Thursday, January 9, 2014

Day 4 of the Weather Journal, Mid-Afternoon

I am in danger of falling asleep at my desk.
I was in bed slightly before midnight,
A few minutes before 6 A.M. the usual cat shenanigans started.
'Be quiet!' I snarled, not raising my head from the pillow.
Skitter, scrabble, a tinny clatter as some small object was shoved from my dresser.
Swinging out of bed I roared, 'Nellie!' and reached the light switch in time to see Nellie scoot beneath the dust ruffle while his brothers made a dash for the hall, not wishing to be registered as accomplices.
All three crowded at the sliding door no doubt sensing that a reconnoiter of the dooryard would not this morning freeze their paws.
I shoved a chunk of wood in the living room stove and went grumpily back to my bed.
I didn't want to start the day, nor did I want to fall into that troubled dawn sleep that usually ends when a thunderclap sounds in my skull, jolting me awake.
[The crash is silent as the proverbial tree which falls in the woods without a human hearer to define the sound.
I think its called 'exploding head!']

I lay curled under the quilts, reviewing muzzily those items which are not 'worries' but are cached in the mental file of 'chronic concerns.'
Rolling over to glare at the digital clock--a few minutes after 7-- I thumped along to the bathroom and stood under the shower, brief and hot.
Dress in shabby warm clothes, feed cats their tinned treat, set coffee to perk.
[I became a coffee drinker at some point after I turned 50--the one morning cup has become a habit I can take or leave.]
I huddled in my rocking chair taking a weary assessment of myself.
I was aware of the fine persistent 'thrumming'--is it in muscles? nerves? bones?--which is the usual result of prolonged physical effort.
I considered what it might be like to simply vegetate--stay in my chair and read.
I glanced around at various pockets of disorder--large, over-flowing pockets, if truth be told.
It is difficult to sit still and ignore Things That Should Be Done!

I sighed, told myself to quit being dramatic, pulled on my outdoor clothes and boots.
First order of the day: deal with the horse water tub.
Not much water remained in the tub after D. heaved out the huge chunks of ice.
There was only a skin of ice there and it broke apart when I gave a poke.
I wondered if the tub was frozen to the ground.  On the first tentative shove it seemed so.
I rolled under the fence, heaved at the side of the tub.  Over it went, spilling splinters of ice and dirty water.
Into the shop for the long-handled brush J. uses to wash vehicles. Into the house for a 
bucket of soapy water.

The tub still has a rim of stain which would need a more determined scouring with a stiffer brush, but it is cleaner than it was.
J. leaves the water hose stretched out along the slope of the back lawn so it can drain in cold weather.
[He installed a frost-free hydrant near the water tub two years ago. In October while we were in Tennessee, Pebbles used it as a scratching post and broke it.  Resulting water loss before it was discovered by M. was 100 dollars!]
I found the end of the hose and began pulling it round. It was flexible until about 10-15 feet from the faucet, at which point it lay in the heaviest shade from the north corner of the house.

Decades ago in Vermont the retro-fitted water pipes beneath our 150 year old farmhouse froze regularly in winter. I remembered that J. crawled about in the confines of the frigid space with rags and the teakettle which had been simmering all night on the wood stove.
In the kitchen I filled a bucket with hot water from the tap, piled in a collection of clean rags kept for messy jobs. It required two buckets of hot water, my whole stash of rags to wrap the frozen length of hose. 
The last bit ran behind a large shrub [viburnum? I always forget] and its twiggy branches pulled hair loose from my braid as I crawled clumsily about.
On my feet again I was preparing to fetch another bucket of hot water when I heard the faintest of tinkling sounds. Sure enough--water was swirling into the horse tub!

Pebbles has been twice to her clean tub to slurp up fresh water.

Indoors at noon, divested of boots and insulated bibs, ashes taken out, wet rags and other bits of laundry chugging in the washing machine.
I took out a package of ground beef that needed cooking, assembled the ingredients for shepherds' pie, one of the few dishes I make using prepared items: canned mushroom soup for the sauce, canned corn for the veg and [horrors!] instant mashed potato kept only for that purpose.

