I start this on Tuesday, November 17.
I got up during the wee hours of the morning, it was raining hard outside but rather balmy otherwise, at 64º. I fell asleep early last night because I was so exhausted from the day, for which I was also an early riser, but not because I wanted to be.
The rat trapping continues. This morning I almost stepped on a big rat, lying dead from his dose of D-Con, apparently, on the patio right where we step off the wooden landing onto the concrete. Sooooo glad I saw him in time. Finding live rats in buckets, and then figuring out a way to drown them in the bucket by setting a matching bucket that has a hole in it down into it, which keeps them from scrambling out but allows water poured in to make it's way into the bottom bucket to drown the them, was working well for awhile. Rats are pretty agile, especially when they are terrified, and I swear, they can practically fly if you're trying to dump them into water. Now THAT's not a mental picture anyone wants to carry around. But this way, they just look up at you from the bottom of the bucket when you find them there, and as long as you move back out of their sight, they don't try to get out and it's easy to fit the other bucket in.
I finally proved to Hubs' satisfaction that there is, in fact, an entry point under one of the garage doors. He worked on that today, using metal flashing. But not until after I caught six more rats in there between 2am and 6am. They were still coming even after the metal flashing was installed, but then I noticed a place in the concrete floor where the garage doors meet it when they are closed, and when he slipped some thin pieces of wood into that space, the onslaught was stopped. Caught four, I think, out on the back patio using "the bucket system", baiting with a little birdseed.
I called Employability, that's our local workshop for the developmentally disabled, today. They run a thriftshop and depend on donations of things to sell. They will take my extra mattress and box springs that is upstairs leaning against a wall, and the washing machine that I replaced with a front-loader, that is out on the driveway under the carport, so they can have everything else. The last time I had stuff to donate, Employability wouldn't take the Hide-A-Bed. They said it was too heavy for their disabled folks to lift. I used to work there and I know those disabled people aren't the ones who lift that stuff, anyway. So I gave it and everything else I had at the time to Mutual Girls' Club's Tuesday House and they were really glad to get it. But the time before that, I gave a huge bunch of clothing to Employability and everything else I had. It has begun to hit home to me that I might be becoming a hoarder. They say hoarders have a big empty place in their lives they're trying to fill, and I might fit that category. Not that most of us don't have empty places to some degree.
So Employability's truck is coming out Friday morning, and I will let them take all that garage sale stuff that's in the garage, plus the washer, plus the box springs and mattress, plus, I think, that extra sewing machine and cabinet I bought that I didn't need and can't seem to use because the instruction book is horribly vague. And then I'm going to start going through cabinets, chests and bookcases, room by room. I am not agile enough to take on an interior redecoration project, and so this will be my project for the winter.
I also have quite a few things that fall into the "collectible" category that I'm thinking of taking to some of the antique stores where the owner is in the store. Since I bought most of them at garage sales, I can probably make a little on them. Even if I can break even, at least I'll get them out of my house and I'll have my money back. If I had that money in savings it wouldn't have been making much over the last several years, what with the interest rate being so low, anyway.
There's just not much incentive for people to save money since our government hit upon the idea of shoring up the economy by lowering the interest rate, so people will borrow more money so they can buy more and get themselves in more debt. They want us to spend, spend, spend, so we can keep all these businesses alive. Seems to me that's not going to work in the long run. You know, The Law Of Supply And Demand is out of balance now. Eventually a lot of people get so they have so many debts they can't make all the payments, and then they've got all this impulsively-purchased stuff that clutters up their lives.
