Tag Archives: play-dough

Of Mice & Me


A revelation can begin with something as simple as this:
mice are hungry little creatures and, apparently, they like play-dough.

I’m not sure if this holds true for the name brand play-dough that you buy in the store – the stuff with that fantastic scent that brings you straight back to your childhood.  But I do know this holds true for a homemade concoction using oil and flour.   I know this because the organization I work for uses dried homemade play-dough as “meat” in their general store, part of a series of hands-on exhibits housed in an old barn on the property.   The barn is a really neat building with great atmosphere, complete with barn swallows nesting in the outside rafters and mice nesting wherever they see fit.

So, this leads us back to the fake “meat.”  It’s wrapped in butcher’s paper, tied with twine, and kept in a tray on the 20-foot counter.   The label of what’s inside is handwritten on the paper and the total effect is appropriately old-timey.   When I ventured into the barn the other day, I saw that some mice had gotten into the “meat.”  The paper wrapping was shredded & the carefully formed chicken leg shapes were merely shadows of their former selves.  So this had been, what, the third or fourth time this had happened?

Now, in my defense, I had a headache that day, one that had been hanging on for over a day and a half.  So I was worn out and grumpy and, well, prickly.  In my mind I threw my own little hissy fit – really, how many times was this going to happen before we started doing this differently?   It was a known issue, solutions as simple as keeping the stuff in a tin when not in use were discussed, and yet, here I was, dumping the packages & scrubbing out the tray.  New batches of dough would have to be made, formed, dried, and wrapped by a willing volunteer – yet again.

As I stood at the sink indulging in my own grumpiness, a disturbing thought occurred to me. How many times in my life have I done the same thing? I’m not talking about the play-dough – that would be zero times. I’m talking about doing something that doesn’t work over and over again. Even at this moment, what am I doing that experience tells me is not going to work? How many times do I stubbornly repeat the same actions and then complain, yes – even whine, when, true to the wisdom of the ages, history repeats itself? What magic am I expecting?

There’s a famous quote by Henry Ford that I’ve heard applied to everything from corporate initiatives to career paths to exercise and weight loss:

If you always do what you’ve always done,
you’ll always get what you’ve always got.

Ain’t it the truth…