Rodeos, Cardinals, and Goldfinches

Yep. Yes. Spring Break. It’s like I coughed up a huge glob of yellow phlegm, BYU-I bureaucracy and can breathe for a minute. It’s like looking around in sunlight after coming out of a damp cave. Though I can see why many run back into the cave (Plato), since I’m looking at some muffin crumbs and dead flies that need vacuumed up. Today, I should be like Julie’s Cardinal, busy cleaning and tying off all the loose ends—like taxes, etc.—to prepare for the next onslaught of larger . . .”busy-ness?” —the "business" of living (funny, I never noticed how that word “business” was put together, and is this “living”? I don’t think so). Chan fixed the latest vacuum that I threw into my vacuum graveyard last week: He’d pulled it to the front porch where I sat back on my heels and watched him go over the same knobs and hoses I had already looked at earlier before I tossed it into the garage next to the other three dead vacuums. Already bored, I’d watched Cat sneak through the weeds and remembered the dead mouse I’d hid earlier under the very rug we were kneeling on. Cat brings all her gifts to the front porch and drops them as offerings. She loves me.
Rummaging through my purse for keys that afternoon, I’d danced sideways to avoid squashing the mouse any flatter than it already was. But, I was running fast to check on Mom and Dad before Ivor came to cook. They’re very old and in the process of dying. (Funny how we’re all caught up in that same process.) So, I’d thrown a rug over the mouse rather than call for help from Emily. After all, even though Cat makes it clear she doesn’t belong to anyone, I bought her at Petco as company for Patch after Megan’s old Australian Sheppard wandered off in the trees to die, and since I paid for her shots, I feel responsible for any presents she brings us no matter how bloody and disgusting. I was wondering how thin mice bones must be when Chan pulled loose a hose high up on the vacuum handle. He thumped out two piles of cat fur, dust, strings, and twisted hair clips, and then looked over at me. Wow. I was impressed and a little embarrassed—just a twitch—a slim nudge of feeling silly.
“Well, Chan, I just think vacuums should suck up bowling balls like they do on TV.”
“That’s showing suction power. It’s not showing what can fit through a small hose. Sister Morgan, do not throw anything else away unless Jacob or I look at it first.”
So, I have a working vacuum cleaner sitting over there in the corner.

I wonder—constantly— what’s important? If the Lord cares about the drop of a sparrow, then nothing is small (except maybe cynicism and making fun of people). We get to choose the “good, better, and best,” except sometimes the “good” squeezes out all the air from our lungs.
There’s another dead mouse on the porch this morning. I know it’s out there because last night, after the rain, the moon came out, and I saw it. I was out late, walking under the trees, thinking about all the people who leave, mostly thinking about Miriam, who’d been trying to say goodbye earlier in the day, while I busied myself with cleaning up Mill Hollow sandwiches. (I don’t do “good byes” very well.) Miriam has worked at the Center for a long time, but she’d only recently allowed me to see her heart. I admitted to the moon that I will miss her. I thought about Katie, leaving—too soon—on a mission, and Meghan, who would march tomorrow and who is trying hard not to stress out over not finding a job. I thought about Nate, and how we walk, everyday, among Gods and Goddesses and seldom realize the blessings. Ahhhhhg.
The mouse was a recent kill; Cat hadn’t had enough time to take off its head. But, I was too tired to go in for a wad of paper towels or use the shovel, so I tipped dirt out of a flowerpot, turned it upside down, and covered the mouse. Then, I stuck a big rock on top, so Patch wouldn’t drag it out and play with it. I don’t happen to think that playing with dead mice is a healthy activity for a small dog. So, this morning, since I've already missed watching Meghan getting handed her diploma, I’ll go clean up the mouse, maybe even wash the blood off the porch, but I’m not going to vacuum today. I’m walking out to explore the dried riverbed for buried treasure, listen to the seagulls screeching at each other, and then I’m going to drive to a National Finals Rodeo in Pocatello, and watch real cowboys and well-bred, highly trained horses ALL NIGHT LONG. Some days we just have to grab the “best” right out of the sky while we still can. I love Cardinals also, for the same reason Julie does, but today I’m going to be a silly, fluttering goldfinch.


