Early Christmas Morning

Where is my mouse?

I have come to the conclusion that it is my lifelong fate to wake up at dawn on Christmas Day. First it was my father who used to wake us at the crack of birdsong as he rampaged up and down the hallway on Christmas morning in his pyjamas and his Christmas hat with a pillowcase over his shoulder yelling, "HO, HO, HO," at the top of his voice, keen to get at his Christmas presents and begin consuming fruitcake and ice cream for breakfast (we had pillowcases as children instead of stockings. Anyone else, or was that just us? You can fit a lot of goodies in a pillowcase).

Then, of course, children came along and there was years of dawn Christmases right there. This year, though, it was the cat. At a quarter to five the cat bounced into my bedroom with her mouth full of mouse, like a furry sandwich. This isn't the first time this has happened. The routine involves dropping the mouse into my shoe collection which is stored under an open shelf in the corner of the room. The mouse then escapes under the shoes and the cat gets to play that perennial classic, Find the Mouse

I know I left it around here somewhere..

Usually during this game I move all the shoes, find the mouse and return it to the wild. But it was a quarter to five in the morning. I endured ten minutes of the cat pouncing and the mouse squeaking before getting up and opening the door next to my bed that leads to the side garden. The mouse, however, decided to make a bid for freedom under my bed. I endured another ten minutes of pouncing, rustling and banging before getting up to investigate. Under my bed I have stored a bolt of block-out curtain fabric in a long, narrow plastic bag. Very long, the length of the bed. The mouse had somehow run inside the plastic bag and the cat was perplexed. She could see the mouse, but she couldn't catch the mouse. How is this so? her little cat mind enquired. When in doubt, though, pounce, her little cat mind answered. So she did. Lots.

I hauled the curtain fabric in its plastic bag out from under the bed and took it outside to the garden, where all the birds in the world were Christmas carolling their heads off, and I shook the bag to tip the mouse out. Except I shook it the wrong way and I just shook the mouse into the bottom of the bag. Finally I managed to tip the whole thing the other way and the mouse scurried away into the undergrowth to enjoy its Christmas Day breakfast instead of being Christmas Day breakfast. 

Back to bed then, but not to sleep, because the cat did not believe that the mouse was gone. She hunted for it all over the room until I got up again and fed her, not a mouse, but cat kibble. Which she prefers, really. She thinks mice are sport, not food.

It was you, wasn't it? You took my mouse.

After that, the day got much less exciting, but more relaxing. Turns out a sandwich for Christmas in the bush is just lovely and calm and joyous.

Since Christmas I have been pottering in the garden and cleaning out cupboards. There are cupboards here that I filled up with random collections of precious treasures when I moved in four years ago, and have not touched since, so I have been doing some clearing out and moving things along, or in some cases, redecorating with bits and pieces I have found. For instance, a stick shaped like an elbow.

A row of pigs.

And an orphaned babushka doll. Luckily, there is a happy ending. I found an adoptive family for her.

I also found a box of the children's baby teeth and one of my favourite treasures - a little paper origami box made by The Girl, containing a kiss from Red when they were six. The kiss is carefully preserved for all time inside layers of sticky tape.

In other news I have not done the dishes in 48 hours, or tidied the dining room table since about a week before Christmas, but I did do yoga once. Swings and roundabouts. How are you doing in your holidays?


Deborah said…

So funny!
Happy New Year and best wishes for good health, good books and great food, all enjoyed in good company!

Treaders said…
Uugghh, I wouldn't rest until I got the mouse out of my bedroom (and yet he would be more scared of me than I would of him I'm sure). But your last comment made me laugh. I wish I could let the housework go a little more. You have inspired me! New Year's resolution maybe!
Jo said…
Deborah, all good wishes for your health as well, and always a good book:)

Anna, it helps not to be at all bothered by dirt and mess. This is me a lot of the time, but this last year i have been training myself not to tidy up before visitors come. That has been much harder! I wish you well with your resolution:)
Anonymous said…
I have always been an early riser on Christmas day (mouse or no mouse) and this christmas was no exception!
On the housework front, I am pretty good about taking care of dishes and piles of laundry, dusting on the other hand... Who thought that was a good idea? Dust on surfaces does not bother me AT ALL. And it's one of those chores that gets done occasionally.
Wishing you the a healthy, and peaceful coming year. A good garden, good books, and company. Be well.
Jo said…
Patricia, tell me about what it is that gets you up on Christmas morning? Assuming no mouse..
I am with you re dusting. I used to assiduously dust once a week, but now I don't care.. I mean, the dust doesn't get thicker after a couple of weeks. I wonder what happens to it? Does it blow off surfaces again?
Good books and garden wishes right back at you.. btw I read recently that it is so cold in Florida that the iguanas are dropping out of trees, frozen.. you know I am obsessed with the iguanas in your garden:) Hope they remain unfrozen..
Anonymous said…
I once heard of someone who, when a visitor's car pulled up outside their messy house, ran to pull out the vacuum cleaner, and put all the dining chairs up on the table, as if to be in the process of cleaning. Trouble is, the table itself would have to be clear enough to accommodate the chairs, so maybe a rethink there!

May the New Year be as happy and peaceful for you as Christmas Day was (except for the mouse).
Linda in Nz
Anonymous said…
Jo: I just like the quiet of the early morning.
Yes, the Iguanas have been falling off the trees with the cold, and remain "asleep" on the grass, It's back in the 80's so all are back to frolicking and causing mischief.

Jo said…
Linda, my housekeeping aim this year has been 'no apologies' and being cool with other people knowing how i really live. It's very relaxing:)
May your New Year be joyful, quiet and mouse-free also.

Patricia - iguanas frolicking and causing mischief? Be still my beating heart:) But i think mice are cute as well, so there's clearly no hope for me..
Fernglade Farm said…
Hi Jo,

Clearing out, moving things along, and some redecorating. Hmm, I tell you this merely as a warning. Truly, now you will know. It is but the teeny-tinniest-little step from there to moving rocks around the garden in the gentle art of landscaping. :-) Are you sure that Paul doesn't have access to some useful rocks which would look great in the garden? Hehe!

Just kidding, maybe. I always enjoy your writing. Lovely stuff.


Jo said…
Chris, Paul's place is 99% rocks, with many large boulders. So much scope for the landscaping imagination! He also has a friend with an excavator...
Meg said…
Isn't it ever so lovely that kisses can be preserved in layers of sticky tape; very precious indeed. Meg
Jo said…
Meg, yes, this is a little known fact that I had not realised prior to this very precious wee gift..
Mary said…
I love the cat and mouse story. I use to have a sweet, sweet cat that looked just like yours and named Mouser.

I am an early-riser, Christmas and every other day, but I'm not a bounce-out-of-bed-and-rearing-to-go type of morning person, just a "slow and easy" one.

I didn't know about saving kisses in sticky tape, but I'm filing it away for later, a very good thing to know.

Christmas was lovely, starting with a very clear and frosty morning, quiet with lots of good food, telephone and Skype visits, and one in-person visit. And I hope you are having a wonderful start to the New Year!
Jo said…
Mary, thank you for your description of your cold, frosty Christmas morning. Yes, Polly is a useful mouser - but she never eats them which is a pity. The vet says that if she ate the mice her teeth would be excellent - I am supposed to feed her chicken necks to keep her teeth clean, but she won't eat them because she believes only cat kibble is real food..
Mary said…
Ha! What do they put in that kibble? Pretty much every cat I've ever had preferred dry kibble to anything else.

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