Tag Archives: water

The Mouse and the Elephant – An African Fable

I have always liked this fable which I first heard growing up as a kid in the Northeast corner of the Congo. So here it is.

Central Rock-rat (Zyzomys pedunculatus)

There was a mouse who built a nest. All know that of all the animals of the field, the mouse is the least.

A female African Bush Elephant raises her trun...

An elephant, a bull, full-grown, with tusks the length of a man, made his way through the grass to drink at the water hole. He saw the nest of the mouse in the grass and said to himself, “That is only the nest of a mouse. What can a mouse do to me?” And he stepped on the nest of the mouse.

The mouse said, “He is an elephant, what can I do to him? He is so big, and I am so small,” and so the mouse built another nest somewhere else. But the elephant came another day from a different direction and stepped again on the nest. The mouse built a third nest and the elephant stepped on that also.

The mouse said to himself, “If I would live peacefully in my nest I must get rid of the elephant. To get rid of the elephant, I must first learn the ways of the elephant.”

So the mouse followed the elephant. He saw the elephant pull up the grass with his trunk and put it in his mouth. He pulled down branches from the trees and ate them also. At the water hole the elephant sucked up the water in his trunk and put it in his mouth. He sucked up the water and blew it over himself to cool off from the hot sun and all the time the mouse was saying, “The elephant is too large. How can I come against so strong an elephant?”

The elephant lay down to sleep, its stomach full with grass and water. The elephant said to himself, “I am full and content. I am large and strong. Nothing can hurt me while I sleep.”

The mouse saw the elephant sleeping and said to himself, “I am small and weak. The elephant is big and strong. I must use cunning, not strength.”

When the elephant slept the mouse ran up into his trunk. The elephant tried to blow the mouse out of his trunk, but the mouse crawled up farther; scratching and tickling. The little squeaking of the mouse sounded loud inside the elephant’s trunk. The elephant shrieked in anger, but the mouse stayed right there, scratching and tickling and squeaking.

The elephant beat his trunk against the ground, but the mouse stayed right there, scratching and tickling and squeaking. The elephant got up and started running among the trees; bellowing, waving his trunk, beating his trunk against the trees. The mouse just kept scratching, tickling and squeaking.

Whenever the elephant would try to eat, the mouse would scratch and tickle and squeak. When he tried to drink the mouse would scratch, and tickle and squeak and the elephant would wave his trunk or beat it against the trees, until finally it became so sore and bleeding that he could not use his trunk to feed himself or water himself.

So, the elephant lay down again, bleeding from beating his trunk against the trees, tired from running from tree to tree, hungry from not being able to feed, thirsty from not being able to drink and the mouse ran out of the trunk. The elephant died and the mouse built a nest.

Tell me now, which is stronger, the dead elephant, or the live mouse? There is no strength in death, and to be cunning is to be wise.

A fable from the Northeast Congo.

Copyright © 2012 by Paul J. Stam
All rights reserved


Paul’s book The Telephone Killer published by 2nd Wind Publishing is now available on Amazon and from the publisher. Kindle and Nook versions just $4.99. The Telephone Killer is also available as an audiobook.

Another new novel of mine, Murder Sets Sail, will be coming soon from Second Wind Publishing.


Filed under books, fiction, writing

Splish Splash, I was Taking a Bath by Sherrie Hansen

Splish Splash, I was taking a bath…

Water has inundated my summer…

Remembering to drink enough of it…

Watering drooping plants that need more of it, hiding those that have had too much of it from the over-zealous helpers who think that my poor geraniums are yellow from want of water – when the opposite is true.

My geraniums aren’t the only thing that inadvertently got too much water. The dishwashing room in my tea house has a rotten floor and soggy cupboards thanks to a leaky value that escaped notice. Plumbers, carpenters, salesmen, construction woes, doing dishes by hand… Water. Too much of it, in the wrong place, is not good.

Not enough of it can cause problems, too. It is easy to get dehydrated in this heat. I drank a lot of water yesterday, but I was so busy, so on-the-go, that I barely had time to use the ladies’ room. This is a problem!

Too much water. Not enough water. My life revolves around water.

It is so hot, so humid, that there is water dripping down my back, sliding down the trough in the hollow between my shoulder blades. Sweaty forehead, hot kitchen, food, food, more food. Add some water to the chicken on the stove and turn it on low so it doesn’t dry out… Steam rising from the new commercial dishwasher. It will feel good this winter, but now, I want cool water, not hot!

Unless it is in my basement. Six inches of cool water we so did not want. Boxes floating, hitting walls, tipping over, bursting open. Waders salvaging, saving. Pumps working overtime, now that the power is back on. Damp, musty, mold born of water… Need to bleach. Need a dumpster… Water is not always good.

