Tuesday, April 15, 2003

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.

“If you give a Mouse a cookie, chances are he’ll want some milk to go with it.” That is the beginning of the great children’s book written by Laura Joffe Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond. (They are also the creators of “If You Give a Moose a Muffin”, “If You Give a Pig a Pancake”, and “If You Take a Mouse to School). I fell in love with these books, mostly because the illustrations are SO darn adorable. The stories are sweet and simple, the basic premise being that one thing will always lead to another. I find myself saying repeating this story title, almost mantra-like, because I see it play out so often, especially when doing stuff around the house. Matter of fact, it’s now known as the Mouse-A-Cookie Theorem. Family members hear that, and they are forewarned of opening up a can of worms. Or can of mice, as it were.

If you give yourself a chore, chances are you’ll end up with four. Yes, at least four chores somehow evolve out of that first one. Well, especially in a house like mine, where the term “anal-retentive” is foreign. Instead we use words like “lived-in”, or just plain “cluttered”. So, it goes something like this. I decide to put out some Easter/Spring decorations. Chore #1. I first want to dust off the mantle and bookcases. Chore #2. Remove everything from mantle and tops of bookcases. Chore #3. Wipe down everything that I removed from mantle and bookcases. Chore #4. Actually dust the mantle and bookcases. Chore #5. Decide that all candle holders need to have old wax scraped off, and new candles in fresh pastels be put in place instead of dusty, grimy fall/winter colored candles. Now this is chore #6 (and 7?), and I’m nowhere near ready to put out the Easter stuff yet, and I’m sneezing up a storm. Next, put away remaining Christmas decorations. Umm, I hadn’t realized it had actually turned spring already, and that’s #8. I’m tired!

The same mantra is heard during home renovations. Well, that, and “those dirty rotten %*$@ contractors”. We have wanted to finish off our basement for eons now, and drew up some great plans, oh, a few years ago. Last year, while still trying to decide on a contractor, or ‘do-it-ourselves’, we went ahead and picked out a beautiful French door for a new entryway into the basement. When the installer came to take measurements, he noticed some aberrations in the foundation. Turns out these are cracks, and the foundation has started to crumble. But first we have to jack up the house to repair the foundation. *Sigh*. Well, I know the basement is already a step ahead, what with the shiny new copper piping that we had to install while in the middle of renovating our 2nd floor bathroom a few years back. But please, let’s not open up that chapter in our Home Project Scrapbook. Let’s just say, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, among other things.

And so it goes. One project begets another, and another, rather like that annoying hair product commercial, with the clone models repeating, “…and they told two friends, and so on, and so on…” As tiring as this all seems, that’s pretty much the way things do work. Life doesn’t happen in an orderly fashion, there’s chaos, clutter, confusion, false starts, recriminations and yes, wailing and gnashing of teeth. But there’s also the beauty of the random and accidental. Wildflowers, giggles in church, unexpected hugs and double rainbows. And sometimes, a mouse comes to call, so you better have a cookie ready -- and the milk.