Three Things I Did Over My Holiday Vacation

And, in the role of Florence Nightingale, Sarah Josepha Hale.
And, in the role of Florence Nightingale, Sarah Josepha Hale.

I Broke My Big Toe

Two days before Christmas, I fell down some stairs. To be more accurate, I fell down one stair.

My life is peppered with embarrassing injuries such as this. Once, while making my bed, I tore a tendon in my middle finger. To put it another way, I had to wear a splint on my finger for six weeks just to experience the bliss of hospital corners. I regret nothing.

So I am now using a cane. This has made me instantly popular. People love to play with canes. My son pretends to be an old man, my niece tap dances with it, my coworker uses it to fondly reflect on her days as a marching band majorette. As for me, I like to wave it at punk kids playing on my lawn. Scram, you miserable urchins!

 I Ran a Successful Mouse Motel

On the morning of December 26th I discovered that we had a Christmas mouse. Adorable Christmas mice are the subjects of many holiday picture books. These books, all fail to mention, however, that Christmas mice poop.

They poop a lot.

I knew the interloper had to go, but I also knew I wanted him unharmed. I set up a few Have-A-Heart traps and waited.

The problem with Have-A-Heart traps is that, once trapped, the mouse is enclosed in a tiny little box with just a morsel of bait and no water. Because if this, I am obsessed with releasing the fellows into “the wild” (about six blocks away) the instant they are caught.

By 10 pm, however, I had caught nothing. I was soon faced with the reality that I was probably going to catch the mouse in the middle of the night while I was sleeping. I hated the very idea. The little fellow could be stuck in that tiny trap for eight hours or more. So I promised God that if He woke me up as soon as the trap was sprung, I would set up a comfortable place for the mouse to stay until I could get around to releasing him.

At 4 am I sat bolt upright in bed. I hadn’t heard a trap spring, but I knew. I hobbled up to the attic, got the Plexiglas terrarium I sometimes use to transport my pet rat to the vet, and decked it out with some comfy bedding, fresh water, and primo rat food. My rat, Lucy, always a curious sort, watched me work.

A few minutes later, Ellen, hands on hips, joined this little gathering. She was less curious and decidedly more scornful. “Getting another pet, are we?” she asked.

Remember the show The Honeymooners? Remember how Alice Kramden sometimes looked at Ralph when she caught him doing something particularly boneheaded? Ellen looked exactly like that.

But my conscience is clear. The mouse was fat, content, and happy by the time I released him the next day.

I Discovered that Bloggers Give the Best Christmas Gifts

Sarah Josepha Hale makes her guests fell at home.
Sarah Josepha Hale makes her guests feel at home.

OK, they weren’t Christmas gifts, they were prizes I won in winter blog contests – but my good fortune arrived just in time to make me feel all holly jolly.

The first contest I won was over at Madame Weebles’s place. If you don’t know Weebles, you don’t get out much. She is a Blogger’s Blogger. She is probably the best blogger there ever was or ever will be. Through Weebles, I won a pair of classic Weeble Wobbles – the good ones from the 1970s. I have named then Cornelius and Corky and they are friends with my Sarah Josepha Hale bobblehead.

The second contest was conducted by Roxie Hanna. If you write for a living you must, must, must visit her blog. She provides great leads for all kinds of writing gigs. (I personally have earned a nice chunk of change pursing a few of these leads.) Roxie gave me the gift of her editorial skills. She scrutinized one of my picture book manuscripts and provided me with a bunch of excellent comments.

The third contest was held by Sarah W. Sarah’s blog is a hodgepodge of awesomeness. Cartoons, videos, poems… Every day at her place is a delight. (Oh, and just so you know, Sarah’s daughter will someday rule the world – or at least a mid-sized island nation with a solid GDP.) I wasn’t planning to enter the contest, but Sarah made me. And then I won! So I am now the proud owner of a Cafepress mug. I slurped coffee out of it this morning; it works like a charm!

To sum up, I have an ugly toe, think mice are adorable, and am glad to be back in the blogging world.

So! How was your holiday?

71 Replies to “Three Things I Did Over My Holiday Vacation”

  1. My first thought at seeing the image on this post was “Steve taped his toes together. What on earth is his new book about?”

