On Hold

July is less frantic than June, but still very busy.

The garage roof project was put on hold for a few days.

Last weekend we spent our first night at the Rideau Camp in 2018. The mice had been in again, but none were trapped. The cleanup of their droppings took about four hours. I hate mice, no matter how cute they might be, I despise them. Steel wool was stuffed into additional openings, and Attila is researching removing the undercarriage and sealing it with insulation and hardware cloth.

The army worms are no longer on the trunks of trees. The ones we did not manage to destroy have eaten a lot of leaves, but they have not stripped the trees, so there is still a beautiful canopy. Two elm trees died since our last visit, which is sad, but we knew that our elm trees would not live long lives. I have been carefully protecting the maples, birch, oak, and pine trees surrounding the camp, knowing that eventually they would be all that was left as the elms and ashes were destroyed by insects and disease.

The visit to the Camp was a fun one once the unwanted tasks were completed, blue skies, trees, quiet, bird song, and a starry heaven at the end of the day. It was lovely.

Everything was so very dry! Our little swamp was completely dry, giving Attila the opportunity to pull out dead branches and a stump. It was so dry that we decided not to have a camp fire, there was a bit of wind, and it didn’t seem worth the risk. Because it is dry we had only a half a barrel of water in our rain barrel, which we use to douse our camp fire. It was enough to douse a camp fire, but it would not have been enough to deal with a spark catching a dry patch of dead grass, or something similar. We enjoyed sitting under the stars instead, so bright, so reliable, so unconcerned with us, and yet part of us, as we are part of the universe.

Monday was a very exciting day. An early morning call from Lares, they were on their way to the hospital. That evening little Willow was born, 9 pounds, 12 hours of labour. Tuesday evening Terra arrived home with Willow. We visited, and once Willow was in my arms I could not give her up until she demanded to be fed, so back to Mama. I experience falling in love in an instant, I am aware of it happening, such a wonderful, wonderful feeling. Those roving newborn eyes, suddenly fixing on my face, gazing at me with such curiosity, concentration, acceptance, love at first sight. This happened with my children when they were put in my arms after their births, and with every single one of my Grandbabies.

Today is sunny and mild and just about perfect. Early this morning the Installer arrived to replace the broken window pane on our new living room window. The window pane arrived cracked, when it was installed in March, and it has taken this long for the window manufacturer to supply the company, that did the window installation, with the replacement. It took only 30 minutes for the fellow to replace the pane, and he parged one of the basement windows, where I didn’t know it needed it! He will come back to caulk the window when the parge has cured.

I was just watching a video made by a family who rely exclusively on a solar system for their electricity. She said that when they had hydro service, they used 60 kWh per day. I looked up our peak usage, 36.5 kWh per day, used during a month when the temperature was on average -1C, and the ground source heat pump would have provided most of our heat.

The video creator also mentioned that relying on a solar system for their electricity, they use between 4 and 10 kWh per day, running only a refrigerator 24 hours a day. Our lowest usage was 22.3 kWh per day, during a month that required some use of the heat pump for heat, and a few days where only the very basic electrical appliances were operated.

We are in between the two extremes she describes, 4 kWh and 60 kWh. Our usage varies between the monthly average of 22.3 kWh per day and 36.5 kWh per day, which includes our heat source in the winter. I think that here at Mist Cottage the strategies to curtail the use of electricity have been relatively successful.

We could lower our usage by insulating the basement, upgrading the scanty insulation in the walls of the house, replacing the drafty entrance doors, and upgrading to energy efficient appliances. The chest freezer comes to mind. I purchased it from a family moving to another area, for $100. It was very beat up, the lid caved in a bit, and it is far from being energy efficient. But I could afford it at the time, and it works well, although expensively. The energy efficient freezer that I had at the Country House, was much larger, but it stayed with the Country House, a condition of sale. I miss that freezer!

