Hallowe’en

I have begun the process of shutting down some of my web sites. One in particular has few visitors, and is difficult to maintain, security being the issue it is on the information highway. I deleted all files from the server this morning for that site. I have to say I will not miss the constant updating required to keep it secure! For now I will continue to maintain the other sites, as they receive a steady stream of traffic, and are quite useful to those who use them. The other sites are easier to maintain, they are newer and the security software is easier to update.

It is 6:30 a.mm. Through the window I can just begin to make out the silhouette of the ash tree. There are intermittent gusts of wind that set the branches swaying. I love watching the dawn gently nudge the day awake.

Yesterday, and the night before it, were rough ones. I don’t dwell on the sadnesses in my life, they are monoliths of pain, ancient and unmoving mountains, beyond my ability to scale. I do have to visit them though, from time to time. Yesterday, and the night before it, I was camped in the foothills.

I did find that, the night before last when I could not fall asleep, the Melatonin tablet that I placed under my tongue, after a few hours of tossing and turning, helped to take the edge off the pain, enough for me to finally fall into a deep and much needed sleep. As I began to doze off, I promised myself that I would address the issues in the morning, when I was refreshed. Sleep is so very important when one is dealing with sadnesses. I always eat well during these short periods of time. Keeping my physical condition at its best while dealing with difficult issues is crucial.

I kept my promise to myself, and spent yesterday exploring the sadnesses, spending some time with them, affirming that they are indeed very sad, and that there is nothing to be done. Attila and I had a chat last night about the issues, he knew something was amiss with me. He also knows the situations with which I deal, and knows the sadnesses are well founded, inevitable, and that the time I spend with them will be painful but brief. And that was the end to it, until the next time.

Last night I slept soundly, without needing assistance from Melatonin. This morning I awoke refreshed and ready for a new day.

Soon the window replacement will be completed. When it is, Attila will move on to the next project, the new kitchen floor. The materials have been purchased, commercial grade vinyl tiles, low VOC, very inexpensive, very plain.

I have been emptying the storage cabinet in the dining area of the kitchen, bit by bit. It is a big job, as there is really no other place to put the contents. All the drawers are now empty, and I am working on the shelves. I anticipate that by the time the bedroom window project is finished, the storage cabinet will be empty and ready to move. But where to move it! Every square inch in this little house is occupied. It will have to be kept in the middle of the living room I fear, for the duration of the floor installation.

Today is Hallowe’en. We expect a few Trick or Treater’s at the door tonight. We have a pumpkin, which Attila will carve when he gets home from work. We have candy, which we purchased a few weeks ago when it was on sale. The Jack O’ Lantern will be our only decoration. We are not enthusiastic decorators when it comes to “holidays”, except at Christmas, we like to have a Christmas tree, and coloured lights. But Hallowe’en, Valentine’s Day, Easter, we do not decorate. We don’t really notice these days really. But we do know that the kids like Hallowe’en, and Trick or Treating, so we turn on our porch light, light the candle in the Jack O’ Lantern, and distribute sweets to to the kids who come to our door.

“Peter Tokofsky, an assistant professor in the department of folklore and mythology in UCLA states, “The earliest trace (of Halloween) is the Celtic festival, Samhain, which was the Celtic New Year. It was the day of the dead, and they believed the souls of the deceased would be available” (Navarro).” Source: The Origins of Halloween

Hornet's nest For Hallowe’en… some real ghostly remains. This is a hornet’s nest that was built on a branch of the crabapple tree in our front yard. The branch was about three feet off the ground, so this was very low hanging, and might have been bumped into by anyone passing. Attila sprayed it in August, which effectively killed the hornets, and it has hung on the branch ever since, slowly disintegrating in the weather. The high winds we have been experiencing have taken matters into their own hands, to strip the nest of its wrappings, to exposed the combs beneath. The dead bodies of hornets can still be seen in some of the combs. Creepy, and beautiful at the same time. Unfortunately we cannot live comfortably side by side with hornets. Attila is allergic, and the stings are very painful.

