Turning

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The season turned last night. We have enjoyed incredibly mild, pleasant weather ever since Attila and I returned from our vacation in mid-September. This past weekend the daytime temperatures were over 20C. We have been enjoying the good weather to the fullest.

Last Saturday we packed tank with extra things, like a vacuum cleaner, and a dehumidifier, and drove off to to the bush early in the morning. A nicer day one could not ask for, the sun shone, the breeze gently rustled the autumn leaves that still clung to the trees, birds sang, and insects cavorted.

We worked hard on Saturday, an unexpected project caught our attention, and we dived into it with enthusiasm. A very large tree had been pushed over and then into the depression at the side of the driveway. It did not obstruct our activities, so it was low on our radar. But for some reason, on Saturday morning, I took a long stick and began to release the earth held so jealously by the fine woven roots. Soon a mound of loosened earth lay at the foot of the stump. Attila shovelled this into the wheelbarrow. I continued, sweetly sweating from morning and into the afternoon sun. We loosed eight wheelbarrows full of soft brown earth from the the twisted, interwoven roots. Each load was unloaded into a carefully chosen dip in the path to Winnie, making for more easily tread nocturnal journeys.

Although Attila could finally roll the stump upright, so light it had become, it has not been rolled to the wood pile beside the camp fire. That stump will demand devotion to burn in its entirety.

We built a camp fire late in the afternoon, and on this Attila cooked grilled cheese sandwiches. They are a rare treat these days, as I am subject to many dietary restrictions. I have discovered a lactose free cheese, which allows me to enjoy cheese occasionally; the cholesterol content is still of some concern.

Our camp fire burned on into the night. And oh, the stars, they seemed to shine just for us, so many and so bright. We could see our breath in the cold as it settled on the Camp, urging us ever closer to the bright flames of our fire.

And then we were to bed. The floor oh so cold on the stockinged foot, the sheets and pillows chilled. We both wore socks to bed, and me a hat. We slept soundly through the night, but for my trip in the early morning to use the facility… my bottomless bucket in the bush. Although it was cold, I sat for quite some time, mesmerized by the night, the silhouettes of tree tops that swayed ever so slightly, conspiring with the winking stars. I stayed so long, admiring the vault of the universe, that I returned to a chilled nest of blankets on the bed. Soon warm again, I slept until morning light.

Sunday was our day to make Grace The Trailer ready for the winter months to come. Attila prepared the slide out for retraction. It was covered with dead leaves, wet and dirty. I gathered all fabrics, bedding, towels, rugs, to bring home to Mist Cottage, to launder and store for the winter. I also gathered all food stuffs that would not freeze well, or were vulnerable to chewing rodents. Dry goods in sealed mason jars were left in the cupboard. The entire trailer was then vacuumed. Then, when all had been removed and piled outside the door, to be loaded into Tank, the dehumidifier was plugged in to remove whatever moisture was left from our sleeping bodies and food preparation. It removed only one half cup of moisture. Finally the door was shut and locked, perhaps not to be opened until April, 2018.

Grace The Trailer has a slide out. It was our intention to find a trailer without a slide out, as they are mechanized and add relatively vulnerability to the structure. The added living space is undeniably pleasant. It was a relief that the mechanical function of the slide out worked flawlessly. It does not sit entirely square though, once retracted, something we did not notice at time of purchase. It is of little consequence to us, as long as the mechanical aspect and the seal are working as they should. Grace The Trailer is, after all, sixteen years old, she is bound to have some issues related to aging.

Just as the sky began to cloud over, in the late afternoon, Tank was packed high, and it was time to be on our way home.

And here it is, Tuesday already! Yesterday was lovely and warm and sunny, which meant that the bedding and fabrics brought home from Grace The Trailer could be washed and hung out on the line to dry. Today all of these items are being folded and stored away until next April. In this tiny house, it is a challenge to discretely store all of the things which came home from Grace The Trailer. Some ingenuity, and not a little time, is required to get the job done.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Yesterday I had a nice long chat with a maternal second cousin once removed, who filled me in on his branch of the family history. His maternal Grandparents died long before he was born, they were very young, 37 and 44 years old, both suffering from tuberculosis. His paternal Grandmother passed away long before he was born, suffering from heart problems. His paternal Grandfather lived with his family and passed away at home, when my cousin was a small boy, three years of age. Grandparents are such a wonderful part of life, I can’t imagine my life without them in the world. It was interesting to hear the details of his family history. But it was even more fun talking to him and his wife, lovely people, we talked for hours.

