Busily Recuperating

The summer cold continues to plague me, although the symptoms lessen slowly over time, I am still struggling to keep up my fluids, and go through boxes of tissues. I was only up twice last night coughing, an improvement. This is one miserable cold!

My energy levels are definitely down, but I am managing to remain a it active anyway.

On Saturday Attila and I took a run out to the Rideau Camp. All was well there, except for the hoards of army worms. They were there in much greater numbers than our last visit, even though I had destroyed hundreds and hundreds of them. The spray works really well for the swarms of them, but not so well on individual worms. Attila sprayed, while I used a stick to squish the low lying outliers. I also tended an all day camp fire, burning a lot of the brush that had been brought up from the swamp area near the road, it had dried out. I estimate that I was on my feet dealing with army worms for over seven hours on Saturday. By the time we headed home it was beginning to get dark, after 8:00 p.m., and I could hardly stand I was so tired. I really enjoyed being a passenger on the drive home!

Mice continue to enter Grace the Trailer, I haven’t found the entry point yet. I spent an hour or so spraying their mess with hydrogen peroxide, then collecting and burning it all in the camp fire. Mice are horrid, destructive little beasts! While working on the army worms near Winnie the outhouse, I noticed debris hanging from the ceiling in there. Sure enough, a mouse was building a nest in the ceiling. I chased the mouse away, knocked the nest down, then used tongs to throw it into the camp fire. Critters!

Yesterday was restful by comparison. I spent my day preparing food, using the back porch as an outdoor kitchen. I used the Nesco oven to bake a rhubarb crisp, with fresh rhubarb from the garden. I used the bread machine to bake a loaf of bread. Using the dehydrator fresh oregano from the garden was dried and powdered. The dehydrated tomato seeds and skins, leftover when the tomatoes were processed with the food mill, were powdered as well. Having used appliances out of doors, in a covered area, the house was not heated up at all, and it remained a cool haven all day long.

One of my projects last week involved the sewing machine. While I had it out to stitch up the skirt curtain for the basement window, I also stitched up some cabana curtains, using my stash of old bed sheets. The sheets were all white, but all different sizes, which looks a little haphazard, but does the job nicely. One of the sheets was the one that was sent to summer camp with Terra, when she was in primary school. It still has her initials painted onto it with fingernail polish, and a fingernail polish footprint, where the project got a little out of hand. When these sheets wear out, I’ll look for replacements of the same size, in bright colours. For now though, the white sheets are doing a fine job of keeping the afternoon sun off the deck. No longer does it heat up to unbearable temperatures in late afternoon.

Cabana curtain back porch june 2018 The back porch cabana curtain. The porch gets full sun from about 2 p.m. until sundown, and it gets very hot on the back porch when that happens. I hung old white flat sheets from long curtain rods, to make “cabana curtains” for the back porch. They work wonderfully well, so that I can now sit out on the porch comfortably all afternoon, and the house no longer gets hot in the afternoons. Note that the porch is a sorry affair. The decking is actually hardwood flooring, never meant to be installed without support. Attila added the outer row of short pieces, from scrap we found below the porch. There was no railing when we bought Mist Cottage. The cast iron railing that is there now, was the railing on the front porch, a huge concrete affair that had sunk towards the house and rotted out the sill plates. The railing was saved and installed on the back porch. The back porch is the next project on the list of renovations, another year.

Today I am resting, as I feel quite worn out!

For dinner tonight I need to come up with something using a single chicken breast. I want to use the mini Instantpot that we recently purchased on sale, couldn’t resist it for the back porch summer kitchen! Most of the recipes I find online use ketchup, soy sauce, and other ingredients that are full of sugars and sodium. I am going to attempt to use the techniques, while using completely different ingredients.

Although I was aware of Instantpots, I didn’t give them a second thought. I have a pressure cooker, and a pressure canner, what would I do with an Instantpot pressure cooker. Bex shared some recipes she tried in one, and I was intrigued. Then I found one on sale, and that was it, home it came. It is the smallest one, 3 quart, there are only two of us here. The first recipe tried was Rice Pudding, it was the best rice pudding I have ever made, hands down. The second recipe tried was Vegetarian Baked Beans, very yummy, very easy. The third recipe was spicy kidney beans for Attila, very nice. The Instantpot is perfect for a one-electrical-outlet based, outdoor kitchen on the back porch. It sautés, in addition to pressure cooking, so that it is the only pot needed to prepare a dish. Since I don’t add any sodium to my dishes, and limit condiments like soy sauce, which are high in sodium, finding flavour requires sautéing. Caramelized onions are essential in sodium free savoury cooking.

