Friday, August 21, 2009
The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men
Every time my in-laws come to visit from Louisiana, they bring with them a bounty of goodies that includes things like crawfish pie, Boudin, fig, mayhaw, and muscadine jellies, a box of salsas of varying degrees of hotness made by one of my father-in-law's clients, and, of course, a big ol' honking box of Gulf shrimp. Only problem is, the shrimp comes frozen. Which means short of sticking the thing under S.B.s table saw and risking my life and limb, I have to unthaw the big brick of shrimp and cook it all within a few days.
No worries, though. After a couple years of this, I have the routine down pat. I usually start with a lemon, parlsey, and shrimp pasta, move on to the ubiquitous shrimp 'n' grits (a new recipe this year, thanks to Shamu), then end it all with a big pot of gumbo that we can eat on for a couple days more and still have some left over to freeze for later.
Last night, to celebrate the fact that today is a rest day in our workout schedule, S.B. and I decided to allow ourselves some alcohol and a new dish that we could cook together while sipping our drinkees and enjoying the mellow summer evening: grilled skewered shrimp wrapped with fresh basil and bacon. Mmmmm . . . bacon.
It was with major anticipation that, after spending a full thirty minutes on the messy, slightly tipsy business of skewering and wrapping shrimp, S.B. opened the lid to the BBQ grill to find that a mouse had not only taken up residence in the smoker box, she was also in the process of giving birth.
Needless to say, Momma Mouse was none to happy to see us (actually, scared out of her mousie mind was more like it) and although we tried to snag her while she was in her box in order to relocate her and her little family, she was having none of it. She quickly ran up the wall on the side of the house and wouldn't come down.
A sad, sad sight greeted me when I finally got up the courage to peek in the box: Two tiny newborns the size, color, and texture of jelly beans were squirming helplessly in a nest crafted out of the Pepto Bismol colored insulation that protects our pool pump. No doubt stolen by momma on one of her daily foraging expeditions. How she managed to get by both Ivan and Maddie is one heck of a testament to the evolutionary success of these wily little critters.
Yes, I realize that the vast majority of mice are simply up to no good. Scratching in the walls, getting into the pantry, gnawing through car engine cables, spreading Hanta virus. Still. Only seconds into their life on this great and glorious earth and this is how they are greeted? After I made a big enough fuss, S.B. finally sighed his S.B. sigh, agreed not to shoot the lot of 'em, and instead pulled the baby birthin' box out of the grill and set it in a larger box on a law chair next to the wall where mamma had attached herself.
And then we proceeded to grill our shrimp. Because hungry eventually trumps blubbery and tearful in Moi's household.
We should have thought to replace the birthing box in the grill once it cooled down but I'm ashamed to admit I forgot about the mice. This morning, S.B. had to remind me. When I checked on them at 8:30, I was surprised to find them still alive and squirming. But no sign of momma. So S.B. took the smaller box and placed it back in its original spot in the grill and shut the lid, in the hopes that mom would come back.
It's two o'clock in the afternoon and I just lifted the lid. The jellies are squirming up a storm, but mom isn't in the box.