Saturday, April 30, 2016

Mission Accomplished

My adventure started peacefully enough.  Dale and I were sitting next to a placid pond in the early morning, cameras ready and sketchbook on the dash.  The still springtime air was filled with the “Kaa-leee e” from a few red-winged blackbirds and several coot were bickering over who had rights to which lady coot.  Far off a sapsucker drummed out his beat.  Life was good, if a little serene. 

Suddenly I hear another sound, one all too close – crackling paper in the back of our car.  BUT no one is in the back of the car.  Inside and out we had the pond to ourselves – we thought! 

Then it dawns on us.  There is a mouse in the car … or a RAT.   We were sitting so quietly he decided it was time to rearrange his digs a little.  Drat!  What would the little beastie get into?  Chew a nest into our cold weather cloths stored back there?  Join us for lunch in our lunch box?  Or, worse yet, add a few electrical wires to his belongings?

During our lunch break we pull most of our stuff out of the car.  We have jackets piled on top of the car, boots on the ground, satchels here and there.  No sign of the mouse, but he has lots of places to hide. 

Back in town I look for a catch-em-alive mouse trap.  Needless to say, I’m hoping it is a mouse, not a rat.  I have to settle for a package of two snap traps.

I figure our uninvited passenger joined us the day before when I left the car doors open in a woodsy spot while I was sketching.  Or maybe there is a way to get in when all doors are closed and no telling where we picked him up.  I’d rather it be a deer mouse than a house mouse and certainly want a mouse rather than a rat.   

When we get home we take all our cold weather cloths and food into the house, except for a couple of nuts and an apple core.  I don’t want him starving to death in some hard to reach spot!  Towards evening I bait the two traps with peanut butter and put one on the floor in front where Dale admitted he’d dropped a few nuts and they have disappeared.  The second I put it back near where we heard him rummaging. 
Before bed I go out with my flashlight and peer it.  There he is!  A cute little deer mouse with big black eyes.  Very much alive.  By morning he is still very much live, but both snap trap triggers are licked clean.  Dastardly little fellow!

Night two:  I set the traps with more care, trying to set a hair trigger.  Why is this MY job?  Dale puts on a sneaky smerk and says, “Because you are so good at it!”  I established my reputation several years ago and he has never let me forget it. 

The mouse’s nest building is obviously progressing.  Our roll of paper towel is now tattered and torn apart.  I leave it hoping it would keep him from tackling the car seats. 

Morning:  The little snip!  He licked those snap traps clean again.  I refuse to use those awful sticky traps.  They should be outlawed.  But I really need to do something.  I know he is still in there somewhere.  The apple core disappeared so has a couple peanuts.  He doesn’t like cashews.  I give him another apple core.  We go on a longer shopping expedition and come home with a $6.99 plastic catch-em-alive mouse trap.  Full of hope I set my new trap.

Night three:  Darn!  He is a smart little fella.  I actually got up at 3 AM to check the trap.  I was worried the mouse was caught and might be getting cold.  No such luck.   I check it again in the morning.  The trap sits there undisturbed, even with that yummy smear of peanut butter at the back of it. 

The next evening I ‘chummed,’ that is a fishing term for throwing out tid bits of bait, hoping to get the fish to feed.  I put three tiny dots of peanut butter near the trap and hope.

Morning:  Success!  Mission accomplished!  The trap is shut and heavy.  

I already have a jar ready and waiting.  Dale has punched holes in it; we added a little food and some paper towel for him to hide in.  We have already decided to return him to where we are quite sure he hopped aboard.  I didn’t want him becoming a permanent resident at home.  Perhaps it is a ‘her!”  I don’t need her and ten babies becoming permanent residents at home!! 
A couple of hours later the little mouse is on its way.  We unceremoniously dump it out in good habitat near where we think it hopped aboard.  Once on real ground, off it bounds, right towards a tumbled of old wood.  Boy!  That little mouse has quite a story to tell its friends. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Quick Sketches

It's been about three weeks since I posted.  Spring is just too nice a time to year to be sitting at a computer.  This posting will be brief -- just a few of my recent sketches so you can see what I am up to.

The first one is of Mt. Hood in northern Oregon.  It's a 'car sketch,' i.e. I painted it while Dale was driving on the interstate.  The blush of springtime was just too pretty to ignore, and Mt. Hood is still covered with pristine snow.
Spring comes early to western Oregon.  Bumblebee queens overwinter is protected spots.  As soon as the weather warms, they are buzzing about looking for a good location for their new colony.  Often they use an old rodent hole.  She'll raise the first brood and then she'll have helpers to assist with subsequent broods.  
A red-tailed hawk perched in a maple.  I sketched this when the maple was in full bloom.  The tree was full of blossoms and the leaves just unfurling.  

Ravens know it is spring too.  We often see them soaring together.  I envy their ability to play in the sky.