I will be thinking of my ancestors tonight, and my loved ones who have passed. I can remember my Grandparents, my Great Aunts and my Great Uncles, and I know by first hand account of their families, who raised them, further back than that I cannot reach with my heart.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

9°C
Date: 1:00 PM EDT Tuesday 31 October 2017
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.2 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 9.4°C
Dew point: 0.4°C
Humidity: 53%
Wind: WSW 32 gust 44 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“But psychoanalysis has taught that the dead—a dead parent, for example—can be more alive for us, more powerful, more scary, than the living. It is the question of ghosts.”
Jacques Derrida
1930 – 2004

High Wind

The wind is high today. I can feel a breeze coming in at one corner of the new widow in the back bedroom, which means the wind has given us a gift, the gift of knowledge. Attila will need to fix that opening to the great outdoors, not that we know it is there.

The clouds are moving quickly across the sky. I am watching them parade in and out of sight, as I gaze out the living room window. My perspective has changed. This morning I moved the furniture around, so that my chair no longer faces the front of the house, it now faces the side of the house. This gives me a view of the sky, and the branches of the neighbours ash tree, the one of the few trees that escaped their scourge. The sun no longer shines in my eyes all morning, which is an advantage. I miss seeing the pine bough’s graceful sway, in windy weather, but one cannot have everything.

Our neighbours, the young couple with two boys, are gone. Last April they told us they were spending the summer in a trailer park, and that they were renting the main floor of the house out temporarily while they were gone. The husbands brother was going to continue living in the house, in the basement. All through late September and October there was activity next door. First the tenant moved out. Then the brother in the basement began to move his belongings out, with his father’s help and his father’s vehicle. Then the house fell silent, and a few days later the property management notices went onto the widows, the house had been repossessed. Oh how I wish they had lost the house before they cut down so many of the beautiful trees on the property, probably for firewood. I really miss the flowering crab tree they destroyed, it provided shade, lovely spring aromas when the blossoms came out, bird song all summer long, and privacy. They stripped the property of its many of its charms. They missed the ash tree, probably because it is so large that taking it down would have been a very big job, requiring a permit.

Who knows what will happen next with the house next door. We are hoping that its luck changes. The couple who owned it when we moved in sold it as soon as we painted the exterior of our house. The couple who bought it lost it to the bank. The next couple who bought have now also lost it to the bank. Each successive owner has further diminshed the house, making unwise choices in landscaping, and interior renovations that were not completed. The house needs someone to love it.

On Saturday morning, when Attila and I were out picking up the materials needed for the window replacement, we stopped in at the drug store to pick up his prescription. The drug store offered flu shots. I took a chance and talked to the druggist, about my allergen. While we waited he made some calls and could tell me what non-medicinal ingredients were in the shot, so that we determined that I could have the shot. So Attila and I both had our annual flu shot. I am going to take all my prescriptions to this drug store in future, it is a Rexall Drug Store. Neither of us has had any reaction at all to the shots.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

10°C
Date: 3:00 PM EDT Monday 30 October 2017
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 99.6 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 9.5°C
Dew point: 1.8°C
Humidity: 58%
Wind: WSW 35 gust 60 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“It is our responsibilities, not ourselves, that we should take seriously.”
Peter Ustinov
1921 – 2004

Life In The First Person

The new window is in. Actually, it went in yesterday evening, and was well sealed with caulking, and foam insulation. The bedroom was comfortable for sleeping, and even though it got very chilly during the night, the temperature in the room did not fall below 15C.

Today heavy rainfall makes Attila grateful that the new window is going in from the covered porch, which means the work area remains dry. The fibreglass insulation went in this morning, the vapour barrier applied. That small rectangle of vapour barrier is the only vapour barrier in the whole room, as it was not commonly used when this house was built. Eventually we will remove all of the old drywall, which has holes punched through it, to rewire, insluate, apply vapour barrier to all exterior walls and then install new drywall. Another year, many years from now, we will tackle that project. For now though, Attila will install drywall over this small patch of wall, mud it, sand it, and paint it. When the trim has been installed, the job will be done!

