The Little Black Fly

I was lucky enough to spend Mother’s Day with my Mom. My Sister-The-Youngest-Girl is staying with her Beau Bob at the moment while they renovate her kitchen. Beau Bob kindly let us come to stay for a night, and hosted a family celebration with my Mom, my two sisters and my niece and fiancé. My Mom and my niece also recently celebrated birthdays, so we honoured that occasion as well. We had a lovely time, Sister-The-Youngest-Girl cooked a wonderful roast beef dinner, and made a Black Forest Cake, gifts were given to Mom and my niece. My Mom and Sister-The-Middle-Girl took me to their garden and loaded me up with all kinds of goodies: a rhubarb plant, rhubarb to eat, dill plants, an oregano plant, garlic buds to plant, onions to plant, and green onions to eat. Attila and I enjoyed the green onions on Sunday night in our green salad. Garden vegetables are the best tasting!

My niece invited us to their place for muffins Sunday afternoon, they just purchased a house in the country. Their house is lovely, they are renovating, and the views are heavenly. It was a wonderful Mother’s Day.

Luna, from a dialup up connection in Amsterdam, sent a Mother’s Day email greeting, and Terra send a message in the morning, dropped off a card, and called via FaceTime in the afternoon so that we could talk to Sunny and Sky. Sunny is standing by herself for brief moments now, and is so delighted with herself. Sky is beginning to crawl, and to move from a crawl into a sitting position, and once accomplished, he flashes a heart catching joyful smile.

The drive to visit my sisters and my Mom is not really such a great distance, but it does involve passing through the city of Toronto. This adds an hour or more to the journey, as we always run into stop and go traffic somewhere as we pass through. I have been in several motor vehicle accidents, and am not the most relaxed passenger there ever was. So it was a happy discovery that I could take along my crochet project (a carry all bag), and work on it blissfully as Attila operated the vehicle. That freed him from any concern about how I was feeling. Attila is sensitive to my feelings, which is usually a good thing, but in this instance it is counter-productive. We both experienced an easier journey.

When we arrived home on Sunday afternoon, Attila went right to work planting all the wonderful things we had been given, and I washed, chopped, and cooked the rhubarb to make 2 ½ quarts. Attila enjoys stewed rhubarb in his lunches.

Yesterday I called the bank to reschedule an appointment. The original was for Monday morning, and I happily spent my day with no awareness whatsoever of my commitment. On Tuesday morning I looked at the calendar and found that I had missed the appointment, but thought that I was only hours late, this time not realizing it was already Tuesday. Calling the bank, I apologized for inconsiderately missing the arranged appointment, and asked for another. Luckily she had an opening the same day, so that chore is now done and dusted.

Yesterday evening, as soon as Attila arrived home from work, we headed in Tank towards the Rideau Camp. He had been warned by co-workers living in the countryside, that the black flies had started and that were bad this year. We were prepared. During the day I hung a set of work clothes each on the clothesline and sprayed them liberally with permethrin, wearing a mask, latex gloves, and a long sleeved shirt. They were dry in good time to be worn at the camp that evening. I also packed our evening meal, consisting of homemade sodium-free hummus, low-sodium rice crackers for me, pita bread for Attila, seedless grapes, coconut pineapple muffins, and low-sodium lime flavoured soda water. Attila had the gardening tools ready by the door, so that they could be loaded into Tank in a few minutes. I donned a “bug jacket” at home, ready for the hoards of little black biters.

The water level in our swamp was down a bit, and the creek was running at a trickle. I zipped up the head segment of the bug jacket before getting out of Tank, and was glad I had. The black flies were well represented, but Attila noted that they really “weren’t that bad”. We had become accustomed to the black flies at the country house, which were worse by a hundredfold, than they were at the Rideau Camp. Still, I was glad of the full cover bug jacket, and Attila used insect repellent on any of his exposed flesh. Neither of us received a bite.

Attila has two projects in mind for this visit. The first was to whipper snip the open areas, which took almost two hours, as there is quite an area to cover now. The second was to prepare the dirt where the wood pile had been, and then to do some planting. My Mom and Sister-The-Middle-Girl loaded us up with goodies while we were visiting for Mother’s Day. At the Camp Attila planted 20 garlic buds, and three mounds of squash. We will see how they do, we aren’t expecting much but you never know. At one point the land was used as pasture, and you just never know where those cow patties landed.

