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Monday, April 11, 2016

Rainy Mondays

Rainy Mondays. The recliner beckons more invitingly than usual on dark dreary mornings and the kettle's come-hither hum tempts me to pour fresh hot cuppa. This kind of morning begs for extra snuggle time with a warm bundle of fur purring contentedly on my lap, and maybe even some snooze-time while I'm there--one of the perks of retirement!

Now were it a sunny, brisk-breezy Monday, there'd be a line of fresh sheets snapping on the clothesline already with considerable sloshing and humming going on in the laundry room. Mount Laundry beckons regardless of the rain, and yes, I will have to find some get-up-and-go here and get-to-it! But not yet.  Meanwhile... I'm sure you're wondering what's cooking on Walnut Woodstove this morning, and I'd love to tell you the latest adventures from that part of Hare Hollow Woods. So draw up a chair, pour yourself a fresh cuppa too, and bend an ear.

As you may recall, Sir Fivel and sons, along with son-in-law, Bret have been busily expanding the Fivel abode to accommodate all the little grand-mice that come to visit after school each day.  That, and the family gatherings that take place frequently require serious expansion. There's just not enough room to seat everyone around the table, or anywhere for that matter.

Well, the construction is nearly done, all but a little touch up paint here and there. Bret found a nearly empty can of interior latex by the road last week, with enough puddled in the bottom to retrieve. (MouseHouse Village folks are never wasteful. They repurpose most anything!)

So, he rushed back to Underground Warehouse to pick up some containers and tools, then back to said-paint can where he scooped up every last drop from the bottom. Why, it was enough to not only fill several small old prescription bottles, and use for the new rooms at the Fivel House, but also enough to restock a small area in the Underground Warehouse paint department. He was thrilled! It's a lovely green shade, very restful for the two new bedrooms.

Fivelina has been busily going through the children's bureaus, weeding out things that no longer fit, adding some to the mending basket as she discovers a small tear in a sleeve, or some wee loose buttons. Again, nothing is wasted, so she will launder and repair everything, then bring the unused items to Underground Warehouse Children's Department for some other little mouseling to wear.

She and Fivel have moved into their new bedroom, the hand-carved four poster snugged into the corner is made up beautifully with one of her signature quilts. The heart-etched dresser stands beside the bed with a tiny lamp atop.  Fivel wired and repurposed it from a beautiful old hand-painted porcelain thimble sometime ago, and it is one of her prized possessions. He and Bret also fashioned a small closet, tucked into the other corner, for hanging clothes. Dresses, jackets and trousers are hung carefully on repurposed paper-clip hangers that Fivel reshapes into just-right sizes for mouseling apparel. As you can imagine, they are a popular item at UnderGround Warehouse, but for his lady-love he always curls the leftover wire end into a small heart-shape right there beneath the hanger hook.

Bret hung a dowel across the corner  so Fivelina could hang a curtain to protect the clothes from dust. Of course it had to match the colors in her quilt, so she pieced some of the leftover quilt fabric along with some newer pieces, and made a lovely ruffled curtain.

This morning, she is finishing up a project months in-the-making, a braided rug fashioned from bits and pieces of yard-goods that were too small for anything else. She spent many an evening cutting those pieces just so, sewing them end to end, folding them into long strips that she then braided and sewed into an ever-growing oval. There's just the trimming of little threads, adding a few more supporting stitches here and there to strengthen the braiding, then as soon as Fivel gets home from work, she will ask him to help her drag the rug into their new room, unroll it and settle it by their bed.

Bitsy and the twins, Tatiana and Trieste will be moving into the other new bedroom. It is larger than their current one and, where there's three of them, Bic and Ben will take the smaller room. Sir Fivel fashioned three new single beds (the existing bunk beds will be for the boys) and with the girl's  small bureaus, one between each bed, each will have their own space, yet they can still enjoy each others' company. The bureaus have already been moved, but the beds aren't quite ready, so that will have to wait. All are impatient for the upheaval to be settled, everyone back in their own space and the living room and kitchen free of bedroom contents waiting to be moved. 

