crafty mouse

There’s a mouse in my house. Well, possibly two. One lies dead in a glue trap, waiting for its compadre to cross over into mouse heaven. The other – the mouse on the lam – is nowhere to be found. Late last night, while enjoying an evening at home alone, I heard the all-too-familiar tell-tale sounds of a “visitor” in the area of the pantry. Now our pantry is really a free-standing little cabinet that’s served many purposes over the years – from a baby’s armoire to a bathroom cabinet to a general storage unit. Its latest incarnation is as a pantry, because, for whatever reason, the builder of this house we now occupy decided that people don’t necessarily need a place to put their food. So we put many of our non-perishables in this smallish cabinet. But I digress. . .

I sat frozen on the sofa, listening to the sounds of cellophane packaging rustling, watching for movement. Nothing. Just little mouse sounds. Then I made the gutsy move to grab a glue trap from under the kitchen sink. Since the weather turned cooler, we’ve had to invest in some traps to keep up with the steady invasion of furry little visitors. By my count, this is invasion #3. Apparently, the mice that live in the fields surrounding our house have spread the word that the Rosewells have a nice, cozy little Mouse B&B and we’re open for business. So we wait. . .and watch. . .and listen. . .and lay traps.

While I wait, I ponder this question:  Why do we entertain ourselves with cute mice? There are the Mickeys and Mighty Mouses (Mice?) and Jerrys of my generation; my children have grown up with Mickey and Minnie (some vermin are timeless, I suppose), Desperaux (as in “The Tale of. . .”) and even the bold move with Remy from “Ratatouille”, the story of a rat who dreams of being a chef! I admit that I’ve enjoyed all these characters over the years. I went to see “Ratatouille” with my daughters a few years ago with some trepidation, thinking it near impossible that anyone could make even an animated rat cute or charming or lovable. Not only was it possible, I found myself really liking Remy, cheering on his success. But I distinctly remember feeling a bit queasy when Remy’s rat friends invaded the pantry, watching them slide across the floor en masse. That was a bit too real to be cute.

So why do we go to such creative lengths to anthropomorphise these skittish, sneaky little varmints? Why do we try to make them cute? Why don’t we just ignore them until it’s time to set another trap?

Even the representative mouse pictured above is the cutest one I could find. When looking through pictures to download for this post, the samples ran the gamut from photos of real mice to realistic drawings to cartoon figures to crafted – and yes, even cute! – mice. I decided pretty quickly that if I was going to be on eye level with one of these creatures while writing, it’d better be something attractive, something made of pink felt with blanket-stitched, chintz ears, something, well, yes. . .cute! Which automatically means “not real”. The thought of staring eye-to-eye at a real mouse – even a picture of one – makes me shudder. I don’t think I feel threatened or scared, necessarily. It’s more a reaction to their habits: scurrying along the edge of a room, lurking in the shadows, watching us from under refrigerators and other hidden places, eating food they neither bought nor earned. They’re dishonest. I don’t trust them.

We share the planet with these tiny abominations, but not willingly. Perhaps to assuage our instinctive fears of such prolific pests, we choose to make them more acceptable, more likable, more like us. We personify them to be able to coexist with them.

But herein lies the crux of the problem. I don’t want to coexist with mice. They could easily take over, so we look for entryways and lay traps, hoping that this one will be the last one. Very soon here, I’ll become obsessed with the mouse-on-the-lam’s annihilation. It’s inevitable. I have other things to think about, and this little guy’s an inconvenience, a nasty little nuisance. I’m reminded of that scene from “The Untouchables” where Al Capone learns of Eliot Ness’s interference in a business transaction. To paraphrase DeNiro’s Capone:  “I want him dead! I want his family dead! I want his house burnt to the ground!”

I’m off to grab another trap.

. . .in with the new. That’s the saying, isn’t it? January1st is supposed to bring a new beginning, a perspective on the past year and resolve for the year ahead. Frankly, I stopped making resolutions many years ago, realizing that mine were too ambitious and therefore completely unreachable. I rather prefer to make “plans”, those things you intend to accomplish but can let go by the wayside if other things interfere. You’re off the hook with failed plans; everybody knows that “stuff happens.” Resolutions, on the other hand, are pesky things that require real commitment and are horribly unforgiving of one’s failure to keep them. Through the year, you’re reminded that this or that resolution isn’t being tended to, and through the year, you’re reminded just what a failure you are.

So, I’ve made my New Year’s Plans. They aren’t too lofty, so I think I might be able to keep them. Some of them, anyway. Time will tell.

