Saturday, August 24, 2013


mouse.  The smallest of all beasts; a little animal haunting houses and cornfields, destroyed by cats.
The eagle England being in prey,
To her unguarded nest the weazel Scot
Comes sneaking, and so sucks her princely      eggs;
Playing the mouse in the absence of the cat.   

                --  Shakespeare.

[1] Albrecht Dürer, Adam and Eve (detail), 1504, engraving.

[2] Ganesh sits affectionately with his vahana, Mushika, the giant mouse (carved and painted ivory plaque, later 1900's).

[3]  Once, a long time ago, mice terrified me, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.  I learned that they were lovely creatures and what came to terrify me was the regular, horrifying occurrence of one of my cats, doing what comes naturally to them: pouncing, eviscerating, etc., one of these dear creatures and leaving the remains for me (to find first thing in the morning) as a sort of heavily-broken-in-prize-toy.  I can hardly blame Rose and Pansy, both American short-hairs, for pursuing what has been their family trade since long before the Pilgrims brought them to America on the Mayflower as onboard exterminators.  But they really didn’t need to train Claude, the pansy-faced Persian, in the art/craft.  I suppose they were simply making him feel one of the family.  Because we live in a country house, we sometimes have mice.  We try to find them before the cats do and protect them by removing them from harm’s way.  The fact that Claude doesn’t see as well as he used to doesn’t slow him down at all.  He may look cherubic, and he’s as soft and cuddly as can be, but he’s a mighty male and using his other senses, he participates in world events with a fierce understanding of cause and effect, truth and consequences. 

[4]  “Mouse” definition from Johnson’s Dictionary, A Modern Selection by E.L. McAdam, Jr. & George Milne, New York, Pantheon Books, 1963.


  1. I too don't see as well as I used to... (hmm, at what stage can I say with certainty that I ever did see well?), and too it has to be conceded I share with Claude all the intellectual shortcomings of the male of any species.

    However, something tells me that if pitched by the fates into a situation of close combat (perish the thought), the mere sussing of the presence of Mushika in the field of action would be enough to cause Claude to resort to the benefits of natural protective coloration, make himself extremely flat and blend so perfectly into that snow white carpet that he would avoid becoming Mouse Kill.

    At any rate, one always hopes for happy endings.

    1. It is really hard to believe that Claude is now an older cat. Caroline recently noticed that his vision seemed to be not great and it turns out that he has high blood pressure which, fortunately, it's really easy to treat. He's a really fine person and has always been, in an elegant, gentlemanly way, small and in charge. A couple of years ago he began creating artworks every night by grabbing papers (printer sheets, envelopes, etc., but always working with the same types of items) from tables and making arrangements on floors, between rooms, occasionally on the staircase. He makes a racket when he goes to work. It's part Jackson Pollock and part Robert Newton in Odd Man Out. We're kind of mouse-free at the moment. I think they prefer to live outside during the summer, which is good. Busy weekend. Jane's grinding on some test material and in reasonably good spirits and I'm trying to assist a photographer in a copyright infringement matter which, based on the personalities involved, is really challenging. But the corn is at its quality height now and so are the tomatoes. We recently discovered an excellent old bookstore in Bryn Mawr called The Title Page, which has become our great pastime. The owner, a very nice woman, says her collection derives from all sorts of sources, but they clearly include various local professors' libraries, so the place is endlessly fascinating, and covers all genres. While Jane was working with a tutor at the public library, I spent a lot of time there in the stacks and out of the heat. Curtis