I was talking to a woman just yesterday who told me that she and her husband were trying to make some plans for retirement and they just really didn't know what to do. It's hard to know, these days, seems like no matter what you have, it can be taken away from you in one way or another. Normally I'd suggest going on an austerity program now, pay off all your bills one by one, including your home, and then don't buy anything you can't pay cash for. Then when you retire you don't have creditors. But if a fire, tornado, flood, earthquake or war happens, you can lose your paid-off home and cars and be lucky to get out of it with just your life and that of your loved ones. So you might then wish you hadn't worked so hard to get everything paid for. On the other hand, if you rent your home all your life, by the time you get old you've spent all this money and there's nothing to show for it except that you lived somewhere. Plus rentals keep going up and up, and many people find, when they retire, that their Social Security isn't enough to pay their rent and allow them to eat, too. If you buy a home, and nothing catastrophic happens, and you don't try to pay it off ahead of time, the amount of interest you pay is astronomical. If you are making house payments now, dig out your escrow sheet. It tells you how much of your monthly payment is going to interest and how much is being applied to the principle, which is the actual price of the home. You're going to be appalled to see how much money you actually end up paying for that house. For many years, the payment that you make is going almost entirely to interest. A lot of people don't know that, if you have an escrow sheet and know where you are on it, for maybe $100 extra you can to pay off several years of house payments and put yourself further down the road to owning your home. Hubs and I did this by paying $100 extra every month. We paid off a 30-year loan in 15 and saved $17,000. Then, when we sold that house and moved to another, we paid off our new house with what we got for our current one. To get this place, we had to sell our current residence plus a rental house we owned. We could not afford to live here if we had to make a monthly payment and pay all that interest. Interest is killer simply because, even if the rate is low, it's strung out for years and years.
Lots of people say, "Get a Financial Advisor and invest", but you have to pay for that service. You can lose everything if there's a crash or if you get a dishonest broker and there was a situation like that in Bartlesville that rocked the world of a lot of honest, hard-working, frugal people. The guy was discovered and went to prison but not until after he'd gambled away, at the local Indian casino, most of what he stole. Oh, and just don't get me started on those casinos. They draw people who can least afford to gamble. They let them win a couple of times and then they're addicted. Their marriages are ruined, their poverty increases, but they keep coming back, because they just "know" that they'll "make it all back next time and then some". Yeah, right. These casinos wouldn't be in business if money didn't flow in their direction a lot more often than the other way. Letting people win is just "priming the pump". Seems like every now and then I get in a room somewhere with some young chick who's bragging to everyone that she went to the casino last night and won. I just want to slap her. Doesn't she know they're just setting her up? It just doesn't seem like people are very smart anymore. And yes, sometimes I make money mistakes, too, mostly by buying stuff I don't really need, so I have to count myself in there. Unfortunately. I can try to justify it by saying almost everything I buy is from garage sales, and I do get some fantastic deals, but a deal is not a good deal if you don't really even need it at all. And THAT's my problem.
This is now Friday, 11/20.
We went all day yesterday without getting anything in the trap on the patio. So we moved the trap to the back of our back yard, where our firewood rack and three sheds are. I was greeted by a rat one day when I went into the shed where I keep my garden stuff. I threw a D-Con packet on the floor of each shed, and they are all gone. Hubs found two dead in the yard yesterday. We caught two last night before we went to bed. I got up early this morning and there was one in the trap. After that I accidentally let one go, because it was small and hid under the rocker mechanism, then I caught a dang bird. Sheesh. I saw two rats moving around out there and there was a big one laying behind one of the buildings dead. Death by D-Con is grisly. And that's all I'm gonna say about that.
Cathy called me last night to say she saw a huge raccoon climbing the rock wall that is around our North Fourth and coming this way. Oh. My. God. If that isn't all we need, I don't know what is. I guess I should feel glad this is not Bear Country, we'd have them tearing all our doors off.
Yesterday the winds were calm for the first time in many days. I burned trash and while I had the barrel full of fire, I burned the stalky, brushy stuff I'd accumulated from the garden. Mostly Basil and Zinnia stalks and tomato vines. There was also a pile of tree branches we'd let JR leave here because when he had Hubs take him to the dump, they wouldn't let anybody in because it was too muddy. I had most of those burned when Hubs came out and said the wind was coming up and I needed to stop. I handed the limb-cutters to him and asked him if he would finish cutting the branches to a size I could get into the burn-barrel and he did. He came in and told me he'd disturbed a rat's nest under the brush pile with two rats in it, which he had stomped on but they had both gotten away. He felt confident they'd go somewhere and die but if they're alive enough to run, I think they'll most likely survive.
