Not having posted since Thursday, I need to back up a bit.
Friday, 22nd December, was our son Howard's birthday. He and his wife Dawn planned to be with us by early afternoon, returning home to Tennessee on Sunday.
I needed to make the desserts for our special meal together, as well as do some last minute tidying.
Jim decided to bring in the big black cupboard. He didn't announce his intentions--I glanced out the kitchen window and saw the cupboard being trundled round to the back door on the furniture dolly, so rushed to be helpful.
We were quickly in agreement that the Hoosier cabinet needed to move to the space vacated by the little hutch; the black cupboard fits perfectly between the two windows that look out to the front porch. Not wanting to leave it empty I scrounged up several vintage items and set them on top.
Howard and Dawn [and the dogs] roared in about 1 o'clock, having driven through rain much of the way. The day here was dark, but only an intermittent mist coming down.
Jim whisked Howard off on one of those mysterious errands which are best described as 'going to see a man about a
horse a truck!'
Dawn tied on an apron and stirred up a batch of her famous pumpkin bread.
Various of our cats pretended they had never seen the dogs, Katie and Dixie, and went into hiding.
We had invited dear friends to share the meal and had all set out buffet style by the time they arrived at 6. By then Chester-cat--who suffers from various anxieties--had attached himself to Howard.
Rain pounded down in torrents all of Friday night, drumming on the roof.
By morning the brook bed was full of foaming brown water, pastures were sodden.
It was still raining in desultory fashion when Howard and Dawn loaded up to leave just after noon on Sunday. We had exchanged gifts, sending them off with their choice of two of the shelves we made and a lovely basket made by a local Amish family.
Dawn had chosen treasures for me, including a huge amaryllis bulb in a tall glass planter. You'll be seeing more of that.
The house always seems a bit too quiet, a little forlorn, when beloved guests leave for home.
I took sheets and towels downstairs to the laundry, pottered around a bit, then made myself a snack: several slices of pumpkin bread with cinnamon butter, Earl Grey tea, and a new magazine to enjoy while I ate.
Christmas with our daughter and her family has to be postponed a few days--Gina has worked a long stretch of overtime which has included this holiday weekend.
With Christmas church participation accomplished, celebrating early with Howard and Dawn, we had nothing special planned for today.
After a run of wet and gloomy days, we woke to a cold [24 F] and frosty morning and the marvel of sunshine.
Smoke was billowing from the chimney at the lower house when I stepped onto our front porch with kibble for the outdoor cats.
As the sun rose higher in a brilliantly blue sky I went out with my camera.
Bobby Mac was ready to come inside and warm his paws after a morning foray.
[This photo shows how the lower loop of the drive runs between the back of the house and the workshop.]
I love the view from the upstairs windows--the glint of ice in the brook, the billy goats in their pasture.
The cats were finding comfy places to nap and I was contemplating a book, tea, my rocking chair by the fire.
While I was considering my options, Jim wandered into the pantry--just stood there.
We had eaten a hearty breakfast--he couldn't be looking for a snack.
After a moment of observing his strange behavior I asked, " Are you looking for something?'
'No,' he replied, 'But you need to take everything off the pantry shelves.'
I wasn't sure I understood.
'You mean--move things out into the kitchen? Now?'
'Yes, now. That shelf is about to collapse!'
I have grumbled about the pantry for three years.
The Amish of the neighborhood are skilled craftsmen--known for their fine work in leather--the houses they have built are sturdy, stoutly constructed. But--the interior finishing leaves much to be desired. The pantry shelving was haphazardly cobbled together--pieces of door trim nailed up as supports, the shelves not quite level. When I returned my big canisters of flour and sugar to the pantry after my recent baking marathon I noticed that the shelf seemed wonkier than usual.
Howard, from his vantage point in the rocking chair, cat on lap, had remarked, 'Those shelves are going to collapse one of these days.'
[Howard has even less patience than his father with shoddy construction!]
The day for a pantry renovation having arrived as a Christmas special, I lost no time in emptying the shelves. Jim did stipulate that we would tackle one wall of shelves at a time.
I cleared my sewing table of sewing machine, tools and oddments and began bringing out crocks and glass containers.
Jim dragged in an old table from the shop and begin gathering tools.
The kitchen rapidly took on the appearance of an untidy jumble sale.
It is rather astonishing to think that all this collection was housed on one side of the pantry.
I am determined that it will not all be returned there!
Jim tore out the old shelving with a great wrenching of nails, took measurements, headed to the shop.
I asked if we would be buying laminated shelving at Lowes.
'Not l ikely! I have plenty of lumber, why would I use laminated stuff?'
This not being a day when one could shop for paint, I began collecting buckets of leftover paint, hoping we had enough of something suitable for the walls.
I mixed two shades of off white flat for the ceiling.
Jim remembered some paint was left from work at the lower house, so I trudged down in the sparkling cold to ask my neighbor if she had seen it.
I came back with about 2/3 of a gallon of 'Antique White' in satin finish.
Ideally I should have primed the walls to cover the ubiquitous blue with which Amish women paint all the rooms of a house.
I decided to do the end wall in a vintage wallpaper I've harbored for years.
It was 9 o'clock this evening when I decided that the 'pre-pasted' feature hadn't endured through 20 years of storage.
Tomorrow is another day, the hardware store will be open and hopefully carries wallpaper adhesive.
Coming downstairs in the morning to bedlam in the kitchen won't be inspiring, but I've never lived through a renovation/building project where things didn't look worse before starting to improve.
I'm content with the way our Christmas Day has been spent--not your ordinary holiday, but we did pause for a decent dinner: tossed salad, baked potato and venison steak--the venison a gift from our grandson.
Christmas Day--done and dusted for another year.