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The Case of Houdini the Hamster

January 10, 2009

The sound of papers rustling stirred me as I drifted in and out of sleep. The virus had taken its toll and I thought I was hearing things. Is it a dream? Are one of the children ill again? I mused.

All at once I jolted awake and knew something or someone was in my room. The sound came from my purse setting in the floor by my bed and a black streak shot across the floor. "Oh no!" I whispered.

Having had the flu four different times recently, I was exhausted. Lo and behold, the Houdini hamster was roaming yet again! Evidently, "Yankee" the miniature black bear hamster hates being "hemmed in." He shakes his cage until the side latch is lose and then explores the world of our home. "So disgusting" I thought, "he was in my pocketbook. He might have used my lipstick!"

I immediately sprayed it with my new best friend, Mr. Lysol spray. We have become great friends as I have evolved into somewhat of a germaphobe now.

So, my other companion, the trash can, and I began crawling through the upstairs of the house searching for the elusive hamster. He darted and waddled ... he needs a workout on his hamster wheel as he's grown a bit chubby. At one point, I even had him cornered, but had to turn around to reach the trash can ... I didn't want to touch the rodent! When I did, Houdini disappeared again.

"Please don't go in my daughter's room, please don't go in her room," I pleaded. She absolutely hates the hamsters. They thoroughly creep her out and it doesn't help her hamster-loathing that her brothers throw tiny stuffed animal "hamster lookin'" creatures at her from time to time.

Sure enough as I glanced into the room, there he went. Quietly, and still on the floor crawling, I kept thinking, "just so she doesn't wake up ... ."

"What on earth are you doing Mom?" she sleepily inquired.

"UM ... well ... you see, (I couldn't lie, it would set a bad example) the hamster got loose and ... ."

Horrified, her eyes popped out of her head as she grabbed her pillows and blankets and headed for the downstairs. All of a sudden, Yankee the Houdini Hamster pops out, I scoop him up and quickly take him to his cage and dump him in.

Washing my hands obsessively, I mused: "The little critter dwells safely and is fed, watered and even entertained in his secure world. He has everything he needs and even an owner boy who plays with him daily. Had he ventured onto the other floors of the house he might have met up with the psycho-mutant-ninja-puppy who delights in torturing little hamsters. (You'll remember him from the story many months ago where he tore into their cages and tried his best to eat them.)

Then, there's my cat, Fluffy, who lives mostly in the boy's rec room. She has aggression issues due to her encounter with a coyote while she was an outside kitty. She bears the scars as she is somewhat crippled and can't use her right front leg. Crushed literally, but healed in body, she has issues psychologically now. She would have loved to befriend the hamster and then taunt him as she slowly yet surely killed and ate him.

Contentment. It alludes many as it seems to be that forbidden fruit compels and entices with new things, people and circumstances. Restlessness fuels many a good man or woman to forget their vows and venture out into a world with danger, intrigue, momentary pleasures and change. The proverbial mid-life crisis is a such a commonality that jokes and stories abound on the subject. Many a sheltered youth leave home and often with home they leave the rules and boundaries set by their seemingly "narrow" parents. Many a prodigal have returned after venturing for a time or at least "came home" in their hearts to see that the world without some guidelines, scruples and ethics will often chew you up and spit you out. It is a sad thing to observe a person or family in shambles as money, self, things, sex, drugs, alcohol or pornography take precedence over a life. Anytime one of these idols of the heart take over, destruction is imminent.

Whenever I begin to feel a tug at my heart, and we all do at times, I remind myself to count my blessings. Sounds cliche, but there is power in thankfulness. I also begin to enjoy the people around me and remind myself to enjoy the simple things such as a meal with family, a conversation with a friend, talking with a child, or listening to an elderly person. Small town life is such a plus for someone wanting to enjoy a simple yet social life. There are plenty of wholesome activities with a lot of truly great people in which to raise a family and grow old with. Most of all, I begin to spend time in the word and prayer and regain my focus on why I am here, what I am doing, and where I am going. "But godliness with contentment is great gain."

(Kimberly Short Wolfe, MA, is a homeschool mom and the grief counselor/bereavement coordinator with Mountain Hospice. E-mail:



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