Ups & Downs

Wednesday, 10:30 a.m.

Believe it or not, yesterday was a down day. I have a summer cold, which began to show itself Sunday evening when I was sitting out on the back porch. I thought the cough, sore throat, and headache were from the citronella candle, made in China, but I haven’t been near that since, and the cough and sore throat persist. There is no fever, thank goodness, just this cough, sore throat, headache, and sneezing. It isn’t debilitating, just annoying.

Yesterday was a down day in another way, emotionally. It wasn’t that there was anything negative happening in my little world, quite the opposite. Attila and I have been amicably living together here at Mist Cottage, no changes there. I’ve been enjoying the open windows, the birdsong, the breezes whispering to me through the leaves outside the open windows, wonderful. But despite all of this good fortune, and good fortune it is, I was feeling a bit anxious. I don’t know what it was about, but this morning it has completely dissipated.

I plan on taking on a difficult project today. I want to apply a plastic film to the new big window in the basement, for privacy. It has a “curtain” at the moment, an old blue plastic shower curtain that I bought at the Dollar Store in 2010 for $1.00. But it does not do the new window justice. Last Friday I measured the window, cut the plastic film pieces to size, then set it all aside for another day. Today is the day. I am all thumbs when it comes to doing this kind of thing, so my patience cup has to be full.

The first part of the project involves cleaning the window. There are lots of bugs in the basement, so I’ll vacuum the bugs off the window, and from around the area around the window. Then I’ll use vinegar in a spray bottle to wash it clean. When it is dry the film will be applied. Two pieces of film needed to be cut for each window, as the glass surface is much larger than the width of the film.

But first, it is time to close the windows! The temperature outside, now, at 10:30 a.m., has risen to 23C. As much as I love the open windows, I enjoy physical comfort even more, so the windows will be closed, the curtains drawn, for the day.

OK, back to the project of the day. I did all the preparation of the windows, and applied the film. Well, what can I say, there are multiple bubbles that, no matter how many times I lifted the stuff and tried again, are still there. And there they will stay! Then I wanted to hang a light coloured curtain. White seemed like a good choice, as that window gets full sun during the day. A rummage through the fabric tote, nothing gets thrown out around here, revealed a beautiful wrap around skirt, that was a gift. It was worn about 35 pounds ago, and it is doubtful that this old body, as long as it remains healthy, will not be returning to that time and place and weight. It fit over the window beautifully, and is so cheerful in the dreary basement. There will be good memories of Joannie on every visit downstairs to retrieve or store cooking equipment, and it will be enjoyed when passing by that window, every time I leave or enter the house. Some solutions are just so very satisfying.

Wednesday, 12:25 p.m.

Hot! It is hot out there, too hot to run errands in town.

One of the two cheques that were “in the mail” has arrived. The grant for the attic insulation is exactly what we were promised. It is such a relief to see it, as I had overextended our financial situation quite a bit to take advantage of the grant program. It required an up front payment for the work done, and when all the paperwork was approved, a cheque would be sent in the mail. A trip to the bank to deposit the cheque will bring closure on the attic insulation project. One more cheque to come, for the new windows. It is a much more significant cheque, the windows were a lot more expensive than the attic insulation. I want to go to the bank, but after opening the door just now, I decided against it. Too hot!

Once the sun hits the back porch in the afternoons, it is too hot to sit out. Yesterday I hung a curtain rod across a portion of the porch and hung a white sheet on it. Shade. That is one section taken care of, there are two more. There are no more curtain rods here, so a purchase will be necessary. Luckily there are a few very old white sheets in the cupboard, as I said, very little gets thrown out around here. In the meantime, cotton sheets will be pinned across the porch clothesline, to provide partial shade. Yesterday afternoon, when two sheets were up on the porch, the temperature fell from 36C to 32C. The difference will be even more noticeable when the rods are in place, and sheets are hung on them, they will block all of the afternoon sun. The clothesline blocks only about 80% of the sunshine, it hangs lower than the curtain rod.

I know that they say don’t keep things just because someday you might need them… but hen’s teeth, we almost always end up using the old stuff… sometimes it takes 30 years to get around to it though. It is a calculated risk.

Posted this entry and forgot the picture I had taken of the Tamarack! It looses its needles for the winter, they are back again.

Tamarack Spring 2018 Ontario Canada Tamarack in spring, Ontario, Canada.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

23°C
Date: 10:00 AM EDT Wednesday 30 May 2018
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 22.9°C
Dew point: 10.5°C
Humidity: 45%
Wind: SSE 5 gust 28 km/h
Humidex: 24
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Take calculated risks. That is quite different from being rash.”
George S. Patton
1885 – 1945

Bunnies

This morning I am watching videos on Youtube. I do this occasionally, usually watching videos related to domestic projects I am either working on, or thinking about. It is amazing what people find film worthy!

