Saturday, October 20, 2012

I call for the Pied Piper

A mouse popped out from behind my chair while I sat in my consulting room last night.  In my dream this mouse was soon followed by another mouse and then by another.  They were fearless.  They cavorted on the floor between me and the woman who was consulting me.  Then one slipped out from behind the cushions in her chair.  

I should call for the Pied Piper.  

Last week, during a cleaning frenzy my youngest daughter found a dead mouse behind the piano.  It must have been there for days.  We had noticed one of the cats earlier in the week chasing after something in the laundry, but whatever it was had hidden under the fridge and so I presumed it had escaped. 

Lo and behold, it showed up dead behind the piano, at least I assume this was the one.  Then last night I noticed another of the cats under the bench at the far end of the kitchen in stalking mode, but I ignored her.  

When I went to bed  I came across a small dead mouse in the middle of the hallway. Presumably, the one the cat had targeted earlier.  I followed my husband’s lead when he disposes of dead animals. I took two plastic bags, one inside the other, and picked the thing up trying hard not to notice too much how it felt.  I disposed of it in the outside bin.  Maybe I should have buried it but then I'd have needed to look at it again.  

It's no wonder mice came into my dreams last night.

It’s spring here in Melbourne, the warm weather is on the rise though we have had several cold days.  Mice seem to thrive at this time of the year.  Maybe they plan to leave their inside cubby holes for the outside.  Our cats are good at catching them. 

But psychically in my dream, what do these mice mean?  Could they be anything like the million little things I have in the back of my mind to which I must attend? 

There’s an account from the computer fellow who helped reinstate our printer that arrived on line rather than in the post?  I must print it off before I can pay it. 

I do not go in for online banking as much as I should.  I prefer the old fashioned way, the cheque in the envelope.  I know it is outdated to use this method.  I could pay all my bills on line and although I have done this now a few times I still feel uncomfortable with this method.  I am a luddite. 

I have several writing projects on the boil, writing that needs my attention but life gets in the way. 

Tomorrow we drive up to Healesville to scatter the ashes of my brother in law who died earlier this year.  I had wanted to wait till Christmas time till we could find a day of some significance but we could not decide on such a day and my husband’s sisters who are largely responsible for this event are keen to scatter their brother's ashes now in the mountains behind Healesville where he once enjoyed his happiest times. 

 The day should be fine enough.  There is something special and important in scattering ashes but the thing that plays on my mind is the decision we made a week or so ago that our youngest daughter, who is learning to drive, will drive my car into Healesville as a first foray into country driving. 

These days, in Victoria at least, young people must clock up some 120 hours driving experience before they are eligible to go for their license.  They must account for the hours in a log book, and include all varieties of driving conditions, in rain, at night and twilight, by day and dawn, on freeways, on country roads, in the city and on gravel.  So far she has clocked up some 93 hours but most of it has been in the city and suburbs. 

This will be our first attempt to move further afield, and although I tell myself I should not feel nervous, I do. 

I imagine I am not so unusual in this preoccupation with the things that lie immediately ahead of me, the things that play on my mind and skip into my consciousness from time to time like mice, annoying me and bothering me.  They eat away at my confidence and I tick away the days until each task is completed.  I’ll be glad when that’s over, I say to myself.  It has long seemed to me an appalling way to live one’s life, ticking away events like so many tedious chores.  

It’s not always like that though.   There are also the pleasurable events, the ones to which I look forward, the ones I want to arrive sooner, but they go so quickly and all that is left is the pleasant tingle of memory. 

I had one such experience last Wednesday when I finally came to wear that floppy hat in my graduation.  At the time, although I had so looked forward to this event, it did not seem so special, but now in retrospect I look back on it with enormous pleasure. 

And still I'm no closer  to making sense of all those mice?  


River said...

I think the dream is telling you to put out mouse traps and/or bait before your house is over run with mice. If you can find the holes where they are getting in, plug them with wads of steel wool that you can get in big bundles at hardware stores. French polishers use it for rubbing back the surface of what they're working on. The mice can't chew through it, so will go elsewhere.
I pay my bills online, early in the mornings, so I don't have to miss my bus home after work.

Andrew said...