Since I have applied for a grant program that might help us make some of the upgrades to reduce electricity consumption, I am afraid that the measures already taken here are so successful that that it might be deemed that we don’t need the available upgrades. I certainly hope that is not the case… We do need the upgrades, because at some point in the nearing future Attila will retire without a pension, and survival is going to get a lot more challenging than it is now. Also, I would dearly love to use a little more electricity to cook dinner at dinner time, instead of trying to plan meals around hydro prices, and laundry, and vacuuming, and… well the list goes on of what I cannot do at certain times of day.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

22°C
Date: 10:00 AM EDT Wednesday 11 July 2018
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 101.9 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 22.3°C
Dew point: 9.8°C
Humidity: 44%
Wind: ENE 14 km/h
Humidex: 23
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“It’s like your batteries get low, and you need to charge them on someone else’s story.”
Margaret Cho

I’m feeling this one right now!

Tipping The Balance

The new garage roof is doing its job, keeping the garage dry! The project isn’t finished yet, but it is beginning to wind down. Last night Attila puttered instead of building. He spent his evening putting away tools, organizing materials, watering the garden, and just generally taking stock of what still needs to be done.

My attention is drifting away from the project. I am still cooking and making sure that everything on the domestic front runs smoothly enough, so that Attila is completely free of the day-to-day tasks that keep a home comfortable and functioning. But I am ceasing to watch, listen, keep a third eye focused on what he is doing. He is no longer working on ladders and on heights, which is a big relief to both of us. My mind is beginning to wander back into my own interests, welcome back me.

Yesterday the bills for the project arrived in the mailbox. Yikes! After careful navigation, I rearranged the financial structure to pay those bills. It will be close to Christmas before Peter is repaid by Paul, but it should all proceed smoothly provided belts are tightened, and discretionary spending avoided.

What a season, new windows, new attic insulation, and a new garage roof! These renovations were all expensive, by our standards, and vital to the integrity of Mist Cottage. Attila and I both agree, it is so much more like a home than a science project now, the balance has been tipped!

We are slipping towards what life will be like, Attila to his garden and studio, me to my research, web, and domestic projects.

Today seems much worse, weather wise, than yesterday. It was already 22C when I looked at the thermometer outside the kitchen window early this morning. I am very fortunate that I can stay comfortably busy inside Mist Cottage, at a temperature of 23C, with relatively low humidity. I will be glad when this heat wave subsides, but it won’t be today.

We picked up the car at the garage yesterday, but were unable to pay the bill because the owner was just locking everything up when we arrived, he had an appointment to get to. Today I paid a visit to the garage to pay the bill. Afterwards I went to the dollar store to look for materials to deter the rabbits from eating the beans and peas. I bought some bamboo trellises, and laid them along the outside of the fence, maybe that will discourage the furry fellas.

The air quality is very low today, breathing the cloying air is unpleasant. It was quite a relief to arrive home and walk into a lovely 23C environment, where the air is relatively fresh and easier to breath.

Attila was just too tired, and too hot, to work on the garage tonight. Best to rest, I say. With a humidex of 43C or 109F, it is best not to push, working all day in a hot factory was pushing pretty hard already. Heaven only knows how hot it was in there!

Time for another experiment in the Instant Pot. A recipe found on the internet, for Spicy Orange Chicken baked in the oven, sounded very appealing. Could it be adapted to the Instant Pot? There was only one way to find out, try it! And so a new recipe was born, Spicy Orange Chicken With Rice & Vegetables. It was a big hit with Attila, and I loved it too! Of course, writing it all down for oneself sometimes means ingredients are forgotten, or instructions seem vague to others, so feedback on the new recipe is welcome.

Well, I hope everyone who lives in heat wave affected areas is staying cool and healthy! And that everyone is comfortable in their circumstances!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

Another stinker of a day!!!

HEAT WARNING

23°C
Date: 7:00 AM EDT Thursday 5 July 2018
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.3 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 23.2°C
Dew point: 22.3°C
Humidity: 94%
Wind: S 11 km/h
Humidex: 33
Visibility: 24 km
dateDetailed Forecast
Today A mix of sun and cloud. 30 percent chance of showers this afternoon with risk of a thunderstorm. Wind becoming southwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 this afternoon. High 34 except 28 near Lake Ontario. Humidex 43 (109.4F). UV index 10 or very high.

Quote

“Our own physical body possesses a wisdom which we who inhabit the body lack.”
Henry Miller
1891 – 1980

Garage Floor or Bathtub?

