Leaves

Wouldn’t you know it, a Grackle can live for 23 years or more! So, the Grackle that comes to the corner eves of our house, where there used to be a big hole in the facia, looking to nest in her traditional spot, won’t be giving up any time soon. Every spring a Grackle, and I am assuming it is the original mother Grackle, although it might be one of her offspring, returns to our eves and pecks away at the wood and metal that Attila has installed to cover the previous hole in the facia. Every spring is a Grackle serenade of beak on wood, beak on metal, rat a tat tat. This has been going on for six years. This morning I looked up the life span of a Grackle, and I can see that we must accept this visitation as an annual event, quite possibly for the rest of our lives. It may be that over the next 17 years the Grackles will actually manage to peck their way through the inches of wood covering the hole in the facia. It may eventually reclaim its nesting spot, starting the whole cycle over again.

Yesterday was a beautiful day. It dawned cloudy here at Mist Cottage, but we were not deterred, we packed up tank with our rakes and shovels and a picnic lunch and hit the road. A local service club hosted a fundraising event, selling rain barrels. I ordered one about a month ago, and yesterday was the day it had to be picked up. the pickup location was just off our route to the Rideau Camp, so it was our first stop on the way. We joined the long line of vehicles, the drivers waiting patiently to present their invoices, and load their rain barrels into their back seats and trunks. We waited in line for about about 15 minutes, and within another 15 minutes had the rain barrel loaded into the back of Tank and were back on our journey to the Camp.

The landscape we travelled through was painted with hints of green, as the buds had swelled during the warm spring night. At the Camp the tall Sugar Maples were golden light green with promise, and red buds of the ash trees waved in the breeze. The birch trees were jewelled with catkins. The sun shone bright.

As beautiful as it was, over 20C, the black flies were insistent enough that they would not be ignored. Insect repellent was generously applied to face, neck, and ears, which along with the wind kept them from biting. Attila says that biting insect season begins when the dandelions bloom, which has proven to be the case this spring.

The forest floor was carpeted in green islands of Mayflowers, white and mauve, and Trout Lillies, yellow and bold. White Trilliums bloomed on the south facing hills. The wind set the blooms to nodding in dappled sunlight. Sitting listening to the wind in the trees, watching the branches and flowers dance, quiet seeped into the centre of me. It might be classified as joy, it is definitely a feeling of perfect rightness.

Attila spent the day alternately removing the last of the cedar logs from the wood pile, which was at that point mostly earth, and taking half full loads of crushed stone in the wheelbarrow, to deposit them in the area designated to expand the parking area. We plan on planting squash in the earth that used to be the wood pile.

I spent my day gathering dry brush from around the last of the wood pile, and from around the parking area, and burning it as a campfire. We estimate that if I spend the rest of the summer burning campfires, by next autumn we will be done with burning the brush pushed into piles around the driveway and parking area.

While we were busy with our projects, we heard loud noises off to the side of the property. It sounds like several motor bikes trying to get up the cliff near us, on the neighbours property. Attila went to investigate, and could see nothing from our property boundary, they were not on our property. We wondered if it was the neighbour, but we didn’t know. It went on for quite some time, and it must have caused a lot of damage to the forest floor.

A short time later we paused from our tasks and looked up as three young teenage boys roared up our driveway. Trespassers. Two of them were on cross country motor bikes, a third was in a small ATV which sported some kind of a flag waving from an antennae. They stopped short when they saw Attila, standing by Tank with his hands on his hips. One of the three boys was dressed in a red and white outfit and helmet, seemingly a competition costume for cross country biking, and he sat astride a red and white motor bike, with no license. The other motor bike was older and less ostentatious, the rider dressed in dark street clothes, and a black helmet, and again the bike did not have a license. The ATV rider was dressed in street clothes and a ball cap, and his vehicle did not have a license.

