Sunday, January 31, 2010

Shop Cat

The batteries in my camera were weak and the screen was flashing warnings to replace them as I tried to capture Shop Cat.
This photo added 2-2-10
Here is Shop Cat at his best.  We took the car for service today and I made sure I had good batteries in the camera.
Shop Cat was curled in his armchair when we entered the shop, but he sauntered to the garage area to supervise.
Shop Cat is a Scottish Fold feline of great character, a gregarious creature who was rescued by Mark who owns the automotive repair shop in the small industrial complex which can be viewed at a distance across the main highway from our house.

We have been ferrying vehicles back and forth during the week for service, and some serious repairs to the old Dodge truck, Snort'n Nort'n.  When J. drops off a vehicle that may be there for some hours or even a day or two, I follow him in another vehicle.  I made the acquaintance of  Shop Cat last autumn and always hope that he will be around. 
Shop Cat loves to monitor the clients as they arrive and depart and he stomps about the small parking lot with the aplomb of an overseer. At one end of the parking area is a corral for horses as a farrier works from the same premises.  Only on a day of really dreadful weather does Shop Cat linger in the lobbey of the shop, curled in a blanket covered armchair.
Last November J. had several of his For Sale motor homes serviced.  One afternoon, driving the few miles back home he realized that Shop Cat had settled himself in the camper while Mark was working and was now quite happily going for a ride.  Of course he turned around and delivered Shop Cat back to his owner.

Shop Cat was standing on top of the lattice screen by the shop door when we went over on Friday morning.  He "meowed" a pleasant greeting and posed for me while my camera refused to cooperate.
 Stuffing the dead camera in my coat pocket, I hoisted Shop Cat and carried him inside. He is a solid, compact being, an armful.  I held him as I waited for the bill to be presented for me to write a check. Shop Cat purred--a strong, well-tuned motor.
How he survives in such a busy  yard his owner doesn't know, but the affection shared between them is obvious.
Long may Shop Cat live to greet the customers and add his unique personality to the business.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


On the left, a glass prism, its angled spire roughly chipped. In the center, a battered doorstop. On the right is a fragile celluloide swan, remnant of my babyhood.
The heavy doorstop, an elephant, was made in two identical halves.  When he was newly formed tusks and a tail were tucked somehow between and held together.  When I was a child, when we still lived in my grandfather's house, the elephant braced open the parlour door. Even then he was bandaged, a strip of now grubby, faintly flowered muslin stitched around his middle over a binding of twine--likely some of the "saved string" that my grandfather thriftily unraveled from the tops of feed sacks, wound around the paper tags and stuffed into a large Prince Albert tobacco can--all handy when a bit of mending was needed.
The scrap of red cloth, now so rotted and frayed, was wound under the elephant's chin and over his back, secured with more stitching.  In his days of shabby glory I recall the fabric as still a sturdy red swath which neatly hid the earlier mendings.

The parlour sat at the south west end of the farmhouse. My uncle believed it had been one of first two rooms of the house to be built and surely the wide painted floorboards attested to an earlier incarnation. Part of the floor was covered with an ingrain carpet, patterned in flowery swirls of dark gold, blue and green against a dull red background. My grandmother's upright piano had pride of place, flanked by a plaid-cushioned loveseat and matching chairs. A very formidable and stiff black rocker defied anyone to sit in it comfortably. One door, the door the elephant guarded, led into the living room, the other into the narrow center hallway where the staircase with its worn treads rose to the five bedrooms.

When my next younger sister moved to the farmhouse with her family to help care for our grandfather and later our uncle, the dignified square parlour was divided to create a bathroom and a rather dreary little bedroom.  The elephant, by then mysteriously minus his tusks and tail, his wrappings decidedly faded and tattered, now served as a deterent to anyone inclined to burst through the bathroom door without knocking.

