Karenesque

The Karen Files

Category: The Karen Files (page 1 of 2)

A Gecko in Need is a Friend Indeed

Here is a true story of a little gecko who found himself in quite a precarious situation. Luckily for him, things turned out much better than they could have!

A few months ago after I was newly moved into my new home, I noticed the apartment had a bit of a problem with roaches. I made numerous calls to maintenance and the office over the next several weeks and they sent someone to spray once or twice a week to try to fix the problem before it got any worse. It seemed to be working, but I wanted to make sure – I needed a way to objectively measure if the problem was actually getting better.

Enter the Roach Motel. This is an unobtrusive little box that seemingly smells irresistible to roaches. They climb in and get stuck in the glue coating on the inside of the box so they can’t get out. I was keeping track of how many I would catch in the boxes and paying attention to whether or not the numbers of catches were going down as the number of times my apartment got sprayed went up.

Roach Motel

Next character in this story – a curious little Gecko I’ll call Dexter.

Dexter is the proud father of 37 little geckos, all hatched in the last 4 years. While he has been a mostly absent father (as is the gecko way) he does secretly watch over them as they grow into adulthood to make sure they are eating enough and not joining any insidious gecko gangs.*

*story added for dramatic effect

Gecko On Window

Dexter popped into my apartment unexpectedly, but I welcomed my little house guest with open arms. I figured he might appreciate a nice roach dinner so I gave him free reign of the place while I went out to spend the evening with friends.

That night when I came home, I did my usual rounds to check on the roach population within the roach motels. To my dismay, I saw little Dexter stuck within the confines of one of the boxes! I could tell he was alive, but he was so incredibly stuck that he couldn’t move even his head to ask for help.

Lizard checking into roach motel

I felt awful that I didn’t think about this happening. Obviously Dexter smelled fresh roach meat in one of the boxes and thought they were ripe for the picking. What he didn’t know was that by jumping into the box it would very likely be his last meal. Actually, the even sadder part was that his mouth was nowhere near the roach he was after, so he could see it but could not even take a taste with his stretchy little lizard tongue.

I felt helpless. I knew I wouldn’t be able to just pull him out. The glue was so sticky that if I even tried I was sure I would only succeed in ripping him apart piece by piece. It seemed like such a horrific way to go, but I knew there was just nothing that I could do. He was a goner.

NO! I couldn’t let Dexter go out like this. I went to my trusty phone and pulled up Google. I scoured the web for any tips on how to free lizards from sticky traps. It seems I was far from the only person who has had this problem! I found page after page of people begging for help to save their scaly friends. Finally I came across a site that gave step by step instructions on how to save a lizard (or bird, hamster, turtle, small child, or anything that might somehow come in contact with a sticky trap).

The first step was to cut around the lizard to make it easier to free him. I didn’t want to cut too close to him, as I would risk accidentally amputating a toe or a leg.

Lizard stuck

Next – you need some Q-Tips and any kind of oil. Olive oil, baby oil, sunflower oil… anything of the sort. I happened to have olive oil so I poured some in a little dish and grabbed a handful of Q-Tips.

It was slow work. You had to wet the Q-Tip with the oil and slowly rub it around the outline of the lizard, being careful not to push too hard on him and crush his tiny bones. As the oil worked its way underneath his limbs, head, and tail, you needed to gently move them around (being careful not to allow them to get stuck in another area of the sticky trap). You don’t want to use too much oil either as that isn’t good for lizard skin, so I didn’t douse him with it to make it easier. As I worked free his head, tail, legs, and arms, I cut away that portion of the trap so he couldn’t get re-stuck.

Working him free

It took a good 45 minutes to an hour, but Dexter was finally free! He rested on a damp paper towel (which also helped to remove some of the excess oil from his skin) for a little while to get over his trauma.

Free lizard

After he had time to relax, I took him downstairs to put out onto the grass near our pond. I put him on a nice soft patch of green and he stood there for a second before I swear he looked back at me and mouthed “thank you” before scurrying off into the night.

I did my good deed for the night, and I learned a valuable lesson. If you are going to have lizard house guests, DO NOT allow them to run around unescorted. You never know what kind of trouble they can get into.

On another note – my roach problem seems to be completely gone! I have not seen any of those little monsters in my traps for at least a month now, which makes me feel confident that I can get rid of them all and hopefully invite Dexter over for some tea and mosquitoes.

 

New Jersey

As someone who was raised in NJ and lived there for over 20 years, I am sick and tired of the bad reputation that we New Jersians have in the eyes of the “out-of-staters”. I can only believe that people who say unkind things about New Jersey either (a) have never actually been to New Jersey, or (b) have only ever driven on the Turnpike or a major road on the way to another destination.