Fivelina has a pot of sunflower and acorn squash seed stew bubbling on Walnut Woodstove. She made sesame breadsticks on Sunday, enough to last for a couple of meals, so that'll round out the supper meal tonight along with dried current tarts for dessert. Nobody goes hungry around Fivelina's table, that you can be sure.

Now I really must get up out of this cozy recliner and get moving here. Looks like a dryer-using day. Not much will dry outside on this rainy Monday. Wonder what Fivelina does? Oh, come to think of it, I know. When we went up in the attic to change a lightbulb a few weeks back, I saw the sweetest line of miniature bloomers and pinafores strung across the rafters! When you can't hang 'em outside, why, an inside line is perfect!

Okay, okay! I'm really getting up now.

Monday, April 4, 2016

April Fools?

So Winter 2016 had more characteristics of autumn than not, and now it’s April and it’s snowing! Go figure!  Could it be we’re now having the winter that wasn’t? Perish the thought! Nah… I’m going to keep a positive stance on the matter. The spring bulbs and flowering trees just needed an extra soft cuddly blanket to snuggle into for the frigid couple of nights ahead. Snow blankets them, I’ve read, though I have to say I’ve no desire to be blanketed in snow at any time, sleeping or not, thank you very much.

There’s been lots of activity in UpstairsAttic of late. I suspect we have new tenants, some of whom haven’t learned the local MouseHouse Code of Respect and Quiet yet. I’m certain Sir Fivel will clue them in. Meanwhile, the goings-on have entertained me during several weeks of near sleepless nights.

Recovering from a back injury has me snoozing in the recliner in the daytime, and sleepless under the covers at night. And as some might know, pain-induced sleep deprivation becomes a vicious cycle, one that’s difficult to break!  Meanwhile, I entertain my MouseHouse Ramblings… and with your kind indulgence, I’ll share some here with you.

Sir Fivel and his lady-love, Fivelina are renovating their cozy nest again. Not for the purpose of adding to their family, mind you, they are more concerned with accommodating their growing grandchild population. Bret and Betina’s family has grown yet again—they are the proud parents of twins this spring, two wee boys, Bots and Betwink.

Born a bit too early, there was some concern for their well-being at first, but all is well. Betina carries them close to her chest, swaddled tightly in a wrap-sling made just for that purpose. Her warmth, frequent feeding and constant presence has made the difference in their progress, I’m sure, and reports are they are thriving now.

Meanwhile, Gramma Fivelina has been busy entertaining the quads Bandy, Boswell, Bevvy and Bess. They are in primary school now, so she helps to rush them off in the morning along with Trieste and Tatiana. The older girls take responsibility helping the little ones navigate Downspout Stairway before scampering off to Underground Tunnel that leads, all but a short area of underbrush, leads to Big Rock School House.

After the children leave, she helps Betina tidy the breakfast leavings, make up the beds and start the never-ending laundry cycle, before she rushes off to her own place to do the same. After she mixes the dough for some cornbread for supper, cuts up some seeds and pods for the supper pot and sets them stewing atop Walnut Woodstove, she rushes back to hang scores of nappies out on Bittersweet VineLine. (I’m sure you can imagine how many nappies two wee mouselings need in a day! And just how wee-they-be to stay on two undersized pinklings at that!)

It’s a busy day with laundry and tidying, cooking and cleaning up, and before long, it’s time for the little ones to come home again. Gramma welcomes them at her house (thus the need for larger accommodations) for the afternoon so Betina and the babies can get some much needed rest.

Sir Fivel, Bic, Ben and frequently Bret as well, are all working hard to expand the living area into what used to be the two bedrooms just off the original one, and two new bedrooms are being cut into the attic space beyond. Everything is cut and framed, but there is much work to be done to finish it all. Meanwhile, the contents of the former bedrooms sit in the remains of the old living area, and everything is a bit out of order. A difficulty for everyone, but thankfully all are working hard to finish the job and get things back to rights again.

