Help! Squirrels Are Eating Our House

Who doesn’t love squirrels?  For years, we’ve put out ears of corn to keep them fat and happy.  And then, a few weeks ago, we opened our side door and two squirrels scampered away. We were amused by these frisky little fellows playing  on our porch.  But when we returned from a Thanksgiving holiday in Indianapolis  and began to unpack, we saw a gaping hole at the square  base of a porch pillar.  Looking closer, we saw another hole on the side.  It was puzzling.  Years ago, wasps had eaten away that same base, causing the pillar to collapse.   But wasps in the snow?  It didn’t make sense.   And then it dawned on us. Help! Squirrels are eating our house.

We found squirrels eating our porch
SQUIRRELS CAN DAMAGE YOUR HOUSE

We turned to the internet to confirm our suspicions.  And sure enough, there were pages of horror stories about squirrels eating you out of house and home.  One person had to spend $10,000 replacing a squirrel damaged roof.  Apparently, squirrels will eat wires, man made wood, asphalt shingles and lots of other things in your house.

One squirrel lover sternly admonished that it was our own fault for not providing enough squirrel food.  The critters were eating wood because they were hungry. Guiltily, we realized we hadn’t provided the ears of corn this year.  But wait a minute, thanks to our neighbors’  trees, our yard is full of black walnuts and acorns.  You’d think that would satisfy their hunger pangs.  Other experts stated that the squirrels eat wood to sharpen their teeth. That doesn’t make much sense, with numerous surrounding tree branches to chew on.

I hopped in the car and headed for Rural King.  As I was getting a bag of  free popcorn, I asked a salesperson if they had a product to help someone who had squirrels eating their house. Nearby customers looked at me with astonishment.  They had never heard of such a thing.  But sure enough, there is a  pepper spray squirrel repellent.   No, you don’t spray it on the animal, but on the wood, so that it doesn’t taste very good.  Trouble is, rain and snow washes it away, so we will be going through lots of the squirrel repellent  this winter.  For good measure, we covered the holes with duct tape.

Do you suppose that will solve the problem?  Or will the squirrels keep munching away? Only time will tell.

STOP! DON’T WEIGH YOURSELF TODAY

The holiday is over, and now you’re ready to step on the scales.  How much weight did you gain after all that dressing, gravy, mashed potatoes, rolls and pumpkin pie?  The average Thanksgiving meal contains about 5,000 calories, which is more than you ordinarily consume in a couple of days. But,  before you take off your shoes, stop! Don’t weigh yourself today.

Thanksgiving meals are loaded with salt and sugar.  Both will make you retain fluids.  You may be holding an extra three or four pounds of water  in your body tissues.  It takes awhile to get rid of all that extra water, assuming that you resume your healthy , low sodium, low sugar diet.

Too much salt causes a flud buildup
WHY YOU SHOULD WAIT A FEW DAYS TO WEIGH YOURSELF

In addition to the big family meals, you may have been on the road for a day or two visiting family.  How do you eat when you’re traveling?  Fast food, of course.  Who wants to waste time sitting in a restaurant when you are anxious to arrive at your destination before the weather gets worse.  Maybe you don’t ordinarily eat French fries, but they smell so good when you walk into Burger King. And how good are fries without salt?  Lots and lots of salt.  There you go, more fluid retained in your sluggish body cooped up for hours on end in a car, and no exercise whatsoever.

And so, if you step on the scales the minute you get home, you’re apt to be in for a shock. You don’t need that guilt trip just yet.  It could make you so depressed that you reach for a candy bar just to cheer yourself up.  For the rest of the week, eat lots of salads, vegetables, and lean meat.  Walk at least 30 minutes a day.

Okay, on Friday, it’s safe to step on the scales and find out how  much you weigh.  You may have gained a pound or two, but that’s doable.  It’s easier to diet away one pound, rather than four.

Now, you have a few weeks to prepare for those Christmas parties.   Reduce your caloric intake, and fix some carrot and celery sticks to keep in the frig in case you get hungry. Take advantage of sunny days to walk in the park.  The average person gains a total of six pounds over the holidays.  But that statistic needn’t include you!

