Tail Feathers

Today the sun is shining, the thermometer says it is above freezing, the wind is blustering, and the snow is melting.

Today is Family Day, a statutory holiday here in Ontario, Canada. I am celebrating by sitting in the sunshine and counting my blessings. Attila is working today, he has decided to work on statutory holidays.

I had planned on attending a Tai Chi class this morning, but I was not diligent in my planning. The class began at 9:00 a.m., and I assumed it began at 10:00 a.m., I know not why. I decided to check the schedule as I was ready to walk out the door at 9:00 a.m., to drive to the class. I had my snack in my backpack, my water bottle was filled, I was ready! But alas, I was too late. I could go to an evening class, or perhaps to another morning class later in the week. Luckily I have options.

I am keeping busy. This morning I put in an online order, for dish soap, and some other items that are impossible to find locally at a reasonable price. We use a dish soap with no additives, not dish detergent. The dishwashing liquid in the grocery store often contains my allergen, which is a gratuitous use of an allergen, in my opinion, but that’s the profit oriented mind set for you. So I order Canadian made dish soap in bulk, online. I don’t mind paying a little more to buy items locally, but twice the price is ridiculous, and I am in no position to give away that much of my income, just to support local business people who are far more affluent that I am.

The people who bought the house next door are a young man and a young woman. I met them a few weeks ago when I was out of doors, and their puppy dog showed a keen interest in me. They seem very friendly. Apparently their possession of the house is contingent on them doing significant repairs. The last time I was in the house it looked fine, it is much newer than our house, and quite well built. But the couple with the two young boys that lived there, and the brother in the basement, had a peculiar attitude towards “renovating”, which it now turns out was destruction, and did not involve any putting back together. I didn’t realize just how much damage was done in the house until yesterday, when I looked out my window, and into their small bedroom window at our side of their house. All of the drywall is gone on the main floor of the house, I could see right through the studs and out the window on the other side of their house, nothing there but bare studs now. That is a major renovation! They seem very keen, as they are there working on the house most days.

The work on the construction site at the end of the street has slowed for the moment. They have decimated the trees on approximately half of the land they plan on clearing. With the milder weather, and the recent rain, the ground is quite wet. Since they are clearing a low lying area that was environmentally protected, and is no more thanks to the town council, the large machinery would sink deep into the mud. I assume they will be back at it as soon as the ground begins to dry out.

The web site I was developing is now complete, and it is up and running on the internet. A few reconfigurations are needed here and there, before the project can be considered to have come to an end. I tried hosting with gandi.net this time around, and I found their developer interface relatively difficult to use, compared to the two or three other hosting companies I have dealt with. From the perspective of the web site owner though, it will make no difference, it just made my end of the project a lot harder.

The crochet blanket continues to get longer. I like to do a few rows a day, the repetition over a long period of time allows for a solid foundation of body memory when it comes to the making stitches, and handling yarn tension. The project is getting too bulky to take with me here and there, to work on while I “wait” for various appointments, or sit as a passenger in the car.

The weather is very interesting. It was warm enough through the night last night, that the air source heat pump heated the house. This is a welcome eventuality, as the extreme cold weather we experienced earlier this winter depleted our fuel oil supply, we are down to 1/4 of a tank, which was where we usually found it at the beginning of April.

I notice that I am still writing we, and not I. I suppose that is because I am living here, Attila is living here, we own the house together, so a lot of the domestic functioning is still we. It is a different we though, than it used to be. Language is seldom a straightforward affair. I have to keep reminding myself of this fundamental change, because it would not serve me well to slip into a state of comfortable denial, allowing myself to feel that things have not changed.

I want to be light hearted, but it isn’t in me right now. Every time I try to lift off, my bottom scuds along the runway, sparks fly, and I come to a jolting halt, tail feathers smouldering from the friction. Up again! Try again!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

2°C
Date: 10:00 AM EST Monday 19 February 2018
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.3 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 2.2°C
Dew point: -2.4°C
Humidity: 72%
Wind: S 28 gust 41 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“My friend is one… who takes me for what I am.”
Henry David Thoreau
1817 – 1862

My Favourite Martian

It was a very busy week! The last of my “run about” activities was accomplished today, an appointment at the bank. Next week will be very busy as well, more banking to take care of, the insulation installation will take place, and I’ll be attending Tai Chi class and meditation classes as well.

