Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Short Days of December

I fell into slothful habits last week, staying up late to watch 'Doc Martin' and 'Monarch of the Glen' with J. 
via Netflix.
It has been years since I have sat still in front of a TV, therefore this has seemed out of character.
On several dark mornings we 'slept in' until 8--even the cats were content to have a later breakfast.
If the 'boy cats' begin to agitate before daylight one of us, padding blearily along to the bathroom, detours to open the sliding door to the cat yard releasing a furry tide of feline energy into the chilly morning air.
Mornings have ranged from those with frost-crisped grass, cold and crunching underfoot to the balmy restlessness of the solstice.
The 21st was a day of uneasy weather. The wind blew, the sun peered out, then ducked behind 
swift moving clouds. 
In the evening, about 9, the automated weather phone announced the possibility of a tornado moving through the area. J. brought up the doplar weather map on his laptop to track the line of the storm.
Wind shrieked in the chimney, bursts of rain pattered against the windows.
J. put a small flashlight in his pocket. I hastily tidied the kitchen.
[Why? Surely if our house was to levitate from its foundations it wouldn't matter that the supper 
dishes were washed?]
Tornadoes have passed through the region, but we seem to live in a sheltered area just beyond the edges of the storms' usual path; still we always take a few precautions.
When J. reckoned that the storm was about 15 minutes away, we herded the cats downstairs to the family room--other than Mima and Chester who always refuse to cooperate. 
I refilled the cat kibble dispenser I keep down there and took down a bowl of water.
We had noted that as the wind moaned and lashed outside through the evening, the cats  became very 'twitchy' in their behavior. Several of them roamed restlessly up and down the hallway, those nearest the fireplace were uneasy, raising their heads to peer anxiously as each burst of wind rattled down the chimney.
Teasel positioned herself on the small side table in the kitchen--a place she never frequents. Her blue eyes were wide, staring across to the kitchen window, her sleek body still and tense. 
"Shall we go downstairs with the cats?" I queried.  "Waiting for something to happen is very trying!"
J. went out to the carport, ears straining for any change in the sound of the wind.
Willis whisked through the door, damp-furred when J. returned. 
Bundling Willis into the basement, I discovered that most of our feline tribe were ranged on the staircase! Somebody let out a nervous hiss as Willis landed amongst  the displaced cats.
A rumble of thunder, rain driven against the house by a surge of wind, then a subtle sense of 
force moving on. 
The rain fell quietly, the branches of the dooryard trees ceased their anxious creaking.
J. opened the basement door and cats surged through, hastening to reclaim their favored cushioned spots. 
I expected to lie awake for a bit listening to the patter of steady rain and the occasional rumble of 
retreating thunder. 
Teasel landed on my feet.  Chester and Mima appeared from their hiding places to swarm over our pillows, purring ingratiatingly.
We slept.

Contrails and delicate clouds marked the sky on Tuesday morning.

The white vapor trails shimmer in the slanting December sunlight.

I collect the slender branches which the wind brings down and drag them into a pile, breaking them up as I need them for fire starters.  J. apparently being tired of my untidy heap, snipped them into short lengths.  I think his arrangement looks like a house for Pooh or Piglet!

I retrieved the colorful cat print quilt from the local quilt shop on Wednesday and hurried to finish the outer edges with a folded 'back-to-front' binding.  It was shipped out on Friday to our grand daughter in Colorado.

Detail of smaller blocks and machine quilting.

The dooryard was squelchy this morning after a night of rain.
I made the mistake of slogging out in my slippers to tip eggshells onto the compost heap.
Later, properly booted, I made the rounds of the sodden gardens.
In the lower perennial strip, poppies have sprung up where ever seeds fell from the dried pods.
Weeds are flourishing as well in the mild Kentucky winter.

I'm having to concede that the small garden strip near the clothesline isn't a good place for perennials.
In a hard or prolonged rain the soil washes away.
I found two peony roots exposed and red leaf buds visible.
I fetched my trowel and carefully pulled wet earth to cover them. 

In the herb plot near the carport fresh leaves of lemon balm have emerged, crinkled and pungent.
Surely a frosty night will be their undoing.

I went to the garden strip where the winter cabbages are still thriving.
Nellie watched from beneath a rose bush while I picked Brussels' sprouts for supper.

Bobby crouches in the stalks of the Michaelmas daisies.

Willis marches by, keeping a catly eye on his domain.
Colder, clearer weather is predicted by Christmas Eve.
We wait, settling into winter, but mindful that each day will now welcome a few minutes more of light.


  1. I love your cat print quilt, that is a real treasure, just like your cats. I am glad you made it through the frightening weather ok.

  2. I'm glad the storm stepped round you. It sounds like you fetched up in a sheltered spot. It's amazing how mild weather brings some of the spring leaves out on plants - I noticed celandines the other day. As you say though, a stiff frost will do for them.

    We have gales and heavy rain today. NOT good weather to be out in.

    The finished quilt is very colourful and I hope your grand-daughter loves it.

    Merry Christmas from Wales : )

  3. Oh I am so glad that the storm passed you by. Tornadoes terrify me much worse than hurricanes.

    I always enjoy hearing about your life, your work, your critters, and your quilt is beautiful. Very colorful and happy.

    Love and hugs to you and your dear husband.

    May you have a lovely Christmas and a wonderful 2014.


  4. Once again a lovely narrative, how I enjoy your posts written so eloquently.
    I love the colourful quilt, just what I like especially having cats on it.
    Have a peaceful Christmas, I look forward to your 2014 posts.

  5. Your granddaughter is going to love her quilt. What a nice gift to receive in the mail.

  6. Glad you're safe and sound, have a merry Christmas!

  7. So pleased that the tornado passed you by.

    Lovely photos, as ever. I do like your granddaughter`s quilt. I`m sure she will treasure it.

    Have a Happy Christmas with your family and all those dear cat ( and Pebbles of course).

  8. That is such a pretty quilt. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas with your family. I always enjoy popping over to read your posts and see all your beautiful cats. Nelly is such a stunner. Deb