Spectacularly Unspectacular

Easter weekend was very kind to us this year. We decided to stay home and work on the yard and house, because in a few short weeks we won’t be spending our weekends at home, we will be at the Rideau Camp.

On Friday, the day Attila had off work, he raked the entire yard, and trimmed a lot of the dead organic matter from last winter. I removed sheets of plastic that had wintered in bunched up balls under the back deck, hideous! One of them had been sprayed by a Tom Cat, so you can imagine the smell. It was bagged, and along with the yard waste and a large bag of garbage that had hung around all winter, it was loaded into Tank for a trip to the dump.

Friday we got word that Luna and Janus and Imp and Elf and Tink were going to make a flying visit to the area to see all of us before their flight to Amsterdam. They will be living in Amsterdam for three months, the whole family. This news inspired me to undertake spring cleaning. After all, two crawling babies and three active children need a clean space to cavort in. They all arrived late in the afternoon on Sunday, and stayed for an hour or so. Then they headed off to Terra’s house, which is very large, to spend the night.

It was a lovely visit. When Tink asked me to read her a story, it was the perfect opportunity to read to all my Grandbabies one of the books I bought with them in mind. The story we read together is called “The Night You Were Born”, by Nancy Tillman. I love this book because it celebrates every new life, not within the family context, but within the context of the universe, of being a living entity on planet earth. This book welcomes all new human life, not just those who are lucky enough to have a family to welcome them into the world, it is very inclusive. And so there I sat, reading those beautiful words to those bright young souls, that told them the story of how precious they are in the universe. Imp and Tink sat on my left, Elf sat on my right, little Sunny sat on my lap, and Sky listened from the other room, happily ensconced on his Grandpa’s lap. Elf and Tink listened with bright eyes, Imp sometimes gazed off into the distance, as she is known to be introspective at times, Sunny in her frilly dress was intent upon touching the pages, perhaps having a little taste, and Sky could be heard commenting in his own language as his Grandpa held him. How sweet is was when after reading this part of the story,

“So whenever you doubt just how special you are
and wonder who loves you, how much and how far,
listen for geese honking high in the sky.
(They’re singing a song to remember you by.)
Or notice the bears asleep at the zoo.
(It’s because they’ve been dancing all night for you!)
Or drift off to sleep to the sound of the wind.
(Listen closely… it’s whispering your name again!)

we whispered each child’s name. It felt like my brother, my Granny and Grandpa, and my Aunts, were crowded around us and silently whispering their love into those beautiful names.

Monday morning saw Attila off to work, and me driving Tank to visit Terra’s house, for a shared breakfast with my daughters and their families. I enjoyed listening to them talk amongst themselves, and enjoyed playing with the Grandbabies, all of them. The Grandbabies enjoyed an Easter Egg hunt out of doors, filling their Easter Baskets with the treats they found scattered and hidden all over the yard. The morning flew past, and before I knew it, it was time to say goodbye. We will not see Luna, Janus, Imp, Elf, and Tink for quite a while, today they catch their flight to Amsterdam, where they will live for the next three months before returning to Ontario. They are all very excited to be going on such an adventure. Terra and Lares and Sunny and Sky were preparing to attend an Easter Monday family get together at Lares’ uncle’s home.

Today was a day of comparative leisure. I baked Squash Muffins. I washed a load of laundry and hung it outside on the line to dry. I worked on my book. I worked on my crochet project, a cotton cover for my Obus seat. Attila arrived home and we enjoyed a dinner consisting of chicken, potatoes, carrots, and green and yellow beans. Because it is light later into the evening, Attila is out in the yard levelling a flower box that had settled crookedly over the winter. I have cleaned the kitchen, and now written this entry.

We have had a spectacularly unspectacular Easter break.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

10°C
Date: 6:00 PM EDT Tuesday 18 April 2017
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.9 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 10.1°C
Dew point: -3.9°C
Humidity: 37%
Wind: SSE 7 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“For never before in story or rhyme
(no even once upon a time)
has the world ever known a you, my friend,
and it never will, not ever again…”
from On The Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman

Ripples

I have been thinking today about my own perspective of the world.