I received a call this morning, a dumpster became available. Attila called them back later this morning, and the dumpster arrives today! The driveway is not ready for it. Iris the Trailer needs to be relocated, I cannot do it, so I have my fingers crossed that Attila arrives home early enough to move her out of the way before the dumpster arrives. Otherwise, he will have to carry debris around Iris, to deposit it in the dumpster small load by small load, a real waste of precious time, but it is his time, it is his project. I am a person who likes to think ahead and be prepared, I would have moved Iris on the weekend, but Attila does not move to the beat of the same drum. It will all work out somehow, it always does, and the only tension Attila experiences in these situations is due to my reactions, which I diligently try to keep to myself. [Note: Attila arrived home in time to move Iris onto the front lawn, before the dumpster was delivered. It is huge. I think the whole house might fit into it! This will be a good opportunity to do a all out purge.]

I am an ounce of prevention woman, living with a pound of cure man.

Sometimes I waste time on prevention, for circumstances that never materialize. Sometimes Attila wastes time ameliorating situations that might have been prevented. It probably balances itself out.

Attila seems very settled into his life here, which I am finding comfortable. The one true thing, that I live in a house with Attila, is still true. For now, it is enough, perhaps it always will be. I can only hope that future changes in my life are not so jarring as the terrible, terrible mistake. The knowledge that anything could happen is still very close.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

21°C
Date: 12:00 PM EDT Monday 11 June 2018
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 102.0 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 20.8°C
Dew point: 6.2°C
Humidity: 38%
Wind: NE 18 gust 34 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower
1890 – 1969

The Bright Side of Life

Attila and I are having a good laugh this morning. I noticed that he had cleaned the toilet. We both hate the job, I usually break down and do it. But I’ve been working a lot since Christmas, and just haven’t managed to make the time. It is an easy job to postpone.

As I was thanking Attila for getting the job done, a thought occurred to me. The only circumstance where we might feel uncomfortable about an unclean toilet is in the event that we received company. We began to discuss when we last had visitors. It was last fall sometime, Harriet and Hogan dropped by for an hour or so on their way home from their cottage. We aren’t sure though just when, but it was last fall. The kids haven’t been to visit since 2011.

We burst out laughing! We dodged that bullet, no visitors, no worries about an unclean toilet. “Always look at the bright side of life.” [Monty Python, The Life of Brian]

We both worked yesterday, and also managed to squeeze in a trip to the nearby town to do our banking, pick up our prescriptions, and do a bit of grocery shopping. Although we have had snow almost every day, the roads are clear and dry.

Fresh Canadian mushrooms and USA strawberries were both on sale. They have been cleaned and sliced and arranged on the dehydrator trays, and will dry during the night while the hydro is less expensive. The strawberries smell divine!

Today, Sunday, is our “weekend”. Attila has prepared refried beans for this week’s lunches, and will be whipping up some baked falafels for quick and easy meals after work. At Christmas Terra gave us the turkey carcass from her turkey dinner, which we froze immediately; today it becomes turkey soup. I love Attila’s turkey soup.

I have baked a fruit and nut loaf for Attila’s snacks, and have yet to decide what other delight to bake. Perhaps I will make some homemade biscuits to eat with Attila’s turkey soup tonight.

I think that cooking for oneself, from scratch, improves mental health. I know it improves physical health. It is a win/win activity.

Having a post secondary educational background in human nutrition, I am sometimes shocked at the proliferation of misinformation that circulates on the web. Recently a friend posted someone’s article about the importance of diet in battling cancer. Sounds plausible. I read on. The article was written by an entrepreneur who is selling “health” products. That was the first warning bell. The article stated that “sugar” “feeds” cancer and should not be consumed. No references, no citations, just the statement of an unsupported “fact”. That was warning bell number two. Warning bell number three came in the next paragraph, where the author suggests eating molasses and maple syrup. Molasses and maple syrup [I eat both] are sugar; the stuff the author just warned readers not to eat. The author was unaware of the contradiction. I stopped reading. In my opinion the author is just another self-proclaimed “expert” trying to make a buck.