Chan said...

Ah, Sis. Morgan. We are careful and troubled about many things, I think. Being a goldfinch for a week sounds good to me.

Jami said...

It's fresh air to hear your voice. I can see you talking to the moon and thinking about people leaving; I want to do the same thing often times, but there are too many people (and, let's face it, I'm afraid I'll get raped).

But through the window I've had similar conversations. I'm happy to be a goldfinch for now too. Miss you.

Julie M said...

Jami said it. Fresh air. It gives me inspiration to keep writing. I hope that you made it to the rodeo and watched the real cowboys all day long. Here in PA, they don't necessarily have a state fair, they have what's called a Farm Show. The Farm Show is essentially a state fair but in the middle of January inside a huge indoor complex. David and I went this last year and watch the draft horses for hours. I decided that someday, I would like a draft horse.

Julie M said...

PS: Jami, stay inside your house so you don't get raped. We need to meet up sometime! Let me know your schedule now that your done with student teaching. Congrats on being done, by the way. I hope it feels great!

Anonymous said...

I miss you, Sis. Morgan. And Jami, Chan, Julie (though technically we've never met), and everyone else.

I vote that everyone who can't find a job, or is just tired of the world in general, finds a cabin halfway up a mountain, surrounded by pine trees, willows, and birches, a river with birds and a wild herd of horses conveniently nearby, and lives up there together. I'll join you as soon as I get back. (Or we could just all move in with Sis. Morgan when she's not looking.)

Sometimes when I kill spiders I don't feel like dealing with their little crumpled bodies, so I leave the shoe I killed them with on top of them and pile a few other things to make sure they stay dead, and ignore it until I can con someone else into cleaning it up. I'm always afraid that if I lift everything off, the spider will peel itself out of the carpet fibers and scuttle towards me. Blech.

And Jami, this is probably sexist, but I always think of spiders as male, never female.

This is really very long. Oops.

Katie said...

I liked how you tied all the different topics together at the end. And I agree with the 'good' squeezing all the air out of our lungs sometimes.
I think the good wants to settle in our minds, too--lounge in a lazy boy, perhaps. Sometimes. As long as it doesn't get too comfortable and better and best have their turns, why not rodeo all night?

You think I can associate goodbyes with your mouse experience? I don't like 'em either--would rather just avoid goodbyes altogether. Pour a pile of dirt over them, cover with a pot, and stick a boulder on top. A big one. Yeah, that should do it.

And I'd sure like to know if you find any treasure. Maybe we should bury some treasure in the river bed. (Is that allowed?)

Jami said...

Sister Morgan, the enormous picture at the top of the blog shows the most beautiful expression on my face. Probably the best picture ever taken of me.

Only Chan and Kaitlin know how cold the water really was. Why were they smiling? Travis says my expression is readable. I hoped he was wrong. . .

Well, we all want to be remembered. Maybe this picture is my big chance.

MiriamRose said...

Sis. Morgan-- maybe I just don't fit in with the other Writing Center people on this, but I have yet to discover what's so repulsive about good-byes. This is an awfully small time we have together here on earth compared to how long we'll have on the other side. To me goodbyes are a way of saying, "I'm going to miss you for now." They've never felt permanent. ps thank you for sharing your thoughts--they are beautiful

ps2 Crystal I love how I can hear your voice when you write!

Katie said...

Miriam- I agree with you (sorry I know your comment was addressed to Sister Morgan). But I think it's the waiting --or the thought of waiting 'til we die--to see that person again that we don't like. (I don't like.) But I think from now on, when I say goodbye to people, I'm going to say "Good bye for now." :)