Monday, October 22, 2018

That Time We Caught and Nearly Lost a Mouse in Our House

Country living is a critter-filled existence. Gophers in the lawn. Foxes in the back forty. Deer down the middle of the road. Skinks in the shed. Snakes in the driveway. I could go on...

Thankfully, beyond the occasional small creepy crawly, we've only had one giant barn spider, one potato bug, and one baby lizard wander inside the confines of our house during our 5 years here. But Friday night, our relaxing Netflix binge on the couch was interrupted by a new intruder.

The cats sensed him first. Powell perked up and looked toward the ceiling at what I assumed was just a harmless flying insect of some sort.

When I noticed something between the wall and wooden light bank in our living room, I initially thought I was seeing a big, furry brown moth. But instead of crawling, it ducked its head. And then its head popped back up from the edge of the wood.

"Is that a—?!" Mr. W gasped.

"MOUSE!" I shrieked.

I jumped onto the couch even though the thing was basically on the ceiling, not the floor.

Mr. W immediately headed to the garage to get the ladder and a trap. And I immediately told him we were not killing our new visitor. If we were going to catch it in a sticky trap, we'd also be freeing it from said trap and letting it loose in the lower backyard.

Of course when he got up to the beam with his flashlight, he couldn't find it. We waited. The cats waited. And then he heard some sound (Help me?) that indicated it was stuck to the trap.

Mr. W carried the sticky tray into the kitchen where a Rubbermaid bin was waiting. The poor little mouse was teeny and as cute as a brown velvet button. I wanted to cry when I saw his heart pounding in total terror over his predicament.

We had warm water waiting, and Mr. W gently poured it over the trap until the mouse freed himself inside the Rubbermaid bin.


Mr. W grabbed a dish towel. I grabbed the cats and shooed them out of the room. And then we commenced a game of mouse-catching ping pong, bumbling back and forth along the counter, trying to whisk him into a cardboard box.

I had just done the dishes and that little guy must have run over every spoon and pan that was sitting on our drying pad. He ran behind the upright mixer and when Mr. W tried to grab him, he ran into the sink. I thought we had him but he somehow scaled the wall and was hanging from the metal rack where we dry wine glasses.

It was like a scene out of Ratatouille.

He disappeared behind a frying pan and when we moved it, we discovered he had climbed up the splatter guard Mr. W had used over our pan-cooked salmon dinner. It turned out to be the perfect lid to our cardboard entrapment box, so Mr. W grabbed it and swung it over the box like a tennis pro spiking a ball.

My heart was pounding as hard as the mouse's.

Mr. W took the box outside and relocated our friend about a quarter acre from the house.

I scoured every dish for the second time and he scrubbed all surfaces and items within sneezing distance of the kitchen counter. We'll be re-spray-foaming the light bank in the living room, as well.

Though our visitor was a cute little guy and we do live in the country which seems like it just begs for the occasional surprise rodent, the only furry friends I want in my house are those two spoiled felines.

Let's just hope Mr. Mouse's family doesn't come looking for him anytime soon. Especially on a night when Mr. W is working in LA!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

You Know You've Finally Made It When...

When Mr. W was a youngster, he had three big dreams: To be a Top Gun fighter pilot, to work in the film industry, and to someday own a Porsche. While some guys his age had pictures of Tiffani-Amber Thiessen taped to their bedroom walls, Mr. W had centerfolds of Carreras.

Though his dream of becoming Maverick got back burnered, he chased his film aspirations from St. Louis to Los Angeles and vowed to buy himself that car as soon as his paychecks could support it.

After several years of grinding away in visual effects (and fetching the occasional coffee), Mr. W was established enough in the industry to splurge on the ultimate driving machine. He bought himself a shiny ocean blue metallic Porsche 911 Carrera.

It was a declaration that'd he'd finally made it.

His friends teasingly called him Jake Ryan. Shy guy. Good hair. I think it kinda fits.