I expect there will be lots of 'slow down' and 'you are going too fast' tomorrow.

Mimi Foxmorton said...

Mayhap every single mouse is yet another creative gem inside your mind! Think of it that way....(and it won't be so bad when they poop on your kitchen counter......!)

Have a lovely weekend!
Lovin' the hat!


Jim Murdoch said...

Although we lived as close to the countryside when I was a kid growing up mice were not something I saw especially often. Mum grilled one once which was upsetting but especially for her who preferred the company of animals to people; animals don't follow agendas, just instinct. Very occasionally one of her cats would turn up on the back doorstep and present her with a dead mouse or a vole and seemed genuinely perplexed when she wasn't delighted by their offering. None of her cats were particularly good mousers thankfully.

Here though we live on the first floor somehow the field mice have been finding their way in. Brazen wee buggers they are too. I remember the first one to appear. I was sitting in my leather chair in my office—the one I'm reading in in the photos—and I happened to glance out of the door and there he was. He looked at me and I looked at him and then he scurried off into the living room presumably to feast on the bird's seeds. We bought humane traps, set them and waited but while we waited for them to get enticed by the smell of peanut butter we enjoyed their antics. I think I evicted about ten that first year but only two or three the next year. We'll just have to see how many the cold drives inside this year. I don't begrudge them a bit of warmth.

A few weeks back we heard this clatter from the kitchen. When I investigated I found a partially-gnawed pear and assumed it was a mouse so we set traps and waited but nothing and then about a week later I happened to look out of the kitchen window and there he was, a grey squirrel who leapt from the ledge onto the drainpipe and shimmied his way up to the next floor presumably to see if their window was open. Again rather than throw my hands up in disgust I found myself delighted by this discovery. I am my mother's son. As far as she was concerned every creature that entered her back garden was starving and she became its protector and guardian.

There is much talk here in the UK about phasing out cheques completely. I think the chequebook I'm using currently is a good ten years old which tells you how often I write cheques. Everything gets paid by credit card these days and Carrie takes care of all of that online. For some reason it's my job to pay the TV licence though. Not sure why that's any different to any other bill but every year that's my job.

I've never scattered anyone's ashes. Both my parents were cremated but we never did anything with the ashes. The crematorium wrote to me when they sent their bill with various options but we're not that kind of family. I paid them—by cheque I expect—and asked them to dispose of the ashes for us. Neither my brother nor our sister showed any interest in having them either. We're not sentimental like that. Once you're dead you're dead. Ashes are just ashes. We grieved, each of us in our own way, but once that was done we got on with our lives. I've never been one for ceremonies.

I see you've been to one recently though with your floppy hat and everything. My daughter is sitting her final exams this week for her Degree in Psychology and I've told her that I want a photo of the two of us, her in her gown and me looking proud. I probably won't go the ceremony though. I'll book a photographer for shortly afterwards and maybe buy a new suit—not that I have much use for one apart from that; they can burn me in it I suppose when my times comes as long as I don't put on too much weight between now and then.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your wonderful achievement, Elisabeth. And good luck getting rid of your meeces.
Now, there are two of the strangest sentences I have ever put together!
Karen C

Joanne Noragon said...

Your hat is perfect! I have nothing profound to say about your dreams except I do hope you include the Pied Piper next time. Or the Bremerton musicians. That would liven the scene.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Well now I'm not sure about the mouse thing. Have fun thing about that for weeks to come since you now have spring. It's odd because here the leaves are falling.
Graduation ? Congrats. Nice snap.

Rob-bear said...

No wisdom to offer on any of this. But I keep reading.

Christine said...

Congratulations!!! The portrait of the new doctor is lovely.

And mice... hmmm... I remember fleas in the house I was visiting... they were not mine...

Elizabeth said...

Congratulations, Elisabeth -- you look MAHVELOUS! And I loved the meandering style of this essay --

Anthony Duce said...

The photo's great. You look so happy. Well deserved. It’s nice being here these last few years following your journey for a day with such a smile and the funny hat.
The stories on your mice bring back memories of past places shared with them.

Anonymous said...