Our grandfather died in 1978 and our uncle followed a few years later, leaving the old house crammed full of the belongings of three generations.  My sisters and I, with our mother, sorted for days, unearthing a few long-hidden family keepsakes and treasures as well as an ever growing heap of items which, as my grandfather might have declared had "out-lived their usefulness."
Some of the finer things, to my regret, my mother decreed must be sold. Many items found their way to the trash bin. 
There remained the bits and pieces of no great worth, the oddments to be carried away simply because we couldn't bare yet to  part with these things which had been taken for granted, a part of the familiar trappings of an old home for so many years.
I took the derelict elephant home with me and set him near my bedroom door, where I sometimes stubbed  my toe on his cold heavy form.
I brought him west with me nearly a dozen years ago--along with the cracked celluloid swan and the chipped glass prism. 
I have started packing---stowing newspaper-wrapped dishes in cartons, removing things from cupboards, wandering through the house with a speculative and appraising eye.  My friends at work have donated boxes, our daughter lugged copy paper boxes [with lids!] home from school.
The process of dismantling and packing my household goods is dauntingly familiar. Somehow it will get done and in the coming few weeks the house will become unsettled, less welcoming, as pictures are removed from the walls, dresser tops cleared, books bundled into the stacks of boxes which will soon rim the edges of each room.
I wonder if a few decades hence, someone will wonder at finding among the hoarded oddments of my lifetime a broken doorstop in the form of an elephant. Who will remember the part of his story that I know?
Perhaps I should make him a new red bandage.

Monday, January 25, 2010

We Visit the Vet

Maisie and Charlie with their daughter Jemima in the biggest cat carrier. Charlie, the first one in, glares from the back of the cage.

J. has removed Raisin from her small private carrier and holds her while she squirms, waiting for the vet.

Bill has known Raisin since her first visit 11 years ago when she was a mere kitten. 

Our veterinary clinic sends out reminders as each cat comes due for the booster of their various shots.  Usually I stagger the trips for the sake of economy and convenience, but with the possibility of a move up-coming, I decided it was one of the things which shouldn't be left for a last scramble.
I have two large cat carriers, two small ones--and eight [8] cats!
Teasel had her booster shots last month when she had to have an abcess lanced and a round of antibiotics.  As soon as I lugged in the carriers, clever cat that she is, she disappeared under the bed.

Charlie and Maisie are such laid-back characters that they immediately sauntered over to sniff at the carriers and I popped them in.  Jemima viewed this from the top stair and was easily coaxed down where I could pick her up and poke her in with her Mom and Dad.  There they sat, a bit taken aback, but calmly staring out through the bars.  Raisin surveyed this activity from the kitchen counter and I had her in the small carrier with no trouble. She immediately began to wail in a VERY LOUD VOICE. 

I had spotted Eggnog, or rather a lump under the bedspread that I recognized, so she was my next victim.  Eggie has a very sweet and affectionate nature, until she is cornered for medicating or to be put in a carrier.  I set the second small cage on the end of the bed and gently extracted her from her warm bedroll. The moment she realized my intentions she began to struggle and panic-stricken, loosed a stream of urine which bounced off my front and dribbled onto the heavy bedspread. While she thrashed and howled from the closed cage I quickly rolled the spread and hauled it off to the laundry room, stuffed it into the washer.

By now Mrs. Beasley and Chester the Timid were nowhere to be found. J. came in just then and joined the search locating the two huddled under the bed with Teasel.  We brought in the carrier, shut the bedroom door and I laboriously stretched full length beside the bed to prod at the cats with a yardstick.  J. captured Mrs. B. when she shot out.  Chester, meanwhile, had taken refuge under the quilt rack and thought he was safely invisible. I collared him and eased him into a big carrier with Mrs. Beasley.

