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Where our motto is: If we can imagine it dead, we can make it dead.

Three mice and counting since last night. I might’ve felt some measure of guilt over the demise of a living creature. I really might’ve. A twinge anyway. Somewhere in the deep recesses of my brain. If, just prior to finding the initial deceased, I hadn’t discovered mouse droppings on top of the dresser where I had been planning to stack the freshly cleaned bedding and towels.

This would be the part of the dresser where I keep the bedding we regularly use on our bed because the linen closet is so full. And, yes, this meant that I had even more bedding to wash. And, yes, I was swearing. And, yes, too, I discovered the mouse carcass precisely because I purposefully looked to see if I had created a death. I had. No guilt feelings washed over me.

I think the dresser thing caused an aneurysm or a miniature stroke in my prefrontal cortex, and it hampered normal guilt feelings. Plus, it made me admit out loud that I’m going to have to clean all the kitchen cupboards. Again this year.

And then it occurred to me that I should check inside the dresser. That’s when my left posterior superior temporal sulcus, another guilt producing factory in the brain, went on strike. All the neurons working there just threw down their tools, shut down the guilt machinery, and walked out the door. They’re in a pub somewhere talking trash about the administrative part of my brain that makes the rest of me continue living here at mouse central. Yes, the mice had been in all four drawers of the dresser, doing you know what and gods know what else on what was otherwise clean clothing. If not for the rodent filth and all.

When I got up this morning and found the second mouse carcass, I smiled. And I had a good day.

This third one is going to guarantee a good night’s sleep at pam[at]viewfromthenorth40.com

is brought to you by Mickey Mouse and Stewart Little, co-founders of Mouse Crap, Inc., whose motto is: We’re proving that real life is a lot more not-so-cute-as-Hollywood one disgusting pile at a time.

The sewer project is not quite wrapped up as we wait for things to air and dry and to leak test before re-battening the hatches. In the meantime, because I didn’t have enough to do with construction, winterization and the general chores of life, I have to empty and clean the contents of two closets.

Mickey and Stewart were frolicking about the living room Friday just prior to getting into trouble — and none of that is meant as a euphemism or an exaggeration.

While kicked back in my recliner, taking a work break to lay on a couple ice packs (yes, I’m that pitiful), I heard miniature chaos breaking out in the coat closet and pretty soon two little rodents spilled out from under the door and romped around the floor. Not 15 feet from me. Bold as can be. Two mice frickin’ playing in my living room.

I didn’t have anything at hand to throw at them, so I got up and checked/reset all the traps.

And caught nothing.

I checked the trap line Saturday morning, and it didn’t look like the mice had even run past the traps to smell them. Well, I hoped, maybe I scared them off. Later, I went back into the linen closet, where the trap at the back of the house is set, and found mouse droppings on the towels. You know, the towels we rub all over our bodies. Some, too, on the sheets formerly known as clean. All new disgustingness since 6 a.m. when I had checked the trap on the floor of that very closet. So I checked the coat closet. Didn’t find any droppings in plain sight, but it smells. I’m imagining a nest in the crate full of mittens and gloves, or a stash of dog food and poo in the pockets or linings of a few coats. I’m thinking I’ll be cleaning out the kitchen cupboards for the third time this year.

I’m imagining the death of these mice until my trap line makes them so.

I went to town for more bleach yesterday, but couldn’t bring myself to start the clean up. I wanted dead rodents to prove that if I go through with this cleaning ordeal, I won’t have to turn around and do it again right away. Still nothing this morning. I’ve always vowed I wouldn’t use Decon or other poisons because I didn’t want to risk a stray cat getting into it or have a mouse die in a wall somewhere.

I don’t care anymore. Dead is dead. I’ll make it so a cat can’t get into the Decon and if I have to cut a hole in a wall to get to a rotting mouse carcass, so be it. I don’t even need a trophy mount or a line of mouse skins stretched and tacked to the barn wall. I just want them dead. I’ve offered my dog a bounty to turn his awesome rabbit and bird hunting skills to more helpful prey: house mouses.

Also, I can’t tolerate the soiled things in the closets another day, so I’ve started washing. Everything. And will be stacking the stuff on my dressers and desk and any other handy surface not related to a closet in my house until the rodents are vanquished. Again. Buy stock in bleach companies.

I’m not as enraged as I might otherwise be, my back is feeling better. I took an early morning walk, saw two muley does grazing the field and a couple magpies heading north to the highway for breakfast in the pre-dawn light, watched Coop work and flush a covey of Huns and stood at the top of a hill, sucking in cold, crisp air, watching the morning sun rise in a cloudless sky with a three-quarter moon dropping to the western horizon at my back.

It ain’t all bad at pam[at]viewfromthenorth40.com


So, how’s your day at pam[at]viewfromthenorth40.com

Last night at sunset I let Cooper out to make his rounds and mark his territory like the he-mutt he is, but about 20 seconds after I closed the door he started barking like a little mad man. He had something serious going on so I looked out the door and John came from his shop, both thinking we would see a strange vehicle or one of those creepy have-hammer-will-work-for-food guys in the drive. Nope.

It was a 3.5 ft. rattlesnake half-coiled 12 feet away from the front step (where Cooper was barking) and right in the middle of the 5-foot space between our car and house where we walk all the time. John opened the front door for Cooper to retreat to a happy place in the safety of his home, I put the smack down on the snake with my not-so-sharp-anymore sickle-type weed whacker and John disposed of the body. It takes a village to dispatch a snake around here.

We really praised Cooper for barking before we put him in the house and after we went back in get him out from under the table. We started, last year, training him to bark at the snakes rather than just running to hide so he could help us locate and eradicate them when they come down around the house. It’s also really helped his confidence. He definitely used a watch-dog voice to let us know about the snake. He was all “Intruder alert!! Call 911! Intruder alert!! You do not belong here!!” rather than an “Oh, lawd! I’m gonna die out here!!! Why meeeee!!”

