This semester I’ve become an administrator at the university on a halftime basis.  I like my new duties in spite of (or maybe because of) the fact they are different from anything I’ve done before.  I am getting to know new people, and I am getting to know people I’d known before in a new way. 

This is all well and good, but it has left me less time to talk with my old friends, so every so often I walk up to the forth floor to talk to the Poet about the sorts of things college professors talk about.  It allows me to get properly calibrated in my views of the universe, or the university, at least. For my calibration on the rest of the real world, I have home.

In addition to my wife, my three daughters, and me, there are the pets.  There are the dogs, Obadiah and Buttercup, and then the cats, Ziggy, Stars, and Dewey, and then Epsilon the hamster, and at this time of year a varying number of butterflies in various stages of development.

These are our formal pets, but there is at least one other who lives at the periphery, and he has no name.  My wife, though she is a Sunday School Superintendent, calls him things which I dare not repeat in a family publication, but his true name is known only to God. He is a mouse.

We had inferred his existence indirectly at first.  Jean had found something that she referred to euphemistically as “mouse dirt.”  Then there was the bag of beans he’d gnawed into.  Then there was the bag of chocolate candy he’d gnawed into.

When the mouse got into the chocolate, Jean began baiting traps with a focus and ferocity which would have done Sun Tzu proud, but this has yielded nothing so far.

I have met the mouse, however.  I woke up early the other morning so I could visit some of my friends who belong to Sunrise Rotary. I put on a pot of coffee so I could get a head start on them and—after I’d started it perking—there he was among the garlic.  Earlier Jean had found that he’d gotten into our cherry tomatoes and where he’d stashed some pieces of spaghetti.  I gotta believe he’s one of those Italian mice.

He might even have Mafia training because Jean hasn’t been able to put a finger on him. She’s baited the trap with chocolate, cheese, and peanut butter but so far the mouse has remained elusive.  The cats have been worthless, of course.

The last few nights the moon has been full and something curious has been happening.  We’ve heard our hamster, Epsilon, running on her wheel in the night more than usual.  What’s more, the wheel has been making a musical sound.  Has Epsilon been trying to communicate with our Italian visitor? Epsilon is a Greek name. The Greeks of old had colonies in Sicily so perhaps there is some Old World connection between these two.

Could it be that Epsilon is the “inside man” that has been casing our place for the benefit of our Italian visitor? 

Jean, however, has set her face like flint that the outside mouse will die.  We’ve discussed baiting the trap with garlic.  If that doesn’t work perhaps some of Palluca’s Sausage will.  Or maybe we’ll just have to make a few phone calls around Frontenac to talk to some of the old families for this to be “taken care of.”  Perhaps they have an Italian cat that would do the job.

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