Saturday, July 28, 2007

EEK! Mouse Adventures

I’ll start my ‘mouse adventure’ story by saying in the 2+ years of having Jeremiah, I’ve never had a problem with mice. And I’ll admit I’ve never had the need to package foods in mouse-proof containers. In fact, I’ve been keeping crackers, nuts, cookies, pasta, etc. in one of the drawers.

On Sunday evening, I heard noises coming from this food drawer. I tapped the drawer with my foot and the noise stopped, then the noise moved to another location. I tapped there, and it moved again. Then it stopped. It was late, so I decided to check things out in the morning.

On Monday morning when I opened the drawer, it was obvious that one or more mice found some stomach-filling snacks. I cleaned mice droppings out of the drawer, washed it thoroughly, and threw food away.

In the afternoon I cleaned out the motorhome’s outside storage bays; took everything out, vacuumed, looked for access holes. I found mouse evidence in two of them. One was the compartment that I store bird food in and the other was the place where water and waste hoses are attached through an opening in the bottom. I also discovered that the mouse/mice had chewed into the birdseed container.

Inside my motorhome I removed all drawers, looking for mouse evidence behind and below. None was easily observable due to the way my motorhome is constructed.

Evidence gathering was over; Now to make a plan. I borrowed three mouse traps, got a lesson on how to use them, and baited them with peanut butter. One trap went into the bird-food compartment, one into the hose hookups compartment, and one where I calculated the mouse would have to traverse on his/her way to the former food drawer (this location is reached by taking out a drawer). Then I eagerly awaited morning when I would check my traps.

Tuesday morning I was disappointed - but also elated - that the traps were untouched and there were no tiny black droppings anywhere to be seen. Tuesday night I put the traps back out.

On Wednesday, I was awakened at 4 a.m. by a strange sound – I thought it was Cat playing with something. Went back to sleep. After my morning coffee I checked traps and looked for mice droppings. Aha! The trap behind/below the drawers had been sprung – but no mouse. That must have been the noise I heard. The trap in the hookup compartment was untouched. No sign of mice! But, it must have been a mouse that sprung the trap. So I rebated the traps and headed for bed.

On Thursday morning I cheered: Hallelujah! Both traps are untouched, and no sign of mouse droppings! Have I eliminated the mice and any access they would have to my motorhome? I was feeling good and smug to think I had eliminated my mouse problem. No traps had been sprung, no sign of droppings. Is it time to celebrate? I was feeling victorious. I’ll again put fresh peanut butter in the traps tonight – just in case.

A little after 9 p.m. on Thursday evening, I was watching a video. In my peripheral vision I see a brown ‘flash’ darting from my bathroom area and going under a chair across from me. My smug and celebratory feeling left as fast as the mouse ran. Bad words had to be kept from coming out – replaced by “shoot” and “phooey”! I had a mouse INSIDE – where I eat, sleep and write. Not good! Not good at all!

I quickly put Cat in the carrier, opened the motorhome cab doors and poked and banged around in the cab area with my hiking pole – hoping the mouse would run outside. Since I couldn’t bang and poke and watch to see if it ran out. I have no way of knowing if it is inside or not.

So, how do you sleep with a mouse possibly in the small living area of my motorhome?

I baited another trap and put it where a mouse could get it, but where Cat couldn’t.

Friday morning and no sprung traps. I cleaned out the motorhome cab area and found no sign of mice. Friday evening I decided to change my trap bait – and used cheese.

Saturday morning:


Peanut butter – 0; Cheese – 1!

Saturday morning or late yesterday evening this sneaky mouse nibbled his/her last morsel!

I’m cautiously feeling victorious. Cautious because the last time I felt this way was before the mouse made its mad dash from the bathroom/bedroom area to the motorhome cab – and I was deflated and defeated. I’m setting traps again tonight.

Here’s a photo of my now-deceased mouse!

Friday, July 20, 2007

I’m the “Sweet-Onion Fairy”

July 19, 2007

What do you do with 50 pounds of sweet onions?

My friend Jesse drove down from Albuquerque for a couple of days, and what adventures we had. But first I’ll tell you about the onions. This part of southern New Mexico – where irrigation water is available – is a thriving agricultural area. Besides the famous New Mexican green and red chiles, onions are a major crop. And the “semi-famous” Carzalia Sweet Onions are grown a few miles to the west. These onions are delicious.

I had gotten the notion that I’d like to buy a bag of these onions and send some back to friends in the Albuquerque area. I had seen a roadside vendor near the park that sold 5 and 10 pound bags of them. BUT, he hasn’t been there this week. No problem. We would just go to the farm where they are grown. Well, the farm is a huge operation – and only sells onions in 50-pound bags! For only $18!

About a third of the onions went home with Jesse, and now I’m the “Sweet-Onion Fairy”, passing out onions – along with park information to campers. People are delighted, and I’m having a great time.

Another adventure was to the newly renovated and re-opened Deming Historical Museum. When Jesse and I walked in, we had no idea what to expect. It is an amazing and well-organized museum. The displays are well done. One item caught me by surprise – a Playboy Magazine in Braille! Yes, nothing on the pages except raised dots!

After lunch and a stop at Walmart for some shopping, we drove to Las Cruces (about 60 miles) and toured the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum that is located near the university campus. It encompasses 47 acres.

This “interactive museum” brings to life the 3,000-year history of farming and ranching in New Mexico. The main building, 24,000 square feet, houses exhibits, a restaurant, gift shop and theater. Out-buildings house livestock a blacksmith shop, with more buildings in various stages of completion.

We started our visit there with a cart ride around the livestock corrals and barns; Jesse did gate-opening duties.. Here we were introduced to the three-ton Angus bull and the Texas Longhorn bull whose horns are 5-feet from tip to tip. (see photos). Jesse and I briefly toured the indoor exhibits. This could conceivably be a day-long outing, and it was nearing closing time. I’ll definitely be back.

