Sunday, July 28, 2013

2 Years Ago

Two years ago I was diagnosed with Uterine Cancer.  One of the things that continues to haunt me to this day is my lack of sharing of this fact with my friends, close friends, co-workers, anyone frankly. I didn't want anyone to know.  At the time, that was an important, very important fact.  I forbade Dena to allow anyone in the hospital to visit me (except my mom), for the four or so days I was there. 

When I look back on it now, hopefully with eyes a little more open, I realize that it was selfish.  I didn't want my friends/family/co-workers to see me as weak, vulnerable, sad, in pain, sick or anything else.  To allow people to see me post surgery or let them in pre-surgery was to admit that I had cancer, that it was serious, and that it was real.  I didn't want it to be real.  Who does? 

Years and years ago, when I was in my twenties, I had two great people in my life die of horrible, painful cancer deaths.  One, a friend, another a mentor and friend.  Both refused to be seen in the hospital in their final days.  I resented them for that.  I resented them because I felt cheated of saying goodbye.  One of them disappeared completely off the radar for months during the worst of it because she wanted to protect all of us from the horrors of it all.  She was a tough, stoic sort, and I respect that toughness, but did she really need to bear all that pain and anguish alone?  No, of course not, that's what friends and families are for.  The other, a fellow from Austin Texas, an older guy, who was brilliant, I saw at City of Hope during late stage four and it was awful.  It's an image I'll never forget.  Do I regret it?  No.  Of course not.  I was able to talk to him, joke, reminisce, hopefully provide him some comfort and joy, and say goodbye.  With Sherry, the stoic one, I never got that opportunity. 

I think that I have learned my lesson and that if, god forbid, I'm ever faced with such struggles again, that I have the strength to share it with my loved ones.   The benefits for both parties far outweigh the negatives.  We are humans and sharing in adversity is in our DNA and we must remember to embrace that.  Nothing is gained by being "hard as a rock". 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Rat Wars - part 3 - What am I defending?

Rat Wars 2013 - Part 2

Now that I know the sons a' bitches are out there I couldn't give up.  At first I was depressed for a few days because I felt I was going to lose.  This weekend I got a new vigor for the war and went to OSH and bought a bunch of big rat snap traps.  I admit, I've never used a snap trap before.  I couldn't figure out how to even set the damn thing.  I turned to You Tube to figure it out.  This guy has a great video on how to bait a trap and what to use.

Basically, don't use peanut butter.  They are smart little buggers and know to just lick off the peanut butter from afar.  Also, you need to use rubber gloves, they will not come near anything that has human scent.  Use bacon.  Wrap the bacon around the bait stick with twine or steel wire so that they cannot pull it off.  Good idea. I followed his advice to the letter.  Make sure you bait where they run.  For some reason the buggers are running on the side of my fence, not the top.  So I put two traps on the top and one on the side.  I screwed the traps into the fence so they couldn't just knock them off.

Set them at 5 o'clock and back from dinner at 9 o'clock and had success.  Two down, G-d knows how many to go.  I'm using Tomcat snap traps.  Don't try those stupid black jaw like traps.  Those don't work. You know the old adage, "build a better mouse trap"?  That's BS.  There is only one trap that has worked since the beginning.  The old fashioned snap trap!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Rat Wars 2013 - Part 1

Until now I didn't really realize what was eating my tomatoes.  I feared it was rats but hoped it was squirrels.  The other night, it was official, rats.  Smaller ones.  I thought mice but Dena said tree rats.  There was one in one bush over by the house and 3 in my big Celebrity tomato plant.  They scared me, Geppetto and I them.  Sons of a bitches!

This sent my mind awhirl.  How will I combat this threat?  Cut worms are one thing.  Rats quite another.  Cut worms are not smart, nor are they big!  I devised a plan to encase my Celebrity in small chicken wire with a cut out door so I could get the tomatoes out.  But time was a factor.  I had to go buy the chicken wire, fashion the entire encasement, etc etc.  In the meantime I took to cutting my tomatoes off the celebrity before they were ripe, not green, just orange, before the sons a bitches got them.

Thursday night I was innocently picking Lemon Ice cherry tomatoes off, while picking I was stewing about the loss of celebrity big reds, some of these were 10 - 12 ounces.  I glanced up and caught something out of the corner of my eye.  Dark Grey?  Dark grey rat butt?  Seriously?  Eating my lemon ice cherry tomatoes while I'm picking them???!!!  I quietly put down my handfuls and snuck over to the garage and got one of Geppetto's weave poles.  These are 1" PVC pipes about 3' long that are used to practice weaves for agility.
I walked over and whacked it.  I heard a rustle, Geppetto went ape shit and I suspect the rat was dazed and scurried under the next pot over.   That pot is a large 1/2 wine barrel made out of solid oak.  I have these pots suspended up on top of bricks to aid in drainage, that's where the son 'a bitch was hiding.  I poked and prodded and Geppetto whined and jumped (this is what he does when he "trees" something) and finally I decided to put my back into it and I moved it about a foot from the wall.  Geppetto was able to get behind, I poked some more and a big commotion was heard from behind.  Geppetto trotted out all proud like with the small rat in his mouth.   I screeched and yelled "drop it"!  He never obeys that command.  He did this time.  He dropped it and the rat crawled slowly away and he snagged it again.  I yelled "drop it" again.  Geppetto dropped it. As the rat crawled away again I thought to myself, "How in the hell am I going to kill this thing?"

I tried yelling for Dena but she didn't come.  Geppetto had grabbed the rat again by now, I yelled drop, sit and Leave it.  Which he obeyed.  Amazing what training will do.  He watched that rat patiently while sitting and while I ran and got a long pick up stick thing that my friend gave me.  I grabbed the rat, still squirming a little, plopped it into a garbage bag and proceeded to whack it a bunch more times until it lived no more.  I admit, I felt bad about it.  But it was war.

Round 1 was over.  Round 2 was imminent.