After a few brief words to one another, they turned their machines around and exited the property. One of the bike riders obviously had trespassed here before, leaving the deep rut beside the parking area.

We estimate they are local kids, as their vehicles were all unlicensed for the road. Attila feels they will not be back, as we now know what they look like, and could probably find out who they are. They did not appear to want to have to tangle with Attila. They also know we are aware that they did possible damage to neighbouring property, and that we have seen them, to know who did it. They are only interested, so far, in tearing up the ecosystem, destroying wetland, wildflowers and native plants, wildlife habitats. None of our trespassers have interfered with our personal property, there has been no vandalism of that kind.

If we see evidence that they have been back, I will be calling the local police.

We enjoyed grilled cheese sandwiches over the open fire, for our midday meal. Since I now make our bread without sodium, I can afford to eat a cheese sandwich. Since lactose is now an issue as well, it was a real boon to find lactose free cheddar on sale at the local grocery last week. Cheese sandwiches grilled over an open camp fire are the best!

As the day waned the black flies became more intent on reaching succulent human skin. The Mayflowers, Trout Lillies, and Trilliums slowly closed their petals tight, forming perfect droplets directed at the imminent night sky. It was time to pack the tools, put out the campfire, and drive off into the sunset. The first of the leaves had burst forth from the buds by late afternoon. Soft clouds, consisting of hundreds of shades of green, decorated the scenery during our journey.

As beautiful as the weather was yesterday, it is that miserable today! A cold rain falls steadily from the sky, and the temperature has risen to only 4C, and it looks as if it will not increase significantly today. Grocery shopping was on the to do list, so today was a perfect day to get the job done. Baking is also on the list, which works on such a chilly damp day. Laundry must be tackled as well, as clothing worn around the campfire, and working on the log pile and crushed stone, and coated with insect repellent, is not smelling so sweet.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

4°C
Date: 11:00 AM EDT Sunday 30 April 2017
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 102.5 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 3.9°C
Dew point: -0.7°C
Humidity: 72%
Wind: NE 24 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”
Alvin Toffler

Which will make those who rely on apps to function the new illiterati.

Rideau Camp And Mayflowers

Yesterday Attila and I arose early, packed Tank, ate a hearty breakfast, and drove off towards the camp early in the morning. It was a glorious day! The journey to the camp took us though a landscape lush with green grasses, and there were even a few trees that looked as if the buds were about to burst.

Upon arrival my first task was to get a camp fire going in the fire pit. Luckily Attila had dragged a dead pine tree over near the fire pit, during out last visit several weeks ago. The branches were brittle and dry, broke easily, and made perfect kindling. The fire started on the first try. The rest of my day was spent burning the pine boards that had been under the back deck at Mist Cottage, and collecting and burning fallen branches from around the perimeter of the clearing where we spend our time at the Camp. I even grabbed the rake and spent fifteen minutes raking crushed stone, which was quite a chore, some of the pieces of stone are four or five inches in diameter, and quite heavy.

On a walk down the driveway to our pond I collected fallen branches, which I burned in the fire pit. Along the way I enjoyed the Mayflowers scattered at the side of the drive, and off into the bush. There were also clumps of bright yellow Coltsfoot in and around the end of the driveway, near the pond. All day we were serenaded by the frogs in our pond, the one by the road, and the two further back on the property. The ponds dried up over the course of the summer last year, as it was a very dry year. This spring the ponds are full to capacity, and full of life.

Attila felled three dead trees that we had marked last autumn, and released a fallen dead tree which was caught up in the branches of living trees at the perimeter of the open area. He worked on releasing more logs from the log pile, digging them out and throwing them into sorted piles by size, so that he could easily stack them when they dried out a bit, later in the spring. As well, he moved a few barrels worth of crushed stone into the area we marked out to be covered with stone and gravel. We will work on this project slowly, moving a little bit of crushed stone every time we visit the Camp, and eventually the job will get done. We are hoping it gets done before the weather is nice enough to go camping!