The young woman this morning was waxing enthusiastic about her butcher block counter tops. She was demonstrating her once a month routine of removing all of the items from the countertops, cleaning the surface, sanding off the stains from coffee or items set on the countertop, then oiling the countertop, then returning all of the items to the countertop.

“Once a month,” I thought to myself.

“Never,” I exclaimed to myself.

I’ll keep my 60+ year old laminate countertops, with all the gouge marks, that I cleaned once with bleach when we bought the place in 2010. I like wood, yes I do, but it wouldn’t look very nice after a month, and I wouldn’t be inclined to change that.

When I bought the little house in the city, before we moved to the country house, the range was old and tired. The woman, from whom I bought the house, was very considerate, and I appreciated that. She left detailed instructions, and a can of spray paint, to be used to repaint the range top every month. Never happened. The range was used until it could not be reasonably repaired, and then it was replaced, having received no new coats of paint.

When I think of acquiring items to have in my home, I always choose from easy care solutions, because I know I’ll not be spending any more time than absolutely necessary spiffing things up. Around Mist Cottage, renovations, and all items purchased, have to stand the test of time (a relative term in this case, my timeline is one lifetime, and I am on the downward side of that equation).

Bunny May 2018 Bunny. There are four of these little guys visiting our garden. They no longer enter the fenced in area of the yard, but the garden lies outside of that. Attila is planning on building a small chicken wire fence around the green beans he plans on planting. The Bunnies love our yard. I didn’t know they ate dandelions! They do, after the flowers have gone to seed, they will snip off the stem and chew them from the bottom up, with one bite to finish off fluff at the end of the stem. There are dandelion free areas in the yard, now I know why!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

20°C
Date: 8:00 AM EDT Tuesday 29 May 2018
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 20.4°C
Dew point: 15.9°C
Humidity: 75%
Wind: NNE 19 gust 32 km/h
Humidex: 25
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“If two men agree on everything, you may be sure that one of them is doing the thinking.”
Lyndon B. Johnson
1908 – 1973

First Iris Flower Of The Season

It is a lazy weekend here at Mist Cottage. Rain was predicted, but only a few drops fell yesterday, and it looks like it will be a partially cloudy and dry day today.

Attila is preserving resources by using bath water for watering the garden. He has a large plastic garbage can that he fills, bucketful by bucketful, after he bathes. Within 24 hours the water is used to water the garden, and the garbage can is cleaned for the next time. Our rain barrels are empty now, so this is his preferred way to water the gardens. He feels it is going to be a hot, dry summer. I take showers, so I can see the time coming soon when I will be asked to shower with the plug in the drain, so that the water can be retained and carried out to the gardens. Attila is a keen gardener, a keen recycler, and a keen bargain seeker. Our water bills are substantial enough already, without adding garden watering to the bill.

I am still learning the idiosyncrasies of keeping the house cool during hot sunny days. Last night the house was unpleasantly warm during the night, 25C, and we both slept poorly as a result. I had the windows open all day yesterday. Today I am taking a different approach. I had the windows open at 7:00 a.m., and the interior temperature dropped to 23C by 10:00 a.m. At 10:30 a.m. the interior temperature began to rise, to 23.5C, as the outdoor temperature climbed. I then closed all the windows, and hope to retain the interior temperature at 23.5C. I will open the windows again when the exterior temperature falls below the interior temperature of the house.

The mosquitoes were out in force this morning. This is very strange, as there has been little rain, and everything is dry out there. There are no ponds or uncovered water sources anywhere about. They are swarming out of the grass in the front yard, and in the shady spots in the back yard. They have to be hatching in the lawn, not in water as is commonly believed. I have been bitten twice already this morning.

Our first Iris of the season has bloomed. It had few blooms last summer, as it had just been transplanted to a sunnier spot. It has copious blooms this spring, and will be a real pleasure to behold from the kitchen window, for the next week or so. The Lungwort continues to bloom in the front yard. The Crabapple blossoms are almost all spent, the hum of the bees outside my window is diminishing. The Lilacs are still blooming, providing a heavenly scent as I sit on the back porch.

Iris may 2018 The first Iris of the 2018 season, with many more to come!

The vegetable garden is coming along. The recently planted climbing beans and peas are peeking out of the soil. They are on the inside of the fence.

Over the past few weeks, Attila and I have both been plotting to keep the rabbits out of the fenced in area, so that they will not eat our emerging, tender and tasty, bean and pea plants. Square lengths of posts were laid along the bottom of gates to block entry. A large concrete block was used to cover the gap under the fence by the yard waste compost pile. Stakes were pounded in between gaps in fence posts, and anywhere where it seemed entry might be gained.

