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.