Sunset on the eve of the solstice
Mid December mornings were frosty, but often clouds parted mid-day and let the pale sun through for a few hours. The wind most days was brisk.
J. was finishing the outside work to enclose the west porch--he was glad when he could dismantle the staging and work inside.
Temperatures were dropping rapidly during 23rd December and the wind became brutal.
The 'barn cats,' Willis and Sally, have shelters set up in the unheated greenhouse and also padded boxes and a kennel on the back porch. J. wrapped the back porch kennel with insulation batting and I added extra layers of fleece blankets to their favorite lounging spots.
The cat water bowl on the front porch had to be brought inside almost hourly to have the ice layer tunked out. I served dollops of tinned cat food to bolster the two cats.
Herman--the tabby stray who has been a regular evening visitor for months, disappeared during the coldest weather through the Christmas weekend.
27 December and the temperature right at the freezing mark at 8:30 a.m., but an improvement over prior mornings; the high point of the day was 43 F. mid-afternoon.
That evening Herman-cat returned, looking none the worse for the cold.
We suspect that though he may have no 'fixed address' he has places to shelter and eat other than here--he is not thin or frail.
The sun makes a shallow arc this time of year, setting southerly beyond the ravine.
Snow, blown into icy drifts, greeted us on the 23rd.
We had no need to drive anywhere; the back roads here wind and plunge uphill and down--skirting the edges of ravines and creeks; fortunately freezing weather or snow is short-lived.
Surveying the frozen and inhospitable landscape I worried for the birds, hoping they could find shelter and seed heads to nibble.
In other years and other places I have put out bird feeders--in our present situation with cats who are avid hunters I fear I would be luring birds to certain death.
Scurrying through the cold to dump kitchen scraps behind the barn I was heartened to see a group of juncos picking at frozen veg peelings.
Sunrise on Christmas morning; 13 F. at 8:30 a.m.
Looking west toward the sheds, mid-day.
Christmas day stayed clear and cold.
We drove to have Christmas dinner with Howard and Dawn who live about 20 minutes away.
The food was wonderful, their house warm and cozy.
Here are H and D's two rescue cats sleeping in Howard's chair in front of the fire.
Callie, on the right, has been with them for over a year.
Ginger was rescued in mid-summer--and went in for spaying on the 27th.
Both were frail and hungry when taken in; now both are plump and devoted house pets.
Callie is a busybody who offers to help Howard with his projects.
Howard has finished creating this lovely storage unit in the upstairs hallway.
Throughout construction the cats have used it as a playground.
A decorative feature on one of the shelves!
Howard had a few hours to spare helping J. finish the inside of the porch room.
J. found the flooring at a local surplus/salvage outlet--half price!
I put the first coat of poly on the bay window, swept and then hoovered the floor.
H. moved in the basket chairs.
I started upstairs with the oak side table and [of course!] got stuck before I was halfway and had to bellow for J. to come and rescue me.
He hoicked the table up the stairs, muttering testily, 'Why didn't you ask me to move this--you should have known you couldn't manage!
[I suppose I did suspect that--but I wanted to 'do it myself!']
We've kept a rustic ambiance similar to the center sunroom that leads into the now enclosed west porch.
I need to make washable fitted covers for the chair cushions, alter some ticking stripe curtains [created for the kitchen in our Amish farmhouse] and make some throw pillows.
The table mat was pieced and cleverly machine quilted by J.'s cousin in Vermont
The cats have been quick to explore the new area. Rosie kept me company while I arranged things.
I'm looking forward to bringing out a few favorite collectibles--not forgetting that anything on the wide windowsill could be subject to investigation by felines.
Rosie is rather naughty, but darling.
So--December ebbing away into its last few hours, a new calendar needed tomorrow.
The month has passed in a rather desultory way--baking, making soup to share, reading myself cross-eyed; work on the current quilt blocks; a genealogy project triggered by a random memory [an intriguing way to spend a snow day.]
I rather expect that January will be much the same.
There is the joy each year of watching the slow return of daylight hours.
My favorite seed catalog is on my desk--do I dare dream of new gardens?