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Column

I hate those mieces to pieces!

I was welding away on the last sculpture for my art show in Fort Madison. In fact, I had just completed the last weld, when my MIG wire welder started smoking and flames shot out of the front. I stopped welding and fortunately the flames and smoke subsided. What in tarnation!

I opened the side of the welder and there was a huge mouse nest in the wire roll compartment. I didn't know I was supposed to check the welder for mice before I used it. With winter coming on, the barn where I do my welding is full of mice. I cleaned the nest out and checked the welder's operation. The wire feed worked but there was no electrical charge at the tip of the welding gun. Uh, oh.

I called my welding supply buddy and told him what happened. His first words were, “You're darn lucky you didn't burn down the barn, Curt!” He's right. If that fire hadn't put itself out, I doubt that little fire extinguisher I keep close by would have handled it. Gee willikers.

He told me where to take the welder to get it fixed. In the meantime, I was out of a welder. I had to rent one so I could do any welding repairs that came up as I was loading my sculptures for the trip to Ft. Madison. Welds sometimes break — at least mine do.

That's the barn. In the garage, mice love my car. I'm an insurance salesman and always have food in my car to tide me over when I'm out and about. Ginnie jokes that I could survive in my car for three days in a blizzard. She also holds her nose when she gets in my car, saying it smells “mousy.” Over the years I've had mice problems in several of my cars. They gnaw holes in potato chip bags and build nests in various and sundry places. Ginnie installed an air freshener in an air duct.

Ginnie and I were exercising one morning at East Lake Park in Mt. Pleasant. Ginnie finished before I did so she was sitting in my car reading. She could hear a mouse rattling around in the back. That freaked her out. So, I set a trap on the floorboard. To date, I've caught somewhere around a dozen mice. I found out that if I use chewing gum for bait, and stick a walnut down in the gum, I don't have to reload. I reset the trap after catching a mouse, and it's good to go.

I bought poison for the barn. I'll fix those mice, by golly. That was too close a call with the welder. I gave an old band saw to a friend and he said it had a mouse nest in it, too. They're everywhere.

2020 has been a strange year, which is too bad. 2020 is such a friendly sounding round number. If it was 2019, I could understand. 2020 has seen the pandemic, derecho, riots, fires, hurricanes, what's next? Earthquakes? “Pestilence follows plague,” Hab 3:5 NIV. Are the mice the pestilence the Bible is talking about? BTW: Tectonic techies say it's not a matter of if but when a major earthquake hits the Midwest and the Mississippi River flows backwards. Yikes!

Did I mention hearing aids? Huh? I was picking apples from our McIntosh tree. Ginnie and the Snavely's were making apple sauce. I was using one of those apple pickers with a long wooden handle. It works pretty good and saves me from having to climb a ladder and possibly fall. Anywho, I was under the low hanging branches using the apple picker, and one of the tree branches must have plucked a hearing aid right out of my left ear. I didn't notice it for a couple of hours — apples don't make much noise, you know. But by then it was adios. I searched and searched on my knees in the tall grass under the tree, and in the low hanging branches. Nary a hearing aid.

I called the hearing aid company and the first thing they asked was did I lose it by taking off a mask? They've had a lot of calls because of the pandemic. I did notice that happening with me — the hearing aid gets tangled up with the mask strings. Now I have the kind of masks that tie behind my head instead of looping over my ears and making me look like Dumbo.

Fortunately, my health insurance covered the replacement of the hearing aid. Here's hoping 2021 (a lucky number) is a better year.

Contact Curt Swarm at curtswarm@yahoo.com

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