Monday, January 1, 2018

Tending The Fires

A spell of  colder than usual weather has persisted as the old year ebbed away in a wash of brilliant moonlight. The first hours of the new year brought us a fine powdering of snow--barely enough to sift over fallen leaves, enough to sparkle on roofs and fence posts.

I have watched this amaryllis develop plump buds over the past week, stretching tall in the north window of the kitchen.  On Sunday one blossom had opened its petals--today there are two.
I bought the bulb on December 1st. 
The bulb which my daughter-in law brought me at Christmas is awakening in its sheltering glass cylinder.

 On Sunday afternoon Jim put the last touches on the pantry renovation. We have been returning items to the sturdy new shelves--not everything is in its ideal spot as yet.
I came downstairs this morning later than usual to find that Jim had cleared the kitchen of several boxes full of items I meant to sort; he pushed them under the bottom shelves--out of the way, but I fear my momentum has slowed and there is danger that the boxes may remain there for a bit.

The placing of items in a kitchen or pantry is rather individual. We have always stocked staple baking and cooking items in quantity, usually buying from whole food markets.  I like to have condiments, spices and such canned goods as we use in reserve. Inadequate shelf space meant that items weren't in plain view and I sometimes discovered I had bought replacements unnecessarily. 
I asked Jim to add a narrow shelf which would hold smaller items that previously tended to get 'lost' in a clutter of larger cans. 
As part of the new arrangement I moved some items from a kitchen cupboard into the pantry--much tidier.
Just visible under the window is a cupboard designed to be part of a wall unit. It has been re-purposed with a base that raises it to the height of the windowsill and a top created that spans the two shelf units.  I've not rehung the heavy floral curtains in the pantry window--I'm thinking plain white ones would be more fitting.
This pantry now reminds me of several in farmhouses that I knew as a child. In keeping with that tradition I bring the needed ingredients for a baking session into the kitchen and when finished return the canisters and containers to their places on the shelves.  

This is the short wall that was meant to be covered in  vintage wallpaper. Jim arranged saucepans and kettles on the hooks when I wasn't looking. 

I've created a tentative display on top of the big black cupboard and in the upper shelf. 
The bottom shelves still hold the items removed from the small hutch which has gone to Tennessee.
I see on-going sorting and arranging as projects for cold winter days.

We take care to serve extra food to the outdoor cats and refill their water dish several times daily as the water freezes quickly. I have 'fluffed up' the 'beds' which are available for them--roomy cardboard boxes lined with fleece throws, towels or remnants of old blankets. 
I remember that during the first years at the Gradyville farm our grandson and I constructed a rather elaborate cat shelter in the loft of the hay barn--stacked hay bales to create a  small snug 'room' padded with old down sleeping bags. On most cold mornings I found the cats curled side by side on the wicker loveseat on the east-facing porch, their warm nest in the barn rejected.

Cold weather has seen the return of a semi-feral tomcat who hung out here for a month during the summer. He didn't seem combative but was not/is not appreciated by our resident cats. His summertime activity consisted of scurrying along the retaining wall while making pronouncements in a dismal yowling voice.

I wasn't pleased  by his sudden return, but don't begrudge him a bite to eat in this cold weather.
His cauliflower ear has earned him the name 'Crumple.' 
A half grown cat with pale ginger fur has crept close to the house, disappearing up the ridge when he realizes he has been seen.
Stray cats exasperate me--and they break my heart. 
They bring with their hungry selves the possibility of disease, of attacks on our cats, the lingering odor of tomcat if they decide to claim and 'mark' territory. 
Crumple does not look thin or scruffy in spite of his battered ear--perhaps he has been feeding with our renter's cats who live in the goat barn.
I wish him well--but I wish he would betake himself elsewhere.

During the day our boy cats demand to go outside;  they come back in to warm their feet, tear through the house, thump up and down the stairs. They prowl restlessly, puzzled by doors that have been closed to keep the core of the house warmer.

The cold is predicted to remain with us for most of the week.
We keep the fires, layer ourselves in warm clothes, draw the curtains close at night--blotting out the moonlight along with the cold.
The softest flannel sheets are on the bed and a puffy old comforter is spread over the quilt. 

We sustain ourselves with simple hearty meals.
Today we made pies using the last of our Northern Spy apples--three pies stashed in the freezer, one popped in the oven to fill the kitchen with the scent of pastry and spice.
We are hunkered down, content to be homebodies until the January thaw brings warmer temperatures.


  1. Brrrr! Your life sounds cold outside, but warm and comfy inside filled with projects and wonderful aromas.

    Happy 2018 ~ FlowerLady

    1. Rainey; I've not been lured far beyond the front porch--outside just long enough to feed the cats who congregate there. Winter in south central Kentucky is fickle--each winter season here [this is year eight] has been a surprise.

  2. I'm envious of all your shelving. We have a big house and a really small kitchen and definitely not enough shelving or counter space for everything.
    I always worry about animals I see outside.

    1. Janet; I am guilty of loading 'stuff' on any available counter or shelf. I'm not a serious 'hoarder' but as we shuffle furniture about I'm making a real effort to weed out oddments that aren't necessary. I've coped with kitchens of various sizes over the years--a big 'farmhouse' kitchen such as we have now is my preference.
      Unloved animals--I wish I could provide for all of them!

  3. Kind of you to feed the strays, esp. the spraying strays.

    1. Hart; Strays come and go in each place we have lived. Allowing them to share our cat food perhaps encourages them to stay--or at least make us a regular stop on their rounds, but I can't begrudge them a bite in such cold weather.