I can still type fairly easily. But pushing buttons...rather than tapping inexplicably more arduous for me. The blackberry serves as a straw for me.

Oh, how I need to be more positive about this new tool, eh? A great tool. A communications tool, even.

I think I did too much in Italy. Walking and climbing and walking more. Other than the rather ridiculous time I spent trying to upload yesterday's photos, I have been napping when I come home from work, falling asleep in front of the tv, going to bed far earlier than is my custom (and is comfortable for Kashi and his bladder), and hardly moving on the weekends. I have yet to make it to the grocery store. I think, perhaps, my illness has lingered because of my fatigue.

Is tonight--one of those days that just shifting my position in the green chair is near overwhelming--because I did too much in Italy? Is it the front that is moving through? Is it simply a "bad day"?

I will end this post, and this day, with a reminder of one of the most satisfying moments of our trip...the delightful discovery of this equisite collection of flora on one of the walls of an ancient Roman amphitheatre outside Florence.

Never has there been a greater craftsman that the Author of Creation. I marvel at His handiwork and cherish the moment I had standing before that wall. Even now, seeing this photo give me pause to reflect and rejoice in God, in the gifts He gives us in this life...the most precious of them being eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Oh, that I were a botonist who could identify all of this glorious collection...ferns, moss, lichen, on the photo, study the larger view, and savor the beauty with me.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

This morning I found three baby mice all lined up in a row on a trap...14, 15, and 16. I came home to another baby mouse...17.

I thought, perhaps, I would try uploading my first photo to my website...I think it is going to work.

So...while out of order, I thought I would start with a photo of the two of us in Florence. See that tall church in the distance? Well, that is the duomo, those hundreds and hundreds of steps that we climbed up for the view...

The steps were so narrow and seemingly endless. Every once and a while, a small opening would appear in the wall. While the view was spectacular, I welcomed the breeze that came through them as we walked up and up and up those stairs. To be honest, the dome stairs were the ones that gave me pause. But having trudged up four hundred or so stairs, how could I let those at the end stop me? The only truely disappointing part of the climb was to see that even here people could not resist maring this piece of history with grafitti.

On the way up and then back down, there were two places that you could rest without jamming up the climbing queque. The first is a collection of statues of early men of the church. The second was a collection of the tools the workman used to build the church. Seeing the arcane tools makes their accomplishment ever more impressive.

Of course, within the church was such beauty. Can you imagine how the dome was painted? I cannot. The view of the floor from the catwalk was impressive, but I could only take pictures through a thick wall of plexiglass. Now, tell me, if you know...after climbing up all those stairs (with more still to go), who could possibly have the energy to even lean too far over the edge of the catwalk railing? I would recommend them drilling holes every few feet for visitors could use to poke their cameras through for a better view. Still...I imagine that you will be able to admire the craftsmanship of the people who created this building.

The outside of the building was not too shabby either... if you ask me.

Hmmm...1273 photos to go!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Number 13 just took the path of no return by Kashi's food bowl...a rather successful place for mouse capture if you ask me.

Ask me...that's so depressing to write, to know that I have become adept at sending mice to rather horrible end.

Kashi does not like the mice either. He is nervous and bothered by their shrieking. The baby mice are worse than the adults. Neither of us are comfortable just now.

Last night, I dreamt that the first floor closet was filled with mice. I opened the door and scooped a dozen or so of them into the plastic grocery bags that have been my disposal method of choice. Quickly I twisted the top closed and then spun it around my head to disorient them. Finally, I slammed it against the wall to kill them. I was so spooked by seeing the teaming mice in the closet and my cold response in my dream that when Kashi's nose touched my leg I awoke, screamed, and kicked him completely off the bed. My poor puppy dog!

I came home to empty traps in the closets and beneath the kitchen sink and felt hopeful that an even dozen was going to be my number. However, ever the cynical woman, I put a sticky pad by his food (I won't leave one there while I am gone because I don't want Kashi getting caught in it due to curiosity). A while later, the shrieking began. Kashi whimpered. I sighed.

I hate this.

Would you believe that the quite costly, Kohler faucet in the kitchen that has already had parts fail on it once before started leaking? It only leaks when I use it. I suppose I ought to be thankful I was not welcomed by a flood when I came home, eh?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

6 is definitely NOT the magic number. The mouse siege continues.

