We have a situation…Well really, it is I that has the situation or has made a situation or…Well you see…I am in a pickle and am trying to figure out just what it is I should do about it before he finds out!
It’s about Johnathon. He has been in my heart since the children were small and then he resurfaced last summer…and, oh! What will I do? Why did he tell the others?
To say the guy I live with won’t be happy is an understatement. He’ll kill him!
“One more time…please Mommy…” .
We had read the book countless times-so much in fact that I knew it by heart. A House for a Mouse by Kathleen Daly was one of many books that were shoved haphazardly inside my daughters’ bookshelves. Sometimes we would take all of the books out and stack them in large, toppley piles on the hardwood floor of her bedroom. We would then spend hours reviewing the books-choosing favourites, separating ones we hadn’t read for a long while. That evening, after all of the books were neatly arranged back inside her bookcase, we would read the chosen ones; the ones we had treasured as all time favourites (at least for a time until another came along) and the ones we couldn’t recall having read at all. We then would take our books into the master bedroom.
There were reasons for this, (reading books in Mommy and Daddy’s bed) the first being that our daughter’s single bed was a tight fit for myself, she and her younger brother. We also found out that our combined weight (along with some secret bouncing when Mommy wasn’t looking) was too much for the frame which had eventually cracked, consequently rendering the drawers underneath useless and the bed not so stable.
Our first home was built in 1935 and had two bedrooms, one of which was very small and both of which were desperately cold. When our second child was born, we set the crib up in a corner of our master bedroom with the thought that one day we would buy some used bunk beds and move the then toddler, into his sister’s room. This never came to be, but that’s for another time to talk about. The fact was that we had lots of room on a queen sized bed (it was marvellously cozy), the youngest’s bed was a stones’ throw away and there was suitable lighting.
The tale of House for a Mouse is a simplistic story. Mouse looks for a house to live in. Mouse finds an abandoned doll house. Mouse finds a friend to move in with. Mouse and friend share a meal (stew if I recall correctly…which was vegetarian?) at their miniature table. The end.
I believe it was not the plot (if you can call it that) of the story that the children enjoyed, but rather it was the thought that perhaps these wee creatures had their own miniature homes, parks, schools and such-and that they possibly were living this fairyish life right under our noses! Now, to be fair, I also possibly could have been an instigator in these delightful imaginary discussions. After all, my mother, having read to us a plethora of stories, would find just about any situation an opportunity to spin a tale…so I did come by it honestly.
Those days are far away now..and although the kids are grown, the gift of imagination that my mother passed onto me has never been discarded. I have held onto it as one does who has a devout faith. It has been a comfortable companion for me, even in the darkest of times-or maybe I should say, especially then.
And so this Spring, when the pandemic was merrily spreading its’ way around the world, I retired daily to my gardens for some much needed clarity. The planning, designing, digging, planting and tending, helped me to maintain an even focus and remember what I could control….This also is where I may have possibly made an error in judgement…
The thing is- I was feeling melancholy this particular day, pining for my lost children who had somehow disappeared all too quickly and had been been replaced by these grown adults who no longer were around to stare at the ladybug I had found hidden in the folds of a daisy. After a few tears I decided to climb off my ‘pity pot’ and clean out my shed.
I’m not ashamed to admit that although I have very little problem throwing things away, I also have a mind for creative up-cycling. A chipped teapot can be sunk 1/2 way under the soil and provide a feature for creeping thyme; a rusty spade can turn into a garden marker and a broken china cup can be a vessel for violas. I had a lovely afternoon reorganizing my shed and integrating bits and pieces into my garden beds, when I came upon an ornamental bird house that had definitely seen better days. I am not sure when I had tucked this gem away but I immediately knew what I would do with it due to my most recent encounter with a certain little mouse. Johnathon to be exact.
I must point out that I have had more than my share of problematic mice. There was the time when we renovated our pet store. The offices had been used for a groomers room and then, after she left, sat empty for a time; the drying kennels not having been used for a very long while. When it came time to rip out the kennels and redesign the offices, we were more than appalled at what we found. There, inside the cavernous wall, were hundreds upon hundreds of field mice nests! These crafty buggers had found a small crack through the outside brick of our building and migrated into the wall with no one the wiser! There they had built a colony-a city really!
But I am not doing the story any justice by not describing what happened next. As with any traumatic event, time appears to move in slow motion-this was a prime example of such. As the wall of kennels was pried out with crowbars, the whole unit was displaced. Shifting this monstrosity over to one side was a challenge and it was then we became aware of being attacked. Hundreds, maybe thousands of field mice sprung into action! Their nests chock full of tiny, pink gummy babies rained upon our heads like soft, rubber pellets! The screaming that ensued was chaotic, and as we stampeded out the door it was impossible not to feel the pop, pop, pop underfoot of future field mice fetuses squished in the line of battle.