    My second was “A Sarah Josepha Hale bobblehead ! How cool is that?”

    I’m sorry you broke your toe, glad you nabbed your rodent, and pleased that the mug is operating at peak efficiency.

    And “hodgepodge of awesomeness” is the best tagline ever. Thanks!

    1. My first thought upon reading your comment was, “did Sarah call me ‘Steve’?”

      First you call me “Mike S.” on your blog and then this? Come ON! My name is in the URL! I thought we were friends!

      Despite your mental block, the “hodgepodge of awesomeness” quote still stands. You may use it in any and all promotional materials.

      1. Oh, Sheesh, I did it again!

        Here’s the deal—you look exactly like my co-worker Steve (above the neck, as I’ve never seen his feet and don’t plan to), whom I’ve called Mike once already this morning. Maybe that’s where the S came from?

        I get my own children mixed up, so this isn’t atypical. And he’s a great guy, too, so it’s hardly an insult.

        But I’m still extremely sorry. And embarrassed.

  2. Happy New Year! Please be careful this year Mike. I hope you’re not in pain and healing nicely. If you recall I share your sympathies for mice. Mice crap, another story. Good to see you.

      1. Bah humbug! I have however had happy days in between. I have to look at my life this way in small pieces — to quote a cheesy kitchen plaque — life is after all just “One Day at a Time.”

  3. Mike, Sorry to hear about the toe.

    I run 4 times a week, but none of my injuries have ever been running related. One time a few months ago, my son and I were playing soccer in the street, and I was wearing flip-flops (I know, I know). I lost 3/4 of a big toenail over that one. It was ugly. I have also twisted my knee and destroyed my foot doing everyday things around the house. There’s something inherently unfair about injuries like stepping down one stair and breaking a toe. Hope you’re able to keep typing. ; )

    Best to you in 2013!

  4. Congratulations on all the booty! Poor toe. I have been hobbled with a sprained ankle that I’m sure would be better if my kiddos would just let me sit for a few minutes (though all the snow angels I made in Buffalo this Christmas were my own fault). I was looking at the upcoming themes at FunforKidz magazine and guess what March 2015 is? GOATS!!!!!

    1. Holy smokes! Goats! And a few months later, “Nifty Rodents!” I am so in.

      So sorry to hear about your ankle. I sprained mine years ago and it was considerably worse than my current toe situation.

      What happened?

  5. So sorry to read about your toe. I love canes! I’ve bought a few for people over the years. I keep trying to talk my mother into a cane because she could use one, but I would get to play with it then. … You are so kind to your mice. … I tried to win a mug through a bacon contest at Sarah’s place once, but didn’t. You are sooo lucky!! 🙂

  6. Well, I did not break any bones for my holiday. Kind of wish I had instead of all the OTHER crap I had to deal with, though.

    But overall, everyone is alive, and while not necessarily happy, we are blessed with food on the table and a roof over our heads. And caller ID. Caller ID is very important.

    Otherwise, when I wasn’t dealing with stupid people, I was writing and/or chasing cats away from my chickens. Oh the life of chicken mothering . . .

    Love the cane stories! It makes me giggle.

    1. Oh, my! This is a side of you I have not seen before, Rebekah! Here’s hoping things get better soon.

      But stupid people really don’t get “better,” do they?

      That’s why I only allow smart people on this blog. If I’m the stupidest person here, then I know I’m doing something right. So far so good!

      On an entirely different note, someday soon I would love to pick your brain about raising chickens. When I get my next house, I plan to build a little coop. Any advice you could provide would be most welcome.

      Take care and be well, my friend.

      1. 😀 I’ve only been “raising chickens” for a few months now, but I will share whatever knowledge I have gained whenever you are ready!

        My husband has promised to make me a hobbit-hole coop, though, when we’re ready to upgrade the hen’s “housing”. I’m so excited!

        The most valuable resource I’ve found so far, though (besides a local urban farming guild – search facebook, etc, for something like that in your area), is the book “The Small-Scale Poultry Flock” by Harvey Ussery. Be warned – it does have color photographs of how to butcher a chicken toward the back of the book, if you (or the family) are sensitive to such things. I *cough* have paper clipped that section of the book shut so I don’t accidently stumble through it.

