Saturday, December 1, 2012

There's a mouse about the house

When my brother and I were little, my parents read us an interactive book called "There's a mouse about the house!" by Richard Fowler.  It had a little mouse that slipped through slits in the pages, "moving from room to room".  It was actually a really cool book.  If only the reality of having mice were as cute as that book...

I have found four mice in my apartment since I have lived here.  Two dead, two alive.  Jordan Rippy, my friend and the previous tenant in this apartment never saw one.  Life is indeed not fair.

I realized that something afoot when I began to smell something really horrible in the apartment.  I don't really keep food or trash in the house, so I knew it wasn't something I did.

I also began to see these HUGE flies in my apartment; I believe they were a symptom of the mice problem.  Killing those flies was a pretty cool deal.  Sometimes I killed them with my bare hands, swatting in a matrix-like fashion.  Other times I killed them with a fly-swatter that amazingly turned into a Lightsaber.  Everything went into slow motion.  In those moments, I was Obi-Wan Kenobi.  Then I would see the dead flies on the keys of my piano and reality would set back in - there was still an unidentified smell in my apartment.

The smell intensified and eventually got so bad that I could not rest until I found its source.

The epicenter of the olfactory abomination was a dead mouse in a glue trap under my kitchen sink.  It looked like it had taken a mob hit, a gunshot wound straight to the head.

I removed the mouse and replaced the glue trap.  A one-time thing, I thought.  But no.

A few weeks later, I smelled the same smell, and I knew another mouse was among us.  One was.  Under the cabinets on the opposite side of the kitchen.  It was right before my mom came to visit.  She hates mice.  I thought she might cancel her trip if I told her, so I didn't mention it.

I told my landlord about all of this.  Her solution was to send me a device that emits a high frequency that repels mice.  She is a vegetarian and doesn't want the mice to die.  To that, I say, she doesn't have to eat the mice.

That device doesn't work, I learned, when one morning during my mom's visit (I'll write about that in a future post), I was going to leave to go get theatre tickets while she stayed to clean.  Before I left, I did one last mouse check to make her feel comfortable.

That's when I found the third one.

I told my mom, "gosh, it's crazy that I've seen three."

"THREE!" she said.

Right, remember I hadn't told her about the second one.  The cat was out of the bag.  Actually, the cat was nowhere to be found because if he were out of the bag, then I probably would not be seeing any mice.

I found the fourth mouse alive a few weeks later, right before Thanksgiving. It was in the loft of my apartment, "upstairs".

I finally called an exterminator to diagnose and fix the problem. His name is Roger, and he's from Jamaica. He determined that the mice were coming in through a hole upstairs between the wall and my air conditioning unit. So he plugged that hole with some steel wool. I haven't seen any mice or smelled any dead ones since then.

Anyway, it's been really funny, and I hope that humor has come across here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Where New Yorkers Buy Christmas Trees

Have you ever wondered where New Yorkers buy their Christmas Trees?

You and I would go to a huge tent to buy our trees or maybe go cut them down at a Christmas tree farm, but in the great New York tradition of comical convenience, New York City folks buy them from Christmas Tree stands just down the block.

Last night, after taking the picture attached below, I went up to the operator of the stand to make sure it was alright with her that I took the picture.  She said it was alright, and I explained why I took the picture:  I wondered where New Yorkers bought Christmas trees and wanted to share the picture with people at home.  Her name is Brooke, and we agreed that I would buy a tree from her if I decided to buy one for my apartment.  She and her husband have set up their shop in my neighborhood for the Christmas tree selling season; they came all the way from California to sell trees.

I saw Brooke again yesterday evening as I was walking home from work.  We had a nice conversation a couple of blocks away from her establishment.  I'm glad she remembered me, and I'm looking forward to passing by her in the coming weeks.

Brooke's Christmas Tree Stand at the corner of 84th Street and Broadway
in the Upper West Side, just two blocks from my apartment.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Time with teachers

When the Baylor Graduate Accounting Program took its annual trip to New York City and Washington, D.C. a few weeks ago, the faculty sponsors and I spent some time together on one of their free evenings.

Charles Davis, Gia Chevis, and Tim Thomasson were the faculty sponsors on this year's trip.  We went to dinner at Heartland Brewery, a Times Square favorite of mine (mostly because it brews its own root beer, but they never put quite enough ice in it; it's remarkable how consistently low the ice level is).

We had the chance to catch up on life at Baylor, and they asked me about my time in New York.  After dinner, we got a cup of coffee at Starbucks (actually, we got multiple cups of coffee; we didn't all share one cup of coffee) and walked around Times Square.  That evening was a great time of fellowship.  It was nice to get a taste of Baylor.

I remember being a student on the same trip last fall.  I was a candidate for the researcher position in New York, and the trip was one week before my office visit.  I remember hoping that I would get to visit with the Baylor folks if I were selected for the researcher position, so this time with my teachers was really special.