  • 2010 was a difficult year for me healthwise. After a very productive 2009 holiday season of cooking, baking, decorating, gift-making & wrapping, etc., in January I was struck down (yes, it sounds dramatic, but I WAS!) by sciatica. I literally hobbled around for 2 weeks while we waited for our insurance to be in force. Through the year, I was in & out of doctors’ offices, using pain meds, going to physical therapy, having a useless spinal injection of steroids that gave only a few days’ relief from pain, finally going the surgery route with a spinal laminectomy. At the end of the year, I was still using pain meds because of the damage done to the sciatic nerve. I’ve been assured it WILL heal in time (is that a resolution, a plan, or a promise? I can’t tell.) My 2011 Plan: I suppose the only thing I can do here is to avoid the deterioration of bone in my back (someone tell me how!) Okay, it’s a plan! 
  • Finances went downhill. Through 2010, outgo increasingly overshadowed income, so that by Christmastime, we felt very Dickensian; there were times when I could swear we were reenacting the scene of the Bob Cratchit family’s Christmas “feast” in A Christmas Carol. The only things missing were Tiny Tim’s crutch and the steamed pudding.  My 2011 Plan: make more money. This seems fairly simple and straightforward, as plans go. But, the devil, as they say, is in the details. 
  • Two weeks before Christmas, I came down with a cold, which became a sinus infection, requiring yet another visit to the doctor the day before Christmas Eve, more meds to take and the directive to NOT attend church in case I might be infectious to others. So, Christmas Eve saw my eldest, Kate, (also sick) and I left behind as everyone else trekked to Christmas Eve Mass. Major bummer.  My 2011 Plan: eat healthier, exercise more, get enough sleep, avoid people.
  • We’re very cramped in our little apartment. Six large people in a small space wears thin after a few years, and it’s time to go. My 2011 Plan: find an affordable house to rent. That’s not asking too much, right? Well, judging from the inflated rental rates in our area, this might be more in the “act of God” category.
  • I have this growing desire to transfer my attentions from passive things (TV, movies) to more creative pursuits (Bible study, music, acting, writing, calligraphy, sewing, gift-making, organizing my home, etc., etc., etc.) My 2011 Plan: realizing that this item borders on the “resolution” category, I’ll be careful in saying that I’ll plan to do as many of the things I’ve listed as time, health, energy and other unexpected occurences may allow. 

Resolutions, plans or no, I have high hopes for 2011. It couldn’t get much more difficult than 2010. But we endured that year, and I plan to do better than endure this year. But stuff happens.

O Come, o come, Immanuel

and ransom captive Israel

that mourns in lonely exile here

until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice!  Rejoice!  Immanuel

shall come to thee, O Israel!

 

Today is the first Sunday in Advent.  If you’re unfamiliar with Advent, it is the penitential season leading up to Christmas Day.  It is for the purpose of preparing oneself spiritually for the celebration of the Birth of the Christ Child and also for His Second Coming.  Traditionally, during a penitential season one chooses to withhold something from one’s life that is a detriment to spiritual growth and/or health.  But the point is not to just leave a hole; rather it should be filled with something good and productive, such as reading and study of the Scriptures or prayer or good works.  Carrying it further, I’m sure that the idea is that the new practice will become a habit, replacing life’s time-wasters with more important things of a God-centered, God-honoring nature.

When I was much younger and didn’t fully understand the practice of “giving something up for Lent” that my liturgical friends would talk about, I thought the whole idea silly.  Perhaps I perceived a lack of real commitment on the part of the practitioners to do anything more than make a show of some religious ritual.  Or perhaps I simply didn’t understand the concept.  Most likely, it was a combination of both.

But I do get it now.  Sometimes, as a busy wife and mother, Advent and Lent sort of sneak up on me, and I feel unprepared to tackle another thing on my list of to-do’s.  But this year, I sort of got a jump on  Advent and have already made mental plans on how I will spend it (i.e., the thing I’ll give up and what will replace it.)  My prayer is that I will succeed in being diligent in my attempts to increase in the knowledge and wisdom of the Lord.  Though I may write about it here, my prayer is also that I will not be driven to boast about my achievement, whatever level it may be.  The hope?  That the result will be quiet, understated growth in me to the benefit of others and the glory of God.

How will you spend Advent?

  (George Winston’s “Thanksgiving”)My apologies for the inconvenience of having to leave this site to go to YouTube to listen & view this piece, but the music & pix are worth the effort.  This piece by George Winston evokes the quiet beauty of autumn.  Please don’t forget to read the psalm below.  Happy Thanksgiving!

A Psalm of Thanksgiving

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!

Serve the Lord with gladness!

Come into His presence with singing!

 

Know that the Lord, He is God!

It is He Who made us, and we are His;

We are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.

 

Enter His gates with thanksgiving,

and His courts with praise!

Give thanks to Him; bless His Name!

 

For the Lord is good;

His steadfast love endures forever,

and His faithfulness to all generations.

 

Psalm 100, ESV

 

(Grover & friend  define marriage.)

