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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

December 13, 2014

“Just a few more days till Winter Holiday…” whispered Bitsy. “You better finish your gifts for Mama and Papa.”
Trieste and Tatiana have been working hard on tiny handkerchiefs for Mama’s gift, little squares of fine cotton that big sister helped them cut just right, then finely hem the rolled the edges—not an easy feat for little hands just learning to sew.
Bitsy knitted a beautiful silk scarf for her mother from yet another gleaning at the Warehouse—a cast-off ladies’ silk camisole had been carefully unraveled, the beautiful threads wound into balls of silk yarn. What a delightful find, and in just the right shade of turquoise to complement Mama’s beautiful brown eyes. The trick was to work on it when Mama wasn’t around to see! Thankfully Mama didn’t ask too many questions since she had some secrets of her own in the project basket.
For Papa, it’s been a group effort. Bic and Ben found an Altoid Tin at Underground Warehouse, dragging it home undercover so Papa wouldn’t see. They hid it behind some storage in Grand Attic where they’ve been carefully sanding, painting and polishing. (Old bottles of nail-polish—paint and polish all-in-one—abound at Underground Warehouse. The boys chose a manly shade of russet.) Bic fashioned a carrying strap out of repurposed leather shoelace and then the girls lined the inside with pieces of felt that they cut and fitted carefully, gluing them in place with pine-pitch glue.
Now this whole process wasn’t without glitches, mind you. Trieste got pine-pitch glue on her foot and left a sticky trail from Grand Attic to front door.
“Who has pitch on their shoes?!” scolded Mama one afternoon. “And after I just finished scrubbing the floor! Oh dear! What am I going to do with you boys.”
Without their usual banter-and-blaming-the-other, the boys kept their cool, everyone checking their own shoes as soon as Mama went back to the kitchen.
Evidence pointed to Trieste, and the boys, without further comment, quickly cleaned it off her shoes (as well as the marks on Mama’s clean floor) with a dab of furniture polish—sunflower oil, wonderful stuff for dissolving pine-pitch glue! Whew! No more mention was made of the incident.
Another evening, Papa came in from work. “What’s that smell…” he sniffed worriedly, his whiskers twitching as he followed the odor into the storage room. “I smell paint… or is it mineral oil…?”
“Oh Papa… it’s nothing. Probably Papa Hare is in Hare Hollow Garage, working on something, and the odor is just drifting up here…” Bic tugged on Papa Fivel’s hand, leading him back to the living room.
Finally though, Papa’s new tool-box was done, wrapped in pretty fabric—thanks to Mama’s help—and ready for the holiday.
Sir Fivel made tiny prams for the twins’ dollies, out of wood of course. He cleaned out hickory nut shells, sanding the inside smooth as could be, then made a frame to attach it to. Four tiny wheels on each that he cut, sized, sanded and smoothed into perfect circles from an old wooden thread bobbin finished the job. Mama made little blankets and pillows for the prams, and sewed new outfits for the girls cloth-made dolls—in the shape of baby mice of course!
His gift to Fivelina is a secret even from Mama Hare. My guess is though, that it will be made of wood, something useful, lovingly made and you can be sure there’ll be an etched heart somewhere on it.
Winter Holiday is another Village event as well as a family day. School-house Hall will be decked out in greenery and berries, long tables covered with borrowed tablecloths, more greenery-and-berry centerpieces on each one, and laden with good food—offerings from each family kitchen for the happy day of feasting and rejoicing.
The ladies will wear their warmest finery for the trek from home-to-tunnel, their little ones tucked into cozy prams—only tiny whiskers and beady eyes peeking out, children donned in warm coats and colorful scarves flying out from behind them as they race ahead.
“Last one to the tunnel is a toad’s-turd!” some will shout gleefully.”
Oh my! Miss Winklesnout will not be happy at that kind of language, she who prides herself on teaching proper expression. She teaches that rough language only demeans the person who utters it, and while she has an admitted point, well… I suspect she knows only too well, boys-will-be-boys sometimes.
So that’s the latest from MouseHouse Village and now back to that whistling tea-kettle…

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