Before we parted ways, we took this picture to remember our evening - and to put on the blog.
From my left, Charles Davis, Gia Chevis, and Tim Thomasson.  

Monday, November 19, 2012

An Old Friend Comes to Town

One of my good friends from high school, Sarah Redding, visited New York City a few weeks ago, and I got to see her while she was here.

Actually, Sarah is planning to move to the Brooklyn soon (or she might already have) to start a new job.

We had brunch at Jeffrey's Grocery in the West Village a few Saturdays ago.

Sarah and Scott.
We served as the Boerne High School
drum majors back in the day.  

Friday, November 16, 2012

Shabbat Shalom

Rebecca Ann Sasdlk;jfa (again, not her last name; we are just avoiding her dad getting a Google Alert) is going through a conversion to Orthodox Judaism.  

Rebecca's faith and her religious practices are of great interest to me and to the other researchers, and she is always willing and happy to share with us.  

Orthodox Jews observe the Jewish Sabbath, or "Shabbat" from sundown on Friday evening to sundown on Saturday evening.  During that time, they do not perform tasks that are associated with the construction of the Tabernacle (e.g. starting a fire (using electricity)).  

On two occasions, Rebecca has hosted the researchers in her home for Friday night Shabbat dinner.  Those two nights have been some of the most fun and fulfilling evenings of my time here in New York so far.  She prepares a wonderful meal, and we all eat and have a great time of fellowship, playing games and visiting about the week.  

The phrase "Shabbat Shalom" is customary to say as a greeting once Shabbat has come.  I usually say it way more frequently than is probably appropriate (the first time I usually say it is on Friday morning, about nine hours before Shabbat.  But it's always respectful and in the "spirit of Shabbat."  

From all the researchers, we thank you, Rebecca, for inviting us into your home, into your life, and into your faith.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Long Island Labor Day

On Labor Day weekend, the researchers had an incredible opportunity:  to go yachting off the coast of New York's Long Island.

Mary Katharine's dad, John Farnell, in his capacity as the general manager of the Marine Max, a boat dealer and broker, in New York, has access to very large and very awesome yachts.  In his capacity has a gracious and awesome man, he invited the researchers to go yachting.

On the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend, Will, Mary Katharine, Caitlin, and I took the Long Island Rail Road to Lindenhurst, New York and met Mr. Farnell for our trip.

We embarked from the Marine Max marina into what I think was the Great South Bay.  We rode around, got off at beach and touched the Atlantic Ocean (the first time for me), ate on the yacht, celebrated Mary Katharine's birthday, and enjoyed the perfect weather.

We are all grateful for for that unique experience.  Thank you, Mr. Farnell.

Relaxing on the yacht.  From left to right:  Will, Mary Katharine, Caitlin, and Scott.  

Sunday, November 11, 2012

My new friend, Anne

In order to cool down after my late afternoon runs in Riverside Park down by the Hudson River, I usually exit the park and walk around the streets of the Upper West Side.  I never walk to same path twice and never have a plan about which path I am going to take.  I am convinced that the Lord leads me into those paths for specific reasons - like meeting my new friend, Anne.

Tonight after my run, I was walking around with my headphones in, and I came to the corner of 89th and Broadway.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw an older lady flagging me down.  I stopped and greeted her. She asked me to help her across 89th street because "all of the curbs are beaten to shreds" (which is true, none of the curbs/ramps are in good shape).  She took my arm, and we began to walk.  

We crossed the street, and she said that she would just hold onto the scaffolding from that point on, but I insisted that I walk her all the way home (it was only one block more, not out of my way, and the scaffolding was going to end halfway down the block which would not have been good for her).  

So we continued to walk and I began to get to know this amazing, storied lady named Anne.  After asking me about my profession, she told me that she is a musician by profession; she plays the violin, viola, and all of the keyboard instruments.  She spent 15 years as the principal violist for the Frank Sinatra Orchestra and traveled all over the world with him.  They were friends! She was a player in the New York Philharmonic and was a family friend of Leonard Bernstein (whom she affectionately called "Lenny" as I'm sure his friends did).  She has played on the Tonight Show with Jack Parr and has played on David Letterman's show.  She knew those guys personally.  

When Anne gets bored, she looks at words and makes anagrams from them.  She once made 29 words from the word "philharmonic" in her head with no pencil or paper.  She recalled a time when one particular conductor she worked with conducted Mahler, "It was so boring; he had no heart for it.  Some people would dig their toes into the ground to keep from falling asleep.  I just did anagrams."

"I did my work, did my homework, I've traveled all over the world.  You know the only place I haven't been, the one place?  The North Pole, but I figure I can just go to Macy's to see Santa Clause" she said.  Anne is very witty and charming, and she "doesn't like old people."  She said, "I don't want to need help because I don't want to annoy people as much as they annoy me!"  She was awesome and hysterical.  

I took her all the way to the door of her building where her doorman helped her inside.  She said, "Well you know where I live and you're in the neighborhood, so if you ever want to stop by, just ask for Anne."  I said I would, and I think I will.