Wednesday, February 12, 2014

'Can Spring Be Far Behind?'

We have experienced a day and a half of sunshine.
Today there have been intervals when a pale and tentative sun has been visible behind a curtain of sheer grey clouds. The air is cold and still, but the thermometer is registering above the freezing mark for the first time in days.  I dragged the rosemary plants back into the house from the front porch last evening, noting with sorrow that many of the branches have browned tips.  I shouldn't have moved them outside again when the deep freeze was [supposedly] ended.
I sat by the fire this morning with a favorite nursery catalog open, pen in hand to mark a few plants and seeds that I would like to order.
Yesterday I bought a packet of rosemary seeds and one of Munstead lavender.  It was a gesture of defiance flung in the teeth of a winter which has seemingly taken a heavy toll of my beloved gardens.

The cats have been alternately lethargic and fractious. Charlie, Nellie and Bobby find warm places to curl up during the day--Charlie has a particular liking for my sewing table when I build a fire and work downstairs.
Come late evening and the three carry on until they are allowed outside in the dark and cold.
Willis has pushed the limits of his privileges as a sometimes house cat, going in and out on demand.
He is not completely trust-worthy in the house at night and tends to make himself scarce if he wishes to spend the night on the daybed downstairs.
On cold nights when I keep the boy-cats inside, they rattle and crash, stalk into the bedroom and make demands in plaintive tones which can't be ignored.
There is no reasoning with cats.

Keeping house these weeks is much about carrying in wood, sweeping up bits of bark and sawdust, carrying out ashes.
Neighbors have posted on Face Book regarding high electric bills from central heating.
We don't rely on our electric heat pump, although as Jim points out, heating with wood is not 'free.'
It provides us with areas in the little house that are cozy, while those rooms more distant from the fire [my 'office' space included] are not welcoming.

In the chill of Tuesday afternoon I noted the activity of three bluebirds.
One sat huddled on the lamp post for some time.

I went quietly out and stood on the front porch steps zooming the camera toward the birds who perched in the goat willow tree.

Each springtime the bluebirds make a great fuss of inspecting the several birdhouses. The one in the willow tree is usually claimed by a family of tree swallows, while the bluebirds prefer the two in the back yard. 
The nesting birds are in constant peril from the resident cats, although J. contrives barricades of fencing wire around the tree trunks. 

I finished a quilt top late last evening.
Keeping a fire downstairs makes the entire house warmer and allows me to sew with all my tools and fabrics ready to hand. 
I suspect I will continue to make Log Cabin quilts because whenever I declare I've made the last one I discover a variation that intrigues me.
This one is called Broken Star Log Cabin.
Although the blocks require the simplest of straight cutting and sewing, the number of 'log' strips involved makes the process fairly time-consuming. 
In this one I used strips of two fabrics which had appropriate colors but became annoyingly too prominent as I began to lay out and stitch the rows together. 
You can see one of the fabrics in this photo--the muted stripe.  I picked out the stitches and replaced the logs in several blocks where the stripe seemed to dominate. 
Quilt makers among my readers may notice that this setting requires blocks of all light or all dark fabrics to 
create the pattern. 

The sun is losing the competition with dark clouds as it moves towards the west this late afternoon.
I must bundle up and tend to a few outside chores, hoping that a foray into fresh cold air will drive away some of the hibernation funk that has me in thrall today.
I've passed the hours telling myself that I might  write letters, I could get on with another sewing project.
In short, I'm having trouble getting out of my own way--I may take my cue from the cats and burrow into my rocking chair by the fire until a hint of spring revives me.


  1. I'm glad you are seeing above freezing temps. Your quilt is yet another lovely creation.

    Get a good night's sleep, if the felines will let you, and have a good day tomorrow and a Happy Valentine's Day.


    1. Rainey; Thank you for the kind words regarding the quilt. I needed the jolt of color during so many dull and cloudy days.

  2. Winter does grow tiresome and garden dreams abound. I bought lovely big pots yesterday for container planting and today the afternoon temperature reached 58F in the sun. Fills me with hope. Love your cat stories and I always wonder what Miss Callie would do if she landed amongst your wonderful feline family.

    1. Hildred; The garden dreams and plans of winter are very easy on the back and aging knees--I must really be practical when it comes to refurbishing the perennial strips this spring.
      Miss Callie would likely have to defend herself from very rude feline behavior if she landed amongst this tribe. There is a definite 'pecking order.'

  3. The first quilt I made was a log cabin and it remains my favourite design, I quite like the variation of the cream areas.
    The weather here is just so awful but ours is rain and floods, luckily we ourselves are not affected but some poor souls have had to evacuate their homes. It seems there is no end to the rain and wind and like you I long for sunshine and Spring.
    Also, as you wrote, the cats are fractious, they don't like the wind or rain and so bicker amongst themselves for amusement. lol

    1. Briony; Log Cabin was one of my first quilts also and I go on liking them in all their variations.
      I love the word 'bicker' as applied to cat behavior--it is very fitting for their little spats.

  4. Ah yes - cats being a pain in the . . . derierre! Our are at times too. I put a litter tray down for Banshee to use. Everyone EXCEPT Banshee used it. She will only go on it if it is freshly cleaned out, and topped up, and even then she will try to avoid it. Hence she gets chucked out regularly.

    Another really beautiful quilt. I am trying to raise enough interest to get back to the girls' quilts, but have another bug on my chest - hopefully "just" viral and not the repetitive one (it's presenting in a totally different fashion anyway). When I couldn't get the matching white material I needed to carry on with the quilts, I got disheartened.

    I got given lots of packets of vegetable seeds recently, so I hold out some hope that they will get started when the soil dries out a little.

    1. Jennie; NOT another chest germ--how discouraging. Have you tried an online source for your white material? If you have a piece left with selvage it should give you the manufacturer and maybe even the color code. I've been able to replace fabric by doing a specific google search.
      Cats! My grand daughter posted on Face Book this evening that her rescue cat, Captain Breakfast [the image of our Charlie] ate her hair tie and then 'puked' it back up beside the bed. We have to love them!

  5. I wish spring would come, I'm tired of the cold weather. Love your quilt. We try to use our electric heat as little as possible using small heaters and the fireplaces, but we still ended up with an awful electric bill. I worry about the people who can't pay for heating.

    1. Janet; Heating costs are surely out of sight for many in the southern states this winter. I suspect that many houses are not built and insulated with cold weather in mind. I feel that I've not often been truly warm since October.

  6. I love that quilt! I think you sent me the link to that setting. It is my favourite, the nicest I've ever seen.
    We had snow here today, great soap flakes, but for only an hour or so.

    1. Kath, Not sure if the link I sent included this Log Cabin setting--I found it in a picture in a quilting magazine and drew it out on graph paper. Should you want to make one, contact me and I'll scan it for you.