Thursday, December 17, 2009

Of Rice and Mice and Sylvia the Famous Prosperous Architect

By Anne Sullivan

“What’s this?” asked Sylvia as I poured her dinner into her outside dish.
“It’s rice,” I said. “You’ll like it.”
“I doubt it.” Sylvia glared at the white kernels glowing in the sunlight in her dish. “This isn’t food. Where is my kibble and where are my biscuits?”
“This is your food for a while, Sylvia. You’ve thrown up in the house four times this week and I’m tired of cleaning it up.”
“Oh,” was all Sylvia could say. When she finished the rice she had a good deal to add, “That wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be but there wasn’t very much. It’s not what you could call a substantial meal. I don’t know why I threw up. It wasn’t something I meant to do. I certainly didn’t do it on purpose. And I have to say I need more than this….rice….to sustain me for the work I’m engaged in. You realize I’ve been working night and day on the plans for the Moushelter.”
I sat on the porch bench and, hoping to deflect the topic away from food, asked, “How are you coming with those plans?”
“Quite well, if I do say so myself.” Sylvia’s chest visibly puffed out. “The plans will be ready for construction in a few days.”
“Where is the building to be? Not too close to the house, I hope.”
“No, the site is up-canyon, almost to the end of our property. The big problem will be to get the mice to go that far. They really like it here.”
“Don’t I know it. I’d be willing to indulge in a little bribery to get them out of here,” I offered.
“It may come to that. Only we’ll call it a resettlement stimulus package.”
“What’s the layout of the building? I’m anxious to see the plans.”
“Well, somehow something got spilled on the plans so you’ll have to wait. I think Gordo did
it. You can see them after they’ve dried out. Meanwhile, if you’d like, I’ll give you the spiel.”
“Spiel away.”
“On the ground floor as you go in there will be a huge living/dining area with a kitchen to heat up treats. To one side of that is the workout room with ropes to chew through and plastic bags and more difficult materials like leather to train the teeth on.”
“A good idea.”
“And on the other side,” Sylvia went on, “is the library stocked with many books of every imaginable kind.”
“How nice. I didn’t know mice liked to read.”
“They don’t exactly read but they do devour the books.”
“Oh, I see. What’s their favorite category?”
“First of all, they don’t like the word category because it has a cat in it. I guess, if they have a favorite, it’s lengthy fiction. Stephen King has a new one. It’s 1072 pages. They’ll really like that one. It might last all winter if they don’t have to use it for a nest.”
“What do they use for nests?” I congratulated myself that my deflection strategy was working so well.
Sylvia seemed completely engrossed. “Cotton is very popular. Sheets and pillowcases are nice too. Right now, they’re using DeCon. There’s plenty of that in this house.”
“How sweet,” I said. “And where will the mice sleep?”
“On the second floor. You know how they like to live in the walls.”
“Yes, I know,” I said sourly.
“The upstairs of the building is made up entirely of walls with holes. Walls beside walls. Walls on top of walls and each hole is a separate apartment. It’s like a mouse pueblo.”
“It sounds like you’ve thought of everything.” I nodded my head in admiration.
“Indeed I have. I’ve given this project considerable thought. That’s why I need some stimulus food, something more exciting than lukewarm rice.”
“As soon as you stop throwing up for one entire day, you’ll go back to your regular diet. Isn’t that something to look forward to?”
“It is indeed. I need my strength to really go to work. I was hoping to have the Moushelter open by Christmas but I’m waiting on a permit for the septic. Construction isn’t easy these days.”

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