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Summer of the mouse

AUGUST 19, 2007
Our family cottage is like heaven on earth. A rustic log cabin on a tranquil lake, sugar maple forest covering rolling hills. Secluded with lots of room to roam. The sound of loons laughing in the distance. Wood-fired sauna and a small sandy beach to splash and play. Fire pit for roasting marshmallows and hammock to loll about and read a book.

Nine days away from the studio. I had a plan. The cottage plan. The idea was to tire the kids out, and then kick back and relax. Sounds simple enough, but then reality hit me upside the head.

My kids are high energy types - like dogs, you need to run them every day & then they slow down enough to listen to what you are saying. Take them out for a bike ride and swim and  let them run around on their own. After a six hour drive, I released the boys and the dog and they all headed straight for the water while Kim and I unpacked the car and started setting up. It took the remainder of the day and most of the next morning to get the bikes set up, the canoe in the water, the sauna stoked and the hammock hung. Perfect weather. The kids were still bouncing around but I was the one who was worn out. I needed a good night's sleep and a chance to regroup.

The first mouse trap went off at about 10:15. That happened almost every night. The second went off shortly after sleep started setting in. Empty the trap and reset. Lay awake listening -- is it quiet? Do I hear something? Ohmygod I do. Where is it?

The kids slept through all this, they could sleep through a train wreck. After about an hour or two, wide-eyed in darkness, I would finally drift off again. Snap.

Every morning I declared that all the mice had been caught. I believed it. I wanted to believe it. By the fifth night I found a mouse hole underneath our bed and was hammering and caulking it shut until 2 am. I really thought that solved it.

I have to say- my vacation plan worked for the kids - they settled in nicely around the third day and the dog got real mellow too. Kim and I were bleary-eyed and high-strung. We left for home on the seventh day, two days early. Fifteen mice. I was getting a lot of calls for work and we decided the mice had won this round. I talked to other people who own cottages and they all said this year was a bad one, some kind of spike in the rodent population. Usually we catch one or two over the course of a week. Some years there are no signs or squeaks at all.

Back home, I socked in at the studio and got a good night's sleep . I decided I had to give the cottage another try. Two weeks later I was back with one of the boys. I met my parents and worked with my dad on the treehouse.  I helped a bit with framing the walls and putting them up. Went cycling around the lake. Caught a few nice fish and fried them up for lunch. Bliss. Peace and quiet. I wish I could say there was no mice this time, but I did catch a couple. This time around it was pretty quiet through the night. No ugly surprises.

Kim reminded me there were lots of great moments with the kids, and that's what you take away. Watching a loon pop up 10 feet in front of the canoe. Seeing a doe and 2 fawns cross the gravel road on the way in. Running jokes and spooky stories around the campfire. Memories are made of this.

Next year's going to be great. We can all sleep in the treehouse, right? No mice up there. I believe.
The view from the treehouse deck, looking into the trees. The lumber and plywood is loaded up front for the walls and roof.
Treehouse update --

My dad stayed on an extra week, to get the walls up. The roof will come this fall. Shingling should be a real adventure! Got vertigo?
With the walls up, north side. Looks a bit birdlike. Most of the windows will face south.
Topical: fun