Welcome to The Squeaky Pen

...where life is slow, and ripe with rural treasures

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Snake in the Sofa: Update

I admit: I haven't yet moved the sofa because a) I haven't heard any scritching lately, and b) I can't budge the thing. However, there is an update about the seemingly endless number of creatures -- other than myself, a dog, and two cats -- who have decided to take up residence in my home.

As I write this it's Saturday, a balmy afternoon in spring. I'm sitting at my kitchen counter, eyes darting. Earlier today I decided to unload the dishwasher. Opened the door. Took out a glass, and thought I saw movement (nah, it's your imagination my pea-brain whispered). When I reached for the second glass I most certainly saw movement, not to mention the movement's source: a mouse. A big one. Perched on a coffee mug. On the top rack. INSIDE the dishwasher.

We had a moment, the mouse and I. I froze a foot away, glass in hand, staring in disbelief. The mouse stared back, frozen and also, from what I could tell, in disbelief. The seconds played out. I wondered what to do, I guess the mouse was also wondering. He was a good-sized fella, as big as a hamster. Little beady eyes. Tiny toenails poised delicately on the mug. Distantly, I wondered where the cats were, not that the lazy slugs have been doing the job preordained. The dog was outside, barking at something most certainly not the mouse in the dishwasher.

In the dishwasher!!

In my paralyzed state I wasn't sure what to do...slam the door shut, thereby locking him inside along with the dishwasher controls, or shoo him out, thereby causing him to race unharnessed and uncatchable into the recesses of my house. I chose option 1. Door was slammed shut and now, with horror, I wondered what to do next. 

Like all modern women (note sarcasm), I called a guy, a friend who I determined would advise me on the next course of action. Vince arrived armed with flashlight and sticky live trap. I stood on the kitchen stairs as Vince creaked open the dishwasher door, asking at the same time "Are you sure it was a mouse?" I resisted the urge to say "No, Vincent, it was an alligator." He flashed the light around, picked up dishes, peeked under pots and pans. No mouse.

Now in full hysteria, I asked him what to do. "Run the cycle," he said mildly.

So I did.

An hour later, long after Vince had exited the premises, the cycle ended. I opened the door and there he was, Mr. Mouse, deceased and bug-eyed at the bottom of the box. I donned rubber gloves, picked him up by the tail, disposed of him down the toilet, and proceeded to run the powerwash cycle another 14 times.

I am aghast. Don't ask me how he got in there, maybe down the disposal and through some plumbing apparatus I don't understand. At least (praise god) he wasn't in the disposal when I turned it on to mash up my morning eggshells (stomach churns, eyes twitch at the thought of THAT). Still, as aghast as I am, I feel guilty somehow. I picture the poor little guy's reaction when scalding water poured onto his unsuspecting head. Just an hour before we'd looked into each other's eyes, giant human and tiny rodent, each wondering how this would turn out. We both knew one of us would lose this battle. I'm glad it was him. And I'm also sorry. 

I don't like to take the lives of living things, no matter how objectionable they may be. I was morose the rest of the afternoon. Then, later on, I looked again the coffee cup on which he was perched, ran the cycle a 15th time, and whispered to myself for the 100th time...a mouse in the dishwasher...in the dishwasher!

How long will it be, I wonder, until I'm no longer afraid of my kitchen appliances?

As for the snake in the sofa, I can only hope there is one. Don't they feed on mice?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

It's Official! The Sherburne Inn Is Ours!!

As of Thursday, April 25, 2013, The Sherburne Inn Is Ours!!! Today SSIRP closed on the purchase of The Inn, which will be brought back to this remarkable community of people who have donated time, money, and effort in saving it. Our next steps will be to move forward with continued fundraising in Sherburne and in the surrounding communities, and to reach out to corporations, family foundations, grants, and individuals from around the country who have shown interest in this project. We need help from everyone to restore and reopen this historic property, and to make it better than it ever was before.

In the coming weeks SSIRP will call on volunteers and others, and will begin the planning, restoration, and renovation process. We ask for your patience as work kicks off.
This will be a long road, but the first huge step has been taken: ownership of a building that means so much to this village, and to its anchor corner.
THANK YOU to everyone who has donated funds up to this point. It is not an understatement to say that your contributions have enabled us to buy the building. Without the donations received so far, purchase would not
have been possible. Please do what you can to donate time and services -- as well as funding -- and share this post with all of your social networking and other contacts. Our reach needs to be far and wide in letting people know that historic buildings can be saved if citizens band together to make it happen.
Our journey has begun. Join us!

