The Little Black Fly

I was lucky enough to spend Mother’s Day with my Mom. My Sister-The-Youngest-Girl is staying with her Beau Bob at the moment while they renovate her kitchen. Beau Bob kindly let us come to stay for a night, and hosted a family celebration with my Mom, my two sisters and my niece and fiancé. My Mom and my niece also recently celebrated birthdays, so we honoured that occasion as well. We had a lovely time, Sister-The-Youngest-Girl cooked a wonderful roast beef dinner, and made a Black Forest Cake, gifts were given to Mom and my niece. My Mom and Sister-The-Middle-Girl took me to their garden and loaded me up with all kinds of goodies: a rhubarb plant, rhubarb to eat, dill plants, an oregano plant, garlic buds to plant, onions to plant, and green onions to eat. Attila and I enjoyed the green onions on Sunday night in our green salad. Garden vegetables are the best tasting!

My niece invited us to their place for muffins Sunday afternoon, they just purchased a house in the country. Their house is lovely, they are renovating, and the views are heavenly. It was a wonderful Mother’s Day.

Luna, from a dialup up connection in Amsterdam, sent a Mother’s Day email greeting, and Terra send a message in the morning, dropped off a card, and called via FaceTime in the afternoon so that we could talk to Sunny and Sky. Sunny is standing by herself for brief moments now, and is so delighted with herself. Sky is beginning to crawl, and to move from a crawl into a sitting position, and once accomplished, he flashes a heart catching joyful smile.

The drive to visit my sisters and my Mom is not really such a great distance, but it does involve passing through the city of Toronto. This adds an hour or more to the journey, as we always run into stop and go traffic somewhere as we pass through. I have been in several motor vehicle accidents, and am not the most relaxed passenger there ever was. So it was a happy discovery that I could take along my crochet project (a carry all bag), and work on it blissfully as Attila operated the vehicle. That freed him from any concern about how I was feeling. Attila is sensitive to my feelings, which is usually a good thing, but in this instance it is counter-productive. We both experienced an easier journey.

When we arrived home on Sunday afternoon, Attila went right to work planting all the wonderful things we had been given, and I washed, chopped, and cooked the rhubarb to make 2 ½ quarts. Attila enjoys stewed rhubarb in his lunches.

Yesterday I called the bank to reschedule an appointment. The original was for Monday morning, and I happily spent my day with no awareness whatsoever of my commitment. On Tuesday morning I looked at the calendar and found that I had missed the appointment, but thought that I was only hours late, this time not realizing it was already Tuesday. Calling the bank, I apologized for inconsiderately missing the arranged appointment, and asked for another. Luckily she had an opening the same day, so that chore is now done and dusted.

Yesterday evening, as soon as Attila arrived home from work, we headed in Tank towards the Rideau Camp. He had been warned by co-workers living in the countryside, that the black flies had started and that were bad this year. We were prepared. During the day I hung a set of work clothes each on the clothesline and sprayed them liberally with permethrin, wearing a mask, latex gloves, and a long sleeved shirt. They were dry in good time to be worn at the camp that evening. I also packed our evening meal, consisting of homemade sodium-free hummus, low-sodium rice crackers for me, pita bread for Attila, seedless grapes, coconut pineapple muffins, and low-sodium lime flavoured soda water. Attila had the gardening tools ready by the door, so that they could be loaded into Tank in a few minutes. I donned a “bug jacket” at home, ready for the hoards of little black biters.

The water level in our swamp was down a bit, and the creek was running at a trickle. I zipped up the head segment of the bug jacket before getting out of Tank, and was glad I had. The black flies were well represented, but Attila noted that they really “weren’t that bad”. We had become accustomed to the black flies at the country house, which were worse by a hundredfold, than they were at the Rideau Camp. Still, I was glad of the full cover bug jacket, and Attila used insect repellent on any of his exposed flesh. Neither of us received a bite.

Attila has two projects in mind for this visit. The first was to whipper snip the open areas, which took almost two hours, as there is quite an area to cover now. The second was to prepare the dirt where the wood pile had been, and then to do some planting. My Mom and Sister-The-Middle-Girl loaded us up with goodies while we were visiting for Mother’s Day. At the Camp Attila planted 20 garlic buds, and three mounds of squash. We will see how they do, we aren’t expecting much but you never know. At one point the land was used as pasture, and you just never know where those cow patties landed.

