Monday, January 6, 2014

Capricious Weather

Very restless weather all day.  It was in the high 50's F well into the afternoon with a wind that billowed the flannel sheets I pegged on the line.
I wanted to be outside, taking advantage of the strange, almost balmy warmth before the record cold blast hits our area.
I fed the barn cats, fed Pebbles.
Looking for a reason to stay out, I decided to snip off the straggling branches of a Knock Out rose--I didn't prune that one in October when its companions were done--there were still a few roses blooming.
I snipped away, but it wasn't a good task for a windy day. 
I turned my attention to the row of cabbages in the lower garden.  We have been harvesting them as needed, stripping off frost-bitten outer leaves, uncovering a few chilled green cabbage worms before reaching the clean solid inner heads.
I found three cabbages that couldn't be salvaged. They seemed to have had a bit too much frost and a soggy rot had set in.
I rescued 7.
There is surely no room in the fridge for 7 cabbages--there was half of a large one already reposing in the veg drawer.
I have Matt's truck in the dooryard while he, with Gina and Jimmy, are taking part in a family holiday.
I made a quick trip to Wal Mart for ground beef, a big bunch of celery and a bag of carrots.
My first batch of French Cabbage Soup [what is French about it?] simmered, filling the kitchen with a savory smell, even as the wind grew stronger and dirty grey clouds billowed across the darkening sky. 
I hurried up to the barn to give Pebbles another pad of hay and shake extra kibble in the cat dish.
Cold rain struck my face as I leaned into the wind.
Within minutes the rain had become sloppy snow.

Back in the kitchen I discovered a few lemons lurking in the bottom drawer of the fridge.
An hour later two loaves of lemon bread cooled on a rack, lemon glaze puddling beneath them.
The needle on the old thermometer in the carport was holding steady at 49 degrees.
The cats, as always, have felt the approaching change in the weather.
The three boys popped in and out until the falling temps dictated closing the sliding doors.
Inside, they milled about, provoking mock quarrels, skittering found objects along the hall floor.
Charlie and Willis went in and out each time I fetched another armload of firewood.
They became indignant at being left in the carport as a thin layer of snow sifted in, blown on the nipping wind.
Coaxed inside they begged to go back out, Charlie fussing at the door, complaining in his silly 
high-pitched meow.

D. and his friend stopped by to inquire if I needed more wood brought in.
I gestured toward the tipple of chunks I had piled around the living room fireplace.
The boys were full of excitement, having driven home from town in the flurry of snow.
They seemed almost as storm possessed as my cats.
Slowly the evening has wound down.
My son phoned telling me it is colder in Wyoming than in Kentucky.
I sat curled in a corner of the sofa, weighted in cats.
Somehow an hour had escaped me!
"I must ladle my soup into containers," I announced. 
"Yes, I should let you go do that," responded H. then happily talking on.
Soup put away, lemon bread sampled and the loaves wrapped in cling film.
Downstairs to stash my bounty in the freezer, trailed by restless felines.
Rather than keep opening the door, letting in cold, I resorted to checking accuweather for our area--at half hour intervals the temp was dropping 8 or 9 degrees.
At midnight it hovered at 20 F.
Notices have already been posted that schools in the tri-county area will be closed on Monday and Tuesday due to the record [for Kentucky] cold.
I will be checking the fire during the night, although the furnace is set to come on at 64 degrees.
Dealing with ice in Pebbles' water tub will be a chore for morning.
J. carried wood downstairs before he left. A fire in the family room will help to keep the house cozy, and hopefully insure that no water lines freeze.
Accuweather now stands at 17 F.
The wind buffets the house, subsides, strengthens again, wailing through the bare branches of the 
dooryard maples.
The cats have curled up in favorite places.
I have done all that is possible to have the barn animals safe and well fed.
The house is tucked up for the night.
The clock has rolled round to the earliest hours of  Monday.
Time for me to put on my warmest nightgown--left draped over my rocking chair near the fire.
My bed awaits, spread in clean flannel sheets with a fleece blanket, a quilt and the shabby charity shop comforter which the cats adore.
For the next 48 hours I am committed to the timeless task of stoking fires and waiting on the weather.


  1. Gosh - such a drop in temperature in less than a day is horrid, and knowing that there is Big Snow on its way doesn't help (we will expect it in about two weeks' time then . . .)