Fast forward about 15 years and the marker that represents making it has changed dramatically.

I don't want to say that his double decades in Hollywood jaded him, but he outgrew the Porsche aspirations and moved onto fantasizing about a more practical sports car: The Tractor.

Success shifted from the Hollywood Hills to the Santa Ynez Valley, and included the remodel of an outdated house, the planting of a backyard vineyard, and the purchase of something powerful for mowing and tilling.

Folks, I am so happy to announce that my highly motivated husband has "made it" yet again. He is officially a real farm person now, with the purchase of his Massey Ferguson GC1715.

I've named it Mater after the tow truck in Cars. And it runs like a champion.

Weeds in the back 40: Watch out—he's comin' for you.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

5 Years on the Other Side


I was picking tomatillos in my garden yesterday when I looked down and saw a spider hanging out on the bare part of my flip flop-clad foot. I flailed and cursed for a minute, but quickly went back to my important business. Five years of country living has hardened me against such terrors.

Yep, five years.

August 17th was the fifth anniversary of my arrival here in Santa Ynez. I say "my" because Mr. W didn't officially join me for about 8 more months. Life in the entertainment industry. Sigh.

I'm amazed by how quickly the years have passed. In our time here, we've managed to extensively demo, remodel, landscape, and add on to our house (an almost up-to-date before and after tour here), plant two different gardens that have yielded hundreds of fruits and veggies, say goodbye to two beloved cats, hello to two more that we adore, and raise a flock of six chickens (minus one dearly departed Miss Carrie Birdshaw). I think I've produced more sweat working in our yard here than I did in my entire 37 years in So Cal. But the perspiration, determination, and even frustration have all been worth it.

We really do feel like we did it. We had a dream and we made it come true.

We're living the life we imagined when sat on our patio in Hollywood drafting our plans to move to wine country. It's far from perfect. It's hard to balance the draws of LA—family, friends, work—with our new life here. Mr. W has even been commuting back and forth for a film project since late spring of 2017. We still haven't finished remodeling one of our bathrooms. We had to replant our garden 3 times this summer before figuring out how to fend off the earwigs. A deer broke our young persimmon tree. I break out in a rash every time I make contact with the zucchini plant or certain grasses in our back forty. And Trader Joe's and Target still require a 35-minute drive.

But all of the prickles and inconveniences are no match for the upsides of life here. The strangers who wave from their cars when we pass them on our street. The way that we seem to bump into someone we know every time we go out to dinner. The fact that we can spend an afternoon wine tasting without driving more than 7 minutes from our garage. The beautiful hawks and foxes and quail we get to see wandering through our yard.

The very best part, by far, though is the people we've come to call friends.

Before we moved, my biggest fear and greatest hope centered around making friends. I was so scared we wouldn't find our people. Not having children and working from home, our chances seemed like they might be slim. I'll never forget going to my first yoga class here and scanning the room like a predator looking for potential friend prey.

I still attend the same yoga class, though it's now filled with sassy seniors who take part in women's marches and worry about water conservation and world events. I adore these ladies so incredibly much. They're like my tribe of elders and I love listening to everything they have to say. And, they're not the only extraordinary friends I've made in town.

Mr. W and I had the great fortune of falling into a crowd of a dozen or two couples that all know each other through the community and get together regularly for BBQs and beer nights at the local brewery and holiday parties. We never had a crew like this in LA. We had great friends who were couples, but never a sprawling collection that has come to feel more like family than just friends.

It's all been such an unexpected gift. I had hoped to make a few close friends and it feels like there are at least 20 people I could call now for help or a girls' night out or a shoulder to cry on. I'm amazed by our luck.

And the idea that those friendships and our memories will only deepen over the next five years and the five after that completely warms my heart. We planted a new life and get to watch it grow.

I hope continues to yield delicious and copious amounts of goodness.

Just like my beloved tomatillo plant.