DSCF0561 Here is what is left of the original towering pile of logs. Attila fished out another four or five dozen logs from the pile of dirt show here. The wood at the forefront of the photo will be burned in the fire pit after it dries out a bit more. To the right the pile of crushed stone can be seen, it will be getting smaller as the weeks go by.

With so many restrictions on my diet, it is difficult to find food to consume for portable picnics. We decided on homemade hummus, sodium-free, with low sodium crackers for me, and pita bread for Attila. Commercial bread has too much sodium in it for me to be able to eat it, and I haven’t ventured into making my own, not yet anyway. I brought my homemade low-sodium, low-sugar, low-cholesterol muffins as well, for snacks. And I always keep a handy small container of walnuts and chocolate chips in Tank, just in case we hit a low energy situation, which happens from time to time when we are working all day in the outdoors.

When we arrived at the camp the driveway was partially flooded with less than an inch of water from our adjacent pond. Upon investigation, it was discovered that leaves and dead branches had collected at the outlet to the stream, keeping the water level high. Attila spent an hour or so with the rake, clearing the channel, and by the time I went for my walk down the driveway, the water level had gone down by several inches, leaving the drive high and dry.

DSCF0564 I am always delighted to the core of my being to see the Mayflowers in the spring! Growing up, my Mom would take us into the bush to search for them in early spring, what a wonderful memory that is, and the feelings of wonder have never left me. Mayflowers were harbingers of barefoot summers spent playing in the bush around the perimeter of our farm. What lucky children we were!

I was dismayed to find, near the fire pit, that some trespasser on a dirt bike or ATV had done a “donut” at the edge of area of crushed stone, and had torn up the soil, leaving a deep rut about ten feet long. We are now talking about putting up a gate at the end of the driveway.

And oh yes, last but not least, I got my first black fly bite of the season, along the hairline, behind my right ear. Little devils!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

2°C
Date: 8:00 AM EDT Monday 24 April 2017
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.4 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 2.4°C
Dew point: -2.7°C
Humidity: 69%
Wind: NNE 20 gust 29 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“I hate this bizarre policy of protective exclusion, because it effectively writes me off the page.”
Sara Gruen, Water for Elephants

I have borrowed this as an audio book from my local library, and am listening to it as I crochet. The above statement was made by a 90 or 93 year old man in a nursing home, of his family, who don’t tell him things because they don’t want to upset him. The not telling upsets him a lot.

Walking On Air

Every day it has rained, all week long. We have our “April Showers” that hopefully will “Bring May Flowers”. The temperature has hovered between 5C and 10C, chilly in the damp.

I have yet to get back out for a walk on a consistent basis. I find myself reluctant, and always have a reason, such as cold rain, wet hair from the shower, finishing a project before heading out… it is always something. The somethings vary, but the fact that they appear daily is a sign of inertia, perhaps even resistance. After doing a bit of soul searching, it seems that the public parade aspect of the walk is what makes it difficult to engage.

On Wednesday morning, while contemplating this issue of resistance, something the cardiologist said during the recent consultation, came to mind. He mentioned an elliptical machine, that it was low impact and might be an option for someone with arthritic knees, which would be me!

After looking at the local offerings of elliptical walking machines, it became obvious that the $1200 to $11,000 price tags on the things would be a problem, not to mention the size of them; Mist Cottage is small. After looking around at local sources, the net was cast further afield, and ended up including amazon.ca. There an elliptical walking machine was on offer for $143, the shipping free with Prime, and most of the reviews were positive. It had a small footprint, and was very simple with few bells and whistles. Without thinking, I ordered the machine, and it was on its way.

On Thursday afternoon, the very next day, the elliptical walker was delivered to our door. It was easy to assemble, and both Attila and I played with it for a bit. I decided that overdoing it would be foolish, so I confined myself to playing on it for only five minutes on Thursday night. It reminds me of walking on air. It will be best to proceed slowly, let the muscles adjust slowly to a new routine.

