Mary Beth Writes

This was my weekly newspaper column from October 13, 1995. Maybe you would like to laugh at something simple and also, isn't it astounding that not all that long ago, we drove around in cars with children and without phones?  We were so brave.

....

One thing I have noticed about ordinary life is that it is often more thrilling than you’d think. A few nights ago, as I was driving along, my eight-year-old son suddenly shrieked, “There’s a mouse in the car, Mom!”

 We were coming home from hockey practice in Kenosha. He had just completed an hour of non-stop skating and he was more than hungry -- he was a force of nature. I had driven through a fast food emporium and bought him enough saturated fats to fell a horse. He chomped his way through the aromatic mega-hamburger for the next ten miles.

We were waiting for the light to change at the intersection of highways 20 and 31 when my son first screeched, grabbed his leg, and yelled, “Something touched me!”

I kindly assured him this wasn’t possible. “Maybe some wind made your napkin touch you in a funny way but I can’t pull over right here. Okay?”

He’s a brave guy. He also tends to believe me, a characteristic that I find adorable in him, no matter how ill-advised. I kept driving while he kept muttering to himself, “Only the wind, only the wind...”

In the universal manner of parents, I was deceptively calm as I silently pondered the likelihood of his claim.  A mouse in the car?  Was this possible?  It’s something that I have never in all my years dreamed of worrying about - and that in itself made the situation unique.  I am a creative and experienced worrier. But car mice?  Never.

I was thinking about the bag of apples we have stored in the garage. I thought about the mouse I saw out there once. Could it climb the sides of an Eagle Talon and fall in? Why would it want to do that? The apples aren’t in the car. Then again, how would a mouse know that until he checked for sure? The car often smells like fast food, which I can easily imagine is a rodent inspiring aroma.

I was thinking these disquieting thoughts as we turned onto Old Green Bay Road. I pointed out the lovely lights of the airport.

Son announced again, urgently. “Something really touched me!”

This time, my imagination enlivened by the past few moments of reflection ... I believed him.

If you happened to drive by the airport Tuesday evening and saw a car pulled over and a woman standing to the side with her arm around a boy who was animatedly hopping up and down - that was us.

Son pleaded. “Can’t we call Daddy?”

No. Daddy was in Dallas. With the car phone. 

I  told Son it was probably a moth. Son pleaded with me to find someone to drive us home. I thought about it.  This is a hospitable town. But even so, I thought it would be pushing it to walk up to a stranger’s house after dark to ask them to drive us around since there might be a mouse in our automobile.  

Son and I gingerly climbed back in the car. He sat on his haunches in the back seat. I drove away. I heard rustling on the floor. I told myself it was only the wind. 

The next morning, I casually sauntered out to the car. I figured the moth would be ready to leave now.

A little piece of rodent “end product” rested on a seat. Yuck.    

Technically, it wasn’t a mouse.  It was a vole and when it climbed on a seat to look at me, I also hopped up and down with great animation.

The neighbors are having their house painted by two dashing young men whom I now know are wonderfully brave and good-natured. They came right over. When they couldn’t get the vole to reappear, we set out some food. Apparently, voles like homemade cookies. A few minutes later, one of the painters halved the foolish and unfortunate creature. It now resides deep in our compost pile.

I think the moral of the story is this. There are many important issues to think about but for immediacy of attention, a rodent in your car will win, scrabbling paws down, every time.

 

Tags

Add new comment

CAPTCHA

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

A-Z M is for Aunts

5/13/2023 

Reprint of old column from 5/22/2004 

Happy Mother's Day to all the women who raised us! 

This was my all-time favorite moment from the "Friends" TV show. It's a few hours after the birth of Ross's son (not with Rachel) and all the friends are meeting the baby for the first time. Monica, Ross's sister, holds her newborn nephew tenderly, tears in her eyes with awe for this new life in her family.

Mothers

This was first published May 10, 2002

A few weeks ago, my husband and I were talking with our kids about the best and worst jobs we have had. I said picking asparagus was pretty boring. My husband didn't like the day he was a taxi driver. We both love writing when it goes well, we get a lot done, people tell us what clever people we are, and we earn lots of money from it. These aspects of writing come together about once a, well … I'm sure it's right around the corner.

My daughter prodded, "Come on, Mom. What's the best job of your life?"

Dark River

The photo is the Platte River in Nebraska. This post was a newspaper column for the Racine Journal Times in 2003.

...

Dark River

"I think us here to wonder."  (From "The Color Purple" by Alice Walker.)

The day was one of those glorious October days when the sun blazed through gold and crimson trees; the incense of burning leaves perfumed the air. It seemed a shame to go inside simply because night was coming on.

"Let's take the canoe out on the river tonight."

Where Heritage is Found

Last week I spoke with a woman who  is working to support MayaWorks.

I sent her this writing I did back in 2006.

...

I stayed several days with the Sepet family, a very cash-poor Maya family that lives in the altiplano, the mountains of Guatemala.  These people were so intelligent, gracious, strong, and hospitable.  

This adventure happened during my second day with them.

