Saturday, August 2, 2014

Enjoying Small Pleasures; Avoiding Stress

Sorry I have been inconsistent in writing.  Life has been busy and I'm not quite sure why or how.  It's not like there's one particular thing I can say has been consuming my time.  It's a bunch of little things.

Work is nuts.  We've had several people retire over the past month and now I find myself doing four different jobs all at once.  The good news is that the days definitely are full and busy.  The down side is that there are lots of "problems" and it gets stressful.  So the work week just disappears since by the time I get home, I have dinner, do dishes, and get ready for the next workday.  This means Monday-Friday disappear way too quickly.  I am doing a good job at finding that life/work balance even if it means I leave work at the end of the day with a pile on my desk and way too many emails in my inbox.  I also work very hard at managing how I use my time on week nights.  I have learned that if I'm out after work for more than 2-3 nights each week, I get very stressed.  I have learned that I need to be home; need to have evenings where I can move at a slower pace and chip away at some of the things on my to do list so it is not all saved for the weekends.  I'm learning...

I have enjoyed the summer in terms of enjoying the yard.  I've learning about perennials and how I need to be a bit more ruthless in controlling where and what grows.  My garden is growing and I've enjoyed cucumbers and zucchini and the tomatoes are just coming in.  I'm excited because I'm growing acorn squash this year which I love--can't wait for that!  I've put up a second hummingbird feeder and it's a weekly event to make more nectar for them.  They definitely prefer my sugar/water mix than that red stuff from the store!  I think the chipmunk is enjoying it as well since some days we go through it pretty quickly.

I'm learning to grill which is impressive both because I have a general hesitation about gas grills (since we had the gas grill fire many years ago) and I know little about grilling.  But I'm learning--sometimes things get charbroiled, but sometimes they also turn out great.

I've found a quiet pleasure in sitting on the deck, having dinner (yes, alone), watching the birds, seeing the groundhog or the bunnies, and just enjoying the sunny, fresh air and the gardens and the yard.  When my mind goes there and the realization sets in, I do hate the fact that I'm setting a place for one at the table and I hate that I'm alone and I miss Ed and I also get pissed that he is not here with me.  And I feel like I'm playing a pretend game--pretend I can function on my own, pretend that I'm finding comfort in simple, quiet moments.  But then I realize I can't pretend because this is my life.  And then all the overwhelming questions creep up about what is my life, who am I, and is this how I want and am going to life the rest of my life?

But then I go back to enjoying the hummingbird who just arrived at the feeder, because that is simple and the rest is too overwhelming.  And I remind myself "one day at a time", one moment of pleasure at a time.  Keep it simple.

One of the hummingbirds at the feeder.

My Garden

Will have an abundance of tomatoes once these ripen.

One of the acorn squash.

Zucchini!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

BatWoman

I hate bats!
But I guess I need to begin to expect a visit from them annually now because, once again, they decided to pay me a visit this year.  That's three years in a row.

As some background, we've always had bats outside.  I remember when Dan was small we would hear them squeaking outside the bedroom window.  Ed and Dan would also watch them from the pool when they went swimming at night.  So bats have been around outside for years.

Two years ago, one got in the basement.  It was the year that Dan was home after graduating college.  Ed was downstairs watching something on TV (it's a finished basement) and he came running up the stairs and yelling that there was a bat downstairs.  So the three of us, Dan in his protective gear, all headed downstairs to try to get this bat. I won't share details here, but we got rid of the bat.  And as I think back to that evening, I laugh because I'm sure we were quite a sight.  A week or two later, one ended up in our bedroom at night.  We never found it (the house got a thorough search and cleaning the next day) and we never found or saw the bat again.

Then last year, at the same time of year, two bats ended up in the house.  Now, let me remind you that this was 3 months after Ed passed.  So I was in the house alone, freaking out and needing to deal with this myself.  Thankfully they flew onto the three season porch where I was able to close the door and then I opened the outside door and they eventually left.