While Attila was busy with his projects, I wandered down to the end of the driveway, enjoying all the flora and fauna. Coming back to the cleared area I dragged along with me two small dead trees, piling them up near the camp fire pit, ready for the next camp fire. I continued my forays for dead wood, and amassed quite a sizeable pile of it for future camp fires. Only a brief time was spent raking crushed stone, it is such hard labour, I don’t want to push myself past my limit. The crushed stone project is going to take a very long time to complete.

DSCF0629 The driveway at the Rideau Camp, a nice place for a stroll. Most but not all of the brush piles, left by the previous owners, have been collected and burned in the camp fire pit. It certainly looks a lot nicer than it did a year ago, when we first owned and began to work on the property.

The Trout Lilies were spent, but we found many small violets in bloom all around the Camp. The Trilliums were at their peak, masses of them at the sides of the road as we drove in, and masses of them on our property. The birds have at last arrived, we heard owls in the distance, saw geese fly overhead, watched four Blue Jays kibitz around in the trees, and as the evening shadows lengthened murders of crows flew in and settled in one of the huge oak trees on our property. We have hundreds of crows on and around our property.

DSCF0622 The Trilliums were in bloom!

We found no signs of unwelcome visitors. The young boys who had trespassed with their motor bikes and ATV had not returned. We have a No Trespassing sign to put up next time we go to the Camp. I noticed a neighbour had put up a sign prohibiting dirt bikes, snowmobiles and ATVs, so I am going to look into getting one of those signs as well. There will always be new crops of boys heading out to “God’s Country” with their motorized toys.

As the light began to fail, we sat contentedly in Tank, eating our meal where the black flies do not roam. Black flies do not like enclosed spaces, they will head for an opening to escape. It was possible to eat, and breath, without concerning ourselves with small beings flying into our mouths and noses. Mosquito season is not so kind, they have no foibles about hanging around in enclosed spaces, and actually like them as their targets are usually immobile and easier to attack.

We arrived home just before bed time. I slept deeply. Usually I wake up when Attila does in the morning, but this morning Attila had to wake me.

Terra called, and then dropped by with Sunny and Sky. We are seeing more of Sunny and Sky now that they are older. Terra has been cautious, during their first preemie months at home, about exposing them unnecessarily to illnesses that might affect them more seriously full-term babies. Today they were going out with Terra’s friend, but the friend is not up so early, so they came here for their breakfast to wait for her. Sunny and Sky seem to like it here. They enjoy the two baby toys that I keep in the kitchen drawer for them: a red silicone basting brush, and a yellow plastic ice cream scoop. I had to run around putting away things that might fall on them, as Sunny now pulls herself up on furniture or anything she can reach. She actually got the kitchen chair working as a walker, moving it across the floor as if it was on wheels. Sky is crawling, and today he learned how to sit from a crawling position. Lots of first for these wee folk.

It is a beautiful summer day today. Sunshine, and warm breezes mean that I have thrown open the windows to let in the blossom scented air.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

24°C
Date: 12:00 PM EDT Wednesday 17 May 2017
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.0 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 23.5°C
Dew point: 15.7°C
Humidity: 61%
Wind: SW 28 gust 44 km/h
Humidex: 28
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“I look to the future because that’s where I’m going to spend the rest of my life.”
George Burns
1896 – 1996

Cotton Caps

The days pass quietly. After yesterday’s bright sunshine, the partial cloud cover of today struggles to dampen, the earth, human spirits. But it is Friday. Friday now brings cheer into our little world. The afternoon will bring Attila home, for two whole days. Although the rhythm of this experience called weekends is familiar, having experienced a five day work/school week through most of my life, weekends have a new sweetness to them, having been long lost, and now found.

Yesterday I crocheted a second cotton cap. The first was densely stitched, odd shaped, and tight fitting; perfect for tending camp fires, and working in the bush at the Rideau Camp. Its only fault was that it could be mistaken for a chemo cap, which could be misleading. What was needed for public adornment was a cap that would reveal my head of hair, to make it obvious that it was merely a pedestrian sort of cap.

The second cap is a crocheted mesh, fitting loosely. It should not be mistaken for a chemo cap, and therefore is more suitable for a quick trip to the grocery store, or a walk in the park.

