There's a new unintentional post-holiday tradition at the Lane house. Living in a 104-year old Victorian home, we have scant closet space (one more reason I'm practically dripping with glee about our new house plans). When it's time for me to erect our massive Christmas tree, Roger will lug the tree box from our shed and unload the many boxes of ornaments from a high closet in the dining room. Displayed for only a month, dripping with gold and red, shining with over 2,000 tiny white lights, the tree is a brilliant testament of the season, taking up a good portion of our living room. The empty tree box returns to the shed until it's time to strip the once glorious tree of festive decor, wrench the branches from their sockets, and shove the whole lot unceremoniously into the sad, torn, held-together-with-twine box. I always feel guilty looking at the once full branches, all squinched together, crammed into the small space. Like I've pimped my tree out for the joy and delight of others, and now I'm hiding it away like Quasimodo until I need to whore it out again next year.
One year, as I was precariously perched atop a stepladder, in anal-retentive decoration mode, something small and dark whisked through the living room. Evidently, a field mouse had hitched a ride in the tree box. Mayhem erupted as Roger, Amber, and the cat attempted for the next hour to corner the intruder until Amber finally trapped it under a plastic container. Roger wanted to destroy it and insisted it would return later for revenge. But after listening to the pleas of his housemates, he relented, and the cute little bugger was escorted outside and flung into the neighbor's yard.
The other night, after another tree-trashing episode, I awoke to strange noises. Cat noises. Not purring, not scurrying, not hairball yakking on the carpet - but FLINGING. She scampered across our bed several times, prompting me to arise. I found her in the dining room, proudly holding a weak but live field mouse in her jaws. Roger was dead asleep and can be horribly cranky if aroused. I contemplated waking the offspring - after all, hadn't she caused me a few sleepless nights in the past? I decided to be a "big girl" and handle the situation myself.
At 2:30AM, I coaxed the feline to release her prey, and the poor thing was obviously too weak to run far. Poised with a flashlight in one hand, plastic cup in the other, I crept slowly toward the petrified victim. Sensing my next move, the cat took this opportunity to leap into the arena, grab the mouse and fling him into the air. Naturally, I dropped the flashlight and cup, shrieked, cursed the cat, and demanded she catch him again. This continued for at least 20 minutes, with me repeatedly whisper-shouting instructions to the cat. Each time she would release the mouse, she would stand close enough to observe, but too close for me to shoo her away without also spooking the mouse. She was toying with us both.
Naturally, Roger awoke. He was not happy. I was in mid-creep as he entered the dining room, and asked me what the hell was going on.
"I'm trying to catch this mouse...but YOUR cat is NOT cooperating!"
Roger took the cup, and unceremoniously beat the heck out of the mouse. I looked on in horror. As he saw my eyes, he asked, "What exactly were you planning to do with it?"
"Capture it gently and toss it outside," I replied, more than a little frustrated and bordering on tears.
I suppose it was a bit much to expect Roger to listen to our shenanigans all night, but I felt more than a little sad as he disposed of the mouse and grumbled back to bed.
As a child, my all-time favorite poem was "Mice," by Rose Flyeman:
I think mice are rather nice;
Their tails are long, their faces small;
They haven't any chins at all.
Their ears are pink, their teeth are white,
They run about the house at night;
They nibble things they shouldn't touch,
And, no one seems to like them much,
But, I think mice are nice.
And I still feel that way today.