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Sunday, February 18, 2001

So what would you do if you found a dead mouse in the middle of the walkway between your front door and your garage? No, after that. Yeah, me too. I wadded up a clump of paper towels and picked up the body and flung it into the middle of the field between the garage and the road beyond. If the cat didn't want it ... well, worms have to eat, too.

No pictures, sorry.

Yesterday evening I was watching Angela's Ashes when I heard a noise that sounded as if it was coming from the bathroom. It was a kind of scratching sound, and it got louder when I opened the laundry room door. Something — bird, mouse, cat, something — was moving around in the space above the ceiling.

It was dark and it was raining, and I wasn't about to walk outside when I probably wouldn't have been able to do anything about it (whatever it was). So I turned on the fan that's above the light, and I turned on the dryer, since the duct leads up toward the ceiling. The noise got a little more frantic, and I grabbed a broom and started banging on the ceiling.

After about five minutes of all this noise, I could no longer hear anything. I kept checking back throughout the rest of the night, but the creature had apparently departed. It was too loud, I think, to have been a mouse, unless the acoustical properties of the room amplified the sound that much.

It could have been a bird, but it would have to have been a large one. It didn't vocalize, at least not so I could hear, so I doubt it was a starling. An owl, maybe? Probably not a cat, either, but that's still a possibility. A squirrel? I haven't seen a squirrel since I moved here. I'm not sure I care, as long as it leaves.

This morning I went through the same procedure. Heard the noise, turned on the light and fan, banged on the ceiling with the broom. But since it wasn't raining (or dark), I went out to see if I could see anything. I couldn't, but I turned on the hose and sprayed the possible entry holes. (Small puddle on the laundry room floor, no big deal.)

So far, I haven't heard or seen anything the rest of the day.

The closest houses to me are these, off in the distance, beyond a row of oak trees across the fields outside my back door.

gray skies are gonna clear up

The exception is my landlord's house, but we're separated by a large vacant lot. I never hear them, and they never hear me. That's the way I like it.

Angela's Ashes. Rain. Poverty. Hunger. Class prejudice and exploitation. Death. I haven't read the book, but the film shows conditions in the Limerick slums in the 1930s and 1940s as realistically as I ever hope to see them. It was as if it was the director's goal to make his audience feel just as miserable as the characters. That anyone could survive long enough to escape is a tribute to the human spirit.

The three young actors who play the author, Frank McCourt, at various stages of childhood, have such expressive faces that you can feel the sorrows and occasional joys along with them. And Emily Watson's dignified portrayal of McCourt's mother Angela is raw and understated at the same time.

I liked the movie more than I expected to. I don't mind being taken for such an emotional ride, but oh, I felt so soggy after watching it. It seemed to be raining constantly, the lanes running with water, the houses flooded. When it wasn't raining, someone was knocking a chamber pot down the stairs. I needed a towel, sitting there on the couch. My clothes felt as if they were sticking to me.

After seeing Angela's Ashes, I was ready for something less wrenching. Fortunately, The Whole Nine Yards was on last night as well. This movie required no emotional engagement at all, but it wasn't very funny, either. I'd consider it a waste of two hours, but wasting two hours was what I was looking for.

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You catch your breath and winter starts again,
And everyone else is spring bound.