Mice and other distractions

I draw the line at teeth marks in the butter. But poison is a bad idea: the bodies rot between the basement joists or who knows where and though the smell is brief because mice have such little bodies and such delicate bones, it is a terrible stench.

Sometimes they fall into the sump well in the southwest corner of my studio. They can’t get out. They either starve or, if there are a couple of inches of water down there, they drown.

I hope this isn’t the wealth corner of my studio, but if it is, that would explain a lot.

I was down there looking for the lid to a carved African object that a friend gave me. The book I’m reading about babalawos and Ifa made me think of it. I didn’t find the carved African top. Instead, there’s Pikachu! Oh and look, a miniature plastic pram with little wheels that roll. Of course I think of Saskia, but unlike Nancy who recently mailed a menagerie from her home in California to Saskia‘s in Holland, I can’t give these away. Not yet, anyway. (No matter how much I would love to hear Saskia’s marvelous and inventive storytelling).

The African carving is embellished with two snakes, two fish, and a turtle. The figure’s face is stylized and mysterious. The bent body looks capable of holding up continents and storm clouds. But then again, the crouch gives off the impression of coiled power, as if it might at any moment spring forth to perform magic or juggle planets. Picture this: Pikachu on the window sill next to the lidless African figure. Ouch! “There’s my morning,” I think. I’m Pikachu hoping to learn enough about Yoruban divination methods to be able to write a credible and respectful chapter about same.

The lid is a monkey. I wonder where it is. It feels important, this morning, to find it.

If I am a synthetic, diminutive, cute plastic figure that speaks gibberish, I will at least give myself points for being curious.

And to be fair, that’s not my whole morning thus far.

I am waiting for Raffi who will see if he can walk Finn with two or three other dogs from the neighborhood. A big experiment.

(I know Raffi doesn’t have children, because if he did and he had spent even a FRACTION of the hours that I have spent in a vehicle listening to a singer by the same name, he would call himself “Rafe”).

Finn and I played fetch in a bitter winter wind earlier. I want him to have run off some of his enormous stores of physical energy before this novel experience.

Gusts of wind sent fans of new fallen snow off rooftops. It made me pull my hood up over my woolen hat. It was not a good day to have walked out without gloves. But I find gloves, leash, and treats a little unmanageable.

Up at the field, I thought about how the wind traveled across so many miles to arrive here in Massachusetts… gathering up cold from Canada as it swept across the Great Lakes… shoving snow and ice onto Indiana…. pushing tractor trailers off of highways in Pennsylvania and Illinois.

It’s okay to be a little cold. And to confess: it’s also okay to emulate writers I love. You should read how Mark Helprin describes wind in his novel, “In Sunlight and in Shadow.” It’s un-fucking-believable. I kid you not.

But back to the cold? My physical discomfort has a way of disappearing in the face of Finn’s unalloyed and athletic joy. His graceful sprints never fail to impress. He barrels in loops with this easeful velocity before scooping up the tennis ball and running back. Another loop, this time behind me. He barks after dropping the ball at my feet: ‘throw it again. Again! AGAIN!!’ His reserve of play-energy seems bottomless. It cheers me up, every time.

Pikachu, African power-figure, Finn, a bitter wind scouring the landscape. And somewhere, dead mice. Back to work!

* I just read that Pikachu is supposed to be a mouse. Who knew?!




28 thoughts on “Mice and other distractions

  1. ravenandsparrow

    Mice, the little devils. So cute singly and such a scourge in numbers. My studio is completely pest-porous and mice are everywhere. I’ve done the trapping, poisoning, etc and have essentially given up because wholesale murder is a burden to my soul and it never does any good. Fortunately, the new house has no mice. Whew
    The contrast of Pikachu to the African carving is a great symbol for the naivete of beginning. We always have to start out somewhere and fresh-faced curiosity is a good launching pad. Good luck on your research.
    My new dog, Logan, is also a fetcher with great grace and enthusiasm. He is demanding way more time than I expected, but throwing a tennis ball for him is a joyful exercise.

