Mimi's Sundial 



Mrs. G. has poked fun at her mom’s allegiance to the right outfield of the Republican Party, but she has to cop to the fact that her mother has an engaging, often irresistible, personality. She is funny. If you (friend or acquaintance) express liking something she owns, it is not unlikely that she will insist that it become yours. If there is any monkey business to be practiced, she is instantly in, always game. In her sixty-five years of life, Mrs. G’s mother has racked up some hellacious stories—the kind that command an audience, some wickedly funny, some just wicked. If she has any regrets, you wouldn’t know it. Mrs. G’s mother doesn’t dwell. While some of her life’s stories fueled dicey childhood memories and regular visits to divorce court, the older Mrs. G. gets, the more she admires that her mother threw caution to the wind and indulged. She occasionally wonders if she should have done that more, not exercised so much caution. Probably not. Mrs. G. is that odd breed of child who rebelled by becoming a more traditional stick-in-the-mud.


But she’s still good with the whole one husband thing.


But this story is not about Mrs. G. It’s about her mom, Mimi.


Five years ago, Mrs. G’s mother and stepfather moved from Memphis to Washington State. Wanting to get to know the area before purchasing a home, they chose to spend their first year living in a large apartment complex. Mrs. G. knew this decision would lead to no good. Along with a healthy suspicion and uncertainty toward anyone who ever voted for Jimmy Carter, Mrs. G’s mother isn’t sold on renters. She thinks they’re a shifty bunch.


Within weeks, there were problems. Some people didn’t pick up after their dogs. Some allowed their small children to play in the community courtyard. A few had issues with her stripping off her jeans at the pool and getting into the hot tub in her underpants…even though they had a way more coverage than a bikini.


Most of the issues were minor, manageable…until Mimi’s sundial went missing in the night. Someone had ripped it off her deck.




The sun was barely up before Mrs. G’s phone rang.


“My sundial is gone and I know who took it,” Mrs. G’s mother announced as she flicked her Zippo and lit a cigarette.


“Did you see them?”


“I didn’t need to see them. I know exactly who it was. It was one of those two goth girls in the 400 building.”


“How do you know?”


“They’re trouble and mark my word, this isn’t going to play.”




Mrs. G. went back to sleep.


Two hours later the phone rang again.


Damned if Mimi wasn’t right. It was the goth girls. Mrs. G’s mother was on the cutting edge of racial profiling...way ahead of the federal government.


“I walked over there and looked in their living room window, and they were just sitting there with my sundial sitting in the middle of the room. Just as plain as day they're using it as a coffee table...without coasters”


“Did you confront them?” Forty years into this memoir, Mrs. G. is unphased.  She just hoped her mother hadn’t gone over there with a steak knife in her fanny pack.


“No I didn’t confront them. You should see their place. There are gargoyles and candles on the fireplace mantel.  We’re talking trash. But trust me—I’ll have that sundial back by morning.”


“Mom, put (Good Stepfather) on the phone. I want to talk to him.”


“I’m not going to do that. He doesn’t want to get involved. ”




Once again, this was to be a solo mission.


A few hours later, Mrs. G’s phone rang again.


“Well, I got my sundial back,” Mimi reported.


“HOW?” Mrs. G. asked, not unimpressed.


I waited until they left and then I marched right in and took it back.


“How did you get in?”


“The glass sliding door was open. I just walked in, grabbed it and took it back home.


The sundial was made of cement and weighed no less than forty pounds.


“You amaze me. No one can say you don’t have nerve.”


“Well, it’s like I told the police at the management office. I only took back what was mine.”


The inevitable pause.


“Why were you talking to the police? Did you call them?”


I didn’t call them per se. It appears there is a problem with just going into someone’s apartment when they aren’t home. But the police knew I was right. You should have seen how they were glaring at those girls.”


“Mom, put (Good Stepfather) on the phone. I want to talk to him.”


“I’m not going to do that.”


“Did he talk to the police with you?”


“No, he wouldn’t walk up to the office with me after the resident manager called. I went alone. I had nothing to hide. He doesn’t want to get involved.”


Don’t judge him, people. He has developed coping mechanisms. He reads Dick Francis novels and minds his own business. Horse suspense and intrigue have kept this marriage together for over twenty years.


“Do I need to come down there? Is anyone pressing charges?”


“I’m not sure. I’ll call you later.”




Mrs. G. sighed.


Here’s the deal with Mrs. G’s mom: even when she screws up, she can convince you she had a good reason. She keeps a pocket-sized copy of the Constitution in her purse. She will fall on her sword defending her rights but is not overly concerned with yours. True, she had by legal definition broken and entered, but it was her sundial. She’s like your average neighborhood vigilante. You might root for her, but you wouldn’t post bail...too risky.


No charges were pressed and, within days, it was all forgotten, just another story to file away under “Family Legend.”


Whenever Mrs. G. or her daughter faces a difficult situation that requires a tough, potentially unpleasant confrontation, they strengthen each other by recalling (in awe) Mrs. G's mother reckless audacity:


“This might require pulling a Mimi," they say. "Just go in and get your sundial.”


It’s a battle cry...


with a caveat:


"But don't get your ass arrested."

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Reader Comments (44)

Pure awesome, Heather. As per usual.