You simply can’t judge New Jersey based off of the Turnpike! The Turnpike is ugly. In some areas, it smells. It’s trafficky and people are always in a rush to get off it. I’m sure almost every state has a road like that – but because NJ is such a small state, everyone who goes through it manages to suffer a little on the Turnpike.

You also can’t judge New Jersey on the reality shows that claim to depict New Jersey. In all my years of living in New Jersey, I have never ONCE met someone like the Jersey Shore actors (who if I recall correctly actually come from New York). Every summer I went to the same Jersey Shore, and I never met or saw a “Snookie” or a “The Situation”. They just don’t exist in real life – at least not in New Jersey.

New Jersey has some amazing and beautiful places. In New Jersey you can find forests, beaches and farms. We have the best corn in the country when it’s in season (trust me – you can’t beat it). I’ve made lifelong friends and met many wonderful people in New Jersey. We have an Ivy League college (Princeton) and the city of Princeton is wonderful to visit. We’re close to other cities like New York City and Philadelphia, which are fantastic to visit when you want a change of scenery and pace. New Jersey does not charge sales tax on clothing – so even New Yorkers will come down to go shopping in Jersey!

We have pumpkin and apple picking in the fall, and when the colors change the foliage is breathtaking. We get snow, but not TOO much snow (usually), and when spring returns it brings with it beautiful flowering trees.

We have plentiful wildlife such as deer (not always a good thing when you are driving), bear (!) and songbirds. Where I lived as a child I could walk to a neighborhood duck pond and feed the ducks and the fish and play beneath the weeping willow trees.

I would never change where I grew up – New Jersey helped shape me into the awesome person I am now.

Bathtime Buddies

Imagine this scenario, if you will. You wake up at 6am and manage to stumble bleary-eyed into the bathroom to take a shower. The water finally hits the perfect temperature and you reach for your bottle of shampoo. At that moment, you realize that you are not alone.

Lizard in bath with water droplets

Yes, you have a bathroom guest in the form of a gecko. This friendly critter has been showing up in my shower randomly for the past few weeks. I never know when he will appear, and he never fails to surprise me when he does.

If you have a keen eye for detail, you might notice from the picture above that his tail seems to be unusually short. As a defense mechanism, some lizards will “drop” their tails to trick predators into thinking they have caught their prey. The tail continues to wiggle for a few minutes after it falls off – which is extremely interesting to see in person. This tail drop happened as I was trying to gently remove him from my shower. He decided I was a threat – and off came his tail.

Lizard tail in bath

I don’t believe they feel pain from this defense mechanism, but it can cause them to have issues with balance as they get used to the change. It also makes them more susceptible to predators – they no longer have a tail to drop. The tail will eventually regenerate, but I still felt terrible for being the “predator” in this situation.

I honestly don’t mind geckos, or any bug eating creatures really, hanging out in my bathroom – but this little guy was right in the path of the shower stream and I didn’t want him to drown! I still had to catch him. After a short struggle, I finally managed to grab him.

Once he was sitting on my hand he was relatively calm – though I am sure it was just because he was terrified. I took a quick picture (after all, we do live in a time when everything must be photographed) and I placed him in a safer area. As soon as he had the chance he quickly scurried out of sight.

Lizard sitting on finger

After I sent the picture of me holding the gecko to my sister, my 5-year old niece decided his name was “Iggy”. Iggy still pops up occasionally in my shower just to freak me out and keep my showers interesting, but I have noticed fewer bugs since he started visiting regularly so I’m cool with that. Free meals and no predators for him, and no annoying bugs for me. It’s win-win!

Goods and Evils of the Internet

Listen up. The internet is a wonderful thing. A wonderful, glorious thing. All the information in the world is available for your learning pleasure! However, with greatness like that, there has to be a downside.

The internet is also FULL of complete bunk. McDonald’s does NOT use worm meat as filler for their hamburgers. A 10-year-old ghost girl will NOT kill you in your sleep if you don’t repost her message 10+ times. No one is giving away free iPads, vacations to Disney, or million dollar shopping sprees if you share/like/follow a page.

If it seems too good (or fantastic) to be true, it probably is! Before you repost, retweet, or otherwise spread misinformation, think about it. Look at the website or page name – is it a reputable source? If they are making claims like “studies show” or “research has found”, do they cite their sources? And if they do happen to site their source – is it from a reputable scientific journal? I learned while working for a research company that there are journals out there that will print ANYTHING if you pay them the money.

Don’t spread misinformation. Do your research! Just remember – the internet is available to virtually anyone. Anyone with a computer and an internet connection can build a website – and they can write whatever they please in it.

The power is within you to stop the internet lies! Or at least slow them down a little.

