Category Archives: Daily Living

Mouse Marketplace

I’ve lived in this house for 12 and 3/4 years. I’ve never had a mouse in my pantry. Ever. I catch a couple every fall in the closet by the dog food bin or under the kitchen sink. The last few years, I’ve seen almost none. I did a battle or two with shrew during that time, but never in the kitchen. Things have changed around here quite dramatically as of late, and not for the better.  The mice have found their way in. It isn’t pretty.

During my recent two week absence, the whole country mouse village has come to market in my pantry cupboard. And they have left their mark. In-the-shell pistachios seem to be a favorite, judging by the hole in the bag and the stash of empty shells filling my oatmeal bin. I don’t want to know how they got the lid off of that one. Some things just shouldn’t even be imagined. Pistachio shells are strewn across shelves, as are the inevitable droppings left by well-fed critters of the night. Chocolate footprints are smeared across dry goods containers and half-eaten cracker packages are left for unsuspecting lunch-packers. No, there’s nothing pretty about it.

I empty the pantry shelves, throw away the remnants of mouse market nights, place an already contaminated bag of pistachios on each shelf, and strategically place traps along the trail of leavings. The mice have obviously been coming through the uncovered electrical outlet (pistachio wedged between box and wall serves as exhibit A). I go to bed and hope for full traps in the morning. Awake in the night, I inwardly raise a triumphant cheer at the sound of mouse clattering and chattering. These critters are silent and stealthy unless trapped. Imagine my rejoicing this morning on discovering two full traps, bringing the count to 3 mice who will no longer feed in my storehouse. But as I was still basking in the glory of my victory, a friend sent me this heart-tugging video:

I sniff. And then giggle. I have only two thoughts: Good thing I don’t keep cheese in my pantry, and I’m so glad I use sticky traps!

I am not cruel. I let mice live in the out-of-doors, happy to find them in a cats paw now and then, I admit. But after 12 and 3/4 years, I’m a bit set in my ways. I’d like my pantry to belong to me, to reach in for some rice or nuts without fear they’ve been nabbed out from under me. I refuse to let mice carry on in my oatmeal. I’m determined to reverse this change-for-the-worse, and bring back the pretty to my pantry.


©2014 Erika Rice

Ready and Willing

He is 16 years old, stooping to enter my chicken coop.

Ready and willing to help.

I have nothing to offer him but a wheelbarrow full of chicken poop, which he removes from my presence in seconds. I feel relief and gratitude and yet some guilt (or maybe embarrassment) letting him lighten my load. I’m ready to refuse help so he doesn’t have to see how ugly it is, this thing I work at night and day. It isn’t the first time he’s helped with chicken chores alongside my boys. The last time was more of a chicken housing project, but it also involved large amounts of disgusting chicken poop. I think, “It’s just bad luck that he’s always here to help when the job is so messy.” Then I realize that it’s never not messy. There isn’t a task connected to these chickens, a time that I do anything for them, that I don’t wear calf-high rubber boots and silicone coated gloves.

Let’s face it, chickens poop a LOT. They are smelly and gross. At least when a hundred of them get together, and especially when the sky is pouring buckets of rain for days on end. The coop always needs shoveling. The water buckets are untouchable. The feeders get covered in slime. The smell is overpowering. If I wait for a less messy moment to accept the offered help, I will be doing it all myself…all the time. I’ll get a little lonely, and I’ll get a little tired.

How like my life. I most need help when it gets the messiest. When the air around turns foul; when my feet are stuck in the muck; when I can’t shovel fast enough and the clamoring won’t stop until I get ahead, then I need the helping hands and another back to keep me from exhaustion. It’s also when I’m most likely to avoid asking, lest someone see just how ugly this life is. Come back to my coop on a day when the air is fresh. Ask me if you can lend a hand when I have something better to offer you than a load of chicken poop. When the walls are whitewashed and the feeders polished and the grass grown nicely over the fertilizer – then I will invite you to walk beside me to my next task. Which is really no work at all, and you can stand idly by and make small-talk while I pretend it is always this picture perfect.

I guess that day might never come around. And if it did, I wouldn’t need help.

But while I wait for it to get that neat and tidy, I’ll get a little lonely, and I’ll get a little tired.

It’s time to admit that I have nothing to offer but a wheelbarrow full of poop and thank you for your willingness to brave the stench while lightening my load.

