Mouse Moves House and So Do We

We are planning to move. It’s not a long-distance move to another country or across our own land. Not even to another state. And we are not retiring to Florida. Why, we’re already there. And we’re not moving to another city. Our re-location involves a move just 9 miles south in the same quadrant of Jacksonville.

But it is a gigantic step for us. We have lived in our current homestead for 37 years. Our children grew up here, and when I open the kitchen door to the garage I see pencil marks revealing Crista and Joel’s increasing heights since their ages of 8 and 9.

People in our age demographic make similar moves, often called downsizing. A Texas couple, Joe and Judy Powell, had a ranch to sell, 20-acre cattle ranch, mind you, in order to move to a nearby college town. Their move involved a huge acreage to a small property, from rural to town.

Photo credit; AARP magazine online
Photo credit: AARP magazine online


Of course, Cliff and I have accumulated lots of stuff, which about a year ago we’ve started sorting through, recycling, keeping the most necessary and precious. An art-creating husband and book-reading/writing wife produce/save lots of stuff.

About the Stuff 

Yes, we must cull, re-cycle, throw out, even. We have called the city for bulk recycling pickups.

To save one must value. And to throw out, one must value moving on.    ~ Mary Peacock, The Paper Garden




What I’ll Miss

  • My clothesline. Our new homeowners association won’t permit such. I’ll look at old videos of sheets flapping.
  • The dowager live oak tree on the edge of our property spreading its sheltering arms . . .


  • Wall space to display my husband’s art work. Our new home has an open floor plan and limited space for drawings and paintings.

The Emotional/Philosophical Shift

Before, during and after the move, we have felt and will continue to feel out of sync. Our daily rhythms will be interrupted for a time. We’ll have to get used to operating in a new space. We’ll feel out of balance for a while, a sensation I am already experiencing.

In the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory, the transition to a new home ranks # 28 on a list of 43 life events, coming far after major events like the death of a spouse, serious personal injury or illness, change in job or even retirement. Truthfully, I think I would elevate moving to a higher level. Anyone who has changed addresses recently may agree.

Writer and blogger Sharon Clymer Landis discussed an imminent change in her household last year, observing parallels between the physical and spiritual aspects of moving to a new location:

She says, “As we work our way from the comfort of the known, from the cozy nest, inching toward our edges before slipping into the wild unknown, we are usually filled with doubts, fears and dread.  How little we trust the process, or God’s great holding of us, or the drawing towards growth that results in greater love, spaciousness, and freedom.”

When we finally take flight, we realize the air under our wings is the same air that lined our cozy nest. The nest, the struggle to launch, the flying, and the very air around us is all part of the Great Holding. 


The Move and Story-telling

As she continues, author Landis draws an analogy between physical moves and good storytelling:

Good storytelling often moves us forward, opens a reader’s heart toward greater understanding or toward something in life’s horizon. Add the element of God, of the Divine Mystery (how do those stories and images end up right where we’ll find them when we need them?) and you’ve got a hint of how things work:  equilibrium to disequilibrium, and back to equilibrium…on and on in the cycle of life and growth – kissed by Eternal Wisdom, a God holding us in Love always. Whether we’re in the midst of being drawn to concepts or changes beyond our understandings, whether we’re dug in and resisting, or flying wild and free, we are equally loved!


A Story Told

“Flying wild and free” evokes the image of a bird in flight, not usually mouse movements. But a storybook mouse can go wild and move. Maybe you remember reading Mouse Moves House, a charming children’s book by Phil Roxbee Cox.

Ian's family is moving this spring, mimicking Mouse Mack.
Ian’s family is moving too this spring, mimicking Mouse Mack.

Mouse Mack, backpack in tow, appreciates his friend Jack, who helps him pack and load his stuff onto a moving van named Fat Cat.


How have you experienced moving?

You must have some advice for me and other readers. Here’s where to share it.


Fishing on the Delaware 1950s

Daddy was an avid hunter (pheasants and deer mostly) and an eager fisherman. The outdoors took him away from the stresses of his business, Longenecker Farm Supply, and helped him literally recharge his batteries. I never went hunting with him, but he invited me once or twice on deep-sea fishing trips in my early teens.

Many summers ago, friends from Bosslers’ along with a few relatives chartered a boat and went deep sea fishing in the Atlantic south of the Delaware Bay. Unlike the New Testament disciples who fished with empty nets all night long until they followed the wisdom of Jesus, we PA Dutch fishermen hauled “em in right and left”– starboard and port. And unlike the disciples who had to cast their “nets” on the other side, we had a great catch without switching to a different strategy. Unbelievably, we novice fishermen were rewarded with a net-breaking haul of bass or trout. Somehow the figure of the number 68 (or maybe it was just 65) sticks in my mind as the amount of fish I caught single-handedly that day. Others easily topped my number. No fish tale here!