While using the elliptical machine, it works well to watch videos on the computer. The Amazon Prime account comes with access to limited programming, and one of the programs currently available are reruns of My Favorite Martian (1964). I have begun to watch an episode each time I spend time on the machine. I enjoy this sitcom, even though it is packed with isms that were acceptable at the time that it was produced. The Martian perspective on life on earth just made so much sense!

In episode three, Tim is making Uncle Martin a cup of tea. The kettle on his range is exactly the same as the one here at Mist Cottage. A good design that has lasted over 50 years!

The weather was lovely today, billowing clouds floating across the sky, lovely sunshine, and melting snow. I don’t really know where the day went. It passed pleasantly enough as I worked on the web site design, and enjoyed a few hours crocheting my afghan/blanket. I think I napped with that warm blanket in my lap, but am not entirely sure about that!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-4°C
Date: 9:00 PM EST Friday 16 February 2018
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 102.2 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -4.3°C
Dew point: -13.0°C
Humidity: 51%
Wind: W 10 km/h
Wind Chill: -9
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“The bird of paradise alights only upon the hand that does not grasp.”
John Berry

Day of Hearts

Today I am honouring my heart by writing about how I am really feeling.

Valentine’s Day has never been a day I’ve understood. None of the men, that I have lived with, have been romantic, but for a rare moment. I don’t really know what all the fuss is about with Valentine’s Day, the whole thing is beyond my experience.

This particular Valentine’s Day is one where I am not anyone’s “special person”, and I’ve been here before. It seems a bit of a harsh way to live out the rest of my life, but there it is, being what it is, reality doing its thing. It seems to me that it is no accident that this day of hearts falls close to mid-winter. The seemingly endless cold and dark, slowly giving way to longer days of light, and warmth. One more day to come this first year of singleness, that will resonate with loss, and that is the wedding anniversary, I will be glad when that has come and gone!

Today the fellow from the window company is coming to take detailed measurements for the new windows. They will all be custom made for the house, will be energy efficient, and they will all open. Attila has cleared a work space around each of the windows in the basement, which was a big job. This day of measurement will be the first of three significant intrusions here at Mist Cottage. The next will be the installation of insulation, which in theory will take place next week. The third will be the work crew to install all of the new windows, which is theoretically going to take place in late April. I find it challenging to have all these strange males in the house, and all of the people doing the sales, estimates, and installations will be male, I have no doubt about that. I will be very glad to have all of the work done and these experiences behind me. And I will be very glad to have the insulation keeping the house warm, and the lovely new windows, that will also be keeping the house warm, and allow me to open them on beautiful mild days!

I have been looking at trips I would like to make, and nothing is jumping out at me. I have a few parameters that limit the field of choices. First, I have no familiar place, or people, to visit. Another is anaphylaxis. Any type of travel that involves prepaid meals, or destinations with arranged meals, is out of the question. This means that cruises, tours, hotel packages, and the like, not drawn to any of these anyway, will just not work for me. Sure, I could put in a lot of time and effort trying to work around the food issue, but by the time I get through all of that I am worn out, singled out, separated out, and completely put off the whole thing. That leaves creating a custom experience, which is something I have done when travelling with Attila, and with friends, but not when travelling alone. A woman travelling alone is a completely different kettle of fish, than a woman travelling with a companion, or with friends. The whole idea is rather daunting. I continue to ponder solo travelling!

