Mr. Peanut visit

When we moved to China we were only able to bring one dog, so sadly, Mr. Peanut had to stay. We found him a great home at our dear friends’ house just a few doors down the street. Last week I was in the US for a quick trip (just 2 working days) and I was lucky enough to see Mr. Peanut for a few minutes. He was initially very nervous when he didn’t recognize me, but once he got a good sniff he was overjoyed and very happy to see me. I really miss this guy!

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Mushroom Hunting Along the Great Allegheny Passage

Today we took a trip out to one of our super secret locations along the Great Allegheny Passage to collect some chanterelles. We found enough to have a side dish with tonight’s dinner and they were tasty.

The other super secret location that we find them is along the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail.  There were probably many more there, but it requires either a serious off road adventure in the truck or a 10 mile hike/trail run which involves several thousand feet of elevation gain. The truck adventure was attempted but the “road” was too washed out to make it down this year. We made it to both places last year and scored a huge bag full.  Since it is such an adventure to get there, there really is no point in keep their location a secret. Simply start in Ohiopyle and hike to the Ohiopyle shelters along the LHHT sometime in August.  You’ll find a few spots right along the trail, with large groups (colonies?) in the valley near the shelters. Good luck getting there, you are sure to see some beautiful scenery.

Hunting for Chanterelles reminds me of the times we went looking for them in Sweden.  They were more abundant there, but much harder to find since the leaf litter matches the mushrooms.  We were also able to find two other varieties in Sweden. I can still remember the amazing flavor of the big brain looking one. Parke and I were discussing that score during our adventure today.  Hopefully Mats found a few this year.  Looking at the photos of our last hunt in Sweden also reminded me that Marley went along on that trip and that was probably the last and best adventure we had with him.  We miss you Marley!

Heading in to see if there are any around

Heading in to see if there are any around

Got some in the bag

Got some in the bag

Out of the bag and into the pan

Out of the bag and into the pan

Very comforting…

We’re having a big thunderstorm and poor Somerset is just beside herself with fear.  I was petting her and telling her it was nothing to worry about when Eli came along to help.  He stroked her gently on the head and said, “Yes, Somerset.  It’s not a big deal.  It’s just GIANT STROKES OF LIGHTNING THAT COULD KILL YOU.”  She’s no doubt feeling much better now.

home again

Somerset is back home, resting and recovering.  It was confirmed that she had indeed not been fixed.  She is now!

Good lord it was expensive, but now that she is home it is clear why.  We were puzzled at the cost they had quoted us.  Although it was 10 years ago that we had Morgan spayed, her opertation was still much cheaper than could be explained by just inflation.  But we had forgotten that Morgan was spayed at the Cornell vet clinic, where you pay a reduced fee because the care is given by vet students.  Morgan had the misfortune of needing to be spayed in the fall, right at the start of the new term, so her operation was likely one of the first ones done by that crop of students.  Her incision, if I remember correctly, was rather large and somewhat crooked.  Somerset, on the other hand, has a very tiny and neat incision, and the kind of sutures that just fall out or dissolve away, so there’s no need to return to the vet in a few days.  Proof that you do get what you pay for, I suppose.

Somerset

The house is quiet this morning, as Somerset has been dropped off at the vet to be spayed.  It is amazing how quickly I’ve gotten used to having her about the house- she has a lot more energy than dear Morgan, who is old and sweet and spends her days asleep on our bed.  Somerset was a bit timid at first, but has warmed up to us and is slowly beginning to explore the house.  The other day, she discovered that There’s A Mouse!  In the House!  Yes. Right. There.  IN THAT ROOM.  She spent most of the day yesterday running between the (closed) door to the boy’s room and me, wherever I was in the house.  She was whining and desperate to tell me about her discovery.  Because I couldn’t have possibly realized we have a mouse, or else I would have let her in there to eat it.  Her squeaking must have caused some sort of resonance in my inner ears, because even though she is not here this morning, I swear I have heard her several times.

She went for a checkup yesterday at the vet, and they were unable to find any sort of scar from a spay surgery, so we are going on the assumption that she hasn’t been spayed.  They also weren’t very sure about her age, because it’s clear from her physical condition that she’s been through some rough times, so bad nutrition could have caused her to look older than she actually is.  She could be younger, she could be older.  We’re going to have her spayed anyway, since when we adopted her we signed some sort of paperwork saying that we would.  OR ELSE.  So it’s possible they’ll open her up this morning and find the operation has been done previously.  In which case, we will be paying in the neighborhood of 5 or 6 hundred dollars to have our previously spayed, post-menopausal dog operated on just for fun.  That’ll be a giggle, won’t it?

RIP Wormy

In other pet news….. 

You just know your day is about to take an unexpected and interesting turn when you hear the words:

“Mama, my pet earthworm is very still”

Sadly, Wormy was indeed very very still.  To the point of being, well, brittle.  So, we had an impromptu burial and graveside service in the backyard.  Eli and I shared the task of giving the eulogy.  I said something along the lines of: “Here lies Wormy.  He was a good worm.”.  Eli chimed in with: “Yes, he was a good pet.  (sigh) He was my best friend*.”  (long tragic sigh)  Then we covered him with some earth and laid a stone and some flowers on the grave.

 RIP wormy

*Theirs must have been one of those rare deep friendships that occur almost instantaneously, seeing as he had only met Wormy the day before when I unearthed him whilst digging in the vegetable garden.

