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The old saw says “Dogs are man’s best friend.” Well, sorry old saw, it’s time for a new saw: “Concrete is man’s best friend.”

A homeowner recently called me for a bid to build steps at his home (I’m a General Contractor, too.) and asked, “Mike, what are the pros and cons of wood steps vs. concrete steps?” That’s a very material question to me since I own several cabins and they all have wood steps and decks that are in constant need of maintenance. Constant.

“Well, Mr. Smith, I recommend concrete steps—ancient Rome’s favorite building material. Concrete doesn’t decay, never needs painting, is impervious to termites, non-slippery if finished properly, easier to clean when covered in snow, and lasts a lifetime. On the down side, concrete cost more to build than wooden steps.”

“As far as wooden steps go,” I continued, “they’re cheaper to build than concrete ones… you can paint or stain them any color you want… and that’s about all she wrote. Remember: wood rots.”

Hey homeowner, how long has it been since you’ve had your steps and decks inspected by a professional? My experience tells me it’s been many a year. Call us today for an inspection because we have great products to stop wood rot. (Or we can just dig them out of the dirt because that’s what causes most of the rot, anyway.)

In closing, when I wrote in the first paragraph that concrete is man’s best friend, I meant in the realm of home maintenance. In the human realm, dogs are still our best friend because there’s one thing those no-maintenance concrete steps never gave anyone: warm, fuzzy, tail-wagging love!

Pooper scooper sold separately.

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(Due to space constraints, we now join this “mind trip” already in progress.) Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Mike Nolan and I’ll be your captain on this journey to the center of creative mind.  We’re almost ready to get going, so please fasten your crash harnesses and put on your oxygen masks. While you’re waiting, here are some common questions about the trip:

>>What do I need for this conceptual journey? All you need is my book, A Rat Catcher’s Guide to Creative Inspiration.

>>What will we find at the center of creative mind? Well, it’s a world that changes constantly, but here’s what I expect we’ll see: mice eat cats as bats play along; nectar gathers bees in clouds of birdsong. Adults lie low, children hold the power—they go to bed at such ungodly hours! Pleasure is forever, while pain is unknown. (Except in the wheat fields, where sweet corn is grown.) There’s ginger bee stingers, and burgundy bird calls—imagine the circus, the madness of it all!

>>What if I get lost in your neural clusters and can’t find my way back to my own? Don’t worry, at the end of the book I lay down a path, much like the Yellow Brick Road, so you’ll have no trouble finding your back way home. (Warning: keep moving, don’t dawdle in the wheat fields.)

  What folks are saying about the book:

  • If you’ve ever wanted to see what happens when a man doggedly insists on marching to the beat of his own drum, then read this book —Popular Fads and Trends Blogzine
  • I say, this book makes a fine coaster for a cup of tea, which may be an Assam of India, or perhaps a Darjeeling, which is equally lovely, if I may say so myself —The March Hare (overheard talking to Alice)

A Rat Catcher’s Guide to Creative Inspiration is available on Amazon. Creative inspiration is available wherever children play.

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Well, well, well—I have some eagle-eyed readers.

Two weeks ago I wrote about flying squirrels and I promptly received an email from a university professor, let’s call him Dr. C, challenging my statement “Unlike rodents, flying squirrels don’t chew exposed electrical wires.” The professor pointed out, correctly, that flying squirrels are rodents. I should have written: “Unlike other rodents, such as rats, flying squirrels don’t…” I’m happy to set the record straight. Now, let’s move on to—

“Hey, man, you’re a horse’s backside!” says the flying squirrel that lives in the big oak tree in my back yard. “I thought we had a deal: I bring my friends to your feeder, we eat sunflower seeds and look cute, and you sing our praises. Now you’re calling us dirty rodents?” 

“Whoa, little buddy, don’t take it so personally. Dr. C says you’re a rodent and that settles it. Why do you even care what humans call you? You should just be happy that we feed you and that we Home Defenders humanely escort you guys out of attics rather than, well, let’s not go into that.”

“Alright, alright, you win. As long as you keep doling out those sunflower seeds, you can call us what you will. A rose by any other name, you know. Now get back to work, ya knucklehead!”

I’ve always known that flying squirrels are rodents, so how did I make that mistake? Well, I just glossed over it because I spend most of my writing energy working on flow and poetry—especially poetry. There’s a deep, satisfying sense of pleasure that comes when a fresh image or engaging last line pops into my head. The afterglow can echo through the my mind and body for hours. I could compare the sensation to something else, but this is a family newspaper.

But, yeah, getting back to science, flying squirrels are rodents.

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“Uh oh, they’re back,” I thought as I saw the silhouette of a grain moth flying against the vibrant colors of my TV screen. “How did those critters get back in? Dang it!” 

I was frustrated because my home was infested with small grain moths in May and I thought I had solved the problem. They had invaded the birdseed in my closet and once moths get a foothold, it’s a battle to get them out. Even after I banished the birdseed to my outdoor storage shed, I saw the moths flying inside my house for several months. Around July, I stopped seeing moths.

So where did this lone moth come from? After searching my home, I discovered I had accidentally left a small container of seeds on top of my refrigerator. One small misstep for man, one giant leap for pests. I promptly put those seeds in the shed. Hopefully, my uninvited guest was just a rogue moth.

If you feed birds, I highly recommend storing your birdseed in an outbuilding. Seeds attract pests, from rodents to grain moths to the dreaded carpet beetles that, once they get inside a home, never seem to go away. If you think you have stored grain pests, call us Home Defenders for a free inspection. Feed the birds that sing, not the trouble that pests bring!

Back at my home, I could, of course, just stop feeding the birds. That would be the cold, logical thing to do. But, darn it, I sure love waking to the sound of singing chickadees, so goodbye cold logic, hello happy chickadees. 

As for the grain moths, they can sing in my storage shed.

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I always feel good when I see a flying squirrel. On a lucky twilight, I’ll step onto my back deck, glance at the feeder I made for them, and see one of the nocturnal critters munching on sunflower seeds I put out for them. On a really good evening, I’ll see a pair eating seeds like two teens sharing a chocolate malted after the sock hop. (Where did you go, Joe DiMaggio?)

Flying squirrels are impossibly cute. They have big dark eyes, soft gray fur, and feather-like tails that help them balance as they glide from tree to tree. They look like toy stuffed animals. If you’d like to see one, place a handful of unsalted sunflower seeds on your deck handrail after sundown and cross your fingers. 

Flying squirrels sometimes live in attics, and concerned homeowners call us with questions: Do they chew wires? How do they get inside? Do you guys hurt them? Trap them? Relocate them?

Unlike rodents, flying squirrels don’t chew exposed electrical wires. They get into attics via woodpecker holes the size of a golf ball. If we find flying squirrels, we never hurt them—we cover their entry holes with sheet metal,  then catch and release them outside where they belong.

If you hear scurrying or scratching noises in your attic, it may be rodents, but it also could be a case of flying squirrels. Call us today and we’ll determine which critter has built its nest in your nest. We will solve the problem. Guaranteed!

While we humans sleep, dreaming of sock hops and creamy chocolate malteds, Mother Nature’s all-stars are playing the game of life, setting a world-record glide here, nailing a perfect landing there, all under the twinkling Milky Way sky. Ladies and gentlemen, please rise and salute our awesome flying squirrels.

Joltin’ Joe didn’t go anywhere after all.