While Attila was busy with his projects, I wandered down to the end of the driveway, enjoying all the flora and fauna. Coming back to the cleared area I dragged along with me two small dead trees, piling them up near the camp fire pit, ready for the next camp fire. I continued my forays for dead wood, and amassed quite a sizeable pile of it for future camp fires. Only a brief time was spent raking crushed stone, it is such hard labour, I don’t want to push myself past my limit. The crushed stone project is going to take a very long time to complete.

DSCF0629 The driveway at the Rideau Camp, a nice place for a stroll. Most but not all of the brush piles, left by the previous owners, have been collected and burned in the camp fire pit. It certainly looks a lot nicer than it did a year ago, when we first owned and began to work on the property.

The Trout Lilies were spent, but we found many small violets in bloom all around the Camp. The Trilliums were at their peak, masses of them at the sides of the road as we drove in, and masses of them on our property. The birds have at last arrived, we heard owls in the distance, saw geese fly overhead, watched four Blue Jays kibitz around in the trees, and as the evening shadows lengthened murders of crows flew in and settled in one of the huge oak trees on our property. We have hundreds of crows on and around our property.

DSCF0622 The Trilliums were in bloom!

We found no signs of unwelcome visitors. The young boys who had trespassed with their motor bikes and ATV had not returned. We have a No Trespassing sign to put up next time we go to the Camp. I noticed a neighbour had put up a sign prohibiting dirt bikes, snowmobiles and ATVs, so I am going to look into getting one of those signs as well. There will always be new crops of boys heading out to “God’s Country” with their motorized toys.

As the light began to fail, we sat contentedly in Tank, eating our meal where the black flies do not roam. Black flies do not like enclosed spaces, they will head for an opening to escape. It was possible to eat, and breath, without concerning ourselves with small beings flying into our mouths and noses. Mosquito season is not so kind, they have no foibles about hanging around in enclosed spaces, and actually like them as their targets are usually immobile and easier to attack.

We arrived home just before bed time. I slept deeply. Usually I wake up when Attila does in the morning, but this morning Attila had to wake me.

Terra called, and then dropped by with Sunny and Sky. We are seeing more of Sunny and Sky now that they are older. Terra has been cautious, during their first preemie months at home, about exposing them unnecessarily to illnesses that might affect them more seriously full-term babies. Today they were going out with Terra’s friend, but the friend is not up so early, so they came here for their breakfast to wait for her. Sunny and Sky seem to like it here. They enjoy the two baby toys that I keep in the kitchen drawer for them: a red silicone basting brush, and a yellow plastic ice cream scoop. I had to run around putting away things that might fall on them, as Sunny now pulls herself up on furniture or anything she can reach. She actually got the kitchen chair working as a walker, moving it across the floor as if it was on wheels. Sky is crawling, and today he learned how to sit from a crawling position. Lots of first for these wee folk.

It is a beautiful summer day today. Sunshine, and warm breezes mean that I have thrown open the windows to let in the blossom scented air.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

24°C
Date: 12:00 PM EDT Wednesday 17 May 2017
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.0 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 23.5°C
Dew point: 15.7°C
Humidity: 61%
Wind: SW 28 gust 44 km/h
Humidex: 28
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“I look to the future because that’s where I’m going to spend the rest of my life.”
George Burns
1896 – 1996

I Love The Month of May

There are a lot of reasons I love the month of May.

One is that my Mom’s birthday falls in the the month of May, and I love my Mom. Another is that Mother’s Day falls in the month of May, and I love my Mom.

Spring weather is another reason I love the month of May. The nights are cool, so even if it gets stinking hot during the day, the temperature at night is pleasant for sleeping.

The month of May looks and smells wonderful. There are flowers in bloom; Wild Violets, Lungwort, Dandelions, Trout Lilies, Lilacs, Trilliums, Blood Root, and my absolute favourite, tree blossoms, apple and cherry and peach.

Having the windows open for the first time since the previous fall is another thing I love about the month of May.

I love asparagus and rhubarb, both ready for harvest in the month of May.

I love camping, an activity that can begin during the month of May.

Yesterday I spent the day trying to organize Iris for the next camping excursion. I purchased cheap plastic containers to contain our belongings when Iris is in motion. On our first trip there was a lot of shifting going on, nothing damaged, but not desirable just the same. To further the organizing project, Attila and I visited Canadian tire where we found two smallish totes to use for setting up our kitchen on weekends; one will contain food and the other dishes and pots and pans. Iris sits quite a distance from the fire pit and the picnic table, so that transporting needed objects one by one is not practical. I also purchased a D size battery to operate a Caframo portable fan. I suffer in the heat, really suffer, and a fan makes a big difference to my comfort during a hot night.

