Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Cold Hands of (Mouse) Death, Plus Alpha

The recent band of weather that crossed through the Midwest gave us 6 to 7.5 inches of snow, depending on the measurement location in our yard. M has been able to get to work, but my car will only drive farther than two feet in this in reverse. (I suspect it has something to do with how low the nose of my car sits.) I had the foresight to try to test how well my car would drive about an hour before I was supposed to be at the chiropractor. I backed my car out of the garage and did quite well until I tried to move forward in the snow--I made it about 6 inches and could go no further. I basically "rocked" my car all the way back into the garage, driving backward a foot or so, then driving forward in low for a few inches, then reverse, then forward, ad nauseum. I attempted to use our snow shovel to clear the snow--at least down to just a couple of inches--in our driveway and succeeded (even with M's help after he got home) in clearing out the area directly in front of my side of the garage and about 6 feet further. Only 40 more feet to go!

Then M cleared a path to the mailbox and came back to tell me that unless some miraculous thaw happened overnight, I wouldn't be going anywhere again today...the snowplows that had so graciously clear our highway had, of course, piled snow 2 to 3 times higher up at the end of our driveway. I resigned myself to my fate and wandered back into the house with M because my thighs by this time could distinguish no feeling from others except cold, even with my thermal underwear on under my jeans. (My feet were quite toasty, however, in my wool-blend socks and work boots--I really need to remember the brand of these socks and sing their praises to everyone I know. The boots, by the way, are Wolverine and cost me $30 about 7 years ago at Meijer.) After all, I discovered a couple of weeks ago that when I have freelancing work, most of the projects end up paying better than my "real" job anyway, without the time and gas costs of a commute.

So what does all of this have to do with mice or gardening, the proclaimed reason for my blog, you ask? Well, smartass, as I was shoveling snow in the drive yesterday, I apparently hit a mouse with the snow shovel. I have no idea if the mouse had been caught unexpectedly in the falling snow , had been burrowing in the snow, or had been up to some devious task, but there it had been, ostensibly minding its own business, when, CRUNCH! (or maybe THWACK!) it got bowled over by a snow shovel. I didn't even realize I had the creature in my clutches until I removed the shovel from the pile of snow I had built (using the shovel plow-style, because the snow had to be moved too far for me to "shovel" it practically).

There, when some snow toppled into the void left by the shovel being removed, the mouse also toppled. It was wriggling about, whether in cold, pain, or both, I don't know. Then, more snow fell down from the top of the pile, and the mouse was hidden from me. I didn't even think to search it out to do it in. Instead, as I "plowed" another shovelful of snow into the pile, further covering the area where the mouse had twitched, I said a quick prayer that it would die a quick, relatively painless death or somehow find its way out to warmth and comfort. I figured the latter was unlikely or that, if it were at all likely, the warmth and comfort would be found only after much pain and struggle, so I really did hope--for the mouse's sake--that Death (the one that comes to collect mice and other rodents, not the one that collects humans [see the movie Hogfather for a pictorial representation]) would appear quickly for it, riding on its sleigh or snowmobile, or whatever Death requires to get along, to help this creature find its way to the River Styx. (Which makes me wonder...does the River Styx serve a purpose for animals, too, or is it solely for human use? Did the Romans have kids ask that question, like little Christian kids ask about dogs in Heaven?)

So anyway, here I am, sitting on my couch, blogging and freelancing, covered in a couple of blankets and one cat for warmth, seriously debating whether showering for warmth will be worth it once the water starts to evaporate, while M is at work, probably nice and toasty...

By the way, in my freelancing this morning, I came upon a phrase (plus alpha) I had never heard or seen before. I asked a few of my friends if they had heard it, and the response (3 of 4--a 75% response rate) was a unanimous "no." I Googled the term and was able to find one description. Reading the description ("It is a textbook example of English being imported into Japanese as gairaigo, and subsequently losing all of its meaning to an English speaker.") made me giggle a bit, thinking of Engrish and the hopeless problems ever present in translating English to Japanese and Japanese to English. Ever wanting to encourage learning and the expansion of minds, then, I decided to share here (click the title of this entry to go to the description).

Stringham high: One more mouse is down. Inadvertently, sure, but we'll take luck over talent any day.

Stringham low: Just a few inches of snow can trap me at hour house (maybe not too much of a low....).

Stringham super-high: Snow is pretty, and with this much of it in this big a yard, you can make snow cream!

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