Yesterday half of the garage roof was off, and the rotten wood from the back walls of the garage had been removed. That left everything in the back half of the garage completely exposed to the sky and to the yard. We worried a bit that someone might decide to sneak in during the night and steal our stuff. But really, what kind of a thief would take anything that smelled as bad as the interior of our garage! This morning revealed that no one was interested in touching our smelly belongings, in the smelly garage.

The first order of the day day today on the garage project, was to replace the wall studs, on 16 inch centres. The original sill plate was in excellent condition, and securely attached to the concrete foundation, so it was kept. It took all day to repair the wall, which means the roof was gone and there was a gaping hole above the back half of the garage, and what remained of the roof sloped into the cavity.

Of course a huge thunderstorm rolled right in this afternoon, and a deluge of rain fell into the back of the garage, from the sky and running off from the front half of the roof. There is about an inch of standing water on the floor of the garage right now. It is much like a bathtub. But since no more rain is forecast until next weekend, it will probably evaporate in a few days time.

Attila decided to soldier through tonight, to finish rebuilding the walls. Two sheets of plywood have been installed, and two more must be custom cut to cover the remaining wall studs. After the roof is on, Attila will return to finish this wall with ship lap pine, and paint it the same colour as the house. But first the roof.

Because Attila is using the only outdoor electrical outlet to power his tools, the outdoor kitchen was closed today. Every meal consisted of leftovers. We both love leftovers, so this worked out very well.

Tomorrow Attila will begin to install the roof joists, and perhaps even get the sheeting nailed onto the back part of the roof. Also, first thing in the morning, the metal roofing will be delivered, and will need to be carried to the back yard. Another busy day coming up.

I’ve run into a weird problem with one of my domains, which I discovered when updating name servers with a different company. The other company made a real mess of several of my account, when they “improved” their billing system, which had been moved from France to the US. I am thinking of pulling all of my accounts out of there, to one of the companies I deal with that make the technical stuff look easy, no small feat. A project for another day.

The baked potatoes, prepared a few days ago, are all gone. Time to bake a few more in the Instant Pot tonight!

With the garage wall gone overnight, I did not sleep well. I think my ears were listening in the night for strange sounds. The new walls are installed, so tonight I hope to sleep soundly!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

24°C
Date: 9:00 PM EDT Monday 18 June 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.7 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 23.5°C
Dew point: 21.4°C
Humidity: 88%
Wind: W 16 gust 28 km/h
Humidex: 32
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“My life has no purpose, no direction, no aim, no meaning, and yet I’m happy. I can’t figure it out. What am I doing right?”
Charles M. Schulz
1922 – 2000

A Couple of Days

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Well, here it is, the garage roof replacement project has begun. I’ve waited for this one, to be over of course, it has been a long, long time coming. The garage roof leaked when we bought Mist Cottage in 2010, and the situation has worsened year by year, the smell of the mildew, the wet, the mice… well, all that is about to change at last.

And am I happy? Yes and no. I am so very glad the project is underway. At the same time I am feeling sad at the interruption in the flow of my daily life. That is probably because it is not my project, it is Attila’s. My role is administrative, making sure all the bills are paid so that the materials show up when needed, making sure that lots of good food waits in the ready, making a concerted effort to become invisible, to try not to get drawn into the project, just to listen when Attila goes through the frustrating bits, which I always hear about. It will eventually be behind us, and life will once again settle into some kind of rhythm. It isn’t going to be fun, I know that much.

My projects were finding the funds for grants, applying for and fulfilling all the administrative obligations for grants, orchestrating the hiring of contractors for the insulation for the attic, and the new windows, making payments, and watching the budget while waiting for the grant portions to arrive. These were big projects, which were very intrusive to daily life. The difference though is that none of the physical work was undertaken by Attila or myself. The projects went more quickly and efficiently because experienced people performed the installations. The insulation project has been completed, which includes receiving the grant funding. The new window project is incomplete, it is still pending the receipt of the grant, which is substantial, so that the worry over what would happen if the cheque never arrived is always lurking at the back of my consciousness. Also, one of the panes of glass was broken when they installed the living room windows, and the replacement glass has been on backorder for what seems like forever. I keep calling them, getting a date when the windows will come in, and then not hearing from them at all. Then I call again and we go through the whole rigamarole again, three times so far. I anticipate that it will turn out well, in time.

