Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Its only a mouse.

There it was again, a soft scratching noise. I stopped working on my painting and holding my brush in mid-air, listened hard. Silence, then "Scratch, scratch." I laid down my brush and arose from my chair to investigate. The noise was coming from the laundry room adjacent to my art studio. I walked through the doorway and saw our cat, Jasper, staring intently at a grey, plastic wastebasket next to our dryer machine. Jasper continued to watch the outside of the grey container as I ambled over to look inside. It was empty, save for a small, trembling mouse gazing up at me through tiny black eyes. "You are one lucky mouse," I said. I reached in and grabbed him by the end of his tail and lifted him from his grey prison. With the mouse dangling from my hand and a very interested Jasper hot on my heels, I carried him to the nearest outside exit. After walking through and shutting the door, in a very indignant cat's face, I released the mouse into some nearby bushes.

Mice who find their way into our house usually do not fare as well as this one. Jasper sees to that. He just "plays" with them until they eventually succumb. Living in a rural area, we are unfazed by the occasional rodent visitor. But I found out the hard way that not everyone shares our laissez-faire attitude. This became abundantly clear a few years back when my sisters, Susan (older) and Sally (younger) and their friend Sandy, came for a visit (yes, I realize there is an over abundance of the letter "s" in that sentence.) Rather then move our two boys out of their small bedrooms during their stay, my sisters and Sandy elected to "camp" in our living room using thick, foam pads for mattresses. Being a good hostess, I rounded up pillows, sheets and blankets for them to use. They were making up their "beds" side by side on the floor, when Sally asked me for an extra blanket before heading to take her shower. I knew we had an additional comforter in the upstairs linen closet and went up to fetch it. I opened the door and spotted it on the lower shelf. "There it is," I thought as I pulled it from it's storage spot. Then I heard a soft "thud." It was the kind of sound I imagine a cardboard cylinder from a roll of toilet paper would make if you dropped it. I looked down and saw a grey furry form. Upon closer inspection, I saw that it was a deceased mouse. Not a recently deceased mouse (I'd seen my share of those), but one that had expired quite some time ago. So long ago that the body was dehydrated. Without another thought, I picked it up and tossed it into the bathroom wastebasket.

I carried the blanket down to the living room where Susan and Sandy were happily ensconced in their makeshift beds reading magazines. I placed the blanket on Sally's "bed". Then I turned to Susan and said, "When I pulled out the blanket from the closet a mummified mouse fell on the floor. I don't think it was in the blanket, but maybe next to it. Do you think Sally will mind?" Susan looked at me with a straight face and replied, "No, she won't mind at all."
Sally had returned to the living room and gotten into her bed. She was arranging the blanket around herself when she noticed Susan's covered, supine form gently shaking next to her.

With that said, I went off to brush my teeth and get ready for bed. Meanwhile, Sally had returned to the living room and gotten into her bed. She was arranging the blanket around herself when she noticed Susan's covered, supine form gently shaking next to her. The shaking got more pronounced and she heard muffled giggling. "Alright," she asked. "What's so funny?" It was then that Susan informed Sally about the mummified mouse and its close association with her blanket.

From upstairs, I heard a bit of a shriek and then pounding feet followed by the appearance of Sally demanding to know if, indeed, her blanket had been used as a mouse burial shroud. I tried to calm her by showing her the departed critter, noting its state of mummification and that it had probably been in the closet long before the blanket. She was having none of it and insisted I bring her a new blanket of the mouse-free variety. I did so and the rest of the evening passed uneventfully.

Words to the wise: never assume that your tolerance levels are the same as those of another and never trust your older sister with any information involving rodents and other family members. 

10x8 inches, oil on linen canvas, 2017
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Prairie Lunch - auction ends on Sunday, July 2nd at 9:00am PST. 

These cows are enjoying lunch on the prairie in the middle of Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve. The Reserve is a rural historic district, that preserves and protects an unbroken historical record of Puget Sound exploration and settlement from the 19th century to the present. Historic farms, still under cultivation in the prairies of Whidbey Island, reveal land use patterns unchanged since settlers claimed the land in the 1850s under the Donation Land Claim Act. The nearby seaport community of Coupeville, one of the oldest towns in Washington, is included in the reserve.

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