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Saturday, December 29, 2012

'Snow What? Our Party's Postponed!

Mother Nature, you are such a card.
On the one hand, you present us with several
inches of fresh fluffy white snow.

On the other hand, you rob us of our party today.
Dylan Dog is disappointed.
"What?  No party?  What will I do for snacks?"

"Look me in the eye, and tell me you are not being wimps.
After what you expect ME to do in the snow . . . !"
"If the guests are not coming today, can I have the brisket?
I am looking right at you; how can you say No?"
Our Grab Bag Christmas Party is not cancelled.
It is just postponed until Sunday.

Don't forget!  :-) 

P.S.  In the second picture of Dylan, his favorite stuffed chicken's foot is tucked beneath his muzzle.
It looks as if our little dog has fierce big scary orange fangs.  He wishes!

My owl planter doesn't look too happy, either.

Friday, December 28, 2012

'Snow Doubt About It, It's Winter!

We are hosting a friends-and-family
Christmas party on Saturday.  Tomorrow.
The same day we will also be hosting
Winter Storm Freyr and her 2 to 4 inches of snow.

Yes, you read that right.  Freyr.
Who the heck is naming the winter storms this year?
The last one was named Euclid, for crying out loud.

Speaking of snow, do these flowers look as if they are
the survivors of a Christmas Eve snowstorm?

I ordered flowers for Howard's sister and husband,
arranging the delivery for Christmas Eve.
Completely forgetting that they would be in Massachusetts
for Christmas.  The flowers were left on their front step.

On Christmas Eve, Anne and I sang at the 7 and the 11 o'clock
church services, so between services, in blinding snow,
we drove to Wayne, New Jersey, and rescued the basket.
Which was covered in white, the flowers shivering and shriveling in the cold.
(They were.  Really.)

They perked up in the warm car, and by the next day,
when I presented them to my sister Peggy, they looked just peachy.

Yes, I did tell her the whole story.
Because it was too funny not to.

So the briskets are in the oven, because briskets are always
better the second day, and my to-do and to-cook lists are close to hand.
It's party time.
I hope you are still celebrating on this Christmas weekend,
and if you are coming to our party, we'll clear the driveway
just for you!

Merry Christmas -- Cass

Thursday, December 27, 2012

On The Third Day Of Christmas . . . .

Welcome to the 3rd Day of Christmas.
It's just past midnight, and a
freezing rain is turning Wednesday's snowfall into
a horrible, terrible, no-good, really bad slush.

But inside That Old House, all is Christmas.

In the sunroom, the big Fraser Fir holds court,
while rain pelts the windows.
Good News:  No more leaking from the sunroom ceiling.
Thank you, roofer dudes!

On the other side of That Old House, in the Parlor,
if one tall lanky tree in the corner is good . . .

. . . surely two are better!

This Christmas, something new.
At daughter Anne's suggestion, we went all decorator-y,
and did these twin trees in soft whites, golds, and creamy colors.
Yes, it's unusually restrained for Christmas at That Old House!

Below, the 2012 Waterford Ornament, a crystal tree.
Thank you, Howard.  

Michaels had these bunches of crazy glittery twirly branches.
We got them in gold and silver, and tucked them
amongst the branches to give a little Dr. Suess-style wackiness
to all the soft colors and shapes.

That's a little felt infant slipper that my mother
stitched and embroidered for me, several centuries ago.

And now, bedtime.
Daughter Alida and son-in-law Josh arrive Thursday
from Los Angeles, so I need to be up bright and early and
change the cool cotton guest room sheets to warm, cozy flannel,
so our California guests won't freeze during our New Jersey nights.

Hey! Guess who's in that big golden ball, below,
snapping a picture?  Why goodness gracious, it's me.

Okay, clearly I'm getting punchy.  Good night, my friends.
There are more trees to come, with 9 more days of Christmas!
-- Cass

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas to All

Merry Christmas from That Old House!

Church services on Christmas Eve,
presents opened on Christmas morning,
waffle breakfast, me and a couple of wise guys,

and some flowers rescued from
the cold, cruel world.
Full story tomorrow.

Meanwhile, to everyone, everywhere,
may today be a day of rejoicing
in the Savior's birth,
and the love we bear for one another.

Peace -- Cass

Thursday, December 20, 2012

World's Oddest Holiday Porch Decor

It's Glamour Time at That Old House --
the final frontier in the re-roofing project.