I am undertaking a new project, there is funding available for low income people (us!) to assist with making our home more energy efficient. I am expecting a call from an energy auditor, who will visit and assess the house, and draw up a plan if there is any funding available for what this particular house needs. I don’t really expect much with this, it is a lot of time and effort to make all these arrangements, but even if Mist Cottage benefits a wee bit from it, it will have been worthwhile. Actually, since we have a new right wing government in Ontario, I anticipate that the program will get the axe before we see any benefit from it, helping low income people won’t be high on the list of priorities, not unless it provides big PR opportunities, which this program will not. I hope I am wrong, but I am not optimistic.

Meanwhile, Attila has ordered, and received, the dumpster. The metal roofing has been ordered and he awaits delivery soon. The lumber has been ordered and will be delivered soon. The dumpster is huge, much bigger than I anticipated, and it takes up half the driveway. Where all the building materials will go when they are delivered is up in the air, I haven’t asked about it, better not to! Attila better be here when they are delivered! Iris and Tank are happily ensconced on the front lawn, where they can stay indefinitely. It is game on around here.

Another little bit of misery came home with Attila yesterday. The company he works for has decided they need him to work two Saturdays a month, overtime, from now on. I hate six day work weeks, and Attila will too. I am feeling a bit cranky about it right now, but not as cranky as Attila will feel after a few months of it.

Oh well, onward into the day!

The Instantpot beckons. I’d like to try a recipe using rice and vegetables, consisting of mostly vegetables. I am looking at the recipe for Rice Pudding and thinking, why not a savoury rice pudding.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

My experiment with savoury rice pudding in the Instantpot was not a total success. Rice pudding is meant to be creamier than rice in savoury dishes, so the texture was too mushy. The taste was fine, but it needs work. It is hard work trying to season a dish with no salt, or salty condiments. I tried using a garlic seasoning, called Garlic Plus, some dehydrated onion, and garlic granules. I made the dish using water. Things I am going to try in future are using saved water from boiled vegetables, caramelizing chopped onion at the beginning of the process, and researching how to cook savoury rice in the Instantpot. In the meantime, I will be eating my mistakes for days to come.

After some thought, I decided that a weeknight trip to the Rideau Camp was in order. So, when Attila arrived home from work yesterday, off we went. This trip was to set mousetraps in Grace the Trailer, and to put down some mouse poison in the trailer. Putting mouse poison underneath and around the trailer was considered, but I decided I wanted to try using it exclusively inside the trailer for now. Chances are the poisoned mice won’t make it out of the trailer alive, and will not be consumed by other animals. Also, other animals might get into the poison if it was outside, which is undesirable. There is a fox that hunts the Camp area, there is usually fresh scat somewhere on the crushed stone when we arrive for a visit. The fox could do a better job eating all those mice, but I shudder to think how many there would be if the fox were to hunt elsewhere.

This visit also included killing army worms, there were still thousands of them there. Attila sprayed, while I used a long stick to kill the outliers and escapees. I also destroyed the beginnings of another mouse nest in the ceiling of Winnie the outhouse. This one was a lot less substantial than the last, so hopefully the critter will find somewhere else to build a house.

The garlic planted at the Camp is doing very well, thriving. The Blue Hubbard Squash that was planted there is up, but it isn’t growing very fast. Perhaps it needs to be watered regularly, which won’t happen this season, too much going on at Mist Cottage with the new garage roof project.

We worked steadily until 9:30 p.m., at which time I could barely stand. I was exhausted. My energy levels are still being drained by this cold, which is hanging on. We arrived home before 11:00 p.m., I went straight to bed, and slept soundly until 5:30 a.m. I feel fine this morning, except for the cold, which is not lodged in my throat and tickles my chest into a cough when I breath.

I am taking it easy today. A load of laundry is hanging on the line, underneath the porch roof. Having a dry outdoor space to hang laundry to dry is a really nice feature of a roofed porch. It rained last night, and it looks like it will rain again today, perhaps even produce a severe thunder storm. My laundry will continue to dry on the line, regardless of the rain. The floors needed to be vacuumed, which was easily accomplished. Unless bills arrive in the mail today, or the much anticipated cheque for the windows, I will be taking it easy, working on my crocheted blanket, reading, watching a few youtube videos. The time flies, I am having fun.