Neither cap is meant for warmth. They are both created with cotton yarn, so that they are absorbent, cool, and will control unruly hair. I don’t look good in hats, but on bad hair days (most days) it is nice to have something to contain the chaos.

DSCF0612 cotton hats Two crocheted caps. They are made with the same cotton yarn, using a single crochet stitch on the left, and a half double crochet stitch on the right. The cap on the right was made yesterday, and is meant for public appearances. The cap on the left was one of my first real crochet projects, was quite experimental, and will be worn working in the bush.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

7°C
Date: 5:00 AM EDT Friday 12 May 2017
Condition: Not observed
Pressure: 101.6 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 7.4°C
Dew point: 5.7°C
Humidity: 89%
Wind: NE 4 km/h

Quote

“To see the earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold.”
Archibald MacLeish
1892 – 1982

First Trip To The Rideau Camp

11:50 am

It is almost noon, and the first load of laundry of the season is out to dry on the line across the back porch. In the winter the laundry is dried on racks in the front bedroom, which has multiple benefits; it saves hydro and humidifies the air during the heating season.

It has been a busy weekend and week so far. On Sunday last Terra and Lares brought Sunny and Sky for a little visit, since they were in town on errands and in the area. Terra had been keeping the babies close to home, for the most part, with few visitors, because their lungs are still catching up after having been born prematurely. She feels more comfortable now taking them out and about, as the season for some of the more dangerous conditions is over for the winter. The babies are still a wee bit small for their age, ten months old today. They are rosy and healthy and progressing as one would expect. Both babies sit up, and crawl. Sunny will actually pull herself up on chairs and grandma’s knee, and loves to walk around with the helping hands of loving adults. While they were here Lares prepared their lunch, and fed Sunny, while Terra fed Sky. Lares has been ill with some kind of flu or food poisoning for the last little while, he was looking rather worn, so off they went home.

After Terra and her family left, we packed some muffins and grapes, loaded some mildewed scrap wood from the garage into tank, dressed in our finest ratty old work clothes, donned our rubber boots, and headed for the Rideau Camp. Our first visit of the season. I will be one year ago this weekend that we took possession of the Camp property. We arrived to sunshine and blue skies. We collected fallen branches from around the camp, and soon a camp fire was burning merrily in the fire pit. Nothing had changed, except for a few fallen branches, since we left for home last November. It was warm enough that by the end of the afternoon we were both in shirtsleeves, and quite comfortable. The new crocheted hat, to keep the hair out of my eyes while working at the camp, lived up to expectation.

So many things were forgotten on the first trip out to the camp. Most felt was the absence of the camera. Most appreciated was the fact that there was tiolet paper from last season still sitting in tank.

Monday and Tuesday were pretty much consumed by travelling to the city to have a 24 hour blood pressure monitor attached on Monday, and handed back on Tuesday. The highlight of my spring came when the doctor reviewing the results with me said, “why are you here?” Apparently my blood pressure averages 126/80 now, couldn’t be better! So I will continue on the low dosage of medication, the low sodium, low sugar diet, daily apple cider vinegar, and daily activity, as it all seems to be working in my best interest. The good results are not a result of significant weight loss, or increasing medication.

There are more doctors appointments next week. One with the cardiologist to review the moderate issues with my heart valves. One for an ultrasound and bone density test. And one to have a mole removed and biopsied. At some point another appointment will be needed to discuss the results of the ultrasound and bone density test, the pap smear, and the mole biopsy. Then, with any luck, I will be tuned up and ready for the summer. Fingers crossed that there are no surprises.

Today I am working on my book. All the images have been collected, and now they need to be added to the book, and captioned. The software in use is not good at doing this job, so a different software package is used for the image layouts, the results are saved as PDF files, which will in turn be imported one by one into the book. This is going to take some time!

The crocheting continues to be fun. The washcloth made with the half double crochet stitch is complete, and I can see a few mistakes I made, as well as a somewhat uneven width due to differences in the tension as I went along. I’ve decided to save it as is and move on to the next stitch, the double crochet stitch. I tried it yesterday and had to frog (tear apart) the whole effort, today is another day and I’ll give it a another go.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

8°C
Kingston Airport
Date: 12:00 PM EDT Wednesday 5 April 2017
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.5 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 7.5°C
Dew point: 2.4°C
Humidity: 70%
Wind: NNE 9 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Ninety-eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hard-working, honest Americans. It’s the other lousy two percent that get all the publicity. But then–we elected them.”
Lily Tomlin
1939 –

[This was originally meant to be humourous, in a sardonic way. Now it isn’t funny.]

