Monday, June 28, 2010

City Mice Vs. Country Mice

From time to time, the scratchy, scurrying sounds within the lower cabinets in our kitchen drive me a little crazy. The one comfort being that the 13 pound family cat that is Chelsea in all her beautiful caliconess, is stationed outside the lower kitchen cabinets standing guard like a vigilant sentinel. It's her pleasure. Though it's not mine when she captures them and plays hockey with them (the mice being the puck) through our small kitchen and dining room. Fine, the mouse is caught but still to my stomach, not so cool. But what really is not so cool is that a couple of weeks later, after said mouse has been played with and disposed of, there are more scratchy, scurrying sounds.

Where are they coming from?

It brings me back to the days when I lived in New York City. The Washington Heights section of Manhattan, which is the northern tip of the island. The first home that my husband and I lived in as a married couple. Our cool apartment with its hardwood floors in a pre-war building. In this place, we had little furry gray visitors too. They'd come through our hall closet and make their way in. It was the reason I was able to convince the husband that we should take the then 10 lb feline in. And she earned her keep. She caught two the first month she lived with us. But then there would be a drought for awhile -- like 8 months or so before we saw another one, maybe two. Here in Boulder, they seem to just keep coming.

Field mice, I've been told. We live in a neighborhood surrounded by wide open space on three sides. Nothing but fields and grass as far as the eye can see with a few houses dotting the landscape. We really are in rural Boulder. As we drive down the road towards downtown Boulder, we're often passing cows and sheep along the way. We're also passing mice. Little field mice we cannot see but appear in our kitchen with a consistent frequency that astounds me.

The good news is that they are not living in the walls or the attic of our house which means that they are not right under our noses. They make their homes in the beautiful open space that surrounds our neighborhood. That's nice. And far away. The bad news? That in this expansive field utopia they flourish. They breed and increase, then come into our homes like we go into the nearest restaurant to find food and partake of it. They nibble and leave their mouse droppings and go. Then return the next day, and the day after that to continue the feast until they lose interest or they are being swiped around like a hockey puck by a 13 pound cat. At least this is the case in our home.

What's better? To jump and screech every month or just twice a year?

In my opinion, neither one. But then I guess anything is better than their city rat cousins that are four times their size and scary looking. They live beneath the ground, more than often frequenting the trash bag piles above ground that line the sidewalks. And there isn't an equivalent of those here in rural Boulder - thank God.

Nor of those stubborn city cockroaches...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Being Older and Not Having a Driver's License Doesn't Make Me An Alien, Just A Native New Yorker...

"You don't have a driver's license?" That was from a 12 year old girl years ago when I just moved to Central New Jersey. The response was one of disbelief but her facial expression? Priceless. She looked at me as if I was an alien that just landed in Central New Jersey from the planet Mars. I have to say hers was one of a couple of reactions like that from people 18 and under in response to me not having a driver's license. There were plenty more reactions to that known fact about me that came from people 25 and older who I realized later were from non-urban backgrounds.

"You're over 18 and you don't have a license?" The expression that accompanies that phrase is usually one of mild shock or disbelief. Followed by an unstated "How do you survive?" as though I've been living, trapped in my house for the last forty years.

Before I moved from the city, having a license was a rare thought in my head. Sure when I was 21, I took several road tests and failed them all because I thought I was ready to drive, when I wasn't - but I didn't need a license to get around. It was optional. A preference. A choice.

I didn't realize the significance of having one until I moved out of the city. In a lot of places in this country of mine's, driving is the only choice. This girl was used to hopping on subway trains and hailing yellow cabs (of which there were plenty) daily to get around. I didn't realize the uniqueness of that situation. Didn't most people do that? Everywhere? No?

Uh, no. That was part of urban living and only in select cities: Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, where you could exist generally without needing a car because of the comprehensive public transportation system. It was not the norm.

It was then, I had my epiphany and realized I was just as guilty as my license-driving friends who got their licenses at 17 years old and assumed most everyone, everywhere had done the same thing.


But really, I am not an alien or someone who had her license revoked. I'm just a native New Yorker born in a city where taking public transportation was/and still is as normal as breathing in air or say, driving a car?

And truly, I'm not the only one.

Footnote: This city girl's working on getting that license now. Once I get it, I guess I'll truly have options...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Subway Love - Is it Genetic?

While watching t.v., a shot of a NYC subway train came on and both my oldest and middle sons (5 years old and 2 years old, respectively) screeched "Subway Train!" to which my husband replied: "That's the "R" train." The boys screeched again in excitement. They wanted to see the subway train again. We hit reverse, then pause on the remote and the boys just stared at the frozen train in fascination which made this Bronx girl's heart turn to mush. They knew the R train, and the N train, as well as most of the other NYC train lines.

The fascination with the NYC subway line began about a year ago for these boys, maybe a bit longer for my oldest. It started with the number 4 train -- which they were introduced to while we were visiting NYC over a year ago, and it has grown since which is wild since we haven't been back to NYC since then. From the 4 train to the D train to the B and it goes on. It really does give them great joy to see the subway trains racing along their tracks. The last subway sighting on t.v. was when the NY Yankees were playing the NY Mets in a recent Subway series...ESPN showed a good amount of footage of both the #4 and #7 trains racing along their tracks. Talk about much joy to be had all around the house by both the boys and yours truly. The subway trains are a cherished memory for this native NYC girl now living in Colorado.

I had the same joy while growing up in The Bronx. I always felt a little rush or high whenever I saw the #4 train speeding by on its elevated line. There was a park right in front of the elevated line and whenever my Mom took me and I got on the swings, I would pump even harder to go higher as the #4 train went speeding by. It was exhilarating. I was too lady like to scream out loud, of course, but watching the boys react now, I remember feeling the same excitement as I watched the trains go by.

The closest these boys come to a subway on a daily basis in Boulder is the bus, and when we're in Denver, the light rail -- which excites them too but not like the NYC subway train. There's nothing like a NYC subway train for them.

Is it genetic or just a love of trains moving fast? Hmmm...this city girl would like to think it's the former.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

East Meets West

I always thought "transplanted" is a good word when it comes to describing me.  East meets West.  2 years and 10 months from the time that I moved from the East Coast to the Mountain West.  Seems like forever ago.  And yet I still miss the city and home.  Different worlds.  At least to this Bronx girl.  From the Bronx to Boulder.  New York to Colorado.  Yet both places - as different as they can be - are home to me.