We lined the carriers up on the living room floor and listened to the various wails, thumps and yowls while I made a sandwich for J. [I had changed my sweater and washed my hands, by the way!]
He decided that he would go to Riverton with me on the vet run although this meant he would have to submit to me driving while he consumed his sandwich. [He managed to endure this indignity without getting carsick--and only once corrected my driving, telling me not to "tailgate."  I don't think that is one of my driving faults, but I refrained from comment!]

Raisin kept up a litany of protests in a high key, occasionally switching to a deep theatrical groan. Charlie and his tribe made a few anxious inquiries, Mrs. B. rolled her hideously crossed eyes, Eggnog huddled in mute anguish.  The chorus of misery swelled as we staggered into the vet's waiting room. One at a time the carriers were tranferred to the small examining room and each cat  was gently handled by our good vet, their histories reviewed; hearts and lungs were  listened to, teeth examined.
Once again we discussed Raisin's chronic hairballs and frequent barfing. As he has told us so many times over the years, Bill concluded again that she is one of those felines with a very touchy digestion. I fretted aloud over her bony frame and was assured that she is a long way from starvation.

I learned early on that while Bill keeps up a friendly conversation and seems to be idly stroking each cat, he is in reality assessing the health of each one as those competant hands trace every bone and search for any unusual lump or bump.
The inoculations were administered with hardly a mew or a twitch and the cats were stowed back in their respective carriers. Eggnog, very predictably, had messed in hers before we got her back in the car.

Bill's wife, Pat, printed a record of each cat's shots and reminded us that when we arrive at a new home and locate a regular vet, we should write for the complete records on each feline.
Bill also scribbled a contact number for the state veterinary headquarters in Kentucky, so that well before we start our moving expedition we will know what blood tests or inoculations will be neccesary for Pebbles to enter that state where aristocratic horses reside in great numbers.

"Send photos and write us about your trip and your new home"--these were the parting words as we took our leave of these fine people.  Bill's strong hand gripped mine as he said, "I wish there was a good way to say that we will miss you."

We will be blessed if we find again such a dedicated and compassionate vet to care for our animals--in sickness and in health.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Waiting and Marking Time

As dawn came sulking in on Thursday morning, I realized new snow had sifted down during the dark hours.  I had been in the living room reading, a circle of cats around me, during the night, but there was no sound of wind to blow the snow against the windows. We had a few days of warmer temperatures and the old snow, too long with us, shriveled and receeded in sunken, grubby layers.
The deer have circled the dooryard, making fresh trails of pointy hoof prints in the new whiteness.
The photo above was taken late on Friday afternoon.

This was taken Saturday morning just as the sun opened one eye to the east. Sunrise was a pale peachy band of light quickly swallowed up in a grey sky. The foothills to the west have been swaddled in hovering gloom nearly all day.
I took this photo with the camera on the "night snapshot" setting which intensified a slight blue shadow and smoothed out the contours of the snowy yard. It was too cold on the west porch to fiddle with settings and try for a more realistically colored shot.

Back in the house I aimed the camera through the relatively clean window to record the clothespins bobbing on the line and the gnarled fingers of ice clutching the porch roof.

Raisin, the spoiled, beloved, bulemic cat-in-charge.
I have been researching special feline diet foods with the help of Heidi.  Yesterday J. and I ventured into the Wind River Mercantile and I handed over the proceeds of several hours quilt making hoping to present something that her majesty will eat and keep down.
In addition to regular "pukey days" Raisin has taken the notion that whatever meat is on our plates is surely more appealing than whatever has been offered to her.  As J. says, she prefers her steak medium done with sauce!

I've worked on quilt orders at home this week. Jemima keeps me company but gets easily bored. I love those plush brown paws curled over her nose.