The Peonies are in full bloom. What a beautiful scent they have! My Granny grew Peonies in her flower garden, they are harbingers of memory. Yesterday three vases were made ready, and graced with cut Peonies. One vase sits near my easy chair in the living room, beautiful to see and sniff. Another vase sits on my desk, in my room. The third vase is on the kitchen table.

Tonight’s dinner will be leftovers. Attila will eat Nachos with homemade Guacamole, and I will have the last bowl of baked beans, with a slice of homemade bread. For dessert there will be grapes. The refrigerator will be almost empty of leftovers by tonight, so tomorrow will be a cooking day, on the back porch of course.

Well, it is almost noon, and I have bee…

Thanks Kate. I got up to investigate a noise, forgot I was still writing and posted the entry. I hope it is the cold making me so absent minded!

It is past noon now, and I have been finishing up on what I’ve walked away from and left unfinished!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

17°C
Date: 11:00 AM EDT Tuesday 12 June 2018
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.9 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 17.3°C
Dew point: 12.7°C
Humidity: 74%
Wind: S 21 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH
18°C
Date: 10:00 AM EDT Wednesday 13 June 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.9 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 17.9°C
Dew point: 15.5°C
Humidity: 86%
Wind: S 14 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
1749 – 1832

Sunny and Chilly

Friday already! And the sun is shining. A good day.

This morning it is chilly out there, 3C. In here though, in this cozy little house, the temperature is still 21.5C. How great is that! And the heat has been turned off since the first of May, so this little box that I call home is doing a great job maintaining a comfortable temperature, regardless of what is going on outside.

I will admit to giving it a little bit of help. Our back porch gets the afternoon sun. It can get pretty hot out there in the late afternoon, and Wednesday afternoon the temperature was over 30C. I opened the windows onto the porch and let the hot air seep into the house, raising the interior temperature to 22.5C. The weather people predicted the temperature drop, so it seemed logical to add a little heat to carry us through the short bout of cool weather that was on its way.

Tai Chi class is winding down for me, and will definitely not be considered again any time soon. In the end, it was an effort to talk myself into making the long drive. Life is short. I want to look forward to my days, as much as possible. So back to the drawing board, I am perusing social activities that might interest me. For now I am just looking, because they all cost money, and most of them require expensive transportation. The transportation is the bigger expense. Right now the budget is gearing up to tackle the expense of the new roof on the garage. It is looming large.

The garage roof project is crucial for several reasons. First, and most important, livability of the house will be improved, almost beyond recognition. Attila will have his studio space, and a workshop where the workshop materials and tools can be stored. The workshop materials and tools will be moved out the basement. The basement will be reorganized. Things that are merely stored in the main living space will be moved to the basement. The living space will be reorganized. Dominoes! The second reason is that the value of the house for resale will be greatly enhanced. A leaking garage is ugly, stinky, useless, and makes the house undesirable to potential buyers. It isn’t that I plan on selling the house, but the terrible, terrible mistake was a wake up call, I should be ready for anything.

The film “Loving Vincent” was very interesting. As I watched it I began to feel the oppressive nature of the social expectations surrounding his life, not just his family’s expectations, but those of the communities where he sought to work and reside. I was disappointed that Don McLean’s version of the song Vincent was not used for the film, instead it was sung by Lianne La Havas, which was lovely, but not the hauntingly beautiful rendition that is Don McLean’s.

Well, time to mosey into the kitchen and look for something to eat for breakfast. Then on to the elliptical machine, and perhaps a wee bit of solitary Tai Chi. I love mornings!

The Marten Hotel On High The Martin Hotel on high, fully raised on the pedestal. It was more work than Attila bargained for, getting that heavy birdhouse back to that height, but by the time darkness fell last night, it was done.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

3°C
Date: 6:00 AM EDT Friday 11 May 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.0 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 3.2°C
Dew point: -3.1°C
Humidity: 64%
Wind: NNW 7 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.”
Thomas A. Edison
1847 – 1931