A Flea In Her Ear

“A Flea In Her Ear” is a play by Georges Feydeau. It is also close to the idiom, “a flea in the ear”, meaning, “an unwelcome hint or unexpected reply, annoying like a flea; an irritating repulse; as, to put a flea in one’s ear; to go away with a flea in one’s ear.”

But that is not what I am writing about tonight, although I wish I were.

We were at a music festival on Saturday and Sunday, spending both days out of doors, in a field where it rained off and on, on both days. I wore my wonderful sun hat when it was sunny, and also when it rained, to keep my head cool and dry. But when it was cloudy and it wasn’t raining, I put the hat on top of our backpacks, where it was sometimes knocked onto the grass, where I would retrieve it and either put it on my head, or place it back on the backpacks.

On our trip home last night, shortly after we left the festival at 1 a.m., my right ear began to itch, really itch. I felt like something was moving around in there. It stopped after we got home, and I went to bed and fell asleep, exhausted from my wonderful big day out.

This afternoon my ear began to itch again in the same fashion as it did last night. I cautiously took a Q-tip and swabbed the entrance to my ear, there seemed to be nothing there to cause the itching. I pressed my ear canal closed and rubbed it vigorously with my finger on the surface skin just in front of my ear canal.

At dinner tonight my ear was itchy again. I put my finger in my ear to rub the area, and it came away with crusted blood. Oh dear!

Attila had a look with the magnifying glass, and said he could see a trail of blood, but nothing else.

We thought it might be a tick, because there were ticks in the area of the music festival, there were warning signs in all the public areas. I had checked my legs, and my feet quite diligently, no ticks.

What to do!

We used an ear cleaning syringe to flush my ear. First flush, only a little bit of blood coloured the water, fresh blood. Oh dear again!

The second flush yielded a black dot in the water. It was a flattened flea, or at least we think it is a flea, it does not look like a tick, it looks like a flea. We flushed the ear again, and it was clear but a little coloured from blood.

Attila then applied several drops of hydrogen peroxide to my ear canal, which I left for one minute, then turned my head to drain.

I have my flea, or whatever it is, on a dish. We examined it under well lit magnification, and it does resemble a flea, rather than a tick. But I think I will take my flea and head to the walk-in clinic tomorrow and get a second opinion on that. If it were a tick, and I was definitely bitten, then I would not see the telltale ring around the bite, because the bite is inside my ear.

Some adventures are small, and not all that desirable.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

17°C
Date: 9:00 PM EDT Monday 7 August 2017
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.5 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 16.6°C
Dew point: 15.6°C
Humidity: 94%
Wind: NE 7 km/h
Visibility: 19 km

Quote

“Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.”
Will Durant
1885 – 1981

Hot and Humid and Dry

Wednesday, August 2

Another sunny day, hot and sticky. The temperature is not all that daunting, but the high humidity clings to the body, fills the lungs, in the most unpleasant way.

My crocheted top is coming along slowly. I am designing it as I go along, and have ripped out a lot of stitches in my experiments. The panels of the back and the front are complete, and now it is time to consider the shoulder straps. To be honest, I am not enjoying this project all that much, as I have no idea what I am doing, and I am not confident the garment will be attractive when it is complete. There is a lot of learning going on with this project.

Our garden is thriving. I should really call it Attila’s garden. Each afternoon when he arrives home from work, he changes out of his work clothes, and heads for his garden. He putters there for an hour or so, weeding, examining, considering. It is a great source of pleasure for him. I remain at arms length when it comes to the garden, mostly because I enjoy looking at it far more than I enjoy working in it. But it is also important that Attila have a time and place to defuse after a long hot day at work; a place where he does not have to deal with people, even me, a place where he can hear himself think, breath slowly, and come back to himself. That is something I could not do while raising children, as the primary (and then only) caretaker I had not one single minute of time to myself, my daughters even waited by the bathroom door when I was using the facilities, it was exhausting. So I know how important that quiet time after a day’s work can be to a person’s peace of mind and well-being.

