Regular visitors here I’m sure haven’t heard quite enough about The Rodent Situation chez moi these past weeks. To that end, and in keeping with my compulsion to turn every single thing that happens to me into a story, here’s the way this week’s arts and culture piece begins:

Recently I committed to a nine-month Ignatian Exercises “Adventure.” This involves an hour, first thing in the morning, of prayer.

So far, so good, but it turns out a ground squirrel — which, not to put too fine a point on it, is a giant rodent — has dug an extensive warren and set up camp beneath the foundation of my rented house. I know tolerance levels vary in this area, but my level happens to be extremely, extremely low.

As I’m trying to pray around 5:30 a.m., in the cold, dark, and silence, the thing might suddenly start scratching about in the wall or under the floor, a deeply unnerving sound that floods my body with cortisol.



  1. Gadzooks! What a mind you have, dear Heather! In case you need to know, some of us are actutely sensitive to noise, whilst others find the raucous hum of a freeway symphonic! Love the way you wove everything(!) together, like freshly made angel hair pasta!

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      I would KILL for some pasta right now, Glenda, having been on the road for a bit and in spite of the many lovely meals cooked by friends, I’ve also been kind of eating out of my snack bag…I can roll with the noise and chaos and stimulation of a big city, which lots of timse I truly love–but I also often crave silence…grateful to have at least occasional access to both–Advent blessings, Friend!

  2. hi heather!
    i can so relate! you express excactly what goes on in my mind. about the suffering, that has to be good for something.
    its now advent and we will be joyful and in hope awaiting the baby God. because guess what – we are sitting in our compfy chair and lightening the candle and decorating the house.
    in my church we fast till christmas which is on january 7. i am coptic orthodox through my marriage to my egyptian husband.
    fasting means vegan and abstaining till 12 or 3pm.
    so, i am preparing for a beautiful time of hope. our appartment is heated and the rent is possible.
    and the ukranians are in dark, or under abuse or hungry. they want to celebrate advent. they remember the days of old. but maybe some of them hold on to their faith and find a way to have hope in the dark. maybe some of them have a beautiful, strong faith that lightens up the darkness! i think they do. there is still so much good in the world through us.
    anxiety is no fun.just pray the rosary.and go for the quiet places.and beauty.expand and dont contract. read a childrens book.sometimes we overdo our seriousness.
    i wish you a beautiful advent with warmth. and hope. and strentgh.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Tina, lovely to know a little about you and yes, it’s good to think of the Ukrainians, so many of whom are without heat, electricity…imagine being a mother will small children in those circumstances.

      In the Letters of Caryll Houselander yesterday, I came across this entry from June 17, 1942 in which she describes standing in line to register for something, perhaps food rations:

      “Speaking of registering, that reminded me of Our Lady. It is a moving thought that it was when she went to register, Our Lord was born.”

      “A census of people—just like ours today, and Our Lady…having the wonderful humility and obedience to go, and to go a long cross-country journey in primitive conditions and about to give birth to her baby!…When I got there, there was a long line of poor old mothers…and there they were, with dirty little kids in prams and clinging round their skirts and not one of them at all martyred or gloomy but full of back-chat and chaff”….

      “There was one other woman, not married, a cripple, very white and sweet-faced and patient—as she needed to be, for we were made to wait outside the door for an hour without anything to sit on! Then I realized more than ever the amazing humility of Christ’s birth—Our Lady going off to stand in a queue like that, and fill in a form, and having to wait about and do everything just as we do, and into such circumstances and on such an occasion, God being born into the world.”

      And children’s books–yes! my column in a week or two will be on The Velveteen Rabbit.