Today: the original, front part of the house, and the porch roof.
"Up on the house top, roofers pause . . . . "
"Ho ho ho, who wouldn't go, Ho ho ho, who wouldn't go, Up on the house top, Click click click,
To put on the shingles and hope they stick!"
It makes me dizzy to look at them on the roof.
So mostly, I don't.
Confession: Yes, that's a pumpkin still on the porch.
And it's not even wearing a Santa hat.
 Lots of stuff is flying off the house.
The FedEx man nearly got beaned a few moments ago.

Ho. Ho. Ho.
We always have such excellent timing.
The Ghost of Projects Past
would like to remind us of some of these old adventures.
"Woooo - oooo - oooo!!!!"
Them's spooky noises.

There was the year-long renovation of our kitchen, with countertops,
sink, and stovetop installed three days before Thanksgiving 2009.

And the kitchen painting, papering, cabinetry reconfigure finished
just three days before Thanksgiving 2010.

In 2011, it was the whole-house paint job.
It was finished two days before our daughter's wedding!

The fence outside the sunroom? 
Also two days before the wedding.

Believe it or not, The Ghost of Projects Past
could go on and on and on . . . . but he won't.

Instead, he's making believe he is Mother Theresa.

Or, one of Santa's reindeer.  He won't say which one,
but we suspect it's Dopey.  It's like that old song about Rudolph:
"You know Dopey and Sleepy and Grumpy and . . . ."
"If I squint my eyes at you, you will be intimidated
and take away this stupid head gear."

Happy Thursday, y'all.  -- Cass

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Woofs and Roofs and Other Delights. Like Squirrels.

The roof is more than halfway roofed!

Howard snapped a picture with his camera as he left this morning. 

 Hmmm . . . it's a little hard to see from that distance.
I'm a-gonna crop it.

 That half of the house was nearly done by the time the guys finished up late Tuesday afternoon.

I am happy and grateful to see this work progressing briskly,
and so far (fingers crossed) there have not been any knocks on the door
from the crew boss explaining fresh (meaning expensive) horrors to me.

Speaking of expensive horrors, here is Dylan Dog, out for a morning constitutional
in the side yard, with Howard.  Howard is speaking sternly to Dylan, because
our resident brat has grabbed the lead between his wee choppers, and is pulling on his own leash --
something he rarely does anymore, but today it must have seemed like a good idea.

Dylan is paying no attention to Dad.
Instead, he is playing that really fun game:
 Run 'round the Upright, and tangle him in the lead, tra la!

Dad can't spend all morning playing this fun game, Dylan.
He has to go to work!

Even though he is a brat, we love the little guy.
"I am looking adoringly into your eyes;
 how's about you give me a cookie?"

And so does a certain sweet little Corgi girl out in Kansas.

Miss Dolly of Linderhof in Fort Scott
(you may know her mama, Martha)
sent a lovely card and a giftie to Dylan!

The gift?  A stuffed squirrel!
Squirrels, it seems, are the bane of both Dolly's and Dylan's lives.

Dolly advises Dylan to chew the heck out of the stuffed one,
whom we of course have dubbed "Franklin," after
the enormously chubby squirrel who raids our trash,
and Dolly says he should take it outside, as an example
to the outside Franklin, as to what would be his fate
if Dylan ever got hold of him!

Mostly, though, Dylan snuggles with inside Franklin, after
a rousing game of toss-and-chase plumb tuckers them out.

Inside Franklin makes a terrific pillow.

Sometimes Squirrel needs to be protected, as there are strange
Uprights trying to get into our house by breaking through the roof,
and who clearly hope to steal inside Franklin for themselves.
"Stay away!  I am watching your every move, buddy."
 Right from the unwrapping, Dylan took a great liking for this toy;
sniffed it all over, too, as if trying to figure out just who had sent it
to him!  We showed him Dolly's picture from her card,
with her barking at the outside squirrels way far away in Kansas,
and then Dylan understood: he had a soul mate.  

As for Franklin and Dylan, that's a match made in heaven.
Here they are, already snuggling on the Parlor sofa,
right after opening the package:
Another match made in heaven was the match that paired
our family with this adorable, crazy, smart, bouncy, bratty,
beautiful, wee tiny Cavalier King Charles Spaniel,
who keeps us laughing and on our toes.
Thank you, Cavalier Rescue!  -- Cass

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Crash! Thud! Bang! Is That Santa On Our Roof?

By 7 this morning, the roof at That Old House
was crawling with men who are far, far braver
than I . . . that roof is high! . . . as the first stage of
Operation Roof Replacement gets underway.