DSCF1442 The new to us window is in! It isn’t pretty yet, that will take some time, but it is functional. The newspaper covers the bottom pane, for privacy when the lights are on at night. We decided that Attila will not spend the time to finish it attractively, we are going to be replacing this drywall when we renovate the whole room, so for now a coat of primer over dry rough mudding will suffice, as well as some trim, and curtains, we have lots of old curtains!

In reading one of the blogs I follow this morning, I was led to think about why I blog. I did not start out “blogging”. When I wrote my first entry and posted it online, there was no such thing as a blog, or if there was I had never heard of it. There were a few of us, John Bailey, and others, who created our own web sites and posted blog entries, everything was hand coded by the authors. I held out coding my own web pages until 2010, after eleven years of posting journal entries. I thought of them as journal entries, my personal journal.

What were my motivations?

I have always been an avid reader. Although I have read books voraciously since early childhood, the greatest volume of reading that I have done has been scientific and scholarly publications, which is a function of my fifteen years of post secondary education. However, in the books I have chosen to read, I have loved reading about the day-to-day lives of people, it says so very much about them. My chosen reading list includes books like, to name but a very few:

Fernand Braudel’s Civilization and Capitalism 15th-18th Century, Vol. 1: The Structures of Everyday Life. I picked this book up second hand at a University Book Store and loved it. Unfortunately it was a very unpopular book with a few of the ultra conservative professors in my department, and I was chastised for reading it, so I continued to secretly read it. It was not an assigned reading. My assigned reading list, approved by these professors, grew longer at this point.

Lillian Schlissel’s Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey. I enjoyed this book immensely, and it was again not an assigned reading during those intense university years. This book was a gift for my birthday, I think the year was 1988, the inscription reads, To Maggie, Happy Advance Birthday, Love Joan, Paul, and Alexis. People I love and are part of my life to this day. This book includes many quotations from actual journal entries, words written by women who journeyed the USA Overland Trail, across the continent to Oregon and California, from 1840 to 1870. Their lives were conscribed in many ways by the culture, by the expectations based on gender, but in many ways they moved beyond the bounds of common expectations.

Frances and Joseph Gies’ Marriage And The Family In The Middle Ages. A book I picked up at the University of Toronto book store, again not on my reading list. This book gave me a broader context within which to place my own experiences. A book dense with relatively reliable information, I read with enthusiasm and came away, as I read the last page and closed the book, feeling differently about myself and the world around me. A quote: “Family life among the other major Genoese social class, that of the artisans – craftsmen, shopkeepers, petty merchants, laborers – differed markedly from that of the aristocrats.” It was this book that brought to my attention that the stories of the aristocrats (the wealthy) seldom speak to the reality of the majority of the population (rest of the population), at any time in history.

Helen Duncan’s Kate Rice Prospector. This book was a gift from Steve-Paul, for another birthday I believe. It outlines the life of a very unusual woman, a very intelligent, independent woman, who railed against the machine of sexism. She won some of her battles, lived most of her life the way she wanted to, and spent the very last years of her life enclosed in the structures of the society she struggled against. Her story was in many ways inspiring, but in many ways it was also disheartening. Helen Duncan, who wrote the book, had met Kate Rice, and interviewed many of the people who knew her. The book had a particular slant, one which I found less than approving of Kate’s choices and lifestyle. I enjoyed the book, both in learning about Kate Rice’s life, but also in learning how Kate’s life was judged by an author living an “acceptable” life. This book affirmed that “beauty” is indeed in the eye of the beholder, and that our writing says more about us than it does about the subjects we write about.

Thousands of books have influenced my thinking, and my heart. The range of personalities, paths of thought, values, writing styles, life experiences, life paths, life choices… the range of exposure has been exhilarating, fascinating, and has given me a respect for diversity and tolerance and my own ignorance, that I would not have had, had I remained within the limits of the world views in my own small context.