Are All Addictions Bad?

Day four of the new cholesterol medication, and the end of the old. So far the only side effect I notice is the common one, constipation, which was a side effect of the old medication as well. But, I lie, there does seem to be another side effect, but not one I am complaining about. My eyesight seems to have improved. Could it be the new medication, the cessation of the old medication, the hours spent on crochet and not on the computer, the slight weight loss… I don’t know! But I am not complaining.

The current project, WIP seems to be the buzz acronym for “work in progress”, is a simple pair of fingerless gloves for my Mom for her birthday. Sorry Mom, the surprise is not a surprise, particularly since you might be helping me out with advice about them from time to time. Having learned the single crochet stitch, it was time to move on to a new stitch, which is the half double crochet stitch. This took quite a while to catch on to, as apparently I don’t acquire new physical skills easily. I found these beginner crochet gif illustrations helpful, the videos are great but move way to fast for me, and if I take my hands off the work to press pause and continue on the keyboard I lose track of what I was trying to do with the yarn. It is still necessary to translate right-handed instructions to left-handed instructions, which slows me down considerably.

Yesterday the project began early in the morning, and at the day the stitches had been ripped out several dozen times, to start again. At the end of the day four short rows had been successfully completed. This represented a great deal of learning: the new stitch, how to join a chain to make a circle, how to add a row to a circle, and how to fail at changing colour (abandoned that one for now), and at crocheting intermittently into the back loop to create texture (abandoned for another time). The greatest leap in learning however, was being able to recognize the structure of the stitches accurately enough to use an acrylic (fuzzy) yarn rather than cotton (not fuzzy) yarn; this represents quite an expansion in my knowledge base.

DSCF0502 Crochet Mistakes: This particular mistake had me tearing my hair out right along with the stitches! It took at least a dozen tries, and an appeal for help on a crochet group, to finally learn how to do this right!

DSCF0508 Crochet Mistake: This one had me baffled for quite a while, and I had to tear this much work out over and over and over again, making the same mistake each time. I am following a written pattern, and I was looking at an instruction down the page, where it was assumed I would already know how to move to the next row. False assumption! I had to reread the instructions at the beginning over a few times, to find that I had not moved to the next row by adding two chain stitches. A simple thing, seemingly a small thing, NOT!

It has been cloudy and drizzly since last Friday. Sunday gave us freezing rain all day. Monday brought a little warmth to the air, but not a lot. This morning it is cloudy and raining, and about 6C, not nice walking weather! I might go for it later today, if I can tear myself away from the crochet hook! Crocheting is addictive. I haven’t started dreaming about it yet, but I think that is just a matter of time.

I was looking at a video clip from Woodstock the other day, way back in 1969. I didn’t attend, as at the time in my life survival was an issue that precluded all else. It struck me, as I watched the video, that I didn’t see ANY overweight people. How things have changed from those days. At least 50% of young adults are overweight, probably more, that I see in videos of social gatherings in these modern times. It wasn’t until I watched the Woodstock images, that I was struck by the depth of the epidemic overweight and obesity problem in North America.

I remember a comment made, when I went to a folk festival for the day with our elderly neighbour Grace, when we lived in the little city. At the end of the day I asked Grace what she thought of the festival. Her only comment was, “there are a lot of fat people.” She wasn’t being judgemental, just descriptive.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

5°C
Date: 9:00 AM EDT Tuesday 28 March 2017
Condition: Mist
Pressure: 101.3 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 5.0°C
Dew point: 4.6°C
Humidity: 97%
Wind: N 6 km/h
Visibility: 4 km

Quote

“Never confuse movement with action.”
Ernest Hemingway
1899 – 1961

Or lack of movement with inaction.

In other words, assumptions are risky business.

March Is A Two Pizza Month

March! It is my least favourite month of the year.

My Granny passed away in March of 1976, I still tear up when I think about how much I miss her. My very dear friend and lover Pat Logier passed away in March of 1996, a very sad time in my life. March is when winter weather can seem like it will never, ever, ever end. March brings the spring season, but not necessarily spring weather. March, even when the weather is lovely, holds no promises that winter’s worst will not return for a star performance.

