Monday, January 11, 2016

Early January

Quiet days, small outings for errands, variable weather.
Jim continues to work on the lower house renovation, though the major work is nearing completion for now.
I have puttered at housework, enjoyed the slow pace of recent days.
I have taken photos, put them up at odd moments and neglected to add words.
This photo of the amaryllis was taken two days ago; already the first opened bud is past its early freshness.

Several days last week were warm and sunny.
I noted that the roses I moved to the strip along the garden fence have settled in and put forth shiny new leaves.

Not surprisingly weeds have flourished where the soil was stirred.
Most of the perennial foxgloves appear to have survived the late transplanting.
The lavenders look chilled and a few have been dislodged by vigorous upearthings carried on by the outdoor cats, in spite of stones placed around each small plant.
I had left two pots of foxglove  seedlings in a tray at the edge of the garden when a spell of wet chilly weather put paid to autumn gardening 
I tipped them out of the pots and with a hefty trowel poked through the stiff cold soil to set the plants in not bothering to separate them one from the other.
At least I have given them a chance to winter over and grow.
The last trailing rosemary has given up the ghost--not a surprise, but I held out hope for it.
I still ponder why they seemed to shrivel away after appearing to thrive in their small pots over the summer.

The paperwhites in their little tub suddenly realized their purpose and poked up sturdy green tips.
Do you see the shadowy temperature gauge attached outside the window?
We have had cold nights, frosted mornings, a true taste of winter.

The clump of catnip has now been seriously affected by freezing.
Here, on the last warm day, Nellie and Charlie had a good wallow in the fragrant stems.

When the sun shines it spills through the south-facing window onto our bed and the warmth draws the cats upstairs for the morning.
I keep the shabby comforter spread over the quilt in an attempt at cat hair containment.

Jim looked at this photo of siblings Chester and Mima, remarking that if one didn't know them they might be taken for more intelligent than they are!
They do have lovely plush fur.
Mima comes to sit with me at my desk.
Chester is skittery. 
Picking him up isn't an option.
He lands on the bed, purring, almost as soon as the light goes out at night and stays there wedged close.
He snores!

Cold weather is wonderful inspiration for baking.
Raspberry or blueberry muffins are a morning indulgence and good for sharing.

We are again providing pet care for our friends who had to be out of town for a few days.
The old dog bounces stiffly in greeting when he hears the key in the door.
I take him out to 'do his business'--which he can prolong into quite a walk-about.
Jim tends the boisterous kennel hounds, feeds the barn cats and the hens while I walk King, take him inside and dole out his meds, serve kibble to Allie and Emma the two house cats.
King is a sociable beast.
As I prepared to leave this noon after his walk he brought me a toy.

The last 'potty call' late in the evening tends to be chilly.  I have learned to shorten the retractable lead so that we don't again end up wound about the trunk of the magnolia tree while blundering through the shrubbery.  There are motion-sensor yard lights and I usually remember to take a small flashlight.
King has a definite route in mind as he zig-zags along the steep lawn--not always where I want to go!

The instruction sheet left for me states that the pets 'can have a treat if they are good.'
I give King a biscuit from his special little canister, then rattle the container that contains cat treats.
King would like to scarf up their treats as well and has to be told 'No!'

Several more cold nights are forecast before a warming trend toward the end of the week.
Jim refills the wood bins by the stove several times per day.
I am first downstairs in the morning to prod the fire into new life, adding fragrant splinters of cedar kindling, measuring coffee into the old-fashioned percolator, pushing it onto the hottest part of the stove top. 
Jim appears when the scent of coffee drifts up the stairwell.
Bobby Mac and Nellie hover at the front door, eager to go outside and sample the day.
We sit at our respective desks in the warm back hallway, coffee mugs in hand, switch on our computers. We list out what needs to be done--Jim's list usually more definite than mine.

I have appreciated these days which have unfolded quietly without urgency or drama.
My imagination is reviving--one creative project is well underway, several others lure me.
Meals are simple, cold weather comfort food.
I am well content with this seeming calm as renovations--in three houses--over nearly two years--slow to a more manageable pace.


  1. This all sounds familiar. Slow, slow day doing things in a leisurely manner. Nice isn't it?

    1. Briony; This is indeed a fine leisurely pace. I don't suppose it will continue past springtime when we will turn our efforts to some form of gardening. Still, we are retired!

  2. King does look a sweet old dog. He must appreciate your visits, his walks around the garden and his treats.

    The quieter days of winter are a time to consider things you have planned for sunnier days. Good to see that your transplanted roses are doing well.

    1. Ann; I find I am enjoying my visits to King, although I need to watch the clock and make sure I take him out at fairly regular intervals.
      Raised beds are part of my hopes for gardening--this would require considerable input from Jim to construct the frames--it may not be on his list of important things to do.

  3. What an interesting and homey post. I enjoyed it all.

    Keep warm ~ Love & hugs ~ FlowerLady

    1. Rainey; So much of life is about making and keeping a home, whether for a young family, a retired couple or someone living alone as you now are. 'Home' is important!

  4. How lovely to have finally settled into your rhythm. Nothing in this southwestern most Vermont town is even suggesting spring despite the unseasonably mild weather. Our Peregrine pair are in residence on the cliff and the local feeder birds are eating us out of house and home, as it should be. Small price to pay for constant entertainment. These are the days that I want nothing more than to curl up in the chair nearest the kitchen Glenwood with my knitting. Bliss!

    1. Mundi; Your words take me back to my own many winters in Vermont--birds at the feeders, the teakettle standing by, books and sewing to enjoy when the work of the day is done. There is much of New England winter weather that is not easy--Jim and I spoke this morning of the difference felt with no dairy farm to manage [as we did in VT] no travel to an outside job.
      We are blessed.

  5. I meant to say how much I like the header photo with the Cardinal in it. I had a yearning - MANY years ago - to x-stitch a cardinal as per one advertised in Just X-Stitch magazine (we are talking 30 yrs back now!) so your photo brought back that memory.

    I am sure King appreciates your visits and the wee treat now and again (and would appreciate the cats' treats too by the sound of things! Good to hear that you aren't frantically doing jobs on the house and can find some creative time. If we can't be creative in January, WHEN can we be?!

    I have both raspberries and blueberries in my freezer (the former home grown), and have a terrible yearning to bite into a raspberry muffin now. Think I had best go bake!

  6. Jennie; I not infrequently think of projects I meant to do in the past--patterns collected and even sometimes the materials bought. I hang my head that I didn't follow through.
    Currently I am planning smaller projects to experiment with different styles of quilt-making. Is this too self-indulgent?
    If you are yearning for a fresh-baked muffin, your appetite must be returning--that is good news!

  7. I like the slow days of winter too, I love to putter about. I like making soups and hearty dishes. As I write I see my cat asleep in the sun on her window sear.

  8. Janet; Now that we don't have to be out to a 'job' I think we are entitled to 'putter'--especially in January.
    Cats always know where it is most warm and comfortable, don't they!

  9. I love cats , I have two very similar to yours. Are beautiful , congratulations!

    1. Silvia; I found your blog so that I could admire your cats--they are beautiful.