When magma shifts (or mice appear), near-volcanic eruptions can happen

Categorized as Grounds for Insanity column, Rhonda's Posts

Well, that’s not good news. Not if you live within spittin’ distance and your running shoes are shot. It’s not.

According to scientists, magma levels in Washington state’s Mount St. Helens are rising. And Helen, as you’ll recall, blew sky high, covering 230 square miles with gas and hot ash in May 1980. Forests were covered, rivers were altered and housewives fought dust there for months.

Now, the magma reservoir that lurks beneath “has been slowly re-pressurizing since 2008,” a statement from the U.S. Geological Survey said. Further, it said that while this is all normal behavior for an active volcano, it’s no indication that there’ll be an eruption any time soon.

Huh. Seeing as how there was no notice the last time, either, this would not minister comfort to me were I a resident of Washington state, not even with a closetful of fast shoes.

I wish it weren’t true. I wish I could say I was fibbing, but I can’t. For the truth of the matter is this: I have been her. As the mother of four sinners, wife of one sinner and, yes, a sinner myself, I have experienced those rising magma levels.

There have been moments when the reservoir began to re-pressurize beneath my crust, and the volcano suddenly went active. And though I can’t belch gas and hot ash, these eruptions have been accompanied by excited shouting, some windmilling and a few quite colorful charades that left no doubt about my feelings.

Drizzling syrup liberally into the carpet just before the bus comes can do it. Having Someone tearing about, looking for missing shoes as the bus comes can do it, too. So can a spontaneous game of Twenty Questions, all involving food or special privileges, while I am on the phone. That’s when Twenty Questions becomes high-level charades, and at the end of that deal, there’s no need to go run because I’ve just done cardio, aerobics and Zumba. All in one phone call.

Now, I realize that plenty of men follow Grounds, and I know that you’re all very brave. You’re hearty, you’re strong, you’re full of great courage and you’d give up your lives for your families. You would.

Unlike your wives, mothers, sisters and aunts, mice do not scare you. You don’t take it personally when they venture inside and scatter “black rice” in your pans. Or worse.

It’s not like that for women. Throw a filthy little intruder in a ridiculous fur suit into a woman’s personal space, and there’ll be an explosion. Take what happened to a friend of mine. There she was, minding her own business, when she came upon Christopher Churchmouse. In her home. Instead of apologizing politely and taking his leave, he did what any terrified rodent does under pressure—he ran up her leg.

What happened next will never appear on YouTube. Suffice it to say, my dear conservative friend became a world-class hip-hop artist for a few horrible moments. Just thinking of it now, my own leg is twitching, and it’s all I can do not to join her.

Don’t think it can’t happen to you, you fellows snickering on your recliners in blue jeans. For when a mouse panics and starts his mad climb, there’s only one way that he’s going, and that’s up. I’m just sayin’.

All the way around, mice are trouble. If they’re not crawling up your leg or sharing your sleeping bag (yes, that happened), they’ll crawl into your couch and die. That happened, too.

Let’s say you’re 11, like a certain young niece. The stomach flu has hit, and you’re throwing up everything you’ve had since the Bush administration. You’re nestled down into the couch, resting, when all at once, something wriggles across the arm—underneath the upholstery—causing an explosion of arms and legs.

It’s a mouse. Who dies sometime later in the upholstered depths, spreading its pungent aroma. Oh, the nerve.

This, then, necessitates a search and recovery mission by The Sick One’s father and brother. Flipping the whole kaboodle over, they unstaple the fabric and find the corpse. Assessing the scene, The Extractor settles on a hand-in-glove approach, only one better. He goes with a hand-in-glove-in-plastic-bag technique, disposes of the remains with no eulogies or prayers and staples the fabric back on. Yes, he did.

We all have our “things” that cause our magma to shift. That pressurize our reservoirs. That lead to, well, cracks in the crust and explosions. Whether it’s phone call charades or unwelcome intruders, that’s life. And that’s why it’s smart to have a good pair of shoes and a clear path from here to the exit. If you’re one of my kids, that is, or a mouse, and you’re eyeing my leg or the couch, either one.

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