Here are some reliable sources offering information about sugars:

https://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Carbohydrate/The-Truth-about-Sugar—FAQs.aspx

http://ajl.sagepub.com/content/4/6/515.abstract

Sugar is a treat. Treats are not part of a healthy diet, they are something you indulge in. I indulge in treats. I eat sugar, primarily maple syrup, brown sugar, and molasses. I don’t kid myself though, and I restrict the amount of sugar I eat.

A healthy lifestyle includes daily exercise, healthy relationships, and a healthy diet that includes lots of vegetables, with moderate amounts of other foods.

This is reliable advice on choosing a healthy diet.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-8 °C
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 101.3 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -8.0°C
Dewpoint: -12.8°C
Humidity: 69 %
Wind: WNW 17 km/h
Wind Chill: -15

Quote

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
J. R. R. Tolkien
1892 – 1973

Amen to that!

Choices

February is fleeing. The landscape speaks the language of change; the snow is drifting down, the pines are swaying. Winter is beautiful.

This is very first February, since we moved to the country, that I have not been visited upon by cabin fever. How wonderful it is!

The second night of drying did not completely dry the lime slices. Squeezing them between my fingers produces a thick, sticky, tasty juice. I will run them through the dehydrator again today, as the weekend rates for hydro are off-peak. I am not keen to try citrus fruits again in the dehydrator. I think it does a very poor job of it. Unless I find that I cannot do without the final product, I will not be dehydrating citrus again.

Domestic food preparation is something that I have been interested since my days at Ryerson University. The quality of education in the field of human nutrition was excellent at that time.

I have always believed that the only honourable way to make one’s way through the world is to attend to one’s own needs, including food preparation. I am not really comfortable having people serve me, it just feels wrong. Unless, of course, it is my birthday, and the serving is being done by loving friends and/or relatives; then it just feels wonderful, exactly like something I’d like to reciprocate. And when I am very ill, it is nice to have someone to watch over me, as I have done without hesitation for others.

On the subject of food and nutrition, here are a few of my temporary posts to Facebook. (In a recent post I explained how I am deleting everything shortly after liking, sharing or commenting. So far so good.)

the-extraordinary-science-of-junk-food

Part of my education was in Nutrition at Ryerson University. What people eat has always shocked me, but I do understand the appeal of JUNK. My particular weakness is sugary chocolate and potato chips. I resist, eating chocolate only on special occasions. But it is “in my face” a lot of the time, and it takes a conscious effort to avoid it.

I’ve been following a fellows blog since 1996, and he has been eating in restaurants almost daily for the last few decades. His health is so poor at this point that he is constantly receiving medical care. And yet, he is still eating at restaurants on an almost daily basis. He is an intelligent fellow, but seemingly not about everything. The information on eating for health is easily accessible, it isn’t a “lunatic fringe” plot.

Eating a healthy diet MATTERS! We can choose what we eat.

What the World Eats…

I like the examples where most of the food is fresh, and consists of ingredients. That is how we ate in Ontario when I was a child. The plastic explosion surrounding high value-added foods is a big step backward for the species, in my opinion.

This morning I finally had a chance to complete the organization of my genealogical source materials. What a job! Next comes the organization of the references within the database, getting it ready for eventual printing. That is an even bigger job, as I anticipate thousands and thousands of references are needed. These are primary sources researched over a period of close to 17 years. Focus is one of my strong points.

Attila has arrived home from work, and so we begin our one day “weekend”. He will get to sleep in tomorrow morning, and catch up with all those little things that needed more time than the week allowed.

First, lunch! Cauliflower with cheese sauce is one of our favourite lunches; mostly vegetable, low in fat, and very tasty.

Second on the agenda is to shovel off the deck for the second time in two weeks. It is above freezing today and so the snow on the metal roof has come down in a great bank, which will be very difficult to shift when it freezes solid again. No time like the present to take care of it.