Another visitor, another trip to the Pink Store in Palomas. Jesse and I did some shopping there.

Jesse’s biggest adventure the night he spent here was when my hammock came loose during the night. For his overnight accommodations, (Jeremiah is female-only for sleeping) he hung my hammock outdoors under the shade structure.

And speaking of Palomas; a week or so ago the “Frugal Traveler” from the New York Times was in the area and wrote an article, complete with video footage, that was published July 18. ( – click on Travel, then find the Frugal Traveler to read the article and link to the video).

I got a good photo of the Long-Eared Owl. It is a good thing I got the photo – his favorite branch is now occupied by a second barn owl and Long-Ear is no where to be seen. I also managed to get a photo of a cactus wren; they don’t sit still very long. Also a camper discovered this bull snake resting in a safe place – under a cactus.

That’s it for this blog entry. But first a quote “You are one-of-a-kind; no one else is just like you. So even though you are outnumbered, don’t change.”

And finally a Columbus, New Mexico, sunrise.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Summer at Pancho Villa State Park, July 2007

It may be summertime – and maybe it is hot – in the New Mexico desert, but there’s no lack of adventure here. And no lack of activity.

I’m settled into site #44, a permanent volunteer site complete with fountain/bird bath and tall trees to the west that thankfully block the afternoon sun. The day temperatures are anywhere between 95 and 105. And the nights cool down into the 70s – perfect for comfortable sleeping with windows open.

Most critters are most active in the mornings and evenings. The White-Winged Dove are active all day – singing ‘who cooks for you?’ and raiding the last of the sunflower seeds in my feeders. I have two bird feeders – a hanging one and one that attaches by suction cups to one of Jeremiah’s windows. Both are best suited for smaller birds, but that doesn’t stop the dove. What a comical sight to see six or more dove pushing each other out of the way at the hanging feeder. I’ve seen one on each side and two on the top and two or more others trying to dislodge the lucky ones. The doves also try to get sunflower seeds from the window feeder, but it is designed in a way that they can’t perch on the opening and eat. Only one dove has managed to get inside the feeder. The House Finch and sparrows get what they can, when they can. I also scatter seed on the ground and have seen the Cactus Wren eating there. These birds hang around and keep Cat entertained.

The Roadrunner stops by a couple times a day. And the quail seem to have had bumper crops of babies this year. It is not unusual to see one or two adult quail with a dozen or so little ones following closely.

My tall trees seem to be home to two owls – one is the Long-Eared Owl and the other is a Barn Owl. It is eerie to sit under the tree, look up and see one or both owls staring at me.

Also we have LOTS of rabbits – both cottontails and Jackrabbits. I also spent time watching a tarantula cross the road. I’m sure you know they have eight legs, but did you know that the first and third legs, and the second and fourth legs, on each side move in unison.

Cat goes outside each morning when it gets light and early evening before the sun sets very far. I haven’t seen, nor heard, any coyotes, but I don’t want her outside at times when she could possibly end up as someone’s dinner.

There aren’t many campers here – most of the time I can count them on one hand here in the southern section of the park. And there are six RVs with volunteers.

Park activities started with a July 4 celebration – complete with fireworks. The Friends group sold hot dogs, nachos, watermelon, sodas and water. I think every Mexican family in the area was here.

Speaking of the Friends group, one of my projects is to get their financial stuff on the computer. They have been keeping books by hand and it is a tedious job that hasn’t been done well. Once I get the Quicken software installed and the books set up, I’ll be teaching three non-computer members how to use it. Wish me luck.

The big buzz at the park is the resignation of Ranger Brian Houltin. He and his wife have plans to do other things. The transition will probably be tough because Brian has been here 13 years, and knows the most. The Park Manager is new – he was hired in March. When Brian leaves this week, the park that is supposed to have four rangers will be short two rangers. The State Parks Department moves so slo-o-o-oly.

For several evenings in a row we’ve had monsoon rains – cools things down so nicely.

I’ve been reading “Team of Rivals; the political genius of Abraham Lincoln” by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It is about 900 pages, and is a Pulitzer Prize winner. I’m also reading Max Lucado’s “In the Eye of the Storm.” And my usual entertainment – for great laughs before bed – is watching old “I Love Lucy” videos.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I'm Back!

Since I last posted to my blog, I’ve been to my granddaughter Melody’s wedding in Indiana, and now I’m back at Pancho Villa State Park for a month of volunteering.

Of course this proud Grandma can’t resist adding some pictures from the wedding. Melody’s attendants included her cousin Christine Pray (my granddaughter also; the two girls are 1 month apart in age).

Photos from top to bottom:
Melody and her Dad Dave
Derrick and Melody
Sue, Derrick, Me, Melody and Dave
Melody - taken just before the wedding

I chose to fly to Indiana – and after all the hulla-baloo of air travel – take off your shoes, stand in lines, cram into small seats (note to all – don’t sit next to a fat person; they take up their seat and part of yours) – I’m even more in love with motorhome travel.

The wedding was in Peru, Indiana (I was told that hillbillies pronounce it pee-roo) at a lovely, historic, Methodist Church. The groom – Derrick Cottrell – is from a small town near Peru and they have many family members in other small towns. Peru is famous for being the birthplace of the circus. We stayed at a nice Best Western Motel. Both Derrick and Melody are in the Navy, both Master at Arms (Navy police) and both stationed in Japan. They return to Japan on July 17.

When I returned home, I hurriedly finished packing Jeremiah and by 11 a.m. the next day Cat and I were on the road to Pancho Villa State Park. I’ll be here one month.