Bic and Ben are strapping young mouselings now, almost as big as their father. They are strong and capable, and both carry on many of their papa’s nobler characteristics. Oh, Bic is still a bit of a cut-up on occasion, and Ben is most definitely the quieter, more reserved of the two, but there’s no doubt about their heritage—they are Sir Fivel’s sons.

Fivelina hears the little ones tripping up the stairs just as she finishes putting raisin pieces on warm spice-bars fresh from the oven.  

“Meme… we’re home!” squeaks little Besse as she pushes through the doorway, tiny mittens hanging from the string pulled thru her coat-sleeves, a scarf trailing out behind her, dragging on the floor. “Did you miss us? Huh?” she twinkles looking longingly at the goodies cooling on the table.

“Hi Meme…” Bevvy greets quietly. “Something smells really yummy…”  She sheds her coat demurely, hanging it neatly on the lower hooks Grampa Fivel put behind the door just for them.

Suddenly two boisterous boy-mice scramble up the stairs, laughing and tagging one another all the way. They burst through the doorway, coats flying, school bags overflowing, lunch pails in a heap at the door.

“Excuse me sirs!” Gramma Fivelina speaks firmly. “Is this how we enter the house with all this noise and cluttering?”

Both stop in their tracks. “Sorry Meme… no, we weren’t thinking. We’ll pick up our things now.”

Fivelina cuffs their ears lovingly, “Indeed you will. Put your school bags and lunch pails neatly by the door, hang up your coats and go wash your hands. Snacks will be ready shortly.”

Tatiana and Trieste come in next. “Hi Mama… how was your day…?” Trieste asks quietly.

“Very busy, dear… and yours?”

“It was okay. I have a lot of homework to do though.”

“Me too…” Tatiana joins in.

“Well, help me get the little ones fed and settled, then you can go off and do your studies.”

Snack time comes alive with chatter, giggles and excited squeaks. The boys have all they can do to stay in their seats while they eat. Bandy is overflowing with all the adventures of the school day and has to be reminded several times, “Chew-swallow-then-speak please!”

A sheepish grin followed with humble compliance follows before he continues, “So then Miss Winklesnout said we should find some leaves to make fossils in the mud… but the mud and leaves are all buried under the snow, so how can we do that!?” Boswell reasoned worriedly. “How does she expect us to do that? Did through the snow?”

“I suspect the snow will be long gone in just a day or two…” Gramma Fivelina assured, “it is April after all, and you’ll find lots of leaves lying around when it melts, and mud too.”

Ravenous appetites soon put away the spice-bars and apple-juice and each carried their plate and cup over to the wash-pan in the sink where, one by one, they wash and rinse their dishes before setting them in the drainer on the side-board to dry.

“Thank you, my dears…” Fivelina praises. “I appreciate you doing your part to help. You can go over and help your Grampa now, boys… but be sure and do what he tells you and don’t get in the way of progress, understand?”

“What’s progress, Meme?” Bandy asks with mischief sparkling in his eyes.

“Go on with you now! I’ve work to do!” she fires back with a little tweak to his cheek.

Tatiana and Trieste have retired to the one area of the living room not currently torn up for reconstruction. They settle on the sofa to do their homework wit h Besse and Bevvy on the large, colorful rag-rug nearby. They play with their rag-mice dolls and Meme’s bag of scraps. They’re learning how to make simple draw-string clothes for their babies, with Gramma’s help, of course. They thread pieces of yarn thru the neck opening of a simple sack she helped them sew earlier. Slipping the gathered area over the rag-doll head, and tying the yarn in a bow, makes for pretty dresses or nightgowns for whatever occasion imagined today. The best part was it entertained them for hours while Fivelina saw to other chores.

The little ones go home to their own place for supper and bedtime, with either or both Tatiana and Trieste often going along to help their sister, Betina with the evening chores.