During the summer baking is not practical, the oven heats the house, which is undesirable. The weather has just now turned cooler, it is muffin baking time once more. The first batch was baked Sunday evening, an experiment. I use a recipe with a core of ingredients, which remain the same, while some ingredients change. This particular batch was made with creamed corn, and the muffins were quite tasty, particularly when eaten with homemade chili sauce. The recipe is here, Corn Muffins.

The time-of-use hydro billing significantly interferes with the natural flow of my days. I like to bake whenever it fits into my daily activities, which are not on a particular schedule, but are rather spontaneous, one of the real pleasures of retirement. Unfortunately, the only time of day that I am awake, and it is practical to bake, is after 7:00 p.m. in the evening. I seldom have enthusiasm for kitchen activities this close to bedtime, it is always rushed, with only three hours to get the project into the oven, baked, then cooled sufficiently to store for the night. If and when technology affords itself an affordable solution to this time-of-use impediment, we will jump on it.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

This entry has been growing like a weed. I started it on Tuesday, and now Thursday afternoon has arrived and I am still muddling my way across the page. It is cold today, the sky was clear this morning, but has clouded over as the day progressed. I had a dental appointment, as the issues are still not completely resolved. I suspect I’ll be going back again next week, after the swelling goes down. The book is coming along today, funny how one little piece of information can turn into an avalanche. The notes I took during my telephone conversation on Tuesday were scanned as images, as a reference, and only half of the details are transcribed into the database.

I’ll end this long post with a few pictures from our last camping trip of the season, at the Rideau Camp last weekend.

Rideau Camp Oct 22 DSCF1386 The tree tops were striped and bare, but closer to the ground the bright leaves clung still to the trees. They were brilliant when the sun came out, just after this photograph was taken.

Rideau Camp October 22 DSCF1376 The stump, after Attila managed to roll it out of the bush. I loosened enough earth from the roots to fill the wheelbarrow eight times, which Attila shovelled, and dumped in low spots on the path to Winnie (the outhouse). I was stiff for two days afterwards, and it felt good.

Rideau Camp October 22 DSCF1390 The camp fire, over which we grilled cheese sandwiches, and around which we sat until the stars were bright in the dark sky, and we could see our breath in the chill of the night. On the upper left some of the earth we took from the roots of the stump can be seen, levelling a low spot.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

16°C
Date: 10:00 AM EDT Tuesday 24 October 2017
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.4 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 15.7°C
Dew point: 14.4°C
Humidity: 92%
Wind: SSE 18 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

13°C
Date: 3:00 PM EDT Wednesday 25 October 2017
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.6 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 12.9°C
Dew point: 4.1°C
Humidity: 55%
Wind: SW 22 gust 33 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

11°C
Date: 3:00 PM EDT Thursday 26 October 2017
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.0 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 11.2°C
Dew point: 1.6°C
Humidity: 51%
Wind: W 23 gust 34 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“In a mad world only the mad are sane.”
Akira Kurosawa
1910 – 1998

The Rideau Camp: One Year And Four Months After Purchase

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pen & Paper on Canada’s 150th Birthday

Composed on Canada’s 150th Birthday, Canada Day
July 1st, 2017
Rideau Camp, Ontario, Canada

Today the Dominion of Canada is 150 years old. My ancestors arrived here before the Dominion was formed, they were working people seeking a life where hard work would feed their families. They were pawns in the larger agendas of their day, willing to leave their ancestral lands for the sake of survival. The powerful, responsible for their need, were also responsible for the decisions made in the new land, Upper Canada, where my ancestors arrived to struggle for survival in the wilds.

There is a contrast here, a definitive difference between the infrastructural decision makers, movers and shakers as some would call them, and the people who attempted to survive in the context created by those decision makers.

I am grateful for Canada Day, on Canada’s 150th Birthday, as the spirit of the people of the nation. I do not celebrate the infrastructural government, nor the continued privilege of the likes of the Family Compact or the Chateau Clique and their ilk, nor the monolithic corporations that dominate our life here in Canada, and around the globe. These entities may dominate public celebrations on this day, but those are not my celebrations.

I celebrate the spirit of the people here, living in this place we put a border around and call Canada. I celebrate the land itself, our home, our sustenance, our only hope for the future.

We are at the Rideau Camp on this, Canada’s birthday. When I awoke at first light a gentle rain was falling. I drifted off to sleep again, to the lullaby of the soft patter on the roof. We arose later to the leaden gray skies and intermittent light rain.