The house we live in has been listed on the market for nearly a year.  During that time we have had two or perhaps three rather lackluster showings.  When the Baldwin Creek spec house finally was sold after months of delays, negotiations and head-banging frustrations, J. concluded that this was no time to continue in his trade of house building.  During better financial times we talked of selling the house we live in and building a more modest one, a "keeper", on the lot across the small pond. We told each other rather complacently that we would have sufficient funds stashed away to live comfortably and J. would build another spec house or two at a less frantic pace than usual before succumbing to full retirement.
The downturn in real estate was slower to strike oil-rich Wyoming than in other areas of the country, but it appears to be entrenched, particularly for the upper/middle price range homes we have been building.
I have felt that we had few options beyond gritting our teeth, tightening our belts and staying put.
When J, prompted by son-in-law, began investigating attractive rural places where we might "retire" and put our funds to best use, I said, "Right!  You're asking for a miracle--sales of land, a house, motor homes and equipment, in the dead of winter in a depressed economy."
I beleive I was wryly challenging God as well as J.  I have to state that God has a sense of humor!  J. sold two motor homes in less than 10 days.  Tractors, equipment, and small trailers which have been lined up for months with "For Sale" signs have attracted buyers, and last week we endured 4 house viewings in 24 hours. [If God or anyone else thought that amusing, I, as chief house-cleaner-in residence did not!]
The upshot is that the two couples who each came back for a second viewing wanted the house and we have signed a contract with the first ones who offered.
So now we begin to skitter down the usually bumpy road of a sale closing.  If everything goes smoothly [it usually doesn't!] we could be homeless in 30 days--if there are delays we might still be in the  house 60 or even 90 days from now.
At what point does one pack all but two plates, two bowls and two mugs? The books--where will I find enough boxes for the books?  How will I ever sort all the STUFF which was plonked in the storage shed nearly four years ago?  At what point are we sure enough of our available funds to make an offer on property in the desired "new" location 1500 miles away?
Rhetorical questions all, and no doubt God is biding His time with an anwer we haven't guessed.

I think I would be wise to start packing. If there are delays the cats will enjoy climbing over and into boxes and helping me to haul half-forgotten belongings from the depths of closets. Daughter's suggestion is that we relegate most of our worldly goods to the dump. I don't think so!
Our family gatherings often turn to remembrances of what are fondly called "typical Whitehurst journeys"--replete with details of blown tires on over-loaded borrowed trailers, transmissions which gave out on the great plains, hysterical memories of the cafe in Nebraska where the waitress mixed up our orders and kept appearing with forgotten side dishes. Of such are the family chronicles written.

I count the vehicles which have to be driven across the country, all the bits and pieces that must go with us.  I picture the cats, stowed in the motor home with mournful furry faces pressed to the windows.  Shall we tie the horse to the bumper?  Who will be rounded up to be part of this ludicrous convoy?
I daresay we will survive this upheaval one more time.  Where ever and when ever we go, I can think of reaching the destination and hauling my battered armchair from the depths of a van, unearthing the mugs, the tea and the kettle, flopping in triumphant exhaustion while the cats prowl the corners of a different house and the old horse explores a strange and greener pasture.

Monday, January 18, 2010

January Shades of Blue

Pebbles stands at the boundary fence just before sun up on Sunday morning. She goes there to commune with the neighboring horses.

Sunrise color hasn't yet touched the west yard and the foothills.

We were delighted to see bird activity on Sunday morning after several weeks of their absence.
There are the inevitable sparrows, rosey finches and a pair of quarrelsome chickadees.

Even at mid morning the shadows on the snow are blue.

The pot of paperwhites in full bloom in the east window.  They grew at the same rate and blossomed all together.

View of the foothills through the clean [!] west window. No frost on the clothespins.

Charlie has appointed himself keeper of the newly constructed stairs. He grants permission, when in the mood, for the other cats to go up or down. He leers down at me when I pass by and sometimes takes a swipe at my head.

Chester, caught in a yawn.

Eggnog, who is placid and dear.

Sunrise on Monday morning.

Rosey heaps of clouds have made a new "mountain" across the pond to the south east.

Within moments the dawn flush faded to a grey that forebodes storm.

