Sunday, January 30, 2011

Getting Snowed and Other Things

"Bare branches of each tree
on this chilly January morn
look so cold so forlorn.
Gray skies dip ever so low
left from yesterday's dusting of snow.
Yet in the heart of each tree
waiting for each who wait to see
new life as warm sun and breeze will blow,
like magic, unlock springs sap to flow,
buds, new leaves, then blooms will grow."

Nelda Hartmann
January Morn
Pitter pattering to the backdoor window, the first act of almost every day, a happy sky greeted me through the darkness of the early hour. A bright, morning star hung slightly above the deeply pitched roof of the garden room, (so-called), shining huge and bright in the darkness. Other stars lit the sky, giving hope that the sun might shine on the valley again today.

But, hopes and dreams quite often die. The morning grew older, and that sunny day wish went unfulfilled. Out front, where the evergreens grow, gray sky hovered above the white birch, threatening to add new snow to old snow. And the weatherman said it would be so.

As winters go (and this one can go as soon as possible), we've been snowed by heaps and mounds many times before. In our minds, though, each winter seems worse than any other. But, there is no time lapsing winter, unless you're painting it:

Update: No snow today and the sun appeared through the clouds. Temp climbed into the low forties! Good things come to those who wait.
MOTH, man of the house, has decided that now is the time to strip the paint from the stairs, taking them to the oak wood that's been hidden, probably since the house was built. Being this house was built in the 1930s, that means many, many layers of paint. 

(In the process it was discovered that the walls were once painted a vintage(?) green. I've seen almost that same green painted on other items from that era - chairs, tables, cupboards, chests. A popular color to use in your home way back then or maybe just a good buy? MOTH thinks there might have been fewer color choices back in the good ole days.) 

Back to where we left off, paint stripper was the first assault on the stairs - and to anyone who happened to be in the vicinity (me). This removed a lot of the old paint but not enough to reveal the oak as oak should look. 

Next came the heat gun. Did you know heat guns aren't soundless? When in operation they sound like an electric mixer. But when the mixer is being used there might be the scent of cinnamon or vanilla, or at least chocolate. With the heat gun, there is a light odor of something burning - not altogether disgusting, but you know you won't be snacking on cake or muffins later in the day. 

When I no longer thrill to the first snow of the season, I'll know I'm growing old.

In his mature years, Father Tim is finding romance to be a confusing road. Cynthia was quite upset when she thought he was philandering with the wealthy widow. Off she went to New York to work on her book without an explanation or a goodbye. Now, the tables have turned. 

After receiving a curt, sarcastic (Cynthia is good at this) note from her because a lette he had written to her was too business like (not lovey dovey), Father Tim rings her on the phone to patch it up. A man answers. 

"Cynthia is getting dressed," he tells Father Tim.

This sends Father Tim into a tailspin. She wasn't sitting alone in that apartment in New York City, working her little heart out to get her book ready for publishing, as he had imagined her.

But, he talks himself out of his funk and calls her again. After beating around the bush, Cynthia wants him to get to the point. 

So, he asks who the man was who answered the phone when he had called her before. Not liking his tone, Cynthia hangs up on him.

Father Tim might have a tiger by the tail.


This is the tail end of January in the valley. 

"The shortest day has passed, 
and whatever nastiness of weather 
we may look forward to 
in January and February,
at least we notice that the days 
are getting longer.  
Minute by minute they lengthen out.  
It takes some weeks before
we become aware of the change.  
It is imperceptible even as the 
growth of a child, 
as you watch it day by day,
until the moment comes when 
with a start of delighted surprise 
we realize that we can stay 
out of doors in a twilight lasting 
for another quarter 
of a precious hour."

  Vita Sackville-West

Friday, January 21, 2011

More Snow in the Valley and Other Things

The First Snowfall 
James Russell Lowell

  THE SNOW had begun in the gloaming,
  And busily all the night
  Had been heaping field and highway
  With a silence deep and white.
  Every pine and fir and hemlock
  Wore ermine too dear for an earl,
  And the poorest twig on the elm-tree
  Was ridged inch deep with pearl.
Snow fell during the night, covering snow that had already snowed during other snowfalls. By mid morning, snow was still snowing. 
Snow reports were calling for scattered snow into early Saturday morning, but that might have been a folly forecast. 
There are now blue sky and sunshine where snow had recently been. January has been a month of snowfalls in the valley.  
“Snow and adolescence are the only problems that disappear if you ignore them long enough.”
Earl Wilson
Often (most of the time), when I've devoted time to sewing something for Little Gal - dress, pajamas, nightgown, etc. - she tries it on and doesn't want to take it off. Her very first Grandma made dress was a pink, sleeveless, summer type when she was about two. She refused to take it off and insisted on sleeping in it that night.
Picture 328
 At seven years old, she hasn't changed her ways. After unwrapping her green, fleece Grandma made pajamas on Christmas Eve, she put them on and was still wearing them the day after Christmas when she went to visit other relatives several miles away. She let her mother wash them, only to put them back on again.
Picture 480 
Last week, Little Gal’s mother and I made a fleece blanket, nightgown and robe for a little friend of Little Gal’s who had had surgery at Johns Hopkins in Maryland. Little Friend will miss the rest of the school year while she recovers.

Little Gal’s mother had to laugh after visiting her on her third day back home. She was wearing her new nightgown, and her mother said she wouldn’t take it off. Little girls are very much the same.

“Cats are smarter than dogs. You can't get eight cats to pull a sled through snow.”
Jeff Valdez
A Light in the Window – Jan Karon – Book #2 in the Mitford Series
Father Tim is back home in Mitford, and his life has become quite interesting. A wealthy widow is pursuing him, giving him the big whang-do, and construction has begun on Hope House, a place for the elderly to live in comfort and with good care, paid for by another lady of wealth. This lady of wealth has just discovered that she had a sister she never knew about and now has a niece that she’s given all her mother’s old hats to. 
There are several interesting characters in the Mitford books. Emma, Father Tim’s nosey secretary, who uses terms like “peedaddle” and “whang-do”; Puny, his bossy housekeeper, who gives him a lot of sass; and Homeless, a man living in a one room shack, who Father Tim finds he can trust and confide in. Many other likable eccentrics populate the mountain town of Mitford.
After a misunderstanding (the well-to-do widow woman created a problem), Father Tim and Cynthia are now a couple. When making up, he finally gave her the lip kiss I was looking for in the first book, At Home in Mitford. To his surprise, at sixty-one, Father Tim finds himself going steady. But the wealthy widow hasn’t given up - Father Tim will have to stay on his toes.
“Nature has no mercy at all. Nature says, "I'm going to snow. If you have on a bikini and no snowshoes, that's tough. I am going to snow anyway."”
Maya Angelou
Another week has gone by in the valley.