30 August 2008

Return of Mousy

Not so much a return, actually, as a visit by one of his friends. Just when we thought we were free of furry crashers, the cats flushed out another guy. This time we didn't notice until Wraith had the poor little thing in his mouth, dangling by its tail (looks like he figured out what he's supposed to do with them). He let it go for a second--just long enough to get a better grip on its backside. We tried getting him to let go, but our very sweet, mellow cat just growled at us and held on. I guess the two of us cornering him with S grabbing him by the scruff and me holding the plastic mouse containment unit (aka empty salad bin) over his head finally convinced him it wasn't worth it. He finally let the mouse go and I (being much less of a silly woman this time) trapped it in the bin.

This was definitely a different mouse--a bit smaller and way more hyper. It was hopping all over the place, trying to escape. At least (and surprisingly) it wasn't hurt! Again to his credit, he eventually realized the cats couldn't get him through the plastic and he settled down. Another trip to the park, another release into the night. I hope there aren't any more of them. Maybe there's a mouse grapevine and they'll let each other know to stay away from here: Dude, that place is not sweet.

On a related note: I have to mention how much I hate glue traps. I know that sometimes you have to break out the traps, but glue traps are horrific and cruel. Imagine running around and all of a sudden being stuck to something and not being able to move. Maybe you're only lightly stuck and you can get away by ripping off hair or skin. Maybe you're panicking so much you chew through your own limb to get free. Or maybe you're well and truly immobile, terrified, helpless, and someone comes along and dumps you into the trash. They might be "kind" and drown you first. Either way, hello, slow and painful death. I realize we're talking about rodents, but there's no reason to inflict unnecessary pain and suffering. Get humane traps (the kind that let you release the animal unharmed), or if you must, spring-loaded traps. Glue traps might be convenient, but they're evil. 'Nuff said.

29 August 2008


We moved into our house last year in mid-October. Shortly after moving in, we realized there was a mouse living under the floor near the stove (we could tell because of the way the cats would sit transfixed, staring at that spot!) We figured it was too cold for it to go anywhere, but it would leave in spring (what mouse wants to share space with two mousers?) Sure enough, spring came and the mouse was gone. The boys forgot about that entrancing spot on the floor.

Well, a couple of days ago, the cats started staring again. Now, I don't mind a house mouse--as long as it doesn't get into anything or cause damage. I was content to leave it be, until last night when I started thinking about it chewing on wiring. As Wraith sat in the kitchen staring at the floor and Shadow sat in the basement staring at the ceiling, I made a mental note to google mouse repellents in the morning (silly me for thinking cats would be repellent enough!)

So, last night as I was still thinking about how to get the mouse to leave, I was returning to the basement from a quick trip upstairs and noticed that Wraith was now at the bottom of the stairs next to the dresser that contains my craft supplies. And he was batting at something on the floor. The light was dim so it took me a second. Was it a toy? Nope--small and brown. Poop? Hey, you never know. Then I noticed it moving.

Somehow the mouse had left the safety of the floorboards and Wraith had literally got his paws on him. The poor little thing was terrified. As Wraith went after him and I panicked (like a proper silly woman) and S called for me to get a container and Shadow came to see what all the commotion was... the mouse tried its best to escape us all. As it scooted under the dresser, Wraith wedged himself in there too. Luckily for all of us, the mouse was faster than the cats (who probably didn't realize they should be hunting, not playing) but it was fenced in by the stairs and the feet. We got the container (an empty plastic salad bin) over him, slid a piece of cardboard underneath and had us a trapped little guy.

I held down the container while S ran to get his boots on. The cats were very interested in my prisoner, pawing at him through the plastic. The mouse, to his credit, realized pretty quickly that the cats couldn't get at him, and settled down to wait. Let me tell you--he was damn cute. Tiny and brown, he looked like the dormouse from Alice in Wonderland (although I'm pretty sure he was a field mouse). I really wanted to get him a Habitrail and keep him, but I don't think he would have cared for that too much. Instead we took him to the nearest park and set him free under a shrub. With a slightly confused look, he scampered off into the darkness. I hope he has a good life, free of cats and the falcons (or maybe hawks?) that live on top of a nearby high rise. And I really hope he doesn't come back to our house!