Grey, blue, and pink.

Clouds hover over the foothills.

I think we shall have snow.

From one of the winter-themed essays in Henry Beston's "Northern Farm."
"What has today taken my interest are the colors in our winter world.  There is color seen and unseen everywhere about: the unisverse is no duality of white and blue, and were I to stop and stare about awhile, I know that I should see more than I now see in a casual glimpse.  In the landscape near at hand both grey trees and brown together with white birches rise above the snow; between me and the sun are faraway stone walls whose shadows are almost black; to the west, the pines stand dark, and withered and rusty autumn is still discoverable along the borders of the fields. At a turn of the farm road, moreover, I know there stands a copse of brush which during the deep of winter has turned itself into a thicket of red twigs whose color becomes a strange coral after a night of ice and freezing rain.
Surely the most beautiful of all colors of winter is the blue of winter shadows on the snow!  It is a blue which varies with the day and the light, but whatever its tone, is both tender and delicate, and to see it is to be reminded of the purity of certain blues in flowers."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Snort'n Nort'n

Three Dodge work trucks at our first Wyoming home. Snort'n Nort'n is on the left in his original appearance.  The red Dodge for a number of years served as "my" truck and the "Go to Meeting" vehicle. The green one in front of the garage was with us for about 2 years--purchased when a beloved Chevy blew its engine laboring over South Pass. I enjoyed the green Dodge--a five speed standard which would really move. The transmission was if-y when we bought it and before we had it replaced the truck was down to three forward gears plus reverse--a mite challenging.

Nort'n waits in the snow.

In the spring of '08 J. decided that Snort'n Nort'n was due for a makeover. The pickup bed had been thumped and dented, the original grill had encountered a deer in the road, and the old truck was starting to look its age of 16 years. Here Nort'n shows off a diamond-plate flat-bed, headache rack, rear cargo lights, stainless steel storage boxes. He also acquired a "gooseneck pin" for hauling trailers and a "jake brake." Tasteful finery includes the Dodge Ram hood ornament, a visor and dressy wheels.

Nort'n's new "buck proof" grill with driving lights. Nort'n, according to J, can out-pull a newer V-8. He has been used to "drag" trailers loaded with the Sky Trak or a bulldozer or concrete forms or logs and lumber.

J. and Nort'n headed out.
J. has always loved trucks.  In our 46 years of marriage he has owned a succession of farm trucks, log trucks, semi's, and pick up trucks. Only one, a Kenworth road "tractor" was bought new. Each of these vehicles, he would tell you, has had a distinct personality and memorable characteristics, desirable or
When Dodge produced their first Cummins diesel pickups in the early 90's J. looked at them with longing. He test drove several, considered the options, but always we concluded that the cost was more than we wanted to take on in debt.  So, we continued to drive Chevy trucks--"his and hers."
In the frigid January of '01 our son, H. phoned one day to tell J. that an old fellow over the mountain was trading in his 92 Dodge diesel for a new model. J. had stoutly maintained that the earlier trucks had many advantages over the new ones and the 92 remained his Dodge of choice. He made a call to the dealership in Big Piney and we headed over South Pass early the next morning.  The deal was made and J. drove his diesel home while I followed carefully in the red Chevy. For those who like to know such things, the blue truck has a 6 cylinder Cummins engine rated for 162 horse power, although that has since been tweaked.

It was clear from the first that this was a truck with personality and charm.  Our cat, Raisin, quickly learned to detect the sound of J.'s approach toward home each evening, although we lived on a road that crawled with diesel pickups. She listened nightly for that truck, stationing herself on the hallway stairs. By the time I heard the truck, J. was down-shifting for the driveway and Raisin had her nose pressed to the glass of the front door in welcome.

I forget just when the "blue Dodge" became "Snort'n Nort'n". Grandson D. may have been involved in the naming when he paid a visit to Wyoming.  When a vehicle is kept for many years, it becomes almost as much part of the family as a horse and like the horse, is called affectionately by name. 

