Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Happy Birthday!!!!!

So my birthday was last Thursday, and my kind coworkers decided to have a party for me and Kathryn, whose birthday was earlier in the week. Unfortunately, they forgot that I asked off for my birthday. (Crystal's Rule: If at all possible, never work on your birthday.)
I returned on Friday to stories of the eve
nt that was held part in my honor, that I had missed. Apparently a good time was had by all, and another co-worker, Matt, made an excellent "Crystal stand-in." He accepted the gifts, cake, and singing of the traditional birthday song all on my behalf. Thanks Matt. ( Oh yeah, he's wearing a "Crystal Mask.")

Speaking of has been deemed "The Ugliest Birthday Cake Ever." It was described to me as a baby shower gone bad. I think everyone's favorite part was the ketchup red and mustard yellow flowers thrown in for kicks.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day! (revisited)

The following post is taken from an e-mail I sent my mother last year. Mom promptly sent to everyone in her address book. (Really I didn't think it would be that entertaining to anyone outside the immediate family, but what the heck, I've been neglecting the blog lately. Why not?) Enjoy.
.....and call you Mom.

Last night as Bianka and I sat on our front porch a neighbor yelled across the street to me, “Happy four-legged Mother’s Day.” It struck me as odd at first, but then I thought about it. She was right I am a mom now. After all, who was it that nursed the sick little dog when she had eaten too much on a recent vacation? Who cleaned up the messes from said illness? That’s right me.

So Bianka didn’t get me flowers, or a mother’s day card. What she did give me was a headache. Throughout yesterday and today, she has been exceptionally vocal. She has barked at everything…and I mean EVERYTHING….the lawnmower, the neighbors, the neighbor’s kids, random strangers walking down the street, the dogs on the other side of the fence.

Now I had set aside the day strictly to work in the backyard. I dug, tilled, pulled weeds, planted, mowed and eventually I broke out the weed-eater. Now since Bianka decided the lawn mower was a mortal enemy, visions of dachshund mutilation went through my head, so I decided to put her in the basement while I used the weed-eater. While I was weed-eating around one of my flower beds, two garter snakes slithered out and made their way toward the stairs to my basement. I’ve suspected they’ve been living in an area around the concrete block retaining walls in the basement stairs. Once I got over the initial surprise of “Oh my God, snakes!” I noticed that they weren’t heading to their home. They were heading to mine! Now I know garter snakes are harmless, but I don’t’ want to have them as roommates.

The pair slipped down the stairs and were at the door. Bianka was standing guard by the door. The storm door was shut so I figure I was safe and they’d remain outside. NOPE! The smaller of the two slipped between the storm door and the door jam INTO MY HOUSE! (Insert your favorite expletive here.)

Bianka immediately pounced upon the intruder, grabbing it in her mouth and thrashing it as if it were her toy. I shouted out “Get ‘em Binx!” and then I turned my attention to the second snake. One snake in my house was bad enough, two would be disastrous. This snake was bigger and possibly less likely to slip in, but just in case, I grabbed a nearby brick and threw it down on the snake. I didn’t kill it but I was able to injure it. Just to me safe I hit it again. It seemed to be dead. IT wasn’t moving and its back was crushed in spots. I left the snake and went in to help Binx.

The intruder had slipped away from her and now the search was on. Bianka was actively searching. I left her to check the places she could reach. I figured the snake was just looking for a place to hide. Lord knows there are thousands of places in my basement. Thanks to Dad, the central part of the basement was clear, but he pushed most of the odds and ends in front of the shelves that line the east wall. The shelves are also full of odds and ends….snake hiding heaven. While a dozen different scenarios of snake infestation raced through my brain, I decided to start moving the various items stacked in front of my shelves to try to scare the snake out into the open. Bianka was still on guard and ready to take down the culprit. She had thoroughly checked the lower recesses and was waiting on me now.
While I’m searching I’m trying to think of ways to trap the snake. Snakes like water, is there some way to lure it out? Will it die if it is cut off from water, like the mouse I had at Christmas? I tried calling Dad, but he was unavailable. I call a friend to ask him how to catch a snake. He answers “Sick the dog on it.” Already tried that thanks.
So basically, there is nothing else to do but find the snake. So I start nudging things again in an attempt to see some movement somewhere. Then I see the snake. It had wiggled its way up the shelves, and it was sitting at eye-level in a dustpan. I grabbed the dustpan and ran outside to finish this guy off. Several hits with a brick later I was convinced that the snake was dead. I turned to the first snake corpse (the one I killed before going inot the house) so that I might dispose of the bodies, but it wasn’t’ there. Now last weekend I had found another garter snake on the back part of my yard. I had hit it with a rock a couple of times and thought I killed it. The next day it wasn’t’ there. I assumed a local cat carted the body off. Now I’m starting to think that snakes are good at playing possum.
Bianka seemed to be very interested in the door jam….not the side where the little snake slid in, but the other side. She was sniffing, and scratching, and even biting at the door jam. Upon further investigation I found that the first, injured snake had slid back behind the wood trim and slipped into the door casing. I noticed a tiny sliver of tail still sticking out. I decide to try to pull it out. Now I don’t want to touch the thing if I can help it. I tried first grabbing a hold of the thing with a clothespin. That didn’t work. So I bit the bullet and grabbed on to the tail with my bare hand and started to pull. The next thing I knew I was holding a tiny bit of snake tail, and that was it. I dropped the tail on the ground (I’m sure there was another expletive here), and I noticed the tail was still moving. Yuk!

I gave up. One dead, one probably dying in my door jam. I guess you could call it a success. I continued with my gardening. I was working in the same bed that the snakes slid out of in the first place and I noticed I was a little nervous. I spooked at a stick and flinched when the keys hanging out of my pockets brushed my leg. The final straw came when I jumped a little bit when an earthworm wiggled. I decided to take a break. Binx and I came in for dinner. I celebrated my victory over the snakes with leftover pizza and the last known beer in my fridge. Although Bianka had been driving me crazy all day, she really came through for me in the end. She helped me take down the snakes. I couldn’t have done it without her. Maybe that was her way of wishing me a happy mother’s day. I gave her a well deserved pat on the head, forgave her for all the barking and we headed out back to finish up the gardening.

You’d think the story ends here, but sadly no. Just as we enter the basement I see where I had left the heavy basement door open (but the storm door closed) a snake head coming out of a hole in the door casing. The injuries on its back indicated that it was the snake that snuck away. This time he was only about 1/3 his original length. Apparently, the section between the tail (which I pulled off) and where I had hit it with the bricks had come off somewhere in the door casing. So here we go again. Binx tried to help. I grabbed a glove and yanked the snake the rest of the way out of the hole. I took it outside and in a take no prisoners fashion beat it with a few more bricks. This time I made sure it was dead.

So I think that’s it for snakes for now, that is unless that last section of snake starts wiggling out of the hole in the casing by itself. Considering the tail was still moving while not connected to anything, it could happen. I probably should look into patching or filling in the holes around the door casings so that I don’t have any other unwanted guests.

So that was my 4-legged mother’s day. Most of the excitement was from the no-legged.