The basement traps were empty again this evening, as is the one under the kitchen sink. However, I just knew that they had returned to the closet on the first floor, even though I cannot figure out what they would hope to eat there.

I put a trap on the floor of that closet and one by Kashi's food. I very quickly caught a baby mouse and another adult.

Could 8 be my number?

I doubt it! I just heard number 9 start shrieking...SIGH...

Monday, November 14, 2005

Dare I hope that 6 is the magic number?

Last night, I murdered another young mouse. I thought I heard it by Kashi's food bowl (his downstairs bowl is Cheerios), so I put down a sticky pad beneath his bowl in the exit path from beneath the antique cabinet. Suddenly, there was quite a clamor as the mouse found itself stuck half on and half off. It sure could shriek.

Today, when I arrived home from work (I am quite tired of being treated as if I am a pariah of germs there after two weeks of being ill), I rather brave ly checked all the current sticky pad locations. Nary a mouse in sight.

My relief knew no bounds.

I know it is too optimistic to think that 6 could be the number...but I desperately hope it is.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

539 most satisfactory pages later, saddened that the storytelling only lasted one day due to my literary greed, I thought perhaps I had centered enough to look downstairs.

I was wrong.

Three more mice have met their demise; two more babies and another adult. One of the babies struggled and shrieked as I moved the sticky pad trap to the trash. I wept and trembled and raged at my own weakness, as sweat trickled down my face and back.

In my own folly, I called my mother just to ask how many babies there could possibly be. BIG MISTAKE. She ridiculed my weakness and started lecturing me about why I waited five days to get mice traps. No matter that I have been sicker than I have in a long, long time. No matter that I haven't even had the energy to go the grocery store. After to listening to how I am a failure once more, I hung up and went back downstairs.

All the food I found opened and the sunflower kernel bird seed is now in the trash. I couldn't bring myself to empty out each shelf to check all the food. I just poked at it some. I also couldn't bring myself to empty off the closet shelf since it is full of pillows and scarves. I am sure there is a nest in there somewhere.

Perhaps I should launch myself into the eleven books by Robert Jordan that I need to read before delving into his latest. I have only two Mercedes Lackey books to read, but perhaps the larger task could take my mind from what I am doing to live creatures.

I cannot risk poison with Kashi. All of the containers I found had the instructions, "When dead mouse begin appearing, dispose of them properly." Dead mice appearing? I don't want to suddenly find dead mice in unexpected places, but I absolutely cannot risk Kashi eating a dead mouse. Because of his liver problem, protein is toxic to him. Protein laced with poison would most likely be deadly.

How much longer must I do this? Why couldn't the mice be intelligent enough to know that since five members of their family have met horrible ends they should cut their losses and leave whatever way they entered this place?

Why can't I be a mage with the power to spread my magic out and force them to leave without killing them so cruelly?

Sometimes, for me, fiction is far better than reality. This is definitely one of those times.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

I am weak.

Yes, I am ill and I am tired. But is it not only my health that is weak.

I absolutely cannot bring myself to look in the basement closet where the other two sticky pads are located. The mice have made a field day of my "stores" of food there. If I had any sort of strength, I would go down there and check the pads, remove the mice that are most likely there, and remove all sources of food that have been eaten through by the mice. If I were strong.

But I am weak.

I have rested on the couch all day long. I have read three more novels and am now ready to read the new book by Tamora Pierce. I have napped. I have played with the birds (Madison is up to 93 grams! That is 7 grams he has gained. Of course, Fancy has lost exactly 7 grams, but I think it is because she is setting on her eggs.). I have played with Kashi. I have done a bit of the work that I brought home from the office. I have not set one foot on the stairs to the basement.

I feel like the poorest excuse for a female. I feel like a hostage in my own home. I feel as if the trip to Italy was a mistake because I am still so tired and so sick.

I am weak.

Regardless of the time, I am going to bed because I can hardly keep my eyes open and whilst I sleep, there will be no pressure to be strong and go check those sticky pad mouse traps.

Friday, November 11, 2005

I am quite sure that I have met the limits of my resolve.

Today, I felt a smidgen better, though my chest and back and throat and head hurt more whenever I cough.

I stopped by the vet on the way into work and got Kashi's new rabies shot certificate so that I could mail in my application for his 2006 license. I also mailed my sister's birthday gift that I found in Italy, sent another gift to her husband (a wee bit late), and mailed a warranty return on a cellular headset. So, before my workday even began, I was quite productive.

