Sunday, May 8, 2011

I Brought You Into This World, I Can Take You Out

For Mom, in honor of Mother's Day....

I was 18 years old and had no idea I was stoned when we hit up the McDonalds drive-through, somewhere in Dallas the night of the U2 concert. All I knew was I was starving! It wasn't until the next day, when Mom had to explain to me what a “contact high” was all about. The look on her face said it all. It said, “I cannot believe I raised such an idiot. I can't let you out of the house without a helmet. How are you my child? But you are, and if you weren't mine, I'd kill you.” 

I have said for many years now that my mother gave birth to the three most ungrateful children in the world. It's a running joke in the family, because we aren't ungrateful at all. In fact, this world we live in just wouldn't work if Mom wasn't here to guide us, laugh with us, cry with us, defend us, protect us, and straighten us out.

You'll have to excuse the excessive amount of sappy sentimentality in this post. Although Mother's Day has of late filled me with a sense of bitterness, rage and disappointment, I would be remiss if I did not honor the amazing woman that raised me. Good points and bad, I am who I am, and Mom has always made sure to tell me that who I am is exactly who she's proud to call “Daughter”.

Most of what I know about life, I learned from Mom. She guides, she scolds, and above all, she loves. She is the Lioness and we are still her cubs. Mess with her cubs, and she will claw your a$$ up. (to quote from the movie Role Models). Mom always had words of wisdom for us. Everything from, “time heals all wounds, even this one,” to “If I have to come up those stairs, I'm gonna break your damn neck”. These are the things I will always carry with me. I will always hear her voice in my head, guiding me, reprimanding me, praising me, asking me just what the hell am I thinking. I'm a little bit sad that I will never have children to pass Mom's wisdom on to.

How awesome is my mom? Let's review. When I was three or four years old, I had this profound discussion with Mom during a storm:

Me: Mommy, what's thunder?
Mom: It's your Grandma Ella, bowling with the angels. The really loud booms are when she bowls a strike.

Not the most scientific explanation, but I wasn't looking for one. I was 3 years old, I was afraid, and she gave me something to combat fear: courage and humor. Works every time. It also gave me a way to connect with a beloved grandmother I never had the honor of knowing. I hear thunder, and I think of Grandma. I remember sitting by the sliding glass door in our home on Long Island, listening to the rain hit the metal roof over the patio, waiting to hear her bowl a strike. And cheering when she did. Sure, other kids looked at me funny. It's because they didn't know what I knew. Their mothers gave them science. Mine gave me a sense of wonder and encouraged my imagination.

Mom sees her role in our lives as the most important job she'll ever have. Not that there weren't times when she wanted to kill us, mind you. Like that time my bonehead oldest brother brought the car into the garage... on fire... because it was closer to the garden hose to put out said fire. Or when she went downstairs to wake my other brother up after the prom to find that his date hadn't left yet. And then there was me at the aforementioned U2 concert. Yeah, I'm pretty sure that for many years, Mom's mantra was “It's illegal to kill them; they're mine. It's illegal to kill them; they're mine.” Mom so needs a raise.

Not all the kids in the house were hers. Mom loved to take in “strays”. Each of us, at one point or another, had befriended someone from a broken or abusive home. When they had nowhere to go, Mom opened her doors. If they were hungry, she fed them and if they had wounded souls, she did what she could to heal them, and made sure they knew that they didn't have to go through it alone. My mother cannot stand to see a child suffer, and doesn't know the meaning of “back down” when it comes to defending one.

There were things I learned from mom through lectures, discussions and outright screaming matches. Other things, she taught me by example. I learned from Mom's wisdom because I respect her judgment. I learned from her mistakes because she was brave enough to admit to her children that she made them.
Sometimes Mom cracks me up. Sometimes she frustrates me, like that time I sent her flowers for Mothers' Day, signed the card “Love, Your Favorite Child” and she actually had the NERVE to call the florist and ask which one of us sent them. As if!

Mom actually got a promotion 23 years ago when she became a Grandmother. My niece was born, and Mom got some payback on Brother #1.  Three years later, she got more payback when my nephew was born.  And they still adore my Mom. When other kids were out partying and doing things they knew they should be doing, my niece and nephew and their friends would go over to Mom's house for movie night. Because 'Grandmere' is just cool that way.

Grandmere is getting another promotion this year: her first great-grandchild is due to make his grand entrance in a few weeks. Can't wait for Ben to know who cool his great-Grandmere is. 

I may detest Mother's Day for circumstances outside my control, but I do love my mom, and I hope she knows that this blog post was to honor her. And I hope she doesn't break my damn neck when she picks me up from the airport on Wednesday. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Rodent's Revenge

At 4:28 a.m, I heard the snap. It woke me from a sound sleep, and I knew.

Somewhere in my kitchen, the mouse was dead.

I didn't feel relieved. Somehow, I knew that there would be more than one. Much to my dismay, I was right. Earlier this afternoon, I heard another snap. This time, under the kitchen sink. Just now, more rodenty scuffling. I think the invasion is in full swing.