Sometimes I think the past is rosier because it is safely tucked away in memory. It is no longer subject to speculation, hope, expectation, or fear. The only part of it that can be altered is how we remember it.

There are periods of time though that are not rosier for their passing. These are the challenging times that hone our abilities to cope with unwanted circumstances.

One thing is certain about periods of time, rosy or challenging; time will flow, it will pass by us, through us, and we will be swept along with it. The now is not the forever.

When I think of my Grandbabies, I don’t muse about the world they will live in. I do not rail against the fates of power and greed; I waste no prescious time with those elements of human hubris. I do think about doing what I can, when I can, to make the world the kindest, most compassionate, and hopeful place it can be. Although I delight in giving my Grandbabies gifts, toys and treats and hugs and kisses, I know that doing what is right in my little bubble in the world is also of great importance to their future.

My contributions are invisible, because they are, and will remain, of little consequence to the machines of power. Sometimes I share them with Attila, who already loves me and thinks highly of me, because I know he will just appreciate them, and not need to broadcast or make use of them for any attentions or gain. It feels good to be known in this world. In turn he shares his contributions with me, an honour I cherish.

I watch those who rail against injustice with harsh words, pithy rage, ridicule, and other forms of psychological violence, in the name of cause, and I wonder that they actually believe that this behavior will yield peaceful settlement of conflict. I do not believe that any approach, engaging power and greed, is particularly successful in the long game; I look at the conditions of life for most humans on this planet and I know that no sweeping victories have been won on the front of human decency.

Sometimes I wish I could share what I see in the way that human social systems have structured themselves. But language does not allow this. Words cannot brush my observations into images that others can see.

Today a stone has been dropped into the water. Ripples will radiate to change the surface of the world we live in. Beneath that distorted surface, where much suffering may take place, human decency rests, light filters through, life continues.

I will always be grateful for and cherish Renee’s last word to her friends, Love.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

1°C
Date: 9:00 AM EST Friday 20 January 2017
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 101.3 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 1.4°C
Dew point: -0.2°C
Humidity: 89%
Wind: SE 17 km/h
Visibility: 19 km

Quote

“The size of your audience doesn’t matter. What’s important is that your audience is listening.”
Randy Pausch

Christmas Celebrations

I decided to try discontinuing my high blood pressure medication altogether, after successfully reducing the dosage back to the original low dosage I had been taking. Within 24 hours my blood pressure had skyrocketed. So I decided that the medication was working to a limited and inadequate degree, and that I would be better off taking the original low dosage. I began taking the medication at bedtime, and in the morning my blood pressure was a little bit lower, but still higher than it needs to be. It is a work in progress.

My appointment at the walk-in clinic two weeks was fruitful. My blood pressure was borderline high when the doctor took it. He thought my nuclear heart test looked normal, but didn’t touch on much about it. I didn’t pursue it because I am more concerned about getting my blood pressure down, and stabilized. We discussed a few things, I brought my daily blood pressure readings to show him, and he decided I should see a blood pressure specialist. The appointment will be requested by his office, and they will call me to schedule the visit. I am relieved, and I am hoping that the specialist is someone I can work with!

In the meantime I continue with my low sodium, low sugar meal plans.

I did slip a little bit this past week and weekend though! Terra had Attila and I, and Luna and her family over for our Christmas celebration last Thursday night. It was the only time Luna could commit to travelling to Terra’s house. We had a lovely time with the five Grandbabies! Luna’s three seemed to like the books we got them Christmas, and they definitely liked the cash. Terra’s two are too young to be aware of gift giving, but they are old enough to love having all the family there and celebrating together. We have seven grandchildren now, five of them belong to my two daughters, and two of them belong to Attila’s daughter. We had a lovely chicken dinner, cooked by the very busy Terra, who even found time to decorate two Christmas trees! Attila and I said goodnight relatively early, as Attila had to be up at 5 a.m. the next morning to be off to work.