I pride myself on being able to clamber into most any truck which my husband or son have owned and take it down the road or over the mountain.  Something about the blat and snarl of those engines, the length of the shining hood, the reassurance of 4 wheel drive, brings out the latent road runner.

Old Nort'n, however, is not particularly woman-friendly.  The original bench seat was stuck in the position which best accomodated drivers six feet tall. When required to drive, I rummaged out J.'s spare jackets from behind the seat, rolled them and stuffed them behind me to get me enough forward to reach the clutch and brake. The 5 speed stick shift takes some persuasion, and in those early years I wrapped my left arm around the steering wheel, braced a knee against the steering column, double-clutched and threw my right shoulder into the shifting process. Nort'n has since acquired an electric seat which can at least be powered forward for those of lesser height.

Its been months since I drove Nort'n, but J. poked his head in this morning to announce that he was taking one of the "for sale"motor homes into town to have a frost-shattered window replaced and I would need to follow him.  He planned to pick up doors at the lumber yard, the red Dodge is encumbered with the water tank, so I hauled myself into Nort'n's dusty cab, shuffled the seat as far forward as it would go, put him in gear and headed to town, enjoying the familiar roar of the steady old engine.

J. comes from a long line of "wheeler dealers." Trucks and tractors, back hoes, bulldozers, campers, 4-wheelers, snowmobiles come and go in bewildering trades.  Old Snort'n Nort'n, like our elderly Pebbles horse, will go where we go, til he can go no more.

Put Upon

I brought this in from the chilly entry a few days ago and it has rewarded me with two blossoms and a few more buds. It is half of a large Christmas cactus which J. gave me about 14 years ago--one of only two plants to survive the move to Wyoming and the change in water quality. 
A few months ago Charlie [who else?] overturned the plant container, breaking several branches. I divided the remains into two pots--both are reviving, although put off their December bloom time.

Why, you might ask, am I posting a photo of a closet interior?
I had barely arrived at work yesterday when J. phoned to inform me that a realtor wanted to schedule a house showing for early evening. He felt, quite reasonably, that I had best come home and launch a cleaning blitz.
By the time I flung myself through the back door, he had convinced the realtor that a Wednesday evening viewing would be more agreeable.
Right!  Where to start?  Sawdust and such drifting onto every surface has been an excuse to neglect all but the most necessary house-keeping tasks.
My "sitting room" is small and houses both my computer desk and my sewing desk--as well as heaps and tipples of books, CD's, my fabric stash.  It seemed the place to tackle.
Several hours later I had re-organized the fabric into color-cued stacks, filled a trash bag and two large give-away "scrap bags." The shelves on both sides of the closet have been reorganized and the books at least tidied.
This morning I clambered up a step ladder obligingly placed by J. and attempted to wash the outsides of the living area windows. Glass does not clean well at 22 degrees F.
I have sorted the pantry.
I have promised to turn the kitchen into an immaculate showplace before Wednesday noon.
The house viewing has now been postponed until late on Friday.
I do not enjoy preparing for house viewers.
I especially do not like preparing for house viewers who can't stick to a schedule.

This is a quilt I made for the shop from a line of Western themed fabrics.  We now have an order for two of them sized to fit twin beds.  The new bolts of some of the fabrics were stacked by my sewing station when I arrived at work.
I tried most of the day to ward off a headache/neuralgia episode, but it has settled in with a vengence. No wits to summon for answering letters or blog comments, let along creating an interesting post.
To borrow a phrase from my late Mother, I am feeling a bit cranky and "put upon."
A mug of hot milk, two Advil and off to bed.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Bit Warmer

Bare cottonwoods lean into the blue sky.

Deer have trudged around the yard leaving their hoof prints.

The snow is so deep that each movement of the deer's hooves leaves a trail of shuffled snow.

