Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Aftermath

I was looking forward to a white Christmas and I got it -- along with some undesired repercussions!

The snow was beautiful while it lasted.  The little tree in the back yard looked like a marzipan treat.  Pete and Clara did some cross country skiing through the streets of Greenport.  The streets were clear enough by Monday to get out and about and finish all the last minute Christmas shopping, but . . . 

On Monday evening I was sitting in the dining room and heard a noise that every homeowner dreads -- the slow drip, drip, drip of a leak in the roof -- the brand new roof on the brand new addition!  I couldn't believe it.  I turned off the light, put a bowl under the fixture and yelled to Pete to come down.  There was an ice dam -- what had melted during the day froze up and backed up under the shingles.

Our contractor (the fabulous Dan Finne) came first thing in the morning and had a crew shoveling off the snow, breaking the ice and putting down a new roof -- a torch down, I think they call it -- and the whole thing was sealed and safe by 3 pm on Wednesday.  Turns out the pitch of the roof on the addition is a 1 1/2, and shingles should not be used on a pitch that is less than a 4.  This is just the last in a long list of mistakes made by the architectural firm (Fairweather-Brown) we hired for the project.  (I'll write a long post about the many mistakes and inadequacies of this firm at a later date -- after I submit the $3,000 bill for the new roof to them.)

So now we have the ugliest, but driest, roof in Greenport.  The whole experience made for an extraordianarily stressful few days leading up to Christmas.  My sister Barb joined us Thursday afternoon and stayed until Saturday.  Paula and Ann celebrated Christmas Eve with us, and our old friends Anne-Marie and Mike and their daughters Natalie and Charlotte arrived on Christmas day and stayed over until Monday.  I was so exhausted from the stress by Christmas morning I could barely keep my eyes open. It took me days to recover.  I am looking forward to 2010 -- we won't be renovating a thing!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snow Day!

The snow finally arrived in full force.  By 11 pm the snow was so deep on the back porch that Cairo struggled to get out and about.  This morning Pete had to shovel a path for him.  We have all been up and out in the snow since before 6.  What fun to have a snow day!

Our House

Seth & Valerie's House

Bittersweet by the Front Door

Saturday, December 19, 2009

9 PM

First Flakes

2:45 pm -- the first flakes of snow are falling.  Will we really have a blizzard?  It's taking forever to get here . . .

Waiting for Snow, Waiting for Christmas

This time tomorrow we should be buried in 12 inches of snow.  That's a lot of snow for an area as temperate as the North Fork.  We eat tomatoes off the vine all the way through November and we can almost always pick a rose on Thanksgiving day.  So this is a big weather event for us. 

Cairo and I had a very cold and short walk on the beach this morning.  The neighbors are hitting the IGA for extra milk and parking their cars in the driveway to make way for the snowplows.  Pete unearthed our snow shovel yesterday and put away the bicycles and rakes in preparation for 40 mile-an-hour winds.   I'm about to get started on some cookie dough -- there's nothing like fresh cookies when snow is flying -- after my own quick trip to the grocery and the library.  I plan on snuggling up on the sofa this afternoon with a mystery.

Friday, December 18, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

I've been getting ready.  We got the tree up last Friday, just in time for my rug hooking guild's Christmas lunch on Sunday.  I've been cooking and baking and wrapping gifts.  Clara took her last final yesterday and drove home.  It's very festive around here!

We are expecting a blizzard tomorrow -- a real nor'easter with up to 12 inches of snow and 45 mile an hour winds.  I'm thinking of baking spritz cookies and meringue mushrooms, and curried chicken for dinner while the snow is flying! Maybe we'll have a white Christmas after all . . .

Seafood Wontons


Curry Bows

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Peconic Ruggers Raffle Rug 2009

I have been a member of the Peconic Ruggers since its inception more than a dozen years ago. It is a great group. The monthly meetings give me a chance to catch up with people I rarely see otherwise. I'd like to say I catch up on my hooking, but I never seem to get any hooking done at meetings. I'm too busy chatting!