On Saturday we travelled to join in a celebration of the season with my Mom, which my Sister-The-Youngest-Girl held at her house. It was lovely! We had a delicious turkey dinner with all the trimmings and lots of scrumptious vegetables. My Mom made delicious muffins that were safe for me to eat, a real treat. It was great to see my Mom, Brother-The-Middle-Boy, both of my sisters and their partners, and one of my nieces and her fiancé.

My Mom made a quilt for my bed as a gift and I just love it! Last night I slept under it, so cozy and warm. It is red and white mostly, a Christmas theme, bright and cheery and beautiful and so precious. Mom also knitted me a second knee warmer for my arthritic knee, just in time, winter arrived with a flourish last night. My sisters gave us each a bowl, we use the large Corelle bowls instead of dinner plates for most of our meals, and we needed more to accommodate our “dishwasher lifestyle”. We even got to give away our 1961 Electrolux vacuum cleaner. My niece and her fiancé just bought their first house, and didn’t have a vacuum cleaner of their own. They are both engineers, and really gave the built to last machine a good looking over, enjoying the technology. They needed a vacuum cleaner, and we needed to move the Electrolux to new home, it worked for everyone.

We stayed overnight at my Sister-The-Youngest-Girl’s home, as did my Brother-The-Middle-Boy, and we had a lovely breakfast together before heading back home. My Brother-The-Middle-Boy lives along our route home, so we gave him a lift home. It was wonderful to see where he lives, he lives in downtown Toronto in a lovely building, which is very conveniently located so that almost anything he might need is within walking distance. After we waved goodbye to my brother, Attila took a wrong turn and we became lost. we spent about 40 minutes touring the streets of Toronto, before finding the 401 again, and continuing on our way home.

It was snowing when we started out on our journey home, and continued to snow. The roads were wet and visibility was good, with the exception of about a 50 km stretch of highway that was ice covered as sleet hammered the windshield of the car. We proceeded at a snails pace and made it to the other side of the weather, where the road became merely wet, and the sleet became snow once more.

It snowed all night here, and it was still snowing this morning. Attila arose earlier than usual this morning, leaving himself time to shovel out the driveway. By 8 a.m. the snow plow had gone by and left quite a pile of snow across the end of the driveway. At 9:00 a.m. I was out in the great outdoors with my trusty snow shovel. I started to clear the end of the driveway, and was delighted when our neighbour headed towards me with his snowblower. He cleared the end of the driveway with ease, leaving me with only a few small fiddly bits to complete. I shovelled the walk to the front door, and the deck at the front of the house, then decided I had better take a break. The snow was wet and heavy. A few hours later I headed back outside to use a broom to remove the snow from the top of Iris the trailer, and Tank. It was a good workout!

By the time Attila had arrived home from work, most of the areas where the snow had been cleared were completely bare and dry, it had been a mild day.

This afternoon I baked croutons, and this evening I made a batch of squash muffins, which are my pumpkin muffin recipe, but squash has been substituted for pumpkin. It feels pretty satisfying to eat a muffin and know you are getting almost a whole serving of vegetable!

This Christmas Attila wanted a real tree. I wanted an artificial tree, but agreed to a real tree for several reasons. The most important reason is that having a real tree means more to Attila than having an artificial tree means to me. Another reason is that the real tree will be picked up at the roadside for recycling, and will not need to be stored in this tiny house. And the last reason is that we hope to find an artificial tree on sale after Christmas, something within our budget.

We drove around town tonight, after we purchased our groceries for the week, looking for someplace to purchase a real Christmas tree. The NoFrills had none, Canadian Tire had none, Walmart had none… we were beginning to get worried as we were running out of places to look. Then we drove by the Metro grocery store, and they had beautiful trees for sale, a bit pricey, but we figured that if we wanted a tree we had better take what we could find. So after bringing our groceries home, Attila went back to the store for the tree.

The Christmas tree is sitting in our living room, and the smell of the pine is deliriously wonderful. We will let it sit quietly in its corner overnight, to allow gravity to bring the branches down to their normal position. Tomorrow night we will decorate the tree.