Welcome to the family Somerset

Welcome home Somerset!With all of the fun and drama with Squeaky the mouse, we just couldn’t pass up an opportunity to get another pet. While we were down at the Anthill last weekend, we went to the Somerset County Humane Society and added a new dog. Somerset is about 6 years old. I think she is a mix of beagle, lab, and border collie. We don’t have any history on her, but it seems she was somebody’s pet at some point as she is house trained already.

While we were down in Confluence, we decided it was time for Squeaky’s babies to move out of the cage and into the woodpile. We talked it up for a while and Eli warmed up to the idea. A few days later after a few nights in the twenties, Parke’s dad checked on them and verified that at least two were still around. I have a feeling we are going to be finding mice throughout the basement and attic in years to come. What a grand adventure.

Family portrait without Squeaky and Dad

mouse update…

soooo….we still have baby mice, although perhaps one or two fewer than we started with. Last night when Ryan came home from work, he went in to catch a glimpse or Mr/Mrs Squeaky’s litter, but they were all buried in the nest and not visible. I warned him not to touch the nest or babies, since mice will sometimes kill babies if they have an unfamiliar smell to them. He gave me this look that, without words, still managed to clearly communicate what he was thinking, which was, “So why haven’t you touched them already, then?”. Ah, yes… that would no doubt be a solution to our baby mice problem, but I don’t think either one of us wants to be the one to touch the babies and bring about their untimely demise.

However, a short time later, Ryan was watching Squeaky cavort around the cage on a rare break from the nest, and noticed she was eating something. Something that did not at all resemble the grains and mice pellets we had had placed in her food bowl. Something pink….something with a little tiny tiny tail….ahh yes….a chunk of baby mouse. Oh the horror! Ryan, sensitive soul that he is, was completely horrified and revolted and looked quite ill for most of the rest of the evening. I was considerably less excited, having raised gerbils myself as a kid- lots and lots of gerbils, some of which survived to adulthood, and some of which met a fate quite similar to that of the baby mouse.

Well, we figured that was that, and our baby mouse problem was history. Alas- not so. This morning I discovered that some baby mice still remain. So we’re unsure what Squeaky has in mind for the pups- perhaps the litter was too large and she was culling it to a more manageable size? Perhaps the baby mouse we saw being consumed actually died on it’s own. A runt? Perhaps she had the litter early due to the stress of the move and that mouse was too premature? Or maybe she was just hungry, and feeling too lazy to cross the cage to where the food bowl is located? Hard to say…

And how is Eli taking all this? Much better than expected. And his take on things has been rather amusing. He was all sorts of excited this morning and burst into his classroom first thing to announce “Squeaky had babies!”. A little later, I overheard him tell a teacher, “She must have gotten mixed up with some boy mice”. Indeed! I think he actually was trying to explain how Squeaky had been mistaken for a boy mouse- he’s assuming that she was a girl mouse that had gotten placed in the boy mouse cage from which he picked her out (bless him for not suspecting me of switching mice on him). But still, his account works equally well to explain the litter of baby mice, don’t you think? As far as the baby-eating goes, he seems quite untroubled. Apparently when his teachers asked him about how many babies the mouse had, he answered rather matter-of-factly, “Uhh, five, but she’s already eaten one or two….”

Good times over here, folks….good times.

In case you’re wondering how my day is going……

…………..Here’s an email I just wrote to my mom’s group a few minutes ago:

From: Parke Wiegman [mailto:parkew@gmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, March 26, 2008 2:49 PM
Subject: Anyone have a snake???

Soooooo. Eli got a pet mouse for Easter. Actually, he got the equipment for a mouse from the Easter bunny, and then went last night to pick out his pet mouse. He wanted a boy mouse, and named him “Squeaky”. We got him home, put him in the cage, and discovered two problems: 1) the cage the Easter bunny brought was more of a cage for a rat, and had bars that were wide enough for Squeaky to escape from. Within his first, oh I don’t know, 5 seconds in the cage. So we put him right back into the cardboard box that he came home in. And the second problem? He smelled. SO BAD. The cage is set up in the boys room, and Ryan could smell the mouse as soon as he walked in our front door, he said the house smelled like a pet store. Awesome. Did a little googling, found out that boy mice are notoriously smelly. Way to do your research, Parke and Ryan… We talked to Eli about the smell, and suggested that maybe we could take Squeaky back to the store and get a girl mouse. No Go. He was already attached to this boy mouse. So (I am hanging my head in shame here), I went back to the pet store to get a new, made for a mouse, escape-proof cage. And brought Squeaky along to “help pick out his new home”. Yes, I admit, I took him back and exchanged him for a similar looking, slightly fatter, but much less smelly female mouse. When I got back home with the new cage and the new Squeaky, Eli asked if I had replaced his mouse, and I totally danced around the question and then changed the subject. I know, I am terrible. At least I didn’t lie to him and tell him it was the same one. Anyway, Squeaky seemed more interested in building a nest than playing last night, and most of today. He/She finally came out to explore the cage for a bit, and I noticed she was looking slimmer….then I noticed the nest was still moving, even though she was no longer in it. Yup, you guessed it…..Squeaky had himself some babies some time between last night and this afternoon. Sigh. I was totally busted, although Eli didn’t directly accuse me of switching his mouse, he is now totally aware that Squeaky isn’t a boy. And we also have the additional problem of what to do with the babies. I don’t have the heart to kill them, but we cannot keep them for long. Some might be boys and they will start smelling and making more baby mice. I wonder how long it takes for a baby mouse to reach sexual maturity? Probably about 3 hours….. So if anyone has a snake, and needs some baby mice to feed it, please feel free to have ours!!

New escape proof home, now with bonus mice!!!!