After the supper, Fivelina retires to her rocking chair and takes up her needlework for some much deserved quiet time. On more than one occasion, Sir Fivel has had to waken her when he is done with the evenings progress on the new room.

“Come, my dear. It’s off to bed with you. There’s not much being accomplished with that knitting in your lap, and you clearly need some rest.”

The snow continues to fall lazily on this April evening. MouseHouse Village is settling in after their busy day. All’s quiet in the attic just now. Wonder if Sir Fivel has put up any MouseHouse Rules of Etiquette postings yet. I must inquire about the new residents and make some introductions. So often a polite and respectful inquiry is the seed for more genteel behavior of all parties.

Excuse me while I go stir the soup-pot. I must start the cornbread too for its nearly time to settle close to the wood-fire, dip cornbread chunks in steaming bowls of thick soup on this snowy April night.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Heart and Flowers

Hearts, flowers, candy and yes, the enormous cash-flow that have merchants blinking dollar signs. It’s here again—Valentine’s Day!

Have you noticed some of said-merchants are reaching out to the singles population this year? As though buying the Singles Sundae special, or the Longing Lattes or long-stems, will help assure membership in the ranks of the Loved and Lavished. Somewhat pitiful, but hey… whatever will increase the bottom line. It’s a clever marketing ploy, I’ll give ‘em that.

Now in MouseHouse Village, they know nothing about this originally pagan festival, Lupercalia, nor its accompanying celebration of fertility (mice really don’t worry about such things!) Nor do they care that Pope Gelasius recast the pagan tradition as a Christian feast day sometime around 496, and proclaimed it St. Valentines Day. Nope. It’s all meaningless to them.

Now love on the other hand. That’s a different story. Sir Fivel, love hearts. As you know if you’ve been following the story line, he’s known for his heart-shaped etchings on furniture he designs, especially those made for his lady-love, Fivelina. They grace many little cradles and carriage beds he’s designed for the Village babies as well. So he knows about hearts, both the wooden ones and the one he has for his true love.

And flowers. It’s a commonality in the Fivel Home to see a wild-flower bouquet on the table, or tucked on the bureau next to their bed, complements of said romantic gentlemen most any time of year. Quite frequently, I’ve seen him trudging up Downspout Staircase, work satchel in one hand, and a pretty bouquet clutched in the other, held behind his back until she opens the door. He smiles mischievously, then bashfully holds it out to her. The delight on her face is a given, every time, and the kind of devotion they hold for each other, well, that is a joy to behold.

Candy. Well, there aren’t any heart-shaped cardboard boxes full of chemicals-shaped-like-chocolates at MouseHouse Village, but delicacies abound. Dew-kissed wild-berries, the choicest, plumpest acorn ever, or a piece of sun-dried sunflower ripe with fat black seeds, tucked into a grass-made basket with a little sprig of mint and a bow… now that’s a box of mouse-lady candy, let me tell you! And these gifts aren’t once-a-year occasions either. No, they are ongoing tokens of love and appreciation.

Yup. It’s a fact. We could all learn something from God’s humbler creatures.




Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Footprints in the Snow...

February 10, 2016

Did you hear that rumbling, snore-stopping, tell-tale roar approaching at dawn? Loud enough at first to disrupt a pleasant snooze, but as it looms closer the window rattling, bed-shaking vibration dissolves any thought of sleep. Eyes fly open in recognition. Snowplow! Snowing again? Really?

Good morning, February. For sure it’s a sugar-frosted one, and to say it’s a beautiful sight—well, no argument there. Guess we knew the balmy-autumn-spring days had to end sometime. Do I like the cold? Nope. Or the icy, rutted driveway that has me guessing every time I go out whether the car will do a one-eighty before I reach the road? Nope.

Do I like the crackling fire in the woodstove? Yup. And my cozy fleeces and floppy slippers? Yup. And of course a fresh hot cuppa with a good helping of raw honey stirred in. Double yup.