I love that I am going to share the living room with a sweet smelling tree for the next few weeks!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

2°C
Date: 8:32 AM EST Monday 12 December 2016
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.5 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 2.2°C
Dew point: 1.2°C
Humidity: 93%
Wind: SSW 23 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Efficiency is intelligent laziness.”
Anonymous

Imp and Elf and Tink

After a quiet, relaxing Christmas morning, Attila and I were ready for action!  And action is what we got.  Luna, Janus, and the Grandbabies arrived for Christmas dinner.  They stayed until yesterday morning, but truth be told, it felt as if they came and went in just a few hours, the time passed to happily and swiftly.

Imp and Elf and Tink liked the gifts we gave them, which always feels good.  One of the gifts was a $10 gift card for Walmart.  So on Boxing Day off we went to Walmart to see about spending the $10.  The trip turned out to be more of a lesson on how little one can buy for $10!  Imp found one small item that she liked, on which to spend a portion of the $10.  Elf could find nothing he wanted in the $10 range.  Tink had some of her allowance to spend as well, so she found a craft kits that she liked, and bought it.

Of interest to Attila and I, is that the toys at Walmart were very “junky” compared to those at the Mastermind Toys Store where we bought their Christmas Presents, were mostly cheap plastic, and most of them cost, for one item, the same amount of money that we spend on food for the week.  We will definitely be visiting the Mastermind Toys Store again!

Imp remembered that we tried to make paper airplanes to throw into the bonfire earlier in December at Luna’s place.  We didn’t have much success, as none of us had a pattern.  Imp must have done some research to surprise me!  She asked me for a piece of paper, and this is what she left for me!

ImpXmas2015MistCottage

 

Tink enjoyed drawing with chalk on the chalkboard.  She drew a beautiful butterfly for us!  She also drew a great caterpillar.

TinkXmas2015MistCottage

On Boxing Day morning Elf was curious about what I do on the internet.  So I showed him this online journal.  He wanted to write something in the journal, so he dictated and I typed.  I corrected three instances of grammar, and other than that, these are his very words.

Elf: On Living in Ireland last summer.

One day a family was hiking up Mount Donegal. It was a rainy day. We were starting to walk beside a river. The water was very very clean and there was birds and all that. We would hop on the rocks when there was lots of rocks. We had so much fun jumping on the rocks.

One time I saw a bridge, it was very cool and went over the river. It was very rocky. I think we could see rocks like sand in the river from years and years of the rock going away. We couldn’t see the top of the mountain, it was so cloudy at the top.

So we climbed up more of the mountain, and it got beautifuler and beautifuler. You could see more and more of the water in the ocean. When we got up to a place, we had to stop because we didn’t have very much trail left. So we decided to walk on the rocks on the river for half the hike. I would do a whole bunch of silly stuff on the rocks, like meditating, and saying “it’s my teensy island”.

On the way up we could see a quarry where people used to mine. There were little old cabins made of cobblestone. A river would flow into the quarry. It was cool.

The more we got up the mountain it got foggier and foggier and boggier and boggier. We had lunch at a very long and big wall, that went all the way over the twelve bends. We went to almost the top, until one of us needed to use the loo, so we had to go down. But is was a glory to see all the things we saw on our trip.

We all had a lovely time!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-7°C
Date: 1:00 PM EST Monday 28 December 2015
Condition: Not observed
Pressure: 103.6 kPa
Tendency: falling
Temperature: -7.2°C
Dewpoint: -12.4°C
Humidity: 67%
Wind: NNE 27 km/h
Wind Chill: -16

Quote

The Children’s Hour

Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
That is known as the Children’s Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of little feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
And voices soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
Descending the broad hall stair,
Grave Alice, and laughing Allegra,
And Edith with golden hair.

A whisper, and then a silence:
Yet I know by their merry eyes
They are plotting and planning together
To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
A sudden raid from the hall!
By three doors left unguarded
They enter my castle wall!

They climb up into my turret
O’er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with kisses,
Their arms about me entwine,
Till I think of the Bishop of Bingen
In his Mouse-Tower on the Rhine!