This morning I rushed first thing to Canadian Tire, yet again. The sale that starts today featured a decent quality air mattress. I decided that because campers complain about air mattresses being cold to sleep on, they might be great for sleeping on hot nights. Holy cow, if this works while sleeping in Iris, it might work at home in my very own bed too, wouldn’t that be cool. The memory foam is hot to sleep on, it can be used in late September and October when the nights are cold, but not during the summer. I couldn’t resist picking up a pie iron, since all of our camping meals are cooked over the open fire, this should add some variety to our diet, now to find healthy recipes that include vegetables! I managed to pay for most of the cost of the air mattress and the pie iron with my credit card points, which was very satisfying.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

13°C
Date: 8:00 AM EDT Wednesday 25 May 2016
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.6 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 13.4°C
Dewpoint: 9.9°C
Humidity: 79%
Wind: S 21 km/hr
Today
Cloudy. Becoming a mix of sun and cloud near noon with 30 percent chance of showers this afternoon. Risk of a thunderstorm late this afternoon. Wind becoming southwest 20 km/h gusting to 40 late this morning. High 26 except 21 near Lake Ontario. UV index 7 or high.
Tonight
Partly cloudy. Low 14.

21°C
Date: 10:00 AM EDT Thursday 26 May 2016
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.8 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 20.6°C
Dewpoint: 13.2°C
Humidity: 62%
Wind: SE 18 km/h
Humidex: 24
Today
A mix of sun and cloud. 60 percent chance of showers late this afternoon with risk of a thunderstorm. High 24 except 19 near Lake Ontario. UV index 8 or very high.
Tonight
Mainly cloudy with 60 percent chance of showers and risk of a thunderstorm. Low 16.

Quote

“Conscience is the inner voice that warns us somebody may be looking.”
H. L. Mencken
1880 – 1956

I’d like to believe that this is not true of many people, but I fear that it is. However, I don’t agree that this definition is universal. I feel that a conscience is that inner voice that represents our capacity for compassion, tolerance, and kindness… and it has nothing whatsoever to do with the concept that somebody may be looking. I also feel that my definition of a conscience is active and admirable in the people I respect and love. Mr. Mencken does not speak for me.

Oh What A Beautiful Day

I continue to attack the mildew odour in Iris’ cushions. The worst affected are the back cushions of the dinette. The foam has been removed from the covers, the covers washed and one of the foams was soaked and washed. This morning the covers still retained a memory of mildew, and the foam has not dried, so that it is not possible to tell just yet if the washing has succeeded. I washed the covers for a second time, which seemed to marginally improve their aroma. I fear that these 39 year old cushions and covers cannot be restored to an acceptable quality for use. New cushions and covers are expensive, I am currently looking for a local source of good quality foam. I am considering covering new foam with makeshift “cases” made from shower curtains; it wouldn’t be pretty, but it just might be functional. If we do manage to get new cushions they won’t be stored in Iris over the winter!

We have a few mosquitoes here at Mist Cottage. They are a lethargic lot, easy to kill, if spotted before they have a chance to bite. I notice that they are stirred up when I walk through the grass on the lawn. There is no standing water here, so I wonder where they are breeding!

When we were visiting with Mom a few weeks ago, staying with my sister-the-oldest-girl, my sister gave us some rhubarb that had thrived in her garden. Tuesday morning the last of it was used to make a rhubarb crisp for Attila’s lunches; it was in and out of the oven before 7:00 a.m., when the cost of hydro increases.

The call came on Wednesday afternoon from the country GP’s office, he requisitioned tests to find out what is going on with the Chronic Kidney Disease diagnosis. I dropped in at the lab to see if the requisition for the tests had come to them, it hadn’t yet. It wasn’t a worry though. At the local lab’s suggestion I called the customer service number on Thursday morning. The requisition had indeed arrived at the central office, and was distributed to the labs immediately, I was good to go. Now I will wait for a call from the GP’s office to let me know about his assessment of the test results. This GP is a real gem, I wish all of them had his skill, sense of ethics, and compassion, it is really a shame I am so far away from his office!