I am hosting our yearly Christmas party this week (sorry . . . only paid members are invited!). We will be drawing the winning ticket for our annual raffle rug and I wanted to give readers a chance to buy some raffle tickets should they want to. You'll have to act fast, however!

This year's rug was designed by the multi-talented Jennifer Schordine of Mojo's Place. Jen is an awarding-winning painter of folk art. Her work is collected by celebrities and average joes alike. She recently turned her hand to designing rug hooking and punch needle patterns. The guild is incredibly lucky that Jen decided to lend her talents to the raffle rug this year.  Many guild members did the actual hooking.

If you would like to buy a raffle ticket or two and have a paypal account, contact me asap at and I'll get your name in the drawing. Tickets are $1 each or 6 for $5. If you win, the guild will mail your rug to you, no matter where you live! Good luck!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

No Snow

I got all dressed up in my rain gear in order to walk Cairo this morning, and he wouldn't leave the porch! It's not fit for man nor beast outside today -- the wind is howling and it's pouring rain. There's snow west of here, but our proximity to the Atlantic often keeps the snow at bay. I'm actually a little sad about this. I'm planning on putting some Christmas music on and making some cookies today and some snow flurries would be just the right accessory.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Winter Arrived Today

We woke to frost this morning, and sun, at long last.  I just turned on some Christmas music and finished the shopping list for my guild's Christmas party which I am hosting next Sunday.  I have a few presents to wrap and then Pete and I will have lunch at North Fork Table and Inn. (This is the current home of pastry chef Claudia Fleming, formerly of Gramercy Tavern in Manhattan and a winner of the James Beard Award.  I can't wait for dessert!)  It's going to be a good day.

My thanks to everyone who called, emailed and commented about Simon's death.  Your thoughts and words are all much appreciated.  Cairo, who viewed Simon as his primary source of competition, and rightly so, is actually missing him.  It was my habit to feed Simon just before I went to bed, so we wouldn't have to smell the stinky stuff, and I always let Cairo lick the spoon.  Now that there is no spoon to lick, Cairo won't come to bed.  He sits by the kitchen counter waiting to lick the spoon.  The first night I had to pick him up and bring him upstairs.  He certainly is a creature of habit.

Though waiting for Simon to go was painful and I really miss him, I have to say I do not miss opening the stinky cat food and cleaning the kitty litter, daily chores for 15 years.  And last night, when I looked at the living room couch and matching chair with matching cat scratches on the left arms, I realized I could buy new furniture and it would remain intact.  Scratching the furniture was Simon's one foible: no matter how many scratching posts or boxes I bought, he always sharpened his claws on the furniture.

So we are all looking forward: to new furniture, to Christmas, to a healthy and prosperous New Year -- except for Cairo, who is still looking for the cat food.

Friday, December 4, 2009

So Long, Sweet Simon

All Clara wanted for Christmas when she was five was a kitten. I was determined to make it happen. I called around -- no kittens. I finally saw an ad in the paper for animals at a shelter about an hour's drive away. I called and the woman claimed to have lots of kittens -- for free even, and she'd give me a case of cat food if I adopted one. I dropped Clara off at school and headed to the North Shore Animal Welfare League, thinking I'd be back in time to pick her up from school. Ha.

I started the day battling scores of other people trying to find pets to give as Christmas presents. The woman on the phone had lied to me. They had lots of cats, but only four kittens -- two sets of siblings -- and they wouldn't separate them. If you took one, you had to take the other. One pair was an adorable set of tiny little marmalade kittens -- they were feral and attacked anyone who walked by their kennel. The other pair consisted of two tuxedo kitties -- mostly black with a touch of white on the chest, and the male had 2 white toes on his left rear paw. They were nine weeks old and were named Sylvester and Tweety. Ugh.

I knew I couldn't bring home two cats without asking Pete if it was okay, so I went in search of a pay phone (this was long before cell phones). There weren't any at the shelter, because they did background checks on prospective adopters and didn't want them warning people they would be calling. So I got in the car and found a pay phone. Pete said okay, and it was back to the shelter, where I started filling out lots of forms. Oy.

