Thursday, April 8, 2010

Mouse Liberation Day, or How I Reinvented the Mouse

It's nearly 3 a.m. I know I should go to sleep, but I feel like I want to write. Write what I don't know.

Spike is curled up against my leg purring, and Stryker is playing mouse. All of the kids love those little colorful, furry mice that come in packs of 10. They used to each have one, a different color for each kid, but they get lost so easily. Christabelle usually picks out a pink mouse, Stryker gets orange because it matches him, Spike likes blue or green, and Snowbird plays with whatever is left over -- but she likes shiny things the best. (I guess she takes after me.)

We have an infestation of colorful little mice in our house. Like most mice, they are typically all hiding, but one pops out every now and then and brings hours of amusement to my family. Stryker's primary goal is to capture General Mouse and his entire army. When we lived in Oxford, Stryker jumped up on his back legs, raised his front paw in a salute and commenced a fiery assault on half a dozen toys, vanquishing each one systematically under the stove. Thus beginning the epic battle between cat and furry mice.

When the toy mouse population has been marched into hiding, I begin the search for survivors. Armed with a yard stick, I crawl from stove to refrigerator to china cabinet, poking my stick beneath each one and batting out the stragglers. The journey takes me from room to room, looking under dressers and cabinets, in closets, and behind pianos and bookcases. I usually find one or two fewer mice than we started with, but Mouse Liberation Day brings joy to my furry kids. They think it's Christmas all over again.

I love entertaining my furry kids like that, but sometimes we just run out of mice. No amount of mouse liberating turns up enough of the right mice to make everybody happy. (Too many of the wrong color toy means somebody isn't going to want to play.) Or worse, the mouse is wedged somewhere behind a stove leg in a mousey prison, and we have to wait for Daddy to come home and lift the stove so I can jab the mouse with my yard stick and send it back out into the fray. If only General Mouse could be imprisoned somewhere easier to liberate -- like under the bed or next to the stairs.

A few weeks ago, I found some cashmere socks that had shrunk in the dryer. They had long been my favorite warm, comfy, snuggly socks, but they no longer covered my feet. Instead of throwing them away, I made mice for my kids. I cut out mouse shapes, stuffed each one with scrap material and catnip, sewed them up, and embroidered faces and ears. The kids love them! I love them! They're adorable in that lopsided ear, piggy-faced way of first tries. Okay, only the first mouse looks like a pig, the second has lopsided ears, and the third is a great and wonderful example of true mousiness. (That's the third mouse pictured above.) And the great thing is, they're too big to fit under the stove!

I think my next project will be dog toys and perfecting the mouse. I'm sure they will be demanding different colors soon.

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