Life handed me some tragic circumstances. I decided to write a journal, not to record those tragedies, but to record how I felt about being alive, how I saw life, the universe, and everything. I decided to ignore how other’s judged my life, to define myself by my own values. I decided to write, not about the circumscribed world of logic, debate, argument, scholarship… but about the life in the trenches. To write not about the ins and outs of politics, and finance, and religion, and powers that rule the world, and the schools of thought that conscribe discourse, but about how all of that translates into a lived life. Life in the first person, I suppose, is what I call my journal entries.

So seldom on these pages do I enter any kind of scholarly rendition. I could if I so chose. I have been trained well to write scholarly tomes, and have done so, published them in scholarly journals, presented them at scholarly conferences. But I count my real success in life as how I have come to love myself, who I am, how I choose to live, what I choose to see in people, that I choose, above all else, “what love does”.

I continue to read a great range authors of the written word. I read blogs, and books, written by all kinds of people, pursuing different interests, living in different parts of the world, different ages, genders (more than two!), different levels of education, different languages (translated into English). They all have one thing in common, the authors are kind, thoughtful people, who know who they are, and write from the heart. It doesn’t take much to impress me, but there are few who do.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

WIND WARNING IN EFFECT
RAINFALL WARNING IN EFFECT
7°C
Date: 3:00 PM EDT Sunday 29 October 2017
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 100.5 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 7.2°C
Dew point: 6.2°C
Humidity: 93%
Wind: N 13 km/h
Visibility: 6 km

Quote

“He who pursues fame at the risk of losing his self is not a scholar.”
Chuang-tzu
369 BC – 286 BC

A Hole In My House

And so it begins. Or rather, it has begun. After a quick shopping trip this morning, to pick up one last item for the project, Attila began to remove the bedroom window. The first step was to remove the storm window, and he had that done so quickly that I failed to get a picture of it! Then the window itself was ready to come out, and I did get a picture of the hole left when it had been removed.

The old window was a huge double-hung window, with a bottom pane so large and heavy that I had great difficulty in opening the thing. That bottom section of the window was so heavy that it has twice snapped the wood pieces I tried to use to prop it open. It was awkward too, after getting the bottom section lifted up, to then try to open the very old, very sticky, storm window. The single pane glass was noticeably cold all winter long. I will not miss that window for one single second.

The new window is double-glazed, is constructed of wood, aluminum and vinyl, and I can open it with no problem. It does not need to be propped open with a stick, it stays at whatever height to which it is opened. it is energy efficient, and easy to use. It is a used window, that we paid $50 for, so the project is affordable, even on our budget.

For now though, I have a hole in my house, a very big hole. Thank goodness the day is relatively mild. There are some clouds, but no rain. Since this window opens onto the covered porch, the project could have been tackled even if it were raining. By tonight, there will be a new-to-us window where the hole is now. By tomorrow night there will be insulation, vapour barrier, drywall and window trim installed.

When this project is done, there are only the windows in the living room and the front bedroom to replace. We plan on putting attractive, energy efficient windows in these rooms. They face the street and will affect the curb appeal of the house. The present windows in these rooms are horrid, single pane windows with poorly functioning storm windows covering them, one of the screens is falling out. They let in the cold, and the heat, and the bugs. The bugs ensure that these windows are always very dirty, they are almost impossible to clean. The living room and front bedroom windows are not at the top of our project list though; the garage is far more disgusting, and it is the next project we are saving for. Hopefully next summer Attila will tackle the garage.

And then… there is a long list of renovations that still need doing, a lifetime of renovating. This little house was built from spare parts, soundly but haphazardly, and then neglected for the most part, until we bought it. We have done quite a bit, the roof no longer leaks, the basement is dry, most of our heat is supplied by an energy efficient heat pump, many windows have been upgraded, the bathroom was gutted and rebuilt from scratch, the siding was stripped of paint and repainted… the list goes on.

The constant chaos of living inside a long-term renovation project is not all that much fun, but we manage. Money would speed things up, but money is what we do not have, so sweat equity, and time, are what we invest.

Back bedroom window storm out The storm window is off, and the single pane glass window is ready to come out. As you can see, the bottom section of this window is very large, and it is very, very heavy, so that opening this window was quite a feat of strength on my part!