Once at work, I spent the day finalizing the update to the company phone lists. I also designed a second PowerPoint template option (a small variation on the first one I did). Finally, I drafted a training PowerPoint presentation for the controller. She was pleased that I had found the time to help her and even genuinely liked the new template design because it fits well with something like her training presentation because the design is a bit understated.

Coughing so badly that three different people told me to leave, I ducked out a bit early and drove home...but not before I packed up some work to take home for the weekend!

When I got home, I chatted with a friend and then changed back into my pajamas and my robe to concentrate on getting better. Once in comfortable clothes, I gathered my nerves and checked the sticky pads I stuck in the basement pantry where the mice seem to be having a field day. They were blessedly empty. With a sigh of relief for not having to deal with mice stuck on those pads, I went to the kitchen to empty the trash.

Eek! Under the sink where I keep the trash bags was a mouse stuck on the pad. I freaked out and nearly threw up! My friend called back and I told her that there was a mouse I had to throw away. Bolstering my courage with her support, I tried to move the pad, but when I got close, the mouse moved its head! I nearly lost it!

Frantic to find someone else to remove the mouse, I tried to call my writing student's father and then my boss (her son was a strong possibility for rescue in my frenetic fantasy). The former was having a dinner party and the latter was not available.

Then...oh, egregiously friend mentioned that someone from her old job was against using sticky pads because sometimes, if just a particular body part was caught, such as a leg or a tail, the mouse would chew it off to escape.

WHY! Tell me, if you know...WHY whould she offer such an image to me? It is a testimony of how much I like her and enjoy her friendship that I managed to surpress my urge to jump in the car and drive the two hours or so to her home so that I could THROTTLE HER. You know, don't you, that I will be dreaming of finding a bloody trail from a sticky pad with a paw left behind to the dead mouse elsewhere?

Well, then I thought I heard another mouse right by the couch. My friend recommended that I put a sticky pad down on the pathway it would take to run away from me if I disturbed it. I did so without thinking and then talked with her some more, trying to make up my mind on whether or not I could deliberately provoke a mouse into getting stuck. When I hung up, I walked to the kitchen for something to drink. Some preverse part of me compelled me to look down...and there already was a mouse on the pad! Still, trying to free itself! A young adult mouse I would venture.

I screamed, cried, called her back and begged her to pick up the phone (she obviously did NOT hear my voice on the machine) and cried some more. I am weak. I am flighty. I am a helpless female. Because...I DO NOT WANT TO DEAL WITH DEAD OR DYING MICE!

After praying for help to calm down, I finally decided that I would use my cleaning towels to remove the mice and pads. I dropped a towel over the sticky pad (smothering the screams of the second mouse) and then used my back scratcher to poke the towel agaist the sticky surface not already covered by the mouse. Finally, I used some tongs to pick up the towel/mouse/pad and dump them in a waiting trash bag. Repeating the process allowed me to also successfully remove the mouse from under the sink.

It was only then that my writing student's father called. I asked him if he would have come to my rescue and he hesitated over the answer! At that point, I told him that there was only one answer: "Of course I would!" He chuckled, suggested that I try newspaper next time as a means of saving towels, and bravely noted that he would be home for the rest of the weekend.

I am exhausted...still coughing...and SICK OF MICE!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I drove to work and coughed.

I read through my emails and coughed.

I emptied out my mailbox and coughed.

I worked on updating the company phone list and coughed.

I drove home and coughed.

I should be thankful, ought I not, that at least I can finally breathe through my nose for the most part? I might even make it through this illness without having to buy stock in Puffs (I prefer the lotion kind) to offset all the money I've spent on them. My fever is broken. I am actually sleeping better.

But I still tremble and grow sweaty when I expend even the smallest amount of energy. After getting ready for work, I rested once I was in the car to gear up for the commute. After a day of being without my cough medicine (never drive while on codeine), my chest hurts, my throat is raw, and my head aches from all the coughing I did today.

I need to go to the grocery store since, in addition to being out of the country for two weeks, I have now lost most of my "spare supplies" to those dratted mice, who, by the way, practically laughed at the live traps I put out. On the way home from the airport, my father stopped for milk. When I picked up my prescriptions, I bought a few California Pizza Kitchen frozen pizzas (I know...what am I doing eating pizza?). Other than that, I have an extremely empty refrigerator and cupboards. But I am too tired. Crackers and cheese will suffice as dinner again.