Well, another year has passed, and I’m still married.  Huh.  Who woulda thunk?  I might add a few words to Grover’s simplistic definition:  loving, sharing, asking forgiveness, forgiving, communicating, laughing, crying, dancing, holding hands, working, playing, resting, loving, sharing, asking forgiv. . . . . . . .You get the idea.

Happy 28th Anniversary, Brian.  You’re still the man!

My husband, Brian, and I went for a drive the other day.  It was one of the few times I’ve been out of the house since having back surgery in September.  The drive was to and from my surgeon’s office in Dallas, about thirty minutes away, so there was a purpose for being in the car – not just a leisurely drive.  But since Brian was behind the wheel, I was able to enjoy the view.  Okay, the drive into Dallas is all highway, no back roads with out-of-the-way charm – only the occasional billboard or industrial park or shopping center.  But yesterday I didn’t see any of that.  My eyes caught something rising above all the human-engineered mediocrity.  There was a show going on – one that I look for every year about this time.  That show of color that so signals autumn: deep reds, vivid corals, bright golds, soft browns, calming greens.  When God’s creation puts on a show, I pay attention.

There is a serenity about autumn.  The colors are softer, deeper.  Even the birds seem to reverence the season with their restrained songs.  God seems to invite me to sit, listen and reflect. 

The holidays loom large.  Endless lists abound:  groceries to collect now or later; chores divided and assigned to get the house ready; gifts to buy or make; the mental notes that may or may not make it onto a list.  The to-do’s of the season are breathtaking.  But even in all this busy-ness, I am drawn to stop and look. 

Autumn, with its turquoise sky and silvery gray clouds, beckons me to drink in the beauty that surrounds me.  That beauty is fleeting, and I don’t want to miss a moment of it.  I know that soon – too soon –  all those colors will fade to a dull brown.  The last leaves will release their tenuous grip, only to drift down, down, down to the crisp carpet below.  And the trees, only months before so proud in their lush green clothes, will stand naked and shivering in the cold winter wind.  But for now, I’ll enjoy autumn’s glory.

The crowds assemble at the Capitol Building - 9/12/09

We got close enough to the stage that we could easily hear and understand everything that was being said.   There were speakers, entertainers, dignitaries — each with his or her own take on the issues at hand:  a too-large federal government encroaching on states’ rights and individuals’ rights, a President with an ambitious and foolish agenda, a Congress turned deaf to the voice of the people.  We were taking it all in, this moment of history in which we’d been privileged to participate.  The placquards and banners that floated and waved above the immense crowd each illustrated the primary grievances of the person carrying it:  “No New Taxes”, “NObama”, and pertinent quotes from the likes of Jefferson and Lincoln.

Mr. Jefferson has something to say about the Nanny State.

At one point, an announcement was made that ABC had estimated the crowd in attendance at around 2 million, to which my sister, Amy, replied, “Then it must be double that!”  Those around us laughed at the insinuation that ABC (or any other part of the mainstream media) would never willingly give up a full count of the crowd.  The first time I looked back down onto Pennsylvania Avenue to take in the sea of people, I was amazed at what I saw.  People on the lawns, people on the streets, sidewalks, sitting in folding chairs and wheelchairs, listening, cheering, waving their signs.  People of all ages, colors, ethnic groups — there with one purpose.  We did not realize until later, at home on our computers as we visited various sites giving accounts of the march, how much larger the crowd was.  The pictures were breathtaking. 

Amy likes the Lincoln quote.

As the rally ended, we found ourselves chatting with people from various parts of the country, all of us still a bit excited from the day’s events.  The crowd thinned, moving back down the hill toward the street, and we became aware that the Capitol grounds were — clean!  No trash to be found anywhere that we could see.  There had been areas designated as trash receptacles by temporary fencing, and those were full.  But where people had been standing or sitting for hours, and no doubt many of them had eaten or drunk something in that time, it was pristine.

I leave my “9/12 March” saga here.  I’ve struggled with finishing my story for months, knowing I needed to write a conclusion.  Although it’s a paltry one, this will have to do.  I returned home from this trip and quickly fell sick with various maladies, spending a large part of Fall 2009 very ill.  Sickness has a way of refocusing your attention and energies.  We felt we had participated in a history-making event, something important.  I felt blessed that my children and I were included.  What was accomplished remains to be seen. 

The rest of that day and into the evening, we took in some of the sights of D.C. — the Washington Monument, the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, the World War II and Viet Nam Memorials.  Early the next morning, before leaving for home, we paid a visit to Arlington National Cemetery.  I hope that my children came away with the understanding that these aren’t just beautiful buildings and real estate; they represent this grand and glorious ideal called the United States of America.  They are reminders of the huge sacrifices by untold numbers of pilgrims, colonists, slaves, pioneers, soldiers and, yes, even 9/12 marchers to establish, build and preserve this great country.  I love the United States of America.  I pray that God, in His mercy, will continue to bless her.

Looking back at where we've been.

 

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