Despite all of these precautions, early last week I looked out to see another little rabbit in the fenced in area. Quickly shoving my feet in to my rubber boots, out I went. I calmly followed that little bunny around the yard, as he/she attempted to escape through all the usual entry points, now blocked. Eventually that little bunny found a gap that had been left vulnerable, and escaped the way she/he had entered. That forgotten gap was immediately blocked, and I haven’t seen a rabbit in the fenced in area since.

Yesterday I baked a second Rhubarb Crisp. I had two helpings, and quite honestly, by evening the sugar made me feel polluted. During the night I awoke several times feeling off, with a horrid taste in my mouth. I love eating the Rhubarb Crisp, but will have to limit myself to one serving… or less if that doesn’t resolve the polluted feeling. Rhubarb needs a lot of sugar to make it palatable, as it is low in sugar, and tastes tart, which is unpleasant to my palate.

Time to go sit out on the back porch and read, or listen to the breeze in the trees, or watch for rabbits, or watch the birds… great day for it! There are freshly washed sheets strung on the clothesline across the porch, which means it will be shady, cool, and breezy on the porch.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

19°C
Date: 8:00 AM EDT Sunday 27 May 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.4 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 19.2°C
Dew point: 14.4°C
Humidity: 73%
Wind: NE 14 km/h
Visibility: 24 km
(Note: these readings are taken by the shores of Lake Ontario, they are hotter in summer and cooler in winter a short distance north of the lake.)

Quote

“The way you define yourself as a writer is that you write every time you have a free minute. If you didn’t behave that way you would never do anything.”
John Irving
1942 –

Army Worms

Last weekend was the long weekend. Attila spent his time putting in most of the vegetable garden. I spent my time making rhubarb crisp, and cooking. The rhubarb was fresh from our garden, the first produce of the season.

We did make another whirlwind trip out to the camp. I am using “we” again, mostly because Attila continues to involve himself with most of the activities he always involved himself in, just the domestic activities. With both of us being “homebodies”, the domestic covers a lot of ground.

While at the Camp, Attila mowed weeds, there are a lot to mow, and spring is the time to get to them. Ticks and mosquitoes do not like short “grass”, so the weeds are mowed short through the spring. The advantage to this, the third spring of ownership, is that the taller growing plants have mostly died off, and the shorter plants are thriving, including the white clover I planted the first and second spring of ownership. The mowing is getting much easier.

Last summer garlic was planted at the Camp, and it didn’t do well. I assumed it had either been dug up by critters, or died off because the soil it was planted in had a lot of cedar chips in it. Upon arrival at the Camp on the weekend, I was surprised to see the garlic over ten inches high, thriving!

I want as much of a “garden” as possible at the Camp. To this end Attila mounded soil near the area where the garlic was planted, and planted Blue Hubbard Squash. I am hopeful!

While at the Camp I spent my time collecting fallen deadwood around the occupied area, and burning it in a campfire. While tending the fire, I had plenty of time to kill army worms. Last year they attacked the Ash and Elm trees, but this year they are almost exclusively going after the maples. One oak tree was infested.

Army worms in cluster at the camp A colony of Army Worms on a tree at the Rideau Camp.

Army worms at the Camp Army Worms, up close and personal at the Rideau Camp.

My first attempt was to try to eliminate two colonies located on a maple, about 35 feet above ground. I tried the squirt gun, loaded with water, dish soap and bleach, but the worms were out of range. Those colonies were not destroyed. The squirt gun was then tried on a few colonies closer to the ground, it the mixture had little to no effect on the army worms. The clusters increased in circumference, but none of the worms died while we were there. So I reverted to my tall stick, with which I crushed as many of the worms as I could. I spent hours destroying colonies. It was interesting, because these colonies of army worms appeared almost suddenly on the trunks of trees. Areas I had cleared were suddenly teaming with colonies again.

There were two mouse turds in the cupboard in Grace the Trailer, the only evidence of mice I could find. Attila removed them and threw them in the fire, after I had sprayed with hydrogen peroxide. That meant I could proceed in finishing off the spring cleaning in the trailer. The bathroom had an accumulation of moisture, which concerns me. It must be coming up from the on-board septic holding tank. We really need to deal with that. We don’t use the trailer’s water based toilet, we use a composting toilet instead. I spent time with water, soap, and bleach, to clean the bathroom, and left the air vent slightly open in hopes of letting the moisture out over time.

There are no big projects planned for the Camp this year, no funds are available. There are still stumps to be burned, deadwood to collect and burn, and if the swamp dries out this year, I am hoping Attila will take his chain saw in and remove some of the fallen dead trees. The Camp becomes more park like every summer.

