‘Twas the night before Christmas …

… when all thro’ the house. Not a creature was stirring, not even a

Wait, Smokey, you’re wide awake.

Put your head down and go to sleep.

Well, you didn’t have to take me literally, but that’s OK, thats a good cat.

Now, where we were. Oh, yes, not a creature … Zeke? You need to go to sleep.

Go find Sam and get right to sleep. That’s a good dog.

Chloe? Why aren’t you asleep? Leave Dusty alone and go to bed.

That’s good.

chloe asleep

Lucy, cover up and go to sleep. Yes, you can use the other cover if you want.

That’s good. Sleep tight!

Now, where is Mollie? Mollie, this is your first Christmas with us. You need to get to bed or Santa won’t come. Mollie? You can’t sleep there, and you’re not asleep anyway, are you?

That’s not your bed.

That either.

No, you can’t watch the stove. And, besides, Santa doesn’t come down our chimney like that.

Mollie, just find a place and go to sleep, OK? Everyone is tired.

It’s OK if you want to sleep there, but you’re not going to see Santa. Maybe you can find a more comfortable place to sleep.

Yes, that’s good. Just don’t roll over.

Now, is everyone in bed?

Wait! Who? Mr. Owl, I think you’re lost.

Be careful of the reindeer on your way out!

Now I think everyone is in bed and asleep.

And soon, we’ll be visited by that right jolly old elf …

st dogolas

St. Dogolas!

And so, from Leah, Mark, Zeke, Lucy, Chloe, Dusty, Sylvester, Smokey, Sam, and Mollie

happy christmas

and to all a good night!

In memoriam: Zoe, gone since Fall 2014,


and Rusty, gone since 2015.


After Christmas

We had a very quiet Christmas. It was so quiet, in fact, that it didn’t occur to me that it actually was Christmas until I was walking the dogs down the mountain.

It was foggy, as it has been so often in the last week or so.

It had been even foggier a little earlier in the morning. I could barely see the closest trees when I looked out from the bedroom window.

For Christmas dinner we had turkey, dressing and gravy we had frozen after Thanksgiving. It still tasted pretty good to me. Neighbor John called just as we were sitting down to eat and offered us some leftover ziti that his wife had made for Christmas dinner. I declined politely.

The buyer of our old house brought her two kids and a container of sweets to our new house on Christmas Eve. They are very nice people.

One of my favorite foods for the holidays is bread pudding. Back when I was working, the company held a potluck Thanksgiving lunch. Bridgett, one of my coworkers, often brought bread pudding with two sauces, one made with rum (or some other alcoholic beverage) and one without. She assured everyone that the alcohol had cooked out, but it hadn’t. Since I retired, I don’t get bread pudding unless I make it. So I did.

I used a loaf of French bread cut into squares and toasted slightly, rather than allowed to go stale. I also used a cup of raisins soaked in rum for a couple of hours. One of the major failings of some bread pudding I have eaten is too few raisins, so I made sure I had enough. Some bread pudding is more pudding-like, but I like it more bready. This turned out pretty much just the way I like it. I also made some buttered rum sauce, using a whole lot of sugar and a quarter cup of rum, all according to the recipe. And then I added more rum.

Leah thinks I might have to make more sauce. She’s not eating bread pudding, but she is tasting the sauce a little. I think we have enough rum left. I have eaten about two thirds of the bread pudding. I’m going to miss it when it’s gone.

We strung some lights on the front porch for decorations, as you can see in the previous post. We didn’t do anything inside. Aside from the numerous Christmas trees we saw at the Biltmore estate, our closest approach to a Christmas tree was at the bar in a Mexican restaurant where we ate while in Asheville.

It some ways I miss Christmas, but it slipped away slowly, gradually over the years as grandparents died, and then aunts and uncles, and then parents.

At least we’ll have bread pudding.

‘Twas the night before Christmas …

… and all through the house


not a creature was stirring, not even a …

Dusty? What are you doing inside?


Sam and Zeke are worried that Santa won’t come if you watch for him. Everyone go to sleep now.

Zeke, that won’t work. Close your eyes.


That’s better.



Good dog, Sam.


Sylvester, finish your bath and go to bed!


Now that’s a relaxed cat.


Chloe, you can’t keep even one eye open.


Good kitty.

chloe asleep

You, too, Smokey.

smokey asleep

Lucy, I think you’re the last one awake.


Pull up the covers and close your eyes. Good doggie.


Now I think everyone is in bed and asleep.

And soon, we’ll be visited by that right jolly old elf …

st dogolas

St. Dogolas!

And so, from Leah, Mark, Zeke, Lucy, Chloe, Dusty, Sylvester, Smokey and Sam,

happy christmas

and to all a good night!