You would think after that experience that I would despise mice in general. But that was not the case. Even during a particularly cold winter, where the temperature dipped down to -40 celcius and we discovered a mouse tucked away underneath our refrigerator at home. At the time the children’s father suggested we get mouse traps with poison. I immediately dissolved that idea due to the fact that we had 2 dogs, who by all accounts, could not differentiate a food item from a piece of lego, bar of soap or a disposable razor-all of which in the past they had happily eaten and regurgitated without even a hint of remorse or discomfort.
We decided upon a live trap. Thereafter, every morning my valiant husband would check the trap, place it in his vehicle and drive the little traveller out to a field and release him. This lasted for months (because if you haven’t guessed, mice are insanely prolific and we did not as previously hoped, have just one little mouse under our fridge) until which time, for a full week, we neither saw, smelled or discovered even a dropping.
I may decide to blame this on my mother. In this instance, of all the adorable, quaint stories she read to us-the Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse comes to mind. This mouse was so tidy and sweet, sweeping her home in her frilly apron-preparing tea and scones for her guests. There was no mention of the stench of mouse urine or the possibility that Mrs. Tittlemouse could give all of her friends Hantaviruses…
I suppose while everyone else grew up, I chose to hold onto those few imaginary, colourful and I dare say, meaningful thoughts and ideas that have been a part of painting my character and personality. So when I look at it that way, blaming my mother may not be the fairest decision-although I will stick to that excuse for the purpose of the predicament I find myself in now.
I have diverted the initial circumstance of my story and will carry on from here.
I have a situation which may require some covert measures. It is imperative that ‘he’ (guy I live with) not know about this. You may ask yourself at this point “How will he not know? You have posted this for the world to read”?!
Well, you may find this strange, but I can assure you that it is true-he has no interest in reading anything that I write. The only way he has ever known that I have written anything is if I read it to him, and even then, the look on his face is painfully bored! So! I will leave it up to the few that read this not to inform him.
You recall that I found a bird house in my shed? Well, my idea was to make it into a house…for a mouse. Johnathon that is. From the story. I fixed it up one afternoon planting alyssum around the base and dropping more than a few seeds inside…just as a house warming present. Then I opened a beer, sat back and waited, watching the end of the garden for any movement.
I enthusiastically told him (the guy I live with) that I had made a house for the little mouse I had seen occasionally darting in and out of my strawberry patch. I decided to tell him I had named the mouse so that he didn’t immediately grab a golf club and begin chipping for mice. He looked at me as one would when they had confided they had a sexually transmitted disease! He sat back and stared at me long and hard. Then he said what I was hoping he may not say “You know where there’s one, there’s more…”.
At this point I decided to play dumb. I also decided to dispute it. And so I did. Me being the mouse expert and all, I explained to him that this particular mouse had most likely been shunned by his flock. He had found refuge in my garden where he was living out his life in peace and happiness.
He knew what I was saying was complete nonsense -out of the range of any sensible argument…so he left it alone. Thankfully.
Throughout the summer when I was feeling a little low, I would stare at Johnathon’s house and soon after, lo and behold, he would appear! He always made me smile.
Then came winter…
When reality is threatening to suffocate the last bit of hope or sanity one has after a particularly tenuous day, I take to staring out our large picture window into our backyard. Although Johnathon’s mouse house had been long buried in mountains of snow, I recognized that this clever little fellow had moved his home adjacent to the shed and (brilliantly I may add) under one of our bird feeders. Imagine that! I spent much of November and all through December taking a break now and then to catch a glimpse of him darting in and out of perfectly round holes he had dug in the snow…Or had he?
January. I take a break from work and stroll over to the window. There’s my little Johnathon foraging in the…Sweet baby Jesus! Please tell me that he’s throwing an outdoor covid party!
Three! There are three mice!!
My mind is racing…more than likely these Johnathons were not the Johnathon, but imposters (who no doubt led a coup and knocked him off in a bid to takeover the mansion I had built for him!). They undoubtedly have taken up residence under the guy I live withs’ shed…!
I can tell you this discovery is shattering my zen unreality!!! However, it is more than that. When the guy I live with realizes I have been happily feeding a (let’s be realistic just for a second here…) CITY OF MICE, I will never (ever) hear the end of it! Lord, send me a smart coyote! Just for a night!
Oh denial my old friend, why did you deceive me?
I need to devise a plan. But for starters, there is a sharp shinned hawk that’s been hanging around…and I know just where to dig…
Oh Johnathon. This is what happens when you have social gatherings…