/rant

Bird of no Feathers

I always knew that my big feet would cause great misery and misfortune one of these days. Yesterday was that day.

Before I tell you this, I just want to make sure you all know that Nimbin is OK and has no serious injuries. Now that I’ve said that, here’s the story!

Nimbin (my cockatiel) was sitting on my shoulder like he normally does when I’m at home. I wanted to grab something to eat, so  I put Nimbin on top of his cage and walked over to the kitchen. Unbeknownst to me, Nimbin flew to the floor and followed me into the kitchen.  I turned around and stepped back towards the living room when I heard a little shriek. I looked down, and saw Nimbin running away from me. Well, most of him ran away from me. His tail stayed in the kitchen.

Oh I have never felt so bad about anything in my life! I caught up to Nimbin and he didn’t seem to be hurt. There was no blood on him (or on his feathers). I am sure his little bum smarted, it’s probably like having a large chunk of your hair pulled out. The poor little guy. He looks so strange without his tail. Here are some pictures:

  

My poor sweet birdy. Look at how many feathers came out! It’s unbelievable that all of those feathers were pulled out and there was no blood at all.

The vet wasn’t open yesterday when it happened, but I took him in today and I was told that he will be perfectly fine, although it will probably take a few months before his feathers start growing back. Thank goodness! Of course, now every time I look at his little pear-shaped tailless body I feel just as terrible as I did when it happened.

Now, in memory of tails lost, here is a picture of Nimbin with all his glorious feathers! He’s the one on the left.

Oh, and the wild birds must have caught wind of what happened. This morning, my car was covered in bird poop.

Debby

When no one is asking me to write, I have oh so very much to say. But when I am expected to write (in this case, I expect myself to write in my blog) I can never think of a topic to write about. What’s up with that? Maybe my problem is that my life is too boring. When I was in Australia, I had interesting things happen to me every day, so it was easy to keep up with my blog posts. Now, I work a 9-5 at a doctors office, and yes, sometimes interesting things happen, but because of HIPPA regulations I can not tell you about them.

Maybe I should just start making things up so I can have interesting stories to tell all of the two people who read this, my blog.

Anyway, most of you know that I was affected by Tropical Storm Debby earlier this week. Sunday we had torrential downpours, which caused massive flooding. On Monday I had to bring my car into the shop to get fixed which meant I had to drive roads that I don’t commonly drive through.  On my way to the shop, a few roads were flooded enough to have lane closures but I was able to get past the water by using the median.

I dropped off my car and picked up my rental car quickly and easily, though I can’t say I’m a huge fan of my rental car. It’s tiny and low to the ground, which makes it much harder to get in and out of. But it’s only for a few days, I guess I can live with it.

So, I’m driving the new rental car to the office, again driving a route that I’m not familiar with. I take a side street (as recommended by my GPS) and I notice some flooding blocking an intersection that I needed to cross. I looked down the road and could see some cars past the flooded road, but I couldn’t be sure if they had driven through it. The flooded area wasn’t blocked off at all. Yes, it’s a side road, but it’s a fairly well traveled side road. I figured that if I couldn’t pass it, they would have blocked it off. My decision was made. I was going to go through.

Slowly, slowly, my tiny rental car started it’s journey through the water. The water was higher in the middle than I thought it would be and I was starting to get nervous. The water was moving quickly to the left, and it seemed like my car was struggling to stay in its lane. Was the car drifting to the left along with the flood?  Was there a creek in that direction that my car would soon get sucked into? I pressed down on the gas a bit, I wanted to get out of the water as quickly as possible. My car started making a strange sputtering sound. Shoot, was I even going to make it out of the water? Have I ruined the rental car on my first day?  WAS I GOING TO BE SWEPT OUT INTO THE OCEAN, NEVER TO BE HEARD FROM AGAIN?! Then, it was over.  I was out of the water, no worse for the wear.  I made it, with only minor water damage to the car. But it was worth it. I have the story.

 

My poor car

I’ve had my wonderful, beautiful new car for about a year now, and for that year I’ve had no bumps, scratches, dents, or chips in the paint. Yesterday all of that changed. My poor car was attacked by a snappy looking red Camaro convertible. Here’s the damage:


It happened at a light right down the road from my apartment complex. The guy in the Camaro was trying to squeeze by me on the left to get into the turn lane. Apparently he misjudged the room he had!

Sigh.  I was really concerned for a while that I would have to go through my insurance company, pay a 500 dollar deductible, and possibly have my insurance payments raise. Thankfully, I misunderstood what the “no fault” part of Florida’s insurance meant. This guys insurance (I found out later that the guy who hit me is a doctor, so I don’t feel bad if his insurance has to go up) is paying for everything. Even my rental car. And I didn’t have to call my insurance at all on this.

