Tag Archives: cottage

The Heart Not The Shell


Bittersweet – adj.  pleasant but tinged with sadness

I have heard this word close to a dozen times in the last few weeks.  I guess you could say that it’s the word that fits the circumstances best.   Pleasing to the mind that we have one less wasted expense, yet sad that something we hoped for as our future and enjoyed in our past is now being passed on.

We’ve sold three homes and now two cottages, the last of which was to one day be our retirement.   It was the place we actually lived, without the hustle and bustle of everyday life, without phones and with minimal distractions.  We shared our time with friends new and old, enjoyed nearly 10 years of Christmas memories, and submerged ourselves in the beauty of the northern woods.  Hence the bitter…..

We rejoice in the plans that God holds before us, in the future we know not.  We know that His plan is greater than ours and that He will provide for us a retirement filled with even greater blessings than a house made of wood.  Ahhh…. the sweet…..

As the kids and I pulled off of the expressway two weeks ago to begin the packing and moving process, we each silently, without words, wept.  We drove the 8 -10 miles with tears streaming down our faces…. up the driveway, knowing what was yet to come.  When we first got there, we sat at the bottom of the driveway looking around at the cottage that silently waited our return, looking then to the leaves that have taken on their new look with brilliant colors of yellow, orange and red.   A memory not soon forgotten.

We managed to pack enough up that what was left over was significant enough to attempt a rummage/garage sale.  So, at 4 p.m. I went out to buy signs, put them out for the next day and we loaded up the garage.  I was stunned to see that by the next day at 4 p.m. we had sold more at that sale than in any sale I’ve had in my 20 years of hosting them.   We took the leftovers to Goodwill, filling an entire bin.   In two days we had cleaned out and packed up the basement storage room, two bathrooms, all the linens, the basement living area, one entire bedroom, 85% of another bedroom,  2 closets and all of the decorations/wall hangings except those on the mantle.  It took us one more day to finish two more bedrooms, one closet, and the garage.  We also packed a trailer, my truck and at the end of the trip another car.  There is still more to do, yet we are hoping that we will enjoy a little bit of our last week up there when we go up to close.  Knowing how much we can accomplish in such a short time, we are thinking a week will provide the closure we need to this chapter in our lives.  Prayerfully this time with fewer tears.  🙂

After we had packed up most of the house, we looked at the empty rooms and realized that it is just a shell… a beauty of a shell, yet still a shell.  The heart of the house is in those who dwelt there and the memories that were made there.

Some of the memories this trip:  Packing, rummage/garage sale on last minutes notice piggy backing on someone else’s advertisement without our knowledge, Elk farm where we saw the babies, taking senior pictures in the woods and in the beautiful leaves, leaf crafts …. we really like Pinterest! and all of the animals that came out to say goodbye!

Leaving, God blessed us with some amazing sights.  We saw the doe who gave birth to triplets this year walking through the yard, the wild turkeys walking by the driveway and in the yard (too many to count…)  we saw a beautiful orange fox with a huge fluffy tail and a bald eagle that soared over our heads.   It was as if they were all saying goodbye to us as we left our native state.

Bittersweet…a word that made it’s debut in the early 1600’s to describe something pleasant yet sad.




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The heart of the home!

Our House, Not A Mouse House!



Let’s set the scene:

Usually, mornings begin with two cats meowing in every room until they have woken someone up that will take their plea and feed them.  Because we make them their food “fresh to order”, at 6:00 a.m. it’s at least a 15 minute process to get someone up.  Once they are fed, they go their separate ways and sleep for another 5 hours while the person who fed them is up for the day.

Well, on the morning of the day we were leaving the cottage to go home, everyone was up when I came down the stairs.  To my surprise, I walked into the kitchen to find both cats sitting in front of the sink staring at the cupboard.  Now, this struck me as odd for several reasons.  First, since everyone else was up, I knew they had been fed, so why were they sitting in front of the sink.  Secondly, after 3 years of having the second cat they are learning to like one another, however,  they would rather be separate so why were they sitting next to one another by choice.  Thirdly, when someone walks into a room, they usually get up and come toward that person with affection, however, this time they didn’t move.  They only looked at me as if there was a plot brewing that they didn’t want me to interrupt.  Hmmmm…..