At the Camp there were still lots of Trilliums blooming. The Trout Lilies either did not bloom this year, or we missed it entirely, as I didn’t see one blooming Trout Lily. There were Wild Violets, and a small, unidentified, white flower.

Wild violets at the camp Wild Violets at the Rideau Camp

May flower at the camp unknown Little white flowers at the Rideau Camp, unidentified.

Yesterday the Crabapple Tree revealed her finery! The scent was intoxicating. Our lilacs, a light mauve colour, are blooming, Attila cut some for me, and the wonderful scent permeates the living room where I sit to write. The blooms on the apple tree in the back yard are also in full glory. The wild geraniums are getting ready to show their stuff as well.

Crabapple blossoms spring 2018 Crabapple Tree in full bloom and scent.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

13°C
Date: 11:00 AM EDT Wednesday 23 May 2018
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 101.6 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 12.8°C
Dew point: 11.9°C
Humidity: 94%
Wind: S 18 km/h
Visibility: 16 km

Quote

“Looking forward to things is half the pleasure of them. You mayn’t get the things themselves; but nothing can prevent you from having the fun of looking forward to them.”
L. M. Montgomery
1874 – 1942

A Few Days

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Today I learned that it is not wise to wear crock type footwear on chilly rainy days. Puddles in parking lots, when the temperature is hovering around 10C, are just waiting for the unsuspecting Crock wearer. I will not be a Crock wearer on another such day, nor will I be unsuspecting.

Tonight supper consisted of leftover homemade pizza, and seedless grapes for dessert. I love fast food pizza, ordered and pickup up, but only on the first day. It looses its appeal when reheated. Homemade pizza is good the first night, and just as good the second or third night. The real bonus for me is is that homemade pizza crust contains no sodium, so that a few slices of pizza won’t put me into sodium overload. Although I love it, I don’t put pepperoni on pizza, it is too high sodium. I do like a bit of low-sodium bacon cooked and crumbled on my homemade pizza, with sweet onions, sweet peppers, and mushrooms. I use my homemade Red Pepper Sauce as well, no sodium in that. The cheese, well, it is the cheese I have to watch, high in sodium, and in cholesterol. The biggest drawback to homemade pizza is that I have to make it, but then, so far Attila is willing participant in pizza construction, so it isn’t so bad at all.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Well, I started this entry yesterday and got distracted. It didn’t take much to distract me either. Attila was going to the garden centre to spend a $20 gift certificate he received, so I decided to go with him. Today he will plant the tomatoes, peppers, and rosemary. The compost toilets at the Rideau Camp use peat moss, so a good supply was purchased for the 2018 season. It was raining the during the entire visit to the garden centre, which was only partially sheltered. I wore a parka and heavy winter boots, which allowed me to remain comfortable while I wandered about. It is lovely to spend time around growing things… the labels are a big bonus, suddenly I know what I am looking at.

I have had Food Mills recommended to me numerous times. I recently found a relatively good quality one on sale, a Cuisinart Food Mill. It arrived this past week. I tried it for the first time last night. Attila had unearthed yet another bag of vintage whole tomatoes from the freezer. I removed the stem and ends, popped them frozen and whole into a large soup pot, then heated them up until they were thawed and warm. They were drained, ladled into the food mill, and in about 20 minutes a lovely tomato sauce was extracted. Two 500 ml jars of tomato sauce are labelled and in the freezer.

Who knew!! I am in love with the Food Mill. It is so easy, I wonder at the decades I’ve lived without it. How did I do that? I wish I had listened to all of you who told me about the Food Mill quite a while ago!

The skins and seeds were left in the food mill. I scraped them onto a piece of waxed paper, spread them thin, and place the waxed paper on the cooking rack. I am hoping to place the dried skin and seeds in the blender to create a powder for flavouring. The results may or may not be satisfactory.

The clean up was super easy.

Inspired by last night’s success in the kitchen, pre-dawn found me in back there, beginning preparations for my complete protein Vegetable Soup. I was happily chopping vegetables, sautéing the beef and onions, grabbing the bits of this and that that I had saved over the last week, adding them to the soup pot, when Attila rose with the sun.

Attila is planting his garden today. I watch. I occasionally offer input, but never criticism. Breakfast on the back porch consisted of a toasted bagel, and a banana smoothie. Funny how how food tastes even better when you are watching someone else work! But really, Attila is playing, not working, he enjoys gardening so much.

Well, here it is, almost noon, and I am still sitting in my pyjamas; quite comfortably I might add.

I think I’ll get dressed now, and go wander in the garden, see if Attila wants any help.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

18°C
Date: 11:00 AM EDT Sunday 20 May 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.5 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 18.4°C
Dew point: 12.6°C
Humidity: 69%
Wind: NNW 21 gust 32 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none.”
Thomas Carlyle
1795 – 1881