Still, a girl has to get out of the house now and then, so I bundle up to step out onto BackPorch. There in the snow (yes, there’s even snow on screened-in BackPorch) are tiny—and I mean tiny footprints in the snow. Hmmm. Wonder who’s been out and about from MouseHouse even in this stormy weather. I peer closer. Definitely tiny mouse feet, no doubt about it.

And they start near MouseHouse, so it would seem that someone ventured from there of late. Yet their size would indicate a wee mousling, not Sir Fivel himself, with his tell-tale, one-slightly-turned larger feet.

And speaking of the gentleman mouse, I hear a tiny squeak above my head, and look up to see him quietly exiting their cozy home, bundled up against the snow with his heavy wool cap, a warm jacket, and a scarf wrapped about his neck, fringed ends flying in the wind. He carries his cane this morning—indicative that his leg is bothering him today, and carrying a fair-sized satchel under his arm.

“Good day to you, Ma’am…” he greets politely, nodding slightly. “Sorry about that squeaky door. Must tend to that soon…” he apologizes. I smile in amusement. “No apologies needed, Fivel… I’m sure! What brings you out this cold, blustery morning?”

“Oh, just some finished orders to deliver. Mrs. Rue is expecting her babies soon and her hubby awaits these rocker frames…” his head tipped slightly to indicate the contents of the satchel, “… he’s waiting for them so he can finish the double cradle he’s making.  By the size of her… well…” he paused, blushing slightly, “er…well, they expect more than one or two mouselings you see.” 

“My! No, I hadn’t heard. Please wish them my congratulations. I would love to hear when the blessed event occurs.”  I tried to alleviate his embarrassment by changing the subject. “I saw little foot-prints in the snow this morning, here inside BackPorch. Wondered if everyone is well and accounted for up  at MouseHouse this morning. No missing mouselings or anything?” I pointed to the tell-tale prints.

“No, Ma’am… ours are all tucked snug in their beds this morning. I just peeked in on them before I left.”

He lumbered down to take a closer look. “My, my! I don’t know who that would be, but look… it leads over to your covered porch furniture.”

Sure enough. We stepped closer to investigate. I lifted the edge of the green plastic cover, pulling the elastic edge back enough to discover the tip of a tiny pink tail hanging out between two stacked chairs.

“Whose that hiding in there!” Sir Fivel demanded firmly.

The tail disappeared, but a tiny brown face appeared in its stead, large worried brown eyes stared out at us. “It’s me, Sir. Rufus Blackwell. I couldn’t find my way home, Sir, and I don’t know where my family is.” A little hiccupped sob punctuated the latter.

“Come out of there, young feller…” Sir Fivel held out a helping hand. “You come right upstairs to MouseHouse and Mama Fivelina will get you warmed up and fed. Then we’ll see what we can do about finding your folks.”

A shivering little mound of misery eased the rest of the way out from his hiding place, and as he did, a little stain of red oozed from his hind foot.

“Why, you’re injured, young man. How did that happen?” Sir Fivel inquired.

The little mouse stared up at me apprehensively. “I’m sorry, Ma’am… I think I tore your screen as tried to get in here…”

“No harm done, Rufus. We’ll repair it in the spring. But you need to get in where it’s warm and get that foot tended to before you get an infection in it.”

“What’s an infection, Ma’am?”

“Never you mind now…” Sir Fivel admonished. “Come… you are nearly frozen…” And with that they headed toward Downspout Staircase.

“Leave your satchel down here, Sir Fivel…” I suggested. “You can pick it up on your way back.”

“Thank you, Ma’am. I may just do that.” And with that, he dropped it right there, under Overhang Roof and the two of them limped back up the stairway.

I heard the little squeak of the door as they went inside, and Fivelina’s concerned lament as she greeted them.  “Whatever do we have here…??”

Glad to head back into the toasty kitchen, I shed the layers and warmed my hands around a freshly poured mug of tea, sweetened to my liking with—you guessed it, a generous helping of raw honey.

Oh the adventures of a snowy morning at Hare Hollow!