Mouse Season in the Poconos: It is Fall. In terms of temperatures, we got here overnight. One day it was 80 degrees F, the next it was 40. The two weeks or so prior to that had us in tropical humidity with morning fog near zero visibility. In one day it turned dry, cold and windy, with diffused hard gray light above and crystal clear air below. This is the beginning of mouse season in the poconos.
Mouse season usually begins in late October or early November when the weather changes. That's when mice seek the warmth and comfort of man-made shelters. In my house they enter at the carriage style basement door, through a gap at the bottom. They squeeze through and take up residence in the basement, nesting in the fiberglass insulation, living on insects and spider. Preceding them come the ladybugs, who also stay the Winter.
I don't mind supporting this tiny ecosystem. It would seem to hold mutual advantages. As long as "they" stay in the basement, out of my living area, I'm cool with it. But, the delicate workings of it can get seriously out of whack, as I found out in 2012/13. At that time I stored appliances in the basement, not knowing they harbored mice. And since they didn't come the usual way, as Winter boarders, but were, instead, kind of kidnaped, they took up permanent residence. Breeding as quickly as they do, in two years they overran the whole house. Working at it daily, it took a full year without sleep to capture them and relocate them to the wild. That's over 1200 rescued mice.
That was a special circumstance. It drove me crazy, but I learned a lot from it. I learned, for example, that mice are greedy and ruthless. They eat and hoard well beyond satiety and they kill and cannibalize each other. An easy way to control their numbers is to use these traits against them; keep them confined and they'll kill each other. For me that means making sure my living quarters are secure by patching any possible means of access from the basement, because once mice get upstairs one is playing defense, which is a tedious and demoralizing game of catch-up.
So, this is what I'm doing this week, inspecting and patching. I've already found three places in the basement where mice can get upstairs into the walls (i.e. between the drywall and outer wall). This week one (I'm hoping it's only ONE) got into my room that way, after a technician from my phone and internet provider pulled out a phone jack plate without replacing it. I didn't see it hanging loose, because it's behind a dresser. So the mouse got in. Now, that I secured the plate, the little guy can't return to the basement, so he's living upstairs, nesting somewhere in my room. I hear him starting his day a little after I bed down for the night; he returns just before dawn (like a vampire). I have no idea what he does all night. He must be foraging. Yet, so far, he's ignored the live capture trap that I set with peanut butter. My two hopes are 1) that it's only one mouse, and 2) that he is not a pregnant female!
Down below I have a simple set up with a stack of recycling bins in which I placed some plastic shopping bags. The bags are fluffed up to give the impression of a sturdy surface. The top bag is smeared with peanut butter. When a mouse jumps in, the bags collapse, unable to support the weight. They can't be useds to spring against, to leap upward. So, the mouse is trapped in the bin. I found six in there; five half eaten, the sixth dead, but whole. I'm thinking he killed himself ingesting plastic with his meals.
So it goes, the Art of War, Mousashi style. Know the enemy. Bring the battle to the him.
Not All Rubber Bands are the Same: Workouts at the Sports Performance center are far more effective than I would have thought. These guys really know what they're doing. As I mentioned last time, I'm nowhere near doing squats and deadlifts with Olympic weights; it's all about rubber bands and fitness balls for me. And, instead of fighting it, I'm flowing with it. The more I sink into these exercises, the more they trigger reflexes and neural patterns learned from martial arts. And as I tweak the exercises in that direction, I get a physical and emotional boost that increases performance.
For example, I do an exercise in which my ankles are tied together with a rubber stretch band. I have to take a wide step to the side with one leg, hold the position, then follow with the trailing leg. When I finish going in one direction, I reverse the course, leading, now, with the other leg. As I was doing this exercise I started to feel the pattern we use in karate for the steps used to assume a horse stance (kiba dachi). So, I went with it, turning the simple side steps into horse stance practice.
In fact, almost all the PT exercises have parallels in the karate basics, so can be modified in that direction. The only difference between the two - and it's a big difference - is that I have to do them slowly, to fully engage the weak muscles. If I should do them quickly, as I would do practicing karate, it would bypass the weak muscles to engage only the strong ones.
I know it's working because in a fairly short time I'm feeling a clear separation of muscles in the gluteal complex. Instead of one flaccid, amorphous mass of flab, I can make out the gluteus maximus (maximus? Ha!) and the gluteus medius. Yeah, they're tiny, but they are there (unlike the tensor lata fascia, which seems to be non-existent - at least for now). Moreover, I've graduated from a yellow band to a red one for two of the exercises. (The bands advance in difficulty according to color, a little like belt rank in martial arts. Haha. They go as follows: Yellow> Red> Green> Blue> Purple.)
Tried bicycle hill climbing this week in addition to PT; couldn't make it into the hot zone. That may sound bad, especially since I was doing two full circuits of my monster hill. But, I think it's just further evidence that the PT is effectively working the weak muscles. They're too tired after a workout to propel me up the hill. So, maybe just do easy rides for now. Wait till the weaknesses are filled in before returning to maximum intensity workouts on the hill. BTW- another sign that these weany exercises are working is that the pain has abated in strong muscles, such as those of the right hip. That means these muscles are no longer compensating for the weak ones, at least not as much.
Art Archives: I've disposed of close to two of the three tiers of archived drawings. That takes care of years 2002 through 2008. Gone.
I have to say that it was easy to throw out the early stuff. In fact, I flipped through the pages at lightening speed. Got to the point where I had to deliberately slow down, simply to show some respect. But after 2006 it started to get a little difficult to throw stuff away. The progress clearly showed. And now it wrenches my gut, a bit, to dump what looks to me like pretty good drawing. Sure, when something stands out, I set it aside. I'll review it later; if I still like it at that point, I'll likely hang on to it. I may keep a volume or two of these favorites. But, as I said, two thirds of the archive is already gone. Of course, since I'm disposing of them in chronological order, oldest to newest, the best is yet to come - and so the most painful of partings.
1) About the title: Readers of Pinky and the Brain, a comic by Walter Carzon and Mike DeCarlo, will immediately recognize the allusion. The main characters are two mice, one dumb and lovable, Pinky, and one that's crusty and too smart for his own good, The Brain. Every episode has a passage in which Pinky asks the Brain, "What'll we do today, Brain?" To which the Brain answers, "That's easy, Pinky. TAKE OVER THE WORLD!" 'Right smart mice.'
With regard to mouse season, I took out the last of the fiberglass insulation, today. Wasn't much, just a few strips over the Weltrol retaining tank. It had some long dead mouse bodies, a ton of feces and the shells of tiny nuts foraged from the woods. Next, have to seal every nook and cranny breaching the floor and leading into the walls - starting with the holes for the water pipes and drains.
2) Milestone: Views have reached 99,999. Ticking over to 100,000.
3) Two tiers of archives is about 10 milk cases of bound volumes (each volume being 4-6 inches thick of A-4 size paper). It's thousands of pages. Another five to go. In addition, I discarded much of the odd size practice pages (i.e. 11"x17" comic book page).