Friday, August 18, 2006

The Mystery of the Shrinking Plants

I have numerous house plants, as most people do. I have experimented with many different varieties over the years, killing them off one by one, until finally I found the plants for me. They are basically of the succulent or cacti variety: jades, aloes, cacti, and burritos. They are a hearty plant that can withstand long periods of drought (forgetting to water them), and then heavy rains (over watering trying to make up for forgetting in the first place).
I have them strategically placed in sunny spots so they can grow big and prosper. My aloes, which started from one tiny baby a co-worker had given me years ago, have taken off and become giants so big that I have to prop the pots up and have separated them numerous times. My burritos have grown to several feet long, where usually they are only several inches high. My cacti have weird appendages which shoot in different directions. And then there are my jades. Once they grew tall and nice and bushy, yet in the past several months they’ve been getting thin and stalky. I thought maybe I over watered, so I cut back. They continued to dwindle. I watered more often, thinking maybe they weren’t getting enough with the summer sun. Yet they continued to get thinner and thinner. Then the other day I found out why.
I was lying on the couch taking a nap and I hear something. Usually I can sleep through just about anything. I fall asleep in the car almost instantly and nothing disturbs me. Marc can get ready for work, shower, vacuum, run the dishwasher, and still I’m a sleep. But after years of having dogs, particularly one that eats everything, food and non-food, I have become sensitive to certain sounds. The sound of chewing is one of them. So as I lay there I become aware of the sound of chewing, it takes only a moment to distinguish this chewing is not of a bone, but of something soft and being plucked. I hear the pluck, chew, pause, pluck, chew pause. I jump up and start looking around. Which dog is it? Layla is lying on my lap, not her. Riley, I go in search. I find him standing beside my jade plant going to town. Just plucking them off one by one and eating them. He nonchalantly looks around to me as if saying “what, I’m having a snack, do you mind”.
So I now know why my jades have been shrinking to nothingness over the past couple months. I still don’t know why he chose all of a sudden to start eating my plants, or why the jade in particular, as he’s left all the others alone. But in any case, all jades are now safely put up and out of Riley’s reach and hopefully they will be able to recover.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Bike on Rack vs. the Garage

Yesterday started out as a good day. I had a list of things I needed to get done and 90% of them were accomplished. I even managed to do some things that weren't on my list. I washed my car, met up with Amy and went for a ride, and then we met up with Marc and Tom for dinner. It was a good day. As I am driving home, I am tired from a long day, but still very alert. I managed to spot a deer standing off to the side of the road and slowed to a speed where I would be able to maneuver around it if it were to suddenly jump in my path.
I get very nervous about deer. We live in a very rural area and there are deer everywhere from dusk on. I see deer almost on a nightly basis. There have been times that I have had to come to a complete stop as a pack of deer decided to slowly cross the road in front of me like a heard of cows. Sometimes they are at a safe distance from the road, and others they are standing in the road. Last night's deer was standing just on the edge of the road. I spotted him, he spotted me and all was good. I passed on by and he didn't run out in front of me. Luckily he was one of the ones that knew the pact. You don't run out in front of me, and I don't hit you. Most deer are familiar with the pact. But every once in a while you get a rebel, so I am always cautious.
So after the deer sighting I continue home. We turn down our street and Marc comments that there is now a speed limit sign. We both felt this is odd since our little development is only 2 small culdesac's, there isn't even enough space to get up that much speed. As we discuss this, I hit the garage door opener. As the door goes up I pull up slowly as I have perfected the timing of the door going up and me slowly entering without having to stop to wait for the door. Last night was no exception. So as I creep into the garage it happens. All of a sudden I hear a loud and long CRUUUNNNCCHHHH. I stop immediately and wonder what in the world I just ran over. I had completely forgotten about the bike on the roof rack. At this point Marc is yelling, "No the bike, back up". So I slowly back up a few feet so we can get our doors open. Marc gets out first. I can't move. I just sit there stunned. I can't believe I just did it. You always hear stories of cyclists that forget about their bike and run it into the garage. Everyone knows someone, if not several people that this has happened to. But you always think this will never happen to you. Well last night was my turn.
Marc gets out first. I ask, how bad is it, still paralyzed and unable to get out of the car to see for myself. Marc replies, "bad, really bad." I just look at him. We both can't believe what just happened.
I finally get up enough nerve to get out. I look and my knees go weak. Tears are brought to my eyes. My stomach instantly fills with acid.
Marc turns to me and says, "well I knew this would happen eventually". I was hoping later, than sooner.
We remove the rack and bike from the car by simply lifting the entire thing (bike and all) and just lay it on the ground as it had completely detached itself from the car on impact. I pull the car the rest of the way into the garage so we can more clearly survey the damage. There are dents and gouges and metal shavings and rubber scrapes and even some bike grease. I am just standing there in shock.
Marc trying to make light of the situation says, "this is what we have insurance for". I agree with him, but still I don't want to think about it.
I am still sick over this. I had a horrible time getting to sleep last night. I went out this morning and surveyed the damage in the daylight. Yup, still as bad as I remember. I was hoping that in the light of day it would somehow be better. My bike on the other hand is fine. Has some paint and wood chips on it from the trim around the garage door, but that's it. The trim has a little tiny dent in it. And the rack is fine. Unfortunately my car took the brunt of it. Today I will spend the day on the phone trying to figure out how to get it all fixed.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Snake or Wait?

I have never really considered myself afraid of animals. I love animals, all animals. My husband is always yelling at me to stop petting strange dogs as we walk down the street. We've pulled over during rides to pet the cows or horses. I talk to the animals as I ride by. I move turtles out of the road or trail when I see them in harms way. I have even held my brother-in-law's pet snakes and lizards without squirming.
So I don't know if this happened because I was taken off guard or because of the show I just watched on the Animal Planet of the 7 mostly deadly snakes. But in any case here's what happened. Kathleen and I had been out riding for an hour or two, we had just made a wrong turn and were in the process of turning around and heading back in the right direction. As I go to step over my bike Kathleen says something that I interpret as "snake, blah, blah, blah". Because after hearing snake, I ceased listening to the rest of what she was saying. So I panic. I hop on my bike, then off, I can hear hissing and it sounds so close I don't know which is the better option. I can hear it but don't see it. I just keep yelling where is it, where is it, and hoping all over the place. Kathleen is dying at this point. She finally manages to get my attention long enough to say, there is no snake, you have a flat. What she had originally said before my panic attack was "wait, you're getting a flat". The hissing I heard was not a snake, but rather my tire deflating rather quickly. How I got snake out of that, who knows. Apparently my love of snakes does not run as deep as it does with other animals. I'll take a flat over a snake any day.