Last night a storm pounded heavy rain into the ground, turning dirt to mud, streams into torrents. Lightening, thunder. It is dark, so there will not be a rainbow. When the sun comes, the soaked ground emits humidity – rank, sopping wet, steamy, damp. Too much water all at once. The corn likes the hot and muggy weather. I do not. But there are farmers that I love. I try to be happy and stay indoors with the air conditioner on high.

I bet they would give anything for some of this water in Death Valley right now.

A swimming pool filled with water. My nieces love to splash. They are never so happy as when they are playing in their pool. I watch, still not comfortable about swimming suits. Maybe in another 40 pounds.

Water makes things green. I must remember that. I like green. Villiam is visiting from Denmark, and spent a few weeks in California before coming to the Midwest. It is brown in California.

Water… it is life-giving.

We are born in a splash of it, baptized in a pond of it. It can be so calming, so restorative, so severe, so threatening. It can kill. Don’t even get me talking about “frozen water”.

My water lilies thrive in water – floating in a pond of it, droplets raining down on them, they poke their heads up from their watery lairs and sing. Beauty born of water.

I received my proof copy of Water Lily yesterday! It’s a beautiful book. If I were not the author, I would buy a copy simply because the cover is so beautiful. I hope what is inside is just as lovely to those who read it. That is after all, what the book is about. Inner Beauty. Outer Beauty. Which do you have? Which do you wish you had? The beautiful water lily, born of the murky waters of the past.

Water, in the right amount, is a beautiful thing.

Splish, splash. Speaking of, I need to jump in the shower.


Filed under Sherrie Hansen

Water me, please!

Water me, please!

My husband picked some daisies out of our garden, and I thoughtlessly stuck them in a bone-dry vase that was home to a fake Mary Kay promotional daisy. Two days later the real daisies were slumped over and close to expiring, so I filled the vase with water and they miraculously stood tall again, were even perky. The sight of them reminded me of how water is serious business in my line of work.
Like so many other writers, I have a “day” job. Mine happens to be speech-language pathologist (SLP), more specifically “swallowing specialist,” at a state facility for disabled adults. I’ve watched more people chew and swallow than I care to count, but it’s all worth it when I can get them eating again, or if I can help them stay hydrated with water.
Most people take water for granted, but SLPs who specialize in swallowing do not. Unfortunately, we are a strongly divided bunch of professionals—almost as bitterly divided as politicians who choose left or right, red or blue. As a swallowing specialist, you either recommend water to people who aspirate thin liquid into their lungs, or you don’t. For the record, I’m one of those who recommend water, and I’m happy to say that I’ve never sickened or killed anyone with it.
That’s crazy, you’re saying, everyone drinks water! I agree with you; everyone should drink water, but there are SLPs in the world who literally abolish water pitchers from people’s hospital rooms and ask doctors to write orders for NO THIN LIQUIDS. Instead, people are supposed to drink thickened liquids.
What the heck are thickened liquids? Imagine drinking peach nectar all the time, even when you’re thirsty for a simple glass of water. You ask for water and are given a cup of tasteless glop instead—pure water that’s been polluted with powder or gel thickener. Even worse, maybe you’re unlucky enough to have a pudding-thick liquid order. In that case, your water must be eaten with a spoon.
I’m blogging about this today because I need to vent a little. I just acquired a new patient who was parched beyond belief, thanks to a pudding-thick liquid order he’d been cursed with before he got sent to me.
I also want to educate as many people as possible about this dichotomy in the world of speech pathology, so that as many people as possible can “just say no” to thick liquid.
So here’s what it boils down to: If you, or an elderly loved one (they are the ones who typically fall victim to these orders) are ever so sick that you can’t swallow well anymore, please do not accept a NO THIN LIQUIDS order without questioning it thoroughly. And don’t just take my word for it. Educate yourself on the dysphagia.com listserve. Call Frasier Rehabilitation Center in Louisville, KY, the facility that started the “free water” protocol in 1984 and knocked the first crack in the false belief that a drop of water in the lungs will kill you. Attend a seminar by Tom Franceschini through northernspeech.com. You’ll not only be thoroughly entertained, you’ll learn everything you ever wanted to know about swallowing as it relates to good health.
Water is a nutrient we all need to survive. Protect your right to drink it fiercely and advocate for those who can’t speak for themselves.
I’ll gladly try to answer any questions anyone might have about this water controversy.
Stay hydrated!

Lucy Balch
Author of Love Trumps Logic
Second Wind Publishing


Filed under writing