My day today includes errands. Paying bills is never really fun, but it is a lot more fun when the money to pay them is available! Today the money is available.

Our vehicles are getting old, so they require that we be attentive to their condition. Tank ran into problems and was towed to the garage a few weekends ago. Thankfully that problem was easily and freely resolved. Tank had another maintenance visit to the garage, for a regular oil change and look-over, she received a passing grade.

The garage where I take her has two hoist bays, two mechanics, the owner and his partner. Tank had an appointment, but just the same he asked me if I was staying while Tank was being serviced. We had discussed this on the telephone when I made the appointment, I was staying, he forgot. The garage is a mile or so outside of town, too far to walk on any day, let alone a sunny, hot, and humid day. I chatted with the other customer for a bit, and after a little while he gave up the one seat to me, by the open window. I was pleased, as despite my appointment I was told the wait would be several hours. Settled comfortably in by the open window, book in hand, cold drink by my side, the time passed pleasantly. The owner periodically dropped into the office to chat with me, about life and the universe and anything. He is a very nice man, an honest man, a pleasant man. My wait was much shorter than anticipated, perceived and actual.

Yesterday I received a surprise video call from an old friend! I had to let the call through four or five layers of security to allow it. The funny part was, it was a “pocket call”, so it means she is keeping me close to heart on that little portable device that determined that now was the time. When a machine decides to reach out to you, is it fate, is it karma, or are you a mere 0, or a 1.

Thursday, August 3

Attila watered the garden last night with bath water. The rain barrels are dry. Although the areas to the north of us have received a lot of rain, we have had very little. Attila also reports that the rabbits have nibbled away all the leaves from our second planting of green beans. What beasties! That was a whole month of fresh vegetables we lost to them, I hope they enjoyed their meal. Discussions about a fenced garden are now in progress.

We are planning on taking Iris out for a weekend sometime this summer. Iris is equipped with an ancient refrigerator, a two-way refrigerator that will run on propane, or on electricity. Last night Attila ran an extension cord to Iris so that we could test to see if the refrigerator will run on electricity. It took about an hour, and sure enough, the freezer section was getting very cold. This is impressive. The refrigerator is a 1977 model, making it 40 years old. We will be looking to take Iris out for a weekend at a camp site with electrical service.

In my dreams we travel around Canada, pulling Iris along behind us. This dream isn’t likely to come true, there is not time while Attila works, and there will be no money for such whimsy when he retires without a pension. But still, what would life be without a dream!

The music concert: I don’t think you really feel a part of something that you have to invite yourself to participate in, unless all the participants are there under the same circumstances, together by mutual choice.

Friday, August 4

We awoke this morning to a thunderstorm, with much needed rain. The water barrels have been replenished, the gardens refreshed. The forecast predicts more thunderstorms today, tonight, and tomorrow.

My new eyeglasses from Costco are a thumbs up purchase, so far. They are progressive lenses, where my former glasses were bifocals. I had tried progressive eyeglasses many years ago, and could not adjust to them. With the new eyeglasses my eyes (and balance) adjusted within an hour to the progressive lenses. I like the new frames so far, they are inexpensive plastic, and do not seem to slip down my nose as my last pair liked to do; the lenses are larger and provide me with a greater range of clear vision.

Plastic eyeglasses would be a bad idea while burning brush at Rideau Camp, those fires throw a mighty heat. I will retain my old bifocals, with the titanium frame, for working out of doors, and for emergency backup. My eyes have changed almost imperceptibly in the last five years, and for that I am truly grateful. The optometrist tells me I have the first signs of developing cataracts, but it will be some time before that becomes a problem.

The crocheted top is coming along. As usual I am learning the hard way, about designing the pattern, the shape, the size, the stitches. I will be very glad to get through to the end, and I have my fingers crossed it will be presentable. The idea was to create a mesh top to wear over tank tops in hot weather. I HATE bras, absolutely hate them, and prefer braless living whenever I can get away with it. But too much wrong-sort-of male attention gathers around my nipples when I go braless in public, in a tank top, or other knit tops, so I want a light cover up, to throw on when we are dashing out the door to the store.