Back bedroom window out The window is out, and its absence leaves a very big hole in the house! The bedroom door is shut tight, to keep the cold and bugs out of the rest of the house. It is cold in the back bedroom now, but by Sunday night it will be warmer and snugger than it has ever been.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

16°C
Date: 12:00 PM EDT Saturday 28 October 2017
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.8 kPa…
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 16.3°C
Dew point: 10.0°C
Humidity: 66%
Wind: S 27 gust 37 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“He wrapped himself in quotations – as a beggar would enfold himself in the purple of Emperors.”
Rudyard Kipling
1865 – 1936

I dedicate this quotation to Dr. Paul Simpson-Housley, wherever you are my dear friend.

Turning

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The season turned last night. We have enjoyed incredibly mild, pleasant weather ever since Attila and I returned from our vacation in mid-September. This past weekend the daytime temperatures were over 20C. We have been enjoying the good weather to the fullest.

Last Saturday we packed tank with extra things, like a vacuum cleaner, and a dehumidifier, and drove off to to the bush early in the morning. A nicer day one could not ask for, the sun shone, the breeze gently rustled the autumn leaves that still clung to the trees, birds sang, and insects cavorted.

We worked hard on Saturday, an unexpected project caught our attention, and we dived into it with enthusiasm. A very large tree had been pushed over and then into the depression at the side of the driveway. It did not obstruct our activities, so it was low on our radar. But for some reason, on Saturday morning, I took a long stick and began to release the earth held so jealously by the fine woven roots. Soon a mound of loosened earth lay at the foot of the stump. Attila shovelled this into the wheelbarrow. I continued, sweetly sweating from morning and into the afternoon sun. We loosed eight wheelbarrows full of soft brown earth from the the twisted, interwoven roots. Each load was unloaded into a carefully chosen dip in the path to Winnie, making for more easily tread nocturnal journeys.

Although Attila could finally roll the stump upright, so light it had become, it has not been rolled to the wood pile beside the camp fire. That stump will demand devotion to burn in its entirety.

We built a camp fire late in the afternoon, and on this Attila cooked grilled cheese sandwiches. They are a rare treat these days, as I am subject to many dietary restrictions. I have discovered a lactose free cheese, which allows me to enjoy cheese occasionally; the cholesterol content is still of some concern.

Our camp fire burned on into the night. And oh, the stars, they seemed to shine just for us, so many and so bright. We could see our breath in the cold as it settled on the Camp, urging us ever closer to the bright flames of our fire.

And then we were to bed. The floor oh so cold on the stockinged foot, the sheets and pillows chilled. We both wore socks to bed, and me a hat. We slept soundly through the night, but for my trip in the early morning to use the facility… my bottomless bucket in the bush. Although it was cold, I sat for quite some time, mesmerized by the night, the silhouettes of tree tops that swayed ever so slightly, conspiring with the winking stars. I stayed so long, admiring the vault of the universe, that I returned to a chilled nest of blankets on the bed. Soon warm again, I slept until morning light.

Sunday was our day to make Grace The Trailer ready for the winter months to come. Attila prepared the slide out for retraction. It was covered with dead leaves, wet and dirty. I gathered all fabrics, bedding, towels, rugs, to bring home to Mist Cottage, to launder and store for the winter. I also gathered all food stuffs that would not freeze well, or were vulnerable to chewing rodents. Dry goods in sealed mason jars were left in the cupboard. The entire trailer was then vacuumed. Then, when all had been removed and piled outside the door, to be loaded into Tank, the dehumidifier was plugged in to remove whatever moisture was left from our sleeping bodies and food preparation. It removed only one half cup of moisture. Finally the door was shut and locked, perhaps not to be opened until April, 2018.

Grace The Trailer has a slide out. It was our intention to find a trailer without a slide out, as they are mechanized and add relatively vulnerability to the structure. The added living space is undeniably pleasant. It was a relief that the mechanical function of the slide out worked flawlessly. It does not sit entirely square though, once retracted, something we did not notice at time of purchase. It is of little consequence to us, as long as the mechanical aspect and the seal are working as they should. Grace The Trailer is, after all, sixteen years old, she is bound to have some issues related to aging.

