Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Why Is It Always Charlie?

Charlie gazes out from his favorite cardboard box. He has another which can be placed upside down and has a rounded "entrance."  If he goes in that one head first he thinks he is invisible--never mind that his fluffy plume of a tail and plump backside may be in view.

J. went to the the lumberyard yesterday for sheets of plywood to put down as subflooring in the attic space which is becoming a bedroom and bath.  Rather than carry the sheets through the house and maneuver them up the narrow new stairway he started the Sky Trak and used the lift to hoist the plywood to the recently installed gable end window where it could be handed through.  Grandson D. came down to help move the plywood, while I finished making lunch. Suddenly, over the grumble of the tractor outside, there was a crash.  I paid it little mind, thinking a sheet of plywood had landed a bit askew on the attic floor.
D. came in, headed in here and said, "Oh, Oh, somebody made a mess!"
I blamed Charlie, then felt guilty as I hadn't seen him dump the plant.
D. reported that Charlie had been watching intently through the window while the plywood was raised and unloaded from the lift.
"We heard a crash inside the room and then Charlie Disappeared" he added.

In the process of crashing the geranium, Charlie managed to overturn the water pot I keep under the bench to fill my steam iron.  Water puddled through scattered soil and around the smooth rocks I use to discourage the cats from pawing at the soil in plant containers. I hastily set the plant back in the dirt while we fetched a rag to mop up with, the broom and dustpan, and finally the vac. A stalk of the plant was broken, so I added it to the jar in which I am rooting similar "slips."

This is the same variety of  Robin Hood geranium as the one which was overturned.  The first of these plants was given to me more than 20 years ago by an elderly lady who had bought the variety decades earlier at the annual spring Flower Show in Boston, Massachusetts.  I treasure it because of my association with her, and because it is an interesting plant, always in flower. It has to be cut back frequently or it goes spindly.  Thus over the years, I've had many offspring to give away and enough rooted cuttings to be sure that I have several of these cheerful things thriving.

Charlie, who usually craves attention, was notably missing during the clean up process. After lunch I looked for him and found him cuddled under the bed with his daughter, Jemima.

As the afternoon grew colder, J. and D. prepared to move the Sky Trak back nearer to the garage--where the block heater can be plugged in for a few hours prior to starting it in the cold.

As the Sky Trak roared to life, Charlie emerged from under the bed, not being one to miss what goes on.

Charlie watches from the bedroom window.  No plants here on the sill.

Charlie inspires exasperation almost daily.  He is an affectionate extrovert, a meddler, not very bright.
[Although he did catch a mouse!]

The sun, which had been elusive all day, sank behind the foothills in a brief flare of pale gold, and our corner of the world huddled into another cold moonlit night.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Weekend Retrospective

In the interest of chronology, I should have created this post before the one below which is relevant to today.  I hadn't messed with these photos previously, and am now too lazy to rearrange the postings.
We had our family Christmas dinner December 20th when our niece and her children could be with us. Son-in-law M. roasted chickens with a wonderful raisin-studded bread dressing.  I contributed two of the chickens [in uncooked state] baked a Hubbard squash which was grown by our neighbors, and a blueberry pie.
On Christmas morning M and G hosted a brunch, which was our farewell time with Susan and children before they headed across the snowy heartlands toward home.

A girl-baby's first Christmas. [Lest you be concerned, the darts have no sharp points; they are magnetic.]

Over South Pass to Howard and Heidi's on Christmas afternoon.  Heidi's Christmas cactus was in celebration mode.

H and H just bought and installed a wood-burning range to replace their pellet stove.  It has a bigger fire box than vintage kitchen ranges, so holds a fire for hours. The red kettle sits on the edge, always ready for a cup of tea.

Pudgy is the only one of the cats allowed in the house--the only one with manners. The room is dotted with cozy rugs for the cat and four dogs. The most cherished spot is directly in front of the hearth--which means stepping carefully to avoid which ever pet is basking in the heat.
Howard's new dog, Katie, is terrified of cameras, cell phones, any device which can be pointed and makes a clicking sound.  She is a short-haired Border Collie, rescued several months ago from the pound. When she came to be part of the canine family, she was pitifully thin, skitterish and had partially healed tears in her back legs which were perhaps made by being caught in barbed wire.
I unwittingly frightened her badly with my camera when we visited there at Thanksgiving, so refrained from taking any photos when dogs and people were in the house.
Katie allowed me to play with her with her rubbery squeaky toy which is referred to as her "brain." At the query, "Where's your brain?" she fetches the bumpy blue oval, presents it and waits expectantly for it to be tossed. 

Heidi's kitchen, although small, is a delightful place of wonderful smells. Chef-quality equipment is used for cooking and baking and for processing game meats.

Chef Piggy is in charge.