Quarantine Dairy #669 A Rerun

1/12/2022

I have a lot of projects to get through today. I wrote this in 2006 when I worked at Target for six months. I still like it.

...

This week I saw an inspiring sight.  I saw a little kid completely lost in his imagination. 

Car Accident & Not Buying the Farm Today

My friend Karen texted last night that she is okay but she had been in a car accident in the afternoon. A driver had not stopped at a stop sign, thus plowing into Karen’s rear driver-side door.

Her accident reminded me of one I was in with my son years ago. This is the newspaper column I wrote about the event.

Hold a good thought for Karen today, okay?  She texted this morning, rather poetically, “I feel like I’ve been dragged through a knothole.”

10/29/1999

Tag Cloud

9/11 17 minutes 500 Words A-Z AARPtaxes AAUW abortion Acadia accident Accountable Advent afterlife aging Alaska animals anniversary antibiotics antlers apples appointments Arrows art Ashland August Augustine aunts baby Badlands balance Baldwin Barbara Barkskins Beauty Becky Becoming Esther Berry birthday bistro BLM Blue BookReport books Boxing Day boy scout Bread breakfast BreakfastClub BrokenDays BuyAngry Cabeza de Vaca Cahokia calendars Canada canoe cat romance cats cello Chicago China cholesterol Choosing Christmas cilantro Cinnabuns circus climate change clouds Clowns clutter Colonialism comet ComfortZone CommonSense community confluence consumerism Cops Corvid-19 Courage Covid-19 Crazy creditreport creosote crime CrimeShows danger DarkRiver death Debate December DecisionFatigue decluttering deer democracy dentist depression Destination Today Detroit Dickens Didion disasterprep distraction dogs dollhouse Dreams Duty Easter eBay Echoes Eclipse election EmilyDickinson eschatology Esquipulas exit polls eyes Fable FairTrade family farmer Fata Morgana ferns firealarm Fitness Five Flatbread Flexible flu Food Pantry Fort de Chartres frame Franc FrancGarcia friends frugal FrugalHacks Frugality frustration Ft.Ticonderoga fungi fusion Galena Gannets Garden GarfieldParkConservatory Gaspe genius geode GeorgeFloyd gerrymandering ghosts gifts girls GNTL gorgons goulash GovernorThompsonStatePark Graduation grandkids granola Grief groceries Guadalupe Guatemala gum guns Hair happiness HaveYouEver? hawks healthcare Healthinsurance hearings heart heaven HelleKBerry heroes hike History home HomeRepair Honduras Hope HotWeather HowCrowGotOutofJail humor hurricane Ice Cream idiosyncrasy igloos impeachment Innkeeper Instincts integrity InternetPrivacy Interview InviteMe2Speak James Baldwin Jan 6 Janus jewelry JoyceAndrews Judy JulianofNorwich Jump justice Karen kites ladder Lady Lamb LangstonHuges LaphamPeak laundry LeeLeeMcKnight lemming Len lies Light Lincoln Little Women LockedOut Loki loneliness LouisArmstrong Love Ludington Macaw macho Manitoulin MargaretFuller Maria Hamilton Marquette marriage Marsden Hartley masks Mayan MayaWorks meme Memories men Middlemarch MilesWallyDiego MindfulChickens MineralPoint Mistakes MLK moon Mother MothersDay mounds mouser movies museums must-haves Mustapha NAMI Nancy Drew Newfoundland New Mexico New York City Nomadland nope observation OBUUC Ocotillo OnaJudge ordinary OscarRomero osprey Outside oximeter Parade mayhem PastorBettyRendon Paul Hessert PDQ Penny persimmon photos Pi Pies pineapples pizza poetry Preaching privacy procrastination Protest QE2 Quern quest Questions Rabbit holes racism reading recipe recipes recommendations religion Remember RepresentationMatters Reruns responsetoKapenga Retirement rhubarb Ricky rime RitesofPassage romance Rosemary Ruether Roses Roti Ruth SamaritanWoman Sanctuary Sandhillcranes Santuario de Chimayo SaraKurtz SaraRodriguez satellites sci-fi ScottSimon SCOTUS sculpture scuppernong Seasons Sermon ServantsoftheQuest sewing Shepherd Shontay ShortStory shoulder sick sickness Slower snow Social Security SofritoBandito solstice South Dakota SpaceShuttle spirituality spring square feet St. Louis staining stars stele Stereotypes stories StoryStarts stream monitoring stress SUBSTACK Survival swan swim Talent taxes teenager thankgsgiving Thanksgiving TheBridge TheMaid ThePerpetualYou therapy ThreeBillBoards Three Thing Three Things ThreeThings TidalBore TimeBeing toddler Tom tortillas Trains travel Traveler Tubing turtle Twilight Bark Tyrone Ukraine Ulysses Grant Umbrella UnrelatedObservations Up North urgency vacation vaccine Valentines vanilla Vietnam vision VivianWokeUpDrowning Vocabulary vole volunteer WalkingAndSeeing Wampanaog war WarsanShire weather weaving Webs wedding whines WhyAttendChurch Wiley Willa WillaCather Wisteria Won! Wonder words Xeriscape Yellowstone Zebra
Ad Promotion