Wednesday, October 24, 2007


You’ve heard it many times: “If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans.” My own thinking is a little more mellow. I follow a general wisdom of two points: God knows everything we say and do. And God has a sense of humor.

In spite of this I went and planned a huge party for myself for my big 6-0 birthday. I invited a whole bunch of people—people from our church, for God’s sake. I didn’t need anything to spoil this party.

The first thing that happened was the washing machine went out, clanking and screeching to a halt last night.. Beaven thinks he knows how to fix it but just for insurance I’m scouting for a Laundromat. I think there’s a new Soapy Suds a few miles from here.

Then we found out we have mice. We’ve never spotted even a hint of mice when we sit around at night just the two of us. No--our mice only come out in front of company. Well, I shouldn’t make it sound like we have a regular parade of mice; it’s not that bad. Actually, only one other time have we seen a mouse but it was when two ladies from the church were visiting. The mouse ran from behind the book case into the bedroom but I know they saw it. We all saw it. It was enough embarrassment for a whole lifetime. A couple of days later our cat, Murphy, showed up with a dead mouse in his mouth and we congratulated him heartily. Extra rations for Murphy that night, our hero. We thought we had ourselves a good mouser. We were wrong.

This time the mouse ran through the kitchen, stopped in the middle of the room to look at Beaven for a minute like he was wondering what a human was doing in his house before he ran off into the living room and hide behind the bookcase. I had to wonder if there is some sort of mouse hotel behind our bookcase. We’re expecting around forty people this weekend, most of whom have never seen our house. Did I mention they’re all from our church? They already think we’re crazy for moving out to the God forsaken sticks and now here’s the proof.

I don’t want to mess around while Beaven researches the Internet, sends off for a few books to be delivered, then builds what he considers to be a better mousetrap using electrical wires and assorted computer chips. I need to get rid of this mouse pronto. I called the exterminator with the most appealing ad in the yellow pages—a company called “Killers With a Conscience.” Then I sat back to wait for them to call me back and come do their voodoo to get rid of my mouse.

While I was waiting, I walked into the bedroom to find a dead squirrel on the floor. A fully grown and very dead squirrel. In my bedroom. As you might imagine, this is the first time in my life I have ever seen a big old dead squirrel in my bedroom. So I screamed a little. Fortunately he wasn’t bleeding. (See Rule #2 in my September 12th entry, “Don’t Bleed on the Carpet.”) I don’t know how he died. I don’t want to know, either. It’s enough he ended up in my bedroom.

Clearly our cat is not doing his job. The only way a full-grown squirrel, especially a dead one could get into our house would have been through the cat door, in the jaws of our cat. Instead of killing the mice he was hired on to monitor, Murphy is now bringing toys into the house. Can snakes and possums be far behind?

In fact we had a possum once about 30 years ago when we lived in a different house. I washed him along with the laundry. Of course, it wasn’t on purpose. I really don’t care how clean the neighborhood wildlife is. Apparently, the poor possum wandered into our garage from the field across the street and climbed into the machine to take a quick nap on top of whatever laundry was in the machine. I must have thrown a bunch of clothes on top of him, closed the lid and started the machine. The next morning I went to move the laundry over to the dryer and opened the washing machine to find what I immediately perceived as either a very ugly cat or a huge rat. It only took me a few nanoseconds to slam the lid down shut and leave Beaven a note telling him how much I loved him and how much I wanted him to get rid of whatever was dead inside the washer. Then I went on to work. This is what men are for, isn’t it—to kill bugs, open jars, and remove dead things from the washing machine?

My brother was in the Navy at the time serving on a nuclear submarine. The family could send him messages via 50 word cables. The rules were very strict: no more than 50 words and no codes.

This was a time in my life when things were fairly dull. I felt sure he wouldn’t be excited by our youngest daughter’s potty training victories but that was really the most exciting thing going on. In spite of the way it seems, children don't usually offer constant drama with blood drenched races to the emergency room or projectile vomiting. Sometimes they just sit and play. Fifty words aren’t enough for real stories but too much for just “I love you. Stay safe.” What else are you going to say? So I sent him a cable that included the sentence, “I washed a possum in the washing machine yesterday.”

Somewhere deep underneath the Indian Ocean, my brother was summoned from his sleep to answer to the Captain of the ship. “Allard, you know you can’t receive coded messages!” the Captain bellowed. My brother read the cable, threw his head back and laughed, “Captain, that’s not code, sir, it’s just my sister. She probably did wash a possum in the washing machine.”

Our previous attempts to exterminate the house ourselves have all been miserable failures. We heard “things” crawling in our walls one particularly cold evening last winter. I suggested to Beaven that he toss a couple of mothballs into the attic to repel the critters. Our attic is hard to get around in so he just threw an entire box of mothballs by handfuls as far as he could throw them in every direction. Within a couple of hours the aroma of mothballs was so powerful you could smell it outside in the yard. Inside the house our eyes burned and we sorely regretted the move. Our entire house reeked of mothballs. It’s been a year now and the whole house still smells like your great grandmother’s house.

I am picturing my magnificent party this Saturday. I will have my best party fare and serving dishes, maybe even a nice floral arrangement; decorative napkins and tidy little candy dishes set out……..with mice scampering willy-nilly through the living room while the cat plays with assorted wildlife in the bedroom.

Maybe it won’t be so bad. Maybe I could put a tiny little sign on our washing machine: “Squirrels and mice: Free Swimming.” Oh, wait I forgot. The washing machine is broken. Maybe the guests will miss the drama completely. They will probably all be outside to escape the smell of mothballs. I just have to keep Beaven away from trying the latest critter repellant we saw in a store: fox urine.


Emily said...

Oh Mom! You are a gifted storyteller.

Anonymous said...

Isn't there a story about the two cousins - the city mouse and the country mouse? Maybe one of your church "friends" will bring an equal exchange from the city!!
And I, for one, do not think you are the least bit crazy... well, not for moving to the country!! I'm going crazy in the city!