Today I found myself anxious to give the thing a try again. Before breakfast I had a streamed movie playing on the iMac, and was happily walking on the machine while watching the film. The timer was set for ten minutes, enough time for the muscles to begin to adjust to the new routine. Again in the afternoon the movie was started up, and the a second ten minute walk ensued. That is enough for one day. My knees seem to be handling the experience without a problem. I am, however, experiencing a mild stiffness in my lower back, and my less than optimal arm, so limiting the experiment to two ten minute sessions was well advised.

As I was walking on the machine my mind wandered a bit. I thought about what this machine would have seemed like from the perspective of childhood; it would have been an exciting toy. Perhaps that is how I will perceive it now, as long as the adventure proceeds with caution, so as to avoid any pain or strain.

When I woke up this morning it was with the realization that I am happy, right now, at this particular juncture; a feeling to savour.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

8°C
Date: 7:00 PM EDT Friday 21 April 2017
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.2 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 8.0°C
Dew point: 5.8°C
Humidity: 86%
Wind: SW 12 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Happiness makes up in height for what it lacks in length.”
Robert Frost
1874 – 1963

Spectacularly Unspectacular

Easter weekend was very kind to us this year. We decided to stay home and work on the yard and house, because in a few short weeks we won’t be spending our weekends at home, we will be at the Rideau Camp.

On Friday, the day Attila had off work, he raked the entire yard, and trimmed a lot of the dead organic matter from last winter. I removed sheets of plastic that had wintered in bunched up balls under the back deck, hideous! One of them had been sprayed by a Tom Cat, so you can imagine the smell. It was bagged, and along with the yard waste and a large bag of garbage that had hung around all winter, it was loaded into Tank for a trip to the dump.

Friday we got word that Luna and Janus and Imp and Elf and Tink were going to make a flying visit to the area to see all of us before their flight to Amsterdam. They will be living in Amsterdam for three months, the whole family. This news inspired me to undertake spring cleaning. After all, two crawling babies and three active children need a clean space to cavort in. They all arrived late in the afternoon on Sunday, and stayed for an hour or so. Then they headed off to Terra’s house, which is very large, to spend the night.

It was a lovely visit. When Tink asked me to read her a story, it was the perfect opportunity to read to all my Grandbabies one of the books I bought with them in mind. The story we read together is called “The Night You Were Born”, by Nancy Tillman. I love this book because it celebrates every new life, not within the family context, but within the context of the universe, of being a living entity on planet earth. This book welcomes all new human life, not just those who are lucky enough to have a family to welcome them into the world, it is very inclusive. And so there I sat, reading those beautiful words to those bright young souls, that told them the story of how precious they are in the universe. Imp and Tink sat on my left, Elf sat on my right, little Sunny sat on my lap, and Sky listened from the other room, happily ensconced on his Grandpa’s lap. Elf and Tink listened with bright eyes, Imp sometimes gazed off into the distance, as she is known to be introspective at times, Sunny in her frilly dress was intent upon touching the pages, perhaps having a little taste, and Sky could be heard commenting in his own language as his Grandpa held him. How sweet is was when after reading this part of the story,

“So whenever you doubt just how special you are
and wonder who loves you, how much and how far,
listen for geese honking high in the sky.
(They’re singing a song to remember you by.)
Or notice the bears asleep at the zoo.
(It’s because they’ve been dancing all night for you!)
Or drift off to sleep to the sound of the wind.
(Listen closely… it’s whispering your name again!)

we whispered each child’s name. It felt like my brother, my Granny and Grandpa, and my Aunts, were crowded around us and silently whispering their love into those beautiful names.