After last year's event, I called a wildlife specialist to come check the house.  He found no bats roosting and the only explanation he could come up with is they came in because I left an unscreened window open in the attached garage.  So they got into the garage and eventually onto the enclosed porch.  It made logical sense.  So I followed his advise and made sure I had screens on all windows and also put a cap on my chimney.  Those were the only possible entry points he could find. I figured I was now safe.

Then, this year, again, the same week of the year, I hear bats outside my bedroom window.  They are behind the shutter.  I'm not sleeping well because I hear them all night.  I eventually smarten up and close the window so I can't hear them.  I've convinced myself that the windows are screened, they won't come in, and it's just me hearing them that is bothering me.  I call my wildlife specialist ("Matt") though (yes, he's on speed dial now) and talk to him.  He reassures me there is nothing to worry about.  Behind the shutter is fine, yadda, yadda.  (Yes, he knows all the right things to say to me to calm me down.)

So that evening I get brave and as dusk arrives, I go outside to watch the bats come out from behind the shutter.  Yup, they are certainly bats and I count at least a dozen them.  Again, Matt reassures me that a dozen is not unusual.  So I keep my bedroom window closed at night for my own comfort.

The next morning, I get up and go through my usual routine--have a cup of coffee, read the paper, check my email and get ready to go downstairs to hit the treadmill.  As I'm putting the newspaper away in the living room, there it is.  A dark object on the white curtain--a bat.  Damn!

I remind myself the bat does not want to be in the house as much as I don't want him to be there.  I open the back door--they will sense cool air and move towards it.  He's not moving.  Okay, because I hope he doesn't move--I know they freak me out more when they are flying.  I could call Matt and he can come get it, but it's 7 AM and he doesn't "open" til 8 AM.  I've done a LOT of reading about bats and what to do if one gets in the house.

So I get a tupperware bowl and I don't have a piece of cardboard handy so I grab a small plexi cutting board.  The idea is to put the bowl over the bat, slide the plexi under the bowl and, tada!, you've caught a bat!  So I stand on the couch, then step over to stand onto the end table (it's hanging at the top of the curtain) and I pray that he doesn't move.  Prayer granted--I get the bowl on top of him, slide the plexi behind the curtain and slide both the bowl and plexi downward to slide the bat off the curtain.  I am glad I selected a semi-transparent bowl because I can see into it and can keep my eye on the bat.  Now what I've read is that I should wait and release him at night.  Yeah, right.  I don't think so.  I carry him outside and toss him over the railing.  He lands on the ground and I run into the house!

I did it!!  I'm so proud of myself.  I remained calm and took care of it.  All by myself.
And then I call my mother and burst into tears and cry about why me!!

I pull myself together.  I go outside and the bat is gone.  Now I'm wondering where it went, but I go about getting ready for work.  I listen for the bats outside my bedroom window.  I rap on the wall which usually causes them to stir and I hear nothing.  I call Matt again.  He says all the right things again and that, yes, it is possible they are no longer behind the shutter and advises that I recheck around the air conditioners because bats can get through a space as small as a pencil eraser.

That evening after work, I tape up every tiny hole around the air conditioners and gas insert in the fireplace.  So if you come to visit me and you see blue painters tape around these things, you'll know why!

To date, the bats have not returned to behind the shutter and I've gone over a week without another one in the house.  So I'm hoping they are gone for this season.  And next year, in addition to screens in all windows, I'll be sure every tiny hole around the air conditioners and gas insert is filled.  And I may invest in hanging a bat house--away from my house.  And don't think I haven't thought about removing my shutters as well!!

Oh, and I did find that bat I tossed outside.  He was hanging on the side of the house.  There was comfort in knowing where he was.  And as dusk approached, he left, probably off looking for his friends who left him alone (bats are "social" and like to travel together).  Poor thing (yeah right).

I hope my bat adventures are done for another year and maybe I can avoid them next year (please)!

Where I found the bat that I had tossed outside.  I guess they like my cedar shingles as well--easy to hang onto.
Maybe I need to install vinyl sooner rather than later.

In this one you can see he has lifted his head.  Kinda creepy!
I guess he doesn't like having his picture taken!