It was definitely chilly this morning, 4C, but I think the weather will now warm up substantially, the high today of 23 will be lovely.

The preparation for our evening visit to the Rideau Camp is under way. I sprayed four pairs of cotton gloves with permethrin yesterday and set them aside this morning to put in the camp box. This morning I sprayed one of my light coloured t-shirts, and two pairs of light coloured socks with permethrin, all to be worn when we visit the camp. This should prevent mosquitoes from biting under my large man’s shirt, our hands as we work, and offer some protection from ticks as well. We now have two serious diseases to worry about from the biting insects in Ontario, whereas during my youth there were none. Both diseases are the indirect compliments of human progress.

For a few years I spent time as a volunteer on the stage and sound crew for the Mariposa Folk Festival. It was fun, I met a lot of great people, learned new skills, and enjoyed myself.

There were those at the time that felt it was beneath me to give away my time as a lowly crew member, there were smirks and some low key derision, but I did not understand their point of view, I still don’t. So I have mixed memories of my Mariposa experience, a contrast between hierarchical and non-hierarchical personality types; I bet you can guess who I found pleasant and who I did not find pleasant.

In 1990 I was on the crew for the 30th anniversary of Mariposa, and got the t-shirt. I haven’t worn it more than a few times, and I unearthed it as I was searching for a light coloured t-shirt to spray with permethrin, to wear at the Rideau Camp; this selection offered a perfect blend of past and present.

Mariposa t 1990

I received a call from my sister-the-youngest-girl, her oldest daughter, my niece, an Engineer who is working out of the country at the moment, has just become engaged to be married. No details at this point. It isn’t difficult to understand how old you are with the younger generation around!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

4°C
Date: 6:00 AM EDT Friday 20 May 2016
Condition: Fog
Pressure: 102.3 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 4.1°C
Dewpoint: 3.5°C
Humidity: 96%
Wind: ENE 5 km/h
Today Sunny. High 23. UV index 7 or high.
Tonight A few clouds. Low 8.

Quote

“I did not see anything [New York 1886] to help my people. I could see that the Wasichus [white man] did not care for each other the way our people did before the nation’s hoop was broken. They would take everything from each other if they could, and so there were some who had more of everything than they could use, while crowds of people had nothing at all and maybe were starving. This could not be better than the old ways of my people.”
Black Elk 1863-1950
Black Elk Speaks: Being the Life Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux

I wonder, at what point in history did our branch of the human species begin to think that greed was normal. It seems so ingrained in the way we see the world, history assumes is was always thus, so it must have begun before written records were kept.

“Goats are very hierarchical, they aren’t a social animal, so you need to work out where you are in the pecking order.”
Thomas Thwaites
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/goatman-calgary-thomas-thwaites-1.3590342

That is interesting, hierarchical goats are not considered social animals. It would fit then that hierarchical humans are not social animals, which would mean that the power structures in our present social structure define our species as “not social animals”… it makes sense in an oddly disturbing sort of way.

Spinach Balls

We are in the midst of a dry spell here at the little house in the city, it is almost a drought. The drug addicted expanse of lawn behind our property has not been watered, and it is mostly crispy brown at this point. Even so, yesterday a fellow on a riding lawn mower was cutting the grass, moving along in a cloud of dust, which seemed completely redundant to me. Surprisingly, despite things being bone dry, the mosquitoes are noticeable. They aren’t anything like the swarms we get at the country house at this time of year, but even one mosquito is a constant pest.

I have had to water the garden every morning. We spot water our transplants and seeds, not wasting any of the precious wet stuff on trifling things like a green lawn. It takes over an hour to repeatedly fill the watering can, and trek out to every plant and seedling. Hopefully the watering will pay off, with home grown vegetables this summer. A rabbit has been killing, not eating, just decapitating, the new seedlings. I sprinkled black pepper on all the plants yesterday, and am hoping that the rabbit leaves at least some of our garden intact.

The rabbit age two more of the bean plants. Pepper is not an effective deterrent. And to think that I thought Peter Rabbit was so cute, and Mr. McGregor seemed so curmudgeonly. I am not so keen on Peter these days.

Spinach Balls

Rice/Quinoa Macaroni with Olive Oil, Roasted Garlic and Pepper, and Spinach
2015MaySpinachBalls

This is a cross between a recipe and story, probably succeeding at neither, but fun to write.