We are planning to attend an all-day music event tomorrow. As usual food is a big issue. It is very challenging to come up with ideas for portable food that is low-sodium, low-sugar, low-cholesterol, and allergen free; that can be comfortably carried around all day long. One light meal we have come to rely upon is homemade sodium-free hummus, with low-sodium rice crackers. I love sandwiches, but commercial breads are too high in sodium for me, and my sodium-free homemade bread is too crumbly for sandwiches. Last week a search through several grocery stores yielded a relatively low-sodium English Muffin; 115 mg sodium, no cholesterol and only 2 gm of sugar per muffin. This will make an acceptable sandwich using onions, lettuce, tomato, and a vegetarian cold cut which is low in sodium and in cholesterol.

Because most value-added foods contain unhealthy amounts of sodium, sugar, cholesterol, saturated fats, preserving chemicals, and my allergen, we cannot just walk into a grocery store and purchase canned or packaged foods for camping or travel. I admit to being ill-prepared this summer, in planning foods that are portable and healthy. Last summer we enjoyed grilled cheese sandwiches over the open fire, frequently, but alas the high-sodium bread and cheese has been implicated in the issues I encountered with my blood pressure last summer and autumn. Oh how I wish for a sodium-free sandwich bread!! You would think that the bakeries would respond to the demand, but no.

This afternoon there are tornado warnings in our area, seemingly downgraded to a severe thunderstorm watch now. The closest I have come to a tornado was at our country house, when the wind whipped over the back ridge behind the house, to twist and tear off the top 30 feet of the pine tree in the front yard, leaving a 30 foot high stump. I didn’t see it come down, but I heard it land on my Argosy trailer! My fingers are crossed that we experience no damage here at Mist Cottage, or at our Rideau Camp.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH IN EFFECT
25°C
Date: 1:00 PM EDT Friday 4 August 2017
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.2 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 24.9°C
Dew point: 21.3°C
Humidity: 80%
Wind: SSW 14 km/h
Humidex: 34

Quote

“We are generally the better persuaded by the reasons we discover ourselves than by those given to us by others.”
Blaise Pascal
1623 – 1662

“At heart, the issues raised in a work of fantasy are those we face in real life. In whatever guise — our own daily nightmares of war, intolerance, inhumanity, or the struggles of an Assistant Pig-Keeper against the Lord of Death — the problems are agonizingly familiar. And an openness to compassion, love, and mercy is as essential to us here and now as it is to any inhabitant of an imaginary kingdom.”
Lloyd Alexander
Newbery award winning author of children’s fantasy literature.

The Rideau Camp: One Year And Four Months After Purchase

Bex mentioned enjoying the photographs of our Rideau Camp, which inspired me to get to my before and after pictures. Here they are, the realtor’s before pictures were probably taken in the late summer of 2015. The after pictures were taken by me, this summer.

Rideau Camp entrance mar 2016 before BEFORE: the entrance. This was our first view of the Rideau Camp, from an online listing of the property for sale. It didn’t look very promising from the realtor’s photographs, but since we were in the area we swung by to have a look. The driveway was flooded when we arrived, not an appealing feature, but we easily drove through the inch deep water to higher ground further into the property. To the left is a swamp that rises high in the spring when the snow melts, and went completely dry last summer, when we experienced drought conditions. This summer the water level is still very high, as we are receiving record amounts of rain.

Rideau Camp entrance july 2017 after DSCF0736 AFTER: the entrance. This is the entrance to the Camp, as it is now. Attila cuts the weeds along the side of the entrance, which helps to control the mosquitoes. He has also been spraying the poison ivy we found spreading rapidly to the right of the drive; we feel no obligation to allow it to exist on our property.