To donate to Save The Sherburne Inn Restoration Project, send your tax deductible donation to:

POB 1163
Sherburne, NY 13460

or visit our website at thesherburneinn.org and click the "Contribute" link to pay securely by credit card.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Bloody Boston

I never went to war, never served "point," never had to crawl through the jungle or the sand avoiding bullets shot by faceless enemies. Still, there's a little piece of me that feels as though I have been in a war of sorts. I feel this way when I turn on the news and see another explosion, another street full of smoke and tears.

On September 11, 2001, I watched the towers burn from my office window. I remember feeling shocked and overwhelmed. Stunned. Horrified. There are no words in fact to capture what I felt as I watched those buildings fall. I'd been in them many times: the most memorable, on a Christmas date; and another time, on my 41st birthday having drinks with friends from Tennessee. I rode with clenched teeth in the Trade Center elevators, rocketing skyward to emerge relieved into a magnificent restaurant at the top, dazzled by a view unmatched. On 9-11, the buildings were gone, destroyed by people who hate Americans. By people who kill innocents because they hate our government. On 9-11, like so many others but for my own personal reasons, I was shattered.

It's been twelve years since the September 11 attacks. We've all gone on with our business, walking city sidewalks without fear and boarding airplanes, worrying less now about dark-haired men with knives and back to dreading the food and inevitable delays. Then on comes the news and we return. To bombs and blood and screaming people.

I have a friend, once a brother-in-law, who served in Vietnam. I used to marvel at his dull eyes when he watched Hollywood's versions of that war. I would cover my face at certain scenes; his eyes did not waver. "They never get it right," he used to say, and I would wonder how he could remain unshattered, seeing this horror again.

Years later, I smelled the burning bodies of those lost in New York City on 9-11. Today I saw the news and watched, dull-eyed, at the screaming and the blood in Boston. I don't want to be numb to it, and am horrified by the scenes near Copley Square, saddened by the stories of dead children and amputees. I am disgusted that, once again, people who hate have caused more heartache for the innocent. I am not, however, overwhelmed, nor am I shattered. 

This is now the world.  

No, I never went to war. Yet I am numb as though I did, because every day -- in our beautiful cities and in the skies overhead -- there is a chance that war will come to me.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Thank You National Trust for Historic Preservation!

Save The Sherburne Inn Restoration Project has caught the interest of The National Trust for Historic Preservation. The following was posted on their blog, Preservation Nation. Please share this link, and help us spread the word:


Our fight has gone national...thank you Preservation Nation!!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Long Arms of The Sherburne Inn

It's difficult sometimes for those of us in a small town to realize how important little villages are to people who live far away. We think we are cloistered somehow, that those who pass through our downtowns in cars see nothing but the road ahead en route to bigger places that offer theaters and shopping malls. We should think again. SSIRP received the following letter last week from a woman in Maine:

"March 25, 2013


Ever since I first read about saving The Sherburne Inn, I have read with interest of the project in The Sherburne News. I have fond memories of visiting my grandparents, Edith & Levi Collins at 14 East State Street, every summer, and later, when my father Earl Buell Collins retired to his family home. He contributed to the Sherburne Community with his musical talent as the organist at the Sherburne United Church of Christ, directing handbell choirs and teaching piano lessons from his home.

The Sherburne Inn was a vital part of the community where we would gather on special occasions.

How disappointed we were several years ago to learn that the Inn was no longer in business when we were in the area after my grandaughter's graduation from Syracuse University.

I commend all of you who are working on this project. The town of Sherburne is very dear in my heart; restoring the Inn will revitalize the whole community.

June Collins Hopkins
(donation enclosed)"

Thank you, June, for reminding us again how special a place is The Sherburne Inn, and that like diamonds flung on open water, the precious many who remember her are everywhere.

To donate to Saving The Sherburne Inn, send your check made payable to SSIRP to:
Save The Sherburne Inn Restoration Project, Inc.
POB 1102
Sherburne, NY 13460
or pay by credit card at our website:
thesherburneinn.org (click on "contribute" link)
SSIRP is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit community organization

About Me

Newspaper columnist; blogger; author of Delta Dead; author of 101 Tip$ From My Depression-Era Parents; author of Australian Fly; editor: ...And I Breathed (author, Jason Garner, former CEO of Global Music at Live Nation), "A History of the Lawrence S. Donaldson Residence"; "The Port Washington Yacht Club: A Centennial Perspective"; "The Northeastern Society of Periodontists: The First Fifty Years"; editor: NESP Bulletin; editor: PWYC Mainsail; past editorial director: The International Journal of Fertility & Women's Medicine; past editor of: Long Island Power & Sail, Respiratory Review; Medical Travelers' Advisory; School Nurse News; Clear Images; Periodontal Clinical Investigations; Community Nurse Forum