In memoriam: Zoe, gone since Fall 2014,


and Rusty, gone this year.


Post-Christmas roundup

Christmas day was quiet up on the mountain. I’m not sure we have done less on any given day in the recent past. We mostly sat around and listened to the rain. The only time I went outside was a quick trip up the road to let Zeke take care of his business, and a couple of even quicker trips around the house to let both dogs do their business. The rest of the time we stayed inside, and did nothing and saw no one.

We had been having egg nog every evening since Thanksgiving, so Thursday night when we realized we had run out of egg nog before we ran out of Southern Comfort, I went back down to the grocery store for more. They were sold out. I checked a couple of liquor stores, and they had run out, too. I stopped at a convenience store and they didn’t know what egg nog was. So we didn’t have egg nog for Christmas night.

We had another foiled Christmas tradition. Leah has made it a custom to give the guy who makes our eyeglasses a spiked fruitcake every Christmas. We prepared the fruitcake and took it by his office on Tuesday, only to find out that they had closed their office until the Monday after Christmas. I think it will be okay to deliver on Monday; I’m pretty sure it has been properly preserved.

Late in the day Leah started preparing Christmas dinner. We had deep-fried turkey (store bought) and cornbread dressing (home made, and very good) with turkey gravy (let’s say half store bought and half home made). It was good, so I ate a lot. Leah says she ate a lot, but she really didn’t.

A few days before Christmas we had given in and put a couple of decorations in the living room, but we didn’t put up a tree. That was OK, since we had each bought our own presents weeks earlier.

All in all, we both thought it was a pretty decent Christmas. We hope everyone had at least as good Christmas as we did.

The most memorable features of Christmas here, as well as most of the East Coast, were rain and extraordinarily high temperatures. A lot of places west and south of us had much more rain and much worse weather than we did, but we had a lot of rain. When I went outside Saturday morning, I could hear the dull road from the rush of water in all the streams flowing down the mountain. The rivers and most of the larger streams around Rome were at or over flood stage, although there was no severe flooding. We don’t know exactly how much rain we had on the mountain, because our rain gauge is broken.

Saturday morning we saw sunlight for the first time in days.


A little later it looked like the clouds would disappear.


And then a little later than that, it looked like it would rain again.


It did rain, but only a light mist that didn’t even get me and the dogs wet when we went up to look at the house. The house weather tight now, but someone left a window open before it started raining, so the floor sheathing was wet in some places. I wanted to see if a particular place was wetter. It wasn’t, but it also wasn’t dry. I don’t know whether it’s a leak, or maybe someone just dropped a water bottle.

We had a rough inspection on December 23. It covered plumbing, electrical, heating and air conditioning, and framing. The inspector left me with a list of eight things that need to be addressed before he will sign off. Two are fairly serious framing issues. The ridge beam needs more support for one thing. That should be straightforward. The other issue is a butchered i-joist where the plumber cut away some of the upper part of the joist to get the master bath shower drain in. When I saw that a few days earlier I knew it was going to be a problem; I just don’t know why the plumbers didn’t know that. I have to call the framer to see what we can do about those two issues.

The plumber also missed a few places that need metal plates to protect pipes from drywall screws and nails. I also don’t know why they missed those, but at least all those will require is a metal plate and a few nails.

The inspector found no problems with the electrical or heating/cooling system. That’s good. He also said we can proceed with insulation, since that won’t cover any of the required fixes.

So insulation is the next big project, and I intend to do this one myself.

‘Twas the night before Christmas …

… and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a …

Hey, Zeke, come on, you know Santa will never come if you stay up looking for him.

Zeke, get away from the door

Go on, Zeke, go to bed and go to sleep.

zeke in bedGood dog. Hey, Chloe, you heard what I told Zeke!

chloe looking outEveryone go to bed, right now!

That’s right, Lucy, good dog.

lucy asleep You, too, Sylvester, good kitty.

sylvester asleeep

Come on, now, Smokey, you  aren’t fooling anyone.

smokey faking it

That’s good, Smokey, but you’re going to have to move if your mother is ever going to get to bed.

smokey asleep

There, Smokey, that’s better.

smokey asleep

Look, even Chloe is finally asleep.

chloe asleep

Sam! You’re going to scare Santa away if you look at him like that.

sam wide awake

There, that’s better.

sam asleep

But Sam, I’m afraid you’re going to have to sleep in your doghouse tonight. I’m sure Santa will visit you there, too.

OK, I think everyone is in bed.

And soon, we’ll be visited by that right jolly old elf …

st dogolas

St. Dogolas!

And so, from Leah, Mark, Zeke, Lucy, Chloe, Sylvester, Smokey and Sam,

happy christmas

and to all a good night!

In memoriam: Zoe the cat, gone since Fall 2014.

goodbye zoe