RideauCamp mar 2016 before BEFORE: the clearing. Here is a photograph of the Rideau Camp taken by the real estate agent who was selling the property. The weeds to the right of the crushed stone are brambles, old, gnarly, knee high, and vicious. The trees at the edge of the forest had grown a wall of green leaves, thick with branches reaching out low to the sun. Bulldozed piles of logs and uprooted trees surrounded the open area, lined the long driveway. There was garbage strewn all through the bush, neighbours had used the property as an informal dump. The photograph did not really attract us, we were in the area looking at other properties, and decided to look at this one since we were already there. We drove in the driveway, through an inch or so of standing water where the swamp flooded the driveway from spring runoff. We got out of our car, and we fell in love, at first feel, because the sight was not all that appealing. We wandered around the bush, looked at each other, smiled and nodded. We knew, we knew we were home.

Rideau Camp July 2017 after AFTER: the clearing. This is roughly the same area of the Rideau Camp shown in the first clearing photograph. The brambles have all been pulled and natural vegetation allowed to reclaim the area to the right, which has been mowed with a whipper snipper so that only the low growing weeds survive, making the area easier and easier to maintain as time passes. I also sowed a lot of white clover seed in the areas that are whipper snipped, and it has thrived. The lower branches of the trees have been removed so that we can easily walk under the tree canopy. Short, shade loving grasses have begun to grown on the forest floor surrounding the clearing, now that the sun can penetrate. There are fewer mosquitoes with the reduced volume of greenery at ground level.

Grace The Trailer DSCF0778 AFTER: the clearing. Here is Grace The Trailer, the biggest luxury in our lives. She is parked in the area of crushed stone shown in the before and after photographs above, of the clearing. Although Grace The Trailer has a many features that we cannot use off-grid, we find that having a refrigerator, a range, and an oven that run on propane very luxurious indeed. She is a real home away from home. We will probably never travel with Grace The Trailer, we have our little 14 foot fiberglass trailer, Iris, for easy, if a lot less luxurious, travel.

Firefly

Firefly: “Most species of fireflies thrive as larvae in rotting wood and forest litter at the margins of ponds and streams. And as they grow, they more or less stay where they were born.”

The weekend of July 22/23, and this past weekend July 28/29, our evenings have been enchanted by the light show in the forest around our Rideau Camp. As soon as daylight began to fade, we began to see flashes of light, high and low, near and far among the silhouettes of the tree trunks. Sitting quietly in the forest, we were surrounded by these twinkling lights. Although there were a profusion of the lights on the weekend of July 22/23, the light show on the evenings of the 28/29 were magical in their intensity. It might be that the intense rainfall in the area on July 24 optimized their breeding process, which requires moisture and rotting wood on the forest floor, which were in abundance.

On the weekend of July 22/23 I burned a very large juniper stump, the last remaining stump from the huge log pile present on the property when it was purchased. The campfire burned from noon until 2 am the next morning, before the stump was reduced to ashes.

On Saturday the weather was perfect for burning another stump. The bulldozer that created our driveway pushed over two large trees along the drive, a pine and an ash or elm tree. Early Saturday morning Attila used his chain saw separate the upturned stump from the trunk of the downed tree. I had lit a camp fire, which was quite a challenge as all of the wood in the forest, and in our collection of dead wood beside the camp fire pit, was sodden from last week’s deluge. By the time I had a good hot set of coals ready, Attila had transported the stump up the hill, to deposit it at the edge of the fire. I tended the fire all day long, and well into the evening, until sometime after 9 pm the last of it fell away as hot embers.

Pine stump burn Rideau Camp july 29 The pine stump burning in the camp fire pit on Saturday. I dragged the dead trees, that I am feeding slowly into the fire, from the area we cleared to relocate Grace The Trailer. I believe this will be the last summer where most of my time at the Rideau Camp is spent burning dead wood, felled trees, and brush. We plan on leaving the areas outside the perimeter of the occupied area in natural condition, to allow the wildlife around us to carry on as usual.

Now we have only one large stump left to burn, the last of the bulldozer’s legacy.

This morning, as Attila and I sat to take our breakfast, he gripped my arm and whispered, “look”. Not twenty feet from our window a large female wild turkey strolled into view. Her gait was slow and measured, her gaze swept the landscape, side to side, forward and backward. As she moved forward across our line of vision, poults began to appear. Among the poults a second adult female wild turkey stepped, and behind them a third large female wild turkey surveyed the rear of the group. There were twenty one poults. The windows in Grace are silvered, offering no view through the glass into the trailer, so that we could continue eating as they passed before us, and our movements caused them no distress. Slowly the passed into the swampy area of our property, eating heartily from the forest floor as they went.