    It sounds like you got yourself organized and harvested the last of the cabbages. Kept cool, they should keep a while. Do you make Sauerkraut at all? I have to say, it doesn't tickle my palate. All I can think of are Stuffed Cabbage (with a mincey rice risotto type filling), and Bubble and Squeak (cooked cabbage fried up with mashed potato - preferably in some fat which has just fried up bacon!). Too much to hope you have room in the freezer?

    I don't envy you the outside chores in the morning - I still have memories of breaking the ice on the ponies' water trough with a hammer and then boiling water.

    Keep warm and safe. How long before Jim is back?

    We "just" have more rain and gales. We seem to not have it too bad inland here, but coastal Wales has been very badly affected (check out Amroth, Pembrokeshire and Aberystwyth, where high tides ripped up sea walls and roads alike. Inland, Tewkesbury is never a good place to live when there's a lot of rain as the Severn floods badly there.

    1. Jennie, I appreciate the little geography lesson included in your comments. I still don't have a good grasp of distances and landscapes there and never sure whether to refer to the country as England [which now includes Wales and Scotland to their everlasting sorrow?]
      We did make sauerkraut decades ago--not a wholly satisfying venture. I could perhaps find freezer room for a pan of stuffed cabbage. The keeping quality of the cabbages may depend on how deeply they were affected by frosty weather last week.

  2. You sound like you have boundless energy Sharon, I flag around midday and its so annoying.
    I'm not sure if I would prefer the cold snow to the wet and windy days we are getting here but thoughts of Spring mean that its only a few weeks and the buds will be showing and it will warm up.
    Lovely post

    1. Briony; I smile whenever comments include a reference to my supposed 'energy!' I can't accomplish the half of what was usual in former years. At that, I've never had great stamina and I waste a fair amount of time to lack of organization. What I have is a plodding determination!
      Winter, anyway in the northern hemisphere has its days when the season seems to drag on and we long for springtime.

  3. As I am commenting, it is -14*F air temp with a wind chill temp of -27*F. It did not take the dog very long to do her business outside this morning.
    I know others have more brutal temps than this though.
    Its a good day to just veg out inside and do inside house things. I like BB's "bubble and squeak" dish.
    Keep the home fires stoked, and the kitties and Pebbles warm.

    1. Vicki; Your home state has some of the more brutal weather I've experienced. Does the wind ever quit blowing?
      In and out all day, but shut the door and drew the curtains just before 5 PM. That's it! Cats can stay inside, I've done all I can to help the horse survive the night!

  4. We've battened down the hatches too, it won't get as cold here, but cold enough. Your cabbage soup sounds good.

    1. Janet; I think your area is even less prepared to cope with prolonged cold than here. The temperature changes have been sudden and extreme all over the country.
      I shared a container of the soup with a neighbor, summoning her husband to stop by for it and a loaf of lemon bread on his way home from town. She called to report that they were enjoying both. It is hearty winter fare!

  5. I have been wondering about Pebbles. I hope that she copes well with the extreme cold. It`s hard for old bones in these winter days.

    Your cabbages would make lovely coleslaw, along with carrot and maybe apple. Perhaps it is just too cold for salads!

    Take care over the coming days as the weather rolls in.

    1. Ann; Pebbles' ups and downs of health have been a concern for several years. She is very uncooperative about the Cushings meds which, according to our vet, should give her another several years of life.
      She has withstood far worse winters in Wyoming, but then, she was younger.
      We've been enjoying several variations of coleslaw, as well as steamed cabbage, cabbage and kielbasa, etc. Having to deal with so many in a short time is challenging!

  6. Are you related to the pink bunny by any chance? By noon I can be worn out, eat lunch, take a nap and that's about it for the day. :-)

    You inspire me very much.

    May you be warm and safe there with your sweet critters and not have too much nasty winter weather for you to handle.

    Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady

    1. Rainey; No great store of energy here--I just keep plugging along. I rarely take naps as I wake up terribly out of sorts and wondering what day it is.
      You are likewise an inspiration. How lovely that blogging lets us share.

  7. Stay warm. In my part of Central IL Accuweather now says -17.

    1. Softie; In the years that J. was trucking we drove through IL often. Pleasant enough in summer with fields of corn, bucolic farms, rather challenging in winter. Staying home in this weather is a real blessing.

  8. We've had similar temperatures here and terrible wind, but it's been dry. Calmer today, but still cold. Stay warm!

    1. Jan; I think its the wind that is so disheartening when the weather is cold. Even the sound of it makes one shiver.
      January is an endurance test!