I am chef tonight. The menu includes coconut-lime baked fish (I haven’t made up the recipe yet!), lime flavoured basmati rice and a side of mixed peppers and asparagus.

Added Note:
We just finished eating the coconut lime baked fish, mouthwatering! I made up my own recipe.
– preheated the oven to 375F
– greased a glass baking dish
– dredged the fillets (we used haddock today) in a mixture of 1/3 cup whole wheat flour, a dash of salt, and and a dash of pepper, then placed the fillets in a single layer in the baking dish
– to a glass jar added 2 tbsp of olive oil, 2 tbsp of fresh lime juice, 1 tbsp of shredded desiccated coconut and a dash of salt, then I screwed on the lid on and gave it a good shake
– poured the oil and lime mixture on top of the fish
– baked for 20 minutes, uncovered
Served with rice and vegetable side of peppers and asparagus. Heaven!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

1 °C
Condition: Precipitation
Pressure: 101.0 kPa
Visibility: 13 km
Temperature: 0.8°C
Dewpoint: -1.0°C
Humidity: 88 %
Wind: S 15 km/h

Quote

“Enjoy present pleasures in such a way as not to injure future ones.”
Seneca
5 BC – 65 AD

[Something the meek can accomplish.]

The Limes of Winter

Lime juice squeezed from the leftover scraps after slicing the limes for the dehydrator.
Limes

This morning it was -19C outside the kitchen window, and it the wind is gusting to 40 kmh, bringing the wind chill factor in at -26C. Attila works outside all day, so these cold days are not very pleasant for him. The good news is that the temperate is supposed to rise dramatically today and hover around zero for the next few days.

Mist was in a cranky mood this morning. She is stone deaf, so she probably doesn’t realize we can still hear her, even though she is yowling at the top of her lungs. She had everything she needs, attention, fresh milk, fresh food and water, a warm fire burning in the hearth. What! Of course, eventually I discovered the problem. As I sat working not he laptop she came over to me and sat very still, staring at me. When I looked up she began to yowl. So I set aside my work, and followed her. She stopped several times, looked back to make sure I was behind her, and then continued across the living room and down the hall. Part way down the hall she sat down and quietly stared at a door. It was shut. Mist objects strongly, very, very strongly, to shut doors. I opened the door and she silently passed through, ignoring me completely. She communicates a lot better than some humans; I wonder if sometimes verbal language complicates our lives.

The dehydrator did a very nice job on three red peppers. They are be stored in a mason jar, which will be kept in the cupboard, out of the light. We checked on the jars containing the previous project, green peppers and mushrooms, and happily they remain crisp and dry.

The dehydrator is run overnight to take advantage of off-peak hydro billing, which is almost half the cost of using electricity during the daylight hours.

The next experiment will be a lime slices. We found a bag of acceptable looking limes on a discount rack, dozens for under a dollar. Most of the limes have now been sliced, spread on the dehydrator racks and set near the masonry heater for an initial period of drying, which will take place while the hydro rates are high during the day. This evening, when the price of hydro drops, the drying racks will be moved to the dehydrator and left to dry overnight. The same process will be repeated if the initial overnight drying period doesn’t do the job thoroughly.

The ends of the limes, leftover from preparing the slices for drying, were squeezed to yield about 1/4 cup of lime juice. The ends are now placed to soak in filtered water, which will be drained and saved for cooking and topping up tall cold glasses of fruit juice.

I have decided to focus entirely on what is attainable, and immediate, and to ignore the rest. Food preparation is a necessary pleasure, the journey and the destination are desirable. Working on my book and my web sites is attainable, and pleasant. I have lots to keep me interested and active.

Those issues I have been dealing with have been intensely unpleasant. One issue has been addressed as best it can, although the results were not satisfactory for anyone involved; I was proven correct, but it is a hollow victory. The other is likely to continue into 2014, and I cannot see how it will be resolved. This too shall pass. Sometimes we just have to deal with what, and who, the universe puts before us.

This journal entry, to this point, was written yesterday, Thursday. Today is Friday. I am looking forward to completing the compilation of my reference materials, which has turned out to be a very big job. When that is finished the actual database references can be updated and edited to achieve a consistent format. The project began in 1996, so there have been a lot of changes and developments in source types, and the way in which to deal with new kinds of sources.