Just as the sky began to cloud over, in the late afternoon, Tank was packed high, and it was time to be on our way home.

And here it is, Tuesday already! Yesterday was lovely and warm and sunny, which meant that the bedding and fabrics brought home from Grace The Trailer could be washed and hung out on the line to dry. Today all of these items are being folded and stored away until next April. In this tiny house, it is a challenge to discretely store all of the things which came home from Grace The Trailer. Some ingenuity, and not a little time, is required to get the job done.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Yesterday I had a nice long chat with a maternal second cousin once removed, who filled me in on his branch of the family history. His maternal Grandparents died long before he was born, they were very young, 37 and 44 years old, both suffering from tuberculosis. His paternal Grandmother passed away long before he was born, suffering from heart problems. His paternal Grandfather lived with his family and passed away at home, when my cousin was a small boy, three years of age. Grandparents are such a wonderful part of life, I can’t imagine my life without them in the world. It was interesting to hear the details of his family history. But it was even more fun talking to him and his wife, lovely people, we talked for hours.

During the summer baking is not practical, the oven heats the house, which is undesirable. The weather has just now turned cooler, it is muffin baking time once more. The first batch was baked Sunday evening, an experiment. I use a recipe with a core of ingredients, which remain the same, while some ingredients change. This particular batch was made with creamed corn, and the muffins were quite tasty, particularly when eaten with homemade chili sauce. The recipe is here, Corn Muffins.

The time-of-use hydro billing significantly interferes with the natural flow of my days. I like to bake whenever it fits into my daily activities, which are not on a particular schedule, but are rather spontaneous, one of the real pleasures of retirement. Unfortunately, the only time of day that I am awake, and it is practical to bake, is after 7:00 p.m. in the evening. I seldom have enthusiasm for kitchen activities this close to bedtime, it is always rushed, with only three hours to get the project into the oven, baked, then cooled sufficiently to store for the night. If and when technology affords itself an affordable solution to this time-of-use impediment, we will jump on it.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

This entry has been growing like a weed. I started it on Tuesday, and now Thursday afternoon has arrived and I am still muddling my way across the page. It is cold today, the sky was clear this morning, but has clouded over as the day progressed. I had a dental appointment, as the issues are still not completely resolved. I suspect I’ll be going back again next week, after the swelling goes down. The book is coming along today, funny how one little piece of information can turn into an avalanche. The notes I took during my telephone conversation on Tuesday were scanned as images, as a reference, and only half of the details are transcribed into the database.

I’ll end this long post with a few pictures from our last camping trip of the season, at the Rideau Camp last weekend.

Rideau Camp Oct 22 DSCF1386 The tree tops were striped and bare, but closer to the ground the bright leaves clung still to the trees. They were brilliant when the sun came out, just after this photograph was taken.

Rideau Camp October 22 DSCF1376 The stump, after Attila managed to roll it out of the bush. I loosened enough earth from the roots to fill the wheelbarrow eight times, which Attila shovelled, and dumped in low spots on the path to Winnie (the outhouse). I was stiff for two days afterwards, and it felt good.

Rideau Camp October 22 DSCF1390 The camp fire, over which we grilled cheese sandwiches, and around which we sat until the stars were bright in the dark sky, and we could see our breath in the chill of the night. On the upper left some of the earth we took from the roots of the stump can be seen, levelling a low spot.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

16°C
Date: 10:00 AM EDT Tuesday 24 October 2017
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.4 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 15.7°C
Dew point: 14.4°C
Humidity: 92%
Wind: SSE 18 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

13°C
Date: 3:00 PM EDT Wednesday 25 October 2017
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.6 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 12.9°C
Dew point: 4.1°C
Humidity: 55%
Wind: SW 22 gust 33 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

11°C
Date: 3:00 PM EDT Thursday 26 October 2017
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.0 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 11.2°C
Dew point: 1.6°C
Humidity: 51%
Wind: W 23 gust 34 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“In a mad world only the mad are sane.”
Akira Kurosawa
1910 – 1998