September 24, 2013
Well, Bic and Ben are out with their Papa today, gathering wood for winter. Betina is sweeping the veranda this early morning, while Fivelina hangs the 3 beautiful pocket quilts she made for the triplets on the bittersweet vine clothesline. She and Betina have been busy getting MouseHouse ready for winter, sweeping and polishing, storing and stashing, lining their pantry with vittles and veggies while Papa (aka Sir Fivel) works on filling the woodpile at the back of the living room, a dug-out in the wall, already more than half full of stick-logs.
Since some have asked what the inside of MouseHouse looks like, I approached Fivelina very politely this morning and requested a peek. She graciously agreed. The front door is a… well, mouse-sized oval in the side of the eave, there in the walk-way between our two porches. Most would miss it really, unless they looked up and happened to see the winsome Velcum—Sir Fivel doesn’t spell so well—carved so artfully into the front door made from tongue-in-groove popsicle stick lumber, carefully gnawed and pieced until it fit just right. It’s important to have a strong door, you see, keeps both intruders and stiff winter winds at bay!
Just inside is the family room, the largest area of MouseHouse, where they all gather for meals and games, where Sir Fivel whittles and carves his latest creations, and Fivelina does all her mama-mousely chores. The Walnut Woodstove sits at the end of the room, complete with its mortar lining and woven paper-clip cook-top. A miniature stovepipe fashioned from a scrap piece of gutter-nail-sleeve threads up through a tiny hole in the eave, and carries out the smoke. And yes, this mouse-gentleman is inventive to say the least!
He made a dining table and a chair for each of them, also a sofa and armchair that Fivelina softened with handcrafted cushions and cozy throws. She gestured, blushing slightly, and pointed to a beautiful wooden rocker with hearts carved into its headrest--clearly, a gift from a doting husband! I marvel at the coziness of the room; there was even a colorful braided rug on the floor made from leaf and stem fibers. Such a talented lady!
Her pantry is a small area tucked into the wall not far from the stove. Lined with shelves—yup, you guessed it, from popsicle stick boards—it is well-stocked. Carefully cleaned acorn shells with flattened bottoms make the perfect container, and she has many of them, each filled to the brim with ground corn, nut-meats, pumpkin and squash seeds, and of course an ample supply of sunflower seeds gleaned from the bird-feeders nearby. Lined up in neat rows, each jar has a quilted cover fashioned from Fivelina’s sewing talents and tied with colorful scraps of yarn. (So that’s where my yarn scraps have disappeared to!)
There are three bedrooms in MouseHouse… the latest, constructed just this past spring, for the triplets. Papa Fivel built sturdy bunk beds along one wall, a chest of drawers at the other for their overalls, bloomers and Bitsy’s wee dresses. She, being the smallest and most delicate, has the bottom bunk, Ben and Bic have the upper bunks, and are the least likely of the three to keep them neat.
Betina’s room is, well—a teenage girl’s room. She has her bunk of course, covered in a warm ivy-leaf pocket quilt—Momma made it for her last year, though it has lost it’s original red color, fading (after numerous washings) to a lighter shade of rust. Evidently she has inherited the knack for interior design, she pasted delicate fern fronds on all her walls, using pine pitch for glue! Can you imagine transporting that sticky stuff into MouseHouse without getting it all over everything else? Dear, dear… another story, that!
Sir Fivel & Fivelina's bedroom has a wider bunk, and a large dresser that Fivel constructed before their wedding. In fact, because he was still wooing her, he carved little hearts at the center of the two large drawers, carefully polishing the popsicle-wood finish until it glistened. Sure enough, she was smitten! A mouse-gentleman making such effort to please a lady was bound to be a keeper! She said yes.
MouseHouse’s necessary room has a tiny commode, sink and bathtub—walnut or hickory half-shells have many and varied uses! The water supply comes from a miniature rain cistern, fed by a small nail hole in the gutter from which Fivel threaded a recycled plastic straw to a tank above the facilities. Did I mention how crafty our mouse-gentleman is? Momma supplies the towels and fluffy bathmats, made from milkweed and other plant fluff she gathers each year. She too, is an industrious and creative homemaker.
I thanked Fivelina graciously for her guided tour of MouseHouse, and, backing away from the tiny door, got down off the step-ladder, shaking my head in delighted amazement. They’re surely set for winter… now I better get busy too!