That took most of the morning. After I had a shower and changed clothes, I made two batches of strawberry jam from the strawberries I'd moved from the freezer to the refrigerator the other day. Strawberry jam goes fast around here. Hubs smears it on toast to satisfy his sweet tooth because I haven't been making many pies, cakes or cookies lately. And I put a spoonful of it in my yogurt. I prefer strawberry or cherry jam for that. I find I can consume small amounts of sugar but about all I can get away with is a scant spoon of real honey in my tea and a spoon of homemade jam in my yogurt. I made chocolate pie for Hubs one day a couple of weeks ago and I had a little slice of it. I lost count of how many times I opened the refrigerator door after that, looking at that pie.
I think I mentioned before that have managed to "maintain" my weight loss during surgery recovery. They didn't want me to be trying to lose weight while recovering. I had lost two pounds during that period when I couldn't get comfortable enough to sleep, then gained that back when things got better, but I just weighed this morning (out of curiosity, but normally I try to only weigh on Monday mornings) and I've lost both those pounds plus another pound and 2/10. I've been doing pretty good this week, what with "The RockWhisperer Exercise Program" because of this rat infestation, all week. I've been to the Fitness Center with Hubs several times where I usually do the recumbent bike for a mile and then walk around the track for half a mile. Some of these bikes just have foot-shaped pedals that push forward and back rather than go in circles. I can't do the circles yet. So I think this coming Monday I'll have a nice loss to report. Still working towards a goal of 35 pounds lost by the last Monday of January. That'll run pretty close to a year. Thirty-five pounds is not a bad loss for a year since it includes time off for surgery recovery. Hell. Who am I kidding? ANY loss is good. Better than the customary ten-pound gain.
I want to thank you, Scotland Jo, for mentioning T'ai Chi in the Comments section of my last post. I went out on YouTube and found some really nice demonstrations and / or lessons. I'm impressed by how peaceful they seem. Several years ago, I saw a movie where, in one scene there was a group of people in a park, and they were doing some kind of a routine that I thought at the time was Yoga. Seems like Gary Busey was in the group. Does this make sense to anybody? I have searched and searched for some lessons on how to do that, because it was so rhythmic and flowing. Nobody had to get down on the ground to do any of the movements. HERE and HERE are a couple of those demonstrations, and if you look along the sidebar, there are many others to try.
The Employability truck came this morning. I had them load the washing machine first, then brought them in the front door and they went upstairs to the landing where the mattress and box springs were waiting, and carried them down. Once they were back out on the driveway, I opened up one of the garage doors and they carried out what was in there. I started noticing a stink in the garage yesterday, and I thought it was the little freezer I had emptied out and turned off, and left sitting there with the lid up after I'd wiped it all out. Some spray disinfectant didn't help much, and I was going to have Hubs help me move it away from the wall because I decided there might be a dead rat back there. He said he agreed that's what was probably stinking, but thought it was coming from under one of the tables that held boxed stuff. And sure enough, after the boxes were all taken away and the tables were taken down, we pulled out the tubs of driveway sealer that Hubs did not get applied to the driveway when the weather was warm enough to do so (ahem!), and there was the sunken-in body, rank as rank could be. This is the problem with D-Con. They say the rat will leave before he dies because he's seeking water but we haven't found that to be true. Also, if a hawk or an owl comes along and consumes the rat while it's out and about, D-Con can kill the bird. So much better to use a trap. And more humane if you have a tub or a vat of some kind that you can fill with water and submerge the cage with the rat still in it. That water gets really rank after you drown several rats in it, so you want to keep it outside, wear gloves and try not to touch anything you don't have to. By all means, keep kids away from it. And then you wash up after the deed's done. We've had so many to deal with, we just dump them in an old bucket after they drown, and then go bury them all at the end of each day.
Hubs has been acting kind of beleaguered lately, as if he is thinking what a champ he is for still loving me after all this crap has left our home and there's still more to go through in the house. I don't think he realized how much I had accumulated and in truth, I didn't either. And I've apologized for it. But hey, let's call a spade a spade. I don't drink, except for a glass of Mogen David, once in a blue moon. And come to think about it, I think I'm overdue for a glass of it. I don't gamble. I don't smoke. I don't have a shoe collection. I don't go to concerts, ballgames, plays or even movies or on expensive vacations. I don't have a standing appointment at the beauty shop. I'm not pointing any fingers. Most of us have our vices, that's all I'm trying to say. The thing is, now I KNOW this has got to stop. On an "up-note", the driver and his two helpers were very happy with the stuff they got today.