As I chopped onions, added spices to the beef in the skillet, I considered this is surely one of the times I would like to come indoors from hard labor and find that someone had a delicious meal ready to serve.
I pondered what I would request in such an unlikely circumstance.
A salad, made with a mixture of fresh greens, with small cherry tomatoes, bite-size pieces of broccoli, Greek olives, a mere crumbling of feta cheese, avocado in sickle-thin slices, delicate vinaigrette.
French onion soup served in a brown ramekin, dark and steaming, with a round of crusty bread and cheese floated on top.
Opening tins, stirring ground beef, I warmed to this pleasant fantasy.
No entree needed.
Let's move to dessert.
Something light and decadently rich, dark chocolate, mounds of whipped cream.
Oh well.
I layered the shepherds' pie in two casseroles: a small one to sustain me for the next 2 days, a larger one to stash in the freezer.
Darkness has fallen early. The temperature holds at 40 F.
 I've moved 4 of the rosemarys to their usual place on the front porch.
The 5th and smallest one, always more delicately branched,  looks as though it had been dried by the wind--whether unto death I'm loathe to declare.
The cats are all inside, slumbering in furry heaps.
I washed and dried all their blankets which cover the furniture.
I should like the imaginary 'someone' to fetch me tea:  fragrant brew in a fat pot on a tray--slices of lemon, a flowery cup and saucer, dainty cookies.
Since that's an impossible dream I'm about to put the kettle on and slice some lemon bread.

I've not had time to respond to comments, but am most appreciative of my friends in faraway places who have been cheering me on through the freezing weather.
Thank You!


  1. Chocolate helps to keep you warm in cold weather. Fact.


    1. Chocolate is good for so many things--wonderful for morale!

  2. Glad the weather is finally warming up for you! We've had fog and wet, but fortunately no ice or snow this time around.

    1. I think fog is one of the more dismal weather elements--it can make one feel very isolated.

  3. I bet the cats are wonderful company during these cold days. They are work, no doubt, but a comfort to have around. Dear Pebbles; such a sweet horse.

    1. I cannot imagine a life without cats! I'm not a 'horse person' but have become very fond of Pebbles--I will miss her when the day comes that she is no longer with us.

  4. So much for vegetating! My father always said that work was the best way to keep warm, though he rarely said it when sitting by the fire reading his newspaper.

    1. Your father may have subscribed to the old adage that we are well-warmed by a wood fire--by the work of 'getting up' wood, of carrying it in and --finally-enjoying its warmth as we sit by the fire.

  5. The first part of this made me laugh - I could just visualize the scene:) I'm not surprised that you're beginning to feel tired - I recommend a couple of days of R&R for you once J returns! Glad the weather is easing at any rate.

    1. A sense of wry humor helps to keep a wearying time in perspective.
      When J. is home he carries in the wood--I can look forward to that!

  6. A big freeze is so much work isn't it? We've been lucky with it being so mild so far this winter, despite all the flooding. I love the sound of your dream menu and would very much like one of your fantasy chefs myself!

    1. Weather equals work for those of us living in the country! [As if we'd live anywhere else!] I enjoy meal prep--but not when I'm tired.

  7. I'll bet your homemade lemon bread is far better than any fancy cookies.

    1. The lemon bread was a lovely treat with tea. I add a bit more lemon than the recipe calls for.

  8. I have been thinking of you on your own in the freezing weather. Good to hear that you are coping well and that the animals are such great company!

    Lovely to see a photo of Pebbles in her winter coat.

    In case you wonder why Bovey Belle is not replying.....Her phone/internet line came down with a falling tree in a recent storm, so she can`t get on line unless she goes to the internet cafe in her nearest town.

    1. Thus far Pebbles' coat isn't showing the hairy curls typical of Cushings, so we must be getting an adequate amount of meds into her in spite of her lack of cooperation.
      Thank you for letting me know about BB's situation--I was concerned.

  9. Glad to read it's a tad warmer, and pretty soon you won't be having to do all of this work yourself.

    Your shepherd's pie sounds delicious, one for now and one in the freezer.

    Love and hugs to you and your menagerie.


    1. My heart goes out to you, who must now do all the work around your home. I tell myself this bit of labor is temporary and I can take a break next week.
      Isn't it a good feeling to have a meal in the freezer!

  10. glad you are ok sharon, and that you have the cats for company. such stalwart little companions, arent they?

    Leanne x

    1. I'm sure you understand that I talk to my cats and they have long conversations with me. Cats and dogs seem to know when we need a special out-pouring of their affection.

  11. I'm back, thank de Lord. I was really worried about you and this awful weather, knowing that J was away too. Thanks to DW for letting you know my plight.

    You will have to reward yourself with some me-time and a good book when J returns. It can't have been much fun wrestling with the water supply for Pebbles, and all the other outside chores.

    There's a letter on its way to you, as of this afternoon . . .