Friday, January 25, 2008

Build a Better Mouse

When I lived on a farm in Lamar County, keeping mice out of our single-wide was a matter for continuous quality improvement.

Ultrasonic plug-ins seemed effective and humane, and poison packets, pellet boxes and bar poisons worked, too.

Snap traps were luckless, and glue traps were marginal (I did some catch and release, but later only caught, and more than I liked, a mouse would struggle away with the trap in the vent system never to be found but to be smelled until the decaying was done).

I really should have found a way to build a better mouse--one that would not need to be trapped because it stayed where it was best for all interested parties. I should have found a way to build a better mouse catcher--one that would know how to be all things to all creatures.

Zossima's maxim works, then, in many situations:

If I had been righteous myself, perhaps there would have been no criminal standing before me.

And perhaps it is the grace of God that helps me see that whoever goes, there go I.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Damned Fingerprints

Some days ago a new job found me getting fingerprinted as part of a background check. The officer was skeptical if my prints would work--winter dryness and rigorous hand washing left my finger pads cracked, their prints resembling a black and white satellite image of roads dissecting a landscape. Was Lady MacBeth trying to wash away chronic identity as well as acute guilt?

to a degree

How on a sunny day in Northern Hemisphere January it can be -3 F seems almost wrong. But there's the consequence and the blessing, metaphorically speaking. To tip away from the center of energy and order is a cold burning--but the light is stretched out still.

Our Delight

Developmentally cued, the baby leans into a turn, back to front, a few days after her three-month birthday. That this motion should be instinctual resonates with the hymn:

To turn, turn, will be our delight
'til by turning, turning we come 'round right.

Bien Hecho

When my two-year-old daughter did a good job and received the commendation bien hecho for the first time, she repeated what she heard: be an angel, followed by "Be an angel, Mom; be an angel, Dad."

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Anno Domini

Last night I was preparing to drive home from a family get-together. It was about nine degrees F and very fine metallic snow was falling, or refalling, I'm not certain. I was thinking of Mitya's dream of the cold people in despair: Why don't they hug each other and kiss? Why don't they sing songs of joy? And there was the possible key to why people on the North American analogue of the steppe stay up late on New Year's Eve: to celebrate their sociality, to stand against the cold and dark and not take cover and dream of hibernation when to be awake and festive is counterintuitive. It isn't even that the wakeful mock the night--there is no emnity, only the opposition of life, the contradiction that creates and keeps.