This is not funny.
I have mice. Not a mouse. Mice. Plural. Hiding under my house. The bird-feeder hangs at the porch where Mom can easily see the birds. The seeds that they throw all over the porch picking out the sunflower seeds fall through the cracks of the porch straight into the crawl space. I am surrounded by woods and big trees with lots and lots of leaves. And I had plumbing leaks I inherited and didn't know about and so all the insulation under the house got wet and weary. Mix in the scent of dog food wafting from the house and apparently, these things create the perfect storm of calling all mice to micedom come.
I had to have my oil changed. When the mechanic came out and said - I need to show you something, follow me I told him -
Don't show me anything that cost more money because I don't have it. It's better for me to drive in ignorance.
But he said -
You have a nest being built in your engine under the cover and mice have chewed on all of your wires.
The evidence was obvious. A healthy little nest nearing completion. I am just a few days of house building chewing from 1000 dollar replacement charge.
You'll know when they get it all because your car just won't start.
I look at him numbly. No connection.
I have never considered myself a girlie-girl no matter how much I love the smell of strange perfume. In another life I would have been a bush pilot which I guess would require a certain degree of toughness so I try to stay tough just in case a piper cub is given to me as a gift. And - I love luxury. I sure could use some luxury right about now. Room service. For days. Three days of room service would just about fix what ails me. Just about.
Back to the mice and killing creatures.
I was born to create things not kill them. It is my nature to help soothe to take the pain away, to say soft little things like - there, there and everything's gonna be alright.
I also loved the movie Rataouille where the cute, little rat discovers that he can cook like nobody's business. So sweet. My grandmothers old house had rats. Wharf-rats. Huge gangster rats. They are not cute. They cannot cook. I killed them. With poison. It was horrible. I'll spare you the details.
Have you ever watched Cinderella? Well, without those mice she'd still be there today scrubbing up after her mean stepmother and horrid stepsisters. The mice saved her and sewed her a beautiful dress while they sang happy songs. My mice are not singing. I do not believe they are trying to help me have a great night out of dancing till dawn. Matter of fact they don't care about me at all.
I came home and took down the bird-feeder. Momma said,
I wouldn't let some mice keep her from seeing the birds.
I just saw a bird. He was blue. Just beautiful.
That's cause he was hungry cause it's winter and he was looking for the feeder.
I'm standing my ground. No birdseed until this situation is under control.
Soooo, hi ho hi ho it's off to buy some poison that I go. But not the sticky feet paper thing. I can't listen to mice scream because they are stuck to paper. I just. can't. do. it. Thankfully a mouse-slayer is flying in this week to come tackle this issue but I must make certain they don't return.
If anyone has any all natural surefire way to rid me of this problem and protect my engine I'll buy you lunch. It will not be ratatouille.
My mother has moved in with me. It seems like only yesterday that we were just like this, her in the drivers seat, her being the one to keep me steady on my feet, her keeping me balanced so that I didn't go careening off into the dark night, bad decisions, high fevers, or swampy creeks.
Now I'm the one that is trying to keep things balanced. Keeping them from tipping over. We are having such a great time. Really, we are. You laugh? You doubt it? I can see why. There are days that I stomp through the house exhasperated by her every sigh or comment. Days where I turn fourteen and want to go to room and slam the door. But my door doesn't slam because its just one more thing I have to fix in this house so there's no point. Instead, we find something we can agree on to watch or we tell old stories and laugh. Thank God she has a sense of humor. Most days I have mine. She follows me around the house with lipstick trying to get me to just "put a little color on" and reminds me to use lotion on my face. A lot. Like every time she looks at my face. She is also the Queen of the List. There is always a list of things we need. As soon as I leave for the store a new list has begun. Daily trips to the store are a bizarre part of my family history. It's as if we can only buy one thing a day. Or three. But never all of the things. When I was in high school and was sent to the store that was fine because Cousin Deb was with me and we always took the really, really long way which means we did everything we wanted to between the house and the store. Now the store is a chore. Particularly when someone is following your around the house with a plastic bag that has the name of a particular brand of three ply double roll extra size super soft paper with no truck tracks in the middle of it so that you can "READ every word so you get it exactly right." This is why I studied literature. I just know it. It's come to this.
But I get it. The little things matter when they seem to be the only things you might possibly have control over. The pressures of giving up your home after fifty years, making a move to the mountains after being a flatlander all your life (her words) and giving up so many shades of independence are challenging in every way. Trying to still find things when many are still in storage, reaching for the light in the middle of the night and realizing it's in the wrong place. That everything is in the wrong place. Mourning an old house like a family member. Because it was such a part of the family for so many years. The shelter for every tropical storm and hurricane. That little brick house held every family member far and wide while the storms raged outside. It was our lifeboat and our arc. Through the literal Florida storms and from life's storms. When grandparents grew sick and elderly and moved in with us. When there were car wrecks and bad news. The death of pets. Of bad grades. Broken hearts. Celebrations. Birthdays. It was all right there and my mother was the captain of that ship. Period. My Daddy was in the Army and away much of the time until he retired. Then he came home and took his place without ever removing her from hers.
Now so many things fall to me. Just cause this is the way that life shook out. It has a way of doing that. Taking a road we didn't expect but then that is life. And as family we make the best of it. As a writer I empathize with my mother making a change so significant we don't discuss it too much. The decision to let go of the car keys - one of the hardest of a lifetime. My mother's parents never owned a car, never drove. If I felt the day I had my own set of keys and eventually my own set of wheels represented freedom - for her that had to be a kind of rising up and driving out that came from a much deeper place. It represented more than sixteen year old I gotta be me. It represented a rise out of poverty, a way to have a job and keep a job, a success that meant she could buy a little house, build a family, have a little girl that would ride shotgun some day.
And, I did. Those were glorious times. My mother finally bought the car of her dreams. A big Oldsmobile convertible. White with red leather interior. A dream machine. She drove with confidence behind the wheel wearing scarves over her hair and streaming behind her, cat eye sunglasses. She was amazing, looked like a movie star. Riding in that front seat beside her, the sun shinning down, the radio playing, I knew that Mom was in control, that we were traveling down that road, and that all was well with our world.
Now, a blink of an eye later, I'm behind the wheel. She's riding shotgun. And I can only pray that I will exude just a little of that air of confidence she possessed. The kind where she can truly I believe that it's okay. In spite of her home being shifted beneath her feet, her keys having slipped away. That in spite of it all - all is well with the world. That the road before us is a long one. To trust me enough that I do know the way. That life is still a great adventure. We just have to take it one day, one moment at a time.
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