Are you getting a visual yet?  I asked everyone what was up and also whether or not the cats had indeed woken anyone up that morning.  I mean, I had not heard a peep from them.  Everyone looked up and thought about it admitting that they too had not been awaken  by the two felines.  Okay, the plot is thickening.   After about 15 more minutes, the mature cat finally walked away to hide as she realized we were all up, luggage was by the door and we were going to be rounding them up to place them in the crates for the ride home.  The 3 year old cat stayed in the kitchen for at least another hour going from one cupboard to another and then planting himself in the middle of the floor with a visual scope of both cupboards.  At this point, I knew we had a visitor.  I knew there was a trap in one cupboard under the sink, so I looked there first to find it empty.  Okay, strike one.  Then I went to the next cupboard and upon opening it I heard it, scratching in the corner.  With a scream I slammed it shut and told everyone else it was confirmed, then I got the traps.  We left the kitchen quiet for about a 1/2 hour, the cat left and all agreed it must have gone out the way it came in.  Uh huh… yeah… could it be that simple?

We did the dishes, finished packing, and were finishing up packing the cooler when this scene played out for 45 minutes:

“Um, mom…hey guys….I just saw the mouse run past under the windows and he’s behind the wine rack.” said our son.

“What?  Are you sure?” was my first response. Along with my leap from my feet being planted on the floor to now being planted on a chair.  Another shriek came from my mom who, as my son said in his Phil Robertson impersonation, “Was standing on the cooler shaking like a sinner on judgement day.”

Gary walked in the room to find us all yelping, trying to decide what to do as the mouse ran from one side of the corner to the other trying to figure out his next leap of faith.  It was decided to get two pans to try to catch it.

“There he goes…he’s behind the TV. ”

“Oh no, now he’s climbing the fire place.”

“Where did he go? ”

“There he is behind the ice skates.  Oh no, block the front hall so he doesn’t go up the stairs (which is now where I was, after all we needed an eagle’s eye view from the loft…safety). ”

“Move the luggage so he doesn’t go in it otherwise he’ll be in the car.”

“Quick now he’s behind the TV again.”

“Now he’s under the love seat, now the couch.  Hurry, he’s now under the table.”

“Oh no, now he’s in the wine rack.”

Behind each declaration of movement, came a shriek, a yelp or a scream.  Finally, my mom suggested getting the vacuum.  This of course led to debate from the 17 year old, Gary and myself.  I of course am yelling for urgency and the two men debated strategy.  In the mean time the mouse had his own strategy as he darted around the living room trying to escape his possible demise.  I mean, can you only imagine what he was thinking?  “The lady upstairs has the right idea yet she ain’t comin down.  These two aren’t looking at me and they are just standing there debating.  Now’s my chance.”

Now, at this point you could be asking yourself, what about the cats.  Well, one was locked in a bathroom and the other one was hiding under the chair in the living room freaked out over the commotion.  Until that is, the mouse thought he was being smart and ran under the chair only find he ran into a ball of fur.  I laugh at wondering what the cat did when she saw him under the chair with her.  Both ran out and the cat took an interest in the mouse, however, because she wasn’t taught how to mouse, she didn’t quite know what to do.  The mouse realized he had another chance for escape and ran the opposite direction back under the couch.  The cat went and hid behind a table.  Are you picturing this?  I kid you not, 45 minutes of this….

Finally, as the clock now ticked past the departure hour,  strategy turned into urgency and a pan was placed over him and the vacuum shoved under until we saw him in the see through canister.  Vacuum turned off.

“Now what do we do?”

With urgency once again, I screamed “Get the vacuum outside, carry the whole thing down the street before you release him.  Let him be someone else’s house mouse!”

People were walking their dog  and I wonder what they thought as the two men carried that vacuum down the street to the corner.

So much for doctors order of doing nothing.  I exerted more energy in 45 minutes than I had in 10 days combined.  My husband and son thought the little guy was cute, however, I reminded them house rules:

“Leave the animals, spiders, worms, bugs, etc. alone when you are outside.  That is their home.  However, if they are in our home, we have the upper hand and it’s a free for all.”

Newsflash…”Keep all doors shut.  They can slip past you when you are not looking.  When there is 5 feet of snow outside, of course the outdoors is going to want to come in.”