Usually this kind of weather would not be welcome. However, it was perfect for our intended project for the weekend, burning green brush in the camp fire pit.

Last night, late into the night, the camp fire burned hot, as the ash and maple branches burned in the coals, the wilted leaves suddenly bursting into flame, rising high above the fire, bright with embers as they descended to earth, extinguishing as they rested on the rain soaked forest floor.

This morning, under the dripping tries, braving the intermittent downpours, Attila built another camp fire from the sodden kindling and wood, slowly building up the embers to sustain the burning of green boughs. In the wet of this day no escaping embers threaten to ignite the forest floor.

Sitting snugly in Grace The Trailer, I am writing this entry, printing actually, on scrap paper. The window beside me is open. With every breath of breeze droplets patter their way down through the leaves from the heights of the tall trees to the forest floor.

I am using today for “nesting” activities inside Grace The Trailer. A whisk and dustpan are the only tools available to clean the corners and nooks and crannies. A surprising volume of debris is collected, including small bits of stone, chips of wood, sawdust, and dry dead ladybugs. These are inherited from the previous owners, invisible to the naked eye. The carpeting in Grace The Trailer hides the dirt. This is the type of carpeting that I would want in any space where I was responsible for cleaning.

Rearranging furniture in Grace The Trailer is rather limited. All but the easy chair, footstool, table, and four chairs have been built in. The table was rearranged the day Grace The Trailer arrived at the camp, so that Attila and I could sit side-by-side, to gaze out the window while we dined. Today the easy chair, footstool, and two of the four dining chairs were rearranged to provide easier access to storage. The amount of storage in the trailer is amazing, there is more storage there than we have in Mist Cottage, excluding the basement, garage, and new garden shed here at home. Grace The Trailer is half the square footage of our very small home, and much better laid out.

We are celebrating Canada Day in our own way, quietly in the bush, with good food, a snug shelter, and the freedom to spend our time together as we please.

Canada Day 2017 Rideau Camp DSCF0810 Canada Day view at the Rideau Camp, raining, cool, and smells like heaven.

Composed July 4, 2017, computer keyboard
Mist Cottage

Today our delivery of bread flour arrived. We have been buying our bread flour from the Arva Mill since 1994. Since Arva is a long drive from where we live, and we no longer have visitors from the area around Arva, I was in a quandary as to how to obtain a fresh supply for my bread making. We are down to the last few loaves of bread with our original supply. Luckily the Arva Mill now offers online ordering and delivery. Unluckily, since our last purchase, the price has risen three fold. Luckily the shipping was free, so we decided to bite the bullet and order our flour for the next year or so. It arrived by courier this morning. The fellow who delivered the box with two 10 kg bags were brought to the door by a fellow who laughed and told me, “this is heavy!” He kindly brought it through the door and placed it on the floor for me, I could not have lifted it.

My day was quite uneventful, I crocheted, washed laundry and hung it out to dry, removed the old wool rug from the back porch, and swept and vacuumed the porch floor. It was purchased around 1969, and has been in constant use ever since. Tattered and deteriorating significantly from being kept out of doors on the covered porch, it was time to let it go. Over 45 years of heavy use, the rug owes me nothing.

We were pleasantly surprised to find Terra and Lares at our door, Grandbabies in arms. What little monkeys they are, so active, so engaging, so determined. They played on the floor while we chatted, and found all kinds of interesting things to do. Eating paper is a favourite pastime apparently, so Grandma needed to gather up her papers and put them out of harms way. Their favourite toys on this visit were plastic vegetable containers, the kind used in grocery stores to sell fruit, and Grandma’s keys. They are both bonny healthy babies. Sunny is wiry and small for her age, a very active little girl. Sky has attained a normal weight for his age, and he too is a very active little person.

Attila is now mowing our lawn, to be called in as soon as dinner is ready. I am preparing roast chicken, with corn. We have already eaten our green salad, which we enjoy every evening.

The weather is beautiful right now, not too hot, not too cool, not too humid… ah, summer!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

22°C
Date: 8:00 PM EDT Tuesday 4 July 2017
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 102.0 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 21.9°C
Dew point: 13.6°C
Humidity: 59%
Wind: SW 5 km/h
Humidex: 25
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Don’t waste yourself in rejection, nor bark against the bad, but chant the beauty of the good.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
1803 – 1882

Best Seat In The House

Listening to music is always a journey into the unknown paths within. There is joy there, there is pain, the road is not a golden path of euphoria. But it is my path, my journey, and I love it in there. Music holds my hand, in places no one else can go with me, where I am my only company.