(I’m the one with the bandanna and sweater on the left side of the boat; Daddy is grinning behind Uncle Paul whose hand is raised.)

Ray holding fish_final_4x4_300 (1)

Generally, I had a strained relationship with Daddy. The stories of the ill-begotten bike and his unannounced violin purchase on earlier posts underscored his lack of knowledge of relating to me as his oldest daughter and subsequently my resistance to his overtures toward making a satisfactory connection.

But outside the walls of our house, taking walks or catching fish together, such barriers disappeared. These photographs evoke these pleasant memories, times when we were in tune with nature and with each other as father and daughter.

Childhood that place where purity of feeling reigns, was merging into adolescence, where ambiguity begins.

Mary Peacock in The Paper Garden  

And that is where I was, the age of ambiguity and change.

  *  *  *
Comments? A question? An anecdote from your own experience growing up. 

What Will You Be Doing At 72?

Now you are probably thinking . . . age 72 is a long way off, or it’s just around the corner. Either way, it’s a question worth pondering.

In 1700 the average life expectancy was 37. In fact, 40 would be pushing it. Yet, in that very year Mary Granville Pendarves Delany was born and lived to be 88. More impressive is the fact that at age 72 she invented mixed media collage and eventually created “an astonishing 985 botanically correct, breathtaking cut-paper flowers, now housed in the British Museum and referred to as the Botanica Delanica.”

Image: Courtesy of Good Reads
Image: Courtesy of Good Reads

Poet Molly Peacock, author of The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delany begins her life work at 72, recreates the “Aha!” moment for Mary Delany early in the book:

One afternoon in 1772 [the recently widowed Mary Delany] noticed how a piece of colored paper matched the dropped petal of a geranium. After making that vital . . . connection between paper and petal, she lifted the eighteenth-century equivalent of an X-Acto blade . . . and began to maneuver, carefully cutting the exact geranium petal shape from the scarlet paper.

Then she snipped another and another, beginning the most remarkable work of her entire life.

". . . if a rose had a round watch face" (65)
“. . . if a rose had a round watch face” (65)

Her most famous and popular image is the Damask Rose, appearing on postcards, place-mats, tea towels, and canisters. The main flower includes about 71 pieces of carefully cut papers, covering the gamut of pinks from slivers of red to blush and “under-the-finger-nail pink.”


Nodding thistle, a cousin of the dandelion, with swirling foliage

Operatic Opium Poppy
Operatic Opium Poppy

The theatrical-looking opium poppy is cut from a single green piece of paper. “The whole effect is of a kimono-like gown billowed by a breeze, like the robe of a star soloist falling down from her shoulders” upside down (118).

" . . . lines swoop and swoon with freckled energy" (141)
” . . . lines swoop and swoon with freckled energy” (141)

Mary Delany’s output was phenomenal. In 1777, the year she constructed the passion flower, she cut out her collage/mosaics at the rate of one per day, and between the ages of 77-87 creating one every four days (185).


For the passion flower, Mary Delany cut out 230 petals scissored “like little grass skirts, where the strands of grass are attached to a belt” (169). She made up her colored papers . . .  washing whole sheets of paper in varying hues. In the case of the passion flower, olive, loden, beige ivory for the leaves, and the flower rust, red, purples, deep and pale pinks, lavender. To the pigments she added gum arabic, honey, ox gall to prepare and preserve the papers. All done on a matte black background, always on dramatic black.

Mrs. Delany was born into the aristocracy with a wide circle of friends which included composer George Frederic Handel and the satirist Jonathan Swift. John Wesley even courted her. Yet her posh outer life was checkered with challenge: an arranged teen-age marriage to an aging drunken sot, problems with cash flow, at mid-life the loss of her soul-mate, Patrick Delany, a man who knew her worth, then deaths of close relatives, and finally her own illness.

Yet like her flowers, cut with a blade, not outlined by a brush, Mary Delany blazed a path for herself with a scissors, scalpel, tweezers, and needle. Combined with her imagination and gutsy determination, she made art that endures.

Age is the sum of all we do.

Charles Bulkowski, quoted by Molly Peacock (343)

The root of the word inspiration is “breath.” What activity do you do that inspires you, gives you energy?

Or takes your breath away – maybe even give you a second wind?

What will you be [still] doing at age 72?

The career of flowers differs from ours only in audibleness.

Emily Dickinson, Letters

Our conversation together is just a click away. You know I’ll always chime in!