Learning

Oh the excitement! Well, by modern standards of drama, not really. OK, admittedly by the standards of recent drama in my own life, not really. But I can muster a little bit of excitement over this.

On Wednesday evening, after 7:00 p.m. the dishwasher was doing its thing. The dishwasher generates heat, as it does its thing. Unexpectedly, the dishwasher raised the temperature in the house a whopping 1.5C, which put it at 22.5C. That is too warm for sleeping! The temperature in the house, due to new insulation and new windows, remains constant. Attila suggested turning on the air conditioning. I was resistant. The compromise was to open all the windows in the house until bed time, which brought the temperature down to 21.5. Better. It will take some time to learn how to manage the temperature in the house! I might just open the windows while the dishwasher is running, and see if that keeps the temperature down.

I have been enjoying the beautiful warm sunny afternoons, and chilly clear nights. Everything is green. The leaves are unfurling, the perennials are shooting up towards the sun.

This morning I washed laundry before 7:00 a.m.; it has been hanging out to dry on the back porch clothesline. It has not been a terribly busy day. Attila’s iPad needed some updating, did that. My web sites needed software upgrades, did that. Time is flying by, so I must be having fun.

Things between Attila and I remain friendly, a new rhythm of life is slowly emerging, and I find I am comfortable with that process. The future is unwritten.

Attila’s garden is in the planning stages. The seed packets are spread all over the kitchen table: Swiss Chard, Scarlet Runner Beans, Climbing Peas, Blue Hubbard Squash, Butternut Squash, Basil, Spinach, and a few others yet to be chosen. The Scarlet Runner Beans, Blue Hubbard Squash, and Butternut Squash are seeds we saved from previous harvests at Mist Cottage, originally saved from produce purchased from organic farms. Some of the remaining seeds are Heirloom seeds purchased from Salt Spring Seeds, and some were ordered from William Dam Seeds. This is a gardening weekend for Attila.

I have just come indoors to finish writing this entry. The mosquitoes were beginning to be bothersome. Attila and I had been sitting out on the porch, chatting, and watching the big bonfire that the neighbours had built in their back yard; all the enjoyment, none of the work. There is a party going on around that bonfire tonight, but the revelry won’t disturb me, I’ve been sleeping well most of the time lately.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

17°C
Date: 8:00 PM EDT Friday 18 May 2018
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.6 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 16.5°C
Dew point: -2.6°C
Humidity: 27%
Wind: NE 18 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“It’s easier to put on slippers than to carpet the whole world.”
Al Franken

Marine Wax

I awoke very early, before first light. Those early hours were a time of quiet contemplation. Challenges, confusion, these are a bigger part of my life right now than peace, contentment and harmony. And yet, lying there in the quiet hours before the light crept into the room, what I mostly felt was acceptance. Acceptance that life is not what I want it to be, what I hoped it could be. Acceptance that challenges and confusion are about movement, the forces of the universe moving in their mysterious ways. No one, no matter how powerful they may be in the society of humans, controls the powers of the universe. Right now, most of what I feel is confusion, not pain, which is a step forward I believe.

What a glorious day! The sun shone brightly all day long, the temperature slowly rose to 15C. The wind blew hard, then settled into an intermittent breeze. Birds sang, squirrels performed acrobatics in trees, rabbits rested and nibbled on morsels in our yard, but not the garden.

There were so many choices on a day like today. Attila suggested going to Rideau Camp, I suggested getting started on the garden here at home, and in the end we stayed here at Mist Cottage.

Attila worked on his garden, digging out the composted soil from the rough compost at the back of the yard, and the compost bin, then adding it to expand the garden plot. Columbines that had grown beside the back step moved from that precarious position to well prepared beds along the fence and in the front yard. Lavender, planted where there was too much shade, was transplanted to a sunnier location.

I spent the day on the ladder, beside Iris the trailer. It took all day to apply the marine wax to the roof. The middle of the roof is tricky, it will not bear my weight, and the reach to the middle is long. To wax the middle section of the roof required standing on the next to top rung of the ladder. Oh so carefully I would ascend the ladder. Oh so carefully I would position my feet on that narrow rung, then lean and lean and lean over to reach the middle of Iris’ roof. Oh so carefully I would descend the ladder, then move it further along to the next section. In this way the entire roof received a well rubbed coat of marine wax. I must say, it looks great!

I stopped short of getting all the waxing done on the roof. The rounded back and front ends of the trailer are too high to reach from the ground, so perhaps tomorrow, or another weekend when Attila is around, I will finish that off. After that the rest of the job can be done standing on dear old terra firma.

The sun has disappeared for the day, slipping behind a few clouds before sinking below the horizon. It is 7:50 p.m. and still quite light out. Attila is still out in his garden. I am enjoying my easy chair, a well earned bit of rest.