Music plays all day long at the Rideau Camp. Wind, trees, birds, and insects share their experience of life. It is my favourite music, every varying, infinitely interesting. There is no ego, no pretension, no delusion, in nature’s music.

I love some of the music created by humans.

My favourite is the sound of a home, a home without electricity, where the wood creaks in the wind, the rain is heard as it falls on the roof, and the wind-up clock ticking in the living room is the only mechanical evidence of monotonous civilization. It was only a few short generations ago that this was the dominant experience of home.

I also love the sounds of our current home, the refrigerator cycling, the neighbours slamming their car doors, the lawn mower droning across someone’s lawn, an airplane passing overhead, the whine of traffic on the nearby highway, the rumble of a passing train, the battery operated wall clock ticking loudly as the arms reach endlessly to circle time. Oh yes, and the grackles tirelessly pecking at the wood on the facia that covers their former favourite nesting site. These are sounds of the small, familiar patterns of life, life in my home.

The crafted music of the musician can be beautiful, particularly when it opens wide the doors to experiencing my own humanity. To be honest, I seldom listen to lyrics unless they liken to poetry. The sounds of voice, inflection, range, repetition, formed into patterns with other sounds, usually instruments, are endlessly fascinating. The words to most songs are, for me, a veil, and I connect to what is behind the veil, what is not clearly seen but heard in the whispers of musical construction.

My days are filled with music, of different origins.

Attila and I decided we needed to make a weekday visit to the Rideau Camp. Our motivation is related to a “rain barrel”. We do not have a water supply at the camp, unless you consider taking a bucket down to the swamp, to fill with stagnant water, a water supply. We have a well, but it is a deep well and not in current operation, as that would require quite an investment. So I wanted a rain barrel to collect water from the roof of Winnie The Outhouse. We have an old plastic garbage can which we will use as a rain barrel, it is big and it is bulky, and needed to be taken to the camp in a separate trip. We had thought to go out on Tuesday evening, but it was raining, so we waited for good weather, which arrived Wednesday, yesterday, to make the trip.

The visit to the Rideau Camp was only a few hours long, but a lot was accomplished. Laundered tea towels and bed linens were returned to Grace The Trailer, fresh drinking water jugs were filled at home and transported to the Camp for future use, and a list of small needful items were brought to make camping even more comfortable… like a bar of soap. Attila spent some time clearing a thicket of what I am guessing are White Alders, many of them dead. His efforts have cleared a lot of the underbrush surrounding our cleared camping area, letting the air flow more freely, and eliminating hiding spots for the much hated mosquitoes.

We have a very small garden at the Rideau Camp, consisting of two short rows of garlic and one short row of onions. This garden is planted in the soil left in place, after the huge log pile was dismantled by Attila. So far it is seems to be doing quite well, surviving the tree felling, and log stacking, which went on all around it. I weed it from time to time. Last summer I sowed white clover seed all over the open areas of the camp, focusing on the area where hundreds of bramble plants had been pulled up by the roots. This summer the clover has come into its own, providing a lovely soft carpet of green. I am still finding brambles though, and pulled out quite a few when we were there last evening.

Today dawned cloudy and cool, time to get some baking done!

P station DSCF0782 A privilege of privacy, indiscretion. This is my outdoor p station, yep it has everything a girl could want except walls. Attila does not need this, he has the whole bush to water. All last summer I used the bush too, but every time I did I worried about ticks. Now that would be unpleasant, picking up a tick during a squat in the bush! So I bought myself a bright orange five gallon bucket from Home Depot and now I have a throne. The skid was left by the fellow who we bought the trailer from, when he dropped off the hitch last weekend. The boards that sit on the skid to form a rough, uneven floor are lumber scraps leftover from various projects. Above, the end of Grace The Trailer forms a roof, to protect me from the rain while I sit on my throne. The white bucket is for paper, used paper, and I dump those bits of dried paper into the campfire to dispose of them. The roll of fresh paper is conveniently held by the handle of the levelling jack. I have a panoramic view out at the Camp! Would tickety-boo be a little too corny here?

Worldly Distractions

Weather

17°C
Date: 8:00 AM EDT Thursday 29 June 2017
Condition: Light Rain
Pressure: 101.6 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 16.5°C
Dew point: 15.3°C
Humidity: 93%
Wind: NE 6 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.”
Georgia O’Keeffe
1887 – 1986