I don’t like March much. But, I am having comparatively grand March this year. Living at Mist Cottage means that we see the snow melt away in March, we are reminded that milder weather will come. This year March is stirring our longing to be out at the Rideau Camp; we are beginning to think about being there, what we will take with us for our picnics, what little projects we want to work on, how wonderful it will be to sit under the trees in the shade on hot days, and to sit under the stars around our campfire on clear nights. Yes, we are having a pretty good month of March this year.

Our wedding anniversary is in March. For our anniversary this year we made ourselves a pizza, and bought a movie from iTunes. It was lovely. But it seems that we need another little boost just now, as another weekend greets us with cloudy skies, a nippy wind, and the threat of freezing rain. Time for another pizza! March is a two pizza month! We purchased some CD movies on sale from iTunes some time ago, one of them will provide us with an enjoyable “pizza and a movie” night in.

When I was a single Mom going to Grad School, my special time with Terra was treating ourselves to a Friday night pizza, and watching Star Trek on the television. By that time Luna was well into her teenage years and had no interest in spending time with either Terra or myself, preferring her friends. Terra and I both remember those Friday nights with fondness.

After not having had a family Doctor for some years now, I am finding that the Doctor at the walk-in clinic has taken an interest in providing me with good care. I had chest pains last year, and he has been following up on that quite diligently. I don’t have any significant problems with my heart, which is good news. I will be tested further for my high blood pressure though, and I have a related appointment with a cardiologist. The walk in clinic doctor is also arranging for testing on several other health concerns I have described, which will involve a few more non-intrusive tests. We discussed cholesterol, and my levels are a bit high, which I take quite seriously because of the slight problem with the valves in my heart. He wanted me to try a new medication, so I agreed, because you just never know, and began to take it today. There is no noticeable side effect after the first dosage.

The pills were shocking. When the druggist opened up the prescription bag to go over the details with me, I could hardly believe my eyes. The pills are humungous! I was so disoriented by the size of the pills, and the fact that I am to take six of them every day, that I walked out of the drug store in a daze, forgetting to pay for the medication. I realized it after I got home, and called them to arrange going in to pay the bill next week. They hadn’t realized that the bill was unpaid, and probably wouldn’t have caught it. I am glad I caught it though, and called them, karma is a powerful thing.

New medication The small bottle of medication in front is two months worth of my old medication, which I have been taking for years, and which works well in some ways and not quite good enough in others. The two large bottles of medication are one month’s worth of the new medication. I am to take three pills in the morning and three pills in the afternoon. Quite a contrast in volume. We shall see if there is an overall improvement, or any side effects. The new medication won’t work as well where the old medication was very effective. The new medication will have to do a great job to earn its place on my shelf.

Tonight I will be baking sourdough breads. I will make one loaf of 100% whole wheat bread, and one loaf of Finnish Pulla bread. The sourdoughs are fed and proofing on the top of the refrigerator where it is nice and warm. I will also be baking oatmeal bread and Pineapple Coconut Muffins. Time to get busy with the baking because I am running out of snacks to eat!

I am wearing my beanie today and enjoying it very much. The next project will be learning the double crochet stitch, by making a washcloth using it. There is an excellent learning tool on one of the crochet groups on FaceBook (thanks Bex for pointing me in their direction)! I have been learning from videos, which work well for me when I already know how to do something, but are really challenging when first learning. Using videos to learn requires constantly taking my focus off the task at hand to fiddle with the video controls, so that a confusing demonstration can be repeated, or the video can be paused while I catch up. The site I discovered is one that demonstrates using animated gifs for every little step in the process. It is easy to see what the crocheter is doing, and the gif repeats over and over, so that I can try it, tear it out if I need to, and try it again without ever having to adjust the screen.

Attila and I went for a walk today. It was surprisingly cold out there. The temperature is above freezing, but with the brisk wind, and the dampness, it felt a lot colder than that! Still, it was nice to be out under the sky for a little while.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

2°C
Date: 2:00 PM EDT Saturday 25 March 2017
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 102.9 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 2.2°C
Dew point: -1.6°C
Humidity: 76%
Wind: NNE 22 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine.”
Lord Byron
1788 – 1824