Thank you, Superstorm Sandy,
for stepping up our timetable for this project.

While our roof was certainly old, it was still keeping us dry.

June 2011

After Sandy, not so much.

October 2012

Howard snapped a few pictures from the cul-de-sac as
he was leaving for work this morning.

That is one big dropcloth.
I could paint a lot of old furniture on that dropcloth.

If you look at the front of the house, on the right of this picture,
you can see the old wood roofing shingles, the brown cedar shingles
that are believed to be the house's original roof.

That makes them 180 years old.  Not bad.
I wish we could have somehow preserved
and repaired that old wooden roof.

Much of the roof will need new sheathing, and we therefore
will go down in history as the first homeowners to put
any plywood into That Old House.
(Not something I want in my obituary, if anyone's making notes.)

What looks like plywood on the rear of the house, above, on the left, is not plywood.
It is wide boards, or -- late 19th century sheathing; it was done in the 1880s.
Some of that may be still useable.  Fingers crossed.
Have you seen what plywood costs these days?  Sheesh!

In our Dylan Dog's little world,
the advent of strangers on the roof is quite exhilarating,
and good reason for barking and making nose prints on the 
window panes, and being told to get OFF the windowsills . . . .

One of Dylan's issues is leash-biting, and we've made
really good progress in extinguishing this behavior (as the
trainers say), but it still surfaces now and then.

Like yesterday.
Anne got a picture of Bratticus Finch, AKA Dylan,
with his lead firmly in his teeth, trying to initiate a tug-of-war.

Of course, like a 3-year old child who defies a parent,
Dylan has no idea how cute he is when he does this,
or why we are not completely intimidated by his power.

Sorry, Dylan, we don't do tug-of-war with bratty boys.
We ignore bratty boys!
And then, they give up, cause then it's not fun anymore.

It really is so rewarding, and such fun, to watch Dylan blossom.
Even when he's still an occasional brat.

I hope your Tuesday is bright, as I'm sure our gray and damp
day will be, eventually; I'm seeing bright sky in the distance!  -- Cass

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Primping

It was a working weekend for my husband.

We picked out our fresh tree at a local nursery on Saturday,
and hauled it home in the back of the minivan.
On the drizzly Sunday, up it went in our sunroom.

Howard worked, Dylan snoozed,
I snapped some pictures and, um, supervised.

This year's tree is very dark and dense, and it has
consumed 1,300 lights and still looks not bright.
But since we don't want to cause a brownout in the neighborhood,
we are not adding any more strands!

I began tossing the ornaments on the tree, and as of last night
I'd worked my way through one Rubbermaid bin.  Almost.
Lots more tree and hundreds of ornaments to go! 

Why is it so wickedly hard to take pictures of Christmas trees?
 I decided to take some pictures this morning.
But when I looked at them, they looked . . . odd.
Kind of cool looking, but distinctly odd.

Turns out, Anne had been using my
Nikon Coolpix camera, which I rarely use,
and had left it set on an "only find the red colors" setting.

 So what was I doing while Howard was manfully
stringing hundreds of teensy lights in our tree?

 I emptied the Rubbermaid bins full of Christmas decor.  As usual,
the dining room is the staging area.  North Pole, New Jersey.

So things are progressing here at That Old House.
I am getting very into the Christmas spirit, getting excited!

Dylan Dog, however, is taking things rather casually.

As he sees it, his job is still to scramble for treats, be adorable,
perform dogly duties such as being a lap desk for Anne's Ipad,
keep us on our toes by testing his limits
(most recently: "Dylan, no! Don't EAT the tree!"),
and grab a snooze whenever the moment seems right.
Like, now.

So goodbye for this Monday, from me, and Dylan,
and That Old House -- Cass

Blog Parties!
At Little Red House, it's Mosaic Monday, so click here!
At Between Naps On The Porch, Metamorphosis Monday is the place to be. Click!

P.S.  Dear friends -- I, like you, have shed countless tears the past 4 days, in our national -- no, worldwide -- agony of grief for the families in Newtown, Connecticut.  Is there a remedy for these incidents in a free society?  I think the best personal response that I've heard, other than our prayers, thoughts, hearts, is to respond to this random violence with random kindness.  I'm not sure how I'll accomplish this, and this won't affect those at the fringes who perpetrate these monstrous acts, but it is something, and most importantly, it is the opposite of what was done on Friday in that small New England town.  And, I can celebrate the birth of Jesus, and still rejoice in that.