A LITTLE THANKSGIVING GLITCH

We’ve all had some memorable Thanksgivings.  Mine happened while I lived in Miami,  and about to have my  third child.  For some reason, I was hosting Thanksgiving for my then husband’s brother & family from Wisconsin, and my in laws who lived an hour away.   Looking back, I wonder why a person who was 9 months pregnant would have made such a plan, without foreseeing the possibility of a little Thanksgiving glitch.

On Wednesday , I put my two children in the car, drove to Winn Dixie, bought a turkey and all the fixin’s, went home, and confidently chopped up onions and celery for the dressing.  After dinner, I set the table for eleven, got out all the serving dishes, and rubbed the turkey with garlic.  I suppose we watched television for awhile as I folded napkins and baked a couple of pumpkin pies.

A Thanksgiving baby
Baby Girl Born on Thanksgiving Day

About 11:30, I was awakened with those familiar cramps that signal a baby is urgently trying to escape from the womb. Even though I was 10 days from my due date,  I’d been through this before, and was afraid I I would not be cooking Thanksgiving dinner.  What would happen to the turkey?  Would it spoil in the refrigerator?  And where would everyone have dinner on a holiday when all the restaurants were closed?

My husband awakened our children, and we  drove to the hospital.  After I’d been put in the maternity ward, I urged my husband to take the children home so they could all get some sleep.  Secretly, I hoped this was a false alarm and I could go home and cook  dinner the next day.

 They hadn’t been gone half an hour before a slim, blonde nurse came to my side, looked at her watch, and drawled . “I think we’re going to have us a Thanksgiving Baby.” It was l a.m.,  and the doctor was at a party.  He made it just in time for the delivery , dressed in a suit and tie.

Someone else cooked Thanksgiving dinner the next day.  Probably, my sister-in-law.  When they came to see me me that night, everyone  said it had all been delicious.  They even put some leftovers in the freezer so that I could have Thanksgiving dinner the following  week.

Have a happy Thanksgiving.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Yes,  there was a little glitch in my Thanksgiving dinner plans.  But on the other hand, something had gone very, very right.   Forty eight years later  I still have my beautiful Thanksgiving Baby Girl..

FORMER SNOW BIRDS STAYING HOME

Why are two former snow birds staying home this winter? Before our retirements 20 years ago, my husband and I  dreamed of spending the winter in a warmer climate.  As we trudged our way to work through blizzards and freezing rain, we were comforted by the promise of escaping northern winters once and for all,  once we began collecting social security.

That dream finally came true when we spent our first two winters in Costa Rica. What a beautiful romantic country with so much to see, charming people and near perfect weather.  And yet, it seemed unwise to stay so long in a place where our health insurance wasn’t good, and our children would have to fly down to rescue us if we got sick.

We spent one winter in Florida, but it wasn’t right for us.  Way too much traffic—so bad that the “natives” were forced to grocery shop in the middle of the night . Going out to dinner entailed long drives to get the the restaurant, and slow service once we arrived.

Next, we alternated between rented condominiums  in Jekyll Island, Georgia, and South Padre Island, Texas.  For the first few years, while  our health was still good, it wasn’t a big deal to load up the car and drive to our destination.  And, we didn’t mind the inconveniences that come with staying in a rental unit. We enjoyed shopping, walking the beach,  enjoying a change of scene, and making friends from all over the USA. .

Island vacations sometimes disappoint
FORMER SNOWBIRDS ARE STAYING HOME THIS WINTER

But all of a sudden, I knew it was over.  We couldn’t face packing up the car and  driving  through miles of hectic traffic, in  snow, sleet, and rain;  hampered by  failing eyesight and slower reaction times.   The positives of warmer weather and a change of scene  now seemed outweighed by the negatives.