  7. Ha! Another rat lover…we had a pet rat in my class, named zipper. Great pet and best of all, he never escaped…like the snake in the classroom next door. By the way, one of my favorite books on mice is called Herman the Great. If you haven’t read it, do so. It is a great read aloud book.

    I too had pet adventures!

    I was house/pet sitting two very large dogs at a house that really wasn’t meant for large dogs. Every room had a large window with a view of the golfers just past the yard perimeter, with no fencing at all. This house also happened to be a favorite haunt of the neighboring deer. They were particularly fond of the spot right outside one of the dog’s bedroom windows. And the racoons over there have been celebrating well in to the new year with their late night parties unaware of the noise control regulations in a residential area. I had to leave TVs on at night to subdue the sounds of wildlife.

    But the most excitement came on Christmas Eve when I took one of them out for her evening ritual. The neighbor decided to walk her dog at the same time, I believe a small Chihuahua. Mind you, I had been very careful to keep my dogs to their own yard, avoiding all contact with the neighbors when I had spotted the neighbor’s Little Dog running across the street right toward us. I tried to redirect Big Dog in an effort to keep Little Dog out of sight but was not quick enough. I told Little Dog’s owner to pull back her dog as I wasn’t sure if my dog might hurt hers. That silly Little Dog kept coming toward us and I realized that he was not on a leash. By this time Big Dog was so excited and must have thought that Little Dog was a squirrel because she wrestled and twisted herself completely out of her chain collar trying to get to him. The chase began. Little Dog with his little legs tried running back to his home but his legs were just too short and Big Dog was gaining on him. I heard the yelp as Little Dog truly was in fear of his life. Just as Big Dog was about to make a chew toy of Little Dog he suddenly stopped, seeming to register that he was being called off…by me. Still without collar or leash he slowly returned home and followed my instructions to go inside. Tragedy averted. Whew!

    And Little Dog (whose parents were the owners of the private golf community that I was staying at and no doubt they have few kind words to say about me) has decided to stay close to home these days.

    1. My rat has escaped her cage five times, but every escape was my fault. I wouldn’t latch the door properly and little Lucy would take the opportunity to explore. She was surprisingly good when she went AWOL, only nibbling a pencil and leaving the scraps in all of the rooms she visited. (And she pretty much visited all the rooms.)

      Wow! That dog story was something! I guess deep down that big dog didn’t have a killer instinct. And thank goodness!

  8. I shall not call you Steve, or Mike. I’m calling you Christy. Why? Your photo called to mind “My Left Foot.” Oh wait, that called to mind Daniel Day-Lewis. Hmmm…you could have been a Lincoln stand-in for DD-L with your beard. I hope you don’t wear hoop earrings on both ears like DD-L. When I finally get to see “Lincoln” I hope I am not too distracted looking for evidence of ear piercings.

    Enough rambling. Will we get the story of the SJH bobblehead?

    Sorry for your pains. Hurrah for the mouse (who is just going to try harder to get back in the luxurious Hotel Allegra), and hurrah for the fun blog swag!

  9. Oh dear, I hope your toe gets better soon! It’s an annoying injury to have on icy sidewalks, slippery cane and all…. Wishing you a speedy recovery!

  10. We had mice a few years ago, first I found a few of the droppings here and there, and then I came across a proper Tom and Jerry style arched hole in the skirting board under the stairs! It turned out that the kids had known for a while that we had mice and had been putting cheese outside the mouse arch! Instead of any kind of trap, we got a cat, I know you might feel that is cruel but at least it’s more natural! Within a few days we found 5 mouse bodies, with no heads, lying around! And then no more. So either there were only 5, or the rest of the mice got the hint and left. We never found the heads.

      1. Decapitated! That’s the word I was looking for! I just couldn’t think of it, I kept thinking ‘beheaded’, no that’s not right, so I went for ‘mouse bodies, with no heads’ haha! The kids were much less freaked out than I was, I think kids tend to take these things in their stride really don’t they! The first one we found was the worst because it looked like some lint from the tumble dryer, so I casually picked it up and it was still warm with this bloody neck, so I did kind of shriek and throw it back down!

    1. Oh, I am a rodent lover. If I lived in the proper climate, I would so be the owner of a capybara. It’s like having a guinea pig the size of a dog.