I was just on the Down To Earth Simple Living Forum, catching up a little, and guess what they're talking about? The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. I don't know if you can see these if you're not registered, but HERE's the link. Wal, now, ain't this timely? Amazon has the book HERE, and there are even some used books for sale there. I think I'll hold off a bit, read some YouTubes HERE, see if it might work for me. One thing that she said was that, when sorting through things, think of which things you will KEEP, and make a place for them, then discard, donate or sell what's left. I tend to do that the other way around. Not sure why that's wrong. Another thing was to sort by category and not by space. In other words, when sorting books, gather together ALL the books you have from everywhere you have them stored. I dunno. When I did that with clothes last spring (or was it last fall or winter?), I got really overwhelmed.
This is now Saturday and I will post today.
We are expecting our first hard freeze tonight. I'm ready. I've had it with the outdoors and once in awhile I've even thought about how nice it might be to live in an apartment, where somebody else does the maintenance, the vermin control, and where I wouldn't be able to accumulate so much stuff. Although I wonder if I had to live in a smaller space, would I BE one of those classic hoarders with boxes everywhere, beds and other flat surfaces piled up high, and just a pathway in each room. God help me. But I realize this is just a rough patch and Hubs and I will get back to loving where we live when things settle down.
I have not seen the raccoon or any signs of its presence. Hubs says it won't find anything to eat here and will go on. Please, God, make it so. We are not having trouble with the rats up close to the house now. But they are in the sheds and the compost bins that only contain weeds I pulled all summer long -- no kitchen scraps. But that's still too close to allow them to multiply. I need to come up with a better way to manage that compost. I love the beautiful stuff I get from it after it's decomposed for a year, in fact, I have sifted and poured into a big roll-around garbage can most of what I "made" throughout all of last year and I will be using it, after it's baked to kill seeds and insect eggs, to start my new seedlings late this winter and early spring. I'm thinking that I just need to take apart three of those fence-wire round tomato cages and join them together to make one big, round enclosure. I can put that 'way out in the far corner of the garden, or even out onto The North Fourth, for that matter. I've been reading that, under normal conditions, rats pretty much stay within 30 yards of wherever they have their nests. When conditions are ever normal, out here, is another matter. We can't kill every rat in the county. All we can do is keep them at bay. Last night I moved the trap to the back of the compost bins and during dusk to bedtime, caught one about every fifteen minutes. I lost count, but must be at least six and maybe eight. We went upstairs probably around 8 or 9pm because I was exhausted from another full day, and I moved the trap back to it's spot between the sheds. This morning there was a rat in the trap. But now it's turned cold and is sleeting. It's not supposed to get to freezing today but I thought I'd have better luck if I set the trap inside the garden shed where I've seen them running across the floor when I've slid the door open. So I did that and left the door open a crack, more for my convenience than theirs, so I can shine the flashlight out there and know when the trap is sprung without having to walk all the way out there. Another facet of The RockWhisperer Exercise Plan, I guess..... It's not dawn yet and they begin to be active at dawn and dusk. Usually pretty quiet the rest of the day, unless their nest gets found and disturbed.
This morning I sorted through my books and found quite a pile of them that I just don't really have to keep. Today I need to mop floors. We have tried to be very careful not to track in stuff, but I'm sure we have.
While I was in the garage I found a plastic bucket of powdered stuff that is concrete-based, is for indoor or outdoor use and will adhere to most surfaces without additives or primers. I think it'll be perfect to use to level out that low place on the garage floor where one of the doors meets the floor that is large enough for rats to squeeze in. They can collapse their spines like raccoons do and slip through spaces you wouldn't think they could. Hubs' thin piece of wood has stopped the flow for now but it isn't a permanent solution. I have a coffee-tub lid on the garage floor with ten pieces of dry catfood that hasn't been bothered now in about three days. But I think if we leveled this low spot out with some concrete stuff it would be more durable. So I'd like to work on that today, too. But for now, it's 6:49 and dawn is beginning. Time to start paying attention to the trap. I ordered another from Amazon HERE. It should be arriving soon. Maybe in time to put right into service. Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun. Heh.
We will soldier on. Hope you will, too, whatever is going on in your life right now. Hugs xoxoxo