Sunday, December 17, 2017

Done-- And To Be Done

The bedroom was dark at 6 o'clock this Sunday morning, murky grey, shapes blurred, no hint of color. The only spill of light was the glow of the nightlight in the hall which outlined the half-open door. I was comfortable, the cats were not yet stirring, so I lay quietly, watchful--expecting the quilt on the rack to warm into familiar muted shades of red, gold, brown and russet, pictures on the wall to assume their familiar identity.
Five minutes, fifteen minutes; 6:20 and the room still a cavern of mid-winter gloom.
I levered myself upright, dislodging a cat or two, felt for my slippers, plodded downstairs. 
The boy cats clamored, wanting out, still they hesitated warily when I trudged through the garage and opened the side door. 
The 'barn cats' milled about as I tipped kibble into their bowls on the front porch.

Sally-cat, having put the boys in their place, escorted me to the side porch steps.
A plume of smoke was ascending straight up from our renter's chimney, a reminder that I needed to deal with my own fire.
I raked glowing coals into a heap, fed in slivers of scrap wood from the bin near the black range.
There is a sense of ritual to rekindling the fire each morning: slender lengths of kindling stand ready in a bucket, the rack behind the stove is stocked with large chunks on the top shelf for easy handling; the bottom tier holds 'limb wood' and finer split pieces.
Satisfied that the fire is burning brightly I pull on an assortment of warm clothes [not exactly 'dressed for the day!'] 
I take down Jim's stainless steel percolator, measure water and coffee, give Teasel-cat her pinch of dried catnip, turn on my PC.
When Jim comes downstairs [he is dressed for his day!] he will immediately check the fire--poke at the burning wood, add a big chunk, fiddle with the way I have set the drafts.
This morning he reminded me that by another weekend we will have reached the turning point, the solstice, and can watch as, nearly imperceptibly at first, the days lengthen.

Cold mornings call for hearty comfort food; Jim likes French toast with maple syrup. During the  week we've enjoyed oatmeal porridge, scrambled eggs, grapefruit.
Do you see a cat on the table?
I do not encourage cats on the table!  
Bobby Mac decided to become Jim's special friend, ingratiating himself, offering his companionship after the death of elderly Siamese Raisin in September, 2015.
Unlike Raisin, Bobby Mac is soft-spoken, but his body language is eloquent.

Bobby doesn't 'steal' food, but he does accept tidbits if something is to his liking.
For the squeamish, I offer the assurance that the table is wiped down before and after each meal!

This morning's breakfast was blueberry pancakes with maple syrup, turkey sausage patties, fruit.
While I tidied the kitchen, Jim pulled up the doplar weather map and announced that our day was not likely to become any brighter.
I reminded him that I have been waiting [not really patiently] for his assistance with my wood-working projects, some intended as Christmas gifts.

The 'big blue cupboard' with a base coat of "Canonball Black." 
As of this evening it now sports a second paint coat--"Aged Bordeaux."

We have, together, achieved a gratifying amount of production in the workshop today!
I didn't take my camera with me to the shop, so documentation must wait for tomorrow.
I carried out the latest batch of painted 'racks' that were awaiting the installation of hooks. 
I requested a hanging rack with shelf, which Jim constructed from oak, selecting a board from his stash to plane and trim to length.
He reminded me that the oak had been harvested during our first winter here.  That day came vividly to my memory--a bit of snow on the ground, sunshine, the whine of Jim's chainsaw, the scent of the forest clinging to each length of firewood that I tossed into the bed of the truck.
The heavy tree trunk was dragged up the road to our Amish neighbor's mill and the resulting 
rough-sawn boards have cured in neat stacks on the workshop porch.

While I hand sanded the newly crafted shelf, Jim brought in another board to run through the planer. 
The wood is beautifully streaked with shades of green and purple/brown. 
I pounced on it, my imagination fired by the thought of a hanging shelf/rack for displaying a quilt. 

We haggled over the design. [I have ideas, but lack the practical skills to build them!]
As the pieces for the rack were cut, I hovered, sure that it was going together the wrong way. I can't visualize the end product correctly when the components are turned over to be nailed or fastened from a different angle.
When I sensed that Jim was becoming a bit aggravated by my lack of comprehension, it seemed prudent to let him continue construction while I served the cats their 'afternoon tea' and put sweet potatoes in the oven to bake.

We went back into the shop after supper. 
Jim tided up his tools while I applied a coat of paint to my big cupboard. 
When he went to the house [mere steps from the workshop] there was only the gentle crackle of the ebbing fire for company as I brushed clear satin poly onto the two new shelves.

A decorative cutting board repurposed to  keep potholders near the cooktop.

I've sat this evening making lists, prioritizing the things I must do to be ready for the weekend: menu for a birthday supper; plan the 'do-ahead' food, shop for the few food items not already in pantry or fridge;  schedule time [when in my right mind] to prepare for my participation in the church Christmas program; finish the projects in the workshop; hoover up cat hair [repeat as needed.] 

Remember to sit in my rocking chair at intervals--with tea, with Teasel-cat.


  1. You do have delicious breakfasts. That was a lovely tale of your life in the run-up to the xmas festival.
    Happy Solstice, a day to celebrate as the annual turning of the year spreads towards light and summer.

    1. Thelma; Winters in Kentucky aren't as long and cold as the places where we spent most of our previous life. Still, these last weeks before the solstice seem very dark. I'm pleased when both ends of the day are lighter.

  2. I love the way you ask Jim to make you something and he jumps to it! I am STILL waiting for Keith's arm to decide it may just heal sufficiently for him to carry on with the revamp of the shower room . . .

    You both had a busy day, and I love the repurposed cutting board.

    1. Jennie; When Jim decides to become involved in my projects it is definitely in his time frame. I made noises about the gift production being finished LAST WEEK--here we are beginning! No matter, I thank him profusely, make admiring noises, post the photos, etc. Men must be carefully handled!

  3. As always I enjoy reading about your life there. You have a gift with words that puts me right there with you doing, feeling whatever you are doing, feeling.

    Happy Christmas to you, Jim and all of your critters ~ FlowerLady

    1. Rainey; Not sure if anyone would have enjoyed being with us yesterday in our cloud of sawdust and the lingering odor of paint. Thank you for your Christmas wishes--I hope you'll show us your Florida winter flowers.

  4. Oh what a lovely post. I so enjoyed a journey through your day. Your writing is beautiful and I felt like I was actually with you. It's so lovely to have a partner that you can work alongside. Finally I have that luxury too :D
    I can't wait to see the finished pieces you've made.x

    1. Kimberly; I think Jim and I are at our best when we have a project going. I have a few on my 'list' but know I mustn't run ahead.

  5. In sharp contrast, my DH is the first to rise and always has been. I rise like Venus from the half shell to coffee made and ready for consumption, a marriage of just short of fifty years.
    There is a bit of snow cover at the moment but certainly not enough to secure a White Christmas. The feeder birds have just recently appeared and they are a welcome presence.
    We are counting the days to the Solstice and the joyeous journey toward longer days and shorter nights. May your Christmas be joyeous, warm, cozy and filled with familiar smells and sights! Seasons Greetings from Vermont to you in Tennessee!

    1. Mundi; Thank you for the Christmas greetings. I hope your corner of Vermont will be white enough to be pretty--not so cold that it means huddling by the fire.
      I enjoyed my feeder birds in Vermont and in Wyoming. Now that we have several outdoor cats it doesn't seem fair to lure in the birds.
      Almost 50 years--surely that's a record in this era!
      BTW: our morning pattern has been reversed since Jim 'retired'--for years he was the first out of bed each morning.