Last summer I decided I wanted to try rice/quinoa macaroni. It was expensive. Last winter I used it to make macaroni and cheese. I didn’t care for it, and the dry macaroni has been sitting in the cupboard since then. Today I decided I needed to eat the food I had purchased, even if I didn’t like it all that much. So I cooked the pasta according to the instructions on the bag, drained it, added two tablespoons of olive oil, and two teaspoons of dried garlic and red pepper herbs, then set the pot aside.

This is where the spinach comes into play. In the freezer yesterday, I found a package of frozen whole spinach leaves. It was a commercial product, a solid little square of spinach, usually not very good, but adequate as an ingredient. Oh yes, and it was a year past its expiry date. I boiled the spinach until it was well done. After draining it well, I turned the green mass onto a cutting board and cut it into small cubes. When the cubes were the desired size, they were returned to the pot, olive oil and dried garlic and red pepper herbs were added, and the lot was mixed together.

All that there was left to was to mix the macaroni and the spinach together.

It tasted divine!

The spinach remained in little balls, much like meatballs. So there is my new discovery, macaroni and spinach balls! It made a lovely lunch. Since quinoa is a complete protein, my lunch provided me with my daily meat equivalent.

The packaging for the macaroni says that the packager is a member of the WFTO, World Fair Trade Organization. That would explain the high price, as I believe neither rice, nor quinoa of any great quantity, are grown in North America.

I can’t wait to try this with fresh spinach, which is so much better than frozen spinach!

Since the rhubarb has been ready to harvest in the garden, I have been eating stewed rhubarb for breakfast, in a sort of rhubarb crisp format, preparing one serving each morning.

Rhubarb Crisp for One

I take 3 tablespoons of oatmeal, 2 tablespoons of flour, and one tablespoon of sweetener, blend them, then rub in 2 teaspoons of margarine with a fork or your fingers, the mixture is somewhat dry. Spoon one third to one half cup of stewed rhubarb into a bowel, top with oatmeal mixture, microwave for 1 minute 20 seconds, let stand for five minutes, and enjoy.

Another house showing is booked for Saturday. That would be showing number six, which is great. Now all we need is for one of the showings to result in a reasonable offer.

The realtor is doing a great job. Attila has a booklet the realtor produced for the house, it almost makes us want to keep the house! His great promotion certainly makes it harder to let the house go to someone else!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

24°C
Date: 3:00 PM EDT Thursday 28 May 2015
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.3 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 24.2°C
Dewpoint: 12.4°C
Humidity: 47%
Wind: NW 19 km/h
Humidex: 27

15°C
Date: 9:00 AM EDT Friday 29 May 2015
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.6 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 14.7°C
Dewpoint: 12.9°C
Humidity: 89%
Wind: S 11 km/h

Quote

“May your walls know joy; May every room hold laughter and every window open to great possibility.”
Maryanne Radmacher-Hershey
1995

Trying To Reach You

A quiet day with pencils. And rhubarb.

A Doodle: Language Waves
2015TryingToReachYou

A Proem: Trying To Reach You

I don’t swim anymore.

I remember it though. I remember the cool smooth press of cold water, moving softly, slowly over my skin. I remember the light escaping with each movement, reaching back into the sky. I remember how sound moved away from me as I submerged.

Sometimes trying to reach your shore is like swimming. With every word the light of meaning reflects into the stars. Forward, forward through transparent pressure, I move towards the distant sound of your voice.

From the garden.
2015MayRhubarb

Worldly Distractions

Weather

The Little House in the City
24°C
Date: 3:00 PM EDT Tuesday 26 May 2015
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.8 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 23.9°C
Dewpoint: 17.5°C
Humidity: 67%
Wind: SSW 17 km/h
Humidex: 30

The Country House
28°C
Date: 3:00 PM EDT Tuesday 26 May 2015
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 101.6 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: 27.9°C
Dewpoint: 15.2°C
Humidity: 45%
Wind: WSW 11 gust 30 km/h
Humidex: 32

Quote

“Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”
Mark Twain
1835 – 1910

[Once, during a performance review I underwent while teaching individuals with disabilities, I was criticized severely for “always doing the right thing”. It was the only criticism the director had of my work. I had a hard time believing that the director actually said that to me, and meant it. I was, as Mark Twain says, astonished, and deeply disturbed. Either the culture has morphed into something unrecognizable since Mark Twain was alive, or he was cloistered from what really goes on in the world of ambition and competition.]