Very Ducky

So, my adventures in the wild continue.

This morning, I woke up a 5am to go band ducks. I know, it sounds crazy. I mean, I lived in Brooklyn for 25 years, but here I am and this is what you do here.

Banding is when you catch a bunch of them in a net, put metal bands on their legs and then set them free.

The site sort of looks like this early in the morning, only, there would be lots of ducks eating the corn. It’s right along the Wisconsin river.


Somebody sits off to the side somewhere in a blind, being really quiet and camouflaged and waiting for what they think is the maximum number of ducks. Then, they press a button and bam, a net shoots out and a bunch of ducks are caught.

Don’t worry. They’re not harmed in anyway, they’re just a little freaked out.

 We were a ways away and could hear the thing go off pretty well. We sort of had to jog to the site when we heard it because we were out by Curt’s house.

So basically, you have to work your way into the net and grab hold of one of the ducks, untangle him (or her) and then carry it over to be banded.


They tend to get their heads out one of net holes and occasionally, the longer feathers on the wings will be tangled as well.

The bands are all set up according to sex and estimated age.

DSCF4983And once they figure out the sex and approximate age, they band it

DSCF4982and let it go. These were wood ducks, so, to tell what sex it is, you look at the white tips (scalloped means female I think) and to tell the age, you look at the tail feathers to see if there’s any down left. Also, I think you can look at the wiener for the  male ducks. The older the duck, the bigger the wiener. But it’s really buried in there. Really hard to find, like worse than Hedwig hard to find. One guy was quite the duck guy. He’s been doing this for nearly 25 years. He says he must’ve banded over 10,000 birds. He had this giddy smile on his face the whole time.

Holding a duck is kinda weird. These were about the size of large pigeons. Squirmy as hell. To get a hold of them and control them, you sort of have to grab them by their wings and gently pin them back a bit, like making their “elbows” touch. Then, if they’re still squirmy, you can try to tuck their heads in the crook of your arm or, if you have big hands and can hold the wings together with one hand, you can use your other hand to cover their heads a bit. They don’t bite at all but they do scratch. They have, like, pointy toenails. I’m sure there’s a technical name for it, talons or something, but not as dramatic, cause, like, it’s a duck. My first one really got me good before I realized I had to stay away from their feet. Ideally, you want to hand the duck to the person who’s  doing the banding “business side up” which means legs up, butt out. but I didn’t do that. I was too worried about losing my grip. And yes, the front of my shirt was covered in duck poop.

This time, they banded 117 ducks, which I guess was a very respectable number. It would’ve been 119, but two people accidentally lost their grip and the bird got away. Very embarrassing. SO glad that didn’t happen to me. And one bird was already banded so they just wrote down the number and will look in the database to see if it was one of theirs or somebody else’s. I guess most of these birds will migrate down to Louisiana for the winter. Some go elsewhere, a few even went to Ontario, but most go to Louisiana.

So, to my family down there, if you see a banded wood duck, it might be one of my new neighbors from up here.





A funny thing happened on the way to the prairie…

Finally made the move to Wisconsin. Drove all the way up from New Orleans to La Crosse, Wisconsin, via Memphis and St. Louis.  Before it was all over, we drove nearly 1,200 miles in two cars and a truck. That was some trip. And I have never seen a lovelier place than Wisconsin.

The view across the road. The Wisconsin river is on the other side of that tree-line.

The view across the road. The Wisconsin river is on the other side of that tree-line.

One of my favorite things about Wisconsin is I have family here. Right now,

Continue reading

It’s been an odd week

Wow. I haven’t posted for two whole weeks. Where has the time gone? Oh, right, I know. I’ve been on the move. Peter is staying behind in NOLA, teaching at UNO and starting his two major research projects and the stepson got his first, full-time summer job. After a rough year and an even rougher move, I just felt the need to mooch off family… in the North… where the temperatures are more reasonable. (Lagniappe is comfortably enjoying her stay at the Spa, a.k.a. my in-laws’ house on the North Shore.)

Read on….

Continue reading

Moving sucks… but you all knew that

I wish I’d had the wherewithal to take pictures of this whole debacle. It started, well, about a  2 months ago when we finally figured out where we were going to end up. (There was a chance it would be Arkansas.) At that point, I figured, I’ll be all proactive about it and just do a little bit at a time. And it worked great. Everyone thought I was so on the ball; so organized. Little did they know how wrong they were.

So, I had planned to leave on Wednesday, the 29th. I packed up the kitchen on Monday and was ready to go….. then Huppy tells me, oh, we’re not moving until Saturday.

Ugh. That mean no kitchen and no food. I had planned VERY WELL for a Wednesday departure. Since it took us a lot longer…I had to deal with two hungry zombies walking around here, begging for braaaaaaainz.

So, Saturday finally comes. I’ve packed up the entire apartment, cleaned in steps — light fixtures one day, kitchen cabinets the next –and I think we’re ready for the move. The deal was I do all the packing and they do all the lifting, which, now that I’ve lived it, I TOTALLY got the short end of the stick. And wouldn’t you know it, come moving day, with all my planning, I’m still just stuffing and cramming things into boxes. The last few boxes were a little fluffy on top and stacking them was just a nightmare. All good planning went out the window. What’s that? Put in there. There’s room in that box? Put it in there. What’s that? Oh, throw it out. Anyway, they and the upstairs neighbor’s sons, loaded us onto the truck and unloaded us at the U-haul storage facility. On top of that, she (the mom) was lifting and stuffing and cramming into our storage boxes, right along with us. She was a goddess. I’m so lame, with my week neck, she totally made up for me. (I gave her a real good bottle of wine for her efforts.)