Three trails like perfect strings of pearls lead into the center of a greasewood shrub.

A closeup of these delicate footprints. Is this where mice have scuttled through the snow?  Whatever creature walked here disturbed only a topmost layer of the light dry crystals.

I hasn't snowed for several days, but in the nearly windless cold, snow is caught on horizontal branches.

A woodpecker or flicker's boring in the battered trunk of a cottonwood.

A stand of dried weed [sorrel?] is dark red in the afternoon light. Note each slender shadow.

The gift paperwhites have stretched quickly and have opened fragrant blossoms.
The ones planted earlier have gone floppy and are tied up with a torn length of fabric.  There are a few sluggards in that container--alive and growing but stunted and reluctant to flower.

Work continues in the attic/loft and sun strikes through the window onto the dedicated carpenter!

A cat pile on an old quilt. Lt. to rt. Eggnog, Chester, Jemima.
The cold blue light of January reflects off snow and lends its tint to indoor spaces.

"Mama's Darling!"

The cats don't like the noise of J.'s power tools, so the bedroom and my sitting room have been retreats today. 

Friday, January 8, 2010

To Drive the Cold Winter Away

After making the rounds of my friends in blog land, I had to concede that we are all tired of snow and cold--and more snow and cold! So, having shivered and whined, I decided to tackle some cooking as a way to warm and cheer the house.
Not pictured is a vegetarian entree for a church dinner, and our supper of marinated, grilled steak, fried sweet and Irish potatoes and a "green" salad.  Also absent from the photo are three fruit pies tucked in the freezer to give as gifts. 
This is a place where I've had no success at gardening and other than a raspberry farm about 40 miles away, the only fresh fruit is trucked in and not usually inspiring.  I buy large quantities of berries frozen without sugar from a local bulk ordering service.  They are wonderful for pies, crumbles and sauces.
The pies for the freezer were two of blueberry and one of blackberry.  The whole pie above is blueberry and destined for the church dinner.  The small blackberry pie was made for J.
I make VERY GOOD PIECRUST! However, the wretched man refuses to eat the pastry crimpings around the edges, which has annoyed me for years. Today I topped his pie with a plain circle of pastry and let the filling bubble up around it. He was pleased and I have one less thing to fuss about!
The big glass bowl is full of tapioca pudding and the fruit sauce contains blueberries, blackberries and cherries. I heated the fruit with half a cup of raw sugar, 1/4 cup of cornstarch for thickening [mixed with about 11/2 c. water] and enjoyed the warm fruity smell as I stirred it over the gas burner until the sauce was thick and glossy.

Pebbles likes this little thicket of willows and small trees near the irrigation ditch. From here she can watch the bedroom and this room where I spend many hours. She also has a view of the driveway and keeps track of all arrivals and departures. By turning around she can keep tabs on the neighbor horses.  I noticed this morning that the large plastic bin where J. puts her hay was over-turned. When I mentioned this J. reported that this is Pebbles' current amusement--to thrash the bin about just in case she has missed some special morsel in the bottom.

The cold is relentless.  I didn't take note of the outside temp reading which registers on the car's dash, but it was cold when I went to town at 3:30 to pick up the bulk foods order and replenish milk and cat food.  It is the kind of cold which causes the snow to make scrunching sounds under the car's tires. Boots squeak with each careful footstep.
J. made good progress today in the attic. The insulation batts are mostly in place and some of the half-round rustic lumber that he is using to sheath the walls. There is not such a billow of cold rolling down the staircase.  The cats are not much interested in the improvements and instead of roaring up and down the stairs they have found snug places for the evening. Maisie and her daughter Jemima are here with me; Maisie curled on the daybed quilt and 'Mima on the bookcase. The rest of the pride are in the bedroom, which is currently the warmest room in the house.
I'm about to brew tea and have a bowl of the tapioca pudding with berry sauce.