So I will sit here and cough some more, dread tomorrow, and plow through another novel as I keep my eye on that stack of new books beside the couch.

NOTE: Kashi likes candy corn as much as I do.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

I rolled out of bed today and tried to get ready for work, but I was trembling and coughing before I was half-way through my morning routine. I called my boss and told her I needed another day.

So, it was back to the couch.

I did start reading one of my favorite fantasy series. You see, I have this rule that whenever I get a new book in a series, be it historical fiction, fantasy, Christian fiction, etc, I have to re-read all the books in the series before I start the new one. This time, it is only eight books. I also have the new Robert Jordan book, which means I have eleven books to read before I delve into that one. The new Mercedes Lackey book I have only has two books before it, so that will be an easy task.

The Robert Jordan book...oh, is it ever so difficult not to pick it up right now and start plowing through it. Eleven books into the series and I still have unanswered questions. He writes lengthy tomes too, at least 600 pages of rich and complex story weaving.

Since my current author writes for young adults, I managed to wade through four of the eight books. I coughed and read and read and coughed. I keep dozing because my cough medicine has codeine in it.

I am off to bed, devoutly hoping that tomorrow will bring a spate of better health since I have to return to work.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

It was all I could do to drag Kashi and Madison and Fancy to the vet today.

You see, I came home to mice in the house, fleas on my dog (he's never had them in 10 years of living), and skinny pets.

While I knew that Kashi would most likely not eat much while I was gone, I did not realize the same would be with the birds. Madison has lost a fifth of his body weight, nearly enough to kill him. At 86 grams, he is a such a wee light thing. Of course, stuffing him with food would be dangerous at this point. Fancy has lost weight, but not as much. I feel quite guilty that I was so mired in my own cold misery that I did not notice his weight loss earlier. I mean, when I lifted him to put him in the carrier the night I picked him up, it registered to me that he felt light, but I was so very tired having been up for over a day that I did not think about it until this morning when I realized that I needed to take Kashi to see the vet. I brought Fancy and Madison for a weight check. I am quite glad I did!

So, Kashi got drugged up, I dragged all of us to Target for a food scale so that I can track Madison's weight on my own, trooped over to Lowe's for mice traps, and then came back and washed all of the bedding.

By the time I was finished, I was trembling and sweating, even though my fever has finally broken.

I need to get back to work, but I cannot imagine doing so yet. Being up and about for a few hours shagged me and set me to huffing, puffing, and coughing.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Chills, fever, coughing, sneezing, stuffy head. I could easily be on a NyQuil commercial.

My bags are calling to me, begging to be unpacked. They do not know that my ears have been stopped up since Thursday.

1296 photos are asking to be sorted and renamed so that I can burn them to a CD for my friend. They do not know that I am so tired that moving from the couch to the bathroom is quite arduous.

Missing work after two weeks of vacation is not the best choice, but I fear that stronger drugs are needed to cease this illness.

At 8:01 tomorrow, I am calling the doctor!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Fever and chills. Coughing, sneezing, stuffy, and aching head.

I still need to unpack...but I do not see that happening any time soon.

I did have a rather interesting conversation with my brother today.

You see, he loved Venice and would go back and visit in a heartbeat. I found Venice to be my least favorite city. I was tired of the stairs and having the walk everywhere. I was so incredibly cold while standing in the rain on that boat, frustrated that there was no real way to catch up with my friend. And frankly elevators are NOT a bad invention.

But my brother pointed out that his fascination came with how life in the city was rather unique. From construction to deliveries, everything was different. Trash barges, milk deliveries by boat, cranes and pulleys everywhere. Life was certainly carved out in Venice and you would have to want to live there to enjoy it. Nothing is easy. Water is a constant threat to pedestrian transportation and to the structural stability of the buildings. Speedy access from one place to another is simply not possible. Patience is the greatest virtue in this city.

Listening to my brother certainly caused me to reflect further upon my own feelings about Venice.

I suppose, in part, I should admit that I was thrown for a loop when I saw all the masks everywhere...and the necklaces of beads. It was so reminiscent of the last time I was in New Orleans. I bought a mask in that city that I kept for years. Since we arrived on Halloween, people were dressed in costumes and confetti littered the streets by the evenings end. All were reminders that the New Orleans I visited may never exist again. So, perhaps, I was prejudiced against the city before I even realized elevators were a luxury not a necessity.