It took a little coaxing to get him past the snake spot that night (some blood spillage occurred during the fracas), but once he was past the spot he was all happy and full of himself again — as he was this morning too.

Every day should be Super Cooper Day at pam[at]viewfromthenorth40.com

So the other day Baby Brother calls to tell me that he’s packing up his wife, the dogs, his fly-tying gear and my favorite toddler namesake and moving to North Dakota. I was trying to keep it together as he rattled off a detailed list of all the benefits to this move. Farther away from me. To a foreign land.

“Cool,” “Oh, that’s cool,” “That’ll be cool,” was all I could say.

But inside I was dying — wailing like a spoiled brat, “This is a tragedy!! Oh my gaaaawd! He’s taking my little girl away! And he’s raising her to be a North Dakotan!! This is tragic, truly tragic!!”

When I couldn’t take his perky prattling any longer, I interrupted him.

“Bro, I’m happy for you guys, really, but this is a personal tragedy for me. I just have to say that. Cool for you maybe, but tragic for me. OK, it’s somehow both tragic and cool, like, ‘tragicool.'”

At this point, not that I was any less devastated, I became enamored with and a little distracted by my new word. “Tragicool,” I’d say to every positive point he made — to help mask my pain and, well, because I’m shallow.

Better paying job? Tragicool. Nice schools? Tragicool. Cheaper house prices? Tragicool. Maybe be able to buy some acreage to get a pony? (Which he said just to make me happy, but still … .) Tragicool, man.

The two things that I got from our conversation were: 1) He doesn’t care if he breaks my Aunty heart, and 2) He was more annoyed than impressed with my new word.

Whatever, but I did follow his instinct on the second part — Baby Brother knows funny — and I shelveded my new word without dragging it out into public … until about a week later when I saw spectacular photos online of some guy’s house being engulfed by lava.

“Ooooh, dude,” I told my computer screen, “tragicool.”

What a perfect word! Now I’m all about tragicool and spreading the word on the word.

So here are a few examples of appropriate usage:

The guy with the house in a bed of lava in beautiful Hawaii had spent the last three years watching lava push doom closer and closer to the home. In the last hours of the night on July 23, he watched the lava, glowing red in the night through cracks in the black hot-melt as it finally ooze around his home, heating it with primordial fire until it burst flame. Tragicool.

The guy sat at a picnic table watching his beloved home burn to the ground and his property become a lava-flow wasteland, sharing the moment with a friend, a handful of photographers and a bottle of aged wine. You are tragicool, dude.

I like a solid marriage of the heart wrenching and the glorious.

A few days before the January earthquake that destroyed Port-au-Prince, Haiti, an infant girl was badly burned and sent to the hospital where her mother was told the prognosis was not good. After the earthquake leveled the hospital, the infant was thought to have died along with the other hundreds of thousands of quake victims. Unknown to her mother, the baby was found alive in the rubble two days later with an arm so badly injured doctors at the emergency medical facility had to amputate it despite her weakened condition.

Everything about this story, aside from the not dying part, was tragic, no doubt. But don’t fear, there is coolness to be found.

The doctors realized the baby needed a special surgery to save her from her original burn wound that was leaving her at high risk for a brain infection. The surgery was only available at a specialized hospital, so they helped arrange for a charitable organization to fly her to London where she received the care she needed.

This month the organization helped reunite the infant with her mother who was astonished to find her now 8-month-old daughter alive and well. Tragicool.

It’s everywhere.

We are foursquare in favor of comicool, too, at: pam(at)viewfromthenorth40.com

Summer is here — unfortunately for Cooper. The heat wave hit, and we found our first rattlesnake near the house. And when I say we, I mean Cooper. And when I say found I mean he sniffed it out and when it put up a ruckus, he realized that this was no false alarm and ran for his life. Literally.

I had a friend here riding, and we were just a few hundred yards down the road from the house when Coop discovered the snake. I got down off my horse to see if I could manage to kill it with a large rock. That’s a no.

Not for lack of effort, though.

I found a rock almost as big as my head to throw at the thing, but apparently snakes have an innate sense of when actions are meant to kill it. Somewhere during my big league wind-up, it uncoiled and started to dart away. I don’t even think I hit its body very squarely.

I went back to the house for a more effective weapon in the form of a hoe, but by the time I got back the snake was holed up in the thick underbrush of a chokecherry patch. I could hear it, but not get the brush pulled away good enough to find it.

I explain all this in a rational tone, but my heart was going pitter patter after seeing how sick Cooper got last year. The snake was originally coiled in some taller grass/weeds along the road, which is right under the one-strand electric fence we have around a section of land we’ve reseeded. And then there’s a 3-foot span of hip-high grass and alfalfa. And then the thick grove of chokecherry brush.

This means I had to reach under and over the electric fence to poke the hoe in the tall grass and alfalfa in the reclamation, then I had to duck under the wire and stand in the 3-foot wide area of tall vegetation between the wire and the brush where the snake was now rattling (but I couldn’t see). I knew damn good and well that if the snake slithered out after me the wire was going to both hinder my flight and shock the hell out of me. Literally.

My mind kept saying, “Snake in the grass. Dumbass. We have these cliched sayings exactly because they are based on universal truths. Snake in the grass. Watch yourself. This is really a bad idea, dumbass.” Snake in the grass. Pitter patter, thumpity thump went my heart.

Of course, I didn’t have to worry about Cooper because he beat me back to the house when I went for the hoe.

Baby scared, cuz he’s smart enough for his own good at: pam(at)viewfromthenorth40.com.