On minor callouses, mice hunts and losing a friend

Light callouses showed up on my right-click finger a while back.

Dismayed, and within ear shot of my sister, I mumbled, “that’s the hand I use to grab the mouse.”

She looked at me, frowned and said, “You … .” Then she laughed. “I thought you meant you grabbed a real mouse.”

Now I understand the full meaning of the word incredulous. I saw her face when she thought I’d grabbed a real mouse.

There are some things I won’t do, which kept me standing on the steps in our old farm house watching my older sister and dad chase a mouse around the outside wall of the living room. A chair, the couch, a table and second chair tossed aside in the chase.

So many mice lived with us in that old farm house, it was not unusual to see one sneaking around on the people side of the wall, but when Dad and Suzie got going, that mouse didn’t stand a chance. When the mouse decided to take a short cut across the middle of the room, Dad’s huge hand popped the life right out of it.

Dad had what Denny Christenson called “big guns,” and with those strong arms came big and strong hands. And he wasn’t afraid to use them for anything as menial as taking out a mouse.

Funny how one thought leads to another, until you’re nowhere near where you began. All these mouse thoughts made me homesick for the past, for people from my past.

It’s a sobering thought that many of the grownups I knew and respected those many years ago are dead now. The latest is Loree Clarken, whose funeral was Wednesday. I remember my folks playing cards with Loree and her husband, Woody, when they lived on a farm southeast of Vincent. That was a whole bunch of years ago. I’m not fully recovered from losing Walt, and when Loree died, I found myself falling into emptiness again.

My sister Cindy pulled me out of it by letting me fill grab bags for the All-Iowa Shop Hop starting today. Then she invited me to her grandson’s ball game in Indianola. Watching that game pushed me back to when we’d watch Dad play fast-pitch softball. Those were the good ol’ days, and I’m old enough to have a bunch of good old days to remember.

Since my mind already wallowed in mice territory, it was just a short jump to the memory of John Michalson coming down to shoot mice at our farm. I’m pretty sure they had mice of their own, but Dad told him there were mice living in an old pig feeder, the tall kind with little compartments lined up on each side and little doors over each opening to keep the weather away from the feed.

John handed me his gun and lifted one of those little doors. When a family of mice ran out, I jumped. And pulled the trigger. Nearly shot a hole in John’s leg.

It’s no wonder I’m not allowed on mice hunts.

So long friends, until the next time when we’re together.

Sandy Mickelson, retired lifestyle editor of The Messenger, may be reached at mcsalt@frontiernet.net.