Food for thought...

Friday, November 04, 2005

My friend's train was delayed several hours, extending her fatigue and her painful longing to be back with her husband and daughter. She didn't roll into the Pennsylvania station until after 9:00 and home was still another drive away.

My cousin came for a quick visit before leaving on an early flight tomorrow and I relished the time with him, but I am still tired, stuffy, coughing, sneezing, and aching.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

A two-hour delay in the Venice airport resulted in a missed flight and a six-hour delay in the Paris airport.

We are tired. We had too much baggage. We are tired. If I never have another serving of yogurt it will be too soon. We are tired.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The secret itineraries tour was what I had hoped, intriguing and interesting.

I learned where the word mezzanine came from as we saw the secret floor between the second and third floor of the ducal palace. I learned that Casanova was imprisoned there. I learned of the near destruction of the exquisite painting on the ceiling below his first cell with his first attempt at "escape" and his eventual success. I walked in the attic about the grand council chamber, over 25 meters wide and 55 meters long and marveled that the immense weight of the ceiling was not supported by columns or any other conventional means, but by an architectural design that mirrored the bottom of a boat. I walked between gilded ceilings and amongst small, dank cells. I saw torture chambers and justice benches. I saw family crests that had been around for centuries and those that were made up on the spot for the purpose of display. I could easily imagine the paranoid existence of ancient Venice whilst on this tour and reveled in that glimpse of history.

In the public square outside the palace, I fed the pigeons. I have pictures of birds on my head and arms and chest, all eager to eat before I even opened the packet of food. My friend likens pigeons to rats, but I am a friend of all avian life having had Madison and Fancy join my household.

We walked back from the palace for last minute shopping, weaving our way among narrow streets with far greater ease than that of two days ago.

Of course, we walked sniffling and sneezing and coughing. We are both sick. I did not sleep much last night because of a cold that came over me (perhaps because all that time standing in the rain?) and, as with all things, shared my cold with my friend. We have so little time to sleep tonight before leaving at the wee hours of the morning to trek to the airport, I fear that we will be even more fatigued by the end of the day tomorrow than we were arriving in Rome.

Kleenex anyone?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Well, I should be on a boat tour right now. I am not.

Like a foolish tourist, I left my camera in a small bistro where I had dashed to get some food before the boat tour. We were settled in our seats at the back of the boat when I suddenly realized that I had taken my camera off to pay for the rather expensive ham sandwhich that we had to split and had not picked it up before I ran off to return to the queue for the boat.

Torn between the tour and the investment and photos of the camera, I told my friend to take the tour and I would meet her back at the hotel.

After having an asthma attack trying to quickly get back to the bistro, where I did, most thankfully, find my camera, I sat on the steps of a bridge puffing on my inhaler and trying to think rational thoughts.

Once my breathing eased, I thought I had a brilliant idea. I knew that the tour was going to Murano first, so I would just take a water bus to there and try and catch up with the tour. I felt a twinge of guilt boarding the water bus since my friend had our 3-day passes (and ALL the maps), but I reasoned that I had paid for the pass and still should have passage on the vehicle.

Well, there are direct water busses and...for lack of a better term...indirect ones. One hour later, dripping from the rain and the spray, I arrived to Murano with no hope of catching up with my friend. I had to wait nearly an hour for a water bus back, although I must admit that perhaps I could have taken one of the six that came to the platform if I could have understood Italian better.

So, I am back near our hotel, catching up on e-mail.

The tour should be over by 6:00, and, hopefully, my friend back at the hotel not more than an hour after that by the time she takes the water bus and navigates the micro streets (filled with people) of Venice.

Life in Venice is a much slower pace than Rome.

Tomorrow is a "Secret" tour of the Doge Palace. That I am not going to miss! Roaming through the armory and seeing where prisoners were tortured and then jailed would just match my current mood!

NOTE: We learned yesterday that we have to take the 5:00 bus to the airport, meaning that we will need at least an hour to check out and navigate our way to the bus station with all our luggage, which also means that we will need to be up by 3:00 to make sure we are packed and ready to go. At least that means only one and a half more nights on the slabs of stone the hotel uses for mattresses!