Monday morning saw Attila off to work, and me driving Tank to visit Terra’s house, for a shared breakfast with my daughters and their families. I enjoyed listening to them talk amongst themselves, and enjoyed playing with the Grandbabies, all of them. The Grandbabies enjoyed an Easter Egg hunt out of doors, filling their Easter Baskets with the treats they found scattered and hidden all over the yard. The morning flew past, and before I knew it, it was time to say goodbye. We will not see Luna, Janus, Imp, Elf, and Tink for quite a while, today they catch their flight to Amsterdam, where they will live for the next three months before returning to Ontario. They are all very excited to be going on such an adventure. Terra and Lares and Sunny and Sky were preparing to attend an Easter Monday family get together at Lares’ uncle’s home.

Today was a day of comparative leisure. I baked Squash Muffins. I washed a load of laundry and hung it outside on the line to dry. I worked on my book. I worked on my crochet project, a cotton cover for my Obus seat. Attila arrived home and we enjoyed a dinner consisting of chicken, potatoes, carrots, and green and yellow beans. Because it is light later into the evening, Attila is out in the yard levelling a flower box that had settled crookedly over the winter. I have cleaned the kitchen, and now written this entry.

We have had a spectacularly unspectacular Easter break.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

10°C
Date: 6:00 PM EDT Tuesday 18 April 2017
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.9 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 10.1°C
Dew point: -3.9°C
Humidity: 37%
Wind: SSE 7 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“For never before in story or rhyme
(no even once upon a time)
has the world ever known a you, my friend,
and it never will, not ever again…”
from On The Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman

Home Sweet Home

There it is, today was the last in a long succession of doctor’s appointments. Home sweet home at last!

The doctor’s appointment today was interesting. The removal was almost painless, and the doctor was very sure there was no cause for concern. As anticipated, the most difficult part of the appointment was finding a place to park. I had visited the area via google earth beforehand, and located four parking lots and garages that were within a walkable radius of the clinic. I was hoping to park on the street, but there were no available parking spots there, so I made a few turns to visit the closest parking lot. There was one spot left, and a good reason for it. The entrance to the spot was so close to the adjacent building as to almost block entry, It took a 42 point turn to get the car positioned to get into it. I managed it though, and paid for my parking tag. It was much easier getting the car out again, because the adjacent car had left before my return, so I had lots of room to maneuver.

After the heads up from Eileen (thanks Eileen!) about the antibiotic ciprofloxacin (fluoroquinolones include ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin-Levaquin, pefloxacin, and norfloxacin), that had been prescribed at the emergency department for my UTI, I decided today to ask the doctor at the clinic for an alternative prescription. Reading the FDA document, and a National Health article on this drug I have to question the wisdom of prescribing it for something as minor as a UTI! These side effects are serious indeed, as Eileen gently, and thankfully, communicated.

The doctor questioned me about not wanting to take ciprofloxacin, he seemed a bit reluctant, but in the end he did provide me with an alternative prescription for Macrobid. I didn’t end up getting it. The pharmacist let me know that the new prescription contained my allergen, so another alternative would need to be found. The pharmacy was in the clinic, so the pharmacist went and had a chat with the doctor. The upshot was a prescription for fosfomycin, which is apparently not as effective as ciprofloxacin, but does not carry the risks of serious side effects that ciprofloxacin does. The brand name of the medication I ended up with is Monurol, it is a single-dose powder that is mixed into water, and drunk all at once, on an empty stomach. I took it as soon as I arrived home, as the evening unfolds I shall discover its effectiveness, and any side effects. I note that it is two hours after taking the medication, and the edge is off the symptoms. It is a positive sign.

The only thing I noticed about the weather today was the wind was chilly, and that wearing a parka to the appointment was the right choice.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

7°C
Date: 7:00 PM EDT Wednesday 12 April 2017
Condition: Not observed
Pressure: 102.5 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 6.9°C
Dew point: 2.1°C
Humidity: 72%
Wind: WSW 19 km/h

Quote

“What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
1803 – 1882

That is why posers steer clear of me, I am lacking in credulity. They hate that.