It was definitely an annoying inconvenience for me, but at least I won’t be losing any money. Maybe I will even gain money if the rental car has better gas mileage than my car does!  Silver linings, right?

Storm’s a Comin’….

We had a ominous looking thunderstorm approaching while I was relaxing at home, so Nimbin (my cockatiel) and I went outside to my screened-in porch to watch it roll in.  Pardon the lines in the clouds – that’s my screen.

  

Here is Nimbin sitting on his vacation home on the porch:

While I was watching the storm, I began noticing that far off in the distance, some of the lower clouds were turning red.

I was trying to figure out why this would be. Was there a fire? Was it the sun? Was it just pink clouds from a far off sunset? The rhyme “red in the morning, sailors take warning.  Red at night, sailors delight!” ran through my head.  But that just didn’t make sense in this case.  It was late afternoon, and if I was a sailor I definitely wouldn’t be delighting in this. Then something else began to take shape:

  

It isn’t very easy to see in the pictures, but it was a rainbow! Somehow, as the storm was rolling in, a rainbow made a feeble attempt to show it’s face. It was pretty neat to see lightning strikes and a rainbow so close together in the same sky. I wish my camera was sophisticated enough to get the lightning in the picture too.

The storm didn’t end up amounting to much more than loud thunderbolts and frequent lightning, but it was certainly spectacular to watch!

My Chiropractor Thinks I’m Special

I’ve been trying out seeing a chiropractor for the last few months, hoping to get relief from the pain in my shoulder which I’ve had for as long as I can remember.

Today, Dr. Chiro was doing his monthly re-evaluation on me, when I heard him say something like “Huh.  That’s strange.”  He had me lie back down on the chiropractic bed and he did more of his bendy-cracky-magic on my back, and then told me to stand back up so he could take a few more measurements of my balance.

“Amazing!” he said.  “I finally found one!”  I looked at him quizzically, and he explained:  “See, your left Scapularia rotates to the left when the hip puts all the weight on your Torloft on the right side, but it should be rotating right towards the right Whotzit. Less than 10% of the population has that!” Of course, this wasn’t the exact lingo he used. Most of what he said was chiropractor mumbo jumbo that went right over my head. But I could tell that he was really excited about something. All I could think of to say was “I always knew I was special!”

He laughed and said, “I can’t wait to tell (other chiropractors) about this!  I found one!” He gave me a huge grin and then a big hug and then sent me off to do my post-appointment exercises.

So that clinches it!  I’m special because my chiropractor says so! Oh, and I’m pretty sure my mom and dad think I’m special too.

Smoothie Madness

Today I want to rave a little about the marvelous smoothies I have been making lately.  Every morning during the last two weeks I have gone to work with a homemade smoothie rather than a coffee or tea. I did find out soon enough that I should probably find a way to get some caffeine later in the day, or I would be in headache hell for the next few weeks. I never realized exactly how addicted to caffeine I really was… and how painful it could be when you don’t get it.
Back to my smoothies.  I had decided to start making smoothies in the mornings after I came to the conclusion that I was not getting enough fruits and vegetables in my diet.  I had suffered through two terrible colds in the past three months, and as far as I could recall, I rarely got more than one cold a year living in NJ.  This was unacceptable!  I had to find a way to get more healthy foods in my diet.  Hence, the smoothie!

Now you may be wondering how much difference one little smoothie a day could make. Well let me just tell you that this is no ordinary smoothie.  Sure, I put ordinary smoothie things like bananas and strawberries and yogurt into it – but I also put fresh baby spinach, carrots, and oatmeal right in the blender with the other ingredients.  And it tastes…  pretty much like strawberry, banana, and yogurt. Surprisingly, you can’t taste the spinach, carrot or oatmeal at all. The smoothie is tinted an interesting shade of green from the spinach, but that is the only real clue that it isn’t an ordinary smoothie.  And this amazing smoothie keeps me full and satisfied for most of the day. I will still break for lunch and eat something small, but I no longer feel like I must eat something that second or I would die from hunger. Before the smoothie I used to feel like I was starving every day at around 11, and then again at around 3.  Not anymore! I think when I am talking about my life before the smoothie, I should shorten “before the smoothie” to just BS… but believe me, this story ain’t no BS!

Not only does this delectable smoothie keep me full, it also gives me so much energy. In the past two weeks I can’t remember the last time I had that 2 o’clock slump when all you want to do is sleeeeeeeep.

Now this is to all of you reading this. Go out and try one!  Give it a week. I think it took a couple of days before I really noticed the extra energy I had. And try it with Greek yogurt. It’s more expensive, but oh, so worth it.

I swear, I am not in the banana or strawberry or Greek yogurt business. I just really, really love this smoothie.

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