Now let's see: four mice all in all. Fearless. So far so good. In a consulting room, being consulted by another female, who produced the fourth fearless mouse. Did you realise that in fairy tales and psychology there is very little differentiation for gender and or creature? The consulted and consultor are both you. So are the mouse. Story brewing I'm sure. In - I think Buddhism - there's a royal mouse, bejewelled, sitting at the feet of Buddha.

Lived in the city once. Cars and trucks and trains and people - a quietish Sunday afternoon saw mice (rats actually) cavorting on the pavement. It's true, they really were playing with each other. If I may, have a look at Story flowed from that observation.

Lisa said...

Congratulations Elisabeth! You looked joyous and I LOVE your smile!

Elisabeth said...

Another mouse last night, River. Another cat brought it in. We can plug holes inside but the mice will still come in with the cats from the garden.

Never mind. I'm getting used to these nightly burials.

Thanks, River.

Elisabeth said...

I'm trying to slow down, Andrew, but in spite of myself still going fast. Thanks.

Elisabeth said...

It's a funny hat, Mimi, not so comfortable as much as for show. I like the idea of mouse poop as a creative gem. Bring it on. I need more such gems.

Thanks, Mimi.

Elisabeth said...

People here once thought of possums as darling little creatures, Jim, but now we consider them vermin, especially the brush tail possums, the bigger ones that eat the tips off our roses and whatever fruit bearing trees exist. they love all succulents. But your squirrels sound delightful. In my fantasy they stick to nuts but that's because I've watched too many Disney movies.

I'm becoming increasingly immune to he impact pf these dead animals, especially at the moment. It seems we encounter one a day. My daughters go hysterical, and cannot reconcile their beloved cats to the monstrous actions eating innocent mice but that's the way it is - survival of the fittest. I find my own disdain disturbing.

When I die I hope to be buried as does my husband. perhaps it's the Catholic upbringing. After our funeral trip to Toolangi on Sunday my husband told me he hated the idea of 'scattering' his brother.

I had a similar sentiment as if we were breaking him up into bits and pieces. It's ridiculous because it is no longer a body that we deal with once it's broken down but there is something special about the ashes. I cannot be as cavalier about them as I can about the dead animals.

It seemed strange when the wind blew some of the ashes back onto my clothes. I joked about my brother in law getting into my hair. We all joked similarly maybe as a way of softening the solemnity of the occasion.

Thanks, Jim.

Elisabeth said...

You're not the first to put the mice together with the achievement, Karen. After all, I started this process.


Elisabeth said...

I'm glad you like the look of that hat, Joanne. As I said earlier it was not so comfortable, hard around my forehead, but I rarely wear hats. As for the musicians of Bremen they would liven up any occasion.

Thanks, Karen.

Elisabeth said...

It is a photo of my recent graduation, Heidi and yes, we shall continue to have fun as you say with those mice. For us here in Melbourne, australia, Spring flowers in abundance. For you over there, falling leaves. Two sides of the same world.

Thanks, Heidi.

Elisabeth said...

I'm glad you keep reading, Rob -bear, and thanks for the good wishes.

Elisabeth said...

I reckon fleas are worse than mice, Christine, though I may be wrong. I fear we have the odd flea here via the cats and dog, but we do our best to exterminate them too.

Thanks for the good wishes, Christine.

Elisabeth said...

I'm afraid I tend to meander in my writing a great deal, Elizabeth, so I'm glad it was something you enjoyed here.

Thanks for your good wishes.

Elisabeth said...

It has been quite a journey, Anthony, to get to the day on which I could wear that floppy hat. Over seven years in all, part time of course. As you say I was very happy in that photo, I still am, and relieved to have finished this task, but now I'm onto the next, the book and from here it seems so much harder.

Thanks, Anthony.

Elisabeth said...

I tried to follow your link, Pviljoen, but it refused to show. It hid like the mice. I'd like to read it so if you can send it again, I'll get onto it. In the meantime the image of the bejeweled mouse at the foot of Buddha pops into my memory. And also many of the fantasy elements to which you allude confirm your idea that a story might well be here in the making.

Thanks, Pviljoen.

Elisabeth said...

It's lovely to see you here again, Fazlisa, and brings on another smile. Thanks for your good wishes.

Kirk said...


Elisabeth said...

Thanks, Kirk.