2011/365/002: A Mouse in the House!

Awww…isn’t he cute?

One of his far-distant cousins has decided to take up residence in our house. He’s small, he’s furry, and he is wonderful entertainment for our aging cat, Taz. In fact, it’s entertaining to watch Taz play with him, only to let the mouse go so he can seek refuge and give the old black cat some time on the scratching post for a much-needed break.

Don’t get me wrong–this isn’t like dog fighting. Nobody’s placing bets on the cat or the mouse; they’re just being themselves, and it’s our hope that said mouse gets the hint to stay clear of Taz’s stompin’ grounds.

At least, that was our hope. Last night, when Taz jumped in the cabinets to artfully rearrange all of our glassware, we realized that little mousies can say “Game ON” as well.

So, we’ve spent the majority of the morning redesigning our kitchen so that a 1-ounce rodent can get the hint that we don’t want him around.

All this commotion over something that weighs no more than a walnut.

He’s taking over our lives, though, as we seal things in Tupperware, Gladware, or Zip-loc bags and toss other things in the fridge or freezer to keep them away from the evil mouse. We are afraid to open our cabinets without him banging his own little head on the top of the shelf in utter fright, before ski-daddling to the right and through some invisible hole in the wall.

It’s the most fun we’ve had with something that weighs no more than a slice of Wonder sandwich bread.

We almost want to name him.

But here’s what else I’m thinking: If we have the energy to be moved by something so small yet with so much life inside (they are fast–real fast–when being chased by a good-sized black cat), it shows us how little motivation it takes to get up, move around, and live your life a little differently.

Earlier today, I was busy editing my brother-in-law’s book. It’s about being a caregiver (specifically, for my sister, who has battled cancer since 1990), and it’s an engaging read that really sucks you in. I had to force myself every 45 minutes or so to get up, move around, and keep the blood circulating before delving back into the story.

During one of my 10-minute stretches, I was thinking about why people give up, why they just stop trying to move, make things happen, make a difference. I think it’s because they lose that connection with something they believe in. They lose that spark that reminds them that, every single day, they can make a difference in their own lives, as well as in the lives of their friends, their family members, and the people in their surrounding communities.

And holding on to that spark, that connection, as we get older is a tough thing to do sometimes. There’s a lot to discourage us out there. I’m in my 20-something’th year of teaching, and I’m beginning to see the second run of the pedagogical cycles, the trends, the desperate attempts to make something new work that, supposedly, has never been tried before. In writing, I am beginning to see the trends of publishing, of authentic support that runs (or doesn’t) beyond your core audience. In friendships, I’m beginning to see extremes at play, where some are opening up to many, while others are narrowing their friend base to a select few. And, sadly, I’m beginning to see the political cycles, not only at a national level but in my own back yard as well.

All of it makes me realize that, to hold on to that spark, we’ve got to cherish the little things that make us jump up, spin around, pay attention, and keep on living.

For our cat, it’s a 1-ounce ball of turbo fur that has instincts of his own. Taz doesn’t act like he’s 16, though; he reminds us of the kitten that used to teethe on our fingers with his razor-sharp baby teeth.

For me, it’s realizing that there’s a greater purpose for my life, a calling to serve in ways that I may not yet fully understand or ever know. But as long as I keep moving, as long as I keep my focus on the good and the right and the bright, then I’ll be able to keep that youthful bounce in my step to do what I am here to do.

5 thoughts on “2011/365/002: A Mouse in the House!

  1. Eight countries have been to visit you already! Cool. And the little mousie’s “Game on” is so fine. Like somebody always says, Everything’s fun and games until somebody gets hurt. I’m laying odds on Taz after watching my mother’s cat explain the facts of life to our Chihuahua Laramie on Christmas Day. As for keeping on — yes, albeit there are times when keeping on means to stop and stay awhile; to rest. It’s a long haul; respite sometimes elbows its way into real life. As you said, though, there are also the ones who simply stop. I wondered if I were one of those, but events of the last few days suggest I’m back.


  2. MJC: “…but events of the last few days suggest I’m back.”
    RVW: Pure poetry to my soul…

    A note about writing this entry: I knew where I wanted to start, but I had no idea I’d be getting into Lessons from an Aging Black Cat (I wonder if that’s how it happened for TS Eliot and Old Deuteronomy). I decided to go with it as it was unfolding, but in the back of my mind, two voices were whispering, “Believe me, nobody minds” and “If you’re not writing a how-to guide, don’t tell people how to live their lives.” In other words, keep it short, Rus, and don’t try to teach anything.

    I don’t really think I succeeded in either, but I did my best to be both succinct and selfish in my life lesson. I think my ultimate goal here is to combine my two voices: the uncut me and the inspire-others me. At least I’m aware of it, and that will keep me a bit more honest along the way.


  3. Speedy the Mouse is definitely making life in the kitchen far more interesting than it has been in a long time. And he’s helping my cardiovascular fitness by making my heart race every time I open a cabinet. Awesome.


  4. You’re right, Rus. Maintaining that “spark” is tough, especially as we get older, or when we’ve been working in the same job for many years, or when we’re just keeping up with the daily grind that our lives become when we allow our focus to be narrowed exclusively to the tasks immediately in front of us. There’s always so much to do. But as you say, if we keep moving, and keep our focus on what’s important, it seems a little easier. I think purposeful activity is the key – not just busywork, but taking purposeful, active steps toward whatever goal you set, whether it’s getting healthier, or writing for 365 straight days – and makes all the difference.


  5. Amy–I would definitely agree that my cardiometer has been quite active these past few days as well. 🙂
    Brad–Thanks for commenting! Did you recognize that second voice whispering to me in the comment I left above? That’s all from you, bud! It sticks with me every day!
    Mouse Update–Difficult to tell if “Game-On” mouse puts the adventure before the food or is just plain dumb. All of the food’s been removed from the cabinets for 24 hours now, and yet he is still doing the 4-ft. Rodent Dash every few hours, despite the watchful presence of a hungry black cat…I really don’t want to resort to traps but. . . .


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