1. It is the season for mice, apparently. The orchard dog has been joyously snapping them up among the apple trees; the orchard pigs have been spotting them by the dishwasher and squealing “SO CUUUUUTE!” repeatedly.
Helpdesk Man being less impressed, we have been loading a lot of mousetraps. Most commonly, the mouse licks the peanut butter off the trap and prances away smugly; less often, the thing works as advertised and Tiny Miles gets to admire the corpses up close before we fling them over the fence. And then there was last week.
Before bed: a trap, peanut-butter-baited placed enticingly by the open door of the pantry.
Come the dawn: a mouse lying dead with a bloody nose in front of the pantry, and no trap to be seen.
We still haven’t found the mousetrap.
2. Here are my two latest cakes. The first was for a two-year-old nephewpig, who wailed at it like an ingrate. The second was for Helpdesk Man’s 30th. He did not wail at it, but he did fail to finish his piece in favour of someone else’s trifle; so it’s been a pretty psychologically taxing run, cakewise. I should write a book on Suffering.
3. This past weekend, we loaded up the pigs, a sword and a bow and arrows and went to Wellington so Helpdesk Man could attend a martial arts conference. I was a little apprehensive about the prospect of two days in a strange city with no car, two pigs and a foreboding weather forecast - to say nothing of the eight-hour trips there and back - but I’ve been lobbying for a return to Wellington since our honeymoon, so it seemed silly to pass up the chance.
It wasn’t too bad, actually. We rented a tiny house, which turned out to have one bedroom fewer than might be desired and was located up a perilously steep hill, accessible only via numerous ramps and flights of stairs. Still, clean and cozy, a proliferation of spare towels, and a kitchen well-stocked enough to make nachos and ravioli, so we didn’t feel we should quibble - especially after Miles throomed on their duvet.
On Day 1 we went to the zoo, where Tiny Miles confounded me somewhat by his attitude to the beasts. His invariable first question - “Izza cat izza dog?” - made sense, but when he followed it up with “Eyebrows?” I was frequently stumped. Does a cheetah have eyebrows? I guess, kind of. But an otter? A porcupine, of which only the hinder end is currently visible in any case? Deep stuff.
Wellington Zoo is a nice little zoo - by no means spectacular, as there aren’t any elephants and the Little Blue penguins had done a bunk. But there was a Giraffe Talk, at which the pigs were given sprigs of browse and allowed to feed the beasts. The snortlepig kept shying away at the critical moment and dropping her leaves - Miles, however, suffered no such qualms and happily let himself be licked all over while the giraffe attempted to wrest the leaves out of his chortling paws. At the end of the encounter Miles waved goodbye to the giraffe’s retreating head, and then sighed with beatific content: “Cat!”
On Day 2 we went to Te Papa. This is a museum - apparently a good one. We studied it in the only history class I took at Uni, which despite being called Communication In History: From the Printing Press to the Internet and being taught by a rabid Tolkien fan, was mind-numbingly dreary. What museums have to do with the history of communication, I never did find out: but we learned that Te Papa is a respected, highly up-to-date and progressive institution.
Which is all very well, except that
a) I have a phobia of museums
b) I have a phobia of stuffed, skeletonised and otherwise corpsified animals
c) I have a phobia of large aquatic life
and d) Te Papa is an a) filled with b), some of which are c).
Despite this, I have been twice - once on the initial horrifying trip that cemented a) and involved me being literally dragged, sweating with clenched eyes, round a bunch of taxidermied stags by my two heartless sisters who kept saying things like “Ooh, let’s take her into the Marine Mammal Skeleton room!”, while a museum assistant looked on with mild interest and said “Is she all right?”; and once to see a display of LOTR movie props, which just goes to show that Geekdom Conquers All.
As do drugs, apparently. This third trip wasn’t planned, but after waiting for a bus which didn’t come and walking all the way into the city, trying to persuade the pigs that the shops were interesting enough not to whine about visiting them, but not so interesting that one needed to escape from one’s pram and destroy them - well, any remotely child-friendly space was appealing, be it ever so festooned with the scaffolding of plesiosaurs.
So we went in, and I averted my eyes from the giant creepy anchor that looms in the foyer, and asked the information lady which pig-friendly areas could be accessed without passing beneath a fibreglass reconstruction of the Kraken - which she took rather well, even advising me to go down this side of the lifts because there was the skeleton of a famous racehorse on that side (side note: why? WHY?); and there we were.
The areas we visited were on “Pasifika” and “Invention”, and they were moderately well-done; but I spent most of my time gazing in fascination at my son and heir.
Miles is not a shy child. Where the pig saw Things to Do, Miles saw Friends to Make. His modus operandi was to find a baby, walk over to it, kindly but firmly appropriate its toy, and then make its parent play with him. And they did.
If he happened to come across a temporarily babyless adult, he would instead break the ice by thrusting out a foot and saying “Izzabzzagllbta BOOT!”, or perhaps pointing and saying “Lady!” repeatedly, until the parent admitted to being a lady. At one point he brought a hand-puppet goat to a man and said “Wazzat?”, and when told it was a goat decided the man was a zoological authority and brought him a possum, an octopus and a parrot for inspection while the man’s neglected daughter played by herself in a corner.
He was only snubbed once - by a pre-pubescent, shy-looking Asian boy who tried to brush him off with a vague smile. Miles, being immune to the concept of a brush-off, continued to attempt conversation for a good two minutes while the boy shifted from foot to foot and cast occasional nervous glances in my direction, as if to say “Call off your baby, woman, it thinks it’s human”. I probably should have, but it seemed a shame to deprive a forward-thinking museum of such a compelling anthropological performance piece.
On the way off the bus home, Miles cheerfully shouted “Thank’oo! See’oo! See’oo! Bye-bye!” to the bus driver. Giggles from every adult in the vicinity. I don’t know where he gets it from. Some recessive non-recessive gene, I spose.
And I did not have a panic attack, even when the corner of my eye caught the grinning front end of the racehorse (who was looking far smugger than circumstances warranted.) All hail Big Pharma. Srsly.