By this time I knew I wouldn't make it back to Greenport in time to pick Clara up from school, so I drove back to the pay phone and arranged for someone to babysit. At the shelter they were processing my application and calling my references. They had me sign all sorts of papers that made me promise to raise the cats indoors, get all their shots and have them neutered when they came of age. That done, they sent me off to the cashier. Huh?

The cashier asked me for a $25 donation. Okay, I said, but the ad says the cats are free -- what if I can't afford $25? All she said was, "we'd like a $25 donation." So I wrote out the check and handed it to her. She handed it back. "$25 for each cat, please." (Isn't this called "Bait and Switch?") I tore up the check and wrote a new one, hoisted the case of free cat food (free my you-know-what!), took my kittens and headed home. Whew.

A friend kept the kittens for me for two nights. I picked them up on Christmas Eve after Clara was asleep. My sister Barb made a big tag that read: To Clara From Santa. Open Me First" and had a big paw print on it. Clara woke up on Christmas with the worst cold ever, but she tore the lid off the box (it had air holes!) and squealed with delight. She carried both cats under her arms all morning and kept saying, "I can't believe I got two kitties!" which in reality sounded like "I can't believe I got two titties!" because her nose was so stuffed up. We still laugh about that.

Clara renamed the cats Lily and Simon, aka Lillehammer (the winter Olympics were held there that year) and Simon Two-Toes (he had two white toes). Lily was a cat's cat -- aloof but affectionate when she chose to be and a little bit wild. She was Clara's cat through and through. Simon was more like a puppy -- he aimed to please and would let Clara dress him up, turn him upside down -- whatever -- as long as he was fed and petted. Barb said she thought he was just grateful to have been rescued from the shelter. Simon was my cat. Every morning he would sit on my lap as I drank my first cup of coffee. On cold nights he'd paw at the blankets so I'd lift them and he'd curl up behind my knees. He had long legs and his tail curled into a question mark when he held it upright. I loved him.

Lily developed thyroid problems several years ago and we had to have her put to sleep. We scattered her ashes across the front yard, where she escaped to whenever she could sneak out of the house. Simon remained as strong and healthy and graceful as ever -- until a few weeks ago.

I knew his time was drawing near, and made the decision to not take heroic measures and to keep him as comfortable as I could at home. He hated the car and he hated the vet and I didn't want to put him through the trauma all that entailed. The only place he wanted to be was on the newly recovered sofa, so I covered it with plastic and towels and made a nest with an old fleecy blanket. I brought him food and water and carried him to the litter box. Yesterday he kept meowing for me and would only be quieted if I stroked his chin and ears. When I left the room, he crawled to the edge of the couch, dropped to the floor and yowled. I picked him up and held him and he died in my arms.

Pete buried Simon in the back yard, not far from where he buried our Jack Russell Ruby (aka Sweet Ruby Beets), who was Cairo's aunt, and our angora rabbit, Ash, whose only nickname was the uninspired "Ashes", and the myriad number of gerbils and hamsters and mice and fish and frogs and turtles that have populated our home over the years. They all enriched our lives in one way or another -- even the white mouse who stunk to high heaven -- but Simon was the pet with whom I felt the strongest connection and it is Simon I will miss the most.

So long, sweet Simon.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Turkey Leftovers

Here's an update on my use of leftovers:

Turkey Soup:  Fabulous -- and I have about 10 quarts of it in the freezer for cold winter days.

Turkey Enchiladas: The best turkey leftovers ever!  I used this recipe:
Aunt Rebecca's Red Enchiladas from Good Morning America's website. I made 2 batches and put one in the freezer -- they freeze really well.

Turkey Tetrazzini: Blech. I found this recipe on someone else's blog and their photo made it look so good -- but I hate it. It is too pale and too heavy and I will probably toss what is left of it. It reminds of Tuna Noodle Casserole, which is a big no no in my recipe book. Peter was good about eating it, but I'll never make it again.

The turkey is gone now, but if you have some good uses for left over turkey, let me know. I'll try anything once.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

American Folk Art

American Folk Art did a themed update yesterday at noon -- Holiday Cheer.  To visit and purchase some lovely items, click here: American Folk Art.