Saturday, December 31, 2022

December: Looking Back

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?



  1. I see Howard has taken after his father in woodworking skills. Loved seeing Callie and Ginger. Your new porch room looks great though it has provided you wish some more sewing jobs. I hope it's not diminished the light into the house too much by being closed in.

    So glad that you didn't get the Weather Bomb they had further North. Those poor people.

    1. The woodworking/building skills are prevalent in J's family; Howard takes it to a very precise level.
      A south window looks onto the porch from J.'s 'lair' and thus onto the tree-lined ravine. There is a triple window unit on the now enclosed south side of the porch room--not shown in my photos as I've not arranged any furniture there. I'm considering a table for plants, but not wanting to hastily acquire more furniture.
      Violent weather leaves humanity so very helpless in its wake. The biggest threat here is a random tornado, or in the case of snow, the 'southerners' who don't know how to drive in it!

  2. The Siberian Express blew in here on the twenty second. I don’t think I have ever seen temperatures drop so quickly. There is only so much one can do to care for the farm animals. Your porch room turned out beautifully. I love the rustic ambiance of it. Reading and sewing quilting blocks sounds like the perfect way to spend cold winter days. We, however, have had a little break from the cold and have enjoyed some warmer days and sunshine. My foxgloves perished! 🙁 hilltop post

    1. Mary; We went from a few degrees above zero to temps that feel uneasily tropical--what my Grampa Mac would have called a 'weather breeder'. I've poked cautiously around the flower beds, noting that the foxglove 'rosettes' of leaves are a sodden brown mess. My varieties have been perennial for several years, but only springtime will tell if they have survived. Strangely, the achilleas don't seem much affected, but thyme, lavender and germander are looking badly frost-burned. Our son's dogs were here and walked the perimeter of the property with me this afternoon; squelchy in places, but I
      didn't need boots.