On Monday evening I attended a Tai Chi class, and found myself very unhappy. I hadn’t been out of the house since last Thursday, so that all of the steam I had managed to build, re facing the world of strangers, had dissipated, and I had to start over again from scratch. It was painful. The weather and roads were good, but the drive is long, ranging from 40 minutes to over an hour, depending on road conditions and traffic. I don’t like the drive, and I don’t particularly dislike driving all the way home in the dark. I was very frustrated during the class, not really catching on to what was being demonstrated, and feeling overwhelmed by the 99 remaining moves that I know will be taught over the next four months. By the time I arrived home, I never wanted to go back! I often feel this discouraged about learning new physical activities, I have a lot of basic physical challenges to overcome from the get go, my arm, my arthritic knees, my dyslexia… those things make learning physical skills challenging. Few instructors have the patience, or skill, to gracefully accept the degree of difference that my physicality presents in a class of able bodied people. It is I who have to maintain tolerance and patience for myself, when I am singled out in the crowd, even in a pleasant way, which happens ALL the time.

On Tuesday morning I got myself dressed, jumped into Tank, and headed out the door to another Tai Chi class! Back on the horse, as they say. I am very glad that the opportunity to attend another class presented itself so soon after my low point. On Tuesday I was singled out about my arm, yet again, and had to explain that is how my arm works, it is normal for my arm, which I did in a friendly and firm manner, accepting that this is the price I have to pay for participating in group activities. This occurred in front of the entire gym full of people. She assured me that Tai Chi would rectify the issue with my arm… baloney, she doesn’t have a clue what is going on with my arm. I just smiled at her, and replied that if Tai Chi fixed my arm it would be a wonderful thing. Perseverance pays off with this issue, eventually all the different instructors will come to terms with my difference, and either ignore it, or work with it. Luckily the person teaching the beginners yesterday was one capable of working with my arm, something for which I am always grateful. During the beginners lesson, I found that I could remember some of the things I have learned. The approach that I have decided to take in class, is that when I become confused, I will stop moving, look around at what others are doing, pick it up again when something looks doable, then keep going from there. I left Tuesday’s class feeling a lot better about Tai Chi, and about myself.

I am going to try to attend all of the Tai Chi classes that are held within driving distance, to get the initial “arm shock” over with for the various instructors, allowing me to attend without having to brace myself for that particular type of encounter. The “arm shock” reaction is something that I know will occur, and that knowledge can act as a deterrent for me, dampening my initiative to attend activities.

Well, I’ve written this entry, which feels very good. I’ve enjoyed my morning cup of coffee, contemplating life, the universe, and everything. Now, I am off to the kitchen to fix myself a lovely breakfast!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

2°C
Date: 7:00 AM EST Wednesday 14 February 2018
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 102.2 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 1.9°C
Dew point: -2.2°C
Humidity: 74%
Wind: SW 28 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.”
Albert Camus
1913 – 1960

Keeping Busy

The weekend passed quietly. The weather was unpleasant, snow, freezing rain, gray skies. Time passed peacefully. Attila spent his time cooking foods for himself, foods he loves, foods I will not and cannot eat. He also rearranged the furniture, so that when the fellow, who is coming to do the final measurements for the new windows, can gain easy access. Any talking that Attila and I do is respectful, and, at last, honest. We seem to be moving from rigid civility, to a more relaxed and detached form of communication. There is a calm here, the shattered pieces of my life have settled into temporary positions, they begin to gather a bit of dust, to look familiar… temporarily familiar.

I continue to practise my Tai Chi, and have almost committed the first three moves to memory. The class has covered six moves, so I am moving much more slowly than the class, but I will carry on with what I have learned, and fudge through the rest. This week another three moves will be covered, making nine altogether. Eventually, perhaps in years, I will catch up with a beginner’s class, and maybe even master all 108 moves. I feel pretty chucked about learning the first three!

I baked my usual batch of muffins. Muffins usually comprise at least one of my meals or a snack each day. They are low-sodium, low-cholesterol, lactose free, and low-sugar… and include a vegetable or fruit, flax seed, oat bran, coconut, raisins, oatmeal, an egg, olive or avocado oil, nuts, sunflower seeds, and anything else healthy that comes to hand.

On Saturday I also cooked 4 ½ litres of vegetable soup. I did add some sodium to the soup, about a quarter teaspoon in the recipe, which adds to the taste, but still loads me with very little sodium for a single bowl of soup.