Tomorrow, well who knows. Another day like today would not go amiss, weather permitting, that is certain!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

5°C
Date: 6:00 AM EDT Saturday 5 May 2018
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 101.6 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 4.6°C
Dew point: 4.1°C
Humidity: 97%
Wind: SSW 9 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Whenever evil befalls us, we ought to ask ourselves, after the first suffering, how we can turn it into good. So shall we take occasion, from one bitter root, to raise perhaps many flowers.”
Leigh Hunt
1784 – 1859

Leigh Hunt had an interesting life!

Heat

The warm weather continues, with some humidity.

My Mom received her birthday present today, she said she likes it. I was concerned about the gift wrapping, as I had no idea what sort of wrapping it would be. Mom said the box came in a “A lovely bag tied with a bright red ribbon. Not paper.”

Mom birthday present 2018 Mom just sent me this picture of her birthday present (Friday, May 4, 2018), so here it is! Thanks Mom!

The temperature in the house remained relatively constant through the night last night, coming in at 21C first thing this morning. The chilly night had almost no effect on the temperature in the interior of the house. This is a new phenomenon, and a welcome one. The heat was turned off on Tuesday evening, so the only explanation for the maintained temperature during the night is the new attic insulation, and the new windows.

This combination of home improvements makes a noticeable difference in how the house feels, and in how I remain comfortable in the house. Suddenly, even with the outdoor temperature falling to 10C overnight, the house maintains its heat. In the winter months the thermostat is turned to 17C for the night, my preferred night time temperature. My light weight duvet provides far too much warmth for an indoor temperature of 20C or higher.

Nightwear and bedding need to be adjusted. Tonight a summer weight pair of pyjamas will be worn, as an experiment, while leaving the duvet on the bed. If I am too warm tonight, tomorrow the duvet will be cleaned, and put away until next autumn; the flannelette sheets will be stripped off the bed, to be replaced with cotton percale sheets. If I am still too warm, I will leave the ceiling fan running while I sleep.

If these measures fail to provide a comfortable night’s sleep, then a day and evening with the windows open might lower the interior temperature. Failing that, as a last resort, the air conditioning could be turned on. Air conditioning seems so wrong, as the heat was just turned off the day before yesterday.

The hydro bills have taken a dive, which they usually do at this time of year, when the air source heat pump runs infrequently. Checking usage online, the month of April saw a 4% drop from last year, in the amount of electricity used. This is more significant than it sounds, as April this year was very cold compared to last year. Despite the increased heating demands based on temperature, fuel consumption decreased. Because of the generous government grants for these upgrades, our investment was lowered to the point that we might see a return over the next few years. Of course, that is assuming the funding reaches us. The cheque is “in the mail”, so to speak, so fingers are crossed that it will actually arrive.

I am enjoying Tai Chi, and have started to follow videos and continue on with it at home, as my paid lessons are coming to an end soon. I anticipate a smooth transition. Videos make learning easy; pressing pause, and repeating the move in the video, allows for personalized instruction. I have my little learning aids. Being slightly dyslexic, the moves can be very confusing in the mirror image that one sees in a video. To resolve this, the demonstrators outfit was determined to have a more intense colour on the right side. A wrist band on my right wrist allows the wrist and intensity to match. Where there is a will there is a way, with many things in life. I tend to be delighted with my little work arounds, it is wonderful to enjoy my ingenuity without a critical, and sadly articulate, “eye” present.

I may return to the paid lessons at a later date, I do enjoy them, but for now they are very expensive. The cost of the lessons is just within financial grasp, but the fuel for travel makes it a very expensive pastime. Perhaps it will be a future indulgence. The warm weather months are not a time for schedules!

Attila and I continue share our house in peace. The garage project is not schedule until June, his art studio will not be available for quite some time. Happily he is finding great pleasure in working in the garden.

My days pass peacefully, reading, crocheting, writing, working on genealogy, taking on small projects like cleaning Iris the trailer, cooking, baking, cleaning, and now sitting on the back porch enjoying the activity of the birds, the squirrels, the rabbits, and the ever active purple ball that lives in the back yard.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

14°C
Date: 8:00 PM EDT Thursday 3 May 2018
Condition: Mist
Pressure: 101.3 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 14.4°C
Dew point: 14.4°C
Humidity: 100%
Wind: WSW 10 km/h
Visibility: 3 km

Quote
“Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.”
Bruce Lee
1940 – 1973

Sittin’ On The Back Porch

I am sitting on the back porch to write this entry, at least the beginning of it. It is 10:41 a.m., and the heat is beginning to close in. I’ve washed and just hung to dry a load of laundry, which has been sitting messily on the floor for over a week. It was time to deal with it. A quickening breeze is making the air more comfortable, but soon, I can tell, the heat and humidity will increase beyond my ability to physically compensate for it, and I will be driven indoors, where the heat pump keeps the temperature at 23C, and below 55% humidity. But for now, for the first time since Sunday, it is now Wednesday, I am out of doors.