Susan instructed me in making these hot mats of folded and layered fabric. This one adds color to Heidi's kitchen.

A wire fence separates the south-facing porch from the strip of garden which is home to various perennials and herbs during the brief mountain summer. The outdoor cats have a heated water bowl and various snuggeries provided for the cold nights. Here Dibble, the terror of mice, enjoys the noon sunshine.

Winter Settles In

J. called me to see the delicate frost formations under the side entry roof.  I stood shivering on the pavers attempting to capture the intracacy of the hanging crystals. None of my photos do them justice.
The furnace exhaust puffs out a few feet to the left of the entry and doubtless causes the cold air to form these dainty hanging ornaments.

Each of these crystal pendants is hung by a thin strand of frost and they turn slowly and constantly in the movement of cold air.

Ice feathers the metal of the entry lamp.

Pebbles waits impatiently for her morning feed.  She is well aware that we are up and about, but not rushing out to fill her hay bin!

These four paperwhite bulbs are a gift from a co-worker.  They were packaged as a "kit" with the plastic pot and a disk of compressed peaty fiber. I dropped the disk into the pot and soaked it with warm water. Several hours later it had expanded and could be fluffed up and the bulbs tucked in place.  These are thriving on the windowsill over the kitchen sink.

The paperwhites planted in November now have three stalks in bloom and their scent is noticeable in the room.

Again I have fiddled with various camera settings but not achieving the kind of close-up I wanted.

At 10 A.M. this is all we saw of the sun, a pale flattened round of light behind the frosted branches of a cottonwood. Half an hour later it has cleared the tree tops and a wash of faintest gold has crept in the south-facing windows.

J. went out to the entry porch with the older camera which, with his greater height and reach, captured better images of the crystal creations.  This was taken at close range and makes the pendant appear huge.

The largest of these ice feathers is about three inches in length.  Others are tiny bobbles ranging from half an inch upwards. Try and imagine them moving delicately in the cold air which is stirred by intermittant puffs from the furnace exhaust.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day in the Morning

The yard is criss-crossed with animal tracks: deer, rabbits, probably daughter's Tarbaby cat. 

The low-riding sun casts deep blue shadows on the snow.

The first floret of the paperwhites greets the cold day from the shelter of a sunny windowsill.

Wishing you all the joy and peace of the Christmas season, good times with family and friends, good health.
Blogging has brought such interesting people into my life.
Although we can't meet to share a meal or a teatime, your photos and words are a source of interest and inspiration!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Day After Snow

This is the quilt I finished at desparate speed so that our machine quilter would have it ready as a Christmas gift for our son and his lady.  It is one of the many Log Cabin/Courthouse Steps variations.  I know the pattern as Primitive Log Cabin.  Simple---but a lot of stitches to chug around all those "logs."

Our clever long-arm machine quilter created a medallion motif for the center of each block and used a meandering leafy pattern for the outer logs and border.

I love the muted earthy colors I associate with New England autumn and these shades prevail in the quilt.

Jemima knows that her presence enhances any quilt photo.

She has very soft plushy fur.

Eggnog is not vain, she simply likes to keep me company.

We are tired from roaring up and down the new stairs, so a nap is in order.  The cats know exactly where the in-floor heat pipes run---favorite warm places.

Several of the paperwhite blossoms are ready to push through the thin green sheaths--full bloom time should be at the New Year.

Teasel has decided to be invisible.

At noon the sun has finally broken through the white shroud of cold mist.

Snow on twigs.

The Count Down to Christmas

Raisin has made a nest in the old comforters that J. has been using to shut off the chilly attic space from the emerging staircase.

The staircase is a wonder to the cats and a place to endlessly investigate once J. stops work for the day.  As snow swirled outside late on Wednesday and the wind blew it into drifts, the cat games began on the stairs.  In spite of heavy plastic and old bedspreads stapled over the opening, the cats went into the attic.  J. re-stapled torn plastic, only to find a cat face peering through from the wrong side.  With the cats all extracted he stapled yet again, stuffed insulation and such into the gaps. The cats continued to find ways into the attic there to sit and wail loudly that they couldn't "get out."
After we went to bed ominous thumps and scuffles overhead indicated their continued exploration of the attic. In the midst of the snowstorm J. installed a window in the gable end. Now the cats can look down on the world from a new vantage point.

J. brandishes the stapler as he comes down from the messy and prickly job of putting up more insulation batts.  The cats said they didn't know him and fled into the bedroom, only to peek out---curiosity overcoming caution.

In ascending order: Chester, Jemima, Eggnog.

Teasel knows that Jemima is just behind the barrier---and waits to poke at her.

Daylight was late and feeble, cold, and with hoarfrost clinging to everything.

J. has been out to give Pebbles her breakfast.

J. still in outdoor Carhartts, has decided to make applesauce, one of his specialties.