Here are a few things we won’t miss about spending the winter on a southern island:
  1. Not having our local newspaper and the Indianapolis Star delivered to our door..  On an island, you’re lucky to have access to a USA today, if you’re wiling to get dressed and either walk or drive to a gas station.
  2. Small screen TV with a finicky remote, frequent blackouts, and only a few channels.
  3. Barely comfortable furniture, and no big recliner.
  4. Driving miles across a bridge once a week to load up on groceries. .
  5. A too small refrigerator and freezer . Sparse kitchen utensils and silverware.
  6. Iffy weather, accompanied by erratic heating and cooling. I’ve spent many a cold day inside with my coat on, waiting for maintenance to “fix” things.
  7. Forwarded mail arriving 7 to 10 days late.
  8. Uncomfortable beds
  9. Nothing but a walk in clinic across the bridge if you get sick.,                                         For years, it seemed that  the effort to go South for the winter was worth it.  And then, it didn’t.  As Dorothy said to Toto, “there’s no place like home.”

DISAPPOINTING COUNTRY MUSIC AWARDS

The TV ratings for the Country Music Awards Show were down a whopping 34% from  last year’s  show.  This came as no surprise to me.

I grew up in the days of the big bands like Jimmy Dorsey, and vocalists like Bing Crosby.  That was the type of music appealing to young people in the fifties.  And then, one day, I heard a guy on the radio with a deep, monotone voice, sing, “I walk the line,” and I fell in love with the rhythms of  country music.  After that, I was hooked.  I had a girlfriend who felt the same way, and we would sneak into  music stores where they let you play records for free, and listen to good old Johnny Cash.  Does anyone actually do country music like that anymore? The Country Music Awards Show was a disappointment.

Newer country singers aren't as good
THE HIGHWAYMEN GAVE US THE BEST OF COUNTRY MUSIC

In the glory days of country music at the Grand Old Opera,  there were  no dazzling sets, back up dancers, lighting and hi tech audio.  Just some good old country music stars like Patsy Cline , Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson standing up on a bare stage in front of a microphone tearing our hearts out with their songs of angst, heartache, and things gone bad.

My husband and I  were bored with this year’s CMA show right from the git go.  What really turned us off was the  opening monologue with Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood.   First off, I’m not a fan of the current clingy maternity tops. It’s okay to be proud of your pregnancy, but I don’t see anything aesthetic about a distended belly button.   I know, I’m old fashioned, but I prefer flowing maternity clothes that make a woman appear a bit mysterious,  rather than like she’s got a basketball in her pants.  This is not an appealing  look, folks.  And I hope  it will soon go out of style.

And while I applaud Brad Paisley’s decision not to make political jokes,  his alternative was a bit lame.  Too Much Information about Carrie’s pregnancy, embarrassing and banal jokes about opening a milk bar, etc.  Other awkward jokes about the sex  of the baby, who is the father, etc.  This was inside conversation at it’s worst.  If they didn’t want to talk about politics,  couldn’t they  have come up with  something a bit more entertaining  than Carrie’s pregnancy?

The first act opened with something that sounded more like hip hop than country.   I know, we should have had been patient enough to wait for some real entertainment, but we missed the good old days  when artists didn’t have fabulous  sets, lighting, or so many  bells and whistles  to prop them up.  They just got  and played their instruments  and sang.  You had to have real talent to make it in Nashville.

No wonder Willie Nelson is still going strong.  Hopefully, he’ll be doing concerts until he’s 100!

HOW MUCH CAN YOU SAVE WITH COUPONS?

Many years ago, I had a mother-in-law who prided herself on her money management skills.  We’re talking a real tightwad, here.  Like turning off a faucet before you had a full glass of water.  Never, ever, discarding a leftover.  Changing  banks  every time they offered a free gift if you opened an account. And of course, this frugal lady believed she saved a lot with coupons.

She lived in a small, beachfront  apartment, so there wasn’t a lot of storage space.  But one kitchen cupboard was crammed with  containers of upscale, name brand items that represented, to her, hundreds of dollars in savings–offbeat things like  crab soup, gourmet peanut butter, imported cereals, special jellies.  The list could go on forever.  She seldom used any of these items.  They just sat there, month on end, but she could tell you exactly how much she had saved by using coupons for their purchase.