May 2, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteraphrodite

Love it. New Colony saying: "Get your sundial!"

May 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Paul

so perfect.

May 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHay

Bravo Mimi! You've got nerve!

Mrs. G - love how you celebrate your mother despite your differences. That type of humanity is why we all love you so much!

May 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBonnie

"without coasters" -- that totally cracked me up!!

What a great story :).

May 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGlenda

Well, at least she left those gargoyles alone...

I admire Mimi's nerve.

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkcinnova

I love your mom! Actually she and I are a lot alike. My kids will probably write stories about the crazy/reckless/unwise/harebrained/embarrassing situations I got us into. Thankfully kids are not judgemental and they accept me as normal. In the mean time, I write them myself. I invite you all to pop over and have a look at my blog if u like!
Mrs G., my gosh, what will she be like when she is older? (Imagining your mom wrangling some other old lady over an allegedly stolen walker...)

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichaela

Brilliant. Go Mimi!

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSellabitMum

This doesn't surprise me. I knew you got your sense of humour from somewhere.
Also, I LOVE this story. More please!
And, in our family, it's my husband's dad. Things get tough. "We might need to call Gordon," we say.

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteredj

Mom them!

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermeredith@whynot

As we say down here in Texas, "Mimi's got some big, clangin' brass balls" (or in this case...ovaries) and no one best mess with her. Aka "Touch my stuff and you'll draw back a nub". I love the stories about your mother. She's one of a kind.

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterapathy lounge

"Mrs. G’s mother was on the cutting edge of racial profiling...way ahead of the federal government" Ha, I laughed out loud for real! Mrs. G., you're pure awesome and now I see where you get it from.

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCaro

I think I would have done the same, even though I am not the confrontational type. You can't let people take your stuff.

I see you came by your moxie through bloodlines. Good for Mimi and good for you for having her.

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLes

What a great story. Thanks!

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterShannon

My kind of gal!

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMAYBELLINE

Mrs. G., of course this was extremely well written and in other circumstances I would have found it hilarious, but I can't help but cringe. I'm a leasing agent at a rental property that blends retirees, students, young professionals, and small families and having Mimi as a resident would probably threaten to send me over the edge. I'm breathing a sigh of relief this morning.

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

"Just go in and get your sundial."
Yep. I can see that on a Colony T-shirt.
I love Mimi...her moxy is wonderful...and come by yours naturally.
oh yes, you do.

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterdkuroiwa

What a tale!

But I'm dying to know: Did Mimi put the sundial back on her deck?

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commenter*m*

Wow! I love this story, but it kinda makes me glad my mom is a stick in the mud.

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAunt Snow (g)


May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTonya Lynn

Ha! I love it!

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterstarshine

Never let the goths steal your sundial. Brava!

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermiddle-aged-woman

My mom and your mom would have gotten along just fine.

"This might require pulling a Mimi!" LOL Words to live by, I like it.

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterfluffy

I second the t-shirt idea.... "just go in and get your sundial"......priceless.

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Carol

LOVE this story. And I think we should all 'pull a Mimi' every once in a while...

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkp

What a great story!

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterVIvianne

Your mother, the original Kick Ass Mama.

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMiriam

Love your Mimi stories. She is one of a kind!

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNanaB

She's got balls, that one :-) I hate the fact people here don't pick up after their dogs, too. I end up doing it so my dogs don't step in it. Idiots! (the people, not my dogs)

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJanet

this makes my day...

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMIME

Too funny. Love how the story unfolds... and I'm glad Mimi didn't get her ass arrested!

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterStacy (Mama-Om)

Yes, the sundial went back out.

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMrs. G.

Oh what a delightful story! Thanks for sharing Mrs. G.!

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMeg March

Gotta wonder what those Goth girls think about this. Hell a story for them to tell their friends.

May 3, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkate in Michigan

Mrs. G! Brilliant.

"She just hoped her mother hadn’t gone over there with a steak knife in her fanny pack."

That was the line that caused me to laugh out loud.

May 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterUrban Cowgirl

Very funny! I hope that as I get older I care a lot less about what people think about me.

May 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBellwether Vance

Your mother is a hoot, as are you! The "Mimi stories" and the storyteller are entertwined and I love that you find the humor in what could be called "trying" circumstances. What on earth would ever make you think you are a stick in the mud? Not only do you endure these "capers", you find a way to make them fun AND you started the WC. You just take different kinds of chances that's all! This is CLASSIC Mrs.G!!!

May 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterbramble

Words to live by I think because you know, sometimes you really do have to 'just go in and get your sundial.'

May 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commentertrash

Excellent!! I second (or third?) the T-Shirt idea. And here's a bumper sticker for you, Mrs. G:

"I don't care how many pins you got in your eyebrows - you better not mess with my Mama!"

May 4, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBriget

mimi sounds delightful, wonderfully so ... but i'm not sure i'd want to deal with the aftermath of the shenanigans! love the stories though, more please?!

May 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterbethany

LMAO - loved this, my mom would have done the opposite, she would have knocked down the door and confronted them, she has no fear! Which frightens me.

May 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMary

This is a true story altho Ms G tells it much better than I do..the sundial is safe and sound...

April 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMrsGsMother

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