First, let me tell you, Huppy did an amazing looking job packing the truck. Before we pulled out of the apartment, the truck looked awesome;  It had all our stuff and looked organized. Sadly, the 4 mile drive to the storage place proved too much for his packing skillz. Things were toppled all over. I could only cringe. It’s just stuff, right?

We get the the storage place and turns out, Huppy had only rented two 5×10 storage bins. We don’t have that much stuff, but not surprisingly, what we do have did not fit in those two storage bins. My neighbor and her two sons were playing a magnificent game of 3D tetris, trying to get all of our crap into the two storage bins. But it wasn’t enough. Our option was beginning to look like we’d have to rent another bin. Huppy would have none of it. He was like a maniac. Teen Huppy and me were grousing and complaining while Huppy was grabbing stuff and rearranging. He REFUSED to allow these two bins to get the better of him. He was like Wile E. Cayote going through his ACME bin of  crap; Tossing things out behind him, shaking his head, grumbling beneath his breath. At the end of it all, with some unnatural crunching of boxes and some uncomfortable sounding creaks, he stuffed and crammed what we had into those two bins. He literally had to hold the stuff in while at the same time, pulling the door down. I’m sure that when we go to get our stuff later this summer, we’ll have to stand back and hope it doesn’t expand into our faces.

We did it all in about 4 hours. The. Longest. Four. Hours. Everrrrr.

As if all the packing leading up to the move was enough, THEN I had to clean the apartment. See, the fine print on our lease, which I obviously did not read, said something to the effect that the apartment had to be left move-in clean. AYEAHH!  So, I woke up this morning, drank far too much coffee and proceeded to clean my ass off; washing the baseboards, scrubbing all the nooks and crannies, cleaning the carpets, windexing everything that was supposed to be shiny. By the time I finished 7 hours later, I dragged myself down the street to my friend’s house and proceeded to drink myself a leetle bit silly.  Next time, if the lease says something like that, I’ll have them delete it or walk away. An apartment should be left broom clean. End of story.

Teen Huppy actually did a lot to help me with the process. He scrubbed the bathroom top to bottom and managed his bedroom. Well, I’d have preferred he managed his bedroom a bit better, but it’s clean now. I made a point of walking him through the apartment, showing him all the damage he’d done, thoughtlessly, but damage nonetheless. I wasn’t doing it to accuse him, but rather, I wanted him to know how to treat an apartment when he finally (FINALLY!) gets his own place. Honestly, I don’t understand why landlords feel the need to collect a “pet deposit” when it’s the teenager that’s more likely to damage a place.

Speaking of the dog, Lagniappe is VERY discombobulated. She actually curled up on her pillow on the other side of the room. Normally, she just climbs on the bed and that’s her spot. She’s also barking at things that aren’t there. Wait till she realizes that after 10 hours in a car tomorrow, she’ll be at the in-laws’ spa, playing with their dog and running around the back yard chasing lizards.

OK. Tomorrow we hit the road. I still don’t know where we’ll be living or anything, but, whatever. Funny thing, the adorable neighbors across the hall, Indians from Mumbai or Delhi, I can’t remember which, made me a to-go bag of food for tomorrow. I can hardly wait to dig into it. She gave me a few things she’s made me in the past and it was always magnificent. The best things about St. Louis have been my neighbors. Mother Earth upstairs and this lovely older couple across the hall. There was also the guy upstairs who moved out last year, but we stay in touch. He is a helluva character. Travels more than we do. Outside of the of the folks in my building and the ladies down the street,  I won’t be missing too much of St. Louis.

Yikes. As I type this, I’m watching “Fringe” and Walter was massaging some dead guy’s brain.  Good God.

Next update will be coming from NOLA.

What happens when you plan to leave on Wednesday, but it gets pushed up to Saturday?

It ain’t pretty here. Working under the assumption that Wednesday was THE day, I packed up the kitchen on Monday.

On Tuesday, Huppy tells me the move is happening on Saturday instead. So what do you think is happening? There are no pots and pans to cook with and no food to cook in them anyway.

We’re all a bit grumpy and underfed. Luckily, I kept the wine handy.

Don’t know who follows what

Just in case you don’t follow the twitter, Peter’s website has finally been updated. It was actually done a while ago, but I’ve been waiting for one teeny weeny lilla thing and he just finished it today. I’d love to figure out a few little design things that really bother me, but other than that, Ta Da!

However, if you know anything about coding, unless you offer to clean it up for me, I don’t want to hear about what a crazy mess it is. It works. I don’t know why or how, but it works.

Moving sucks

This is what 70% of our stuff looks like, all in one corner of the apartment:


And this is what happens when you try to do your landlord a favor.


See, according to our lease, we’re supposed to leave the apartment move-in clean. (How that works in reality is beyond me, but whatever.) Because of that requirement, I’ve been cleaning like a mad woman, trying to get the place acceptable. Even washed and repaired all the blinds. However, in my overzealous effort to clean the kitchen cabinets, I accidentally pulled up some of the old contact paper that was underneath my contact paper.  I thought, OK, don’t freak, just do the landlord a favor and remove the old contact paper as well. I mean, it looked like it was from the 1970s and somebody had just left it there. (And I don’t want to hear how cool the retro pattern is and that I should’ve left it. The stuff was iredeemably scuffed up with pot bottom crud and not MY pot bottom crud either.) Little did I know that the somebody who had left it there did so because it was hiding the evidence that the shelf was rusted and rotting on the side closest to the sink. Attractive, oui?

My question is, what the hell am I supposed to do about this? Do I have to go out, buy new contact paper and recover the damn thing? Hiding it from the next tenant? Or do I notify the landlord and say “Dude. The shelves are rotting.” and let him deal with it?

What would the Dr. do?