When we returned home, Wraith was desperately checking under the dresser for his new fun toy. He checked the floor by the stove too, but alas, there was nothing interesting there, either. We gave him and Shadow treats for being good hunters (secretly grateful that they weren't great hunters). And to top off the evening, I watched as a chubby raccoon cut across our yard and through the hedge. For an urban area, we definitely aren't lacking in wildlife.

28 August 2008

Seasonal Pleasures (Tomato Salad)

This is more guideline than recipe, but salad doesn't exactly require precise measurements. This is my favourite tomato salad and I have it frequently as a meal.

Aspasia's Tomato Salad

Per person:
--in-season tomatoes, heirloom if possible (I usually use one large one, 2 to 3 medium ones, or enough cherry tomatoes to fill the serving bowl)
--half a small ripe avocado, chopped
--thin slice sweet onion, chopped (about 1/8 cup)
--about 2 oz feta cheese (sheep's milk is best), crumbled
--1/2 to 3/4 tsp dried Greek oregano
--salt to taste
--extra virgin olive oil (my brand/family oil: http://www.spartanrollinghills.com)
--good bread for dipping

Cut tomatoes into chunks and place in a bowl. If using cherry tomatoes, cut in half (you want to release the juice). Add avocado and onion. Add salt and mix. Add crumbled feta. Crush oregano over all and drizzle with a healthy amount of oil. Serve salad with bread to soak up all the tasty oil and juice left after the salad is gone :)

Optional: You can also add Kalamata olives and/or sliced cucumber and bell peppers, if you wish.

27 August 2008

Down the Garden Path

I haven't been gardening as long as I've been decorating, so my style isn't entirely set yet. I do think a garden should complement the house it's attached to. I don't think a sparse Japanese garden would work with a Queen Anne house, nor would a formal garden suit a cottage.

There's little as far as gardens go that I don't like. My favourite styles are probably formal (traditional) and cottage. If I could manage a combination of the two, that would be fantastic. I love courtyards and classical statuary. I'm enamoured of allees and flowering trees at the moment. I also like herbal knot gardens and Japanese gardens, but I think they're too high-maintenance for me.

Some of my favourite plants: heirloom roses, morning glory, foxgloves, poppies, delphiniums, hydrangeas, hostas, pansies and violas, heirloom tomatoes, lavender, tulips, crocuses, lilacs...

(PS: The photo is of morning glories and pansies in a container on my deck.)

26 August 2008

Defining Design

I have been into decorating and design for just about as long as I can remember. Even as a child I would get into moods where I would have to tear my room apart and start over again. If I wasn't just a bit more into writing, I'm sure I would have ended up as a decorator/designer.

My style hasn't changed much over the years, although it's a little more narrowed down now. There are some things I love: Victorian (Queen Anne and Gothic Revival) architecture and design, French Country. There are some things I like a lot: anything pre-1950s (think Old Europe), some retro design, modern country, Chinese style, Thai style, Tuscan style, spooky style. There are some things I despise: mid-century modern, all white, most (but not all) contemporary design.

I love colour. Deep, rich, clear (not muddy) shades. I do not want my entire house to be monochromatic. I don't find neutrals soothing. I love original woodwork and want to hunt down those who paint over it. My ideal home is one that's cozy and comfortable and the right kind of cluttered. My dream house is a cross between the Gryffindor common room, the house from Practical Magic, and Jack Skellington's tower. I also always thought it would be cool to convert an old church.

For nearly a year I've had the joy of being in my own little Edwardian brick gem. I'm not quite sure when life got so hectic, but we're still not finished setting things up. There are long-term plans, as well as those involving the near future. Nothing drastic--well, maybe a little--but mostly just a matter of making the place our own. Looking forward to sharing both plans and end results, among other things...