      And it’s nice to have ya stop by! (Did I shame you into doing so?) Don’t be a stranger, my friend!

  11. Wait, are you allowed to slurp coffee near your computer? So sorry about the toe, Mike, but the cane thing seems to be working for you!

    Happy new year, my friend! Mine has been peaceful and quiet, and now I’ve got the flu. Get it all out of the way now, I say! xoxoM

      1. Yeah, it sucks! This morning is the first time I felt, marginally, like a human being – or was that bean? I’m an avid essential oils user and I think that’s helping me kick this bug faster: after only two days in bed, I can actually sit up for a while without wanting to cut my head off! Ahhh, progress…Feel better soon, my friend! xoxoM

  12. Congrats on your contest success! I’ve got you beat, though, in the embarrassing injury category. Imagine trying to remove an avocado pit by holding half of an avocado in your left hand and using your right hand to stab at the pit with a very long knife. The result? The point of the knife ends up embedded in the palm of your left hand, although it nearly went straight through. Hmmm, What was I thinking?\

    As for the mouse, I think you need to include a tiny bottle of champagne to quench the thirst of one with a discerning palate and to relieve yourself of future nighttime guilt.

    1. Oh yeah? Well, I got four stitches in my hand doing dishes. The handle broke off a mug in the dishpan, leaving a long, porcelain spike.The rest of the story writes itself, I think.

      It gets better. The moment after I stabbed myself, I had to get in my car and pick up my parents. They were coming back from a cruise and I had no time to get the wound treated.

      Imagine the scene, Mom and Dad, happy, content, and rested, stroll down the gangplank, and the first thing they see on the mainland is me, with a half-a-roll of bloody paper towels masking-taped to my hand.

      I think I ruined their buzz.

  13. We had roof rats in our attic once. It was disgusting. Their nest was over our bedroom. We were up all night listening to them either fighting, having sex, or fighting and then having make-up sex all night long. I called the exterminator the next day and asked him to put out lots of nasty poison. No cute harmless trap, a butler showing them to their new glass room in the middle of the night, and certainly no lovely car ride to the countryside. Die, rats, die!

    1. Don’t get me wrong Robin, wild rodents are incredibly dirty and destructive and I do feel for your situation. (Do you need all the bloodlust, however?)

      But don’t paint all rodents with a broad brush, my friend. Pet rats are clean, intelligent, affectionate, and curious. My little Lucy was fascinated with the mouse I caught — and watched it through the Plexiglas as if she was wandering through a zoo.

  14. You should tell people it’s a kickboxing injury. That’s what I would do. Not that anyone would believe me for a minute. But I bet the cane is a big hit—is it just an ordinary cane or does it have some flair to it? Because I can totally picture you rocking a wacky cane of some sort. Meanwhile, there’s a special place for you in Mouse Heaven, you know that, right? And mazel tov on your contest-winning mojo! Say hi to C&C for me. 😀

    1. My cane has no horns, bells, whistles, wild colors, or a hidden sword, I’m afraid. It’s just an ordinary, plane-jane, off-the-shelf aluminum one. And, now that I’ve been using for a while, I can’t wait to get rid of it. It takes me so loooong to get anywhere.

      And the idea of being an honorary rodent in Mouse Heaven makes me oh, so very happy.

  15. Glad to have you back here in the blogging world. Nine-toed or ten, you were missed. Yes, one does wish that if one is to have an accident and hurt a digit (be it finger or toe) one would have a good story to go with hurt digit. You, regrettably, do not. My most favorite one (and my guy’s least favorite) is the one where he swung the dining room door closed a bit too hard and the top quarter of his finger disappeared. The best part of that story is that I found it before the dog did, and placed it in a tupperware container, with ice, and we got the finger (and the hand attached to the man) to the ER in time to have it reattached. See? A good ending. (I hope this isn’t too gruesome for a rated G Word Press blog, but it is the truth…). Happy New Year. :+)

  16. Hello, nice to meet you. (New blogger). It’s great to have stumbled upon your blog site. I love this piece, and it’s very amusing. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  17. Sorry I’m so late catching up with my blogs. I hope, by now, your toe is back to normal, your Christmas mouse is playing happily in someone else’s house instead of freezing in a field somewhere, and congratulations on winning all those cool prizes. 🙂

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