Yesterday I made another loaf of whole wheat bread. This time I followed the recipe given in the bread machine manual for sandwich bread, but instead of 5 ½ cups of bread flour, I substituted 3 cups of whole wheat flour, 2 ½ cups fo bread flour, and 1 tablespoon of gluten flour. The loaf was almost perfect! The recipe called for a whole teaspoon of salt, which I used, so the bread has a bit more sodium than I would have liked. But since it is a 3 lb. loaf of bread, one slice still does not add a lot of sodium to my diet.

I also worked quite a few hours editing the web site that I have been working on. It is nearing completion, but there are still tweaks needed before I configure the servers so that the domain name takes people to the new site. When it is all working as it should I will delete the old site.

I have been spending time with my books. I am revisiting some older books, old friends, and continuing to read several new acquisitions, such as Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset. It was also great fun to reread some of the children’s books in my collection, stories I read to my kids, and some that I read to my Grandbabies.

The crochet blanket project is lovely to have at the ready beside my easy chair. I reach for it every day, working a few rows until my arms tire, then folding it neatly and placing it on my little side table, ready for another little visit tomorrow.

This is the part of the winter where I find it difficult to keep physically active. Roads and walkways are covered with snow and ice. Walkways are treacherous, because the snow and ice are in ruts, some hidden, which can turn an ankle, twist a knee, unexpectedly, and cause months of painful recovery. I have not been using the elliptical machine as much as I should do, but I did spend 25 minutes with it yesterday.

As I write, the sun is beginning to peek out from time to time, from behind the clouds. The house is peaceful, making its sounds, a creak here and there, the ticking clock, the hum of the refrigerator, and the intermittent and persistent sound of distant vehicles, that carry unknown people to unknown destination. When I look out the window, there is one tree left in my line of vision, it is an ash tree in the yard next door. Its bare branches sway slightly in the winter breeze, and occasionally distant birds fly across the sky, behind the silhouetted branches.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-3°C
Date: 10:10 AM EST Monday 12 February 2018
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 103.1 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -2.8°C
Dew point: -7.4°C
Humidity: 71%
Wind: WNW 19 km/h
Wind Chill: -9
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“All things are difficult before they are easy.”
Dr. Thomas Fuller
1654 – 1734

Gray Day

Today I made a huge bath of vegetable beef soup, and a tuna noodle casserole. The soup is for me, it has a wee bit of sodium in it, but not a significant amount. The soup recipe makes four litres of soup. The tuna noodle casserole is sodium reduced, taking sodium in the canned tuna and in the can of sodium reduced cream of mushroom soup. The casserole will provide one dinner for two, and a lunch for one (Attila).

A grey day out there today. It snowed off and on, so any thoughts I had of venturing out were vanquished in white. Adding to the greyness of the day is the new view from the living room window. I used to look out and see the tops of the trees in the distance, so wonderful. They have all been chopped down and bulldozed into a corner of the property slated for rental units at the end of the street. Now all I see out the window is grey sky, and rooftops; no branches swaying in the wind, no branches to hold a line of gentle of white snow. I miss the trees.

February is such a wintry month!

My insurance company has gone paperless, offering no alternative options. Now I have to logon to the internet to see the bill, it isn’t available any other way. I hate this! The internet requires a device and an account, which I have at the moment, but that can change, for anyone, that can change, and then where are you!

Things are quiet at Mist Cottage. It doesn’t feel like “home” anymore, it feels like a place I am staying. It is a nice place to stay. I feel homesick from time to time, there is no home to go back to though, there is only forward, until I can establish a new home for myself, here or elsewhere. Some things just take time, time, time.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-6°C
Date: 3:00 PM EST Friday 9 February 2018
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 102.8 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: -5.9°C
Dew point: -7.7°C
Humidity: 87%
Wind: S 8 km/h
Wind Chill: -10
Visibility: 3 km

Quote

“Time cools, time clarifies; no mood can be maintained quite unaltered through the course of hours.”
Mark Twain
1835 – 1910