STORE COUPONS DON'T ALWAYS SAVE MONEY
HOW MUCH CAN YOU SAVE WITH COUPONS

Coupons weren’t  so widely used in those days, and since I was working full time, I thought coupons weren’t worth the time and bother.  Why spend hours going through magazines and newspapers in search of a $1.00  off coupon for a can of name brand food, when I could buy generic brands for even less?

Coupons are everywhere nowadays.  You go to the drug store to buy a pack of gum, and the cash register spits out ribbons  of coupons representing mega dollars in savings. However, there’s a catch.    You can’t use a coupon  to buy a bottle of any old face cream; it has to be the most expensive one on the shelf.  The mail brings more coupons—stacks and stacks of them from our local grocery store.  They’ve even kept track of my purchases and send me coupons for the things I’m likely to buy.  I stuff these things in my purse, but when I get to the store I don’t have time to sort them out and decide which ones are still good.  And often, when I try to cash one in,  I’m informed that the coupon just expired.

One drug store chain has a sneaky way of sending coupons through the mail that are only good for a week.  On the back of the coupon, you see numerous “excluded” items, including anything that’s on sale. If you rush to the store to redeem your coupon, you see yellow tags everywhere you look.  Everything you  normally buy is on sale!   Your coupon is useless.  But what the heck, they got you into the store!

The Sunday paper is loaded with coupons.  How else would newspapers survive without that advertising revenue?  Here again, it seems more trouble than it’s worth to save a couple of dollars on a product you wouldn’t ordinarily purchase.  And yet, millions of people must cut out the coupons, or the companies wouldn’t spend the money to print them.

I guess the world is divided between those who clip coupons and those who don’t.  As for me, I prefer coupon free stores like Walmart, Sam’s and Aldi where what you see is what you get.

HOW TO PLAN YOUR FLU SHOT

Flu shots are a done deal.  Everyone has to get one. If you don’t, and you catch the flu, your friends and family will tell you it’s your own fault, and you won’t receive much sympathy.  You might even have to heat up your own bowl of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup.

Health care providers assure us that side effects seldom occur, and if they do, they’re minimal in the majority of cases.  They make  vague references to the possibility of  aches, pains, fever, and fatigue for “a couple of days,” after receiving the shot.

Even if it makes you sick, you must get it
YOU MUST GET A FLU SHOT

I have always been in that unlucky minority that experiences unpleasant side effects after a flu shot..  When I was younger, I would have a stiff neck, fatigue, and a yucky feeling for two or three days.   And then,  about 10 years ago, I got the dreaded shot, endured the side effects, and proceeded to get the flu, anyway.  That’s not unusual, since the shot is at most , 60% effective. However,  after that nasty episode, I chose to avoid  flu shots, and happily, did not get the flu.  My husband always got a flu shot, and never got the flu, so he may have been inadvertently protecting me from the virus..

Last year was a wake up call for me.  No flu shot, as usual, and then, wowza!  I came down with the most miserable case of the flu I had ever experienced. Even though I stubbornly resisted calling the doctor,   I often wondered if I would make it through the night.

This year, I had to face  facts.  But I also knew I should make plans before I scheduled a flu shot.  Looking at my calendar, I found a week when I had nothing really important to do, or places I needed to go.  On a sunny Monday morning, I bravely walked into Walgreen’s where a pretty young pharmacist gave me a “senior” flu shot that didn’t hurt a bit. There, that wasn’t so bad, was it?

It  did not turn out as well as I had hoped. Seniors now get a really strong flu shot, which meant that my aches and pains were worse than before, accompanied by an upset stomach. So glad I planned ahead as to the best time to get my shot.

My husband had the same symptoms, and I hate to tell you, they lasted off and on for almost two weeks for both of us.  Talked to many seniors who had the same experience. It’s a dirty little secret that health care providers don’t want you to know about.  And it’s all because the shots stimulate your immune system, which isn’t in very good shape if you’re over 65.

Will I get the flu shot again?  Yes, because if I catch the  flu, it might be fatal  or  I could  infect  others.   But that doesn’t mean I have to like it