The limes did not completely dry overnight, so they will go into the dehydrator for a second night, then we will see about them. The lime discards were soaked in water overnight, and the water was used to cook rice, and it smells delicious!

Mist is sleeping quietly in a nearby chair. I remarked to her, and to Attila who was home for lunch, that every day is a quiet day for a deaf cat! Mist slept on, blissfully ignoring my comment.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-19 °C
Condition: Mostly Cloud
Pressure: 102.4 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -19.0°C
Dewpoint: -21.6°C
Humidity: 80 %
Wind: WNW 11 km/h
Wind Chill: -26

Quote

“I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts.”
John Locke
1632 – 1704

or more simply put by Forest Gump,

“Stupid is as stupid does.”

The Wealth of a Quiet Day

At around 3 a.m. something woke me up. I could hear the dehydrator running in the living area and had a strong urge to get out of bed to have a look at the food. Better judgement ruled; I rolled over and went back to sleep until 6 a.m., which is sleeping in at our house.

Checking on it this morning, the green peppers were definitely completely dried, except for two strips. The mushrooms were a little bit leathery at the top of the stems. The lemons were holding on to moisture in the fleshy portion of the fruit. I removed the peppers that were dried, cooled and stored them in a glass jar. The rest will continue in the dehydrator for today, we will see what happens.

I used the temperature setting recommended by the manufacturer. My reading online has alerted me that the temperature I used might have been too high, causing the outer surface of the slices to harden and prevent effective drying. The green pepper and the mushrooms fared well, both crispy and dry. The lemon slices had developed the hardened surface and did not dry properly. I took them out, scored the hardened surface, breaking it up to expose the moisture inside and put them back in the dehydrator. They need a lower temperature and perhaps should be sliced thinner than 1/4 inch.

The low temperature prediction for last night was way off, it dipped well below -20C. Based on the inaccurate prediction, yesterday we fired the masonry heater only twice. It wasn’t enough. Overnight the house chilled significantly. This morning the thermometer in the house reads 17C, which doesn’t sound that chilly. The thing is, that is the warmest spot in the house, near the masonry heater. The air a few feet away from that spot is markedly cooler, and drops significantly as one moves towards the exterior walls of the house. Although I haven’t measured the temperature, it feels like a drop of at least 10C when one moves more than about four feet from the masonry heater. I simply cannot sit in the dining room, or part of the living room, it is just too cold there. I am wearing heavy socks, heavy slippers, a turtleneck and a down vest. I am still cold.

So I am moving around this morning!

There will be three firings in the masonry heater today, so by this evening our living space will be significantly warmer.

Mist has worked through most of her angst concerning the missing Christmas tree and is sleeping quietly, curled up in the chair closest to the masonry heater.

It is a good time to reorganize our living space. The kitchen counter and storage space are very limited, so that is my first focus. The kitchen is the most used room in our house. Food preparation “from scratch” requires a lot of activity and time. Luckily we both have a keen interest in cooking, baking and eating.

Since there is no available cupboard space to store our four litre jars of dry goods, they have been sitting on the counter. Today I decided that the hutch need not display our arty collectables. The glass storage jars now reside there, convenient to use and not in the way of food preparation. Of course the available space on the counter was immediately commandeered for storing kitchen appliances, a blender and the unit that creates aqueous oxygen, which we use for cleaning. That unit had been sitting on the dining table, for want of any other place to put it.

As much as I dislike dealing with bureaucracy, there were several issues that needed attention today, and phone calls to be made. All done now, for the moment anyway.

The day has slipped by quietly. I feel wealthy, and grateful.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-23 °C
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 101.4 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -23.2°C
Dewpoint: -25.3°C
Humidity: 83 %
Wind: SE 4 km/h
Wind Chill: -27

Quote

“Music is the only language in which you cannot say a mean or sarcastic thing.”
John Erskine
1879 – 1951

[Although I sympathize with this sentiment, I have experienced one exception. Charles Bliss, a brilliant Holocaust Survivor, created a language of symbols as a universal language of peace. In my opinion the language, as created by Charles Bliss, cannot be used to convey mean or sarcastic things.]