Our back porch is lovely in the morning. In the afternoon the sun shines into the porch and it becomes uncomfortably hot, in the summer it becomes unbearably hot. In my dreams we renovate the porch to extend the roof so that much of the porch will remain shaded in the afternoons, making it a viable space in which to spend time all day long.

Even thought the heat wave carries on, the leaves are turning on the trees, and beginning to fall. They rustle, a familiar autumn sound.

We have lost our third family of neighbours in the house next door. When we first bought Mist Cottage, a family with three children lived there. As soon as we painted the exterior of our house, and it looked acceptable, they put their house on the market, and moved to a larger house in town. The people who bought it were an unmarried couple, he much older than she, who eventually married, and eventually stopped making their mortgage payments, renting the house out. The family that rented the house, a couple with two small sons and a brother in the basement, managed to buy it as the bank was foreclosing, and struggled to keep up with the expenses and maintenance. They chopped down every tree on their property, except the very tall one that required a professional to remove it. They gutted part of the house to “renovate”, and did not make progress after tearing things apart. The couple with their children disappeared in the spring, saying that they were going to spend the summer in a large trailer they had purchased at a seasonal camp site, leaving the brother in the basement and a tenant on the main floor of the house. Apparently this did not work out all that well, the tenant has moved out, all the furniture has been moved out, and the brother and father have been working on the house, and moving things out at intervals. It now sits empty. We wonder who will be there next, and hope for the best.

Our garden continues to provide us with fresh green beans and tomatoes, and the occasional zucchini. The few squash that have grown are sizeable, and it seems the mild weather will hold long enough for most of them to mature, so that they can be harvested. Sadly, the scarlet runner beans are no longer putting out blooms, so that as we harvest the beans as the come of size, there are no more coming behind them.

The day is sunny, but rain is predicted this afternoon, which the gardens will be glad of. Attila has been watering them every day, using bath water, which he carried out in a large five gallon bucket. It hasn’t rained since we arrived home from our cold, wet vacation.

My days are passing quickly at the moment. The genealogy book that I stopped working on last spring is in need of careful thought. Yesterday was spent editing references. They are a real mess, after 22 years of making entries. Over those 22 years technology has required many changes. At first, all my records were paper, and a lot of the information I acquired was garnered from painstakingly reading microfiches at libraries. The database computer software I used was relatively rudimentary, and has undergone a myriad of updates and improvements. Each time the software changed, so did the way I could enter my sources, and my researched information. There are still restrictions in the software, for instance the source field will accept only 225 characters, not nearly enough! I spend a lot of time butchering the source material so that it conforms to the 225 character restriction. Conventions changed as well, evolved you could say. My sources needed serious editing to make them consistent. Although they will never be totally consistent, they are within acceptable limits now.

My crochet project, a blanket/afghan, is so relaxing. The colours are soothing, the yarn soft and yielding to the touch. The stitch I am using is very plain, the Suzette Stitch, and very easy. Because the stitch is dense, the blanket is thick, and will be very warm. I am thinking of doing another in washable wool, wool blankets are so lovely and warm.

I have begun my book by Sigrid Undset, Kristin Lavransdatter. The introduction was disappointing, it described the plot too carefully, revealing details that I would rather discover myself as I moved through the book. Having begun the first chapter, I encountered Norwegian words that my mind pronounced, or tried to, and decided to find an online service to provide pronunciations of the names of the main characters and places. I will eventually be able to pronounce these words correctly, but for now I must refer to the audio example every time. auditory learning is not my strong point. Which is interesting because Luna, my eldest, find auditory learning extremely easy. Everyone is so different!

Sound! From my seat on the back porch I can hear, the songs of cicadas, a cement truck, the backup warning beeps of a large truck at a distant construction site, stationary saws at the house under construction a few doors away, the neighbour raking leaves, a bird chirping, a train whistle, two neighbours chatting over the hedge between their yards. We do not live in a quiet place, but the neighbourhood itself is relatively quiet.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

24C
Date: 10:00 AM EDT Wednesday 27 September 2017
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.1 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 23.8°C
Dew point: 22.4°C
Humidity: 92%
Wind: S 20 km/h
Humidex: 33
Visibility: 13 km

Today
Increasing cloudiness late this morning. 40 percent chance of showers. Wind southwest 20 km/h becoming northwest 20 gusting to 40 this afternoon. High 28 with temperature falling to 24 this afternoon. Humidex 36. UV index 5 or moderate.
Tonight
A few clouds. Wind northwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 becoming light late this evening. Low 10.

Quote

“Time does not change us. It just unfolds us.”
Max Frisch
1911 – 1991

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.