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Monday, January 31, 2011

House Fires and House Guests

The Brunker Home in Huntsville

On Friday, January 21, 2011 there was a terrible house fire in Huntsville.  The home was completely destroyed by the flames which are believed to have started because of an electrical short in the attic.  The home was owned by the Brunker Family with one, Jess Brunker, as a resident.

Jess is now living at our house.  He has been an easy houseguest.  He is quiet, unassuming and hardly allows me to do anything for him.  I have the urge to mother him; I guess because he is homeless and that makes me sad.  I keep asking him if he has eaten, if he needs laundry done, if he is warm enough, etc.  Jess keeps remembering things that were in his home that he no longer owns because they are destroyed.  When he showed up at our house, he had a small Pac Sun bag which contained all of his earthly belongings including a toothbrush and a couple of t shirts he had just purchased.  He was grateful for the things he kept in his car and pants pockets because everything else is gone.
Jess's Attic Bedroom Aflame
The very next day there was another house fire.  Our friends and former ward members, the Ray's, home was virtually engulfed in flames and even though the fire department was more successful in putting out this fire because there was a hydrant closer than a mile away (unlike the Brunker's where the fire department could not locate a water source within a mile radius.)  The Rays have still not been able to reenter their home and see what remains undamaged.  I'm so sad for these losses; these events feel so tragic and cruel.  But then I have to realize that not one person was killed in these fires (just a couple of cats of Jess's place) and that is a blessing.

We are grateful we have the room to host a fire refugee.  We've had the pleasure of having some lovely people stay at our house over the last few years.  Kelly Ahern lived here for a while, Mimi has been a recent guest, Jess is here now, and I hope that my Mother will soon come to live with us.  I'm trying to convince her to come sooner than her projected December 2011 move-in date.

There is still one extra bedroom; if you hear of any poor, homeless, destitute survivors let me know...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tugs and Pulls

The last few months have been strange for me. There have been many things going on in my own life and the lives of my children which have yanked at my heartstrings and caused some pain and some joy, some peace and some unrest.

Life can be like that, just winding you around itself and causing you to look back to see events for what they were and the blessings they brought; also forcing you to look forward to hope for a better acceptance of incidents and for faith to recognize and enjoy blessings when they come instead of realizing they were there but overlooked.

Perhaps because I've just passed the two-year mark of being released as Relief Society President, I've been thinking so much about the three and half years I served in that position. What a trying job for someone as insecure and unsure as me; yet what enormous blessings that calling brought into my life. I will forever be grateful to those beautiful women of the PV 2nd Ward who I love more than life. I learned so much from each of them and hope that I will always remember those lessons of love. How difficult it was to be released and then be placed in a new ward. My heart is still raw over that.

Another release came this week. I gave my two-week's notice at work. I started working almost two years ago, so it feels like another chapter of my life has ended. I'm not sure why this had to happen, but I felt absolutely compelled to do it, as if I had no choice in the matter. Things haven't been great at work since I changed to part-time when Bryan had his knee surgeries. I hope and pray that whatever comes next will bring realization of the value of these experiences.

No, nothing big, nothing life-changing or monumental has happened...just the winds of life trying to put me on the course I must go. I remember hearing that God doesn't always calm the storm, sometimes he calms the sailor. That's my prayer today.

Friday, January 7, 2011

"I hate those meeces to pieces"--Felix the Cat

Tina, you did it again! Your blogpost about mice jarred a couple of memories of my own. As I read about Lincoln having a mouse run up his leg under his pants, I was gripped with a shiver that perceptibly shook me from head to foot.

I recall an incident when I was about 8 years old. My Dad was moving his giant stack of cement forms from one place on our property to another. He had Jim and me out helping, though I can't imagine we were much help. Our brainless Labrador Retriever, Tinker, was running around the fields biting at the air and acting stupid. Dad had set up the new location so the forms could be 10-12 inches off the ground and we were shifting the large, heavy, cement-encrusted and oil-drenched boards from one pile to the next. When we got to the last one in the old pile, Dad pried up the corner and a mouse streaked away into the weeds. As he lifted the form higher, the sound of high-pitched baby animal cries came to my ears. Dad yanked the board onto its edge and revealed a large nest in the ground with about 10 little, nearly-naked mice in it. I was horrified and jumped away at first, but then I bent over to look at them closer. They were encased is a nest lined with all kinds of soft bits and pieces: dried grass, feathers, old fabric fibers, etc. The babies all had their little heads raised and must have been blinded by the sunlight streaming in on them. I had just caught my breath and started to comment about how cute they were when my Dad called to Tinker and she bounded over to us, caught sight of the nest and gulped the baby mice down it two or three swallows. My revulsion was beyond bearing. I fled into the house howling at the top of my lungs. My Mother rushed to my room to decipher what could cause such a demonstration. Between sobs I told her the whole, ugly story. It was one of the few times in my youth I remember my Mom scolding my dad about something he had done. She gave him an earful about his ruthless behavior and how it would scar me for life.

The mental pictures from that day are indelibly stamped on my brain, but I almost feel the same about another mouse event which I didn’t witness, just heard about.

Rob’s Mom, Mimi, had been widowed and living alone for about 6 years when she had an infestation of mice at her house. Being innovative and never wanting to ask for help, she fashioned a homemade trap by lining up peanuts on a shelf in her storage room and then putting a handful of peanuts in a deep, narrow garbage can. The next morning she had seven (YES, 7!) mice caught in her trap. She said they were all climbing over each other and trying to claw up the sides of the can without success. Her dilemma became: “what do I do now?”

She decided to carry the can outside and to dump the mice into her garbage dumpster. She carefully carried the can up the stairs, but as she shifted the can to open her sliding glass door onto the deck, she must have tilted it enough for one mouse to claw up to the top of the can, onto her hand, up her arm, then it leapt from her shoulder onto the decking and dashed away. It freaked her out so much; she changed her plans for the remaining six mice. She dumped them into a heavy garbage bag, tied the top and used her gardening hoe to chop those ‘meeces to pieces’.

Mimi was 83 years old when she had this experience. She related the event to us as she showed us the shelf, the can, walked us out onto the deck and held up the little, short-handled hoe saying, “This is the murder weapon.” We’ve all had shivers and giggles over our little Mimi as the vicious mouse murderer.

Recently, I re-read Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nihm. I read it to my children years ago when they were small, but it was on our 2009 Book Club list so I read it again. It gave me a different perspective about mice and rats, but I will still never stop recoiling at the thought of a mouse climbing on me OR being eaten alive. I totally relate to Felix the Cat.