Not that I'm not getting my catnip's worth out of Vitto, but I was really hoping he could have this taken care of quickly. Just had a meeting with him and... well...

Me:  Vitto, I thought you were going to take care of my little problem.
Vitto:  You think you got problems?  Last week my old lady dropped a litter... looked like the freakin' Tabby down the street, but I'M the one that's gotta take a little trip to vet.
Me: Um. Sorry to hear that but back to the mouse infestation?
Vitto: Yeah, about that. See, I can finish the job for you, but it's gonna cost you, see.
Me: I already paid you.
Vitto: You paid me for one mouse. I took care of that mouse. Now you tell me there are more mouses. More mouses means more payment.
Me: It's "mice" actually,
(Vitto sharpens his claws and looks at me.)
Me: (gulps) How much are we talking? More catnip?
Vitto: Catnip Shmatnip. Sounds like you got a nest. Could be rats even. We're talking some more catnip, some kitty treats, and if there's a rat, I want fish. I like a good salmon, you know what I mean?

Yeah, Vitto I know what you mean. But I want my house back, so I guess I'm going down to the Market to get Vitto the freshest Salmon I can find. But only after he shows me the death certificates. Maybe I'll fax 'em to Donald Trump for authentication.

The saga continues....

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The War of the Rodents

(Mom, skip this post. Just trust me on this.)

One mouse does not an infestation make. However, THIS house is not big enough for me AND The Mouse.

The Mouse has to go.

I know, he's only a little field mouse. If he were in a FIELD instead of my HOUSE, I wouldn't have a problem with him.

The Dog used to be good at keeping critters out of the house. Once he caught a rat before it could nest in my laundry room. The down side was that he had the dead rat on his doggy bed. Daddy removed the rat, and Mommy burned the doggy bed. I can't have dead rat cooties near my dogs. What kind of conscientious pet parent would I be?

But back to the mouse... at first, I just wanted him gone. Relocated safely back to the field, government check in paw. I also thought The Dog would take care of this little problem quickly. Then, I didn't just hear the mouse, I SAW the mouse. And of course, screamed like a little girl. I'm not afraid of the mouse, I'm just completely grossed out by his presence in my home. He's tracking in dirt and disease after all.
After screaming the walls down, I would have thought that The Dog would have cut short his mid-morning nap to see what the hell his human was up to. I was wrong. So I stopped screaming, ran to the living room to get The Dog, brought him to where the mouse had been spotted, and proceeded to start screaming again. Because it made me feel better, that's why. It's what housewives in America do, it's what Mom would have done, and that's worked pretty well so far.

The Dog was unable to spot the mouse. Apparently, it's a sneaky mouse.

Fast forward a few days, and I'm in the living room working when I see something out of the corner of my eye. It's just a bit too small to be Bella, the mini-Dachshund. I looked down and saw The Mouse, checking out the titles on my lowest bookshelf. He's an intelligent mouse. A well-read mouse. A cheeky mouse.
Again, The Dog proves worthless as rodent deterrent. As I'm watching the mouse scurrying along the floor, The Dog has his nose firmly planted in a book instead of chasing the mouse. I'm struck with a sudden memory of a book I read as a child called The Mouse and the Motorcycle. This mouse is no Ralph, but maybe I should get him a little toy motorcycle. If he can ride it, he can stay and I'LL relocate. To the field, government check in hand.

This mouse caper has raged for a week now. This morning I pulled out of the driveway to get coffee and saw the neighbor's cat sitting next to our truck. I rolled down the window and asked, “Hey, are you a Mouser? Can I borrow you for a few hours?” I'm starting to feel my Italian roots showing, as I realize this cat conversation could be construed as contracting a hit. Fortunately, the cat declined. Apparently her occupation is keeping windowsills warm. She doesn't diversify.

The Hubs suggested getting a snake. Anybody know a snake named Guido who works cheap, fast and brings his own ice pick? The snake was vetoed. I explained to The Hubs that yes, a snake could get rid of a mouse but it would also definitely get rid of The Wife. Also, contracting a hit on a mouse would probably bring the wrath of PETA down upon us. Or worse, the Field Mouse Relocation Rights Association. I'm not looking for more trouble, I just want my house back.

As of this posting, the mouse is still in the house, The Dog is so fired and I'm negotiating with a nice cat from a good Italian family, named Vitto. He sounds like Dom de Louise in Robin Hood, Men In Tights.

Me: Can you catch this mouse and relocate him?
Vitto: Relocate, sure, we can call it that.
Me: Seriously, I don't want to kill the mouse, I just want him out of the house.
Vitto: Details, details. Forget about it. You ask Vitto for help, Vitto helps.
Me: Vitto, are you gonna whack the mouse?
Vitto: You don't need to know. All you need to know is you come to Vitto with a problem, Vitto takes care of it, and you don't got a problem no more, Capisci?
Me: (plunks down dime bag of cat nip and walks away)

And now we wait, while my Sicilian great-grandmother spins in her grave, somewhere in New York at the cultural blasphemy I just committed.