Early in the afternoon I heard their distressed calls, and I was distressed, that a predator might be attacking the young ones. Attila headed into the bush to investigate. He put my mind at ease, saying that they had all flown into the trees, and that there were adult males with them as well. I sighed with relief.

We are enjoying Grace The Trailer! Attila has restless leg syndrome, which kept me awake, and/or awakened me multiple times during the night, for over twenty years. Then we bought twin beds and I have slept well every since. But, Grace The Trailer has only a queen size bed. I expected to suffer through the nights again. However, such has not been the case. The queen size mattress in Grace The Trailer rests on solid wood, the movement we found with a box spring just does not exist with a solid base. The other strategy we adopted was separate bedding, each of us uses a twin flat sheet and comforter, we don’t share, again reducing the intrusions of each other’s nocturnal movements. I have slept soundly every night that we have spent in Grace The Trailer. I feel very lucky!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

Partly Cloudy
23°C
Date: 7:00 PM EDT Sunday 30 July 2017
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 22.7°C
Dew point: 20.3°C
Humidity: 86%
Wind: SSW 14 km/h
Humidex: 31
Visibility:24 km

Quote

“During [these] periods of relaxation after concentrated intellectual activity, the intuitive mind seems to take over and can produce the sudden clarifying insights which give so much joy and delight.”
Fritjof Capra

Adventures

Attila had a vacation day, so we enjoyed a three day weekend, this past weekend.

The drive out to the Rideau Camp on Friday night was uneventful, quite pleasant actually. It began to rain just as we carried the last of our luggage into Grace The Trailer. We enjoyed a quick supper, and as darkness fell we lit our LED lanterns to wash up and finish unpacking. I had stocked Grace The Trailer with a deck of cards, so a card game seemed like a good idea. The only game we could remember was Go Fish, it has been that long since we have played cards! The card deck turned out to be two Euchre decks. What ensued was a hilariously silly game of Go Fish, with one of us winning in either one or two hands. We were constantly laughing at ourselves.

Saturday dawned with sunny blue skies. An outing had been planned. We were set to attend a day at the Stewart Park Festival in Perth. A lunch was packed, and we set out for Perth. About a mile from the chosen parking area in Perth, all of Tanks warning lights suddenly lit up, and the engine sounded awful. Attila managed to get Tank into the Salvation Army parking lot, where he popped the hood, and tried to trouble shoot the problem, with no success. CAA was called, and we waited for about an hour and a half for a tow truck, which was worth the wait because the cab was big enough to tranport both of us back to the garage near home with Tank. We found a pleasant shady spot in the parking lot, and ate our packed lunch. The woman in the Salvation Army store was lovely, letting us use the washroom, we were very grateful.

It was a long drive back to the garage. We thoroughly enjoyed it! The driver was a young man, a millennial, who was also a farmer. He was interesting to talk with, and I mean talk with, he talked, we listened, he responded, we listened, we talked, he listened, he talked… and on it went. Conversations with people other than Attila are so rare in my life, exchanges where people listen, as well as talk. Before we knew it an hour and a half had flown by, and we were happily dropped off at the garage with Tank. One of the owners of the garage was there, but it was closed. He took the keys to Grace The Trailer, and allowed Attila to use the telephone to call a taxi to transport us the rest of the way home.

The taxi driver, a boomer, picked us up at the garage, and we had a very pleasant chat with him as he navigated the streets to our house.

What I enjoyed about both the tow truck driver, and the taxi driver, was that both were inclusive, interacting with Attila and with me. I have become very accustomed to spending time in situations where men speak only to Attila, rendering me an invisible mute beside him, where anything I say is ignored (not by Attila), usually not even acknowledged.

Our planned outing was a complete failure. Our discovered outing was a great deal of fun, full of pleasant interesting people.