Do you think, o blue-eyed banditti,
Because you have scaled the wall,
Such an old mustache as I am
Is not a match for you all!

I have you fast in my fortress,
And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
In the round-tower of my heart.

And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the walls shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away!!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
first published in the September 1860

[When I was a child, Mom would recite this to us at bedtime.  Still when I read it, I hear her voice.]

December!

Here we are, December already! I have been living in Mist Cottage for about 12 weeks now; Attila has been living here for 10 weeks. We have come a long way with our purging and unpacking, and we still have a long way to go! We are in a constant state of flux, furniture and belongings moved from here to there constantly, as the space is too small to set things aside easily while working on a project.

Yesterday I donated two boxes of items, and a green garbage bag full of clothing, to a local charity. The items have been unused for the last 25 years, and the clothing no longer fits. While in the city I also had new tires installed on the car that Attila uses to commute, and had my printer cartridge refilled. While I was waiting for the printer cartridge, and the tires, I walked around Costco, for over an hour, and I managed not to buy anything. We call Costco the $500 Store. It felt good to get all of these errands accomplished, while Attila was home sleeping in preparation for the night shift.

It was fortuitous that the tires were replaced yesterday, because the roads were very slippery due to ice, on Attila’s commute home from work this morning. He was able to navigate the roads with ease and confidence, and arrived home safely.

We purchased beds with storage drawers beneath, and they are to arrive next week. We also purchased a wardrobe that was on sale at an unbelievably low price, as part of a Black Friday sale. It wasn’t the one I was dreaming of, but it will serve the purpose, even if it falls apart after a short time, as cheap furniture often does. When Attila has assembled it, we can relieve the congestion in the one closet in the house, and perhaps begin to wear some of our regular clothing.

Last weekend Luna, Janus, and the Grandbabies arrived at Terra’s big country house, for a family Christmas celebration. It was the only time all of us were able to be in the same place, at the same time, for the next few months. We had a grand time! Terra prepared an outstanding turkey dinner. I brought pumpkin pie squares, which were gobbled up completely, to my surprise. As well, I brought a batch of Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies, and those too were gobbled up quickly. Presents were not the focus of the event, but Attila and I could not resist wrapping up little surprises for everyone to open.

When we lived in the country house, we were able to burn garbage that had sensitive information on it. This cannot be done at Mist Cottage, so we have been accumulating quite a bit of material in our “burn bag”. Luckily, we brought the “burn bag” with us to Terra’s house, and Lares was out in the back with a large fire to burn errant branches. They heat with wood, and Lares, with the help of Attila, Janus, and Elf, was busy felling the last of the trees for firewood, sectioning them, splitting them, and stacking the wood in the wood shed. I took the opportunity to incinerate the contents of the “burn bag”, assisted by Imp, and Elf, and Tink. They couldn’t get close to the fire, so we made paper airplanes out of the paper items, which they then sent sailing into the fire. Great fun!

My Mom is experiencing a health issue. She is receiving the medical attention she needs, is as cheerful as ever, and it isn’t slowing her down much! Love from all of us Mom!

The day slipped by me today. I went for my walk, in spite of the cold and drizzle. The trick was not to wear my glasses, which blur my vision when raindrops cling to them, and fog over completely when I come in from the outdoors. They are reading glasses, and I don’t need the when I am out walking.

I baked bread, and a batch of Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies, as squares instead of individual cookies.

Tonight I have the problem of deciding whether to sample the homemade bread, or the cookies. I am trying very hard not to sample both!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

5:37 PM EST Tuesday 1 December 2015
Condition: Light Drizzle
Pressure: 101.3 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 13 km
Temperature: 7.1°C
Dewpoint: 6.1°C
Humidity: 93%
Wind: SE 28 km/h

Quote

“Years ago my mother said to me, ‘In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.’ For years I was smart. I recommend pleasant.”
Written by Mary Chase (1887 – 1973
Spoken by character Elwood P. Dowd (Jimmy Stewart) in “Harvey”, 1950

[I love this movie!]