    1. deemallon

      I hate to kill mice, too. I actually find them adorable and will tolerate legions of them in the cellar studio. But the kitchen? Nope. That’s when I ask my husband to lay some traps. Some years are terrible. Others are not. Hard to figure. I did lift the lid off the sump well after writing this and thankfully I didn’t see any little bodies down there. Somewhere else, then!

  2. Mo Crow

    Jambalaya – the natural woman;s book of personal charms and practical rituals by Luisah Teish 1985 is a good book, full of practical magic, the author is a priestess of Oshun in the Yoruba Lucumi tradition.

    1. deemallon

      I will look for it. The author of the book pictured here is a priest. Much of the body of knowledge is secret of course but I need to understand some basics. This isn’t my first source for info about this, either.

  3. Anonymous

    Nicely done, Dee.

    I bet you are missing Tyler who I’m sure took care of your mouse problem when he was around.

  4. karen

    This was a great post about living life! And as usual I find a bit of syncronicity in our interests. For a novel patterned on Yoruba divination, check out The River Where Blood was Born, by Jackson-Opuku

  5. Nancy

    Ah, J. was just asking for some Finny stories 🙂 I have trouble when I see all of the mouse droppings…YUC! Love the carved piece. I still have a few more of those little guys if you want more!

    1. deemallon

      In the studio, it’s not just the dropping, it’s their nests in my fabric bins. Still I will tolerate that. But not the kitchen.

      Would love more amulet men! That reminds me of how I need to post about the lovely glass house 😉 and the Tag!

  6. Anonymous

    If it weren’t for the Kevin Henkes books you passed on to us when Grace was little, I would have absolutely NO heart for mice. A bucket of water with birdseed floating on top, empty it of the floating fuckers every day or two, and I’m good to go. I can’t stand finding mouse poop in my kitchen or in my studio. Their pee alone has ruined some seriously important stuff. Just the smell of their pee makes me sick to my stomach. That said, Chrysanthemum, Lily and Chester each stole my heart, and none to the degree that Owen, with his yellow blanket so scorned by the neighbor, Mrs. Tweezers(!), did.

    1. deemallon

      What an ingenious death trap. Except they drown, right? Sometimes they don’t die in the traps right away (that’s the worst)

    2. deemallon

      But I do love mice. Not just in the abstract like in illustration or constructed out of felt. But the real little furry whiskered critters.

      1. Anonymous

        I do love the animal. It’s the poop and pee that give me the complete skeevies. And yes, they die completely. It’s a great trick, the bucket and sunflower seed trap.

  7. windthread.typepad.com

    amazon…it’s called the Tin Cat. Live trap. i put one of those cheese crackers with peanut butter snack things in it. They go in and can’t get back out. so sit there till you open the
    lid. thing is to take them far enough away that you think they can’t find their way back
    and i don’t know how far that really needs to be, so i drive up to the corner down the
    field road to the ditch bank get out, put the box down, open the lid and they LEAP
    out. sometimes there seems to be a single mouse, sometimes more. I have gotten
    3 in one night. Tazmeena has lost heart for mousing. Oh, and you can know you’ve
    got one because they make a lot of racket gnawing on the aluminum trying to get out.

    1. deemallon

      we could try this. right now it’s not a big deal, thankfully. not even sure the stink is dead mouse, honestly. we have a field stone foundation under the old part of the house, so we don’t ever expect to NOT have them… this would be good… like the Have A Heart we used for a squirrel that kept getting into an apartment we lived in years ago. We also have those sound emitters that supposedly put out noise that mice can’t stand – who knows if they do anything!

  8. saskia

    as long as you keep me in mind once you do decide to give away the pram
    ah, the joys of wildlife in the kitchen! good luck with whatever you attempt – be sure to let me know as soon as it works, ha


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