Variable Weather: November Journal

November as experienced during our 12 years in South-Central Kentucky is a month of transition.  Killing frost was late this season, arriving during the early morning hours of November 13, ushering in a week of damp cold and blustery winds. The warmth of the wood fire has been welcome on such days.

I took advantage of a partly sunny afternoon to repot mid-size rosemarys, carrying them one by one to the greenhouse where I was supervised by ever helpful Willis-Cat.
Through many moves I've kept cuttings of a miniature geranium  potted up; it goes spindly after blooming but responds well to severe pruning. It is not a showy plant, but cheerful, kept in memory of the giver of the original 'slip'--my elderly friend, Esther Jane.
Settled in a blue pot on one of the sunroom's south windowsills, the little geranium appears appreciative of attention.
Trekking back and forth with plants I noticed I'd neglected to safeguard a large tub of geraniums from the frost. With indoor space at a premium I considered letting winter have them, but the urge for preservation was too strong. I disinterred the two best, cut them back hard, gave them individual pots. Crowded onto the long table in the sunroom both have put forth fresh growth.

J. has 'turned' the veg garden, leaving the soil to mellow through the winter.
This zoomed photo gives an odd perspective, as though the tractor wallowed through a mountain of earth.

Any excuse suffices to roar about on one of the tractors.

The volunteer nasturtium sheltered by the straggling branches of sage survived several nippy mornings;  an overnight low of 31 F. left it wilted, sodden, and white-leaved, that last tender bud blighted.
Perhaps one of those late blooms dropped seed mature enough to germinate in spring.

A long view of the garden under the plow, taken from the front porch.

Three deer have visited on several mornings as the sun was casting its first light.
We suspect this is the doe and twin fawns who were here in the spring.
I was able to take this zoomed photo by quietly easing out the back door and moving softly to the edge of the lower covered porch. The doe sensed my presence and stood at attention before bounding down the slope of the north ravine.

This unidentified plant grew in a corner of the greenhouse all summer, climbing behind the workbench in search of light. It too perished in the hard frost.

Jim has carried his chainsaw along the tree lines that mark the upper edges of the north and south ravines, taking out small dead trees and stacking the stove lengths for later trundling to the currently full woodshed.

This tree had decayed to a mere shell.

Trees grow densely on the rims of the north and south ravines--tulip poplar, hickory, sycamore, ash, maple, oak. In places dogwood, redbud, others I can't identify, form a dense under-story of branches.

 A shopping excursion to Tractor Supply Company [a chain farm and feed store] tempted me to purchase amaryllis and paperwhite bulbs. 
The amaryllis are flourishing, the paperwhites are rather feeble.
In Vermont our local Agway offered fat paperwhite bulbs in bulk to be chosen from a small bin and carried home in a paper sack.
Those, nestled into shallow bowls filled with pebbles, filled our small house there with a nearly overwhelming perfume from early December well into February.
I need to order a few bulbs from an online source I've used in other years.
[Note the freshly potted geraniums flanking the sluggish paperwhites.]

Two friends have never failing success with amaryllis, saving bulbs bulbs for a fresh start each autumn.
 I persevere, but have had only one bulb reward me with repeat bloom. 
My kept-over bulbs spent the summer in a large pot beneath one of the green house benches producing strappy leaves. Early in October I uprooted them, trimmed off the leaves and sequestered the bulbs on a dark shelf in the basement storage area.
Thus far the bulbs are sulking.

 An email from a nursery from which I've ordered perennials promised a 'special' on choice amaryllis.
I opened it eagerly only to find that the supposedly spectacular bulbs could be mine at $45 each!
The two bulbs purchased at TSC were $8 each.
On the way out of the store I noticed a display of packaged hyacinth bulb 'kits' complete with glass bulb vases. Had I seen them before checking out I would have been tempted.

DIL Dawn stopped by three days later and presented me with two of the kits!
One is already showing root growth, the other is still dormant. 

I was tapped to provide a deep dish apple pie for a church social.
Pies for our family Thanksgiving dinner were assigned to me as well: pumpkin, apple and a new family favorite, Lemonade Icebox Pie. 

It has seemed a busy month. I served as church pianist twice, as well as accompanist for friend Ruben's special music at the Thanksgiving service. 
Ruben, an accomplished musician, brings his flute to church, sets up his music stand at the left of the piano. His lovely improvisations encourage me to continue playing even as my fingers stiffen a bit.

At the end of these early winter days when darkness creates long evenings, I've read through a series of books by a late local author, Janice Holt Giles. I read some of them a few decades ago--how different to follow tales of early pioneers when I've now traveled many of their routes, both locally and heading
 'to the west.'

A new quilt project is underway encouraged by J's very creative cousin, Gloria who has been enthused by a new 'tool.' I was inspired to order one and hauled out some fabric purchased in my earliest years in Wyoming. 
The finished quilt will be rather more colorful than my usual taste.

16 inch block created from large 'Flying Geese' and the strips of smaller 'goslings.'
The dominant fabrics are from two lines designed by Robyn Pandolpf--collected prior to 2010 they appear in several of my finished quilts.
As well as experimenting with the 'tool' which is used to cut and trim various sizes of geese, this venture is meant to use only fabric from my large 'stash.'

J. has also taken on a fresh project.
Several years ago he considered enclosing the south-east porch and bought windows for that purpose.
As we continued to enjoy the porch with railings and screening, the idea was set aside.

The matching west porch has never appealed as a place to sit, gathering instead a make-shift table for ripening garden tomatoes, a bin for emptied and rinsed tins, and in winter a bin of kindling for the wood stove. 
On Sunday, a dark and gloomy day, the railings and screens were torn out.

Yesterday--another grey day--much sawing [on the lower porch] and with a great deal of banging about which I chose to ignore, the west end was partially framed.

More framing and fitting this morning and the projection that by nightfall the space will be ready for installation of two large and monstrously heavy windows.
Two of the family males have promised to appear tomorrow to lend their skills and their brawn.
I don't venture beyond the doorway having a lifelong wariness of high unfenced areas.
Considering that laborers are worthy of their hire [free help!] I will feed them well and leave them to it!

I'm off to the wild garden [so-called] to do some needed pruning before the weather turns unpleasant.