Time to open the door and let someone stoop to enter. Ready and willing to help.


©2014 Erika Rice

Spring in my Heart

We bid farewell to the coldness and indifference of a spiritual winter when the Lord creates a spring within. – Charles Spurgeon

The darkness creeps in almost before I have a chance to notice I’m missing the sun. SPLAT………. SPLAT. A fat raindrop smacks hard against the windshield, followed several seconds later by another, exploding like water balloons on pavement with each hit. SPLAT……….SPLAT…………SPLAT….SPLAT. The hard staccato comes more rapidly. There is no driving wind, no slant at all to the rain beginning to fall in sheets, just the silent, strong pull of gravity.

I practice efficiency at its best, perfectly timing the door opening and the trunk popping to avoid any delay, attempting to remain dry while getting myself and eight bags of groceries indoors in the downpour. It’s a purposeless battle, really, because I never win, and yet I always try. Another time, with less on my agenda, I might stay and soak it all in. A good rain shower never bothers me, and spring downpours are some of my favorites. Today, however, I am sensible and dash for the door. I have responsibilities, the memory of my optimist’s to-do list staring me in the face.

Now I stand at my sink, washing tomatoes, surveying the greening of the countryside, evidence of new life emerging. Strawberry-rhubarb cake is in the oven, turkey and wild rice soup simmers on the stove, and hymns exuberantly emanate from the music player under my kitchen cabinet while a hundred tiny chicks cheep softly from my entry. A scratch in the cd sends the song on a constant loop of the same verse and chorus, Heir of salvation, purchase of God … Praising my Savior all the day long.” I’m pulsing together a new fresh salsa recipe, my first batch in the blender, ready in mere minutes. I’m the queen of my kitchen, in my element, a happy homemaker.

My day isn’t clouded by gloomy skies, punctuated by oaths of frustration, splatting on the heart-surface of those who dare to be caught in my storm. I have no driving wind of fury in my compulsion to achieve. Instead, my day is a day of joyful, vibrant living. By His Spirit, spring is in my heart.

Heir of salvation, purchase of God, Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood. This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior all the day long. (Fanny Crosby, 1873)


©2014 Erika Rice

A Fickle Lady

Spring is a fickle lady, one moment warm and inviting,

one moment wounding  us with her icy stare.

So we embrace her robustly when she allows,


and cling to her when she gives us the cold shoulder, pleading with her to come back.

Whatever her mood, even when she’s most unsure of herself,


we make the best of her presence,

letting her know that we won’t give up on loving her that easily.




With Summer giving chase, it won’t be long till Spring is compelled to stay.




©Erika Rice 2014


Good-bye, Winter!

Today was all about kissing Winter good-bye. We did not shed any tears over his passing.

We tramped joyfully up and down, snow overflowing our boot rims, feet wet with Winter’s remains, socks lost in boot toes, and pant cuffs soaked through. The woods stood drenched in sunlight under a brilliant blue sky, and we reveled in the promise of Spring. We envisioned the leafy canopy we know will come soon enough. There may be more snow in our future before those leaves umbrella our path, but we know Spring is rounding the bend, Summer close on her heels.

We stood on the high rocks and watched the slow progress of a very large ice slab, making its way down river. We were rooted. An island stood in the ice slab’s path. Would the ice be halted? Perhaps it wouldn’t survive a collision. We had to know.

Barely, imperceptibly, the slab changed course and escaped collision, skirting the island ever so slightly. Suddenly, it seemed to be speeding past, and we were off — running along the cliffs, chasing this hand of Winter being forced to release his hold on us. We had to know if he would slap the cliff in retaliation on his way past or go quietly. We clambered up the rocks, and I slid to the edge just in time to hear the gentle shushhhh of the hand brushing the cliff face in blessing as it hurried past.

We did not, however, let him off so easily. He has been hard on us these many months. Snowballs hurtled from our hands to sting him as he went. If he had not been so large and powerful, we might not have found such pleasure in it. Smack after smack. Chunk after chunk reverberated its pleasing spank of his icy skin until he couldn’t be reached any longer.

We watched winter float away as we celebrated his departure. The river cried tears of joy; and we blew our final kisses on the smoke of a maple sap fire, boiling its springtime sweetness as a yearlong reminder that even Winter is powerless to stop his passing.

Good-bye, Winter.


©Erika Rice