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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.