After arriving at home, we showered, and returned to the Rideau Camp in our car.

Although I had already decided that I would not burn brush on the weekend, that is what I did on Saturday. There were more live branches to burn, lower branches on trees removed to open up the area, allow air to flow freely into the out of the camp area. There were whole dead trees to burn, and some small live trees that had to be removed because they would not grow properly, having lost their crowns. As darkness fell the fire still burned in the camp fire pit, and we sat up very late to watch the flames, then the embers, and finally the stars. We witnessed a magic show of fireflies as darkness fell. They flickered deep into the forest, high and low, all around us.

Sunday dawned hot, humid, and cloudy. Again a camp fire was lit and brush was collected and burned. While I tended the fire, Attila worked on removing a large stump from the area where Grace The Trailer will be parked. Stump removal by hand is a lot of work, he made a good start. As darkness fell, our plan to sit around the camp fire into the night was extinguished early by a heavy rain, with thunder and lightening. It stormed through the night, and one lightning strike was near enough to us that we could feel the earth shake under us.

Monday was a very hot, humid, cloudy day. Attila worked on his stump removal project, and I relaxed with a book for a while before going outside to putter around doing little jobs. It was a bad idea, my tackling any project on such a day! I became overheated, soaked two changes of clothing, and ended up moving all the items from the refrigerator to the cooler, turning the refrigerator off, stripping down to my underwear, and using a battery operated fan by the open door to cool myself. It worked. I also ate some salty peanuts, and drank about a litre of water. We decided to head home to Mist Cottage, where there is air conditioning.

We dropped in at the garage to see if Tank had been assessed, and were shocked to find that Tank was ready to go, and that there was no charge. Apparently a bit if grit had lodged in some kind of chain, requiring only a few seconds to dislodge. The fellow who owns this garage is amazing, truly amazing. We have taken our vehicles there ever since I discovered the business when the battery in Tank died, when I was spending the winter alone at Mist Cottage. We take either vehicle there for work, and return to pay whatever the charge is, we don’t even need to discuss what work will be done, we trust this fellow to only do what is necessary, and at a reasonable cost.

All weekend long we came into contact with interesting forthright people, all decent working people.

This short week is a week of appointments for me. I need new eyeglasses, my present pair fell apart twice over the weekend. Thankfully Attila was able to put them together for me in a rudimentary fashion, so I could still function. After looking at various options, Costco was chosen, I am giving them a try. A dental appointment is scheduled for today. As my Mom says, it takes up a lot of our time getting our parts fixed. Love my Mom!

The weather is hot and humid again today, and it looks as if this will continue for the next week or so. It is not my favourite weather, but summer does usually bring at least some of this to us. I stay in the air conditioned house, or vehicle, so that spending a few hours in the heat isn’t too taxing. I thought that losing a bit of weight, and getting my blood pressure under control would help me tolerate the humid heat more easily. Such is not the case, this summer I become quite fatigued and disoriented, if I spend too many hours in the hot humid outdoors.

My MacBook Air is getting long in the tooth, as technology does very quickly. It is a 2012 machine, and it still does everything I need it to do, but it is slowing down. I assume that is because increasingly complex web sites demands more and more memory, and increased demand on the CPU. The battery in the laptop is completely dead, if unplugged it instantly dies. This isn’t a problem at home, but it does mean the computer is no longer viable for travel, so I miss that. The cost to replace the battery is $329.00, and they “promised” to look for other problems… my guess is that they would find them. An low end Mac laptop replacement is looking like the most viable option, so I am beginning to think about it now. While I am thinking and waiting, I have backed up the MacBook Air, and will continue to do do frequently.

Of course for a little less money, I could own a new iPhone… not for me, very little that is interesting to me to do on an iPhone.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

21°C
Date: 7:00 AM EDT Wednesday 19 July 2017
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 20.9°C
Dew point: 19.1°C
Humidity: 89%
Wind: SW 13 km/h
Humidex: 28
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“True love brings up everything – you’re allowing a mirror to be held up to you daily.”
Jennifer Aniston