"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Shortest Month Can Seem Reeeaaaallllyyy Long

At last, the final day of February, and happily this isn't a leap year!

I'm glad to say farewell to a month of being mostly housebound, due to--

too much snow....

...endless construction

... and some  extremely frigid weather.
However, I was able to enjoy my indoor garden of flowers.
Real ones.

And silk ones. 

And I was here to witness the first visit from a pileated woodpecker!
The renovations aren't yet finished, though we hope the carpentry work will be completed on Monday as promised. More flowers are on the way--my jasmine flowers are budding, as is my banana shrub, and my moth orchid has developed some interesting and promising protrusions.
Lots of exciting happenings in March. Yes, it can also be a snowy month, but it's also maple sugaring season, and I'll be getting out a lot more. And we have high hopes of the sort of temperatures that will allow lots of melting!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Studies in White

Jewel and Ruth wonder when the snow will stop falling.
 Their doggie igloo (Dogloo) is truly living up to its name. I've shovelled and swept away the snow more times than I can count.

The birds rely on the feeders for sustenance. On the day I shot the photo below, we received a fresh foot...on top of all the other snow we've had.
Even on sunny days (which this one is), we find reminders of winter. I came upon this one in a shopping centre parking lot. I suspect it will be there for many, many weeks to come.

My rose garden. Before it received the added foot...and then another several inches more. Snow is a wonderful insulator for the roses, and a fertiliser as well. I look forward to a rich summer of blooms.

The current warming trend (the temperature is in the upper 40s F) is very welcome, as is the sunshine. We mustn't get too used to it, however, as the dreaded "Polar Vortex" is on its way again early next week. We've endured Winter Storm "Pax" and Winter Storm "Rex" and no telling what lies ahead. (A little voice is reminding me that "March is the snowiest month....Please, not this year!) Hard to believe, but we've not even (yet) received record snowfall for the season. And I don't think I want to.
I do try not to whinge (much) about the weather--I'm a snow lover, having grown up without much of it--and even I am finding my enthusiasm for it waning. Yet I know other regions of this nation--Atlanta, where I once lived--have suffered far more from harsh weather.
In Great Britain, rains and floods have devastated places I know and love. It has been painful to see the footage on the BBC and hear descriptions via radio. One of my ancestral villages on the banks of the River Severn, has been significantly flooded since Christmastime. I fear I will find it greatly changed when I return, yet I know that nature has a way of covering damages to a landscape rather quickly. The damages to property and livestock are less easily mended.
As for mending property, the renovations resulting from the leaky water line in the kitchen have proceeded. We're in a lull where the cabinetry work are concerned, concerned, but the vestibule and hallway flooring is being installed as I write this. The kitchen flooring has been ordered but isn't expected to arrive for at least another week and a half, meaning a delay in the placement of the gas range. I manage to make meals without it, but my pent-up desire to do some really intensive baking must wait rather longer to be satisfied. My birthday cake might have to come from a bakery!
On these snowy (and often noisy, due to construction) days, I've been transported to other places via some very fine novels and memoirs. I hope to soon post my impressions of them...which will be a nice change from photos of snow, more snow, and a bit too much snow!

Sunday, February 02, 2014

February & Flowers

The amaryllis was a gift from my mother at Christmastime, and it's putting on quite a show. Beside it is another, a Christmas gift from the church over a year ago, which presently has 4 buds of a very deep, dark red, and it is about to bloom. Soon I will bring out the one I've had for more than a decade--a pink/peach colour--and entice it out of dormancy.

It's the time of year when I rely on hyacinths of various hues for aroma and for beauty. Winters are long, and these flowering bulbs add to my wellbeing!

We had an unexpected visitor last weekend. This little shrew emerged from under the ground to nibble the dropped seeds under the bird feeder.

We've had some extremely frigid temperatures, but they always moderate. And of course, we've had snow--though not as much as other places on the Eastern and mid-Atlantic states.

We've been using these wonderful turf bricks in the woodstove. They put out a nice heat, and while they're burning--and even afterwards--the house smells wonderfully of peat. A nice reminder of our years when the Chap worked so frequently in Ireland.

Tree-trimming crews have been working in our neighbourhood. On the day they trimmed across the road from our house, I had fun watching the men in the buckets...but it was awfully cold weather.

Those aren't the only workmen we've had around. The installation of our generator is ongoing, after a long delay. We had a leaky water pipe in the kitchen--behind a wall--which caused a lot of damage. As a result, we'll get new flooring there and in the hall and the foyer. As a result the installation of our new gas range and range hood is held up. Some cabinets had to be taken down, and more of the wall needs to be cut away so insulation can be added. We've had to shop and select and make decisions in rather a hurry. After all those renovations we did last summer (new flooring, new paint, new lighting, electrical work, etc.) I didn't expect to be living in a construction zone again. It's especially difficult in the dead of winter, when I can't escape to the garden or the lake cottage. But we hope the disruption will be behind us in a couple of weeks. And the result will be wonderful! We didn't bother doing much with the kitchen last year because we were doing just about everything else. Little did we guess that it was fated to be updated!

Today is Candlemas, and Groundhog Day in the US. Punxatawney Phil, the "official" weather-prognosticating rodent, saw his shadow this morning, but Ground-dogs Ruth and Jewel did not. Signals are mixed. They were avidly watching Puppy Bowl X a little while ago, but now are napping comfortably on the sofa beside me.

I'm juggling writing, revising, and fitting in other projects as best I can. I'm also in garden-planning mode. I spend lots of time with the catalogues of rose vendors and on various websites, but with the ground completely covered in snow, I can't remember where I was planning to add more bushes. It's at least two months before I can do anything but dream.

Time to light some turf!